On my knees…

Flipping heck! If someone had told me I would spend days on end on my knees I would have laughed heartily and ridiculed their statement. But that is exactly what I am doing.

Still tiling, still painting, still trying ever so hard to get this project finished.

I have spent almost the whole week on my knees. The knees are just about surviving the workload. My back less so. My hands – covered in tiling adhesive, paint, silicone and white spirit – are like gnarly, leatherette guerilla mitts (the monkey, not the freedom fighter!). My nails…oh don’t even go there. I can tell you that my hand modelling days are well and truly over and if I was entered into a blind test of whose hands are these, no-one would guess they are mine. I am not even sure the participants would guess that they were human.

So onto work.

All the doors are fitted, as are the handles and locks, all courtesy of Neil the returner. I think the doors look great. It took me such a long time to make the decision but I am very pleased…particularly with the glass doors that lead into the kitchen. Door stops are also in as is most of the architrave and a lot of the skirting. Hence the painting…more filling, then painting, then more painting, then more painting, then more painting. Then caulking….then, go on guess….Yes, more painting.

And in between all that I still need to finish the tiling. Back on the knees.

Just the cloakroom walls to finish tiling, then the final grouting and bish, bash, bosh. Tis done!

Am I repeating myself?

We have new glazing in all of our windows after a visit from Langport Glazing – another local company. The new glass is a requirement for building regulations – because its…….because I……..because they said so. No choice. The new glazing lets in a lot more light as we removed the ‘georgian bars’. Looked good for the pub, but not for this home. The new glazing also makes the windows look like they are all new. Weird that!

And now it’s getting proper cold. We are not connected to the boiler or mains electric yet so no central heating, but I do have a gas bottle fire in my temporary bedroom. Bed time here is rather different to my norm. Occasionally I find myself in my pyjamas and tucked up in my lovely inflatable bed by 630pm. I have no furniture to sit on. I have no fancy clothes to get changed into once I wash. So bed it is, with my phone and laptop, a book and a flask of coffee. It keeps me warm but I do hope it doesn’t become a habit.

It’s cold in the morning when I wake up – normally around 630am – but the house is incredibly well insulated and is warmer than I expected. And to be fair, this time last year I was sleeping in Mr. Clooney and that WAS so cold I could cut my breath with a knife…so I must count my blessings.

Next week for me is ….tiling and painting.

What a shock…

More of the same…

Neil returns for two days this week – at the beginning and again at the end – to take over the carpentry work. Lots of skills that fella! He will be here next week too, thankfully.

I am back on the tools…well, paintbrushes and rollers, scrapers, sandpaper and filler. Am crazily painting the door stops, architrave and skirting before it is put in place just to get a little ahead. It will still need painting again once it is installed, but hopefully only one more coat will be required. By doing the first coat now, it should save me from spending a week on my knees.

It’s not a problem for my knees, but it is for the rest of my body. The days are long gone when I was flexible and strong enough to kneel, stand, kneel, stand, etc, for 8 hours, day after day without a knock on effect to my physical being. I am currently having to roll onto my back and stretch my legs and back out before getting up with the help of anything near by, but I have to do it carefully so I don’t faint from the blood rush to the head.

Fit bird, me!!

I am also roaming around fixing stuff that has been damaged during the last few weeks – a sprinkle of filler here, a dash of caulk there and dollop of paint to finish it off nicely. Bake Off has nothing on me!

Then there is the tiling to finish.

Yea…and the window boards.

Oh, and I still need to finish painting the Snug, the hallway walls and ceiling.

And outside…

I have also started digging up a part of the carpark – by hand. According to Western Power there should be an electrical supply point on the corner of my carpark. It should be buried two feet deep (or thereabouts) and before they can quote for the onward supply I need to confirm it is there. They could do this of course but their charges are not too friendly !! So there’s me with a metal shovel digging to find electrical cables….

What can go wrong ?!?!?!?

If you see me sans eyebrows and a startled look on my cherubic face framed by curly hair, you will know I found it!

Onwards…

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…

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!!!

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!

What’s the definition of a house..?

I don’t mean the word. I mean the feeling. I think I know.

It’s a collection of rooms with walls that you cannot walk through – all courtesy of sheet after sheet of plasterboard. With a huge amount of effort we almost have a house – apart from the fact there are no bathrooms, kitchen, etc. But you get the gist!

Upstairs has 4 bedrooms, 2 ensuites and a bathroom, a hallway and even an airing cupboard. Proper rooms defined. Of course, no doors or architrave or skirting or anything else for that matter. But they are actual rooms.

And so to downstairs. A slightly easier plasterboard job as no sloped ceilings, but still much to do. You’ve heard this story before. Insulation, plasterboard, clean up. Insulation, plasterboard, repeat….

Courtney the plumber has been back to fit the shower trays. Steve came back to fit the electrical back boxes – all in readiness for plastering.

Adam from Mec-Serve (our fab underfloor heating company) has been back in to assess the final area that needs screed. We couldn’t do it first time around as I hadn’t purchased some of the plumbing materials which were supposed to be fitted before the screed was laid! My bad!

The 8 yard skip filled by me slowly but surely last week has been exchanged with another empty one. It seems the shovel will never leave my hands, although there is a rumour that Andy has access to a digger this weekend and may be able to clear some of it by machine. Either way, hopefully this will be the last skip…until the next one!

I have worn out yet another pair of gloves.

I have been trying to get a telephone line and broadband put into the house. At the moment I use the data on my phone to run my computer. It’s incredibly unreliable and deeply frustrating. The O2 mobile signal in this area is weak and erratic even on 3G, so even normal telephone usage is impossible on some days – and not just O2 apparently. Ridiculous. Someone complain. Oh that’s a job for me!

This week saw the arrival of a router from Vodafone and an engineer from OpenReach. A simple job….but no. The engineer couldn’t reach the telephone cables on the telegraph pole immediately outside the house so we had to wait for a platform vehicle. The platform vehicle arrived, which was used sparingly as it was ‘the wrong one’ (something to do with the passing traffic and danger !). In the 3 minutes it was used, the engineer couldn’t find the necessary lines (pairs I think he called them) on the pole needed to input a telephone line into my property. Difficult to understand really as only last July there was a telephone line, broadband and a card machine data-line. But for this week, no phone; no broadband. So they have to come back.

It’s not the engineer’s fault. I know that. They will be back with a bigger platform vehicle, which means putting in a traffic control system as they will close off one side of the road. They will run cables to another telegraph pole and onwards to a big box. Gosh, I will be popular with the neighbours….again!

So..back to the renovation thing. I still need to do research on tiles, lighting, doors, architrave, skirting and other stuff online. I am so pleased the shops are starting to open. I will, at least, be able to view some of the needed items and get out of the caravan now and again.

And…drum roll. I have plaster. I don’t have it yet, but it’s coming at the end of June.

So another week of frustration with with a ridiculously poor mobile data signal and no broadband. This has lead me to (a) drink (b) profuse swearing (c) writing letters to the authorities (d) all of the above.

Answers on a postcard…!