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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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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 😦

 

 

Blog Challenge 2.2 – Budget and Cost

“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went”
For those who may not already know, I have been renovating a property for the past 6 months and at the beginning of the venture I challenged myself to write 4 blog posts on different topics. Now that the house is nearing completion, I have decided to review the process and redo the blog challenge!
I previously wrote a reflection piece just outlining our progress and this week I am going to be writing about the budget.

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So, rewind back to May 2019, I had written my blog post highlighting my expectations for the house and had just been given the keys. We purchased the property for £86,500 and I commented in my blog that we aimed to spend roughly £105,000 in total, so just shy of £20,000 for the restoration. I’ve been keeping good track on receipts and have tallied up nearly all of our expenditure right up to the end of October. However, I am missing receipts for a couple things that we purchased online like the oven, so I would say my record could be out by no more than £1,000, and adding to this, we still haven’t paid the plumber or electrician! But I aim to do another progress report once we have gathered all the costs up, I am not looking forward to scouring receipts and payments!!
Here is the chart I created at the start of the project:

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1st Estimate Finance Chart

I have changed the colours but kept the same numbers, so it is still the same chart.
And this is where we are at now:

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6 Month Rough Spend

I have a little note pad where I record every receipt, I write item bought, the price and the date, if there are multiple products on one receipt, I tend to just label it generically i.e. plumbing equipment, tools, etc. I wish I had been a bit more detailed though because when I came to make this chart it became really difficult to split some receipts into categories as there would have been items bought that went into different areas, so I excluded them from this chart. So, the chart above is just a ballpark figure currently.

According to my records we have spent £99,912 but considering that I haven’t recorded the boiler or cooker yet, we are probably about £100,912. All that we really have left to buy is flooring and of course pay the plumber and electrician so it wouldn’t be too shabby if we finished at around £107,000; £2,000 over our initial budget. In addition to this, we had a rough evaluation a couple of weeks ago to ensure we were not over-spending and the evaluator recommended putting it on the market at £145,000-150,000, so a £38,000 gross profit would be tiddddy.

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Just to quickly debrief my estimates, comparing both charts it’s clear to see that some areas were quite close to my guess, but some were way off the mark. The roof was a pleasant surprise, after gaining a couple of opinions it was confirmed that the roof was dandy and needed little repair work, the money we have spent on it was mostly on replacing the guttering.

The kitchen segments are similar, I set a price of £3,000 in total for the kitchen which we just about reached but not quite, #winning. The bathroom was supposed to be £500 for the main suite and £500 to construct and install a brand new ensuite but we decided to not go through with those plans and instead put a little WC downstairs in the utility cupboard, with just a sink and toilet it fits nicely in there and in budget too – even better!
Also, I have added fees into the updated chart as I didn’t think about the solicitor’s fees and taxes we would be paying. Luckily, we get a discount on council tax due to the property being empty but we haven’t included what we have paid in council tax on the chart yet as I haven’t gotten around to adding it up. The structural changes on the graph have mainly consisted of knocking down the dividing wall between the kitchen and dining room and replacing it with a steel beam and this cost roughly £600. I haven’t included the porch on the new graph because all that my dad did was remove the horrible wooden cladding and brick it up to the roof that it already had using the bricks that had been knocked out of the wall inside, love a bit of recycling ❤ also, we added a window and door to it but those are included in the doors and window category.

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All in all, it’s going well in terms of budget. Hopefully, the only categories to grow before we finish will be the decorating one, the fees (from the sale), the plumbing and electrics. So happy with the project so far and will be a little bit sad to see it go, but I’m sure the pay day will cheer me up… If all goes to plan after all!!

Blog Challenge 2.1 -Renovation Update

6 Month Renovation Update

In May, my family and I were given the keys to our new property in the South of Scotland. This was such a big opportunity, especially for me as it was something I had never done before. My mum and dad had renovated a couple of smaller properties in the past but this one was going to be a learning curve for us all.

We are now 6 months into the project and to follow on from my blog challenge that I did back in May, I am now doing another challenge to celebrate. I will upload this blog every Friday for the remaining 3 Fridays in November to mark our 6-month point!

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VICTORIA HOUSE PROJECT

This first blog is just a recap of what I had outlined in the beginning and comparing it to what we have actually achieved so far. Starting with…

The Bathroom

Here are some pictures of what I was aiming for in regard to the bathroom, I got a lot of my inspiration from Pinterest.

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After we moved the position of the door, I really stuck to the green and white colour palette, but I decided to keep the original wooden boards around the edge of the room after I found a picture with something similar and thought it looked really nice. We did tile a small part of the wall behind the shower, just for practicality really. I incorporated a small line of patterned tiles to break it up slightly, if you look closely you can see a little shiny blue tile that has a little swirl in the middle which was the main reason I chose those tiles because I thought it was fair cute.

The bath suite that we chose was a P-style bath, mum and dad wanted a free-standing bath, which I liked but I preferred the P-style because I just felt it fitted the room better and was cheaper! Win, win.

