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:

sandtex-masonry-paint-colours

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.

All talk, no action

We’d hoped to be cracking on with fitting the Quinn Therm this week, but Mick’s mother has been unwell, so he’s been busy making sure she’s okay and I don’t want to start cutting into expensive insulation without supervision, at least not the first time I do it!

That doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting here twiddling my thumbs, I’ve been literally talking the talk today.  Dougie the electrician called to say he thought it would be a really good idea if he, Derek the heating engineer and David the joiner all got together on site with me (and Mick if he’s not at work) to have a meeting about where the heating manifolds are going to go and how we’re going to disguise them.  It’s a very good idea, so I’m doing my utmost to make it happen.  He’s going to be here next week, Derek is flexible for days and times next week and I’m waiting for a reply from David – fingers crossed he can do next week as well, because once I know how far that manifold is going to be coming out from the kitchen wall and how that affects where the kitchen units can go in, then I can finalise the kitchen design and make myself that Howdens appointment.

ERG also rang me to say that Billy had the door situation under control and would give me an update soon and what was the situation with the window sills that were mentioned in the ‘work to be completed’ section of the job sheet?  Well, when the salesman came round to see me, I chose oak window sills, however I’m not sure the surveyor who came round noticed them on the paperwork (he started off by telling me it was only four windows and no door on his list!), as the two guys who did the installation said they weren’t on their job sheet and they hadn’t been given the materials – however, it would have been tricky to fit them without the framing in place.  So I’ve told ERG that I would be equally happy with either option out of (1) I call them when the framing’s done and they come up and do them or (2) they take the cost of materials and labour off the final invoice and I’ll get David to do them – they’re going to think about it and let me know.

This is the bit of the whole project so far that I’m least comfortable with.  Buying a house?  No problem.  Talking to financial institutions?  No problem.  Stripping out a house?  No problem.  Discussing project with tradesmen?  No problem.  Sorting out a problem with some work?  I come over all British and apologetic!  Mick reckons I’m too nice about things like this, but I’ve spent nearly 20 years working in customer or client-facing roles of one kind or another and know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a complaint and, even if the customer’s being nice, it’s not the best part of your working day.  Hopefully we’ll get this resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

New windows

The new windows and door are in and the house is a little warmer and drier for winter 🙂

156 armadale - outside - 39

The bathroom window in particular has made a huge difference to the amount of light in the room.

156 armadale - bathroom - 6

They’ve made a beautiful job of the door – the old, rotten frame has been completely removed and replaced with a new one that matches the dark green of the door.  Unfortunately they’ve sent the wrong lower panel for the door, it should be an Edwardian-style two-panel instead of a plain one, but they assure me they’re looking into it and it will be corrected.

156 armadale - outside - 38

One thing I must remember to do today is change the key that’s hidden down there so that the tradesmen can come and go at their own convenience – at the moment it’s the old door key there, so if David or Dougie turns up and I’m out, they’re stumped.

Time to start spending

Pete dropped round yesterday to have a chat about the kitchen fireplace and deliver his quote. “Caroline,” he said.  “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you want to open up this fireplace?”  I had a think about it.  “7.5.”  “Ah.  Not a 3 then.”

The fireplace has been causing headaches.  Pete’s consultants have been trying to work out the load on that wall, but because it’s a rubble wall (i.e. constructed out of random sizes of stone) rather than standard bricks or blocks it’s (a) difficult to calculate the weight and (b) difficult to predict how it will behave – because there’s no structure to it, if it starts to collapse then worst-case scenario the whole gable end could come down.

That said, they haven’t said ‘Don’t do it’, it’s more a case of ‘If you do, be very careful’!  They think that an RSJ at the front and back of the fireplace should work (both are needed in case the wall starts to twist), but obviously this is based on best guess.  Insurance-wise, Pete can get an extension to his normal insurance to cover the work.

Mick and I had a chat about it – I knew what my gut instinct was, but wanted to see what he thought, and it turns out we feel the same: if we don’t at least try, then every time we walk into the kitchen and look at that wall we’re going to wish we had.  So I sent Pete a text to say that we would like to go ahead with it, but we don’t want to put pressure on him to do a job he’s uncomfortable about, so if he has reservations then we’ll cover it over again.

