First things first and no, I haven’t done all the painting. I like to think that my best excuse is that the render, and therefore plaster, isn’t quite dry yet. Which is true. I have painted a couple of coats of primer in our bedroom (apart from the ceiling – even with my utterly brilliant platform ladder, I still couldn’t reach), a couple of coats in the dressing room and a coat on the odd ceiling downstairs. Here’s a top tip, kids, don’t waste £60 per five litres of Farrow & Ball primer when you can buy 10l of Homebase plaster primer in matt white for £27. The F&B stuff kept flaking off, the Homebase stuff hasn’t…
Anyway, what’s been happening? Quite a lot, actually. Outside, Stu managed to haul himself up onto the roof. Yep. Stu was on the roof and has managed to finished tiling at a rate of 60 per metre. The main extension roof is finished, as is the single storey bit round on the brrr, North side. Man it’s chilly round there. Unfortunately, the ridge has yet to go on but Stu has the genuine excuse of the cold to thank for that as the muck won’t go off. We’ll have to wait until this Artic blast has passed through before we get any more ridge and the last bit of pointing progress.
Inside though, it’s all but done. The lovely Julian has been here for the last week and done the final bits of studwork in the bathrooms, the glitterball plinth has gone on the ceiling of the kitchen, the hall plaster-boarding has been manfully tackled by Paul and Stu has pointed the fireplace and laid the hearth with those pesky yellow bricks. It looks fabulous 😉
Since the last time we spoke, Brett has been and plastered the rest of the kitchen and the aforementioned glitterball plinth, he’d also done the utility room and downstairs cloakroom. He’ll be back next week to finish off the final bits.
The final bits. Seems funny to think that as soon as the painting is done, the skirting and door stuff will go on and the boys will be outta here. You look at the house and it seems so, kind of, unfinished. But that’s because the flooring isn’t down. Or it wasn’t, yesterday.
Thanks to Billiant, the kitchen man, the last couple of days have seen a lovely bloke called Doug tiling the kitchen and utility floor. Little did I know there’s a big tiling place local to us that not only source all sorts of tiles, but come and lay them aswell. James, from TMK, came out to measure up, prime the screed and introduced Doug, the tiler, to us. We wound Doug up, and watched him go. Like a machine. He worked so hard that we even brought burger Friday forward a day, just so he could enjoy what he should have been enjoying, had he strung the job out. Two days later and the kitchen looks utterly splendid. We went for a limestone look porcelain – I can’t be doing with spending a shedload on proper stone when the maintenance is so time consuming. As my mum will probably testify, I’m a total slob when it comes to housework so the easier to maintain, the better. I’m pretty chuffed with the ones we got from Mandarin Stone though – especially at £23 per metre. Doug has done a splendid job, even Stu agrees!
All I need to do now, is cover up the floor and get some paint on the walls (and the glitterball plinth). This is where it could get messy, thanks to my new friend, James. When he came to look at the kitchen floor, James mentioned that he bought a paint sprayer and that’d be just the thing we needed to get the painting done in no time. After a little more probing, and an imaginary demonstration, I got on the interweb. Oh man, Google airless paint sprayers and your life will never be the same again, I swear.
I couldn’t be arsed waiting for something to arrive from Fleabay, so I went for a flying visit to Machine Mart in Peteboghorror, in the vain hope that they’d have a Wagner Paint Crew in store. I’d done the research, read all the reviews and that was what I wanted.
Have you ever been to Machine Mart? I don’t want to big them up, because they wouldn’t give me any discount, but man alive, that shop is like heaven. Given the choice between a free for all round Asprey’s or the equivalent round Machine Mart, I’d probably be tempted to pick the latter. Try as I might, I couldn’t think of a good enough reason why I’d need to spend £153 on a portable shot blast cabinet. But I will, don’t worry…
The good news is that Machine Mart had a Wagner Paint Crew so I loaded it into the car, took it home and hid it from Richard. I’ve got a couple of days masking to do before firing the bad boy up. Apparently, the machines are a bit of a bugger to clean out so I want to, if possible, get as much done as I can in one hit. Don’t worry, I will be taking a video. This machine could be a life changer. Or a £280 pile of shit. I’ll take my chances though!
Friday today and the boys are having a day off, of sorts. Stu is meeting Paul from Howarth windows to go through another job. The client had a previous window quote at £41K – the Howarth price, for a better spec of window, was £13K. I’m telling you, if you need windows…
I’m going to get some ducting from somewhere so we can feed the electric cables through at a later date. Some of the trenches from installing the Klargester are still open so I’ll get some ducting running down to the stables and across to the garage while they’re open and it’ll save digging them again.
Barry’s coming back on Monday with Alex from Orangehouse and the Vaillant crew to start laying out the coils for the ground source heat pump. The paddock has dried out a bit over the last few days but I really hope they don’t make too much of a mess with the trencher – it’s only taken a year to try and get the grass growing. Christ, that was the whole reason (well, a big part) for moving here, so we could have the horses at home. Sadly, they’re still back in our old village. Trekking back and forth twice a day was beginning to get pretty tiresome, but now the days are drawing out, it’s not so bad. Roll on May though, which is when I hope they’ll be here by.
I’ll have to get the kitchen painted this week, as it’s going in the first week in March. We still haven’t taken the scaffold down – the last thing we’re waiting for is the bespoke windows for the bedroom, along with the stairs and front door. The windows were meant to come this week, but apparently, it’s not going to be for another fortnight so I suspect Stu and Paul will disappear to another job for a few days, unless the weather is warm enough for pointing.
While we were scoffing burgers, thanks to Doug, we had a quick look back over some of the old photos of the build, and our Google Sketch Up version of what we thought it might look like. In some ways, it seems like a lifetime ago when we first came across the old pile. In others, it doesn’t seem like yesterday. I don’t think any of us can quite believe just how far the house has come since the crane guys came and took the roof off at the end of July. Back then, with only three walls and those exposed gables, a strong wind and the whole thing could have gone very differently indeed. Wandering round the house now, it seems impossible not to have believed we could have brought a derelict building back to life.
Stranger still, on the weekends when I’m in there alone doing some painting, it’s funny to think that the last time I spent time in there on my own, was when I was clearing up rubble, hacking off shot-peppered, horsehair plaster and half a century’s worth of owl shit.
Not to forget worrying about whether we could carry on paying the mortgage to cover this and our old house at the same time. We’re going to miss Stu and Paul when they’re gone. At the time, we definitely took a step off the ledge. And, thanks to them, it has most definitely been worth it.
P.S. Our budget is (dare I say it) still looking good, considering the small white lies I’ve had to tell. Next blog title = Lady Maths. You girls are going to love it!