Not a typical week…

I start by saying that women who typically go through the menopause can be anything from 40 something upwards…Just saying.

Sunday evening – somewhere in Somerset.
The planned underfloor heating test has not happened so I am unnecessarily here earlier than normal. It is annoying but there have been so many missed deadlines on this project I am at the stage of just taking a deep breath, shaking my head and setting a new deadline.

Monday evening – still in Somerset.
Had the underfloor heating been on the property was going to be too hot to work in so I booked myself on to a 2-day tiling course fairly local to my project. It’s at a training centre that delivers apprenticeship training for the building trade so I expected to be in a class of 17-year-olds! I thought about cancelling it several times, not sure I could take the humiliation (in my mind) but I’d already worked up a handful of “older than your mother/grandmother” retorts to show the youngsters how hip I am.

Imagine my surprise when I turned up to find this weeks trainees comprise members of the armed forces and me! I cried a little (see first sentence!). Sometimes my timing is inexplicably good. Two groups. My class has 2 Navy, 2 RAF and 2 Army – all men. They will soon be turning Civilian and are taking courses that may lead to future employment.

As That There Builder Girl my normal daily attire is paint-splattered shorts or jeans and a t-shirt with a hoodie for the cold days, along with my dirty, stained boots. Hair pulled back and tied up with a bandana. No makeup, no perfume. A glorious statement of womanhood! My tiling attire today was no different. The only change was my skin colour as I occasionally peeked at a sweaty bright red as another hot flush whizzed its way through my body. I think they believe I just embarrass easily.

Do you think it’ll look odd if I turn up tomorrow all spruced up; eyes a glitter with makeup, painted lips and casually attired in clean, ironed clothes? A summer dress, perhaps.

Yeah, me too.

I did offer the fellas the opportunity of a real-life project that they could practice their skills on. The house….not me…but they all have to go home to their loved ones!!

By the way the tiling training is good. I have been focussed. Yes indeed.

Thursday evening – in the Frozen North (I wish!)
Tiling in the property started on Wednesday. Not by me. Two days of training does not make Builder Girl an expert tiler. I am, however, going to be tiling the bathroom floor in the flat in Bristol. Nathan is doing everything here for the next 15 – 18 days. He started upstairs in an en-suite and will work his way through nearly 65m2 of tiling. Just the little that has been done so far fills my little heart with joy! How easily I get excited these days (see first sentence!)

Shower tiled and underfloor heating in the ensuite

Saturday morning – in Bristol.
A good nights sleep. Cool and comfortable.

This week was steamy and not just on the tiling course. I am mostly pretending the menopause doesn’t affect me. It isn’t happening even though I have to go through occasional crazy weeks like the one just passed. On and off for years now. Definitely on this week.

I can tell you it was seriously uncomfortable heat during the day and even more so at night with Mr. Clooney. I spent much of the week priming woodwork and MDF anywhere in the property, regularly crying over spilt paint and leaving a little trail of sweat behind me as I meandered.

I spent my evenings throwing my bedclothes on and off and weeping at YouTube videos of puppies and kittens whilst intermittently sending angry tweets to my telecommunication providers.

Thank goodness Neil and Andy removed the big tools from the property.

What a life…


Trials and tribulations…

I am aware that in the time of a global pandemic my little project has little importance. But that does not stop it from being a source of anxiety and stress.

The week started sweetly with a significant delivery of plaster – multifinish used for skimming and hardwall for… hardwall(!) – after placing the order over 6 weeks ago. Pete and Morgan turned up cheery and ready to get on.

We agreed the order in which rooms need to be plastered first. I am desperate for a completed bedroom and ensuite so I can move out of Mr. Clooney, sleep more comfortably even if on an inflatable bed, and have a shower and a flushing toilet. I am such a diva !

The store room needs to be plastered and painted so we can install the boiler, cistern and pipework – also required for my diva-ish need to shower. A working boiler is also needed to test the underfloor heating system before we start tiling and fitting any flooring.

The main hallway, which is an open space from the floor to the roof needs to be plastered whilst the tower scaffold is in place. As soon as the plaster is dry, it will be painted and the tower scaffold can be removed giving us much better access to the property.

Those are the priorities. After which the plastering can be done as necessary.

Or so I thought.

The problem with ordering materials for this sort of build is it is really difficult to gauge how much might be needed. Upstairs most of the the ceilings are sloped – which takes significantly more product than a flat ceiling. After just one week we realise that the 40 bags of skim plaster delivered on Monday is not going to be anywhere near enough for this job.

