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Where do I begin?

You’ve done a bit of property renovation before. How difficult can it be”?

~ My Mum

I should start with the truth so there is no confusion. I am not really a ‘Builder’ or a ‘Girl’. I am a marketer by trade and although I can handle a drill and a hammer (shelves are my specialty) I hardly fit the required job description of builder. I suppose I should say Apprentice Builder Girl …but it didn’t sound so good.

Secondly, my age really precludes me from being called a girl. I will admit to being older than 40 but that is all. However, given my apprentice status on this project I aim to continue with the ‘girl’ designation.

I have undertaken a little bit of renovation work in the past. When I say I…I actually mean I have engaged various trades to do the work. This is obviously not unusual. It is the norm for most. The hardest part of my historical work has been choosing tiles and room colours.

What I have never done though is take on a project of this size and duration and become part of the team whilst fulfilling the project management role.

I have never worked on a project that requires a six figure budget. I have never stripped a building from foundations to rood and have never turned a commercial property into a residential property.

So all good there then.

First the sad news. The project I am working on is a closed pub in South Somerset. The why and what happened is not for this blog. But it is sad that it had to close. Whilst the pub was open and when ‘well-supported’ it was a delightful little place and full of energy and conviviality. Alas being ‘well-supported’ was not a regular occurrence. We put in 10 years as did the previous owners who also struggled. Some villages care a lot about their amenities. Others don’t. C’est la vie.

The pub closed 10 July 2019 following a significant effort for planning permission that started in 2016. Planning was approved in October 2018 for Change of Use (COU) and on 3 September 2019 the work will commence to turn the old village pub into a good sized 4-bedroom house.

The carpark, sited opposite the pub, has also received outline planning permission. Nothing to report on this yet but there is hope for 1 or perhaps 2 houses to be built from scratch.

This blog is the story of the redevelopment journey through my eyes. The highs, the lows. The surprises and the lessons to be learnt.

I am anticipating learning a lot – not least the process required to turn a commercial property into a residential property.

I am committed to seeing this through. I have re-mortgaged to get the money for the development. Ceased my work as a marketing consultant….and de-camped Monday through Friday to the village so I can be there to manage and help with the project.

Wish me luck !

Knock, knock…

The internal doors have been fitted upstairs. This will be the first time in over a year that there is a door to the site toilet. My whistling career is coming to an end – thankfully!

It’s a very good week for moving things forward. Jonathan is here using his carpentry skills to fit doors, architrave and skirting – upstairs only at this time. Courtney has returned to fit and plumb the bathrooms and radiators – also upstairs.

We did have a moment on site – a minor incident with the plumbing. Courtney switched the water back on after fitting various bathroom items all day. After he headed home and whilst I was still painting, there was a rush of water in the kitchen downstairs. Water poured through one of the holes for the light sockets. I turned the water off, positioned numerous buckets and Courtney returned to site. A small problem with the shower fittings in the bathroom….quickly resolved.

However, I spent the evening trouncing up and down the stairs to see if any more water was escaping…unnecessarily as it happens as Courtney had indeed fixed the problem. But things like this play with your headspace. That night I dreamt that my inflatable mattress had turned into a lilo and I floated down the M5 escorted by a flotilla of white vans.

I told you my dreams are weird.

You may not be surprised to hear that I am still painting – and I have still not finished. In fact the painting will not be finished for weeks as once the skirting and architrave is fitted, I will be starting on the woodwork. When that is done, I have to finish the outside of the building and the garden fence….and it goes on and on and on.

I have incredibly sore wrists and thumbs now and am considering putting in an “injured at work” claim to myself. If this has a long term effect on my almost professional golf swing I will be most upset.

A couple of friends popped by to say hello and view the site for themselves. It was great to get feedback on all the hard work from people who know me well. Susie and Wendy even brought food with them so we lunched al fresco in the carpark sitting on pallets. I am after all an exemplary host.

They appeared very happy with my efforts and weirdly said nothing about the state of my being. Paint splattered hair, face, arms and legs. But I did have to explain why I was using a skipping rope as a belt on my shorts.

