David has been framing like a man possessed and this morning Mick left our house at 7.30am saying he’d packed sandwiches – the result is that the upstairs is more or less completely insulated.
The fireplace in the bedroom has been framed round now instead of going over it.
Still not quite sure how I’m going to make a feature of that, but I went and picked up a stack of interiors magazines at the weekend, because once the plasterboard goes on, this is going to look scarily like a house I need to decorate!
The living room framing is mostly done as well – just the bits round the two large windows downstairs (and my window seats) to go, and then once Dougie has done everything he needs to, it’s plasterboard on and underfloor heating down.
I was down at the house for sunrise this morning, because I wanted to see what the newly-finished front elevation looked like at first light. The aim was to have a soft white that wouldn’t dazzle the other people living at that end of the village, and I think we’ve got it about right:
And in one of those ‘yes, we have been making progress’ pictures, here’s the original estate agent’s picture and one of the above from nearly the same angle:
The total cost of the new roof, windows, door, guttering and paint is about £22,000 *gulp* but it has made a huge, huge difference and I’m over the moon with how it’s turned out.
Today I have David in finishing the living room gable end framing and then hopefully starting on the front walls and my little window seats, and Dougie now has the wiring spec for the underfloor heating from Derek, so is starting on that and will also be drilling the holes in the wall needed for wiring up the outside floodlights. We had a chat about the kitchen – when he measured it out, it turns out the existing hot and cold feeds for the sink would need to be moved in our current kitchen layout, but if I put in a full-sized 600mm dishwasher instead of a slimline 450mm one, they’re in the right place. However, that means I either need to have a slimline fridge freezer (which I don’t think would be a good idea, given that the nearest supermarket is a 52-mile round trip!) or move the fridge freezer to the corner by the window. Happily it will fit in that corner and Dougie says wiring it there will be no problem, so that’s what I’m doing. My homework for the day is to call Colin Chessor in Thurso and arrange for a reel of shotgun cable for Dougie to put the satellite dish cabling into the living room and all the bedrooms.
Magnus has arrived (and been presented with a lemon cake to fuel him for the week) and the exterior is being totally transformed – it’s been power-washed to take all the dirt and lichen off and now the paint is going on. I suspect he’s teasing me by leaving the front until last, because I can’t WAIT to see what it looks like finished! Here are some pictures from Tuesday evening – he’s been back today, but the light was gone by the time I’d finished feeding the sheep.
David called today to see if he could bring the kitchen over tomorrow, so Mick took all the remaining paint down the road this evening and my first job tomorrow morning is to clear as much floor space in our annexe as possible. We have four base units (one of them a corner unit) and five wall units to fit in, plus a lot of worktop surface, so it’s going to be tight, but there’s a big pile of boxes I should be able to fit upstairs and I hope we’ll get it all in okay. He’s going to be carrying on with the framing on Monday and Tuesday and says Dougie will try to be there one of those days as well.
Finally,hello to anyone reading from Wreck of the Week where Sue has put up a post about a pair of cottages I spotted that I thought she might like and kindly linked to this blog. She’s a must-read for anyone looking for their own renovation project!
Dougie turned up on Thursday and got David to plasterboard the two kitchen walls which will have units on them for him so he could draw out the kitchen on the walls and mark where all the sockets and switches are going to go.
It turned out I had a couple of decisions to make about things I hadn’t even thought about – like did I want all the switches for the appliances separately by each appliance or wired to one block of switches (as it’s a small kitchen, I went for the block – less wall space) and where did I want the control unit for the central heating (it’s ended up on the wall outside the bathroom door)? Dougie’s advised me I need to ask Derek to move the water for the sink a few inches, as it’s currently straddling the sink and the washing machine, and also to lengthen the stopcock or I’m going to be reaching through a hatch in the back of the sink unit *and* through a hole in the plasterboard to turn off the water. We need to remember to leave access for the boiler’s filler loop too.
Mick has spent the weekend down there and did a bit more plasterboarding and the kitchen is actually starting to look like a room again.
Upstairs, David has made cracking progress with the framing and Mick has been able to get some more insulation in.
Where the dwangs are gives an idea of the panelling height, although I need to ask David about the fireplace because he’s framed over it rather than doing a return to show off the stone – this is likely my fault for saying I was panelling all round the room and not clarifying that I still wanted the fireplace exposed. I may not be popular when I see him next… I don’t know whether he’ll be getting to us next week, but looking at the weather forecast only Tuesday is scheduled to be wet, so fingers crossed we might see Magnus getting started on the painting.
The one thing I’ve noticed about this project is that as its gone on I’ve got very used to paying large bills without batting an eyelid. Take this week, for example. On Monday I got a text from David the joiner to say he was going into town and he’d stop by for a chat on the way back. Turns out that he was finishing off one of his current jobs on Tuesday and was therefore proposing to spend Wednesday and Thursday working on the house (hooray!) “if you can get me one or two bits by then”.
