Keeping busy…

It can be frustrating with all the waiting.

The new house in Somerset is still on hold. It looks like nothing will happen until at least Spring 2022 and no guarantees that the phosphate issues will be resolved by then.

No idea what the authorities are doing about it…except it was extremely surprising to hear that our local MP, along with hundreds of others throughout the country, just voted to allow water companies to continue to dump sewage into our rivers and seas. I wonder how much phosphate that amounts to?

Words fail me.

No they don’t. But if I used them here my Mum would tell me off.

Some Somerset builders are getting planning permission. If you are loaded you can literally buy your permission. They call it mitigation. Buy some land, plant some trees and permission is yours. A builder I know did just this. Cost him £1million.

I broke open my piggy bank but alas I will have to wait along with other mortals whilst the various authorities finish their naval gazing and develop some sort of solution to warrant them being called ‘experts’.

Thankfully the Devon property is moving forward albeit slowly. We have delivered our pre-application and have a scoping meeting in the diary. It’s a fairly traditional build so it shouldn’t upset the planners but then again….

So the waiting game continues.

Fortunately for me, my family do their best to ensure that I am not just sitting around. My sister kindly allowed me to renovate the ladies toilets in her pub. Having been (Covid) closed for much of the previous 18 months, there was no way her budget would cover a professional to undertake the work.

And family is family. (There are times I wish I was an orphan).

We agreed on part demolition, part cover up. I completed the demolition without chopping off any of my limbs or beheading any of the customers despite the constant use of an angle grinder and SDS drill. During the demolition, doubts started to creep in as to the size of the job. I do have most of the skills to do the work but not all…the plumbing in particular was a worry….and despite previous work experience I was not hugely confident in my skills. (You may understand imposter syndrome!).

So friends to the rescue. I asked John / Jenny D. to pop down and help and they obliged without question. Their 3 day trip turned into 5 days as we encountered more work than was imagined and the plumbing of the new toilets and sink took more time and effort than any of us anticipated.

By the end of week, most of the studwork was up. The walls were battened, pipes boxed in, the plasterboard was fitted and the toilets and sink were plumbed in. We purchased a cupboard from FaceBook marketplace and a tap from eBay and Jenny D sanded and painted the cabinet (and some of the tables in the pub) to give it a fresh new look. John and Jenny departed with toilets flushing and taps working, and we all remain hugely grateful to them for their help.

The following week involved finishing the batten and plasterboard and moving onto the plastering and tiling.

Mixing tiling adhesive, grout and plaster is sometimes compared with baking. However, cake batter does not go off if you leave it for 20-30 minutes. You don’t need to clean out the mixing bowl immediately to stop the remaining mixtures from hardening. I had to do the mixing where the water supply was (down two flights of stairs) and carry the heavy buckets of mix up stairs to only have to return downstairs for cleaning out the buckets prior to returning upstairs and using the mix before it went off.

I huffed and puffed.

And swore and grunted.

And thought about running away.

But I did it. Tiling first, but only because I was dreading the plastering. The windows were difficult. The first wall of tiles looks a tad dodgy (to me) because I didn’t clear the wet grout lines quick enough so they look a little rough to this trained eye. But it’s a pub. Hopefully most of those customers that use the loos will have focus issues so won’t notice !! The tiles could be straighter. They could lie flatter to the wall. They could be more aligned. But they couldn’t be installed cheaper!!

Plastering was a joy.

No, it wasn’t.

I completely forgot what to do and had a mild panic attack when mixing the muck. My first bucket resulted in diarrhoea! The mix, not me!!

I slapped it onto my trowel and it slid down my arm, my body, my leg and onto the floor with a lovely plop!!! The last time I experienced anything like it was on a trip to Cambodia…but that is another story.

A quick YouTube visit to remind me what to do and the second bucket calmed my nerves, and my tummy!

Then I forgot how to plaster into the corners, and finish the edges.

But I did it. I got over my doubting self. And finished the job.

And every time I finished the work-day my sister loaded me with G&T’s and praise.

What more could That There Builder Girl hope for?

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 !