When Life gets Hard

So this blog is a little different from the usual.

I just wanted to write a little update on the house. We had arranged for a buyer to move in on the 26th of February, we had sold the house! However, unfortunately the buyer pulled out. I know these are the kind of things you are supposed to expect when selling a house and it is unpredictable, you’ve just got to ride the wave yo.

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However, to be so close to completing something and literally be touching the goal and then to have it fall apart right at the finish line is a little bit crushing.

It has been a hard start to 2020. I went to Glasgow yesterday to see my bestie and we had a great time, so that lifted my spirits. We tried (failed) to make pancakes and drank a lot of alcohol before I crashed on the sofa.

Then the next day we visited George Square, the Lighthouse, Buchanan Street and Paesano’s Pizzeria! (was a good pizza 10/10)

 

View from the Lighthouse attraction, Glasgow

But anyways, I hope it sells soon, I want my new car 😦

 

 

Procurement Type 2

Design and Build 

The procurement process ‘Design and Build’ is an integrated procurement process, meaning that the design and construction phases can overlap. Differing from the traditional process (described in my last post), the responsibility of the design and the construction lies mainly with the contractor as opposed to the client. The client and the contractor are tied together through a single contract however the client may hire a project manager to protect their interests. This type of procurement system would be reimbursed through a fixed lump sum or a GMP (Guaranteed Maximum Price). The risks undertaken in a design and build contract are carried by the contractor which usually safeguards the client. This route is good for time constrained projects because the design and construction phases are integrated.

 

There are 4 Design and Build options:

1. Develop and Construct 2. Novated Design and Build 3. Package Deal 4. Turnkey

  1. Develop and Construct

Where the client appoints the design team and the detail they achieve varies as the contractor is responsible for the development of the design, going into more detail before submitting bid proposals. Design normally progressed to outline planning stage and possibly to full planning approval point and then the client can invite competitive tenders based on a detailed project concept. This process still requires one organisation to take responsibility for design and construction of the project

  1. Novated Design and Build

Client appoints consultants to carry out the conceptual design and tender document. Once the contractor has been appointed, the client transfers the design team to the successful bidder to carry out the detailed design. The contractor takes on responsibility for the design work carried out to date, sometimes together with the original design team. The consultants’ fees are normally predetermined by the client. Some designers resist this practise because the contractors and consultants may have a conflict of interests.

  1. Package Deal

A package deal is used for repetitive projects whereby projects are relatively simple. The client would need to be relatively flexible. You would gain a complete ‘off the shelf’ product but it would probably be quite a standard design.

  1. Turnkey

A contractor is responsible for overseeing absolutely everything and at completion it would just be a case of handing it over. This is used in more complex projects and is also known as EPC.

Design and Build Advantages
  • The client has only to deal with one firm, giving single point responsibility
  • Benefits from the contractor’s experience during design
  • Friendly relationship between the design team and the construction team (not adversarial as in traditional)
  • Price certainty before construction starts, provided the ERs are adequately specified and changes are not introduced
  • Reducing the project duration by overlapping design and construction phases.
  • The total cost may be reduced by reducing changes to minimum due to early collaboration between designers and constructors
Design and Build Disadvantages
  • Difficulties in preparing comprehensive brief or set of ERs.
  • Client commitment to a concept design at an early stage; often before the detailed designs are completed.
  • Bids are difficult to compare different design solutions, proposals and programmes.
  • No design evaluation: unless consultants are appointed
  • Client changes can be expensive: no BOQ, no competition
  • Design liability is limited by the standard contracts available.
  • Quality may be compromised as the client relinquishes control to the design and build contractor.
  • Total cost may be increased due to higher risks transferred to contractor
close up photo of dog wearing sunglasses

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Trek America 2019 Experience

On the 10th of August 2019 I was heading off to Manchester to begin my long journey to the USA, a what a journey it turned out to be. I wont lie to you, I had been in charge of organising everything so I was preparing for the worst, and to add to my anxiety quite, the weather was causing some serious delays but luckily, I managed to board the train on time… At least, that’s what I had thought! As the train pulled into Oxford Road, the conductor asked us to leave the train, 2 stops from where I needed to be and at this point it was cutting it fine with 2 hours to get through check in and security.

However, I managed to catch the plane and get comfortable for the next 11 hours. Literally was the worst experience ever, 11 hours in the same seat.

