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…!

What’s the definition of a house..?

I don’t mean the word. I mean the feeling. I think I know.

It’s a collection of rooms with walls that you cannot walk through – all courtesy of sheet after sheet of plasterboard. With a huge amount of effort we almost have a house – apart from the fact there are no bathrooms, kitchen, etc. But you get the gist!

Upstairs has 4 bedrooms, 2 ensuites and a bathroom, a hallway and even an airing cupboard. Proper rooms defined. Of course, no doors or architrave or skirting or anything else for that matter. But they are actual rooms.

And so to downstairs. A slightly easier plasterboard job as no sloped ceilings, but still much to do. You’ve heard this story before. Insulation, plasterboard, clean up. Insulation, plasterboard, repeat….

Courtney the plumber has been back to fit the shower trays. Steve came back to fit the electrical back boxes – all in readiness for plastering.

Adam from Mec-Serve (our fab underfloor heating company) has been back in to assess the final area that needs screed. We couldn’t do it first time around as I hadn’t purchased some of the plumbing materials which were supposed to be fitted before the screed was laid! My bad!

The 8 yard skip filled by me slowly but surely last week has been exchanged with another empty one. It seems the shovel will never leave my hands, although there is a rumour that Andy has access to a digger this weekend and may be able to clear some of it by machine. Either way, hopefully this will be the last skip…until the next one!

I have worn out yet another pair of gloves.

I have been trying to get a telephone line and broadband put into the house. At the moment I use the data on my phone to run my computer. It’s incredibly unreliable and deeply frustrating. The O2 mobile signal in this area is weak and erratic even on 3G, so even normal telephone usage is impossible on some days – and not just O2 apparently. Ridiculous. Someone complain. Oh that’s a job for me!

This week saw the arrival of a router from Vodafone and an engineer from OpenReach. A simple job….but no. The engineer couldn’t reach the telephone cables on the telegraph pole immediately outside the house so we had to wait for a platform vehicle. The platform vehicle arrived, which was used sparingly as it was ‘the wrong one’ (something to do with the passing traffic and danger !). In the 3 minutes it was used, the engineer couldn’t find the necessary lines (pairs I think he called them) on the pole needed to input a telephone line into my property. Difficult to understand really as only last July there was a telephone line, broadband and a card machine data-line. But for this week, no phone; no broadband. So they have to come back.

It’s not the engineer’s fault. I know that. They will be back with a bigger platform vehicle, which means putting in a traffic control system as they will close off one side of the road. They will run cables to another telegraph pole and onwards to a big box. Gosh, I will be popular with the neighbours….again!

So..back to the renovation thing. I still need to do research on tiles, lighting, doors, architrave, skirting and other stuff online. I am so pleased the shops are starting to open. I will, at least, be able to view some of the needed items and get out of the caravan now and again.

And…drum roll. I have plaster. I don’t have it yet, but it’s coming at the end of June.

So another week of frustration with with a ridiculously poor mobile data signal and no broadband. This has lead me to (a) drink (b) profuse swearing (c) writing letters to the authorities (d) all of the above.

Answers on a postcard…!

Cops and robbers…

(Apologies…forgot to upload this last week!)

Oh dear ! There was always a chance some little toerag was going to try and steal stuff from our site. We had a break in last weekend – through one of the windows. We don’t keep anything of value on site so there was nothing to steal. But it probably means replacing another window and a door.

We have a crime number and the police have been to take fingerprints and boot prints left by the invaders, but not expecting much of a result. Fortunately Mr. Clooney was not affected in his gated compound.

It is an uncomfortable experience and one that is, unfortunately, not new to me. Not a good start to the week, but the brainless selfish tw*ts will not win the game. Rant over!

So roof time again. We need to fit vent tiles on the roof above the bathroom and ensuites. Why are they so expensive? They are needed now so that they are properly fitted whilst the scaffolding is in place so I’m breaking open another piggy bank.

The gable end has a little turned up point that needs to be levelled so the battens and tiles fit the roof properly. We are, in effect, giving the house a nose job! This will be followed by a few lengths of undercloak (sounds a bit Harry Potter) and a bit of cement work and then …drum roll…roof might be done. Well, next week anyway.

The 4 new windows are soon to be installed but the glazing is not being upgraded until I put my hammer down. I have been trying to sort out the new back door and side window. These all have to be fitted prior to rendering – so supplied and fitted in the next few weeks. The front door won’t be replaced until we have finished knocking six bells out of the property. It’s the main access from the carpark so is whacked regularly by wheelbarrows, timber and my boots.

