As promised, a catch-up on what I’ve been up to.
RDI came and insulated the loft and moved the oil tank.
They also put the pipework in ready for the radiator to be moved once Pete and Al were free to sort the wall out.
Once the oil tank was out, Alan and his team could remove the garage. As my neighbour walks his dog around the back, they made a temporary fence out of some of the old picket fence lying around.
Warren, who harled the chimneys down at Ethel’s, will be along at the beginning of November to harl the wall.
I started clearing the garden. It’s mainly blackberries, blackcurrants and honeysuckle. The idea is to keep enough hedge behind the oil tank to grow over it and hide it a bit, clear a space behind that to put a picnic table so you can see the view between the two houses, and then clear all the way around the fence line, so that the wall can be taken down onto my garden and a new fence erected. My neighbour says I’m fine to take a digger around the back to put posts in as long as I don’t leave any stones that will clog up his mower. It’s tough going!
Inside I’ve been peering under more bits of carpet and the more I see of the downstairs floor, the more I love it.
Howdens’ designer, Tom, and I have been back and forwarding by email. We’ve got the kitchen and utility price down to £7,500 from £12,000, but Tom just wanted David to double-check his measurements and make sure the wall cabinet doors in the kitchen would open under the beams. So on Wednesday afternoon I picked David and Magnus up from Bettyhill and we all went over together, Magnus to look at the external woodwork and inside walls for painting surfaces.
David noticed pretty quickly that two of the beams in the maid’s room had been boxed in before they’d been papered. A quick prod with a hammer and crowbar later and we found a beautiful natural rough beam, which must have been hewn nearly 100 years ago. A bit of bark fell off it.
David also took a look at the mystery brick wall and agreed that it almost certainly wasn’t load-bearing and I asked him to look at the joists in the bedroom we’re turning into a bathroom upstairs – the good news is that as long as I put a bath perpendicular to them (which I was planning to do anyway) and I don’t buy a cast iron one, they’ll take the weight. Upstairs has had 18mm chipboard laid over the original floorboards, which is good news for putting Karndean down in the upstairs bathroom (less floor prep required) and as Jeff remembered, there’s a decent depth under there to get plumbing in.
Next week we start to get busy. On Wednesday Green & Cameron arrive to rip out the grass at the front, replace it with gravel and drop the kerb to create the parking spaces. On Friday RDI come back to move the radiator – Pete and Al haven’t had time to sort the wall, but I need the heating back on, so we’ve agreed they’ll put an isolation valve on each side and then Pete can take it back off when we need to get behind it.
Magnus and David both recommended an electrician – sadly Dougie is tied up on a massive job all winter and can’t help me this time – but warned me that he’s getting close to retirement and doesn’t always want to take on big jobs. I was hopeful that since he lives fairly close to Coldbackie and could have a key and do it at his own pace, he might be persuaded and although he hasn’t said yes yet, he is at least coming to have a look at it towards the end of next week. I also have a plumber interested, who’s going to stop by when he’s next out west. He’s working with David on a bathroom near me soon, so hopefully he’ll drop in at the same time.
In the meantime, I’ve been working on room layouts. All the bedrooms, the upstairs bathroom and the living room have been mapped at 1:10 scale in Excel (with the cells made into squares) and then I’ve created shapes to the correct dimensions for beds, bedside tables, sofas and so on. I’ve also marked where the existing sockets are and where I want new ones.
Next week’s job is to think about colour schemes. I found a copy of Farrow & Ball: How To Decorate* in the local library system, took it with me when I went away with my mum last week, and read the whole thing in two days. It’s been so, so helpful. I’ll leaf through it again next week as I’m starting to work out what colours I want. The only thing I’m firm on at the moment is that I want a big dark wall to hang pictures on in the stairwell, but it really does feel like we’re about to start making some speedy progress.