Thursday, December 27, 2007

Only 363 days left until Christmas!

I hope everybody out there had a great Christmas and are enjoying whatever they got whether they wanted them or not.

We had a nightmare/great Christmas; Christopher couldn't sleep Christmas eve, to the point he was crying at midnight because he was trying too hard to drift off. Of course that meant Father Christmas couldn't land so was stuck in a holding pattern over the house and, between you and me, Tamsyn and I were getting sick with tiredness. So at midnight we went to bed, setting the alarm for 2:00am when, thankfully, we found Christopher snoring fitfully and Zoe wide awake crying because Father Christmas hadn't been, even though she had been a good girl and gone to sleep like we told her. Long explanations ensued about how Santa (Father Christmas turns into Santa Claus as soon as he leaves British shores and heads towards the US) couldn't wait any longer or he would be too far behind schedule for all the American brats. Luckily he had left the presents boxed up downstairs, so we got Zoe off to sleep so (Super) Mummy and Daddy could sort it out.

Once finished we struggled to get back to sleep ourselves so at 4am we gave in and drank a nice cup of tea (I practically inhaled mine) while the children opened their stockings (pillow cases). We then all went back to sleep and woke up at 8:30am, the kids full of Christmas excitement and us feeling like we'd been out on the piss for four days solid.

Except for a feeling of complete weariness (itchy eyes, headache and extreme difficulty getting out of a chair if you make the mistake of sitting down) the rest of the day was lovely and went very smoothly - I had dropped the turkey off at Mums Saturday and they arrived at noon with it cooked and wrapped in towels. I had prepared the vegetables etc so we were able to sit down at 12:30 for the meal, before spending the afternoon seeing if we could cover every square inch of carpet with wrapping paper. Everybody was on their best behaviour (we were too tired to care though to be honest) so it was a nice relaxing day. They left at 5pm because they had horses to feed so we got the rest of the day to ourselves.

I promptly fell asleep and missed Doctor Who but, as I had expected something like that might happen, I had recorded it so I don't miss Kylie (who Tamsyn says was OK but not great).

I didn't realise quite how tired we had been until I woke up on Boxing Day feeling happy to be alive and with some energy. I thought I would take it easy all the same so we had a day of doing nowt i.e. watching 'family films' (children's DVDs) together and eating left over turkey...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

All done. Or are we?

Today was supposed to be the final day of having workmen invade the place. The new carpet and laminate floor have been completed and, as you can see, the place looks a whole lot better:

Household improvements 2007 Household improvements 2007

However, in true Sherlock fashion not everything is how it seems so as everybody who knows me thinks I'm a bit of a moaning git anyway I don't see why I should disappoint now :)

Not only did we have to prepare everything by removing and disposing of the old carpet, underlay and grips before Kingsley Carpets would start work (strange but sort of understandable with the new laws for business using Council tips) but we suddenly have to pay for a carpenter to shave some of the kitchen door off. Surely if they lay a floor and a door doesn't shut they should do the "2 minute job to sort it" rather us have to pay call out and labour IF we can get hold of somebody in the first place?

And then there's the finish. The carpet is great but if I had done the following Tamsyn would be telling everybody how bad I am at DIY! (I am of course useless at DIY which is why we saved up for professionals in the first place):

Household improvements 2007 Household improvements 2007 Household improvements 2007

I'd be interested in what people think of the final three pictures and what we should do about it, as Tamsyn says I shouldn't complain all the time...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The end is nigh, and about bloody time.

At last we have nearly completed the 2007 phase of improving our house. What started as the central heating and replacement of knackered old conservatory has turned into a marathon of DIY as one job knackered something, that required more work, that knackered something else, which required more work. And so on, and so on.

Here's some pictures of the hallway and stair case after having been re-plastered, painted and now awaiting new floor for downstairs and new carpet for the stairs and landing.