It’s a short week for me. Off to Cornwall for a Second Family holiday with my Bestie and all her mad but gorgeous relatives. Leaving Neil, Rob and Andy to look after Mr. Clooney and the house, of course.

Next week looks a bit stormy…at least that might keep the thieving doo-dahs away!

Am now off to batten down Mr. Clooney’s hatches!

And another week…

Well that was interesting. My meeting with the felt supplier and builders merchants (see last weeks blog) amounted to …well, nothing much. Perhaps not a surprise. The rainfall inside the property was all down to atmospheric pressure! Rob the roofer, Neil and Andy all have a different viewpoint. We have been assured the felt will dry out once the tiles are in place. I have asked for a guarantee – in writing – and am still waiting on that.

In the meantime, work continues. The fascia boards are done as is most of the guttering. We still have some drainpipes to sort but they need to wait until the rendering. Some of the roof tiles are now on and a little repointing of the chimneys has taken place.

The lead work is next. A product that goes up and down in price on a daily basis and although it’s purchased in rolls (3m & 6m) and various widths there are other considerations that I did not know about. The most important is you should always request Milled Lead for roof work. It is more expensive but it’s a must.

For those of us too inexperienced to tread the roof tiles more than once (scared!) there has been some more demolition and an ongoing relationship with my dance of the wheelbarrow. A new skip arrived and I was tasked to fill it. This I did over a number of days.

Glamorous job this building lark !!

The garden is accessible through a covered walkway that also leads to the gents. This walkway has now been dismantled – a job I took on. Another first for me – removing a window, then back on the crowbar, hammer, sledge hammer and drill. Tiles off the roof, battens removed, beams smashed and then the brick wall. I attacked it with all of my physical might – and it didn’t budge. Not an inch. Andy came to the rescue with the sledge hammer and the jack hammer and it gave in. I helped, of course, but the wall knew it had beaten me.

I should say at this stage if you have never used a sledge hammer yourself it is not as easy as it looks. Ours is heavy and has a typically long handle. Creating a momentum at shoulder height in order to strike a wall is simply knackering. Andy was very good for not laughing out loud at my effort.

So we now have an idea of how big the courtyard garden will be and I need to start thinking about doing something with the space.

In theory, all of the demolition is done – apart from breaking through a wall to reach the boiler room. A relatively small job.

In theory…

Reaching for the sky…

This building project has many challenges. I have done what I can to plan in advance and I constantly update my budget and timeline but I still get surprised either by things I hadn’t even considered or by the actual cost.

We joke about how much timber we have put into this house. Anyone would think I am developing a timber frame building…but alas, no. The old timber has either been eaten, has rotted from damp or has warped because it wasn’t installed properly the first time. New roof purlins and rafters, new ceiling and floor joists – all of it properly measured, cut and installed to Building Regs requirements. If I feel I need a walk in the woods I just pop into the building! All I am missing are the squirrels!

The external roof work started on 8 January and we have managed 5 days of active work in 2 weeks. That’s the problem of doing this in January. The weather plays a big part in how much progress can be made. The entire roof is receiving a new membrane and battens. We are retaining the tiles for one side of the roof, but installing new tiles for the other side. A bit of repointing around the chimneys and the addition of a new chimney pot should mean that the eventual new owners won’t have to touch the roof for 20 plus years.

On the rainy and/or windy days, we continue to work inside. Stud walls are going up and brickwork is being finalised. The power supply to the building has been moved and I have chosen a woodburner for the main lounge. This means the liner can be installed into the chimney whilst the scaffolding is in place.

The coming week looks good for cold sunshine so the roof should get some loving attention all week. My job…as always..is to keep the site tidy. My relationship with the wheelbarrow is steady.

I am not going onto the roof…that is one job too high for me. But I am slowly cleaning up the outside of the building in readiness for rendering and will be introduced to a high powered pressure washer this week.

Western Power have been in to move the mains electricity cable into the building. BT Openreach are popping by to remove some of their 1950’s wiring still attached to the building and I am having lengthy communication with the local authority about a street light positioned directly in line with 2 of the bedrooms. Watch this space!

Mr. Clooney (aka the caravan) has been treating me well. Cabin fever does strike occasionally. I have been pretty lucky so far. A few gales but no lightning yet. Lots of rain but no noticeable leaks and only one week of consistently freezing weather.

Have I spoken too soon…!

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…