So we went down the road to the house together and the one or two bits turned out to be 70 x 4.8 metre lengths of 3×2 plus 75 sheets of plasterboard, which is rather more than I can put on the back of the pick-up (12 lengths of 3×2 is about as much as you can do on its roof without risking them all spilling off when you go round a corner). I rang Rembrand in Thurso and explained my predicament to Neil – their lorry usually comes west on a Thursday, but he said he’d see what he could do and, bless him, called me back half an hour later to say that they’d got it sorted and would deliver on Wednesday morning if there was someone to help unload.
I shot into town on Tuesday morning to pay for it and handed over my debit card for just under £1,200 without thinking twice about it – plus a stack of homemade flapjacks for them to say thank you for being so helpful 🙂 I made another batch last night for David (and possibly Dougie, who is going to try and come over tomorrow) and took them down just as the delivery lorry rumbled down the road, so I helped them unload. It’s refilled the living room, put it that way…
But it means that David has some straighter lengths of wood to choose from for the long sections in the gable end framing.
David and I had a long discussion about whether the tongue and groove panelling should go to the bottom of the Velux or stop where the house walls stop, a few inches below. We’ve gone for the latter on the grounds that it’ll be much easier to do the window surrounds with plasterboard than trying to match up panelling and a dado bead.
Finally, here’s my paint mountain! I hope it’ll condense down significantly when I get round to removing all the packaging. At the moment it’s looking like three semi-reasonable days next week and then rather wet, so I’m crossing my fingers that Magnus will be able to get started.
So I’m very impressed with B&Q. Not only did they get my paint to me on Saturday (the delivery estimate was Monday) but the cashback also tracked as a percentage of the full price of £580 rather than the discounted price of £400 (which I guess may change before it’s paid out).
The problem is that Royal Mail up here isn’t really set up to deliver 100 litres of masonry paint, so when all the boxes turned up at the sorting office in Thurso, they filled three parcel yokes on their own and wouldn’t fit into the postman’s van. So James the postman was asked to come and knock on my door during his normal delivery round to see if I was going to be in at 3pm, which I was, and they put them into a van of their own which they gave the driver who comes round collecting from all the postboxes to deliver to me. Absolute gold star to Royal Mail for that one!
The boxes are now taking up a big chunk of my annexe and I now have a bit of a problem. I got the quotes through for the kitchen and the plain Burford and the Burford Tongue and Groove were the same price, so I get to have my T&G 🙂 The issue is that it’s their stock take at the end of the month, so the quote is only valid until 29th October, but if I order, pay for and take away my kitchen by that date, they’ll give me another 10% off. Which would be no problem if it was flatpack, but Howdens’ units come ready-built. I think for an extra £264 off I will make them all fit somehow…
I really need to sit down and go through the enormous stack of invoices that’s piling up under my desk, because I suspect I’ve gone very off-budget. However, I’ve managed to bag another bargain this evening – B&Q had an offer on Sandtex masonry paint, 2 for £40 on all the 5 litre cans (usually £29 each), meaning I can have the colour I want for a little less than the colours that come in the bigger 10l tins (£44 each was the cheapest I could find them).
The paint splurge was prompted by Magnus sending me an email with an estimate of £800 for his labour costs, which he reckons will be 5-6 days and includes completely power-washing the house, but I need to buy the paint and he reckoned 100 litres would be a good starting point. 20 cans in the basket, £400 down from £580, free delivery to the Highlands and, as long as it tracks properly, 3% cashback via Quidco*
Howdens emailed through the kitchen drawings for me over the weekend, in Burford Cream, Burford Tongue & Groove Cream and Tewksbury Antique White. I like the Burford T&G the best, but may go for the plain Burford if there’s a serious price difference.
While we were away, Dougie seems to have doubled the amount of cabling in the house and David has framed out the back wall of the kitchen, so that meant this week Derek and his team have been able to start running pipework. Mick’s been getting on with some more insulating as well.
New stopcock! No more washing up basin required whenever you turn the water on 🙂
Flow and return pipes running through the kitchen ceiling up to…
…the landing, where the manifolds will be hidden in a cupboard.
Now David’s framed the back wall in the kitchen, Dougie reckons he can finish the wiring off in there, so he’ll be back for a day this week. David has been tied up preparing his sheep to go through the sale ring (he’s cutting down on numbers), but they went through the mart yesterday, so I’ll drop him a text tomorrow and see if he’s able to get the framing in the bedrooms finished, so Mick can clear the insulation out of the living room and get it fitted.
Much to my relief, I got home to another revised Council Tax bill from the Highland Council – they’ve accepted that the house isn’t currently habitable and dropped the 200% charge.