Construction Life

We know that renovations entail a lot of hair pulling and teeth grinding and holding your breath moments than constructing a house from scratch, more so when you are renovating an old house.  My family will move from our small apartment to my husband’s ancestral house just a few steps away.  Moving is really not a problem because we can do it anytime of the day even in pajamas.  But, we are so used to our small, minimalist surroundings that it will take time to adjust to living in a bigger space (physically, financially, and mentally).  The impetus to this whole renovation was the availability of my trusted friend and worker to start on the project.  So when he called, it just took a week and the renovation commenced even if I was not totally prepared and do not have a plan whatsoever.  How ironic, considering I am an architect.  

I don’t have the money to renovate the whole house yet so we prioritized by choosing the kids and our bedroom first.

Here are some issues that I have encountered over the years. Unfortunately, the “before” pictures that I took were damaged when I transferred the files.  Next time I should check if it was successfully transferred before deleting them! Now I have to contend to using the thumbnail view.

1.  Old houses contain a lot of memories and a LOT of STUFF. 

*FACT.* — Old family houses are really depositories of memories and with it comes a lot of material possessions.  We are also talking about not just one family but multiple families per generation, there are numerous items that you don’t want to throw away because we feel that if we do, we will forget.  That these items, even as mundane as a sock, are the extension of what we will remember.  I don’t think this practice is bad per se because Filipinos are culturally sentimental.  I too value some items because it takes me back to that particular moment.  The trick is to simply be selective of the memories and the items we wish to keep.


2.  Renovation is easier than new construction.

*FICTION.* — New construction gives you more freedom to design, renovation grounds you to consider and use whatever is right there. There is more planning involved in renovations (one I did not do in this case) and it is required so as to estimate the cost properly.  Renovations are also more sustainable, because the carbon footprint to create a house is huge and tearing it down (unless it is unstable structurally) disregards the energy that was used to build it.

3.  Construction work finishes on time, within budget, and without changes.

*FICTION*. — Construction adapts to the conditions on site and most of the time it entails additional budget and extension beyond your expected completion.  I had hoped to finish within two weeks for the rooms but we extended to three due to the discovery of termites residing within our walls.  I had to remove all wall boards in one side of the room and do termite treatment which I did not anticipate in the beginning.


4.  We can do interior decoration with the things we have in the house.

*FACT.* — I am a fan of re-purposing old items and make do with what is already there.  For example, I need a vanity table (now that I am into skin care lol! See old post) and instead of buying one, I used an old antique table and installed a mirror on the wall. We did not buy any new furniture to create more breathing space in the house.  I also asked the carpenter to dismantle the old cabinets to get materials for shelves that we will put in our rooms.  Then there are the usual re-positioning of the furniture to make it functional based on our activities. I have removed the cabinets and drawers in our room to make way for the bed and walk space.  Anything non-essential for sleeping has been placed in the other parts of the house.

5.  Renovating is the only way to update the house.

*FICTION.* —  The easiest way to revamp a space is to organize and clean.  Since we can only renovate the rooms due to our limited budget, I simply did a major clean up.  I disposed of files, old school books, old books, items that were broken, old linens, and anything that I will not use anymore.  But I cannot completely eradicate clutter since this is a shared home.  I just simply resigned myself that there are areas (such as our bedroom) that I can control.

Here are the pictures for Julia and Jansen’s room.  They are still not completely finished because we still have to put the toys, clothes, and books that are in the house. I will take pictures once these are in place and hopefully maintained.

White walls and white sheets for a good night sleep.  I wanted to incorporate the old antique bed frames with the minimalist (I hope) feel of the room.  I got the curtains from landmark for 400 per panel. Even though brown is not a kid’s color, I want to stick with neutrals since I’m sure they will fill this up with colorful toys and knick knacks.
The cabinet has been with Julia since she was a baby. The TV shall be wall mounted to make room for Julia’s rabbit town.  Their old plastic drawers shall be placed beside the closet.
The shelves came from the old cabinets.  This will be the place for books, the easel, and the tent or their study table.  I still don’t know how to fix up this corner.
This is Jansen’s side of the room.  I will replace that table with the wood table and chairs in our house.

The bed took the largest space in the room! I hope that I can still fix this and make room for playing. Finally they will have their space to do whatever they want.  It has been 9 years of sharing our space with Julia and then 2 years with Jansen. Although there are no regrets, I will definitely welcome our bedroom without clutter.  They will still sleepover our room but having a space of their own can mean a separate area for all their things! Will post more renovation pictures soon!


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