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!

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