The pipes, the pipes are calling…

Progress is a little slow at the moment due (still) to the ongoing plaster shortage. Nevertheless we are still moving it on.

The first 3 days this week saw Courtney the plumber fitting in the boiler and loads of pipes. His work is very methodical and organised. I like things tidy and ordered and his pipework is just that. Yes, I did write that!

This in turn will allow us to test the underfloor heating. As I understand it, we will need to set the temperature at 20degs and then move it up 5degs each day till we hit 40degs. Maybe I should put up a poster and invite the neighbours in to what will be the largest, most expensive sauna in the village.

We won’t be doing much work whilst the UFH is tested although it would help with my ongoing but failing quest for weight loss.

The test is to assess the strength of the screed (and how dry it is) in case it cracks. This is best done before final flooring – tiles, LVT, wood etc goes down. We don’t anticipate a problem as the screed was laid in February, but if there are any cracks it’ll be a quick fix.

I did a final cleanup of the paintwork in the hallway and Steve the electrician fitted the smoke alarm and a gorgeous, modern chandelier – all before the tower scaffold was removed. Now there is no chance of doing anything up there without hiring in a human pyramid for me to stand on – or an extra long ladder.

Another friend – Susanne – arrived for a day this week following end of term closure. We spent the day painting the bathroom and one more bedroom. Great company. It all helps. Thanks lass.

With the scaffolding down it was time to move the boxes of tiles stored in the lounge downstairs to their appropriate rooms upstairs. The combined weight of the tiles shows 919kg amounting to 1260 tiles in total – so it’s a proper muscle job. I couldn’t carry the full boxes so I had to decant them. The tile sizes are varied and the really big ones meant me carrying only 3 tiles at a time.

Up and down the stairs I went – around 20 times. That is a lot of exercise and no Fitbit to record the massive effort. I was tempted to measure around my butt and thighs before and after but I only have a metal tape measure. I have already sliced several fingers on the sharp metal edges of the tape and had to suck them to stop the bleeding (First Aid not my go-to skill). Imagine the problem if I sliced my butt in a similar fashion….!

I have spent the last few days struggling to stand, sit, walk or even move as the tile transfer took its toll on my old muscles.

Apparently, there has been local comment about the mess I have made in the carpark. Fancy that …a mess on a building site? We now have a tidy(ish) carpark. All of the wood has gone to its future life as a village bonfire. Now I need to consider what to do with my pile of pallets. I’ve been online and think a potting table could be good or a collection of garden furniture – or maybe just another pile of wood for another bonfire! Watch this space.

In the meantime, I got 2 days off this week and headed to Wales for rest and relaxation.

Sorry…what am I saying.

I spent a full day with a drill, hammer and screwdrivers as I helped my sister, Shona, get her pub ready for re-opening in August.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I was still in a pub and I didn’t have to pay for a drink!!

Hic, hic, hooray…!

A funny story…

It’s been family week in downtown Somerset. Firstly my brother, Stuart, arrived to help me with painting the newly plastered walls and ceilings, whilst we await the second plaster delivery. Not the whole house – a bedroom, 2 en-suites, a bathroom, a boiler room and the enormously high hallway. We will just about get it done but not without considerable time and effort.

For his gratis service, I booked luxury accommodation which arrived Monday morning. It’s like a ‘nicer’ version of Mr. Clooney. How can that be, I hear you ask. Indeed, good question. From the outside his caravan looks similar to mine….but it has a shower cubicle. Little Miss Envy had to be curtailed from not claiming the new accommodation..but I couldn’t leave Mr. Clooney after all this time.

However, I can hear Stuart whistling happy tunes when he showers. He’s lucky I haven’t released the caravan handbrake – with him in it.

Once set up, and after the delivery fellas left, we both stepped inside his temporary abode and our collective lockdown weight broke the rear stabiliser. Just snapped off. Ha…I thought. Mr. Clooney would never be so insensitive to a little bit of chubbiness!

Anyway, my brother now recognises that the daily grind of That There Builder Girl is not quite as exciting as it should be. The painting has gone well but the effort has been intense. Long hours, a couple of tea breaks and a lunch break but other than that a proper work effort. He is not laughing much. He is not sleeping well in his luxury accommodation either. Aw!

Then I received a visit from my sister and mother. Released from Wales, they turned up laden with food and gifts. It’s my birthday this week so a pleasant birthday treat.

I asked my mother if she read these blogs. Not really she said. They are just not funny.

That’s the thing about Mothers. Straight to the heart of the matter. All this time, I have been telling a story about my builder girl journey and have failed to denote how hysterically funny the whole journey has been. My bad!

Mind you it was ‘funny’ today. Andy turned up with a huge tractor towing a massive grain trailer. The wood I seem to have collected as a jolly memento of this journey has taken over the carpark and we have been thinking what to do with it. With Andy’s help it has now been donated to a local village bonfire (yes, for November). I asked Stuart to help Andy and myself load the trailer. That was funny as it took 3 of us 2 hours to fill the trailer and there is still more left in the carpark. Stuart stood on a few nails, punctured his thigh, pierced his hands with splinters and mentioned something about just coming to help with the painting – several times.

We broke him.

He didn’t go back to painting afterwards. He just let out a sigh and lay down.

I locked the gates to the carpark and hid the keys. I was sure he was considered doing a midnight flit back to Basildon and there was still painting to finish.

He was still here this morning. And I did and do thank him for his help.

In the meantime, I am going online to learn how to tell a funny story…

One step forward…

Another week done and dusted. Plastered and painted actually, but I couldn’t find an appropriate saying to cover that off.

Another week plastered suggests something else!!

