There’s always so much to write about on this little bloggo, I’m struggling to keep up. Who knew that people would be so interested in our little old house build? I need a ghost writer, if anyone would like to volunteer, and it’ll save me mustering the momentum to write about it all…
I’m going to save all the ground source stuff until the heating’s actually going because thanks to a seemingly never ending winter, turning that badboy on for the first time is will be akin to winning the lotto on a rollover week.
So, where are we? (Apart from in the ‘van, drinking wine, of course) Ah yes, back to the electricals. We have a new superhero on board, who we reckon should go by the moniker of The Spark Knight. Here’s another guy who most definitely wears his underpants on the outside. He’s very wary of revealing his identity, basically because by morning he’s an electrician who knows his stuff but by afternoon he’s an uber-god who comes and rectifies mistakes made by useless electricians (that’s Gary Reeves, for the googlers). Thank you Richard, for throwing us a rope, my big mistake was not having you on board in the first instance. Still, you live and learn.
Anyway Richard and Russell have ‘fixed’ everything and managed to not make too much work for the boys. I think we’re finally at the bottom of it all now. I’d be really curious to know how Gary ever thought everything was going to work. I’ll give you an example, the kitchen lights in the ‘disco box’ weren’t actually connected to anything. Yep, you read that right, there were wires hanging out the ceiling, that didn’t actually go anywhere. Still, what’s done is done, time to move on. *
Richie and I had an utterly splendid Easter weekend, mostly with paintbrushes in one hand, beer in the other. The living room now has its gardenia ceilings and F&B Ball Green walls in situ. I have to confess, when we started on the Ball Green I was a bit concerned – we’ve been used to the glare of the primer and the green looked pretty dark. I wasn’t keen on the idea of having to paint over it so we persevered and it looks utterly beautiful. Just as I planned 😉
We did take a break from the boozing and took Mr T and The Badge to a nearby forest for a bit of a stroll. Thanks to my accurate sense of direction, we got lost in a 600-odd acre Birch forest. Wowsers, it was utterly amazing – part of The Great Fen Project, I believe, and like something from Lord of the Rings. Not that I’ve ever seen Lord of the Rings. If you’re up/down this way then go and have a lookie, it’s free, there’s nobody there and the inner kid in you would love it. When you go, let us know and we’ll help you with the den 😉 Oh, and if anyone can recommend a good book about the history of the Fens, then please do let me know. Not that I’m turning into a ‘Billy but it’s actually quite interesting…
Talking of woods, Stu, Julian and Paul have braved the elements this week and got the oak on the gable end of the extension. I have to say, I’m very impressed with the result. When we’d gone to planning, way back then, I had an idea that actually, the oak would look quite old fashioned – a nod to the age of the stone part of the house. However, if Kevin was here, he’d call it a triumph of contemporary/aged fusion or, do the licky lip thing and say it’s a tudor-bethan disaster. Still, he’s not here, and Rich and I love it.
I also ordered the wooden flooring this weekend. I’ve been looking at stuff for an absolute age and we finally made a choice about what to have where a couple of weeks ago. Downstairs in the living room and hall is engineered oak, the stairs, landing, our bedroom and dressing room is all carpet and in the guest bedrooms and main bathrooms it’s another engineered oak. We can’t take delivery of anything until we get the heating switched on but at least once a week I check the prices. Easter weekend, judging by the shit emails I get is diy discount weekend and UKFlooringDirect (where I’d had the samples from) had another 10% off. It doesn’t sound like much, until you realise that it’ll total in the region of five grand. Even I’m not too mathematically challenged to work out that a five hundred quid saving is worth having.
So I punched in a few numbers for a quote and, less than ten seconds later had Ahmed calling on the phone. We haggled, he laughed, I threatened, he laughed, I told him to speak to his manager about the price and he told me he’d pay half of it himself, just to get me off the phone. Aside from the ten per cent, the discount was negligible but overall, the saving was about £600 so I can’t really complain, especially as we can get all of the VAT back. They’ll also save it for us, until we get the heating on.
I’m hoping their customer service is better than that of Victoria Plumb. Christ, I hope you never have to get through to their refunds department. Lord knows I’ve tried for the past week.
Having ordered a load of stuff, I think we’ve had about three deliveries overall. The bath is the copper job, the showers are Matki, everything else is pretty much Victoria Plumb. Largely, because a white basin is a white basin is a white basin. And it’s cheap. It’s cheap, because its’ delivery people/warehouse guys/whoever are utterly useless at shipping. We had a pre-Christmas delivery and foolishly, I didn’t check it. Believe me, when you’re building an entire house, the last thing you have time/inclination to do is check every order with a fine tooth comb. I will next time though. The basin, when I did eventually get it out to measure, was bust. Ok, that was my fault for not checking beforehand. I did email them and they did get back to me saying take some photos, fill some forms out, etc etc. The basin was £70 and I needed another one so I just got one added to my next order. It may seem blasé but £70 seemed like a better price to pay for a new basin than fulfil my pathological hatred for form filling, especially as we’d gone over the refund date.
However, last week, I got another Victoria Plumb order and, having learned a lesson previously, I checked it diligently. Yep, another smashed item, this time a pedestal for a sink. Cost of item £29. Cost of principle £priceless. I rang their customer services department and waited for twenty minutes. I gave up and emailed their customer services department. I rang again the next day, and the next. Still, a twenty minute wait and no answer. I have heard nothing by email, or phone. I’ve emailed again, and told them I’ll be telling my blog viewers (that’s about 74,000 so far) about their frankly shit service. Have I heard anything? No. While we’re at it, the original pre-Xmas order had a vanity unit for a basin, we’ve finally got it out the packaging (plastic bag type thing included) and it looks like the lacquer’s knackered. So here’s a word of advice, don’t order from Victoria Plumb, no matter how tempted you are by the prices.
Rich and I are gearing up for another monumental spraying weekend so I have a shedload of masking to do over the next couple of days. Brett is coming to finish some plastering and repairs, Julian is coming to finish with the front door and I’m going to spend some time listening to shit music on the Victoria Plumb customer services hold button. Still, it could be worse, the weather could have warmed up and I wouldn’t have an excuse not to get on with laying bricks for the stables.
*That’d be ridiculous without chasing some sort of recompense 😉