24th Oct: Hey, Big Spender

Mother of chuffing god, it’s been an expensive week, this one. We knew it was coming, the old money haemorrhaging situation but bugger me, it hurts when it finally hits. The magician has come up with the goods at precisely the right time – not that we’ve got hold of the mortgage money yet, but the whole thing has gone to valuation which means that we’re at the end of the application line. Phew. After spending a serious wedge, and none of it on cars or horses, it can’t come soon enough. Gone are the days of writing cheques for a few hundred quid, anything less than a grand, or ten, is pretty novel these days – house building, the downside.

Rich inspects the new kitchen, probably looking for the imaginary biscuit tin…

But what a house it is 😉 Despite the mud and piles of debris seemingly everywhere, despite blowing one of the bars on our two-bar fire and being a bit chilly, despite the turdis having a damp seat of a misty morning or stinking so bad that you retch at the thought of having a wee, and, despite my aching body having laid a pitiful hundred bricks or more – with another zillion to go, I’m still loving it down the ‘Billy. Richard flew off this morning in a private jet to somewhere in Italy, is probably running a bath as we speak and will, no doubt, be provided with a gourmet cooked breakfast. But I’ll bet any money he’ll be missing home like mad. Mud, poo and all.

Power polished floor for the mancave

Phase One is very nearly over. Thus far, the roof is on (sans thatch, obv), the stonework is back to its once splendid glory, the stable pad is down (and first course of brick plinth is nearly finished), both the garage and extension are up to damp course and the house is just having the joists for the first floor put in. Simon and Pat did a great job of finishing the block and beam today in preparation for the SIPS panels extension, aswell as putting the blocks down for where the downstairs walls are going. All of a sudden, having looked tiny when the footings were there, now the actual room sizes are defined, the kitchen, hall, downstairs loo and utility are looking like a far more decent-sized space.

Take some wood, Julian and Dependapaul…

In the old stone cottage, the living room, which being completely open-plan seemed like such a good idea at the time, seems absolutely massive because it is absolutely massive. Or, as Julian put it, ‘You could have a row, sit each end of the living room watching your own telly on full blast, and not even notice one another was there.’ We could, if we rowed. Alternatively, I suppose we could play croquet. Or golf. At eleven metres by six and a half, it’s quite sizeable for two.

And end up with this!

Oh, before I forget, total result last night. Having to think about fluffy stuff is pretty vexing but one thing that had been playing slightly on my mind was a visit last week from our utterly lovely electrician, Gary. Top, smiley bloke who we’d actually met because he’d done the electrical survey on our old house. He popped round, met Stu, got on like a house on fire and started asking about all things electrical. When you buy a house, generally you just work with what you’ve got. When you’re building a house, you need to think about everything you’ve never thought of before. Like lighting and switches, and sockets, and television points, and alarm systems, and extraction units, and, well, you get the general idea. Not just where they go (impossible) but what type you’re going to use. I had a quick squint online (as you do) and found the most splendid switches and sockets you could ever imagine. Who knew about mocha brown, metal toggle switches and matching sockets? I fell instantly in love, but thought Mr M would take exception having already tried to convince him that a metallic brown woodburner from Firebelly would be next on the list of purchases. I really thought the mocha-stuff would take some selling. But no, he loved them. Result! He didn’t even do much of a double take when I said how well they’d go with the brown woodburner… Fool 😉

So that’s another small thing crossed off the list, just about a thousand or so to go. While Stu’s on holiday (he rang, see below), living it up with four other blokes in a fishing hut the size of the railway carriage (actually, I think it is a railway carriage) somewhere near the Borders, Paul is going to get the upstairs floor laid and I’m going to tick off the windows as they arrive sometime in the morning. Actually, I say some time, but what I really mean is some time between eleven and twelve. I have to say, the service from Howarth’s has been exceptional thus far. Steve from the depot rang yesterday to say they’d arrive before ten, then he rang again today to say that today’s delivery was later than planned so they’d be loading in the morning and our windows would be arriving between eleven and twelve. Most people wouldn’t have bothered with the courtesy call – take note suppliers, it really does make a difference. Let’s hope that the windows (which were already uber-cheap, but great quality) live up to the same expectations.