The Bedrooms

At first, we believed that the bedrooms were all going to be plain magnolia with the original skirting boards and doors painted white. We mostly have stuck to this, but we are going to wallpaper one wall now.

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The Chosen Wallpaper

Additionally, due to the actual struggle of stripping the really thick, embossed, floral wallpaper from the middle bedroom, we decided to leave one wall covered. After painting over it I am soooo glad we decided to leave it because it blends in so nicely with the room, it’s so subtle and just adds a bit of a feature to the room.

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Now most of the work upstairs is complete, bar a bit of painting and wallpapering to do, we moved to the downstairs…

The Kitchen

Whilst we were working upstairs, we were waiting on the plans coming through for the downstairs. If you have read my blog 6-months ago you will have seen the draft plan I made for the changes to the layout of the house, where we planned to knock the kitchen wall down to create a kitchen/diner, I also planned on creating an ensuite upstairs but we decided against it because it just took up too much space and made the bedroom sizes quite awkward. We have put an additional toilet room downstairs in the utility.

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Currently, we have had the planning permission accepted and the wall knocked down with a supporting beam in place. As well as this, we have bought the kitchen from Homebase, French Shaker style in an eggshell blue colour.

It’s going to look lush when it’s built, just waiting on the boiler to be installed before we assemble the units completely.

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The Utility/Lean-to

We settled on bricking up the porch and put in a back door and window, so it’s came together well. Next to the porch is the utility room and like I mentioned previously, we decided to use the space to install a small toilet and sink area. In the remaining space, we have a couple extra kitchen units to put in.

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Sitting Room

This room needs very little work, we have been using it as a bit of a storage room until we complete some more of the work downstairs.

Overall, we have completed most of the major work, except the boiler which should be done in the coming weeks, and then we just have painting and decorating left to do! On Friday I will be uploading my next blog which reviews our budget. Thank you for reading this update, there are more pictures in my website gallery and on my Instagram page: @huntersparkdesign

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Golden Gate Bridge Example

Simplified Business Case for the Golden Gate Bridge

This weekly upload is going to be a study blog, written to help me revise my course, Project Management BSc. Hopefully, it will also create a good overview for anyone else looking to study the same thing.

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In response to my last post, I wanted to share a rough draft of a simple business case. Using my University’s description of a business case, I have tried to come up with something similar, referring to the Golden Gate Bridge. I haven’t addressed all the key elements of a business case here, because I either struggled to find any research on that specific part or I wasn’t confident enough with my answer. If anyone does have any good feedback, that would be helpful. However, this is just my take on a quick task, nothing serious, perhaps as my course matures, I will be able to return to it and extend it a bit further.

Strategic Case: A solution is needed to connect the almost 2-mile gap between Marin County to San Francisco as there was no way round at the time.

Options Appraisal:

  Option Cost
1. Do nothing Minimum
2. Build a Bridge (recommended) Maximum
3. Invest in Boats Average

Expected Benefits and Disbenefits:

Option Benefits Disbenefits
Do nothing Saves cost, saves resources No direct link between Marin County and San Francisco Bay
Build a Bridge Direct link between Marin County and San Francisco Bay, opens up employment (on construction and between the 2 areas), more roads leading to less congestion. High cost, high risk construction, disapproval from business owners and civic leaders, ruin the view of the bay, obstruct ships, requires maintenance
Invest in Boats Increased access across the bay, increased revenue and employment for the shipping business Requires maintenance, will not allow car access between the 2 areas

Financial Case:
Engineers estimate of $25-30 million to construct.

$35 million in bank bonds granted

Bank of America President Amadeo Giannini, who provided a crucial boost by agreeing to buy $6 million in bonds in 1932. https://www.history.com/topics/landmarks/golden-gate-bridge

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Photo by Alexander Mils on Pexels.com

Risks of Building the Bridge:

  1. Hazardous working conditions – impacts the workers and their family’s health and wellbeing
  2. There was risk of insufficient funding after the Great Depression – may cause the bridge to remain uncompleted, or could lead to a delay in the project
  3. Earthquake – after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake there would be worries of insufficient measures to avoid bridge collapse, which would incur additional costs and endanger lives.

Time Scale:
Drawings for the bridge were submitted in 1921 and were passed in 1933. Building work was completed in 1937.

Benefits realised after one year “June 30, 1938: During the first full fiscal year, the Golden Gate Bridge serves 3,892,063 motor vehicles, carries more than 8,000,000 passengers, and in excess of 400,000 pedestrians walked the sidewalks (GGBHD Annual Report FY37/38).”

According to http://goldengatebridge.org/research/GGBTraffToll.php, the toll for the bridge was 50 cents each way in 1937, so according to above study, in the first year the bridge would have roughly earned $1,946,031.50 in it’s first year.

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If you have any tips on how to improve this, please let me know!

OTHER SOURCES

http://goldengatebridge.org/research/dates.php

http://goldengatebridge.org/research/GGBTraffToll.php

https://www.history.com/topics/landmarks/golden-gate-bridge

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.