When you buy an old farmhouse, it is natural to dream of exploiting its potential to make extra living space, either for extra bedrooms and bathrooms or to provide gîte accommodation – or both.
Typically, it’s the lofts that are crying out for conversion but it is the same process for outbuildings, more or less. Easier dreamt than done.
I have added two extra attic bedrooms to our house since moving here, doing most of the work myself. Both of them took me longer than I thought – partly because I was simultaneously learning French DIY terminology, but mostly because I frequently had to break off to earn a living.
In hindsight, I should have taken a sabbatical. Better to give yourself time to finish each part of the project.
A big downside of stop-start renovation, I discovered – I know you are going to tell me this should have been obvious – is that both the plumber and the electrician I used to connect the new pipes and cabling to the existing set-up retired halfway through the endless schedule, leaving me to complete their work myself.
It literally took me a year to figure out the electrician’s wiring scheme so that I could extend it. Speaking of tradesmen, don’t let them do anything that you will later have to alter. What works for them may not work for you.
I had to pay a second plumber to bury some pipes that the first plumber had left exposed. Good planning would have saved me money.