Household improvements Household improvements Household improvements Household improvements

Once the floor/carpet is installed (tomorrow hopefully) we intend to rest, recover from our colds and tend to the dog (who had a stroke on Sunday and now walks - but not often - like she's pissed) in the hope that we all (dog included) recover in time for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Light at the end of the tunnel

Plastering, which has held up the conservatory for longer than it took to build the thing, is now complete.

Conservatory (and house) rebuild Conservatory (and house) rebuild Conservatory (and house) rebuild

The house now smells of wet plaster and the condensation is unbelievable, but we're done and can't quite believe it!

Conservatory (and house) rebuild Conservatory (and house) rebuild

And what's more the painter is booked and so are the carpets. Does this mean we may actually finish this in our life time? I do believe we might ...

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Second Coming must be just around the corner!

After what must be the tenth attempt a miracle has occurred and we have found a plasterer who both answers your calls, comes when he says AND doesn't quote you a ridiculous price. Rest assured we are treating him well in case he disappears for the next month leaving our house like the pictures below...

Household improvements Household improvements

Today, after a weekend removing radiators and stripping wallpaper, he arrived and took off the old plaster. As expected he sneezed on one wall and the lot just fell off which made his job quite easy. He also reckons that the hallway was dangerous and would have gone earlier if it wasn't for the wood chip paper holding it up!

None of this surprises me much.

Household improvements Household improvements

Fingers crossed he comes back as promised tomorrow to board the walls ready for plastering and skimming on Wednesday.

I bet after he does the hall and stuff he forgets all about the conservatory :)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The thing about being crap at DIY

It's an old (and tired) saying that DIY stands for 'Destroy It Yourself' rather than 'Do It Yourself' but I've managed to live up to it pretty well and am well known for being absolutely sh*te at anything other than gardening. Much as it mostly gives me the freedom not to do any of the jobs I don't like it is also very frustrating because I'd really like to be able to do some of these jobs, especially as I hate paying people to do them for me.

It's just lately the problem has being not so much having to give away money to people for doing the jobs that I don't want but more the buggers don't want to do them either, and often can't be a*sed to phone us and say so. But that's another tired old rant...

So this weekend I found myself trying my own hand at plastering. Yep, all the good DIYers say don't touch it with a barge pole, but after being let down by at least 10 different plasters I figured if I was crap at all the jobs others try then I may as well be crap at the one they won't. Who knows, I may even find out plastering is my thing.

I didn't.

The bit that needed doing was the kitchen i.e.
The kitchen
and about a quarter of the way through I was chuffed that most of it was actually sticking to the wall rather than falling straight on the floor. It was going off fast though but I was determined to get it something like. Then some friends arrived and took over and I probably owe Ade some gratitude as he pretty much saved the day. Or the wall at least.

It still looks bad but, as long as it stays stuck to the wall over night, should be good enough after quite a lot of sanding, filling, sanding, filling some more, sanding some more and a few layers of paint to hide the imperfections I'll no doubt introduce by sanding it too much.

Anyway, it now looks like this (notice the tiles are back - that was me and hopefully they'll 'weather in' eventually):
Kitchen abomination, err I mean wall

On a more positive note I can paint and the door to the cloakroom still actually shuts:
Conservatory rebuild - cloakroom

And the tiler actually finished! So we've gone from:
Conservatory rebuild - cloakroom to this: Conservatory rebuild - cloakroom
and the mirror still hasn't fallen off the wall.

Still loads to do, but I feel we're getting there now.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A week of tradesman hell

What a week. We're beginning to wonder whether the conservatory is jinxed and whether it will ever be finished.

Monday - the tiler turned up and we expected him to finish boarding the final wall and make a start on the tiling. However, the board went up and he then informed us that he would come back another night and do the tiling but, because he had lost a crown off his tooth, it wouldn't be until Thursday! Grrrr. Oh well these things can't be helped and at least he had told us what was going on. Still it was enough for me to have to sit in a dark corner for a while with a can of something cold and alcoholic.

