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Mother-of-two transforms former church into a luxury family home complete with a gym and bar

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An artistic mum has transformed a former 19th-century church into a dream family home with luxurious additions of a cosy bar in the garage and a home gym – adding £380,000 to the property value in one year. 

Mother-of-two Emily Barratt, 37, from Rochdale, purchased the eight-bed house in Middleton, Greater Manchester, which was cluttered with the previous owners’ items, in January 2020 for £470,000.

Although it was in a bad state, Emily, who is a pottery artist, saw potential in the building and set about renovating the house, doing the majority of the labour herself, and documenting the process on her Facebook page, Our Big Renovation.

In total, she spent around £95,000 fixing up the historic home and a recent valuation indicated it is now worth an astounding £850,000 – £380,000 more than it was purchased for.

Emily, who lives in the property with her husband and daughter Minnie, seven, and son Rory, six, took time away from work to focus full-time on the renovation while home-schooling the children. 

Before and after: Mother-of-two Emily Barratt, 37, purchased a former church in Middleton, Greater Manchester,  for £470,000 and transformed it into a dream family home (Pictured: The master bedroom before the renovation)
The master bedroom now features bright cream, with a statement floral wallpaper behind the bed, and added a plush beige carpet and a stand-alone bathtub (Pictured: The master bedroom after the renovation)

Before and after: Mother-of-two Emily Barratt, 37, purchased a former church in Middleton, Greater Manchester, for £470,000 and transformed it into a dream family home. Right: The master bedroom now features bright cream, with a statement floral wallpaper behind the bed, and added a plush beige carpet and a stand-alone bathtub 

Before: The kitchen was the most expensive room in the house to renovate and was originally fitted with dark flooring, wooden cabinets and cream tiles
After: It was given a complete modern overhaul, with a cream stone floor and matching walls to brighten it up, additional windows added and chic slate cabinets with white countertops

Although it was in a bad state, with rooms cluttered with the previous owners’ stuff, Emily, who is a pottery artist, saw potential in the building. The kitchen was the most expensive room in the house to renovate and was originally fitted with dark flooring, wooden cabinets and cream tiles (left). After: It was given a complete modern overhaul, with a cream stone floor and matching walls to brighten it up, additional windows added and chic slate cabinets with white countertops (right)

The artsy mum lives in the property with her husband and daughter Minnie, seven, and son Rory, six, (pictured together) and did the majority of the labour herself, documenting the process on her Facebook page, Our Big Renovation

The artsy mum lives in the property with her husband and daughter Minnie, seven, and son Rory, six, (pictured together) and did the majority of the labour herself, documenting the process on her Facebook page, Our Big Renovation

‘We lived in a very small cottage built in 1710 prior to this, so I was keen to have lots of space,’ she said.

‘I saw so much potential with this big, beautiful building that had such a lovely history, and thought it would make the perfect family home.’

But transforming the crowded property into the spacious, open-plan home of her dreams would require extensive renovations. 

After repairing leaks in the roof and fitting around 35 new windows, it was time to focus on aesthetic choices to make the home more in keeping with the family’s tastes.

Builders knocked the wall down between the kitchen and diner to create a large, open-plan kitchen-diner, as well as opening up a doorway to the room by knocking down a wall in the entrance hall.

In one year, she has transformed the former 19th-century church into a luxury property with additions of a cosy bar in the garage and a home gym. Pictured: A painting of the church as it looked originally

In one year, she has transformed the former 19th-century church into a luxury property with additions of a cosy bar in the garage and a home gym. Pictured: A painting of the church as it looked originally

In total, Emily spent around £95,000 fixing up the eight-bed historic home and a recent valuation indicated it is now worth an astounding £850,000 – £380,000 more than it was purchased for. Pictured: The exterior of the house now

In total, Emily spent around £95,000 fixing up the eight-bed historic home and a recent valuation indicated it is now worth an astounding £850,000 – £380,000 more than it was purchased for. Pictured: The exterior of the house now

Before: What was originally a dingy garage with exposed brick walls has been completely transformed into a large pub space.

