Our new kitchen, and a spectacular failure to plan for it

New kitchen, building work, young children

These LEGO models make it look so straightforward. Pic credit below.

Many years ago, I was a cub scout. Here we are 30-ish years later and I have spectacularly failed to live by that famous moto; “be prepared.”

In a few weeks, you see, we will be getting a new kitchen. The work to our family home will start in early December and go on right up until the beginning of the Christmas holidays.

Needless to say, this is very exciting. It’s work that desperately needs doing, but it’s not a small job whatsoever.

We’re not talking about a simple swap of kitchen units. We presently live with a horrible galley kitchen that’s just 80 cm wide at one point. We’re having the spine wall of the house brought down to create a modern open-plan kitchen/diner. This will also involve re-plumbing part of the central heating system.

In theory it will only take a few weeks. Alas, I’m cynical enough to believe it won’t run to schedule and will almost certainly eat into the holiday period (oh, and being a blogger, I will keep you updated with regular posts as the work is carried out).

The true reality of what we’re about to do is only just hitting home. The work will disturb almost every room in the house. Sorting out the central heating system will have a particular impact on our six year old daughter’s bedroom.

There will be no central heating or running water. We will have no kitchen. The mess will be horrendous and the downstairs of the property will become the world’s most dangerous playground, littered with power tools, discarded masonry, splintered timber and so on.

Helen, our six year old, will be the easy one to deal with. Dealing with Toddler Adams will present particular challenges. I can’t hang around with her in the house during the day and it will be too noisy in her bedroom for naps.

New kitchen, building work, young children

I mean seriously, we gotta get out of this place while the work is done, right? Pic credit below.

I think I’m guilty of being a little blasé about what’s going to happen. You see I’ve done up property and lived among the squalor of building sites several times. Not, however, since I had children and especially not since I became a stay at home father responsible for running the household.

Mrs Adams and I had a brief chat about the situation last night. It went something like this;

Me; “Darling, I’m going to see if I can find us somewhere to live for at least a couple weeks.”

Mrs Adams; “Good idea.”

I’m exploring a few options; house sitting, short term let, Airbnb etc. The only problem is we’re on an exceedingly tight budget so need to keep the costs as low as possible.

One of the most promising options is to borrow a friend’s large caravan. I don’t particularly like the idea of living in such a confined space throughout December but I think it has to be preferable to living in a cold, filthy, dangerous building site with two curious children.

So dear reader, what would you do? Would you risk living in the house or would you jump ship and find somewhere else to live? If you have experience of having this kind of work done while looking after young children, what do I need to know? All and any advice would be gratefully received.

Pic credits; Sitmm, sourced from Pixabay.com and reproduced under Creative Commons agreement.

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  1. November 10, 2015 / 8:00 am

    Ooh exciting but mental! I’ve not had this experience but if I could move out for a bit probably would but would lump it if I couldn’t. I just reckon I’d be so grumpy until it was done 🙂 I bet will look fab! Keep being chilled out about it and keep us posted xx #twinklytuesday

    • John Adams
      November 10, 2015 / 9:17 am

      Thanks Sarah. The plans look fab. When in place, meal times will be much easier and it’ll have other benefits as we can all stay in the same room without having to constantly leave the room when someone needs a new spoon or wants pepper or a drink etc. This is the situation we’re presently in and as soon as the grown ups go into the kitchen, chaos ensues! . I’ll be able to keep Helen in the kitchen with me as she does homework and I cook while little sister entertains herself in the living room. I’ll let you know how it goes and how it affects my blood pressure.

  2. Ade Davies
    November 10, 2015 / 10:08 am

    We did the same thing last year and lived in while work was ongoing. It wasn’t easy being at home with the children (6 & 3 at the time), but the options for short term letting were impossibly expensive so we muddled through. Once the work started the living room was turned into a rather dusty kitchen/diner/living room with a kettle and microwave and we moved the old fridge into the garage. The microwave was good for doing soup and the odd jacket spud, but we did splurge on take aways and coffee shops for the first few weeks until we had a hob and oven again.

    Luckily we had replaced our old boiler and hot water tank a few months before the kitchen project as they were shot, so we didn’t go without hot water or heating while the kitchen was a building site. If your hot water tank has an electric immersion function it should be able to provide you with hot water and B&Q do some perfectly serviceable (and cheap) portable electric heaters that we used to keep us warm while the boiler and radiators were replaced.

    The move to a kitchen/diner is the best thing ever. Being able to supervise homework/lego/drawing and at the same time cook dinner is a dream and makes domestic life a lot more straightforward!

    Good luck and enjoy the dust!

  3. Andy
    November 10, 2015 / 10:41 am

    Caravan sounds like it would be a holiday! Would you put the awning up?

