Saturday, March 30, 2013

House Blitz Days 5 and 6

We're on the last day of the week long blitz of the house.  First fix electrics are in, first fix plumbing is almost done as well.  All the windows are in and are sealed from the outside.  We are getting mahogany surrounds for the inside, but holding off on the wood until the dirty work and plaster is done.

The chimney in the living room has been boxed in.  We were going to put in a cast iron fireplace, but decided against it because the chimney has been removed and we didn't want to go to the expense of putting in a liner.  But, more importantly, space is at a premium in this room.   We have a beautiful Art Deco cabinet that a friend gave us and we want it to be the focal point in the room.  It will go where the fireplace would be.  I wanted to have the chimney vented, but wasn't clear enough before the plasterboard/dry wall went in.  The chimney was blocked in years ago so we would have needed to knock a hole in for ventilation.  I hope the bricks aren't in there breaking down.

The joiners are putting plasterboard/dry wall on all the ceilings.  With the flooding, dry rot, mold, electrics and plumbing work the ceiling are a hot mess.

We had the original doorknobs removed and took them to a local door restorer (The Paint Stripper - I would highly recommend them.  They have been awesome.)  The door furniture was dipped and polished and came out looking great.  I was going to try and boil and clean everything myself, but soon realized with the two little kids and trying to manage this project it was not going to happen fast enough.  For nine sets of doorknobs and hinges it was 55 pounds.

Plastering has started!  It may be about a three week process?  The front bedrooms is done.  One room down, three bedrooms, two hallways, bathroom, WC, kitchen/diner, living room, vestibule and the loft to go.

We've replaced the front door (the old one was mostly non-safety glass.)  It's a reclaimed oak door that we got from  The Paint Stripper.  We planned to paint it, so I had the joiners drill a new hole for the Yale lock (so it would be too high for the little kids to reach.)  But now that the door is in, I kind of like the wood color.  Too bad there are extra holes.

The area under the stairs has been framed and boarded.  The joiners cut down one of the extra doors (maybe from the former cloak closet that disappeared when we removed the chimney upstairs) for the door to the half toilet.

In the front room, we've asked the joiners for built-in bookcases with cabinets on the bottom.  I searched high and low for 1200 mm wall carcasses (I didn't want them too deep) and came up empty handed.  As a stroke of fortune, the wall units we bought with the used kitchen wouldn't fit on the kitchen wall (not enough room because of how we spaced the extractor fan) but fit on either side of the chimney.  (Well, almost.  I had the phone line and internet installed and it's exactly where we want the wall cabinet to be.  We'll have to find a solution.)

The boiler is going at the back of the house.  There is piping running all over the back wall, so the joiners are building the wall out a little to hide it all.

Friday, March 29, 2013

House Blitz Day 4

Did I mention we hired a structural engineer?  I'm so glad we did.  Because all this knocking through and about makes me just a little nervous.

The old entry to the kitchen and entry to the larder have been bricked up and will make a new wall in the new kitchen/diner.  The engineer said to use bricks instead of a stud wall, so we did it.

The wall under the stairs is now gone, making way for what will be the understairs WC.  It's small, but it will be nice to have an extra toilet.

The doors have been put back on.  We bought new skirting (baseboards) and facing for the doors, and had the older stuff taken out.  It's all profiled MDF (Ogee) since we're going to be painting it white anyway.  This bit of joinery makes the house seem more like a home.

All the windows are in!  We took the girls over to see the house last night, reconfirming a building site is not place for children.  (And reminded me how grateful I am that we are not living in the house during the renovation.)

Since we knocked through the wall between the former kitchen and dining room, there was a disconnect with the floor.  The former back room has floorboards, it is where the kitchen will be.  I would have loved to sand the floorboards and make them a feature, but we ran into some difficulty because the former kitchen is cement.  The cement floor is uneven and doesn't meet up with the floorboards.  Plus there was a big hole from where the chimney and hearth used to be.  So the guys put a screed down...which didn't dry overnight because it turns out the pipe with the stopcock is in that room and is dripping.  (Blast!  We can't seem to contain this water problem yet.)  Anyway, hopefully the screed will dry soon.  The plan is to put in a floating floor across the cement and floorboards of bamboo.

All of the windows are in, though the one above the kitchen sink cracked before it was installed (they're going to fix it soon, I'm told.)  The joiners are starting to put the units in.  We bought the units used and had the kitchen delivered from England.  I was home with the kids when Niall helped the movers unload and the units have been stacked in the front room until now.  It's the first time I've really seen them.  We're still not sure  if we'll paint the cupboards.  We're waiting to see how things look and then decide from there.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

House Blitz Day 2 and 3

You know how there are good days and bad days?  Well, with this renovation there have been a lot of good days, so I guess it was time for a few rough days.