Before: What was originally a dingy garage with exposed brick walls has been completely transformed into a large pub space.

After: The cosy red-brick bar comes complete with fully-stocked bar, atmospheric mood lighting and even a drum kit for live music

After: The cosy red-brick bar comes complete with fully-stocked bar, atmospheric mood lighting and even a drum kit for live music

The mum then set about plastering the ceilings – by herself – except for the ceiling in the master bedroom, which she pulled down to expose the original church beams.

After that, she focused her attentions on making the space perfect, tackling the property one room at a time.

The kitchen was the most expensive room in the house to renovate as the family purchased all new appliances. 

It was originally fitted with dark flooring, wooden cabinets and cream tiles and was given a complete modern overhaul, with a cream stone floor and matching walls to brighten it up, additional windows added and chic slate cabinets with white countertops.

The family bathroom is equally unrecognisable after the pink walls and old-fashioned three-piece suite was removed.

Emily added a statement floor of black, white and grey tiles, a stunning claw-foot tub, and a walk-in shower.

Prior to renovation, the bathroom had pale pink walls and an old-fashioned three-piece suite with dull floral curtains

Prior to renovation, the bathroom had pale pink walls and an old-fashioned three-piece suite with dull floral curtains

Emily added a statement floor of black, white and grey tiles, a stunning claw-foot tub, and a walk-in shower

The bathroom is now modern and pristine with bright lighting

Emily added a statement floor of black, white and grey tiles, a stunning claw-foot tub, and a walk-in shower. The bathroom is now modern and pristine with bright lighting

The gym before: To keep fit during lockdown, Emily remodelled one of the spare rooms into a gym, clearing out the previous owner's clutter

The gym before: To keep fit during lockdown, Emily remodelled one of the spare rooms into a gym, clearing out the previous owner’s clutter

Gym after: The workout room now has floor-to-ceiling studio mirrors, padded mats on the floor, a treadmill and motivational quotes on the walls

Gym after: The workout room now has floor-to-ceiling studio mirrors, padded mats on the floor, a treadmill and motivational quotes on the walls

The master bedroom, meanwhile, originally featured plain cream walls, old wooden flooring and dated criss-cross windows.

Emily updated the large space by painting the walls a light, bright cream, with a statement floral wallpaper behind the bed, and added a plush beige carpet and neutral furnishings to complete the space.

The room also has the quirky addition of a bathtub set on a raised platform.

To make the most of the surrounding countryside views, Emily added French doors to the room, and as an added touch of luxury, she knocked down the bedroom next to the master and created an en suite and dressing room.

Her children’s bedrooms have undergone equally dramatic transformations, going from dull, dated rooms to lovingly crafted and colourful spaces tailored to each child.

Minnie’s room was formerly painted bright green with clashing wooden floors, but now has fresh white flooring, pastel pink and blue walls and sweet decorative finishes including a teepee tent to play in.

Meanwhile, Rory’s bedroom was originally painted in a bland white paint with dark windows allowing little light into the room.

Her children's bedrooms have undergone equally dramatic transformations, going from dull, dated rooms to lovingly crafted and colourful spaces tailored to each child. Pictured: Minnie's bedroom before

Her children’s bedrooms have undergone equally dramatic transformations, going from dull, dated rooms to lovingly crafted and colourful spaces tailored to each child. Pictured: Minnie’s bedroom before

Minnie's room was formerly painted bright green with clashing wooden floors, but now has fresh white flooring, pastel pink and blue walls and sweet decorative finishes including a teepee tent to play in. Pictured: Minnie's bedroom after.

Minnie’s room was formerly painted bright green with clashing wooden floors, but now has fresh white flooring, pastel pink and blue walls and sweet decorative finishes including a teepee tent to play in. Pictured: Minnie’s bedroom after.

After some TLC, the bedroom has a mountain mural, hand-painted by Emily, and jungle-themed accessories.

