Project House - A Kitchen Extension Update

April 24, 2017

It's been a while since I've posted an extension update, {last one here}. This should be the last construction kind of post, then it will be on to the exciting stuff - the finishing bits and posts about flooring, paint and the big reveal in a couple of weeks. The last time I left you we were about to have the steels going in, they had to be craned over the house in a pretty nail biting fashion! But luckily the house lived to tell the tale and it became a pivotal point for the extension. The builders we'd contracted in had finished their section and now it was over to Ben and his team to carry on. {be warned, it's a bumper long post...}

Because we were opening so much up at the back of the house, and wanting to be able to support a future second storey, the architect had specified HUGE steels. The biggest that our builder had ever commissioned and I think he was actually a little scared about what he'd taken on! Especially because it's such an old house with narrow side access to get them round the back. So a crane was called in and they were to be lifted over. It was quite a sight and our neighbours gathered round.  

It was such a fun exciting day with all the builders and it definitely felt like our Grand Designs moment. We were finally getting somewhere!

I think everybody breathed a sigh of relief once they were safely in position.

With the steels all in place it was over to Ben to get cracking with the roof. It's funny looking back now, almost two months on at just how much has changed since then. I'd forgotten just how much of a building site it was.

The steels shaped the view of the garden at this point and we couldn't wait to press on and get it finished for the summer.

We went off to California for a week of last minute sun and then the day after we got back Ben and his guys started cutting the roof timbers. 

We'd had a structural engineer specify the roof to build, they use complex calculations to work out the size timbers and strength that will be needed that we'd submitted to the council for building regulations beforehand. During the whole extension the building inspector came out periodically to sign off the different parts as the build went on.

It rained for about a week straight just as Ben started on the roof but we had a deadline for our roofers who were booked in so they couldn't let the weather stop them.

Gradually the roof took shape {we've got a flat roof with the hope of extending out the top in the future} with a pitch round the side for veluxes.

Then came the scaffolding ready for the roofers.

For a week or so it was fun to sit up on the top of the house and look out over the garden and the valley beyond.

Chaos inside! It was hard to imagine at the time how this could ever become a finished room.

We got really lucky with reclaimed roof tiles our roofer sourced that match in perfectly with the original roof. I hate brand new tiles that stand out until they weather down so these were beautiful and such a good find.

As the roofers got on with the outside, the boys cracked on inside with the stud work for the internal wall for the new utility room. 

And worked on the insulation {I never realised just how much insulation is specified by building regs these days, crazy! We should be ridiculously warm this winter} and plaster boarding.

We had a window go into the utility {a timber Jeldwen window Ben found on eBay for the size opening we needed} and the veluxes above went in, flooding light in.

Dreaming of the day we have a finished utility room and I can put things on this deep windowsill.

Plaster boarding the ceiling after a first fix of electrics.

It felt so much lighter once the breeze blocks got covered up.

Cutting out for spotlights. We're having a mixture of pendant lighting, spotlights and wall lights in the kitchen. It was hard trying to work out which circuit they should all be on, do we want spotlights on separately or combined with some of the other lighting? Do we want pendants on one switch etc. Luckily Ben's pretty good at designing things like that, I wouldn't know where to start. We've specified a lot of spotlights but if I'm being honest I doubt we'll turn them on much. I prefer softer pendant lighting when it's dark but we thought it was better to have them put in now rather than regret it later.

Next, our sliding glass doors got fitted! We were so torn between bifolds or sliding doors for such a long time. We'd loved the bifolds in our last kitchen extension but they were on a much smaller scale. In the end we decided that because this would be a large width we didn't want the view interrupted by all the aluminium/wood that you'd have with bifolds. We also realised that because it is such a large area to open up would we ever need it to fully open with bifolds? There was also the space that the bifolds would take up outside when open. 

We'd seen sliding doors in a friend's house at Christmas time and were wowed with the view out to the garden from them. We figured that because of our great British weather we'd have them shut more than we'd have them open so having a clear uninterrupted view was important. 

On these doors there are three panels of glass and you can have up to 2/3 of them open at any one time, choosing which sides you open so they're more flexible. One end of our kitchen will be a dining area and the other where we'll cook so it's great to have the option to open wherever we want to use at the time.