Things aren't bad, it's just that there are some rising costs that are causing me anxiety.  The plumber and joiner are costing more than anticipated, partly due to miscommunication, partly due to the flooding (fixing the ceiling) and partly due to me wanting more things (built-in storage and underfloor insulation.)

Some things haven't turned out as well as I'd hoped.  Like the window in the kitchen.  We wanted to get it bricked partially up so there would be room to put in the kitchen and sink along the wall.  But it looks so small with the extra wall height.  We're hopeful that it will look better with the new windows and the kitchen installed.

Today the new windows started going in.  But before that happened, the old windows had to go out.

I loved the wooden sash windows that were in the house.  If we had a 20K budget for windows, we would have replaced like for like.  Instead, we opted for the (cheaper) UPVC (plastic) option.  I hope the new windows are warm!  (The new windows are in the upstairs, the old ones on the ground floor.)

The joiners took one of the extra doors (like maybe the one from the old kitchen?) and cut it in half to make new doors for the future coat closet.  I love how it looks!

And the new bedroom wall is insulated.  (The door opening is not extremely narrow, it's just temporarily partialy covered by a full piece of plasterboard.) 

Here's to some more good days, coming to grips with the *updated* budget and reigning in any more unexpected expenses.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

House Blitz Day 1

I'm a sucker for a good deal.  There's a line of paint that we can get for half price, but we had to order it by today.  We are weeks away from painting, but I got some tester pots and put them up on the walls throughout the house last night.  Niall has been busy with work.  He has seen the paint pots, but not the product on the walls.  I hope he doesn't hate the colors I chose.  (Mostly the two blue ones in the bottom left hand corner.)

This week is when the house is getting blitzed.  Joiners, electricians, plumbers, windows...

Six electricians showed up and have really gone to town on the house.  The entire place has to be rewired and they're planning to do the first fix in two days.  Since things are getting done so quickly we had to have things planned in advance (like the kitchen design but also down to where we're going to put furniture and lamps.)  It makes me kind of nervous, but I keep telling myself that if we would have bought a house that didn't need work all of this stuff would have been decided already, and we wouldn't be able to change it anyway.

The joiners repaired the hole where the chimney was.

And the new wall for the back bedroom has been built.

The dry rot has been treated and the infected plaster removed.

And we don't have an open plan bathroom any longer.

Steels and the Beginning of the Kitchen Diner

Holy cow.  Getting rid of garbage is expensive.  It has kind of made me obsessed with rubbish.  So far we've spent about 600 GBP on dumpsters/skips and rubbish removal.  Our little car has made over ten trips to the dump, loaded with as much as I could cram in.  It's messy and hard work, but there isn't an extra charge to take it to the dump in the car.

The chimney breast in the front bedroom has been hacked back.  We wanted to have it as a feature and are really happy at how nice the brick looks!

The big structural work is pretty much done!  We got our building warrant, and the chimney breast and wall downstairs have been knocked out.  The hole the chimney left behind extends from the foundations up to the roof.  Good times.  You'll forgive me all the photos; I'm concerned that something may happen to the photos on Niall's phone of the steels.  We need to document them for Building Control and I want to make sure we can access them easily.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Garden: Check

Guess what we have? A back garden! The tree surgeons finished today. There's still a lot of work that needs to be done to make this a nice yard, but the jungle has been tamed.  We'll probably let the garden grow for a while to see what we have to work with before doing anything major.  The first photo is how the house looked when we viewed it, the next one is how it looks today.

It turns out there is a sidewalk on one side of our yard.  And the bomb shelter is not longer hidden.  (It's on the right hand side in the photo below.)  We have access to the former coal shed, which now houses garden tools.  When the big trees were there, we couldn't open the door!

The flat roof is repaired and the new gutters have been installed.  All the wallpaper in the house has finally been stripped off the walls.

The building work started today.  The builders started removing the chimney, starting in the loft (first photo) and moving down to the first floor back bedroom (second photo.)

With the chimney breast gone, we have about 500mm of extra space.  To utilize it, we're building a new wall which will make the bathroom just a little bit bigger.  The builders started at 10, by noon the wall was halfway down (first photo) and this afternoon it was gone (second photo.)

With the wall gone, the upstairs is strangely open.

And, good news. Having the guy uplift all the driveway garbage in a truck actually worked. We had so much rubbish that it filled two 14-yard size trucks. We now have a dumpster/skip in front of the house for all the rubble and brick from the building work.

 Niall and I both have both been ill today. I was on site on and off because I needed to meet a few workers and pay some others. We (Niall and I) were talking tonight about how much better this renovation (so far) has been compared to Cardiff. Sorry, it's just nice to have someone else do the hard work.