Do Up Diary #46 : A January 2015 catch up of our Manchester renovation & build

It’s been a very long few months since we demolished half our home in August 2014. The old ‘West Wing’ section, once stables with living quarters above, and built to the side of the main house, was falling down, structurally unsound, damp and cold. Coupled with the main house becoming virtually uninhabitable – no heating, a teeny bathroom, singled glazed windows and precious little insulation – it was time for a serious renovation and rebuild project. In summer last year the house was partially demolished and most of the main building ripped out, leaving us living since then in just two rooms, one a kind of office / site cabin / kitchen, the other a bedroom with a loo in it. By god we must love each other, this self-buildin’ dust fillin’ room chillin’ passion killin’ life isn’t for everyone đŸ˜‰

This is how it’s happened for readers just joining the Moregeous Mansions transformation, in which we’re aiming to turn a cold, crumbling and rental weary Victorian pile into a super efficient, spacially sexy and interiors wowing home by Summer this year. But first, we had to knock it down and rebuild it……

Step 1: The Before – a gorgeous house I fell in love with as soon as I first saw her, but one which needed a huge amount of work to make her last another 150yrs.

Before - Main house to the right, smaller West Wing to the middle, space to build to the left
Before – Main house to the right, smaller West Wing to the middle, then space to build to the left

Step 2: The Demolition – the scary bit when it all comes tumbling down.

The Demolition Stage

Step 3: The Foundations – the muddy bit when all of life seems sludgy brown.


Step 4: The Brickwork – the bit when things seems to start happening and a new house starts taking shape.

Brickwork: When it starts looking like a house might be happening!

Step 5: The Steel – the serious bit when men grunt a lot and big changes occur rapidly.


Step 6: The Garage – the first bit to look like an actual building, not just a site.

Garage : Starts to take shape

Step 7: The Timber. Oh so much of it. Floors and walls go in, dormers take shape. You realise you could keep a wood burning stove going for three years just from the offcuts.

Timber : Singlehandedly keeping local timber merchant Fallowfield Timber afloat ;)

Step 8: The Roof – the making water-tight bit. All 13 pitches and 3000 slates of it. A baptism of fire, dust and balancing skills.

The Roof:
The Roof:

Step 9 – The Daddy Dormer looks out over our hard work and the three Diddy Dormers đŸ™‚

Moregeous Design & Build Manchester

Step 10 – The Stand Back – where you think, hey, that looks ok, doesn’t it? Then think, oh god, now we’ve got to do the inside!!

Where you think, hey, that looks pretty good so far!!
Where you think, hey, that looks pretty good so far!!

The Challenges – To include but not exclusively mud, dust, dirt, cold water, nowhere to wash, nowhere to eat, no nails left, constantly dirty hands, an operation, skipping lunch, a leaky roof, tripping over cables, oh the list is endless đŸ˜‰Moregeous Design & Build Manchester

Four months in and it’s turn around time. We’ve effectively built two new houses, with a garage the size of a cottage and a new West Wing the size of a terraced house. It’s weird. Because we never used that unsafe part of the house, we almost didn’t realise it’s potential, thinking of it as mostly storage with it’s higgledy piggeldy, small interconnected spaces. Though I’m really good at ‘seeing’ spaces before they’re even started, never mind finished, even I am surprised by the space created. From creating foundations, through to the beautiful reclaimed brick walls going up, then all the timber framing, up to the ridiculously complicated roof and fishtail slates going on, it’s now time to start putting things back together.

It’s hard work hiking it over to my dad’s every time we want a shower and I do so miss having a bath but the ‘it’ll-all-be-worth-it’ fairy sitting on my shoulder  is keeping us going. If I ever see another one-pot meal again after this refurb I might throw it at the person presenting it. Living without a hob or any work surface isn’t easy for a serial pan-frier like me, I miss golden breadcrumbed chicken and lightly seasoned fish, fresh pasta, steamed veg and baby boiled potatoes. I dream of simmering sauces, reduced jus and seared steak. Today it started to snow and as the wind whistles through the open spaces where the bi-fold doors will so go, through the daddy dormer gaps and through the holes in the floor, Mr M and I can’t quite envisage a day when we won’t be wearing M&S thermals, onesies and two pairs of socks.

But we’re getting there. Today we sat down to specify the bi-folds and garage door to get everywhere sealed and protected, started working out the new heating system and I’m looking at planning the electrical layout. I’ve been collecting and collating gorgeous images of how I want the house to look internally, the interior design vibe and quirky touches which will give Moregeous Mansions the style she deserves. Exciting times after a lot of hard work, with a lot more hard work to go. That fairy better keep on whispering in my ear to get me though….

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