We sourced the doors from a local supplier to us who had been recommended. I think price wise they were a fraction cheaper than bifolding doors but there wasn't much in it. We went for a lightweight sliding door with as minimal frame as we could find. We chose white because that had been specified by the conservation officer in our planning application, the rest of the windows in the house are white so they'll blend in looking back from the garden. And I guess the grey aluminium colour you see everywhere on new doors would have been too modern for the house. We had them installed before plasterboarding and then the guys built plasterwork around them to hide the frames of the doors to make them look more minimalist.

Next up was the screed for the floor which went on top of the insulation. We chose a company who offer a quick drying screed. Macs Plasterboard Systems Ltd have the only licence in the UK for a new product added to screed that makes it dry within days rather than weeks - it saved us so much valuable time. Normal screed takes 4-6 weeks to dry properly and you can't lay any wooden floor or tiles on top of it before this or it will get damp and warp. It would have added about a month onto our renovations if we hadn't have used this new screed so I'm really grateful we found out about them {and thanks to Ben's Brother who told us about them} and paid the little bit extra for it.

The floor had been insulated and taped up ready for the screed to get pumped in. 

It was so cool to watch them pump it in and then smooth it off using special shoes and machines. 

It was one of the jobs that again transformed the extension once more and was a big tick off the list.

With the doors in and the floor screeded the plastering could finally begin. We were away in the Maldives so came back to find it all pink! It made such a difference to the room, yay for smooth walls.

I forgot to mention the smaller patio doors fitted to the left of the sliding doors, they're a white timber frame and give extra light and access outside. I think we'll have a sofa next to them to look out onto the garden.

Ben built a chimney breast which will be the extractor for our cooker.

The plaster dried really quickly and the decorating then started. Our decorator white washed everywhere to begin with, new plaster always needs a mist coat first.

It started to feel a lot more like a proper room rather than a building site.

The ceilings are white and we've chosen Farrow & Ball Wimborne White for the walls. It's a colour we've got in our hallway and landing too, I think it's my favourite neutral. Not too cold or white yet not too warm or cream either. 

Half of the room felt finished, the new part, but then came knocking through to the original part of the house {taking down our temporary kitchen wall}. This has been the worst part to live through. Up until this point we'd been self contained from it all but now the dust could get through and we lost our temporary kitchen. But it had to get worse to get better. The existing floor was higher than the new screed so Ben had to break off the old screed to match in with the new extension.

You can see the divide between the old and the new. Now we need to plaster the old area to unify it all.

The ceiling also had to come down to fit new wiring and lower it.

Pure chaos.

A new floor was laid, a latex self levelling compound which met the screed.

And that's pretty much where we've got to right now. There's work being done to the patio to raise it up to match the new door height so we can step out onto it. There's more plastering needed, more decorating, our utility room is chaotic but we need to move the downstairs toilet around before that can be finished. We nearly have the electrics sorted. It feels like we're close now, the rest of the kitchen arrives in a few weeks. But at the same time it feels like the finishing bits take the longest. It can be frustrating when you don't see much change because it's all been behind the scenes kind of work like wiring or guttering outside - I mean I just want to see paint going on the walls to feel like we're going somewhere ha. But I know there's so much more to it than that and I'm so grateful for Ben {and Vaughan and Cooper and Martin and everyone else} having the energy to push it all forward day after day. 

You'll have seen some sneak peeks of our flooring {herringbone oak} going down and things like our kitchen island getting a makeover and the new {old} radiators being fitted over on my Instagram recently. More on that all to come. I just wanted to get the last few weeks of construction documented first. As always if you have any house renovating questions feel free to get in touch.

I hope I'll have a finished kitchen to give you a tour of very soon!! Excitement levels are rising and the stress is definitely going down. We're having to go to my parent's to cook dinner every night at the moment and making breakfast amongst the rubble can be a struggle but it will all be worth it in the end. I think one of the things I'm looking forward to most is just being able to put some washing on again and not have to cart it round to my Mum's! 

Are you house renovating right now? Do you have plans to?

