Traditional Easter

Easter weekend and DIY – as British a tradition as toast and Marmite 🙂  We have been no exception, although I had to bow out gracefully today because I’ve pulled a muscle in my back.  We’ve made progress though.

Mick has plasterboarded one of the dormers upstairs.  Originally this was just a flat ceiling, but I wanted it opened up and I’m glad we have, though it’s going to be a git to plaster.

Talking of which, I’ve nearly finished plastering the kitchen – just the sides of the chimney breast and the window to go.  Mick started to sand down the dried stuff, but his lovely new random orbital sander worked for about 15 minutes and then the motor burned out, so that’s going to be a phone call to the place he bought it tomorrow!

While I’ve been plastering, Mick has been plumbing and the shower mixer is now plumbed in and plasterboarded over.  We thought we could hear a drip, but when Mick took the right-hand sheet of plasterboard off, everything was bone dry and we couldn’t hear it any more, which is a bit strange.  We’ve left the plasterboard off for now and will investigate properly next weekend.

Spoils of my last shopping trip – black slate to tile the shower with, a mosaic tile for a border, teal paint for the double bedroom, grey for the living room, platinum for the bathroom (which will have one dark grey feature wall opposite the shower) and sage green for the single bedroom.

Pete’s done an amazing job with the fireplace.  The mortar has faded as it’s dried (the close-up was taken on Friday, the wider angle today) and all he has left to do is clean the stone up and then he can fit the stove.  I’ll be asking David to finish it off by doing a return back to the stone and then a simple wood frame around it, painted white.

I heard back from my friendly mortgage broker on Thursday.  He wants to approach two different lenders and asked me to fill out a chunky form with all our financial information and send it to him, together with Mick’s payslips, my tax returns and copies of our credit reports.  I’ve pulled it all together over the weekend and emailed it over today, so all I can do now is cross my fingers.

An expensive day

Last-minute emergency pre-Christmas shopping is supposed to be things like stuffing balls, sprouts and bacon, isn’t it?  Not what I bought today which included:

  • A multifuel stove (plus fitting kit and flexible flue liner)
  • Paint for priming the plasterboard and panelling and some of the colours (we need to have another look at the small bedroom, the living room and the kitchen after the sample pots didn’t quite turn out like the catalogue colours)
  • 17 litres of ready-mixed skim (for me to fill in all the screw heads on the plasterboard and the joins that can’t be taped)
  • More wood for framing

It just struck me the other day that Derek was probably going to want to put the stove in BEFORE he laid the underfloor heating in that room and so I’d better get a shift on and order it.  Fortunately Stovesareus had what I wanted in stock and should be delivering a Stovax Stockton 3 on 5th January.  Small, traditional-looking, and capable of burning peat – perfect for a croft house.

In other news, we had a fairly strong southerly with rain in it overnight, i.e. perfect conditions for testing out the chimney sealant, and I’m happy to say it passed with flying colours – dry as a bone in there this morning 🙂  If it comes through the rest of this week the same way, I think we can safely say we’ve solved the issue.  Fingers crossed.

Edit on Thursday 22nd:  I can add 72 x 4.8m lengths of lining boards to the above list now, as David sent me a text to say he’d picked them up from Rembrand on Monday and would cut them all down to size at home before coming and fitting them for us next week, but I needed to call Rembrand and pay for them.  One swift phone call later and I’m a smidge over £400 lighter, bringing me to about £1,500 in two days – not bad going!!  I think the next two to three weeks are really going to see a huge shift from building site back towards inhabitable house.

Exterior finished

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:

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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:

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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.

Let there be paint

“You need Magnus,” said Pete the Roofer, when I double-checked with him that I’d understood all the stages I needed to go through to paint the outside of the house.  Magnus has an air-free paint spraying system that does a beautiful job on houses and was subsequently recommended to me by two more people, but I was also warned that he was very busy and could afford to pick and choose what jobs he took on.  Well, I got his number, tried to call him, got thwarted by a dodgy mobile signal, sent him a text – and this evening got one back saying he’d been to have a look and was interested in doing the job, weather permitting 😀  (Maybe word has spread about the cake!)  He asked me what colour from the Sandtex range I’d like:

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White paint is traditional, but Mick and I agreed a while back that if we went for Brilliant White, with it facing east we’d probably blind the two houses opposite until midday in summer, so wanted something a bit warmer, but not too yellow.  Out of the ones above, Cotton Belt is my top pick, but if Ivory Stone works out significantly cheaper due to it being available in 10l cans, then I can live with it!  Magnus has warned me we’re going to need about 160 litres to paint the whole house, so £35 for a 10l can versus £20 for a 5l can is a saving of £80.  Of course, the other way of looking at it is it’s only £80 more to have the colour I really like…  We’ll see what the quote comes in at 🙂

ERG came on Friday and it was the surveyor who’d come in initially to measure up rather than the fitter, I’d misheard his name when he rang.  We cleared up the slight confusion caused during his first visit when he’d thought I was simply the keyholder for the house rather than the owner, and he’s gone back to ERG with my proposal that rather than paying my joiner’s estimate, which I was never expecting them to do in the first place, they simply remove from the invoice the amount allocated to finishing off the insides – I’m sure they must be able to calculate the materials and labour cost for that.  Jeff helpfully told me that in future, if I find myself pulling apart a house on another project, I can ask for a first fix quote, which I wasn’t aware they did.

The Howdens kitchen designer was on holiday until yesterday, but I dropped my drawing off on Saturday so it was there waiting for him and was very chuffed to be told it was one of the best drawings they’d been given – usually they get something scribbled on the back of an envelope!  It was clear enough that the guy who took it thought the lady who helped out by drawing up the plans would be able to get started, so I’ll call in tomorrow when I’m in town and see how they’re getting on, as Dougie is now running out of things to do until David and Derek move forwards with the framing and pipework, and having the official kitchen plan would mean that he could finalise the wiring in there.  He made an heroic effort single-handed at the Kentish apple cake on Tuesday after Derek got diverted to another job!

Travis Perkins delivered some plyboard today, which is for putting down over the top of the underfloor heating when it goes in, so we won’t squash the insulation by treading on it directly but don’t have to lay the engineered wood floor while we’re still making a huge mess.  The delivery guys were fab and even had the good grace to tell me I was the first person to make the joke about their hi-vis jackets, though I suspect I wasn’t (when you spot one of them has ROBIN printed in large letters on the back of his, you naturally ask the other if his says BATMAN, right??  It didn’t, it was GARY, but I’d be getting a marker pen out if I was him!).

I had a nice friendly email from the Council Tax people today explaining what I needed to do to get the bill back down to 100% from 200%, so I’ve gathered up all the invoices from the last month, scanned them into a PDF and emailed them back with a list of what we still need to do, when we expect it to be done by and an open invitation to inspect the property any time they like.  Fingers crossed they issue me with a revised bill.