The pipes, the pipes are calling…

Progress is a little slow at the moment due (still) to the ongoing plaster shortage. Nevertheless we are still moving it on.

The first 3 days this week saw Courtney the plumber fitting in the boiler and loads of pipes. His work is very methodical and organised. I like things tidy and ordered and his pipework is just that. Yes, I did write that!

This in turn will allow us to test the underfloor heating. As I understand it, we will need to set the temperature at 20degs and then move it up 5degs each day till we hit 40degs. Maybe I should put up a poster and invite the neighbours in to what will be the largest, most expensive sauna in the village.

We won’t be doing much work whilst the UFH is tested although it would help with my ongoing but failing quest for weight loss.

The test is to assess the strength of the screed (and how dry it is) in case it cracks. This is best done before final flooring – tiles, LVT, wood etc goes down. We don’t anticipate a problem as the screed was laid in February, but if there are any cracks it’ll be a quick fix.

I did a final cleanup of the paintwork in the hallway and Steve the electrician fitted the smoke alarm and a gorgeous, modern chandelier – all before the tower scaffold was removed. Now there is no chance of doing anything up there without hiring in a human pyramid for me to stand on – or an extra long ladder.

Another friend – Susanne – arrived for a day this week following end of term closure. We spent the day painting the bathroom and one more bedroom. Great company. It all helps. Thanks lass.

With the scaffolding down it was time to move the boxes of tiles stored in the lounge downstairs to their appropriate rooms upstairs. The combined weight of the tiles shows 919kg amounting to 1260 tiles in total – so it’s a proper muscle job. I couldn’t carry the full boxes so I had to decant them. The tile sizes are varied and the really big ones meant me carrying only 3 tiles at a time.

Up and down the stairs I went – around 20 times. That is a lot of exercise and no Fitbit to record the massive effort. I was tempted to measure around my butt and thighs before and after but I only have a metal tape measure. I have already sliced several fingers on the sharp metal edges of the tape and had to suck them to stop the bleeding (First Aid not my go-to skill). Imagine the problem if I sliced my butt in a similar fashion….!

I have spent the last few days struggling to stand, sit, walk or even move as the tile transfer took its toll on my old muscles.

Apparently, there has been local comment about the mess I have made in the carpark. Fancy that …a mess on a building site? We now have a tidy(ish) carpark. All of the wood has gone to its future life as a village bonfire. Now I need to consider what to do with my pile of pallets. I’ve been online and think a potting table could be good or a collection of garden furniture – or maybe just another pile of wood for another bonfire! Watch this space.

In the meantime, I got 2 days off this week and headed to Wales for rest and relaxation.

Sorry…what am I saying.

I spent a full day with a drill, hammer and screwdrivers as I helped my sister, Shona, get her pub ready for re-opening in August.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I was still in a pub and I didn’t have to pay for a drink!!

Hic, hic, hooray…!

That was the week that was…

Who ever thought this madness we are living through was possible? Not me.

I returned from my extended trip to Portugal last Saturday, very pleased to return home. I spent the weekend working online, sorting out the budget, paying invoices and was planning to stay in Bristol on Monday to order numerous building materials from plasterboard to stairs and more.

Monday morning I awoke, as we all did, to a strange atmosphere so I jumped in my car and went to site. It became pretty obvious that some type of lockdown was going to happen and I didn’t want to be stuck with Mr. Clooney (can’t believe I just wrote that), but more importantly I didn’t want to lock up a site with thousands of pounds of materials piled up inside. I discussed the choices with Neil and Andy and we all agreed to close the site at the end of that day. As it turned out, our instinct was right as the UK went into lockdown at 2030hrs that evening.

Fortunately, the scaffolding was already being dismantled and is now gone. A big shout out to Patrick D Warren Scaffolding. Their flexibility and helpfulness throughout the roof issues was brilliant. Great business if you need their services.

The rendering was completed and another good job by Pete the Plasterer who will be back for the internal plastering I hope. The external painting is almost complete with perhaps less than a day needed to finish the job. I am glad I threw the money into the pot to get this done. It looks so much better – even in an unfinished state.

It seems I have been pretty lucky in the timing of all this. That is the way I am looking at it anyway. The financial hit will need to be managed one way or another; the knock-on effect in terms of timing won’t be known until the lockdown is lifted. I am not getting anxious about it. It is what it is and there are more important things to worry about.

So back to Bristol. I am in lockdown with 2 others; one of whom happens to be a personal trainer which is obviously a good thing but when there are literally no excuses for turning up to train it can be quite painful. We actually have an organised daily routine. A run. A 1hour plus gym session. A yoga class.

And to think I used to complain about clearing rubble and my wheelbarrow journeys. That was nothing compared to the agony I am now enduring.

Wishing you well. Wish me luck, and feel free to send me ideas of how to get out of class!?!?!?

It’s gym time…

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!

Er…

Timing is everything…

Project management in any business has as much to do with managing time as it does with controlling budget. I have considerable experience in project management from working in the marketing industry including organising mammoth, multiple site public-facing events! But of course I knew what I was doing then and I knew in what order things should be done.

Now I am guessing – and of course seeking counsel from the two experts who are currently covered in concrete dust – Andy and Neil. (If you remember Pig-Pen from Charlie Brown that gives you an idea but without the insects!).

An example. The roof has to be fixed. This will now start in January – clearly not a great time of year to be on the roof stripping it bare but there is no choice. Scaffolding is necessary but am delighted with the ideas and patience of Patrick Warren Scaffolding – and because we are on a road we require a Highways Licence. This needs to be submitted to the Council at least 10 working days prior to the build date. Whilst the scaffolding is in place I also need to arrange the external rendering or pay again for the scaffolding at the end of the project so its being done during/after the roof work. Rendering (by pub supporter and regular Pete the Plasterer) requires that the replacement windows – 4 in all – must be fitted before the job starts. These can take 4 – 6 weeks to measure and make – and of course, its Xmas and not all factories stay open. Externally, the property must be free of any accoutrements – signage, lights, ivy, water pipes, flaky paint, etc, and in our case, the covered walkway to the outside toilets need to come down. Having scaffolding in place also means a decision needs to be made regarding the fireplaces so we can fit the appropriate chimney liners but this is determined by the open plan kitchen and so on and so on. And then what am I going to do about the gutters and downpipes?

The decision on type of tiles for the roof is also imminent.

Then there is the question of having to move the electricity supply into the building from what will be a shower room into the new utility room. It sounds simple but requires multiple large companies and my electrician to be involved. But that’s for another time.

This all in a week when we are installing acrow props that will hold the property up whilst we move a huge steel! There are 19 props, plus numerous wooden wall supports and an ingenious lifting device designed by Andy.

By the way, when I say WE, I don’t mean ME.

It all looked terrifying – or as Neil calls it “squeaky bum time” – and my anxiety levels hit a high so I opted out and went shopping for bathroom ideas…and a little black dress! It is Xmas time after all!

When I returned the steel was moved and the pub was still standing.

Neil and Andy looked utterly relieved.

Don’t know why they were so worried!