The children also get to enjoy a dedicated play room, with the original church parquet floor still in place.

Other bedrooms from the original eight in the home are being used as an office and guest rooms.

Emily did almost everything without assistance, apart from the plumbing, hiring builders to knock down the walls and insert steel beams, and roping in an electrician friend to fit lights and sockets.

She said: ‘The hardest part was tiling the floors and laying the carpets. I taught myself to do both, but they are quite physical and I’m not the strongest person out there.

‘I do DIY every day, including painting, tiling and upcycling furniture. I did all the panelling and wallpapering myself and also sanded all the beams in our bedroom.

‘I also painted the outside the house – but I still have a few other sides left to do. I love DIY, I find it really addictive and I’ll give anything a go other than electrics.’

Meanwhile, Rory's bedroom was originally painted in a bland white paint with dark windows allowing little light into the room (pictured before)

Meanwhile, Rory’s bedroom was originally painted in a bland white paint with dark windows allowing little light into the room (pictured before)

After some TLC, her son's bedroom now has a mountain mural, hand-painted by Emily, and jungle-themed accessories (pictured after)

After some TLC, her son’s bedroom now has a mountain mural, hand-painted by Emily, and jungle-themed accessories (pictured after)

The DIY-savvy mum spent roughly £95,000 on the renovations – and her further plans include a garden transformation and further work on the utility room, pantry and lounge

The DIY-savvy mum spent roughly £95,000 on the renovations – and her further plans include a garden transformation and further work on the utility room, pantry and lounge

After tackling the vital rooms in the house, Emily set her sights on some luxurious additions – including a bar in the garage and a home gym.

Originally a dinghy garage with exposed brick walls, the space has been completely transformed into a large pub space – complete with fully-stocked bar, atmospheric mood lighting and even a drum kit for live music.

To keep fit during lockdown, Emily remodelled one of the spare rooms into a gym, with floor-to-ceiling studio mirrors, padded mats on the floor, a treadmill and motivational quotes on the walls.

Although she has not yet finished the house, Emily got the property valued six months ago and found it is now worth £850,000 – £380,000 more than it was purchased for.

In total, Emily has spent roughly £95,000 on the renovations – and her further plans include a garden transformation and further work on the utility room, pantry and lounge.

She said: ‘The biggest challenge has been trying to renovate in lockdown. I had to order most things online and it was pretty difficult to return things.

‘I was also trying to fit renovating in around home-schooling my six and seven-year-olds. It’s also quite hard to stick to a budget for a room as it’s easy for costs to spiral when it’s a big space.’

It seems the effort was well worth it, with the family delighted with how the house looks so far.

After sharing her progress on Facebook, Emily was inundated with comments from people who were amazed at the transformation.

One person said: ‘This is amazing, I’m absolutely in awe with the transformation. Blooming fantastic.’

‘Fabulous, what a transformation – really great and inspirational,’ another fan commented.

Someone else said: ‘You seriously need to sell tickets to an open day at your house. The work you’ve done is amazing and it just looks stunning.’

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Higgins raises concerns over volume of legislation received in recent weeks

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Two Oireachtas committees are being convened at short notice to consider concerns raised by President Michael D. Higgins at the volume of legislation sent to his office in recent weeks.

In a letter to the Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and the Department of the Taoiseach, Mr Higgins said an “overwhelming number of Bills” were presented for his consideration in the final two weeks before the Christmas and summer recesses.

“For example, in the three weeks since the beginning of July I have been asked to consider 19 separate Bills. Nine were presented on the one day, sharing a requirement to be considered and signed in the same seven-day period,” he wrote, pointing out that in the entire preceding six months, he was presented with 13 Bills for consideration.

Last year, 21 of the total of 32 Bills presented to him were sent in the weeks approaching summer and Christmas recesses.

“It would strike me, as President and from my years as a parliamentarian, that there must be a more orderly approach to arranging the legislative timetable that allows all legislators the time to consider and contribute to proposals before the Oireachtas without unnecessary time constraints and an unseemly end-of-term haste to have Bills concluded,” the President wrote.

