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…

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!

Who built this thing…?

I knew the property was old but blimey, have we been surprised by some of the building methods that have been unearthed.

We were expecting a bit of lath and plaster and that is what we have found. Along with horsehair and straw! It’s not clear when this method of building was used but needless to say its a while ago.

Modern day plasterboard is such a joy to remove. Older plaster methods is not. I cannot begin to explain how dirty the job is and when the ceilings as well as the walls are made using these old methods you can truly expect a mess when you pull them down. For Neil and Andy this was less of an issue. They went home every night and had hot showers. You’ll know from a previous blog, I did not.

Halfway through the first few weeks I thought we might find some treasure. This place is old. Surely a gold sovereign or similar can be found.


Nope.

A Samsung phone…If you read this and think you lost the phone in the pub then get in touch.

We did find a lovely old key and the place is held together with old nails some of which I have kept as a lovely reminder !!
We also found a box of matches that still work and an (empty) pack of cigarettes. Good job I gave up 20 years ago.

Don’t panic….until you have to!

Commercial to residential, in this case, also means lots of digging! Not just a little way either. We have to dig the floor out to a suitable depth and then put it back in but with all the necessary materials that make a modern building. Including a DPM (damp proof membrane) and the necessary insulation.
We knew this from the outset, so in Week 1 we broke into just one area of the floor to see what lies underneath.

Concrete tiling is what everyone saw – great for a pub. Easy to clean and hard wearing. No good for a residential property. That was the top layer. Underneath was dirt, then blue lias flagstones. Probably originals from a way back. Yippee. There is value in them there stones and if we can save them, we can re-use them or sell them on.

Then weirdly, a type of bitumen. Didn’t smell too good but nothing to worry about.

What was worrying was the next material we found. It looked like a type of insulation board. We stopped work, masked up and sealed the area. Both Neil and Andy thought it might be asbestos. That is one of the words you do not want to hear when you start a job this big.

I cannot tell you how worried I was. My first action was to find out what I had to do. The HSE has tons of information but it doesn’t help lessen the panic. We have to dig up an area of about 90m2 – and if it was asbestos the digging out programme was about to get incredibly expensive.

That was a tough week. I sent off the sample we had unearthed to Artisan Surveyors, a specialist business found online. The result came back negative.

What a lesson to learn. We do have some asbestos sheets on an outside toilet. We know we have to deal with them in time…but it never crossed my mind that some of the floor would be made of asbestos.

You might have seen me dancing in the streets that night under the influence of sheer relief.

Late to the party. What have I done!!

Our first day of demolition.

The project started on 2 September 2019 and I was late – having been caught in the traffic on the M5. Nothing to worry about I had already handed over keys to my builder – Neil and he and his No. 2 Andy were on site from 0830hrs to get started. By 1030hrs when I turned up I walked into a mess – that simply got bigger and more dirty as the week progressed. No turning back now.
I had first day nerves. Not sure why. I know Neil (met him playing golf). I took out references on his work as a builder and we met several times to discuss the project. But even so I was still nervous.

The plan is simple. Knock everything to pieces and then re-build where necessary to meet current building regulations and to turn the old pub into a contemporary home. Simples !!

I took a course at the NSBRC (National Self Build & Renovation Centre) in Swindon. Three days on how to plan, manage and implement your project. I then did another one day course with them on Project Management. The courses were great – truly interesting and helpful. I took loads of notes.

One of the things they said again and again is make sure you budget for everything in advance. So here I am on day one, having only budgeted for the next 4-6 weeks on a project that is likely to last for 6 – 9 months. To be fair, I did get some total build quotes and they were around £50k over my entire budget so I have an idea of what this might cost if it all goes horribly wrong.

Ask me at the end of the project whether this way of doing things was a good idea.