Our last blog entry was in December 2012, not a great way to enter Christmas having been told by the council that they didn’t want us to build our house (the council here are locally known as El Brute). The feeling you get when your life’s dream is extinguished is a horrible sick and knotted sensation to the pit of your stomach. You feel cheated and quite small in stature compared to the powers that be who make decisions from their desks affecting the rest of your life.
It’s a very impersonal decision they make with little explanation as to why; in fact each time I tried to speak to them I was made to feel like I was just adding to their “very busy day”. You’re somehow made to feel like you’re hassling them and if you annoy them, they’ll ensure you don’t get what you want.
So it’s been over a year of uncertainty, our Architect (Stuart Thompson of SJT Architects) was quietly confident that he’d have the decision overturned. I think he felt it was a matter of pride, as in his experience plots with less going for them had got the permission we sought. He didn’t want to give us light at the end of the tunnel as it’d be unfair to set us up for more disappointment should the appeal be turned down as well.
Stuart left no stone unturned and nothing to chance, he prepared what I can only describe as a dossier — a 150 page document that looked at everything from noise leakage, to shadows cast by the proposed house at various times of the day. From the outside looking in, we started to understand why it takes so long to be a qualified architect (and sometimes agony uncle) the level of detail and understanding were minutiae.
The waiting finally paid off with a call from Stuart “Morgan, we got it”… I was just stunned, you start to prepare yourself emotionally for a negative. When it’s something as personal as this – don’t get me wrong, I’m an eternal optimist – and you want to imagine you’ll get the decision you seek, but you don’t want to plan too much. Further planning just means you just get more attached to what you might not be able to have.
I had to double check… “You mean we got the planning decision overturned and can start work on the build”? A reassuring yes came back which was followed by a rush of euphoria and pure elation. I called my wife immediately who was moved by the news to say the least.
And that was that, we started to go into project mode. All those months of waiting and uncertainty were suddenly a thing of the past. We felt like we’d beaten the system and that there was power to the people after all. It goes to show if you just roll over and let the system dictate to you, you’ll be in the hands of people that can make bad decisions. Push back and you may just get what you deserve.
Looking back over the last year means we’ve be able to revisit the original plans, things like the floor plan, where doors might be and how practical they’d actually have been. As such we’ve made quite a few changes that we’d have to have lived with if we’d got the decision in the first place.
We’ve also had our second child (Otto) who is now 10 months old, living in a sleep deprived state whilst trying to build a house wouldn’t have been favourable. Lastly the business I run has had the extra focus it really needed during a time of growth, I’m not saying the council has done us a favour by a long stretch, but maybe everything does happen for a reason…
Over the coming months I’ll share some pictures of the build and tips where we’ve been able to save money.