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What Women Want - August 2012

31 Jul 2012

I am feeling so proud of myself right now.

Yep, and I don’t mind telling you, not one little bit. It’s certainly one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve made (aside from my son of course), because it is something that I was really challenged by. On many levels. In fact, there were several times I thought I was going to fail. Or quit. Or have a monumental tantrum (well I did, but no one saw, so it doesn’t count).

I have completed – my house renovation! As you may remember (if you’re a new reader, welcome and let’s play catch up) my house burnt down. Just over a year ago. And when I say burnt down, the walls are double brick so they stayed up, but everything else came – well – down. The cement render crumbled down like ash, the timber window and door-frames were like leftover barbecue charcoal and the ceilings fell down in flames. My son and I had lost everything. Except for our lives (very grateful) … and our will to rebuild.

Which is just as well I had the will, because boy oh boy, did I need it! Having laboured over my house plans, I naively set off to council to get approval. Don’t you love it? I can hear you all laughing now … off she goes to council … for APPROVAL! Ha ha ha.! Well I did. Not. Laugh. Apparently, my non-heritage listed house (I paid my solicitor a small fortune to confirm this), in its non-heritage conservation area was – of historical significance.  Plans? Not approved.

Tears. Wine. More tears.  Honestly, I’d never heard of anything more outrageous. Council, in their infinite wisdom, were not only treating my house as heritage-listed but now they were making me take it back to its original structure! Rooms that already existed (my enclosed balcony for example) had to be pulled down and restored to their “former glory”. Ahhh, the battles we had. My builder, bless his heart, was very protective at every meeting and we took it in turns to threaten and plead. Turns out, I can throw a mean veiled threat as well as the next. (Small triumph!) But it also turns out that it doesn’t getyou very far (less triumphant).

So, realising that the only way to win was to take council to court – and that would be a long process – I completely threw away old plans and set to understand what I could do. And, believe it or not, I came up with a completely different design, which I loved even more! (Don’t worry, I never let the council know.) So with the new plans approved, the builder and I excitedly set to work.

That very week, I thought magic had happened. I was asked to be part of a new TV show (it airs every Friday night, on mainstream TV, just a little clue). “Yes” I said! I thought it would help me launch my renovations business in the country, where I find houses that have potential for investors. The TV crews arrived, the experts flew in, I ran through my budgets and plans and – they said it couldn’t be done. In fact, they didn’t say it as nicely as that.  The “experts” said I needed to halve the renovation, increase the budget and double the time needed. I, the smiling assassin, said “no”. Needless to say, I’m not on the TV show.

But, I have just finished my home. I did a big restoration and a bigger renovation and I didn’t halve my plans. I came in under budget – my original budget. We finished the build in 10 weeks (not 20). And I’ve just had my house valued at a very nice profit. It’s gone up in value by 280 per cent (valuation by a bank valuer, not a relative!).  And I’m feeling very proud.

I’m feeling proud, because I trusted my own inner voice. Even when the “experts” said it couldn’t be done. Sure, there were days when I wondered if it was all going to come together, but there were champagne days too. But I did it, on my own (with my team of 12 builders!). I’m not saying it was easy, but I am saying it was worth it.

Always listen to yourself, be guided by what you truly believe – what’s the worst that could happen? You were wrong? Well I made plenty of mistakes – but guess what? I fixed them. Sometimes there are no guarantees in life, you’ve just got to believe that you know where you at least want to go and, if it turns out you took a wrong turn, believe in yourself that you’ll get back on track. And enjoy the journey, even when you’re on your own.

Now, next challenge, my new years eve resolution to meet a wonderful partner – jeez, I think it’s easier renovating!

Until next month

Abby xx

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