And another ‘thing’…

Sometimes this project feels like Bake Off. Except every round of the competition is a Technical – with scant written instruction – and I never win Star Builder. That normally goes to Neil or Andy or …

Mind you, I never lose either so I can’t complain.

During the past few months its been tiling week, painting week, skirting week, architrave week and so on. This week has been….kitchen and utility week. Yay! One to look forward to.

Exciting and terrifying at the same time. Exciting because for me a kitchen makes a home. Terrifying because there is a reason we rarely hear of people fitting their own kitchens. It can be complex. It requires precision and careful thought. Not my go-to attributes. I am obviously not ‘fitting it myself’ – Neil is here and as always I am his Aged Apprentice.

I decided on the kitchen layout months ago. Took the measurements. Sorted the design, chose the supplier, etc. Then the chosen supplier told me the kitchen I provisionally booked was no longer available. I reluctantly chose another one. They put the price up expecting me to sign the cheque. Not going to do that. I went to another supplier so I was a little apprehensive when the truck arrived on Monday afternoon with piles and piles of boxes.

Not my first choice but it’s looking good and I am pleased. There is a lot of measuring. Measure, measure and measure again. A lot of cutting (routing in this case) and that’s for Neil. A lot of putting things together. Hinges, doors, corner units, larders and more. The instruction manual has over 120 pages, lots of illustrations that don’t make sense to me, many with words I don’t understand. There is a large box just containing packets of …well, stuff. I recognise some things like screws and hinges but I honestly have no idea what some of the other things are.

Where does this ‘thing’ go; what does this ‘thing’ do ..can be heard bouncing off the walls. Along with “oh Alison you numpty” “what an idiot” and other such statements as I chat merrily to myself whilst working out how to put things together.

Neil chats to himself too but he says things like “13.5mm from the right edge!”

Every now and again I ask Neil to re-interpret the instruction manual and explain what I need to do in a simpler language for me to follow. He is a patient man. I think I have said that before.

It took me almost half a day to assemble the 1000mm drawer unit whilst Neil practically fitted out the Utility Room. Once finished, and with vocalised glee, I picked up one of the drawers and the front fell off!

I sorted that minor glitch and slid the drawer into the base unit. “Hurrah” I said and stepped back. ‘Perhaps not” I said as the drawer sat at a wonderfully creative lopsided angle. Another minor glitch which I also sorted. It now looks and works fine!!

Every kitchen comes with hundreds of little plastic covers to fill in the pre-drilled holes that are not needed. Just as well because this kitchen now has a couple of extra holes as my measuring skills are not as accurate as they need to be. It is literally a case of millimetre accuracy. I started borrowing Neil’s glasses – that helped.

So mostly I have done OK. I did have to order another cabinet when we realised my original design measurements failed to allow for 40mm of end panels….but hey, I am a beginner at this. A costly mistake and I won’t make it again.

Neil has done the heavy work. Cutting down the cupboards in the utility room to ensure they fit; allowing for the plumbing pipes in the back of the cupboards and of course cutting the worktops including the huge holes for the sinks. I couldn’t look when the sink hole was being cut.

Four solid days done and it’s looking good. We think another couple of days at the same pace and I should have a proper kitchen. Of course, it won’t work because it needs to be plumbed in, and the electrics need to be finished.

But the drawers will open and close

…once I work out how to put the handles on.

Taking it all out…

Then putting it all back in again. That’s the builders life.

As an apprentice I obviously have limited experience. It makes me question my sanity at night when I am ensconced in my luxurious accommodation and I realise the process of renovation..

We have taken out more than 70 tons of flooring and have now put back the same sort of materials we took out up to the concrete level. To finish the floor we will be adding insulation and then screed. We have removed enough timber to build an enormous bonfire for local celebrations (yes…that is where the wood has gone), and we are now putting timber back in. I have not heard of which effigy will be sitting at the top of the bonfire but I have a few thoughts on that.

I have removed hundreds…nope, thousands of nails and in the last two days I have hammered a thousand clout nails into some joists. (Impressive use of proper terms there!)

But Neil assures me it’s all for the good of the job.

So what’s happening in Week 9?

We are building one of the dividing walls for the entranceway and to define the utility room and snug. When I say we I mean Neil and Andy. A couple of wall starter sets get the process going. The 4 inch concrete blocks look like what this girl knows as breeze blocks. But each one is super dense and incredibly heavy. Bringing them inside was about my limit. The concrete mixer in the carpark is a little bigger than my cake mixer at home…but same theory. To be honest the mix sometimes looks better than my home bakes too.

I have been dallying with another shorter end hammer drill. Removing the last of the stubborn plasterwork around the fireplace, etc. The corner bits come off in huge chunks as they are held together with metal mesh. As a result they are heavy. My left shoulder and arm now bear the scars of how heavy. Also removing even more nails….Did you know that it is possible to pull a nail with such strength that the hammer could fly back and may hit you on the head. Makes your eyes water and swear like you’re on the golf course!

One of the master bedrooms is having the ceiling raised to show off some of the old beams. This is where I have been a little more active. Go on…ask me a question. Go on. Go on. I know words now that I had never heard of before this project. Jiffy hanger. Threaded rod. M16 nuts. Could be the start of a racy novel. Watch this space.

And its been another week of meeting other trades for the ongoing need for quotations. All good people with varying skills. My knowledge of soil pipes is increasing substantially. I await their responses with hope.

Now I shall head home only to have to replace the boiler in my flat. Its pitying that they don’t make these things last like they used to (Do I sound like my mother?). This boiler can only be 25 years old. There is little rest for That There Builder Girl.

Rugby at the weekend. Watching, not playing just in case you were wondering. England vs All Blacks. (Hello my friends in New Zealand). Wales vs France (Hello my family in Wales).

England v Wales. Now that would be a good final now that Scotland aren’t playing.

ps…I know. I know. Its Wales vs South Africa. Can’t blame me for mistakes..I am a little worn out!