Why not, I said…

Dream, dream, dream…

My dreams are going a bit weird here.

I wonder if it’s because of the luxurious accommodation or the fact that I go to bed pretty exhausted and my little brain wanders off into some hopeful land of merriment to keep me cheery.

In one of my dreams I have been asked by some unrecognised wealthy entrepreneur – not someone I know – to build houses wherever I want and give them away to those that need them most. The first build means me travelling to Scotland….with Mr. Clooney in tow. I don’t have a tow bar on my car so I made one out of a door knob and a hosepipe. Absolutely no idea what that all means.

I also had a dream about marrying a professional rugby player who also loves playing golf. But I’ve had that dream for years and to be fair I am normally awake when it occurs! I also know exactly what it means and who the rugby player is!!

My new found beauty regime is going well. The dust and dirt application was the chosen method for a while but I have moved on. I shower at least once a day now and then cover myself in a mix of emulsion, vinyl, silk and eggshell paint. This requires a great deal of expertise. Sometimes I do it delicately by splashing a little drip here and there from a roller or brush – a method that is particularly useful for face splatter. Other times I am more carefree and simply drop a paint pot from height to encourage a more artistic coverage. Either way is effective.

Anyway, back to business. Although much of the painting is complete (thanks again, Stuart) there are still a number of rooms to finish. Ceilings are particularly difficult. My height does not lend itself to this job and I am mostly balancing on the top rung of a very high ladder to do the work. My reach is also limited so I am up and down the ladder several hundred times a day at the moment. My calves are sore. My wrists are sore. My thumbs are sore. And I think I have painters elbow – if that exists.

That’s all I have done all week. Paint.

I have been on my own. No trades. No visitors. So I have formed a very deep relationship with a number of spiders that share my bedroom. There is Mr. Speedy – a large long legged fella that can cross the room in less than a couple of seconds. On first sight he scared me silly…but I am used to him now. There there is Mr. Acrobat who hangs around most of the day, dangling at varying heights from his ceiling-based web. He can reach down to my coffee mug but I have warned him against a possible overdose of caffeine. He appears to have taken it on board. Our Mr. Lethargic has positioned himself on my ceiling and cannot be bothered to move at all. There’s always one! And finally, Mr. Jacuzzi who lives in the shower and appears to get quite excited when the hot water sprays about. He runs around wildly avoiding the spray (I imagine shouting out loud) but always returns in readiness for the next shower.

I would get rid of them (humanely of course) but I suspect they would only be replaced by other family members. I see them as my guardians – but I do have a little concern about their goings-on at night when the lights are out and I am sleeping. I have not yet felt a tickle on my face – or worst still in my throat – but I would be worried if one of them went missing overnight and I woke up feeling full!

The house has broadband now – only took 3 months from order – so my entertainment is a little more interesting. I have access to Netflix and other such delights but I still spend most of my evenings checking on prices and ordering materials whilst listening to podcasts. There is a growing shortage of manufactured materials and delivery times are getting longer for everything so I will be finalising a lot of orders over the next week or so as a precaution to the longer lead times or (hopefully not) another lockdown.

Next week will be much more engaging. For me…still more painting but the carpenter returns. That’s Jonathan, not the old fella from 2000+ years ago.

Until then…

Turning a corner…

Do I speak too soon? I hope not.

It does feel like I am turning a corner and I can now see the end – albeit through myopic, dust crusted, paint splattered old eyes!

My brother Stuart, who stayed another week to help with the painting, would tell me off for saying this because saying it out loud might put the spanner in the works. But there have been so many ‘spanners‘ that I figure it’s worth saying it just to make me feel better.

Throw whatever you want at me. That There Builder Girl is made of strong stuff – she weeps.

So – plastering and painting. That was still the order of the day. Upstairs has been painted. All ceilings, all walls, all window boards have been sanded, filled, misted, primed and painted. They look pretty good too for a couple of amateurs! The door frames have been primed in readiness for the door stops, doors and architrave; the walls are ready for the skirting.

