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!


Is it a floor? Is it a ceiling…

A short week for me. Monday was supplier meetings so no physical work until Tuesday and am heading home on Thursday evening as off to the Big Smoke for a Friday night of loveliness with a scrummage of Penguin rugby players and supporters (is that the collective noun?).

But a short week doesn’t limit the amount of work that has to be done. So Neil and I have the task of levelling off one bedroom floor and putting in a brand new floor in another bedroom (happens to also be the ceiling for the boot room / guest toilet.

This requires much timber. I am becoming well versed in timber terminology. Here it’s spoken in old ‘money’ (6by2; 4by2 etc) but ordered from the merchant in new money (150×47) unlike plywood which is still ordered in sheets in old money (8ftx4ft). Over 140m ordered for the two rooms. Thankfully its cut to manageable sizes…though if you’d seen me (wo)man carrying a 4.8m length of timber from the carpark to the pub you would question the term ‘manageable’.

Then there’s the nails – 40mm galvanised clout nails in this case. Ordered by the kg rather than the hundreds or thousands. 2.5kg for this little job. Add 52 joist hangers, 5x 1m lengths of M16 threaded rod then cut to size; M16 nuts and washers and a tube or two of silicon and we are ready to go.

Neil does the calculations and measuring. No surprise there for those that know me well. I am after all just the apprentice on this job…but I am learning and spend my day watching and learning in between lifting, hammering and cleaning – with an occasional expletive when the hammering misfires.

It’s getting colder now too, although much of the work is still very physical so keeping warm is not a problem once the work starts. But first thing in the morning is a tad chilly and my “home from home” caravan is fighting hard to keep me warm in the evenings. Last night’s howling gale was an interesting experience. Once I reassured myself that the caravan was too heavy to fly away, and I got used to the swaying motion it was really rather soothing. Reminded me of sleeping in a yacht in a force 8 gale.

I was “rocked” to sleep whilst listening to some chillout tunes!

Oh the life of That There Builder Girl.

All work and no play…

I am one of those personalities that loves learning new stuff, regardless of what it is generally. It’s one of the reasons I had a fairly successful career in marketing. I had to work on numerous brands and products from cars and garden tools to computers and sanitary products and had to learn a lot about the products. And I was definitely one to take my work home with me – alas!

Now that I am the apprentice on this building job, its the same thing. Neil and Andy are answering my questions on a daily basis and my learning slope is steep – even from basic stuff such as plumbing pipes that are brown go underground. I also now have a handle on inspection chambers, risers and couplers. Yippee!!

But life should be more than work (not that I call this work) and it’s good to divert the brain. Living in a caravan limits my evening entertainment. No TV. There is a video player but I am not really a film buff. So its the radio, podcasts and music on my phone primarily. And oh boy, what joy there is to be found in podcasts.

I thought I might share some which may be of particular value to anyone else going through a similar process. Some are American …but once you get over that they are worth a listen. Some real life. Some might make you chuckle. Some might make you shout out loud at no-one in particular. All entertaining. (Quick shout out to my mate Annie who keeps a watchful ear out for anything I might like). These are the ones I have been devouring the last 10 weeks.

The two things that keep me going after the hard work of daily renovation. A large mug of coffee and podcasts playing through my Jam Heavy Metal (great sound!).

I haven’t found a decent renovation/property podcast. If you know of one, do let me know. Or any other recommendations very welcome.

I also read a fair bit – currently Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and the soon to arrive Book Club book – Drive your Plow over the Bones – Olga Tokarczuk. What a great title.

There is also a constant re-read of Housebuilders Bible 12 – Mark Brinkley (13 is out now). Extremely informative for anyone with limited knowledge or renovation and housebuilding like myself.