After a couple minor delays on board the Thomas Cook flight I arrived at San Francisco, and the flight overall was good. But this was where the good luck stopped, standing in the longest line in the world at customs I received an email informing me that my hotel room had been cancelled, seriously?! I immediately texted my friend that I was due to meet in arrivals and THANKFULLY she was able to get to the hotel and sort out the entire situation and I was free from customs a grand total of 5 hours later.

We stayed in the accommodation recommended by Trek America, it was expensive and not very nice but it done the job and saved us the hassle of travelling to the meeting point for the Trek as it was in the lobby. Also there was a nice American diner located at the bottom of the hotel. I wouldn’t chose to stay there personally.

I arrived a day before the Trek was due to begin and I would recommend doing this as it gave my friend and I a chance to explore San Francisco properly as you don’t get much time on the tour. We walked the Golden Gate Bridge, when we got there it was totally covered in fog, which was disheartening but by the time we walked to the other side and back again (around 4 miles) it had cleared up. We then headed into China Town for some dinner and back to the hotel for an early night before the next morning!!

Trek Day One

Starting the trek at 7:30am we met with all other campers in the lobby, there were 12 of us in total, 11 girls and 1 boy. It was a quiet start but everyone chatted and got along as we made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Making a quick stop there, walked to the other side and were met by our tour guide and I was glad because we didn’t have to walk back again, strongly advise wearing sun cream as I have some pretty shameful tan lines I have to admit. We then had a big drive to our campsite where we would spend the night near to Yosemite, we stopped a couple times along the way for food. The tour guide was great for accommodating stops and breaks, I never felt rushed or desperate for the toilet. That night the group cooked and cleaned at the campsite. The equipment was great, I expected old tents and dirty, old supplies but luckily we camped in brand new tents (we named ours Will Smith) with little mattresses which was a nice touch… much appreciated on that rocky ground!

Trek Day Two

We were all packed up and ready to rumble at 7am for our day at Yosemite. This tour is so fast paced, without the early mornings and late nights it would be so difficult to make the most of our experience, however, I don’t think that this took away anything from our trip. Mari, our leader, worked really hard with the timescale available and the group was able to get a lot out of the time that we had. Yosemite was beautiful, but I’ve done a few hikes, this was the hardest, it was incredibly steep and hot. When we reached the top of Nevada falls it all became worth it. What a view!

So glad that we done it together, we all supported each other to the top and by the time we got back down we had all bonded a lot better as a group. We left Yosemite at 3:30pm after our 6 hour hike and returned to the campsite for more cooking and a swim in the pool/river.

Trek Day Three

This day was the longest drive that we had on the trip and it was actually not so bad. We set off in the early hours and made stops in places like Death Valley and arrived around 5pm in Las Vegas, playing games, listening to tunes, chatting, sleeping all the way there. We stayed in an beautiful hotel called the Golden Nugget. I really did not expect this to be included in the price that we had paid so I was over the moon! (But don’t drink the water in the room it’s $4!). This night was epic, we had a private party bus through Vegas, stopping at the famous sign and at the Bellagio where we watched the stunning water show, honestly this night was my highlight of the trip, it doesn’t matter if you’re not 21 you need to experience it.

Trek Day Four

This was our free day, free to explore Las Vegas and do whatever you want. 7 out of the 12 of us decided to stick together and we had breakfast (massive pancakes) and then headed into Las Vegas to explore some of the most beautiful hotels in the world, and Trump Towers. We wandered around the hotels and MnM world from about 9am-4pm and then headed back to the Nugget for a dip in the shark tank pool! For dinner we went to an all you can eat buffet, which was immense and catered exceptionally well to my vegan friend, so trust me when I say that we got our money’s worth. After exploring Fremont street that night we went to bed to start the next day.

Trek Day Five

This day we mostly travelled again but I would like I said, the journeys were always enjoyable and totally worth it. We arrived in the Grand Canyon camp site where we were split in 2 groups. One group had paid to do a helicopter ride over the top of the Canyon, but I was in the other group that didn’t want to(*afford to) do it. Mari got us to put paper bags over our heads and walked us about 2 minutes to a location where when she told us to take the bags off, we had an amazing view of the canyon. It was worth being videoed and laughed at by strangers for walking around in paper bags because it was really cool to have it appear in front of you like that but I won’t lie, I was humiliated in public.

We had plenty time for photos and posing while we waited on the others and when they arrived we ate pizza on the edge of the canyon and watched the sunset… magnificent.