We have taken delivery of 15 doors, 200m+ of skirting and 130m+ of architrave. Stuart and I carried the doors upstairs so they can be laid flat and away from the moisture caused by the plastering. The doors weigh between 25kg and 35kg each. There was a moment when Stuart, sweat soaked and lungs bursting, looked at me just as he did when he was 10 years old and I pinched the chips off his plate. I was expecting him to call our Mum and tell her I was being a meanie…! I think he called his wife instead!!

I will need more skirting for sure but this will get us started. The carpenter arrives in a week when he will get on with fixing everything. Then I will have the joy of more painting.

Downstairs received a lot of hardwall and sand & cement treatment before the final skim of plaster this week. Some of the walls were plastered last week so it was deja vu for me and big Bro. Mist coat again…more ceilings…more neck ache, back ache and thumb ache. Lots of masking so we don’t inadvertently paint the beautiful wooden beams. It takes some doing. My language skills have progressed. Lots of quiet abuse as concentration slips and I accidentally paint my face, the floor, a window, a coffee cup, the kettle…anything that is in the way.

Stuart finished painting the kitchen including the ceiling – it’s 9.4m long! More quiet abuse bouncing off the walls. The mist coat, which is watered down paint and therefore tends to splash about a bit, left him an interesting colour at the end of the day. I don’t think he knew how funny he looked – and I sent him to the shops for some milk just to humour me and scare the shopkeeper!

The long days proved worthwhile. We got a lot done. Stuart has returned to his wife and children bearing the scars of working this project. I am so grateful.

He will no longer get woken by me at 0630hrs but I suspect his kids will do a good job of ensuring he doesn’t sleep in. Hee hee!

I only have the hallway, snug, utility, boot room and cloakroom to paint. Oh, then the stairs, wainscoting, window boards, skirting, architrave, fireplace….

Oh flipping heck!!!

Groundhog day…

It’s plaster and painting time again! We have been here before.

Upstairs is plastered. That means out with the paintbrushes again. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it. Painting ceilings and walls. There is no skirting or door frames at the moment.

It is not easy. It is back-bending, neck extending, exhausting and messy work. However, I am not alone in my end of day pain. My big brother, Stuart, has returned to assist once more. Bless!

This time he gets to sleep inside the property amongst the dust, paint brushes, plaster and general chaos that is our building site. He had the pleasure of enduring the fast-puncture airbed for his first night here whilst sleeping in the bedroom with a curtain free window next to a street light! The airbed went down even faster with him sleeping on it…something to do with the weight ratio! Apparently he didn’t sleep too well that night!

I felt so guilty I went shopping and purchased a nicer puncture free airbed for him so the rest of the week has been far more comfortable. When I say comfortable…it’s still a blow up plastic bed on a rock solid floor covered in dust. He will undoubtedly get me back for this one day…but in the meantime, I will continue to utilise his labour.

We are breaking the back of the painting whilst it is breaking us. Both of us are suffering from Painters Thumb (does that even exist as a condition?). Imagine 8 hours a day gripping a roller and paintbrush and you might understand why it could be a thing. There are also blisters. Really proper sore ones across the palm of the hand.

For Stuart that is. Not me. I have the hands of a hardened builder – gritty leather paws with mini muscles bulging from each finger.

I have chosen colours for the bedrooms and each time we open a tin of paint, Stuart asks me if I intend to paint all the walls with said colour. I get the feeling that my colour choice may not match his!

To be fair, I do seem to have chosen a specific colour selection. There may be a throwback to my “dating men in uniform” days. There is grey (RAF – Mike – my first true love ), Olive Green (Army – John – no…he was my first true love) and I do have a dark blue yet to be used (Navy – the entire US Fleet who used to visit Hong Kong when I lived there and yes definitely my first true love!).

Those were the days!!!!!

Back to the project. I have done my research. The colours are popular and I believe they will help me sell the house this year, next year or whenever that time comes.

As you know it has been one step forward…and then…!

Nathan the tiler is unable to come back to the project for family reasons. His 6th child is on the way. Poor fella is probably exhausted.

We did get some way with Nathan on site. The en-suites and the bathroom is almost complete. Just the splashback to finish.

