May the Best House Win!

12 01 2011

The first big celebration of my 50th Birthday Year will be the broadcast of ‘May the Best House Win’ on ITV at 2pm on Tuesday 25th January.

I’m still deciding whether to invite a group of friends over for a party…or to hide myself away and watch it on my own, just in case I’ve made a complete fool of myself on national television!

Moving into my little house last February, I was very excited about the project that lay ahead. For the first time in many years, I finally had a place to call ‘home’ and even though it was looking very sorry for itself, I knew that I could transform it into a lovely home.

I was really looking forward to getting stuck in to what would be a total refurbishment project as apart from the plumbing, electrics and carpentry, I was planning on doing most of the work myself and I could hardly wait to get started.

However, things are rarely as straight forward as they appear. The first job to be tackled was the bathroom and I left the plumber to his own devices for a week while I went to stay with a friend.

 Upon my return, I found that he had disappeared, leaving me with a bath that had been fitted on a slant; walls with huge gaps and badly fixed tiles; mismatched wall tiles; dried grouting smeared over every surface; silicone spread all over the new bath; taps put on back to front and debris scattered all over the house. I knew that I would be living in a building site for months, but this just was ridiculous!

I decided to tackle the bathroom disaster myself, and at least I learnt some useful tiling techniques in the process. To even up the colour match, I painted over the tiles which actually worked surprisingly well and I was really happy with the finished results.

 A couple of weeks later I was working with a friend breaking up the ceramic tiles on the kitchen floor and the rear part of the kitchen floor fell in. The boards were rotten and we were left with a huge gap right through to the ground two feet below!

The tiles were very sharp and at one point it looked like a massacre had taken place in my kitchen with blood splattered all over the floor. Whoever thought to put tiles on the floor of a mobile home in the first place must have been crazy because the place is constantly moving and they would have cracked within weeks of being laid.

One of my intentions was to open up the views towards the river by taking down a wall between the kitchen and the living room. I have amazing views in both directions with my house being situated on the curve of the river and I wanted to take full advantage of these.

We decided to test a section of wall to see how easy it would be to remove the stud walls and uncovered what my friend thought was an asbestos panel which wasn’t good news.

The environmental health department ordered me to leave the premises immediately and sent someone out within the hour to seal up the doors and letterbox. They even put up notices stating that the property was subject to an ongoing environmental health investigation and that entry to the premises was ill-advised. My poor little house was looking sadder by the day!

After the initial excitement and my high hopes; a few short weeks after moving in, I was homeless again and being forced to rely on my long-suffering friends to put a roof over my head. Except this time around I was in even more of a predicament as I’d been forced to leave the house with nothing except my handbag in case the place had been contaminated!

The following weeks were very stressful as I awaited the results of the asbestos testing. Having to borrow clothes and other essentials, I could really relate to those poor souls who lose their homes and all their possessions in disastrous circumstances. I felt completely lost and totally out of control of the situation.

Fortunately, the asbestos results came back as negative and three long weeks later I was able to finally move back into the house. The next few months were spent working 14 hour days and sleeping on the floor in the living room. There were no curtains at the windows and I was woken at dawn each day with the sun rising over the river. It was a very beautiful sight and one that I will always treasure as being part of the adventure.

After knocking down a few more walls, replacing floorboards, revamping a number of old pieces of furniture, refurbishing the kitchen units, decorating throughout, installing a new fireplace, fitting new lighting and door handles plus hundreds of other small jobs that seemed to take forever; by the end of July the work was finally finished.

The whole process was a real labour of love, particularly as I’d been diagnosed with focal Dystonia a few months previously. My manual dexterity had become severely impaired and tasks such as holding a paintbrush, or trying to get the lid off a can of paint were no longer the simple actions I had been used to.

Many of my visitors thought that the transformation was so impressive it deserved to be featured on ‘one of those TV makeover programmes’! When the universe hears such requests it loves to oblige and an email was promptly delivered into my inbox asking for contributors to the new series of ‘May the Best House Win’.

