Six months in…

It’s true. This week is number 26 in my project. Six months of huge effort – mostly from Neil and Andy along with a few other helpers on the way.

Rob the Roofer has been with us recently..and I am delighted to announce the roof is officially… a roof. Eight weeks of ‘oh my..’, ‘what the heck is that…’ and ‘oh no…’ with me quietly weeping into my cups of tea. But the end is here. I never thought I would ever drool over a roof but, boy oh boy, it does look gorgeous and I won’t have anyone say otherwise. Rob did a simply brilliant job and in tough conditions.

Next week is a turning point in this project as the underfloor heating goes in which means the floor level rises 175mm or so with insulation, another damp proof membrane, the heating circuits, a vapour barrier and screed. More on that next week.

Downstairs with oh so much to do.

It won’t be long until the aesthetic needs to be considered. Tiles, flooring, porcelain, taps, kitchen cabinets, wall switches, internal doors, ironmongery, etc.

The kitchen and utility design has been finalised and I am just waiting on quotes from suppliers. I spent hours on this, measuring and re-measuring and then measuring again – and I still got my measurements wrong. What is wrong with me!!

I called Neil and Andy to the rescue and they used a length of batten, a tape and a pencil and got it right in one. Handy fellas them there builder blokes.

My evenings and some of my weekends have already been spent slathering over tiles and taps; trying to decide if a toilet has the right design for a comfortable poop(!); if the shower has the look and all on a budget that has been squeezed because of my beloved roof and various other surprises encountered over the last 6 months.

I have also been studying stairs and external doors. The front door can wait until we are no longer kicking it in with wheelbarrows but the back door can go in now. The stairs would be handy too, but they are a complex collection of bits. My little brain is struggling to understand what is needed, how many parts and where they go.

This week is finishing with installation of shutters (not those fancy things but pieces of wood to hold back the screed) and a massive clean up downstairs in readiness for next week. Everything must be removed from the floor. Much of the materials – wood, bricks, cement, etc, is hauled upstairs for storage and the big broom is out.

The clean up is a very dusty, dirty job.

Upstairs with much to do too!

I had a surprise visit this week from my brother (who was working in the area). I am not sure whether the look on his face was horror or glee. He knew the property inside and out from visiting the family when it was a pub and internally it is no longer recognisable. But it certainly doesn’t look like a home either.

Similarly, he has known me forever. As he arrived I was wearing my tat jeans, 4 layers of t-shirts, fleece and hoody along with gloves and my fantastic, but somewhat manly builders boots.

He didn’t mention my attire at all.

How grown up we have become!

It’s warming up…

Obviously, I don’t mean outside. When I got up this morning, and flannel washed in Mr. Clooney it was chilly. I can deal with that but it’s always a shock when I apply lashings of wrinkle cream to my face and the cream is not just cold but icy, icy cold.

So to building works. It may surprise you to know the roof is not finished despite my constant praying to the weather gods – and of course to St Vincent the Saint for builders! And the second non-surprise…the render work didn’t start on Monday.

These weather delays obviously affect the budget which will have a knock on effect. I need to choose my bathroom and kitchen – big purchase items – but cannot until I know what this stage is costing. If there are savings to be made then it will have to be in these rooms.

At this stage this could be the first house in the village in which the occupants use a metal watering can as a shower and a camping stove as a cooker! Retro….and earth friendly!

It is warming up in the house. The insulation is going in. A messy job but my clearing up skills have improved over the last 20 odd weeks. Upstairs walls will be done by the end of this week – more or less. There is already a noticeable difference in temperature inside the property.

Downstairs has to wait until we sort out the insulation, underfloor heating and screed effectively raising the floor by some 200+mm. This should be the week after next. In the meantime, the list of things to do just grows.

Stairs, doors, plumbing, electrics, skirting, plasterboard, kitchen, rendering, bathrooms, plastering and…

applied mathematics on the budget whilst drinking for medicinal purposes!

Outside the property is a mess. Obviously the rendering will help, but the courtyard garden will be a challenge. I met with a garden designer whose considered 7-hour expert recommendation was simply to pave the whole area and place a few plant tubs around. Really? Not impressed.

But we will need to do something so I am back on line looking for inspirational ideas.

When will it end…

It’s raining, it’s pouring…

Is it possible to grow webbed feet? Is Mr. Clooney the modern day ark? All answers on a postcard…

I can tell you it is a tad uncomfortable in South Somerset when the wind and rain announces itself. The days are disrupted as we are trying to finish the roof. The nights are difficult as Mr. Clooney rocks to the incessant beat of the downpour. Sleepeth interruptus occurred consistently last week. The only good point – at least I wasn’t there this weekend!

I guess that’s what you get for doing a renovation project in February. Ah well.

If anyone is thinking of doing property renovation I would still recommend it. It’s pretty interesting and certainly keeps me occupied. But I would issue a word of caution. Turning a commercial property into a residential property is so much more demanding.

Demanding = bigger budget.

