Lift off!

I have actual people working on site 😀  It’s no longer just me, Mick and the dog, proper professionals are now getting to grips with my house (and one of them has told us we’ve saved a considerable sum of money by doing everything we’ve done so far by ourselves, which is good).

Dougie the electrician has been here two days this week and has removed all the old cabling, sockets, switches and the fuse box:

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He’s taken up the floorboards upstairs to run the new cabling underneath:

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And he casually mentioned that he’d need a plan of where I wanted all my light switches and sockets to go.  Not something I’d actually got round to thinking about, so last night I scribbled it all out on some rough paper, showed it to Mick who made a couple of suggestions, and then this morning made a clean copy, photocopied it and went up to the house to present it to Dougie with the comment of, ‘Please tell me where I’ve been an idiot.’

Fortunately he thought it all looked sensible and made some suggestions of his own, namely an optical smoke alarm for the living room (where the burner will be), a heat alarm for the kitchen, and he’ll run two shotgun cables from where the satellite dish will come into the house up to a splitter in the attic, so two screens in the house can watch two different things if required (there’s no reception for a standard TV aerial here, the only way to get any television is satellite).  The new fuse box and meter is going on the landing in the corner and we’ll probably put a slim run of cupboards along there to hide it, as the roof is too low for that space to be walked in anyway.

We are currently down a roofer, poor James has succumbed to the lurgy going round locally, but Pete and Connor have been here putting up scaffolding and today, since it was wet and windy, picking out the north gable end wall inside.  It is now looking almost certain that we won’t be able to open up that big kitchen fireplace 🙁  Pete’s insurance company will give him an extension on his policy to cover it, but they want £2,000 (yes, that’s right TWO THOUSAND POUNDS!!) to insure against it collapsing and that’s before we take into consideration what Pete’s annual premium would go up by if it did actually all fall down.  He’s asked them to review their figures and should get a reply from them tomorrow, but sadly it does look like it’s game over for the fireplace.  Never mind, the smaller one in the living room is still lovely, just not quite as dramatic!

One thing I believe very strongly is that anyone kind enough to come all the way out here and do a job for me deserves looking after while they’re here, so there’s now a box down the road with a kettle, mugs, spoons, tea, coffee, sugar, a Thermos with milk in, squash and some home baking.  This week it’s been my chocolate brownies, which Pete has had before and likes:

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(Each of those little squares – and they’re about two bites – is around 250 calories, they’re totally sinful and completely worth it!).  I asked what they’d like next week and Pete, who’s from the south east, was reminiscing about Kentish Apple Cake.  Now, I’ve only found two recipes for it on the internet and neither of them sounds like his version, because they have chunks of apple stirred throughout the cake and Pete’s one has all the apple in a layer in the middle, so it’s going to be a bit experimental.  I may have to put bowls and spoons in the box on Monday!

Stripped

Mick decided to take the day off on Friday, got the bit between his teeth and completely stripped the living room.

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Sadly no enormous fireplace on this end.  We did have a brief discussion about the merits of swapping the kitchen and living room over, but decided that the extra hassle and expense of replumbing probably wasn’t going to be worth it.  It just means we rotate the kitchen layout 90 degrees and drop the idea of having a big dresser against a wall for all the crockery and cutlery.  There is, however, a lovely old hearthstone in that fireplace 🙂

As the plasterboard came off, it was clear that there was a membrane underneath the concrete floor, which is why it’s dry.  Unfortunately it doesn’t go under the walls, so a little damp has got into the old lime plaster.  We’re going to pick it all off, let it dry out and take a look at the stone, then see if it needs tanking before we put the studwork back up for the insulation and new plasterboard.

Dougie the electrician rang on Saturday with his quote.  Bear in mind that this was the list we ended up with when he asked us what electrical things we wanted in each room:

Front room

Main BT socket
Satellite connection
3 x wall lights
2 x standard double sockets
2 x double sockets with USB chargers
CO2 alarm

Hall
Smoke alarm
1 x single socket
1 x ceiling pendant light

Bathroom
Electric shower to be changed out
Electric towel rail
3 x large (about dinner plate size?) recessed ceiling lights
Extractor fan

Kitchen
6 x recessed ceiling lights (standard spotlight size)
Cooker
Heating control system
Hob hood extractor
Small spots for lighting the food preparation surfaces
3 x standard double sockets
2 x double socket with USB chargers

Landing
2 x recessed ceiling lights
1 x single socket
Smoke alarm
Move meter from hall and bring in power here instead of through the front door
Low-level, fairly dim lights up the stairs, wired to a switch in each of the three bedrooms to light people up and down to the bathroom at night, without waking everyone up by switching on the main landing light

The two larger bedrooms
1 x central pendant light
3 x double sockets with USB chargers
Satellite dish connection
Ethernet connection
Smoke alarm

Smaller bedroom
1 x central pendant light
2 x double sockets with USB chargers
Satellite dish connection
Ethernet connection
Smoke alarm

What do you reckon his quote was?  Mick was thinking in the region of £6,500-£7,000.  I was hoping it would be about £5,000.  He’s quoted us £4,655.  I was so surprised that I completely forgot to ask what I needed to buy and what was covered in that list!  When he was talking about the stair lights, he said the ones he intended to use were in pack of six, so lights must be included, but I know that I’ll need to pay for the shower, the extractors, the towel rail and, obviously, the cooker.  What I’m not sure about are the cover plates for the light switches and sockets, so I’ll have to email him and check.

Since he says he’ll want to start upstairs and can begin in about three weeks’ time, we attacked the upstairs again this morning and made good progress in stripping out some of the last bits of panelling – now David the Joiner has confirmed that all the internal wood that isn’t a sarking board or rafter is non-structural and can be removed, we’re being a bit more adventurous with the pry bars!  Only one worrying moment, which was when I was breaking out some of the panelling below the window in bedroom one, put my bar against an enormous rock in the wall to brace it and the rock moved….!!  It’s completely loose, so it’s been pushed back into place and we’ll get Pete to have a look when he’s next here.  A little bit of wet stone under the window in bedroom two as well, but we’ve had an easterly with rain in it all weekend, and I think it’s just been forced in around the window.

I also got to grips with a power tool for the first time – I used Mick’s drill with a Phillips screwdriver head attached to remove the handrail up the stairs.  It took a couple of goes to get the idea that I had to keep it pushed into the screw even though I was using it to take the screws out, as that seemed a bit counter-intuitive, but 24 screws later I was quite comfortable with it.