So after finally navigating, and articulating, the emotional rollercoaster that was the signing of the lease and securing of 31 Rowlands Road for Baked, #thefitout began.
As I am sure I have alluded to to-date, via this blog, Twitter or visually on Facebook, taking on 31 Rowlands Road came with the task of a total refit. And I don’t just mean a splash of paint here and there. I mean a total gutting of the place. A refurbishment we aim to complete in six weeks (it is always good to have a goal right?!).
Week one largely consisted of clearing out the unit and getting it to a shell-lie state to begin refurbishment. The previous tenant had kindly left us all sorts of fixtures and fittings to dispose of in varying degrees of decrepitness. Oh and we had no power.
After a weekend of assessing the scale of the task and beginning to dismantle some of the existing fixtures, the first task for Monday (apparently, suppliers and UK Power Networks do not seem to think people need power at the weekend) was to get the power on. Or rather, as it turned out, to get the power reconnected.
After numerous calls to our electricity supplier and after being shifted around from department to department, it was finally decided that UK Power Networks needed to come out. After a phone call to them, and convincing them that yes, I had tried flicking on the on switch on the fuse box (I have my suspicions about whether they would have been as cynical over my ability to do this simple task were I am man on the end of the phone), they sent out an engineer.
Two hours later, Baked was powered up. Well at least in theory. The engineer had to whack a great big ‘Warning/do not use’ sticker on the fuse box due to our dodgy wiring. For the connection of such a simple utility, that we couldn’t actually use, I was over the moon (and will never ever take electricity for granted again).
To increase my euphoria even more, not only did we get power in week one, we also got hooked up with a telephone line and even broadband. Momentous occasions, I felt that Baked really was starting to transition into the 21st century (however, hot water still eludes us). Though as above, the questionable electrical situation means we can’t technically use the broadband but hey, it is there ready to go.
Highlighting once again the importance of a support network, Julian of Julian Church and Associates Ltd kindly popped down in the first week to offer some advice and support (and valuably for me, some reassurance – he had seen units in worse condition, oh yes, cue major sigh of relief).
It was really useful to walk through the plans with Julian. Being a start-up you really have to become a jack-of-all-trades. It is impossible to be an expert in every aspect of the business so you make plans based on the best knowledge you have at the time and ask for help. To spend a little time with an expert in a specific field makes a huge difference. Not only did Julian provide some great advice on the design of Baked, he also supported, and reaffirmed, many of the ideas and decisions I had made to date, really helping my confidence at a time when I felt as though I was taking the unit backwards.
Throughout this whole experience self-doubt has sometimes been a really annoying demon, creeping in unexpectedly and momentarily unsettling me. What I have learnt though is that it is at these times you just have to regroup (i.e. put a temporary moratorium on decision-making), lean on your support network and remember that you didn’t take this on a whim, huge amounts of planning and research went into it – of course you blooming know what you’re doing.