But downstairs we are tiling both entrances, the utility and the cloakroom. That is still a lot of work to be finished and some of it is a little more than straightforward. The tiling needs to be completed before the skirting, architrave and doors can be fitted so Neil is coming back in to finish the job. He is the man of many talents.

It seems my tiling course will come in handy after all as we shift from Master and Apprentice builder to Master and Apprentice tiler!

In the meantime, Pete and Morgan are skimming and hardwalling downstairs! Sounds like a rave – but it means the plasterwork is getting done. Another 25 bags of Multifinish was delivered this week (that is 95 bags in total) along with some plastering sand and cement so we know the job will be completed by the end of next week and without any further delays.

Hip hip…

Moving on…

It’s a week of happenings.

The plaster arrived earlier than expected so Pete is back in. We still don’t have all that we need but it’s enough to get started again and at least upstairs will be completed in due course and some of downstairs will be started. I think we need another 25-30 bags to finish the job but at least we are moving again.

After ordering them several months ago, the external doors arrived and have been fitted by Matt from Door Central. There is a little more work just to finish off some of the brickwork which disintegrated when the old doors were removed but otherwise we are good and secure. They are pretty simple in terms of design and colour but they do look good and, importantly, they meet all the Document Q requirements for Building Regs. Now we all have to remember not to bash the door open with the wheelbarrow or other work-related equipment each time we enter the property.

Now the doors are fitted, it means that the external render can be finished. Pete will get onto it once the plastering is done…or when we run out of plaster again.

The internal doors have been chosen and will be delivered once the plastering is complete. It’s not a good idea to store them on site whilst the plastering is underway because of the moisture in the air. They could warp. Who knew!

I spent a day trying to work out how much architrave and skirting is needed. Then looked online and fainted at the price. Then I looked up how to work it out and found I had mis-calculated by hundreds and hundreds of metres. Still learning.

Oh…and I have an operational en-suite bathroom.

Flushing toilet. Yay.

Sink with hot/cold water. Yay.

And…drum roll please ….a fully functioning shower. Hippeddy doo dah yay!

No lights, no fan, no mirror. Nowhere to hang a towel or a toilet roll. But I don’t care. I step out of the shower onto a tiled but dusty floor which just cannot be kept clean. But I don’t care.

The water is being run off the cistern rather than the boiler so the electric bill may be a bit high. But I don’t care. I am sure that had Courtney been here on Tuesday morning when it was working, he would have received a standing ovation from the other onsite trades who have had to put up with my sweetness during their working on site.

As there are no internal doors using the en-suite has to be at specific times of the morning and night for me. I don’t want a tools down moment because the guys glanced into the room as they passed by. No-one should have to see that! When the guys need the facilities they just whistle to warn me!

It’s another week of tiling for Nathan. For me, it’s a little bit of priming and painting including sealing knotted wood.

The slithering creature has returned (see last blog!)

My new inflatable mattress has already got a puncture. It’s pretty difficult on a site like this to have a clean floor – or clean anything for that matter. There are sharp bits and pieces everywhere as I have found to my discomfort. Fortunately, the puncture must be tiny as the mattress does not completely deflate overnight so my sleep is still better than before.

It just hisses gently in the silence of a dark night.

Still sounds like a Disney snake…a bit like the snake in Jungle Book. Hissssssss!

Oh no. Now I have an ear-worm. I have Baloo and Mowgli singing Bare Necessity going round in my head.

I bet you do too now!

Hot diggedy doo…

The first few days of the week were like hell on a hot day.

I expect it was the same everywhere but there is nowhere to hide for That There Builder Girl.

We had booked in fixing the garden fence and a few other fiddly jobs for the first two days of this week. The gate needed to be moved so the external rendering can be finished. Neil came back to site for a couple of days and we both melted as we bedded in new fence posts and (mostly) re-used old posts and panels. I want to hide the oil tank and other detritus at the back of the garden so we also built a new fence section that crosses the courtyard. You may not be surprised to hear I decided the painting of these fences can wait for another time when perhaps the temperature has dropped – lets say down 10 degrees should do it.

