Fifteen and counting…

So there we have it. Fifteen weeks of gruelling effort and the property looks like a neglected squat. But to be fair I look similar!

But all is not as it seems. The big steel move last week proved successful and the property is still standing. Before I sleep at night I have that song going around in my head…you know the one about the bones but mine is about the property.

“The steel’s connected to the studwork.
The studwork’s connected to the wall plate
The wall plate’s connnected to the purlins…”

It lulls me to sleep. Surely this is what its like for every apprentice builder?

This week has seen the final wall demolished, even more floor joists installed along with chipboard flooring, and studwork built to shore up the leaning wall and start to define the rooms.

I have become a nogging champion! That is a real word – and no I have not missed an ‘s’ off the beginning! Those days are behind me !

All of this work means that apart from the roof, that the demolition stage has been completed – ish! A corner of the lounge, with curtains still intact, is as it was but this is more for security than necessity.

So what has been learnt and what is to come?

I have a load more words in my vocabulary and I know what they mean. I can’t wait for the challenges I will get playing Xmas scrabble with my family with all this new found knowledge.

I have muscles in my arms where before their girth was more aligned to comfort. Not suggesting the chicken wings have gone. Perhaps a little more like chicken thighs! I also have teeny, tiny little muscles in my fingers!

I was hoping this enormous effort would lead to weight loss but it seems there is nothing in this work (or any work for that matter) that assists my lack of personal willpower where chocolate bars are concerned. Pah!

I have three new body piercings. Not through choice but because I have occasionally, inadvertently, nailed myself to the property. This is a very real blood, sweat and tears effort.

The blood and sweat is obvious. Andy and Neil reassure me they will try better to control the tears when we re-start the project in 2020.

We are taking a Xmas break. Rob the roofer starts in January and then we start putting the property back together properly. The external render will be started. I am meeting the electrician and heating engineer during the first week of the new year to book them in for first fix. I have confirmed the underfloor heating and will be reviewing production of the stairs, windows and installation of the flue for the log-burner. The list of things not confirmed is still very long. Insulation, venting, kitchen, bathrooms, flooring, lighting, doors and more.

It will take as long as it takes…but my caravan dwelling days are going to be limited in 2020 – not least because I have to return it to its owners!

Merry Xmas to all That There Builder Girl blog followers. See you in 2020 !

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!

A little lean…

There is no question that older buildings throw up surprises. But generally the surprises haven’t been that huge. I knew the roof was put together with sticky gum, tree branches and slices of bark! I knew that none of the walls were square. I knew there was a slope from the front of the property to the back (9 inches/22cm difference).

Parts of this property go back a few hundred years. What has surprised me is the work that was done in the mid to late 1900’s – ie., modern day. To say it was sloppy is a massive understatement.

I mentioned the slope on the property, but there is a wall upstairs that is clearly a relative of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I knew it was there but assumed it was just part of the old building. Alas. ’tis not the case.

As the building was modernised and extended, a steel was inserted downstairs to take a new opening and subsequently support the upstairs wall. This was supposed to be aligned to the wall plate (a large length of timber) that has rather a big job of holding up the roof joists, etc.

Not only was this not done properly, the very professional Neil and Andy are astounded at how badly the job was done. I am not sure what comes first but the wall plate has been pushed out of position because the wall has missed the ‘supporting’ steel by many inches. This in turn has caused a massive wall lean, which has also caused some misaligned weight distribution in the roof. To add insult to injury a supporting beam running horizontal to the wall plate has had a huge chunk cut out of it so it no longer does its job.

Cowboy builders have nothing on the idiots who did this. It’s a shame that houses don’t have service books like cars because I would take a lot of pleasure in outing them.

Do not enter…The leaning tower of South Somerset lives here!

I knew we had an issue so we have planned for it. This is a week of building support walls from 4″ concrete blocks; building stud work where it can help with additional support and ensuring all other supports like purlins, etc, have been properly fitted before the big move next week.

We need to hire a load of acrow props, over and above the 7 we have already. Plus cut an old steel to form ‘needles’ which are then inserted into the wall above the existing steel to help with support. Then the heavy work of moving a steel that weighs over 600kg will commence.

In the meantime, the weekend is here and we will all be consuming vast amounts of spinach and smoking old corncob pipes. Popeye will have nothing on us by Monday !