We think we may need another 30 bags. I have been told by one supplier I can get 10 bags – in the 3rd week of August. Another supplier says I will have to wait until the end of August and there will also be a limit on quantity. You get the picture.

All the recent planning with the tiler, carpenter, electrician, plumber, floor fitter and so on now have to be re-worked and their diaries are already full.

1st September was my ‘socially-distanced working’ completion date. It would have been possible to do it quicker but I have to be responsible with the numbers working on site at any one time. September is now impossible. It’s likely I will have another two months plus of expense that was not accounted for in my budget. I returned to Bristol feeling…frankly, exhausted and utterly defeated.

But a good night’s sleep after lots of hugs, laughter, food and wine with my Bristol bubble and I am back on the positive path.

So I will be spending the weekend working out how to best carry on with the project on a room by room basis. The property will have to be partly plastered, partly painted, partly tiled, etc, until we can get the supplies we need.

I will set another completion date. Initially March, then almost immediately May then realistically September…Let’s say Christmas now.

The good news this week? The plans went in for the new house build on the carpark.

Am I mad…?

Quick, quick, slow….

Stop.

That’s what it feels like. One moment nothing seems to be moving on. Then there are significant changes. Then we stop.

We had to order a further 22 sheets of plasterboard this week as the previously delivered 190 sheets were all used up. This seems an extraordinary amount of plasterboard needed for one property. They are now all but fitted…with just a couple of sheets set aside for finishing the boiler room and the cloakroom.

Neil and Andy have also been finishing off a few awkward areas. A dollop of cement here and there. A touch of timber for reinforcement. A jiggery pokery with a drainpipe or two. I think you can tell my builders terminology has improved over the last 9 months.

I had my last exciting foray into the loft. Neil kindly lent me his paper suit to protect me from the worst of it up there. I managed to rip the backside out on a nail – which went deep enough to also rip my shorts and puncture my ass! I also split the leg seam open as I straddled a joist and caught another nail. Neil just laughed when I apologised about the state of his paper suit. Bless! When I emerged having completed the job, I was again soaked through to my undies and filthy. I am so, so, so very happy that there is no more loft insulation needed. It is truly a horrid job.

I purchased some Danish Oil to bring some life back into the numerous beams dotted around the house. Initially 2 litres, then another 2 litres. 8 litres later and I still have one beam to oil. It’s probably taken about 3-4 (wo)man days to do all the beams but they do look better for it. Each evening I retire to Mr. Clooney and count the rings of oil splattered across my arms and legs – and sometimes my face. I am not sure that Danish Oil is considered a beauty treatment elsewhere but it’s been a daily dose during the last week. I now have a silky glow and I am creaking less than I was!

It’s good news the plasterboard is finished because it means the plastering can start….but of course it can’t because there is still a shortage. My order is on its way and all things being well it should be with us on 29th June. Pete and Morgan are booked in to get started and should be with us for a few weeks. In the meantime, Neil and Andy depart for a while and get to work with other people. I’ve asked them not to enjoy that experience.

For me, this delay means time to obtain further quotes for tiling, painting and decorating, floor coverings, doors and more. I thought I had a tiler lined up but it seems inflation has hit hard in South Somerset as he wants a further £500+ to do the job. Sure I said. That makes sense, I said. Let me sign the cheque, I said.

OK I didn’t.

That is not going to happen. I gave him the go-ahead on his original quote pre-lockdown and presumed that was it. So now I need to reassess the tiling requirement. Neil tells me I can do it so I might just have a go. What can possibly go wrong?

Painting and decorating is a necessity too. I can do some but not all if I want the house finished before the end of the year (and if I am busy tiling!). So I have been meeting up with individuals to get quotes on the job. One fella told me 6 weeks minimum for the work – 30 days at his not insignificant day rate. I am not sure what is going on in South Somerset? Has the lockdown affected their common sense or do I have a sign on my forehead that says “this girl can be mugged”?

The other two quotes suggest 18-20 days max. I will do a couple of the rooms myself so hopefully save on that time too.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Plaster arrives a week this Monday which allows me a week to rest, recuperate, play golf, go shopping (for lights and stuff), get the car MOT’d, pay the bills (and boy are they big now) and go out to play.

Onwards…for the end is in sight!

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!