Plaster – what we have of it – has been applied and is drying. 40 bags of Multifinish, a bulk bag of sand and half a dozen bags of cement along with some of the 25 bags of hardwall. The house is probably half done if you add up the m2. But there will be no more plastering now until mid to end August or even first week of September.

Frustrating to say the least.

Painting and decorating is now an in-house job. It’s not to say that I think I can do the job as good as a professional. Certainly not, but budgets have been stretched, mangled, crushed…you get the idea.

I spent a day – actually probably even more – with my trusty pencil, calculator, tape measure and notepad working out how much paint might be needed for the decoration process. I asked a very good friend who does this for a living in Bristol what I should be purchasing – Matt, Vinyl, Silk, Eggshell, Dulux, Amstead, Crown, F&B etc. He advised accordingly on the products but also on the tools I might need. I am now a trade customer for Dulux Decorator Centre and the local branch in Yeovil were also very helpful.

I read the technical details of the paint (I really did). I calculated the paint requirements based on coverage of litre per square metre and ordered my first batch of paints along with poles, brushes, scuttles, sanders, etc. This week I have been focusing on Bed 1/Ensuite 1 ceilings and walls to get the job started. First a mist coat, then a second and third coat.

What is patently clear is my calculations for how much paint is needed means diddly squat. I have no idea how a professional gets 16m2/litre out of the paint I am using but I can tell you right now that I will be lucky if I achieve half of the stated usage. Of course, each session does mean I cover myself in a fair bit of paint so perhaps I should be accounting for that.

Not really the moisturiser I would normally choose!

I cannot explain how painful it is painting ceilings with a weak back. My first effort of just one mist coat in Bed 1 had me lying on the floor in Mr. Clooney doping myself up on ibuprofen and going through the stretch exercises my bestie, Annie, has given me over the years. My first night’s sleep (or lack of sleep) following the painting effort was ridiculously painful.

I told myself it can only get easier as my technique improves – and thankfully it did as the week progressed. Just one more coat required for Ensuite 1 ceiling . Bed 1 walls to be finished. It’s slow because it has to be done properly.

I also need plenty of rest breaks or my back won’t survive. I do have much stronger prescribed drugs to counter the pain but I would be worried about the paint job if I took them. Am not sure psychedelic swirls would be everyone’s decor choice.

There is always something else to do onsite when not painting, and I am still loading the skip and cleaning. Plastering is a mucky job so there has been plenty of clearing up to do.

In the meantime, the paperwork continues. I ordered the external doors. That was a leap of faith. I would have loved to get some beautiful front and back doors but (and you’ve heard it before) the budget has been stretched. So we are going pretty traditional.

I have also booked in the fitting of the wood stove. At this rate I will need it working before the house is complete. I also have an appointment this coming week with the flooring company to measure up for carpets and LVT.

So things are moving…but oh so much slower than I want.

In the meantime, I returned back to Bristol exhausted and filthy – again. I found paint everywhere even though I do strip wash every day in Mr. Clooney.

I had paint in my ears! I thought I had a streak of paint in my left eyebrow too but after much scrubbing it turned out to be a long grey hair. Reminder: need to get eyes tested.

I should go and get a haircut but I daren’t show them the mess and I am worried they will find blobs of paint, clumps of plaster, dollops of dust and dirt that I have missed.

Oh what a beauty…

Trials and tribulations…

I am aware that in the time of a global pandemic my little project has little importance. But that does not stop it from being a source of anxiety and stress.

The week started sweetly with a significant delivery of plaster – multifinish used for skimming and hardwall for… hardwall(!) – after placing the order over 6 weeks ago. Pete and Morgan turned up cheery and ready to get on.

We agreed the order in which rooms need to be plastered first. I am desperate for a completed bedroom and ensuite so I can move out of Mr. Clooney, sleep more comfortably even if on an inflatable bed, and have a shower and a flushing toilet. I am such a diva !

The store room needs to be plastered and painted so we can install the boiler, cistern and pipework – also required for my diva-ish need to shower. A working boiler is also needed to test the underfloor heating system before we start tiling and fitting any flooring.

The main hallway, which is an open space from the floor to the roof needs to be plastered whilst the tower scaffold is in place. As soon as the plaster is dry, it will be painted and the tower scaffold can be removed giving us much better access to the property.

Those are the priorities. After which the plastering can be done as necessary.

Or so I thought.

The problem with ordering materials for this sort of build is it is really difficult to gauge how much might be needed. Upstairs most of the the ceilings are sloped – which takes significantly more product than a flat ceiling. After just one week we realise that the 40 bags of skim plaster delivered on Monday is not going to be anywhere near enough for this job.

We think we may need another 30 bags. I have been told by one supplier I can get 10 bags – in the 3rd week of August. Another supplier says I will have to wait until the end of August and there will also be a limit on quantity. You get the picture.

All the recent planning with the tiler, carpenter, electrician, plumber, floor fitter and so on now have to be re-worked and their diaries are already full.

1st September was my ‘socially-distanced working’ completion date. It would have been possible to do it quicker but I have to be responsible with the numbers working on site at any one time. September is now impossible. It’s likely I will have another two months plus of expense that was not accounted for in my budget. I returned to Bristol feeling…frankly, exhausted and utterly defeated.

But a good night’s sleep after lots of hugs, laughter, food and wine with my Bristol bubble and I am back on the positive path.

So I will be spending the weekend working out how to best carry on with the project on a room by room basis. The property will have to be partly plastered, partly painted, partly tiled, etc, until we can get the supplies we need.

I will set another completion date. Initially March, then almost immediately May then realistically September…Let’s say Christmas now.

The good news this week? The plans went in for the new house build on the carpark.

Am I mad…?