“Having this vital work concentrated into four weeks of the year strikes me as being less than ideal and, I believe, unnecessary.”

Mr Higgins noted that little time was being given over in the Oireachtas to debate often “very important and far-reaching legislative proposals”.

He said the process has “been curtailed through the imposition of restrictions on time in one or both Houses”.

He said amendments put down by Oireachtas members were often not discussed, and those proposed by the Government were at times “carried without an opportunity for scrutiny or debate”.

The President noted an “unseemly end-of-term haste”to pass legislation and said a “real prospect” of having to convene the Council of State in the days after Christmas day to consider Bills had arisen more than once.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl, the Ceann Comhairle, told The Irish Times that the Dáil’s Business Committee and the Seanad’s Committee on Procedures would meet on Friday to consider the letter, and actions open to the Oireachtas to consider.

There have been renewed concerns during the lifetime of this Dáil about the use of the guillotine to force Government legislation through without extensive oversight, with several heavyweight pieces of legislation passed in a matter of days before the Oireachtas rose for its summer break earlier this month.

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Who do I need to notify if I move home?

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Moving house is frequently said to be one of the most stressful things anyone can do.

The massive investment both financially and emotionally can take its toll, especially if the process takes months to complete.

It is why anything that helps to elevate some of the stress along the way can be hugely beneficial. This includes addressing some of the practicalities in advance, and having a list of who to notify when you move can help. 

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

Dozens of companies will need to know your new address, whether this is an insurer who may use them to help calculate your insurance premiums or a retailer who need to know where to send the clothing you ordered online.

Without updating them, you may endure a bigger headache from moving home than you had anticipated.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, said: ‘When moving home, it is vital to plan ahead. Moving day can come upon you very quickly, particularly if there is a short time between exchange and completion.

‘Buildings insurance is the most important thing that needs arranging on your new property as soon as you have exchanged contracts.

‘Confirm your moving date with your removals firm and make a list of who needs notifying about your impending change of address – the electoral roll, the DVLA, Amazon and other delivery firms, particularly supermarket deliveries. The last thing you want is for your orders to turn up at your ‘old’ address once you have moved.

‘Don’t forget to change your council tax, while utility providers will also need informing, and given final meter readings. The more you plan ahead, the smoother the process will be.’ 

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

Tom Parker, of property website Zoopla, agreed: ‘Moving home can be overwhelming with so much to do. When it comes to notifying organisations, it’s best to divide it into digestible categories like work, household and vehicle.

‘Notifying your employer is a top priority, especially if your payslips are sent to your home. If you own a vehicle, ensure you update your driving licence, insurance providers and vehicle logbook.  

‘Make sure you also notify organisations like your broadband, utilities, insurance providers and council tax. Finally, don’t forget the small things like magazine subscriptions and store cards.’

Here we look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home.

Employment 

Perhaps one of the most important and probably most overlooked places that need to be notified of your change of address is HMRC, which needs to know for tax purposes.  

Similarly, your employer needs to know when you change address for your payroll, so that it can update your contact details.

In addition, your National Insurance number helps the Government to identify you and is used by the organisations such as the DVLA and HMRC, so this will need your new address attached. 

Household

There are various companies providing services to your household that will need to know about your move so that they can update your contact information.

In some cases, you may end up continuing to pay for a service in your former home that you are no longer using if you fail to update these companies.

They include your cable or satellite provider, your phone and broadband company. It is also important to update your TV licence contact details, which can be done up to three months before a move.

Vehicles

You can update DVLA via its website and within two to four weeks, you should receive an updated licence and V5C log book documents for your car. Failing to update the log book could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

You will also need to notify the supplier of your vehicle breakdown cover and your car insurer.

Insurance

Most insurers take postcodes into account when calculating premiums and the cost of insurance cover, so they will need to be notified of your change of address. 

You may need to contact those insurers who provide cover for household contents, health, life, travel and your pets.