R <3 xx 

You Might Also Like


  1. Wow all looks amazing and you're moving on with it so fast, although living in it I'm sure it doesn't feel fast! Where is your flooring from, it's stunning.

    1. Thank you Lisa, we got the flooring from a local oak specialist near us. Writing a full post on it next week. Rebecca x

  2. Wow, it all looks amazing.
    We have just had an offer accepted on a house in St Albans which we will be doing a very similar project on hopefully at the beginning of next year. Very exciting but with two small children am really thinking we should move out!

    1. Hi Lucie, oh how exciting. St Albans is lovely and just down the road from us. Hmm yes if you've got no kitchen then I think it may be wise with two children to move out. We're just about managing by going to my parents for dinner every night but making breakfast/lunch and all the dust is a bit of a nightmare! Good luck xx

    2. Thank you Rebecca.
      Yes we love it in St Albans, been here 4 years and wouldn't go anywhere else now.
      Just wondering if you would mind sharing the supplier you are using for your doors? x

  3. Yes it will be great I'm sure with both of you at the helm..We're finally getting the doors put in the right place with a small extension,in fact the whole kit and caboodle! Huge changes for us and we've gone for bifolds, I'm bothered about where they go when open, we need to extend the patio next so will have to allow for that. Not looking forward to the work, have just bought packs of strong paper plates, no plans to do much washing up in the bath! Good luck with everything, Sharon

    1. Oh wow sounds exciting Sharon! But yes good idea for paper plates. We don't have a washing machine or cooker but one of the appliances I insisted on having plumbed in was the dishwasher! I still really love bifolds so I'm sure they'll look great. Rebecca x

    2. Thank you, will look forward to your post on the pros and cons of each! Looking forward to seeing your photos when it's all looking lovely, ttfn Sharon

  4. Hi
    Your extension is looking great and we are about to do something similar! We live on the edge of Buckinghamshire/Hertfordshire and only recently moved this way and wondered if you could share your tradesmen as so hard to know who is good!! Many thanks

    1. Hi JG oh not far from us! Tradesmen wise they're all part of Ben's team who concentrate on his own development projects I'm afraid. And both our electrician and plumber are v good and fast but a nightmare at turning up so I wouldn't necessarily recommend them. For groundworks and builders I can recommend Bob Mead as a builder but book him in early if you want a big job doing. Message me on Instagram if you want his number. For labourers I've put out on local facebook groups asking for lads and have had some good response, we also make use of my Brother's uni friends when they're home in the summer. Good luck with your project. Rebecca x

  5. We're hoping to exchange on our new house in a week. Not loads of building work as such, more modernising but we are taking the wall down between the morning room and kitchen. We also need a new boiler and the electrics checking, it feels a bit daunting knowing what needs to be done first and in which order! I do have a question about plaster though - did you use lime? We tried using this in our current house but it took too long to dry so the builders had to switch to the usual stuff as we were on a deadline (we had a rentention put on the mortgage so only had 6 weeks to do a shed load of work).

    Your house is looking amazing! I'd love solid wood flooring but I think we will have to go with Amtico/Karndean or bamboo as we have two children and a cat to contend with! I also second advice about finding good tradesmen, I've lost count of the number of plumbers we've tried (we're in Herts too)!xx

    1. Hi Agnasia, super exciting. Good luck with it all. We haven't used lime plaster, I definitely wouldn't recommend using it as it can crack easily later down the line and sometimes needs special paint. Stick to regular plaster if you can. And I think I wrote a little about choosing a builder in my last post, but tradesmen wise we're lucky that Ben's job is in property development so we have contacts from that. Plumbers and electricians in general are NIGHTMARES to get hold of though, they're always ridiculously busy! xx

  6. It's looking fab Rebecca exciting times. Agree things have to get bad to get better! We did something similar 3 years ago now.
    We went for the bi fold option, our opening is a little smaller than yours. Had to go for painted aluminium, we wanted wood but not practical for the position of the doors. Happy with the way they turned out the colour (French grey by Farrow and ball) matches the wood sash windows. Don't really notice the doors are not wood phew!
    Good luck with the rest of the project! ����

  7. Thanks so much for the reply and interesting re the lime plaster, good to know.xx


@rvk_loves on Instagram