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About 6 years ago, just before Alex was born we decided that our house wasn’t big enough. So after looking at a few houses I decided that none of them were really big enough for us and it’s be better to buy a cheapish one and renovate it.

So we bought one that was equidistant to our parents houses (I would have preferred to move in the middle of the countryside with no neighbours for miles – but Sarah didn’t like that idea). When we got an architect involved he said we might as well knock it down and build a new one. So we ended up doing that.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing. It was over schedule by like a year and a half or something and here’s a list of fuckups.

If you’re going to care about the end result, care about the process

This is something that life seems to have taught me a lot. Whether you’re hiring people to make prototypes, building a house or porting a game to console.. if you’re going to care about how it turns out you need to be a constant presence.

If you tell them what you want then come back 3 years later when it’s done.. you lose the right to bitch about decisions they made without you. You should have been there at that point to understand why and influence the decisions.

If their hair isn’t grey, stay away

A thing I noticed is that any time someone came to fix something and they were under 40, they broke 3 more things before they left. When someone over 40 came to fix something they fixed it for good.

Find a local builder

The firm that built our house were a 2 hour drive away. My hunch is that if something goes wrong and they need to send someone to fix it, they’re not going to waste 4 hours of their top guys time travelling to the site. They’re going to send the guy who has nothing else to do.

They’re also either going to hire local tradesmen, who they don’t know, or people they do know that are going to have the same problem.

Don’t pay on time

My dad was a painter so I remember tense times when he wasn’t getting paid on time. So the first three quarters of the build I made sure that any invoice I got was paid pretty much the same day.

We had problems where the builder hadn’t fully paid some subcontractors because they still had snagging to do, so they refused to come and do the snagging.

So while I was being the good guy and paying the builders on time, I should have been holding that money back to force the builder to resolve these issues.. which is what I ended up having to do later on. The money is the only power you’ve got so you need to use it right.

Think about the garden

We should have thought about the garden at the same time. We should have got a design for the garden from someone that knows about gardens.

It’s not the end of the world because it’s given us time to see it throughout the seasons and hopefully make better decisions than we would have. But it does mean that we wasted a ton of money on unsuitable white tiles in the back garden for no reason.


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