Inside the work is going along well. Oak newels, spindles, base and handrails are fitted and the stairs look lovely. They need a touch of danish oil but again that has to wait until the temperature drops. Jonathan the carpenter has also started to put up some panelling on the wall alongside the stairs to hide the broken stonework, bricks and an old door opening. We haven’t covered the whole wall though – there is still a lot of original blue lias stone on show. A little feature for those that love their older buildings.

I made a rookie error when priming the wood around the doors and stairs. My head hung low as I admitted my failure to Neil. I forgot to add the knotting oil to the fresh wood prior to the primer. I looked online for recommendations to resolve my mistake and I have been adding some Zinsser B-I-N primer to hopefully compensate for my mistake. Only time will tell if it works. In the meantime I now have a bottle of knotting oil in readiness for the next batch of fresh wood that needs attention.

This is why I am STILL the apprentice.

Nathan is tiling upstairs with all of the bathroom and ensuite walls now completed. The floors will be finished shortly now that the underfloor heating has been installed and a self-levelling screed has been laid. Then he moves downstairs to do the cloakroom, utility and hallways.

Courtney the plumber has been in doing his magic. The cistern and expansion vessels are now sited and my store room looks like something from NASA. More copper pipe needed, along with some other fancy pants plumbing stuff (can’t remember what they are called) to link it all together. Then 40 odd end stops will be fitted on all the open pipe work because I have asked for a fully functioning ensuite to be ready as soon as possible. The delay in plastering means it will probably be another month or more before the full second fix – and I can’t take the heat and discomfort any more. I need a flushing toilet; I need to wash; I need a shower. Me, me, me. Actually, not just for me but for those around me!

The big news this week is I have left Mr. Clooney.

Only at night though. It won’t surprise you to hear that Mr Clooney is ‘hot’ – oh yeah – and it was simply too much for me for a couple of nights. In addition, the seat cushions are beginning to buckle and bend and split as they are hauled around the caravan each day and night to make up my bed and office. This sort of caravan is not made to be lived in day and night and it’s beginning to show.

So I dug out the old inflatable mattress and moved inside the property amongst the dust, boxes of toilets and sinks and bags of tile adhesive. It was still warm but not like sleeping inside an oven.

For those that have followed this blog from the beginning you may recall that the mattress has a slow puncture. I forgot about it.

My first night of using the mattress for nearly a year resulted in me waking up in darkness listening to a slow hissing sound. My heart rate hit an abnormal high as the noise sounded remarkably like a snake (albeit a Disney version). I lay stock still worried that a slithering creature had managed to find its way into my bedroom.

Only as my brain function started again did I remember the puncture and fell back to sleep. In the morning I awoke on a deflated mattress with slightly raised sides. Imagine a bowling alley lane with the inflated tubes they lay down the gulley for the youngsters. Getting up was comical and rudely noisy as the mattress appeared to have a severe case of flatulence.

Nevertheless, it was still considerably more comfortable than sleeping in Mr. Clooney.

The house will be my new overnight accommodation for the foreseeable future. A quick trip to Aldi and I am now the proud owner of a new inflatable mattress (for less than a tenner!).

No more slithering creatures expected – unless they are specifically invited!

Patience is a virtue…

That is what I have learnt recently. Of course I’ve always known that patience is a virtue but saying it aloud does have significant resonance at the moment.

Still no plaster. Nothing I can do about it. Yet.

Still no telephone line. No broadband. Poor mobile signal. Nothing I can do about it. Yet.

Still hoping Mr Clooney (the real one) turns up to visit Mr Clooney (the wheel one). Sorry…nothing to do with patience. Just thinking out loud again.

I require patience to wait for the tiling to be done properly. It’s not a job that should be rushed. It is getting done in those rooms that were plastered, and I am very pleased with the results so far. Nathan’s attention to detail is lovely to watch. Believe it or not, the first finished en-suite has used every tile purchased. That is either a genius effort on my part or I am a lucky little ‘sort’ and I ended up accidentally ordering the exact amount of tiles required.

I prefer the genius title!

