Thanks for visting Simply The Nest. I'm an English girl married to an Portuguese boy, and when I'm not working or taking care of our three adorable daughters, I blog about our house renovation, DIY projects, and family life in a Victorian Manchester nest.

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Simply The Nest Victorian House Renovation #8 - Render, Roof Lantern and Bifolds

Three of the elements of the build that I was most looking forward to seeing in real life were the bifolds, the roof lantern, and the render. The architectural intention of the extension was to combine old and new in a way that both complemented and energised the original building. So white rendered walls on a reclaimed brick plinth - Mediterranean meets Manchester, if you like, and described poetically by Dan the architect as "a white arm cradling the old building" - and a new set of glass openings including bifold doors, a roof lantern, a glass back door, and a giant kitchen window, all made from anthracite aluminium.

We chose the XPView doors from Express Bifolds in anthracite with a metallic finish (thank you again Sian for your assistance with this). They are sturdy, smooth, slightly sparkly, and both the customer service and installation were impeccable. The lead time for delivery was also very short - no more than 2-3 weeks. Thoroughly recommended. 

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog 

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

Ah, the roof lantern. Tom the builder magicked up a company to create this - it arrived as a flat pack and the builders installed it themselves. I love how it makes you look up at the original chimneys, which otherwise you'd probably never even think to crane your neck and cast your eye over. Old meets new and it's beautiful. 

After the doors and windows went in, the renderers got to work. I am completely in love with how this has turned out. 

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

I was less keen on the process of selecting the render at our local building merchant...

Me: Hi, my contractor sent me to look at samples of K-Rend and Weber. 

Bentley's man: We don't have any samples of K-Rend. 

Me: Apparently you said my contractor couldn't take them away and that I would have to come here to look at them. 

Bentley's man, after scratching his head: Here's the book with the K-Rend in it, love. 

Me: What about the Weber samples?

Bentley's man: Weber is the same as K-Rend. 

Me: Well, my contractor asked me to look at both. Is it the same product with two different trading names?

Bentley's man: They're the same thing, love. 

Me, after consulting my text messages: My contractor asked me to speak with Jason. 

Bentley's man: Implacable stare. 

Me: Are you Jason?

Bentley's man: No, love. 

Me: Is Jason here?

Bentley's man, after more head scratching: Yes, he's in the back. 

Me, after a pause, during which it became clear that Jason was not going to materialise: Would you mind getting him, please?

Jason appears. 

Me: I'm here to look at K-Rend and Weber samples. 

Jason: Certainly madame, I see you already have the K-Rend book so I'll just go and get the Weber one for you. 

Me: &*%$£%!!!

Still to come - the deck, the plastering, and the final internal openings and glass. Then we will be finished and can move onto kitchens, tiles, wallpaper and paint, how exciting!

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Simply The Nest Victorian House Renovation #7 - Internal Remodelling

During the four years we've lived here, I've regularly shown family and friends old and new round the house and explained our plans - this wall will be knocked down, this will become glass, we're putting a window here, and extending the wall there. I would usually see a few glazed expressions while doing this, probably because surprisingly no one else found our renovation quite as fascinating as I do ;-) or maybe because I never did a very good job of explaining how things would look. Seeing the vision for our house come to life in reality has therefore been absolutely wonderful, and all my worries over the years about whether it would feel big enough, or light enough, or open enough, or too open, have been completely allayed because in fact it's perfect.

Warning - picture heavy post coming up, with a few bonus wide angle shots.

Here's the old playroom (taken when we'd just moved in):

The playroom just before the build started:

And now with all the plaster taken off and the right hand side of the wall knocked down.

The wall between the playroom and the living room, with the plaster taken off:

And with the wall knocked down (with chipboard separating it from the living room to keep the dust in).

Moving across to the other side of the house - here's the old kitchen. When we moved in, it was yellow and green.

We painted it blue and white after a few months.

And then a couple of weeks ago, it was ripped out. I declined to closely examine the detritus discovered lurking underneath the cabinets.