The requirements are quite significant and only relevant because it was a commercial building. If this had been an old decrepid house that I was updating I wouldn’t have to do half the amount of work. About 1/3 of my total budget has been spent so far and much of it to comply with these commercial to residential regulations.

The bad weather has allowed us to move ahead inside. We have built the stud walls for the utility, both ensuite bathrooms and finished off a little brickwork here and there. The 4 new windows have been installed, but we are holding back on the new glazing for the existing windows (building regs) until I no longer need to use a hammer. Sensible precaution given my apprentice status and how many mis-hits I apply in a day.

We have also broken through the back wall which will eventually be the boiler room. At the moment its our toilet so its going to be ‘whistle while you pee’ as we no longer have a lockable door there.

So what next. We need 2 days clear weather to finish the roof and 5 days in the next 10 to do the rendering. In the meantime, we are inside insulating and it’s a big and expensive job. The sloped bedroom ceilings need 50mm between the rafters, then 60mm on top of that followed by battens and plasterboard. All of the outside walls get 60mm, then battens then plasterboard. The attic has 150mm between the joists and another 150mm on top. The bedroom floors get 100mm and each stud wall gets 75mm. The ground floor gets 100mm before the screed goes down.

I keep telling myself we are turning the corner. But it’s a long sloping, winding, uphill corner littered with hurdles and water features.

I am off to buy a snorkel and water wings…!

Cops and robbers…

(Apologies…forgot to upload this last week!)

Oh dear ! There was always a chance some little toerag was going to try and steal stuff from our site. We had a break in last weekend – through one of the windows. We don’t keep anything of value on site so there was nothing to steal. But it probably means replacing another window and a door.

We have a crime number and the police have been to take fingerprints and boot prints left by the invaders, but not expecting much of a result. Fortunately Mr. Clooney was not affected in his gated compound.

It is an uncomfortable experience and one that is, unfortunately, not new to me. Not a good start to the week, but the brainless selfish tw*ts will not win the game. Rant over!

So roof time again. We need to fit vent tiles on the roof above the bathroom and ensuites. Why are they so expensive? They are needed now so that they are properly fitted whilst the scaffolding is in place so I’m breaking open another piggy bank.

The gable end has a little turned up point that needs to be levelled so the battens and tiles fit the roof properly. We are, in effect, giving the house a nose job! This will be followed by a few lengths of undercloak (sounds a bit Harry Potter) and a bit of cement work and then …drum roll…roof might be done. Well, next week anyway.

The 4 new windows are soon to be installed but the glazing is not being upgraded until I put my hammer down. I have been trying to sort out the new back door and side window. These all have to be fitted prior to rendering – so supplied and fitted in the next few weeks. The front door won’t be replaced until we have finished knocking six bells out of the property. It’s the main access from the carpark so is whacked regularly by wheelbarrows, timber and my boots.

It’s a short week for me. Off to Cornwall for a Second Family holiday with my Bestie and all her mad but gorgeous relatives. Leaving Neil, Rob and Andy to look after Mr. Clooney and the house, of course.

Next week looks a bit stormy…at least that might keep the thieving doo-dahs away!

Am now off to batten down Mr. Clooney’s hatches!

And another week…

Well that was interesting. My meeting with the felt supplier and builders merchants (see last weeks blog) amounted to …well, nothing much. Perhaps not a surprise. The rainfall inside the property was all down to atmospheric pressure! Rob the roofer, Neil and Andy all have a different viewpoint. We have been assured the felt will dry out once the tiles are in place. I have asked for a guarantee – in writing – and am still waiting on that.

In the meantime, work continues. The fascia boards are done as is most of the guttering. We still have some drainpipes to sort but they need to wait until the rendering. Some of the roof tiles are now on and a little repointing of the chimneys has taken place.

The lead work is next. A product that goes up and down in price on a daily basis and although it’s purchased in rolls (3m & 6m) and various widths there are other considerations that I did not know about. The most important is you should always request Milled Lead for roof work. It is more expensive but it’s a must.

For those of us too inexperienced to tread the roof tiles more than once (scared!) there has been some more demolition and an ongoing relationship with my dance of the wheelbarrow. A new skip arrived and I was tasked to fill it. This I did over a number of days.

Glamorous job this building lark !!

The garden is accessible through a covered walkway that also leads to the gents. This walkway has now been dismantled – a job I took on. Another first for me – removing a window, then back on the crowbar, hammer, sledge hammer and drill. Tiles off the roof, battens removed, beams smashed and then the brick wall. I attacked it with all of my physical might – and it didn’t budge. Not an inch. Andy came to the rescue with the sledge hammer and the jack hammer and it gave in. I helped, of course, but the wall knew it had beaten me.

I should say at this stage if you have never used a sledge hammer yourself it is not as easy as it looks. Ours is heavy and has a typically long handle. Creating a momentum at shoulder height in order to strike a wall is simply knackering. Andy was very good for not laughing out loud at my effort.

So we now have an idea of how big the courtyard garden will be and I need to start thinking about doing something with the space.

In theory, all of the demolition is done – apart from breaking through a wall to reach the boiler room. A relatively small job.

In theory…