Being chosen to take part was great fun and it was lovely to have the recognition for having done a good enough job that ITV wanted to feature my little riverside pad on their show. The real reward though has been in overcoming all the set backs to experience the pleasure and joy of living in such a beautiful environment.

 

I will write about my experiences of the filming and the taking part in the show after it has been broadcast as it will be much more fun to talk about then!

Day 12 – 365 Days of Celebration

Today I celebrate the joys of overcoming adversity to fulfill my vision and live the life of my dreams!

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10 responses

12 01 2011
eof737

Hi,
Sounds like quite the challenge there Phew! Well, for your Birthday have a blast and keep going as 50 is the new 30… ITV, are you in England?
I found your blog on DailyPost… if you’d like to be a blog buddy, leave me a comment and we can support each other.
I write a positive, motivational blog and I blog daily.
Best,
Elizabeth

12 01 2011
1961 Girl

Hi Elizabeth,

Yes, I’m in the UK. ITV is one of the main broadcasters and it is very exciting to have the opportunity to appear on one of their shows. I’ve left a comment on your site and subscribed to your blog. I look forward to our daily positive motivations!

BEst wishes, Julie

12 01 2011
Leslie

Wow. This was a very real overcoming of adversity with a silver lining from the TV success.

12 01 2011
Just a little snarky

That is quite a story. I am glad your little house made it through the processes of improvements. They can turn out to be a bit more then first thought, some times.

12 01 2011
1961 Girl

You are totally spot on. If you double your budget for these type of projects and do the same for the amount of time you think you will need to complete the works, you stand a much better chance of meeting your deadlines!

12 01 2011
Lisa

Congratulations and Happy Birthday! Wow, that sounded like a lot of stress, but I am glad that part is over now and you are living in such a beautiful home. 🙂

13 01 2011
1961 Girl

Thanks for the early birthday greetings Lisa. Yes, I’m loving living here and the river is my daily inspiration. Enjoy your day!

13 01 2011
Andy the great chocolate cake robber

Jay Zeta-Kins

Congratulations on your forthcoming airing of the little house on the staines – or a welcoming hearth where there once were stains. Looks fabulous, car fits too. Pretty little, red for the sake of rock & roll, corvette but noo it can’t be we’re not in Kansas. How long is your broadcast look you? Did anybody ever write a song about Staines? I suppose royal fat boy with six wives and a penchant for trampling a shag pile of rabbits whilst in hot pursuit of the makings of a venison sandwich composed Greensleeves at the the old Great Park nearby.

The Thames murmuring beside the frontdoor, sounds wonderful, however I insist you get a boat manned by three strapping blokes and a dog called Montmorency moored outside. Now there would be an absolutely yellow brick road fiftieth birthday present. A Wind in the Willows Toad of Toad Hall long motorcar and Ratty and Mole costumes parked nearby.

Insist you take an excerpt from the Wind in the Willows from a chapter 7 entitled ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ and pin it to your wall.

“The Willow-Wren was twittering his thin little song, hidden himself in the dark selvedge of the river bank. Though it was past ten o’clock at night, the sky still clung to and retained some lingering skirts of light from the departed day; and the sullen heats of the torrid afternoon broke up and rolled away at the dispersing touch of the cool fingers of the short midsummer night.”

Andy Chocolatecakeman and Robbing

13 01 2011
1961 Girl

Hey Mr.Chocolatecakeman. Love the idea of the boat manned by three strapping men! A dog called Montmorency sounds pretty cool as well. As for the excerpt from the Wind in the Willows, this is a perfect description of a typical summer’s night on the riverbank. I shall look forward to your further blog length comments!

9 02 2011
40 Days and 40 Nights « 1961 Girl

[…] highlight was participating in a TV programme for ITV called ‘May the Best House Win’ which was broadcast last month. It was quite an eye opener to see myself in this way and what I […]

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