Our Major Home Renovation (part 1)

When we were househunting, in Norway back in 1997, I knew it the moment we walked into the house; that we had found our new home. I suspected our friends and family thought we had lost our marbles, buying a house labeled “a renovator’s dream” with a baby on the way and no handyman tendencies to speak of, and perhaps they were right. Fortunately for us I am an architect and I started making the new house plans right away. We were also lucky to get a hold of carpenters quickly to do the rebuilding and renovation for us.

Our new home was an old house (built in 1953) in desperate need of renovation. At the time we bought it this is what it looked like:

Picture to the left: Ours is the left half, Picture to the right: The living room

Picture to the left: The bathroom, Picture to the rigth: The bedroom

(I’m guessing you are quietly agreeing with our sceptic friends…)

For me it was a dream come true; a house with every opportunity for implementing solutions just the way we wanted them and we could check off nearly every point on our list of criteria.

The new solutions were designed from the time we bought the house in March 2007 and until we started rebuilding it in May. At the time the living space was about 150 square meters including basement, ground floor and first floor. We decided pretty quickly to build an extension to it and to make use of the attic; also the vast majority of the rooms needed a serious makeover. There wasn’t much time to doodle about it, but I did consider a few alternative solutions before settling on this one.


By extending the roof over the old terrace we added three new rooms and by building a new stairway to the attic we could exploit this space maximally.

House plan of the first floor and the attic after the rebuilding. The two bedrooms on the right and the home office are new.

In august of 1997 the skeleton of the extension was finished, but there was still a lot of work to be done! Among other things the new stairway up to the attic and all of the new bedroom windows were missing. From the first day of august 2007 when we moved into our new home with a four weeks old baby and craftsmen coming and going all the time, until late November, all of the family members were sleeping on mattresses in some temporary part of the house, awaiting their permanent bedroom.

Picture to the left: Our carpenter as seen from “the bathroom” through the new bedrooms being made
Picture to the right: Adding a brand new room to the attic

Picture to the left: This is where the new stairway is coming up
Picture to the right: The attic, where you see the old stairway coming up in the middle of the room

My next post will show you what we did to the place, how we made room for everyone – including a home office for both my husband and I – and renovated every room in the house (AND kept our pretty strict budget). We made some smart choices (getting a fixed offer from the craftsmen, among other things) and ended up getting the house ready just in time for Christmas. Not even an unexpected water leakage in our basement the same month we moved into the house could stop us. It was a tough 9 months, from the day we bought our new home until it was finished, but we are proud of what we accomplished.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the story.

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