Anyway, the quote.  When Pete first looked at the job last year, he said a thumb-in-the-air guesstimate was that a straight roof replacement would be about £12,000 and indeed, that part of the quote has come in at £12,485, including sorting the chimneys out.  However, once you add in the four new Velux conservation-style windows and the joinery work, that goes up to £15,301.80.  On top of that we have separate quotes for the other work we’ve talked about::

Supply and fit new half-round guttering system, including over joist hangers to front and rear £967.00
Pick and point upstairs gable ends internally (I checked, this includes sorting out that loose stone under the bedroom window) £1,172.00
Remove floor section in kitchen, tank to 1m, fit waterproof membrane and re-pour floor £940.00
Re-harl front section of wall after removal of fascia board £340.00

Once they’ve picked the upstairs gable end, it may be decided that we’d be better off tanking it, in which case Pete says he’ll do it for the same price.

Time-wise, they just have to get the ridge tiles on their current job (which they’re not going to manage today, by the looks of the weather!) and finish cleaning up site and then they’ll be over, so their gear should start arriving on site towards the end of next week and then they’ll start the week after – which is when I have to pony up the first third of the bill!

I came in like a wrecking ball

So Pete the Roofer stopped by, as promised, and we now know what we’re doing with the roof.  It’s going to be done in 16×8 heavy slate (we have at least one storm that goes over 100mph a year and it’s probably the most exposed house in the village), capped with plain buff ridge tiles.  The velux at the front will be enlarged to the same width as the front door and made to line up with it (it’s slightly off to the right at the moment, which my slightly OCD husband hadn’t noticed until I pointed it out today and it’s now driving him nuts!), similarly the velux at the back will be enlarged and lined up with the bathroom window (ditto!) – although I’ve said that if doing that means it’s not evenly-spaced with the two new ones we’re putting into the other bedrooms, then I’d rather have them evenly spaced across the roof than vertically aligned!

After lunch we got started with the work.  Since the roof is going to get done first, we need to get all that panelling stripped out of the upstairs bedrooms.  This is what we started with:

20150728-IMG_9183

156 armadale - bedroom one - 1

156 armadale - bedroom one - 2

And three very enjoyable hours spent with a pry bar and a hammer later….

156 armadale - bedroom one - 3

156 armadale - bedroom one - 4

156 armadale - bedroom one - 5

156 armadale - bedroom one - 6

Interesting things we’ve discovered today:

  1. That little cupboard (which I am so pleased I’ve been able to keep – the door is safely stowed away for reattaching later) is sitting on top of the house wall.  Everything above the level of its base is the gable end and the depth of the cupboard thinner!
  2. No fireplace 🙁  I was hoping we’d uncover a matching one to the one in the other large bedroom, but sadly not.
  3. There is a BIG wet patch on that wall – literally dripping water, which was slightly concerning, but as we got more of the panelling off we realised it was confined to the centre and a quick look outside confirmed that the harling is fine – so we’re pretty sure that the leak is coming through the chimney, which we’re going to get repointed while they’re up doing the roof anyway.
  4. Where the panelling changes colour to the dark brown in the third picture (there’s a bit of brown door, then about three painted bits of panel, then the darker) is the amount of length we’ve added to the room by taking out the two cupboards.  The mirrored door has been saved to go back on a little box cupboard around the hot water tank.

All in all, a good first day.

Raising the roof

roof-885780_1280

I have my friendly local roofer doing some work on my house at the moment and since rain had temporarily stopped play, I dragged him up the road to have a look at the roof on Ethel’s House.

The roof is currently Marley Eternit cement fibre slates and it’s not too bad.  There’s one tile missing on the back and a few that have been glued back into place, but it’s basically sound and should survive the winter.  However, what I want to do is enlarge the two tiny Velux windows – if you can see the size of the one on the front, there’s another the same size on the back and that’s the only light for the third bedroom which, consequently, is rather like a prison cell.

As I was standing out the back and the roofer was admiring the views over the fields and moor to the hill, it slowly dawned on me that I could put three Velux on the back, one in each bedroom, which would really bring some light into the upstairs, open up the views behind the house and, with the right positioning of the beds, would mean guests could lie in bed at night and look up at the stars or the Northern Lights (the house is about a third of a mile from the nearest street light).

Roofer thought this was a fab idea, but pointed out that he’d be taking off so much of the roof to do it that it would virtually be only the cost of the slate and a couple of days’ labour added on to the job to get the whole thing re-roofed at the same time.  So, subject to the purchase all going through, we’re booked in to have it done next March.