Here's the view from the old kitchen looking through the hatch into the old dining room:

With the units ripped out:

Here's a closer look at the old dining room from the same angle (as if you had climbed through the hatch and were standing with your back to it):

And here's how it looks now the wall separating them has come down. Also, giant unexpected fireplace! 

Which naturally called for a giant unexpected fireplace selfie.

Here's another corner of the old dining room (the giant fireplace is on the left):

And with the frame for the cloakroom/buggy store in place (which will be accessed from the hall). The original door to this room on the right has also been removed and the opening widened.

Turning round and looking back at the old kitchen - the old hatch has been knocked out below to create a new opening:

And a wide-angle view of the room.

This is one of my favourite shots. I've been explaining for years that we'd be taking this old kitchen wall down and linking up with the other side of the house to create a big c-shaped space, so when the builders finally knocked the wall down I was hopping up and down with excitement.


And how it looks now.

Let's walk through this new opening, across what used to be the playroom, into the new kitchen, and turn round to look where we just came from. A few progress shots for the record...

Bay window still in place. The brick wall with the drainpipe in the middle of the new breeze blocks and the bay window is the wall that was knocked down in the pictures above.

Bay window begone. Keep an eye on that wall on either side of the larger yellow prop below.

And the new opening to the old kitchen. That yellow and blue room has never looked better. Note you can still see the drainpipe to the left - this will be boarded in and sound-proofed.

The last knock-through - to the right of the opening to the old kitchen. This will have a panel of fire-glass to allow a clear line of sight all the way from the new kitchen to the new playroom on the other side of the house with the giant fireplace (that used to be the dining room). Confused? Yes, us too - every time one of us refers to the dining room, the other asks "new dining room or what used to be the dining room?". Ah, renovation problems ;-)

Wide-angle shot of the space. This is clearly how estate agents take pictures as it makes the room look bigger than it actually is in reality.

And finally - into every temporary cellar kitchen, a little dust must fall. Here's Josh putting his head through the hole in the plaster-and-lath ceiling after Ben (pictured grinning sheepishly) put his foot through the floor in the room above.

We actually captured the whole episode on video, and it went something like this:

Peaceful cellar kitchen... peaceful cellar kitchen... peaceful cellar kitchen...

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH deluge of 140 year old dust thundering down...

A voice from above: "&%*$". Followed by: "Joooooooosh!".

Naturally we thought it was hilarious and took a bunch of photographs and immediately put them on Facebook.

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Simply The Nest Victorian House Renovation #6 - Ceiling and Roof

We have a roof!

First the ceiling joists went in. Here's the view from outside looking up and in:

And from inside looking from what used to be the playroom towards the new kitchen:

A couple of posts ago, I said that I'd better not allow Natalia in here because she'd be straight up the steel platform.

She also enjoys walking along the brick wall that forms the boundary for the new deck and patio.

The opening for the roof lantern was created.

And the external roof was installed. We are having a fibreglass roof which has entailed various layers of insulation board, plywood, chipboard, and the fibreglass itself, which we have specificed to be RAL 7016 Anthracite Grey to match the roof lantern, bifolds and windows.

Andre went onto the roof to take these pictures.

A panoramic view:

The builders are currently in the process of installing lead trim. Then the coping stones will go on, and finally the roof lantern will be installed.

A recent conversation with the bifold guys and Tom the builder, neatly illustrating the experience of having a third child:

Bifold Man: How old is the baby?

Me, proudly: She's nine weeks.

Five minutes later...

Tom: We're eleven weeks into the build so we're two weeks' delayed.

Me: No, we're nine weeks in. I know this for a fact because Elodie was born on the day you started.

Tom: Err, I'm pretty sure we're on week eleven.

Pause while we count the weeks on our respective phones...

Me: Yep you're right, the baby's two weeks older than I thought she was.

Tom: I'm not going to ask you to make any more decisions about the house, I think it's best that I just make them all myself going forward.

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