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…!

An unexpected turn…

There is no doubt that the big unanswered question on this project was going to be about the roof. How much work and what was it going to cost? What would show up when the tiles came off? Would it make me weep openly or simply be the cause of even larger quantities of alcohol to be consumed? Or both?

Once the tiles, old batten and felt were off we realised that one side of the roof had to be fitted with new rafters all the way along due to a massive dip about one third up. We knew (sort of) that something was amiss. I am pretty sure I saw a load of squirrels using the roof as a ski jump one night – or that might be another one of my dreams!

We sorted the dip. I was not expecting the same problems on the other side of the roof. I don’t know what I was thinking! Just a 9inch dip from one end to the other again at about 1/3 of the way down.

Oh well. It is what it is I say to myself each night as I empty another piggy bank.

But the roof has thrown another little surprise at us. Actually, not the roof but the felt that we used or to use its proper term – ‘breathable membrane’. With the new rafters sorted, the felt went down and new batten was nailed into place. First side done and so we gleefully moved onto the second side.

But no. This felt stuff is supposed to be waterproof. Even during the first few nights it started showing leakage. Drips inside the property. Rob the roofer spoke to the supplier. Then we had a night of frost and the inside of the felt froze…and when it defrosted the resultant water rained into the property – literally. Puddles and all.

A word with the product rep resulted in an immediate ‘not our products fault’. Very helpful. Thanks for listening.

Thankfully, our building materials supplier is a little more reactive. We swapped out 3 rolls for another batch of the same product and some of it has already been installed on the other side of the roof. So far it is bone dry. The original is still soaking wet. We think the first lot was a dodgy batch. The product rep – yes the one who is so helpful – says its impossible…! Didn’t expect that response…!

So…now we wait. The product rep is coming to site on Tuesday along with the building materials man. We probably need to rip out what we have done which not only means additional labour and material costs but extending the scaffolding hire – and I don’t intend to pay for it.

Rob the roofer has never seen this before. Neil has never seen this before. Andy has never seen this before and I have never seen this before. But to be fair, I have never seen breathable membrane up close and personal before so I don’t think I count in this regard.

In the meantime, a skip arrived which means only one thing.

My ongoing relationship with a wheelbarrow and spade continues.

There is no rest…

Quick, quick, slow…

Happy New Year.

I certainly hope it will be. We are back at it in South Somerset. Two weeks off for Xmas and I so enjoyed the comfort, central heating, showers and more in my little flat in Bristol. But I did miss not working on this project. That is typical of me…never happy unless I am pushed and challenged.

So the challenge continues. We will call this week 17, even if it is technically week 19.

I left my home comforts in Bristol at 6am on Monday morning to avoid the traffic and to ensure I was on site for the start of the work day. Andy and Neil returned at 8.15am, smiling as ever. Patrick the scaffolder turned up as promised before 8:30am, shortly after which a large order of tiles, roofing battens and felt arrived. Back to it then.

If you have been reading this blog regularly you will know that we have installed new purlins and made some significant changes to the roof from the inside. Once the scaffolding is in place, the roof will be stripped and one quarter of it will require new rafters. The whole roof requires new felt and then one half will have new tiles. Many say don’t do the roof in January and February. But we cannot proceed with internal works until the roof is done and I cannot delay the project until the weather turns. So I am just hoping we don’t get hit by any seriously adverse weather conditions. I expect the work will be quick, quick, slow…stop! Then start again.

My role during this work will be limited. I have no wish to climb onto the roof, nor will it help if I do. I will be removing all the accoutrements currently nailed or screwed to the side of the building from light fittings, sign brackets, pipework, etc. I will also be preparing the walls in readiness for the render – to be completed towards the end of the roofing project. This should keep me occupied for a week at least.

We also have a couple of jobs to finish prior to the rendering. This includes removal of the old walkway to the outside toilets along with bricking up a doorway and fitting three new windows. I can assist with all of this.

Happy to see Mr. Clooney

I am back in the caravan. I decided the caravan should have a name so it’s now called Mr. Clooney. I gave Mr. Clooney a thorough going over when I returned having left him in the cold for two weeks!

I even got a bit of a sweat on and he has warmed up wonderfully!

Er…