The tea carrying device, and a clever tray…

I’m really pleased Stu rang today, although he’s only been off site for three days, we’re really missing him. Not least because he parks his truck on the corner of the grass and every man and his dog has driven over it since the truck’s gone and made a right muddy mess. Hey ho, it’s only mud, it’ll clean off. Rich and I had given Stu strict instructions (and a nice bottle of whiskey) to have a great time in Scotland and send us some photos of him with a massive salmon on his line. I’ve had the call, but thus far no photos. ‘I caught one this morning, Em, but it wasn’t a very big one so I put it back, got to go, there’s a huge fish jumping…’

I’ve still had no photos. Make of it what you will, I’m imagining the greatest tales of the One that Got Away. I for one, can’t wait to hear them.




12 responses to “24th Oct: Hey, Big Spender

  1. Really not sure about mocha brown sockets and switches…each to their own!

    Call me when you start thinking about important stuff, i.e. internet connections and wifi 🙂

  2. Ooh, didn’t realise they were that sort of old-school toggle. That’s cool. Still not sure about the brown, mind you 🙂

  3. Still not sold on the brown – but the rest of your taste looks excellent so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt!
    As for the minefield of picking those things, I know ALL about it. The choice is frankly insane. Just wait till you try to figure out how many sockets to put where and then which light fittings control the lights on the landing – do you go downstairs, the landing AND upstairs? Next you’ll find out about the regulation height that the government stipulates so that a disabled person can access the switches. Not that they have any chance of getting up the winding staircase that led you to the loft in the first place… Totally bonkers.

  4. That’s the stuff we’re (I’m) struggling with. And lighting, don’t start me on lighting. Uplighters, downlighters, mood lighters, strip lighters, the choice is endless.
    As for the toggles, they’re def old skool cool – kind of an homage to the two bakelight switches that were hanging from the walls and made up the entire lighting system of the old cottage!

  5. I feel your pain.

    BUT that said, I really like our switches etc now so it was probably worth it. There’s some stupid price differentials out there so it is worth looking around (as you’re no doubt already all over) as we found a cheaper “copy” of what we originally wanted that looked better and cost 1/3 price!

    Oh and lights. Yeh. They’re not cheap either.

    Looked at taps yet…..?

  6. Taps? Don’t be silly. Although I did get the Matki brochures through the other day. Yum.
    I thought those toggle switches, etc seemed like good value about £600 for all switches and sockets (and extras). What did you get then? Rich is terrible – ‘Do they do those in ceramic?’ Jeez, wait til he starts buying door knobs, he’s a sucker for them…

  7. Thankfully I can’t remember – I’ll dig out my spreadsheet later today (yes really) school should contain all the information I need… Nt sure they’ll be up to your exacting standards mind.

    Most expensive tap I found was £1.5k I think. I nearly fell over.

  8. Hi,
    Having recently finished our new build I am following with interest. One thing I would say is I bought two log burners, a Firebelly 2, double sided and a Morso 7648. The difference in quality and heat output is amazing. The Morso does have an exposed flue and the Firebelly is in a more traditional setting, but the Morso (with half the KW power) puts out so much more heat. It also burns far slower and lights more easily. A friend had a Firebelly 1 and I asked him about it before I bought mine and he changed the subject, I did not pick up on it at the time but he was refusing to recommend it… One thing I would recommend is having as much of the flue pipe exposed as possible as this has the biggest effect on the heat output.
    Good luck with it all

  9. Thanks Tim. Being so very anal about getting the right things, I tripped over some stove review website. Sadly, the Firebelly doesn’t get very good reviews overall so we’re having a rethink about it. Like you say, Morso does well but I can’t help but love the look of the FB2… Decisions, decisions! We are def big ‘fire’ people and would have it burning non-stop through the winter, because it’s nice, but will have to carry on shopping around I think. If anyone else has any ideas (like the more contemporary look of FB, without being waaay too modern) then please let us know.
    Got any building tips to pass on Tim?


  10. Hi Em,
    We also loved the look of the FB2 and had had the hole and hearth built to fit so carried on. My wife pointed out that if we did not have the Morso we would be happy with it. So if it the right answer then carry on, it looks good, and does heat up a space.
    Tips: At this stage I would be really double checking your electrical plans, and if affordable get a light designer involved. I did not pay enough attention to the details on ours and regret it. Things like: in the large sitting room, I put floor sockets in, but it would have been far better to have switched lamp sockets there. Also we have a perfect corner for a Christmas tree, but no power there. Outside sockets are useful too.

    • You’re not the first person to say that about the lighting. Which is why I’ve got someone pencilled in to design it for us as soon as the extension is up…
      Aaah, the old ‘perfect corner for a Christmas tree’ scenario. I was thinking about that just this afternoon, and have a space in mind 😉
      The biggest fear is that we’ve missed out something ‘major’. I hope not, but you never know!

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