Tuesday - the plasterer was due at 18:30. I was still calm at 19:00 and left the stress to Tamsyn who was fair frothing. By 19:30 I was annoyed and was trying to ring him, but he never answers the phone. We left our 25th message (or so it seems) since we got the quote 3 weeks ago. He didn't call back so I ended up skulking in my dark corner with my last can of beer.

Wednesday - spent the afternoon thinking up funny witticisms I could throw at the plasterer when he came round later, only to have my moment of sarcasm wasted when the [email protected] again didn't bother to turn up! I wouldn't mind but I rang him at 17:30 to remind him. It took 10 attempts to get somebody to answer his phone, but it wasn't the man himself. Whoever it was promised to pass on my message, so he had no excuse for forgetting to turn up.

When we got to 19:30 without a sign I went hunting for beer and couldn't find any. Had to settle on a glass of wine, which really isn't the same, but helped a little. It didn't help my language though, and I left a very satisfying message on the [email protected] answer phone a while later, thereby pretty much guaranteeing he won't be coming at all now :)

Tamsyn managed to get hold of another plasterer and he promised to come round and quote on Thursday.

Thursday - bought some beer and got it in the fridge, just in case. It must have been a lucky talisman as when I got home the tiler was tiling and the plasterer had already been round (though we weren't here) so we're waiting for the phone call with fingers firmly crossed.

The tiler smiled politely when I informed him he must have failed at Tradesman school; surely they would shoot him if they knew he was turning up at jobs when he said he would.

Everything was going swimmingly and then we ran out of tiles! Can you believe it, some dick didn't buy enough tiles! What a pillock. Hold on a minute, it was me who bought the tiles. The tiler says he will have to let us know when he can come back.

At least the beer is almost cold....

P1020012 P1020011 P1020007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Conservatory Rebuild - Day x (lost count!)

Another few weeks go by, and the conservatory remains 80% complete. In fact it is more a case of 2 steps forward and one step back!

The tiler arrived last Monday and boarded 3 of the walls in the cloakroom ready to tile the next night. But, thanks to a lazy electrician who had put 2 junction boxes on the 4th wall which, if boarded over, would have made it impossible to actually sit on the toilet, he was unable to do the 4th wall. A few frantic phone calls later with an electrician who can talk for England (he even gives me a run for my money) and we have a date of a week and a half later for him to come and sort the job. The tiler left, and has not been seen since :(

To try and get it sorted quicker Tamsyn asked the guy opposite if he had any idea how we could sort it quickly. He did. He ripped it all out (it was only feeding the outside plug socket, which is easily sorted by running the wire round the outside of the house rather than destroying the aesthetics of the cloakroom).

Unfortunately though, while removing said new wiring he found some clangers that should have been spotted by the electrician: a loose cable made 'safe' with insulating tape left dangling behind the cooker and a cable with junction block cemented in the kitchen wall. These have both now been made properly safe BUT look at our kitchen!

The kitchen

We now have another date for the tiler (Monday and Tuesday) and even the plasterer has decided to return our calls and is due on Tuesday and Wednesday (I'll believe it when he turns up though). We will be asking for another quote, as I decided to 'tidy up' the mess in the kitchen and have progressed to:

The kitchen

So, the conservatory is still not finished, and now we have to get the kitchen sorted as well ...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

We've got a door on the bog!

At long last there is light at the end of the tunnel!

This week we have managed to get the electrics finished, the glass replaced with self-cleaning glass (though the kite mark is the same as before so I'm a bit sceptical) and we have a lockable door on the cloakroom (though the *&^%ing thing is broken).

Conservatory Rebuild

We even have a window sill in the cloakroom as well.

Conservatory Rebuild

They will, however, be coming back to fix the broken lock and fill in the door frame, though they can't do that until the tiler has been.