Trek Day Six

This day we were woken up early to go back to the canyon before it got too hot for a quick hike. We went down the Bright Angel Trail, and it may of only been 1.5 miles but it was like a freaking frying pan, don’t even get me started on the way back up, I could hardly breathe, I abandoned my friend Iona half way down, all friendship loyalties were lost and I’m glad because if I’d of went any further down, I’d still be there today trying to walk back up. Serious applause to you, Iona.

We then had a quick stop at the museum they have there before getting the shuttle back to camp.

We were off to Colorado River! We dragged our journey out as long as we could to avoid arriving in the heat. Done a bit of a supermarket shop and arrived at the Colorado River campsite at about 6pm. We were able to swim in the river and shower before a good old salad for tea. We slept without tents this night and it was beautiful… after we had to call the police to rescue 2 camp mates that had gotten swept out by the current in the river… everyone was okay though, bloody tourists.

Trek Day Seven

Last day of the trek was so sad! Everyone was so close by this point. Not one person had a bad trip, we were all so lucky to have had such an unforgettable experience and even though it was hard with all the travelling, we made the most of the time that we had. The last day was spent travelling to LA and had a stop at a tourist spot on Route 66 before we hit Venice Beach. It was so nice to chill by the beach with an ice cream before heading to the finish point. Our final destination was another hotel, which I was thankful of after 2 nights camping! You do have to book your own room for the meeting/finishing points so we had to say goodbye to the campers who were staying else where.

Last Day

We opted again to stay in the recommended hotel as it was convenient with a free airport shuttle. It was expensive, however it was nice with a pool, free breakfast and WiFi. It may be worth a look about for cheaper though, and I would definitely stay the extra night as the campers that flew that day were a bit rushed.

I had to leave for my flight at about 4pm the day after the trip finished so I had all day really to explore LA. I’m really glad Iona suggested doing a bus tour as it meant we could start at 9am after breakfast and see lots of the city quickly. Starting at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, we got on the bus tour to Beverley Hills where we got off to use the bathrooms and explore a little. A highlight was definitely going to the Regent Beverley Wiltshire (Pretty Woman Hotel) and Rodeo Drive ‘baby’.

Getting back on the bus we finished back where we started and walked the Walk of Fame, looking out for my fave, The Rock Johnson… Got a snap of the Hollywood sign and then got an Uber back to the hotel for my free transfer to the airport. This was one of my favourite days despite not being with my team mates.

All in all, what an incredible week! It was quick but we done so much, it’s a great opportunity to see a big part of the world with a bunch of lovely other travellers. I would recommend this trip to everyone, 100%. Trek America Western Wonder from San Francisco.

My Experience – Buying a House at 19

Buying a House at 19

“Buying a house is kind of like catching a train, it’s probably going to get delayed.”

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At the beginning of 2019 I made the decision to invest in a renovation project, I was inspired by my parents who have bought and sold properties in the past. I had been feeling a bit useless and life was at a standstill working a full-time job just felt like I was living the same day repeatedly, I needed something to fulfil my goals and regain my energy. Although, I didn’t want to undertake this huge opportunity single-handed, so I came to an arrangement with my parents, this deal being that they would loan me the money to buy and renovate a property, with their help, they would get the entire loan back and any profit would be split between us dependent on different factors, such as:

  1. Time spent working on the house
  2. Work effort
  3. I contributed around 5% of the overall budget, therefore, my share of the profit will be considerably smaller

Fortunately, they were in the financial position to buy the house free of any kind of mortgage or loan for me which saved us a lot of time and hassle meaning that we could jump straight into house hunting. Regardless of my parents help, I made sure that the house was put in my name, I am so thankful for everything they’re doing it was such a big deal to me because it felt like the beginning of something positive in my life. We viewed multiple properties in our local area but none of them quite buttered our bread and we left most viewings feeling rather flat. This being said, it was a blessing in disguise as if it was not for these shortcomings, we never would have found this house

We went to view this house after seeing it online, it simply ticked all the boxes and going to view it was the icing on the cake. My dad in particular just loved everything about it, and so did I! We didn’t hang around, as soon as we finished, we were in the solicitor’s office putting in an offer. Sadly, this offer was at the top of our budget and got rejected, but it didn’t knock us, we wanted this house so badly that we dipped into the renovation budget to accommodate a slight rise in our offer which, thankfully, bagged us the house!

