First meeting with the architect

Chris and I have recently moved into our Dream Forever Home. We know it’s our forever home because there’s not a chance in hell it would ever sell again – it was on the market for about 4 years before us suckers came along. It’s a lovely house with a stunning view in a fabulously dramatic area of the country. We are extremely lucky and having lived here for six weeks now I can honestly say there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

But. There is woodchip wallpaper EVERYWHERE. Even on the ceiling in the bathroom which I only noticed this morning, perhaps I’m getting used to it. There are also light switches without light fittings, my office has just one single plug outlet, the windows are very draughty and there’s no downstairs loo. None of this matters really, we adore the house and all its charms and quirks, but as we plan on staying here forever we thought we may as well have an architect draw up plans to improve the layout.

The house is a traditional Teesdale longhouse. We live in the middle third, with a double height barn on one side and a cow byre and hayloft to the other. There are another two smaller outbuildings ready to convert too.

Wanting the project to stay local (“a local project for local people!”), we found a nearby architect whose previous work we liked and invited him over. Well reader, I had to scrabble for the posh teacups because it transpires he’s one of our local gentry and lives in a wonderful manor house with gardens open to the public. Cue best posh voice.

Half an hour before he was due to arrive I sent Chris off to the village to buy a ladder so we could get up into the lofts and have a look around. Chris rang me from the village to say he had locked the keys in the car and could I bring the spare key. No was the short answer, the architect was due to arrive in 10 minutes and the spare key to the other car had been maimed when Chris had used it to open a meter cupboard some weeks ago. I later discovered he’d also trotted off with the barn keys still in his coat pocket so I couldn’t even show the architect the building we wanted him to convert, how embarrassing. Chris is nominated for all the Darwin awards this month…

The lovely architect arrived and I talked at him for a solid half hour about the house, whether we could have those aluminium windows they always use on Grand Designs, could the swimming pool be south-facing, could the new garage open into the house, and could we have a wind turbine? Hey, I’m a dreamer!

Just as we’re tramping through the snow to the back of the house, Chris arrives home. He’s stood resplendent in a sheep trailer being towed by a quad bike, like Boudicca on her chariot. Our neighbour had taken pity on Chris who was marching the 4 miles home from the village along the notoriously marshy Pennine Way and given him a lift. Chris, like a prize ram, looked very pleased with himself.

I was pleased to hear that the roof wasn’t about to cave in and that there was nothing nasty living in the loft spaces. I hadn’t been into the loft for fear of what I might find but there’s just a few gaps in the roof where the snow has come through. Ignorance is bliss as they say. We can’t wait to get started with the actual plans for our conversion. I sent the architect off with a list of essential, desirable and dream ideas so let’s see what I comes up with!

Wood-fired hot tub, anyone?

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