So we're basically now waiting on the tiler, plasterer and guy opposite to fit the radiator, and then we're something like.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Conservatory Rebuild The final Stages 1

We're almost there. In coding terms you'd say we were 80% done as it sounds like you've almost finished. The fact that it might take just as long (or longer) to get the final 20% done is never really mentioned ...

There are floor tiles:
Conservatory Rebuild The final Stages 1
Guttering and a soak-away for drainage (the soak-away is the length of the border but you would never know - I'm impressed with how well they did that):
Conservatory Rebuild The final Stages 1
Conservatory Rebuild The final Stages 1 Conservatory Rebuild The final Stages 1

The toilet and sink are in, and we have lights and plug sockets (not quite finished):
Conservatory Rebuild The final Stages 1
As you can see we need tiling in the cloak room, plastering on one of the walls and a door for the toilet. All supposed to be happening over the next few weeks...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Conservatory Rebuild - Day 11

Having sung the praises of the guys doing the conservatory I am now getting fed up. Yesterday (Friday 31 August) the build was a whole week later than expected.

As you can see progress is being made

Conservatory Rebuild - Day 11 Conservatory Rebuild - Day 11 Conservatory Rebuild - Day 11

but I found out yesterday that because they are waiting for 4 panes of glass they won't be back until next Thursday! I reckon there's more than 2 days work left to get it finished so we're going to have to wait even longer before we can get plasterer, electrician, plumber and tiler in: And juggling these guys is hard enough as it is without having to put them off any more.

They've also royally pissed me off with the guttering - I was assured that the guttering would go all around to the side of the house so I could divert the water into a series of water butts. But, somebody mis-measured the roof so the main part will now have to go into a soak-away in the border. They did suggest we have it go straight into a water butt but, as you can see from the picture below, that butt would be right in front of the window (on the left of the picture) and once it was full it would still end up over-flowing into the border!

Conservatory Rebuild - Day 11

And if there was nothing there then we run the risk of flooding, both our border and next doors. So they will be digging a soak-away - what a waste (and possible mess while they destroy the border to dig the hole).

I wonder what other surprises they have in store for us? :(

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Conservatory Rebuild - Day 10

Not much change visually, but it's coming on well.

Conservatory Rebuild - Day 10 Conservatory Rebuild - Day 10 Conservatory Rebuild - Day 10

A lot of the glass has now been fitted and most of the roof finished with just around the toilet area left to go.

The roof looks a little strange from the upstairs windows but you can see it's quite sturdy, and gives us a lot more headroom from inside.

Conservatory Rebuild - Day 10

And finally, this is the view from insiode the house - a great deal of garden now on view. Fantastic.

Conservatory Rebuild - Day 10

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Conservatory rebuild - Days 8 and 9

Well day 8 was a bit of a laugh as the buggers just didn't turn up. Considering the whole thing was supposed to be finished last Friday that really put us in a good mood. Not!

However, today they arrived and have made great progress, with the frame and most of the roof now up. It really gives a good idea of space when you stand inside and look out and I'm really pleased we went for floor to ceiling glass as you can see all of the garden.

The guys doing the work are great as well and really know their stuff - they're making a great job.

Conservatory Rebuild - Days 8 and 9 Conservatory Rebuild - Days 8 and 9 Conservatory Rebuild - Days 8 and 9 Conservatory Rebuild - Days 8 and 9

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Conservatory Rebuild - Days 6 and 7

Well it's supposed to be finished by now, but as you'll see it still very definitely a work in progress!

The guys turned up on Monday (20/08/2007) to fit the kitchen door and do the fascia. For some reason the double doors weren't yet ready so that was it until Friday.

Conservatory Rebuild - Days 6 and 7

It turns out the roof etc was still being built i.e. the surveyor went on holiday, forgot all about the job and the measurements weren't taken in time.

Double doors done yesterday and we think they look great, except for a slight crack in one of the panes of glass (being replaced Tuesday).

Conservatory Rebuild - Days 6 and 7 Conservatory Rebuild - Days 6 and 7

So Tuesday is the new date for them starting the home run....