Since then, I have been in and out of the solicitor’s office. I honestly don’t like it, something about walking into a room of extremely wealthy, old people just feels daunting, like they’re totally judging me, and I can definitely feel it sitting in the waiting room. In the office isn’t much better either, I like my solicitor, she is friendly, of course she is (we are paying her…!) but she just talks with so many words that I have to pretend to understand, she could honestly be talking another language and I’d still sit and agree with her as if I was fluent! I’m glad to have my parents sat on either side of me, I hope they’re more clued up than me. One thing I did understand however, was that there was a discrepancy with the plans, which means we have a problem.

Whilst we waited for the sale to process, I decided to start up this blog. I thought that it could be a clever tool to track the progress we make, as I hope to do this again in the future, it would really benefit me to have something to look back on and help me to make better choices in the future. Adding to this, it’s a way to keep me entertained and most importantly, focused, while I haven’t got any jobs to do. It has been harder than I had thought it would be, keeping views and likes consistent and thinking of things to upload has been like a job in itself, not to mention that Instagram is a dog eat dog world, one minute I have 100 followers the next 90 and 80, and so it goes on! It’s hard to keep up sometimes, but overall, I enjoy it a lot. @huntersparkdesign

Hunter and Spark, Family Property Development since 2019

We were updated by the solicitor that they were resolving the issues with the plan and that it should not be much longer before the keys are in our hands, it’s annoying that we didn’t get them a week ago like we had first thought, I can tell my dad is eager to make a start, but as is life.

Aside from my blog, in the meantime I have been making budget plans, drawn some pictures, a spreadsheet timetable (currently with no jobs or times on it yet but I have the layout!) and looking at home inspo on Pinterest to get me prepared for the big day! I think that we will possibly be looking at another week before I can pick the keys up but that’s okay, good things come to those who wait, blah blah. As soon as those keys are in my hands, I’m going to be in there measuring it up and taking photos, I can’t bloody wait.

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Also, another thing I am buzzing about is that summer is almost here!!! 🙂

summer flowers

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Week 4 – Property & Final Blog

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I have decided to set a little challenge for myself this month, I have uploaded a blog per week for a month and this, as blog number 4, will be the last. Currently, I am really excited to begin this new project so it isn’t much of a challenge but more of a time killer until my parents and I can get into the house. When I upload this blog, we should have a 12 day count down to the day we get the keys! #happydays I do plan on keeping this blog updated throughout the renovation progress because I think it will make for an interesting little project.

So far, I have written about the structural changes we aim to make, our design views, budget, personal challenges and goals. In this final post for my blog challenge, I am going to share the pictures we have of the interior of the house taken by the estate agents and expand a little on the garden and lean-to on the back elevation of the house.

Garden

The garden at the back is definitely on the smaller side but it still a really good feature to have. It will probably remain mostly grass but we would like to replace those slabs with a nicer looking patio. The gate that is left ajar in the photo above leads into the neighbouring garden which as far as I’m aware holds a shared access. All in all, we will not be doing any extensive work on the back garden but definitely a bit of scrubbing up.

Looking at it from the other side you will see the back of the house.

Back-of-house

Our lean-to is a bit of a nuisance as it sits in the garden of the next house, but it is our property as the utility leads into it. We plan on bricking it up and having a little sky light in the roof of it, just build properly from what is already in place. I think that it is a very ugly addition to the back end of the house so let’s hope it’s easy to resolve.

We don’t have any concrete plans for the garden or lean-to at this moment, we will probably discuss them more once we have come up with a more conclusive plan for the other rooms. It is extremely difficult to draw up anything conclusive at this time as we don’t have access to the building and any plans that we have got lack substance due to missing measurements and such. Even since I wrote my first blog post we have changed our minds and developed our initial thoughts so this whole process is going to be interesting, especially with all the changes.

With the day of entry getting close now I am hoping to start coming up with a bit of a work schedule, possibly pulling together a small Gantt chart but I’m unsure as to how useful it will prove to be because we don’t exactly have time limits or goals to meet. I believe that it would be useful in terms of keeping us focussed and also would be a fun thing to do to track the progress each week.

Speaking with my dad, it seems that the first task will be to get in and measured and then from this, drawing up some actual plans for the building work, getting it all checked by the professionals and submitting these for approval. Although, if you were to ask my mum, she would tell you the first job is to give it a good old clean!

I have attached below the pictures of the interior from the estate agents page!

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