  4. November 10, 2015 / 12:31 pm

    Good luck. By the end of our kitchen refit (new electrics, new gas pipes, new ceiling, new french doors, new floor), the kids were BEGGING us for home cooked food that didn’t come out of a microwave 🙂

  5. November 10, 2015 / 5:06 pm

    Eek! Good luck! We didn’t move out, but then again we didn’t have the heating re-done and our kids are older. And it was still horrendous! It sounds like moving out, at least for the very worst bit, might be the sensible option.
    You do know this is going to mess your Christmas up completely, right?

  6. November 10, 2015 / 10:41 pm

    I hate the hassle of major work on the house. Would probably leave if practical. Well, maybe. Would be torn, as also hate strangers in house alone. #twinklytuesday

  7. November 11, 2015 / 11:04 pm

    Oh my what a situation. That is definitely too dangerous for a little toddler so I understand your wanting to find another place to stay during this time. I hope you find something more comfortable than a caravan. Maybe a few nice friends will let you stay overnight for a day or two at a time.

  8. November 14, 2015 / 4:16 pm

    Compared to what your home is going to be like, the caravan sounds like heaven. Take that option. I hope everything goes according to plan, and you won’t run into any weird problems along the way. I think I have watched to many home improvement shows to truly believe that there won’t be something that will be discovered along the way, you might not like. I hope I am wrong.

    • John Adams
      November 18, 2015 / 5:19 am

      I am looking forward ot it, in a weird kinda way. It’ll be a small sanctuary away from the insanity of the build.

  9. Kevin
    November 17, 2015 / 1:30 pm

    Sounds like it will be fantastic when it is done. When thinking about the cost don’t forget the potential savings of giving the builders an empty house to work in, not having to reconnect services like electricity and water each evening for you etc. can save a lot of time and allow them to work in the most efficient order. Also if they are running behind schedule a lot of decent builders will work into the night to get things back on track but with kids in the house they might not be as keen. Whichever route you take best of luck with it.

    • John Adams
      November 18, 2015 / 5:14 am

      This is the best advice I’ve heard yet. Thanks Kevin, you’ve made some amazingly persuasive points.

  10. November 17, 2015 / 7:44 pm

    OH that is a big decision, can you stay with friends and family for a bit and the caravan so that the time is all split up and only moving back when it’s more put together towards the end of it. Not easy bless you with two children. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me and hope to see you again tomorrow for another great round. #sharewithme

    • John Adams
      November 18, 2015 / 5:02 am

      Alas, our families are 400 miles in one direction and 100 in the other. If it wasn’t for Helen being at shcool then I’d happily decamp with them for a week or so. Staying with friends for a few days may work, especially now Mrs Adams has been persuaded to stay in London Mon – Fri. And yes, I’ll be back to #sharewithme this week.

  11. November 17, 2015 / 8:26 pm

    Ooh having our bathroom done in a week when EJ was 16 months old was hard enough but it sounds like it’s going to be chaos in your house! I have a friend at work who, along with her husband, is addicted to developing properties. They have an 8 year old and a 1 year old and they managed to live in a caravan outside their latest property for months and months – I honestly don’t know how they did it but it is do-able! Good luck John. Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout

    • John Adams
      November 18, 2015 / 4:58 am

      Thank you Sam. I am looking forward to the end result…but getting there is going to be a nightmare!

  12. November 18, 2015 / 9:43 am

    I think I would stay. I’d move the six year old out of her room for the duration of the work being done in there and I would see about borrowing a small fridge which I would put on the landing or somewhere along with a kettle, toaster and microwave. Eating out or ordering in would be cheaper than living away from home for a few weeks, so I would do that too.
    Good luck, whatever you end up doing. The end result will be brilliant for family life, I’m sure.
    #twinklytuesday #thetruthabout

    • John Adams
      November 22, 2015 / 6:19 am

      The end result will be worth waiting for. It’s the bit that comes beforehand that worries me!

  13. November 19, 2015 / 11:02 am

    Eeek – major stuff! I’d be tempted to move out, but then it’s not your place and so difficult to relax. But if you stay at home it’s messy. And cold. And a fascinating playground for a little one! If only life was as tidy as Lego figures 🙂 #thetruthabout

    • John Adams
      November 22, 2015 / 6:12 am

      Oh if only life were as tidy as Lego figures! If it was, we’d probbaly have the new kitchen by now.

  14. November 20, 2015 / 9:31 am

    Well first things first, why did you choose December???! I wouldn’t fancy living in a caravan at this time of year either brrrr. Do you know anyone going on holiday? Have family nearby? I would suggest a 1 week holiday let or some such thing. As you say, better to be out during the day with a toddler. Tricky times but worth the effort in the end, I’m sure. Best of luck!

    • John Adams
      November 22, 2015 / 6:10 am

      Ah, not s straight forward. The work was supposed to be starting in October, but it had to be delayed. There are no family nearby and I keep asking if friends could put us up. Thus far I’ve drawn a blank but I’m hoping someone may step forward!