Of course, this now gives me some minor concerns that the other tiles ordered may be under or over the quantities needed. Or perhaps I am really a genius and it’s only just coming to light. I am pretty sure my Mother used to ask me this question all the time. “So you think you’re a genius?” I always thought the question was laced with sarcasm…but perhaps not.

After the last week when my hormones were running riot along with my body temperature I am pleased to say I have settled down into what is normal for me. It’s just as well as this week we have a fully functioning boiler and, at last, we tested the underfloor heating downstairs. That meant starting at 20 degrees and eventually raising the temperature to 40 degrees. It felt warm!

To help with the warmth, we had the log burner fitted this week too. In for a penny…etc.

I wonder if the fellas working on site knew I was showing them what it’s like to work whilst going through the menopause?

Sometimes this is a difficult project for me to manage and then something happens and I realise how lucky I am. This week a long-time golfing buddy – a decent, honourable, good man died. His family are devastated and my heart bleeds for them.

Perspective.

RIP Gary S.

Not a typical week…

I start by saying that women who typically go through the menopause can be anything from 40 something upwards…Just saying.

Sunday evening – somewhere in Somerset.
The planned underfloor heating test has not happened so I am unnecessarily here earlier than normal. It is annoying but there have been so many missed deadlines on this project I am at the stage of just taking a deep breath, shaking my head and setting a new deadline.

Monday evening – still in Somerset.
Had the underfloor heating been on the property was going to be too hot to work in so I booked myself on to a 2-day tiling course fairly local to my project. It’s at a training centre that delivers apprenticeship training for the building trade so I expected to be in a class of 17-year-olds! I thought about cancelling it several times, not sure I could take the humiliation (in my mind) but I’d already worked up a handful of “older than your mother/grandmother” retorts to show the youngsters how hip I am.

Imagine my surprise when I turned up to find this weeks trainees comprise members of the armed forces and me! I cried a little (see first sentence!). Sometimes my timing is inexplicably good. Two groups. My class has 2 Navy, 2 RAF and 2 Army – all men. They will soon be turning Civilian and are taking courses that may lead to future employment.

As That There Builder Girl my normal daily attire is paint-splattered shorts or jeans and a t-shirt with a hoodie for the cold days, along with my dirty, stained boots. Hair pulled back and tied up with a bandana. No makeup, no perfume. A glorious statement of womanhood! My tiling attire today was no different. The only change was my skin colour as I occasionally peeked at a sweaty bright red as another hot flush whizzed its way through my body. I think they believe I just embarrass easily.

Do you think it’ll look odd if I turn up tomorrow all spruced up; eyes a glitter with makeup, painted lips and casually attired in clean, ironed clothes? A summer dress, perhaps.

Yeah, me too.

I did offer the fellas the opportunity of a real-life project that they could practice their skills on. The house….not me…but they all have to go home to their loved ones!!

By the way the tiling training is good. I have been focussed. Yes indeed.

Thursday evening – in the Frozen North (I wish!)
Tiling in the property started on Wednesday. Not by me. Two days of training does not make Builder Girl an expert tiler. I am, however, going to be tiling the bathroom floor in the flat in Bristol. Nathan is doing everything here for the next 15 – 18 days. He started upstairs in an en-suite and will work his way through nearly 65m2 of tiling. Just the little that has been done so far fills my little heart with joy! How easily I get excited these days (see first sentence!)

Shower tiled and underfloor heating in the ensuite

Saturday morning – in Bristol.
A good nights sleep. Cool and comfortable.

This week was steamy and not just on the tiling course. I am mostly pretending the menopause doesn’t affect me. It isn’t happening even though I have to go through occasional crazy weeks like the one just passed. On and off for years now. Definitely on this week.

I can tell you it was seriously uncomfortable heat during the day and even more so at night with Mr. Clooney. I spent much of the week priming woodwork and MDF anywhere in the property, regularly crying over spilt paint and leaving a little trail of sweat behind me as I meandered.

I spent my evenings throwing my bedclothes on and off and weeping at YouTube videos of puppies and kittens whilst intermittently sending angry tweets to my telecommunication providers.

Thank goodness Neil and Andy removed the big tools from the property.

What a life…


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…