When you know you don’t know what you know…

Sorry about the headline. But this is what my current Monday to Friday is like. There is clearly a lot I do not know with regard to renovation. I am not completely up to date with building methods. I didn’t know how to build a 4″ concrete wall or how to measure and hang ceiling joists. (I do now!). There is a lot of stuff I do know..(ask me about golf if you have a few hours spare)….but most of what I know seems irrelevant on this job.

And there is plenty of stuff that I didn’t know that I knew. And plenty of stuff that I know that I don’t know. Such as the Party Wall Act 1996 and Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992. Not a lot about the former, quite a bit about the latter.

I think in hindsight it would have been useful if I could have asked for some clarification on these subjects prior to the work starting but given that I didn’t know that I didn’t know much about this topic it’s difficult to know what questions to ask. Are you following?

I am going to give you a run-down of what I have learnt with regard to renovation in case it is useful to you in the future. Access to Neighbouring Land is really about being able to fix stuff that may only be accessible via your neighbours property – drain, tree, roof, wall, etc. This includes putting up scaffolding in order to reach your property. If it’s for renovation/repairs, they (sort of) must give permission once the necessary notice periods have been provided. If it’s for an extension, they don’t have to although most people are sweet enough to allow this sort of thing. Love thy neighbour and all that.

The Party Wall thing is all about working on the actual party wall. The first thing you need to find out is if the wall that backs onto your neighbours property is actually a party wall. Or it may be a boundary wall. Check your deeds, don’t just assume or take your neighbours word for it.

If you have used an architect it’s likely they will advise you if the work you will be doing is pertinent to the Party Wall Act. In short, the work needs to be on the wall itself from foundations or knocking a chimney down connected to the party wall, or changing the shape of the wall itself, etc. If you are not actually working on the wall, then there is no need for a Party Wall Agreement. If there is it can take months to sort so think about it as you are planning your renovation. Your insurers will need to know one way or the other.

So that’s the necessary and boring stuff.

My week is short and sweet from a physical point of view. Two and a half days of digging drains – truly physically demanding and so much harder that I thought it was going to be. It’s how awkward it is that causes the problems. Very narrow and pretty deep. Honestly something I have no wish to do again but alas we have one more effort next week.

The rest of the week includes a day of sandblasting wooden beams, old walls and a fireplace to bring them back to visual perfection (I hope). I am only on site for supervision and have a view from the caravan except at the end of the day when I will help to clear up. Then the next day is the very necessary wood treatment – required before we work on the roof. The beetles (I love you, yeah yeah yeah!) have seriously enjoyed themselves in this property and have probably had free reign for decades. It’s time for them to go and chatting to them sweetly hasn’t worked! The terminators arrive Friday morning.

Again, I am not allowed in the property during this process. I know it’s a necessity if I want the roof to stay where it is but it does seem tough on the little critters.

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” Voltaire.

I will be sitting in my caravan listening to Herb Alpert blow his stuff to ease my guilt.

My week in numbers…

          If I do too much back work, the bolts come loose and my ass falls off.

This is Week 5 coming to an end…

It’s been a week of physically demanding work – after last weeks physically demanding week., and the previous weeks physically demanding works. There’s a bit of repetition going on here.

We have just about finished digging out the floor, only so we can start putting stuff back in. It’s beyond me why we have to remove tons of stone and rubble and dirt only to have to replace it with tons of stone and rubble and dirt – and of course cement. But there you go. Who am I to question these things?!?!?

We added another team member this week to get the job done. Andy’s son has joined us and he works as hard as his father. My digging is limited due to my back being held together with titanium bolts as a result of a weekend jumping off cliffs a few years back. If I do too much back work, the bolts come loose and my ass falls off. Hmm!

My job therefore has been limited to digging where I can and for as long as it’s comfortable, and wheeling the results of all our digging out of the property and into the carpark.

I thought I would share some of the numbers with you for the last 2 weeks effort.

2 . The number of wheelbarrows available.This is important because as we empty one the other is being filled. It’s like a chain gang. Also the number of breakers we have now used, as the first breaker broke! Ironic ?

49. Man (and woman) hours during the last two weeks just for digging out.

90. Each wheelbarrow can carry a maximum of 90 litres. Of course I cannot move them if full. That’s what you get by working with That There Builder Girl. But that means approximately 12-15 wheelbarrows per ton of rubble. To be fair I didn’t move them all myself. There is a time in the day when my little arms cannot simply move them.

72. In tons. The amount of dirt, stonework and rubble removed to date and collected by our cheerful grab lorry driver. Referring to above – that means a minimum of 864 wheelbarrows full.

47. The number of steps between the front door of the pub and where the wheelbarrows are emptied. Double it to return – albeit with an empty barrow. That is 81,216 steps.

10. The amount of wheelbarrows of rubble I had to move because I put them in the wrong place (mis-heard my instructions and never will I do that again!).

26. In square metres. Approximately amount of salvageable blue lias flagstones found under the concrete tiles and dirt which has now been sold on to a happy customer.

3. Breaks during the day – and also mugs of coffee or tea allowed per working day whilst working as apprentice builder girl.

11. The time at night that I used to go to bed when I was at home and doing a normal job.

8. The time at night that I make up my bed in the caravan – just to make it in readiness for later on you understand.

9. The time at night that I have yet to see because I am so tired.

6. The time in the morning that I get up because I keep going to bed too early !

21 -37. The number of weeks left on the project till it’s done.

There is one more number worth thinking about. That is the number of glasses of wine I may have to consume to get over the work day. But that number is secret – because my Mum reads this blog and I don’t want her to think I am an old soak!