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Thursday 20th September 2018

This picture was taken four years ago in 2014. It shows one of our builders,  Ian, digging the foundations of the extension we were having built on to the back of our house.  Other things were being done to the house at the same. The garage was being converted into a fifth bedroom and the garden at the front of our house was being block paved. We wanted to make our home more spacious, comfortable and easier to hold family and social gatherings.

According to the deeds to the house it was built in 1929 and first sold in June 1930 for £679. It is a semi detached house, an example of the sort of housing that is everywhere in London.  We have lived in this house for 26 years. People do not move away that often form the area. This might be because of house prices soaring. It might also be because, being South London, it is an ideal area for them to remain while their work careers develop. People tend to stay and refurbish and extend their houses where we live. So many roof extensions and side and back extensions have been carried out in our road.

My wife and I are both retired and we have brought up four children over the last thirty years, our eldest now being 31. We struggled financially at times when the children were born and were young. However, we have been lucky enough to be able to save. Also, having been teachers we both have pensions and with the pensions we received lump sums of money. Sadly my wife’s mother and father died a few years ago. When her parents’ house was sold, my wife, along with her brother and sister, received a share in the money made from the sale. We have used all these different sources of money to pay for the refurbishment and extension to our house.

The experience of extending and refurbishing the house is something I will never forget. Our home became a builders site for nearly four months in 2014 from April through to July. We had a large skip at the front of the house for most of that time. Stacks of bricks, bags of cement, piles of gravel and lengths of timber and various digging and drilling machines were piled at the front of the house and also in the back garden. The back garden was dug up for foundations. A wildlife pond that we had loved and nurtured for many years, was filled in. Trees too close to the house were cut down. A very nice gentleman from the local council came along one day with a book and a measuring tape. The book provided him with information about the root systems of every type of tree. We had a holly tree near the back door. It had to be cut down because its roots might have affected the new foundations.

There were times when we thought, “What have we done?” The back of the house was virtually demolished. There was rubble and dust everywhere. Old pipes stuck out of the ground. Wires looped down from ceilings. It looked and felt like a bomb site. We started to have sleepless nights and began to think we had actually destroyed the house. Two deep pits were dug and filled with cement in which two enormous RSJ steel beams were placed upright. Other steel RSJs were placed like cross bars supporting structural walls. Eventually from demolition came construction and we could see our house taking on a new shape. The final results have been fantastic. We are so pleased with what our builders achieved. We smile about it now.  –Tony Grant, Almshouse Tour Guide Volunteer

Tony accepted our challenge and I am really thankful for his pictures and the story. The challenge is still open and you can accept it here:

Tijana, Volunteer Programme Digital Communication Assistant


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