Healthcare

As well as your health insurer, you will also need to provide your address to other healthcare organisations.

For example, if you change doctors when you move home, you will need to let your old doctor know so that your medical information can be forwarded to your new doctor. This may similarly apply to your dentists and opticians.

Utilities

Your gas, electricity and water suppliers will need your updated contact information, even if you are leaving them behind at the old property and taking on new suppliers.

It can take a couple of days for energy providers to update your information, so it is worth contacting your suppliers ahead of your move. However, you may be able to move your deal to your new property.

Make sure you take readings of your utilities on the day of your move so you can update your suppliers with these and only pay for the amounts you have used. 

Royal Mail’s redirection service may be worth considering as it forwards any post sent to your former address to your new address. You can apply for the redirection up to three months before your moving date.

Money

There are several companies and organisations that fall into this category and will need to know your new contact address.

They include bank and building societies, your pension providers, loan companies, credit card providers and store cards. If you are on a state pension, the Government will need to know your new details.

Similarly, you will need to update your address for council tax purposes.

Others include your accountant as you don’t want important tax documents going to your old address (if you are not using the a postal redirection service). And don’t forget updating NS&I with your new address if you put money into premium bonds.

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Ireland ‘one of world’s best five places’ to survive global societal collapse

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Ireland is one of the world’s five places best suited to survive a global collapse of society, according to a new study. The others are Iceland, Tasmania, the UK and, topping the list, New Zealand.

The researchers say human civilisation is “in a perilous state” because of the highly interconnected and energy-intensive society that has developed and the environmental damage this has caused.

A collapse could arise from shocks such as a severe financial crisis, the effects of the climate crisis, destruction of nature, an even worse pandemic than Covid-19 or a combination of these, the scientists says.

To assess which nations would be most resilient to such a collapse, countries were ranked according to their ability to grow food for their population, protect their borders from unwanted mass migration, and maintain an electrical grid and some manufacturing ability. Islands in temperate regions and mostly with low population densities have come out on top.

The researchers say their study highlights the factors that nations must improve to increase resilience. They say that a globalised society that prizes economic efficiency has damaged resilience, and that spare capacity needs to exist in food and other vital sectors.

Billionaires have been reported to be buying land for bunkers in New Zealand in preparation for an apocalypse. “We weren’t surprised New Zealand was on our list,” says Prof Aled Jones, at the Global Sustainability Institute, at Anglia Ruskin University, in the UK.

“We chose that you had to be able to protect borders and places had to be temperate. So with hindsight it’s quite obvious that large islands with complex societies on them already” make up the list.

The study, published in the journal Sustainability, says: “The globe-spanning, energy-intensive industrial civilisation that characterises the modern era represents an anomalous situation when it is considered against the majority of human history.”

The study also says that environmental destruction, limited resources and population growth mean civilisation “is in a perilous state, with large and growing risks developing in multiple spheres of the human endeavour”.

New Zealand was found to have the greatest potential to survive relatively unscathed due to its geothermal and hydroelectric energy, abundant agricultural land and low human population density.

Jones says major global food losses, a financial crisis and a pandemic have all happened in recent years, and “we’ve been lucky that things haven’t all happened at the same time – there’s no real reason why they can’t all happen in the same year”.

He adds: “As you start to see these events happening I get more worried, but I also hope we can learn more quickly than we have in the past that resilience is important. With everyone talking about ‘building back better’ from the pandemic, if we don’t lose that momentum I might be more optimistic than I have been in the past.”

He says the coronavirus pandemic has shown that governments can act quickly when needed. “It’s interesting how quickly we can close borders, and how quickly governments can make decisions to change things.”

But, he adds, “This drive for just-in-time, ever-more-efficient economies isn’t the thing you want to do for resilience. We need to build in some slack in the system, so that if there is a shock then you have the ability to respond because you’ve got spare capacity. We need to start thinking about resilience much more in global planning. But, obviously, the ideal thing is that a quick collapse doesn’t happen.” – Guardian

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