21st Sept: A tunnel, with light

Much excitement here at the ‘Billy today – how many times have I said that so far?. I disappeared for a couple of hours to fax our final order for the windows (thanks Jimbillybob), came back up the driveway and, low and behold, a chimney. And what a properly lovely chimney it is too. Ben, who joined the merry little band last week, has done a splendid job on chimney number one. He can come back.

Oooh, inside, with a roof!

I’d stopped to admire the view for a few minutes and realised that our little house is finally, really on the mend. Instead of looking like a tumbled down old wreck, it’s starting to really take shape and God, it’s going to be utterly beautiful, even better than we hoped thanks to Stu and Paul’s valiant efforts thus far.

No chimney yet, but looking good

The last couple of weeks have been taken up by choosing stuff. Not the airy fairy interior details, you understand, but by the proper stuff. Building materials. God I love a look round the builders merchants, I wonder if that makes me a little bit weird?

Last week, brick hunting, I must have gone to six builders merchants looking for the perfect brick (Travis Perkins, why so grumpy?) I’d had a quick look online but had no idea about the variety out there, why would I? You’d be amazed though. With an idea in mind, having actually driven into the local Peteboghorror brickworks, got intimidated by the scale and run away, I went back online and, as I was hunting for bricks, tripped across the Brickhunter.com website. Man, you ought to look there, even if you’re not in the market for bricks – thousands of the things, all at the speed of a dongle. It’s even better than sale time at the Kurt Geiger store.

The samples I ordered arrived two days later and, to be fair, we couldn’t see much difference between the two. I rang and asked if they did ‘specials’ to match and spoke to a thoroughly lovely bloke called Brad who advised that both the bricks we’d chosen were very similar but one was cheaper than the other. Yes, they did ‘specials’ and yes, we went for the cheaper ones. It soon adds up 😉 The price was good, the delivery was on time and I even had a courtesy call to check everything was okay with the order. If I wasn’t already happily married…

I’m pretty pleased with the brick choice. We could have gone reclaimed, but it’d have been twice the price and, I’m told, the outer bricks in the packages tend to be the nicest, then you get inside and they’re all shit. We’ve gone for Weinerberger’s Old Welwyn, if you like them. Aside from the chimneys, they’ll form the brick faced plinth for the SIPS extension, the plinth for the stables and the plinth for the mancave. I’m sure Ben will have a hand in laying them but as I went on a bricklaying course last year in preparation for this, and Rich bought me a full trowel set for my birthday, I fully intend to ‘do a bit’ myself. Watch this space 😉

Another choice was for the chimney pots. After a bit of googling, I came up with some utterly splendid, special edition terracotta pots from Wavin – dead simple, but with a small crown embellishment to celebrate the Jubilee year. They’re very nice, but with a 16 week lead in time and a price of £214 each (as opposed to picking them up from the merchants tomorrow and £50 each), we’ll be finished the house by the time they arrive. I’ll confess, the normal terracotta pots are nice, but the Jubilee jobs are lovely, and a little nod to our 2012 rebuild. Hey ho, can’t win ‘em all. And anyway, the sooner the chimneys are finished, the sooner the scaffold comes down and we start digging.

Talking of digging, it starts tomorrow. Matty (known him forever, totally lovely, defo one for the ladies – he used to (not long ago) be a Calvin Klein model – shame it’s turned cold!) is rocking up with his machinery and I’ve already threatened that I expect to have a go. I can’t wait to see that.

Me and Stu are going to peg out the site – stables, mancave, shit plant, rainwater harvester site, drains and then finally extension, so expect disaster. Matty will scrape off the top few inches of plant debris (all that strimming in vain) and we’ll set it all out before the main stuff happens after the weekend. If we’re going to find a hoard of gold, it’s going to happen in the next two weeks and I’ll be taking an extended break in St Lucia. Fortunately, we’ve got a ruddy great dyke to re-contour so our ‘muck away’ costs are nil.

Gratuitous doggy shot – Drum. Proper lovely

I suspect things are going to move on apace now so it’s a good job we had our financial saviour turn up last night. Or should that be knight? Brian Spellar, you are a God or, as he put it, a magician. I humbly apologise, in public, for not turning your way in the first instance with regards to our mortgage options.

Suffice to say that the original ‘We’ll lend to you on a self build or renovation’ financial institution has been ditched on account of their changing goalposts and total lack of understanding how a renovation project works. The lady from Buildstore (who were acting as broker and doing not a lot more than delaying the process) made the mistake of sending me the lending and processing criteria of aforementioned financial institution, whoops, big mistake, but a splendid leveraging tool for me to reclaim our (non-refundable) £150 application fee and £370 valuation fee. I’m not going to put a name to them as it’d be really immature and they don’t deserve the mention.

As an aside, the Turdis has been aptly renamed as The Ipswich Building Society. Do feel free to come down here and make a deposit.

After the latest blog rant, I heard from some lovely people at the Ecological BS – not that we’re yoghurt weavers but they’ve got total empathy with people doing this kind of thing. Not a bad rate either – and discounts for things like renewables. I think we’re going to leave everything in Brian’s capable hands, take out a very short term loan and remortgage again when the build is finished – that way, we can revert to a standard mortgage, and a cheaper deal, as soon as.  If you need Brian’s number, then drop me a line.

It was all looking so good, til Stu made another hole

So the roof is fully boarded and battened ready for the delightful thatcher, the chimneys will be up and fire-ting fit by early next week and the stonework is looking tickety boo. Having admired the back of the house, I drove round to see what it looks like pondside and yikes, another great big hole, just when I though the place was going back together. By all accounts, Stu wanted to put the lintel above the door back in but wasn’t happy with the stone that was there so took it out, he did ask whether we fancied a French window in the upstairs bathroom… Never mind, he’ll put it back and it will be more glorious than ever.

Em

PS Hello Steve McLean. I keep missing you on a Tuesday!

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One response to “21st Sept: A tunnel, with light

  1. So, let me get this straight – a former Calvin Klein model is turning up, with his ‘machinery’, and you’ve already said you want a go? Is Rich OK with this?!

    😉

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