What a difference a day makes…

Actually, make that a month. February has gone. March has arrived and we have just had two consecutive days without rain. The joy of it.

This means that the external rendering process has actually begun. Two days in and one long side of the property has been primed and also received a coat of render. Another long side and a gable end still to do and hopefully we can find another couple of days of sunshine in the next week or so. Pete the Plasterer, and his ever-so young sidekick Morgan, have done me proud so far.

Then its out with the scat gun (I think that’s what its called). The property cannot take a nice smooth finish. It would just highlight the oddities built into the fabric of the building. As such we are going dotty…a tyrolean render. Not my cup of tea, but it will suit the style and age of the building. The big decision is whether to pay for the colour stuff or keep it plain and then paint.

There is a cost difference but the budget has not had a good time recently. The last month or two should not be seen as simply a diversion of funds to unknown problems, but more as a full blown, unseen and unheard attack from behind.. a proper mugging.

The result is a financial hit delivering physical and mental torture. I know I will get over it. I will take another deep breath and rearrange a few things to get us on track but it still hurts.

Back to good news. The floor downstairs has received 100mm of insulation and a DPM layer. The underfloor heating pipes have been laid and the manifold fitted. This is to be finished off with the 75mm of screed in the next two days. I am really pleased with whats been done so far. I have been helped enormously by my friend Warren and the company he works for – Mec-Serv. Warren has held my hand throughout this process and provided expert knowledge and the reassurance needed at this stage of my big renovation. It is after all my first UFH experience. Love you my friend (and wifey Susie too) but you both know that anyway!

The flooring work has also meant there is no other work being done inside the building. Neil and Andy have gone elsewhere for the week (I hope they don’t like it too much) and I have spent most of my time with Mr. Clooney working out how to re-balance the budget whilst remembering all the things I forgot to include in the beginning – like skirting ! Who forgets skirting for goodness sake!!!!!

I try not to drink whilst I am down here but sometimes it’s simply not possible.

Anyone surprised…?

The 12 weeks of renovation…

I am undecided if I have just endured the hardest 12 weeks of my life…or the most interesting. At moments time has flown…but not at 4am in the caravan when it’s wet and windy or when I have to empty the pee pot!

I miss some of my home comforts. Not being able to cook multi pan meals and bake. Not having a bed made up and ready for me to climb into. I also miss a flushing toilet and the constancy of never ending running water.

Surprisingly, I am pretty OK with not having a shower every day or only washing my hair or wearing makeup at weekends. I live in numerous layers of t-shirts and fleeces, jeans and thick socks. I am no longer embarrassed by my dressed state when I walk to the local shop for a pint of milk. I suspect I look like a hard-up bag lady, but I don’t care.

I don’t miss TV. I do miss my friends, book club and the golf club. Oh and my family.

What is good is the knowledge I am gaining and the excitement (yes) of seeing an empty space turn into a useable space. For instance I made a floor – a proper stand on it, jump up and down even dance on it floor and it may be there for hundreds of years! Obviously not on my own – Neil did the hard stuff – but even so who else can say that.

The Building Control man seems verily happy with our efforts and we communicate very well indeed. He is also very helpful and has a few pointers here and there but we are getting the relevant approvals as we meander along. It probably helps that his name is Stuart – also the name of my favourite (only) brother just returned from Australia.

Neil and Andy are coping admirably with their aged apprentice. Neil is now a puppy papa so he realises how easy it is to manage me now that he has an 8 week old pup in his household. Although to be fair, he’s never had to drop what he’s doing to run me outside! Nevertheless their patience is admirable.

We are doing some big stuff next week. The roof has seen better days. Imagine an old fella with a big beer belly but he needs to have a 6 pack to survive. That’s the job we’ve got with the roof. I have just ordered a load of timber – much of which has been specified by the structural engineer, Aurimas (one for all and all for one!. I know its the wrong spelling but I couldn’t resist it). Anyway, we have some seriously big pieces of timber to slip into the roof to boost its strength and make that 6 pack miracle happen.

My suppliers – mostly Travis Perkins and MKM – are really delightful and very helpful with my numerous questions. They also play golf so that helps!!

So that is it. 12 weeks done in a blink. Week 13 will soon arrive and I am so looking forward to carrying the 4.8m lengths of timber aloft my shoulder whilst climbing a ladder to the second floor whistling to the tune of “Hi Ho, Hi Ho…”

In the meantime I head back to Bristol for a weekend of wood-working (yes really) and a party to attend. If there is not yet a dance called The Woodchop or Renovation Wriggle – there will be by the early hours of Sunday morning!

Cheers.