Tuesday, 29 November 2016

It never rains but it pours...

...or be careful what you wish for: An everyday tale of renovation folk.

So, Thames Water came, saw and conquered over the weekend and we now have water pouring in torrents from every tap.

(And while I'm on the subject of TW, I was shocked, horrified even, at the behaviour of the people in cars that had been stopped by the traffic lights that were necessary because the workmen were digging up the road. Come on, people, surely we're not all that busy, rushed and stressed that we can't sit quietly in a traffic queue for two minutes without hooting our horns and shouting abuse at the workmen?  After all, this isn't New York but rather a sleepy market town in Wiltshire.  On a Sunday, for goodness sake. No?  Oh. OK.)

But now it turns out that the shower tray can't cope with the water flow.  Well, more precisely, the drain can't cope and so the bathroom is flooding.  (A modicum of artistic licence being employed here for illustrative purposes - in reality, the bath mat is really getting quite soggy.)

I'm living in hope that it's simply a job for Mr Muscle and we won't have to dig up the bathroom floor to replace the drains with bigger ones.

Famous last words...?

Sunday, 27 November 2016

If You Can't Stand the Heat...

I haven't reported on kitchen progress for a while.  We are crawling, crawling towards the finish line.  By Friday of last week, we couldn't bear it anymore.  We cleared up, moved in the bar stools, lit candles (still no power other than the one socket that feeds the wonderful Aga) and sat drinking a glass of wine in our almost finished kitchen. (Excuse the blurred photos - I'd like to claim a deliberate soft focus for romantic effect but it's actually just hopeless photography!)

The black quartz work tops were fitted on Monday.  Needless to say, it wasn't straightforward.  The sections either side of the aga wouldn't fit. Either a) the measurements were wrong; b) the weight of the pretend chimney had moved everything down; or c) the heat of the aga had caused everything to swell. The worktop fitters wanted to sort it but I persuaded them to contact Toby, our kitchen fitter.

He came out on Wednesday and sorted it all out.  Shaving a bare millimetre of wood off the cabinets in order to enable the quartz slab to slide in.

Gary has been painting like a mad thing and now there is just a section of ceiling that needs repainting because the touch up paint was a slightly different shade to the original. (You'd think brilliant white would be brilliant white whatever the make, but obviously not!)

So, jobs to do: the lining of the original cupboards and fitting of new shelves, including glass shelves for the open cupboard; the lighting; the electrics.  And some odd bits of painting.  My fingers are firmly crossed that we will be moving in next week.  But for now, this is how it looks in the daylight.

Loving the cutlery drawers - brown velvet! (Well, brown felt.)

Saturday, 26 November 2016

A Hole in One...Two...Three...?

On Monday, Thames Water came to sort out our connection to the water main.  A new 60mm pipe was to be fitted to increase the water flow to our house and make it more fitting for the distance that the water has to travel, thereby increasing the pressure.  Or something.

They arrived on Monday, the traffic lights having been waiting at the side of the road for a week.  They dug the hole. Then, despite the fact that someone had been the week before to undertake a survey of the job, they decided the road was too busy to proceed, packed it all up and went away again, leaving the hole.  They would be back on Saturday, they said.

On Thursday, Joe, the heating engineer, came rushing in to say that they were filling in the hole.  I rushed out.  "But you haven't done anything with that hole yet, other than dig it. Are you sure you want to fill it in?"  It turned out that they had a permit for the hole that was only valid until Thursday.  And they would be fined.  Obviously, it was more cost-effective to re-fill the hole than to risk the fine. And they were only contractors so what did they care. So they filled it back in, re-tarmac'd the pavement and drove off.

On Saturday, they arrived back to re-dig the hole. 

No wonder our water bills are so high when this level of inefficiency prevails.

Thames Water Brand Activation - Enjoy the Irony!
I feel the urge to write a letter of complaint but am comforted by a story of an encounter between Thames Water and my dear friend, S, in London. She had issues with a leak in her cellar and, after much ado over a number of months, she rang to speak to the man in charge. "What's his name?" she asked the woman who answered the 'phone.  "I'll spell it for you", she replied.  "It's Mr K.H.U.N.T." "Mr K. Hunt?" "No, it's all one word."

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Kitchen: Week 2 Day 1

Monday was an odd day.  From having had a kitchen on Friday, it returned to being a building site. The kitchen fitter came, oiled and fitted the worktop on the island.  It looked lovely. (Phew!) And then it had a board put over it and was all covered over to protect it from the plastering of the mock chimney and the lobby, and the painting of the walls, turning them from white to off white.

The other big thing to happen was the arrival of the window. We had been given permission to raise and replace one of the windows.  And don't panic all you old house purists, it was a relatively recent and not very nice window with plastic secondary glazing.  The window man was due to arrive at 12.30.  At 2.30, I persuaded S to chase him on the telephone, knowing that S is much better at being cross than I am!  Window man said that he would be with us at 3.30. He arrived at 4.

Remember it is November and not only is it getting dark at 4, it was also freezing cold.  It took him until 9pm to fit the window because, oddly enough, the window aperture wasn't straight, although the window was.  It was a choice of cutting the window or cutting the wall.  He went for the wall.  For most of the evening, we had a gaping hole, exposing us to the elements. The trip from hall to kitchen was like entering the Arctic Circle.

The other thing to worry about was that he had to access the window from the inside. Toby, the kitchen fitter, had put a board on the units to protect everything until the worktops arrive.  He had written on the bit over the sink - Do not kneel on this.  It was clear and non-negotiable. But window man had to in order to reach the window from the inside.  Luckily, the builders were on hand to put long scaffolding boards on top, spreading his weight and protecting the sink, dishwasher and fridge, which probably aren't strong enough to take the weight of a window man.

A bit of a low point all round.  But, when I took these pictures of the window the next day, my optimism returned.  It looks good.  Too white and bright at present but, once it is painted and quietens down, all will be well.  It looks good from the outside too.  I will try to remember to go outside to get you a picture.

Gary the painter in his camouflage gear - I walked past him twice with his cup of tea!

The covered island

The plastered 'chimney' with the new window to the left

The lobby awaiting plastering and the aga swathed in plastic (sadly, but perhaps fortuitously, switched off) 

The stripped doors - to be painted and refitted

The lobby

And the window in all its glory

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

K Plus 3

By Thursday, we had a kitchen on our hands. Fancy taking a look?

The front of the island 
The back of the island, where the bar stools will go
The island being inspected by Sprocket

The view from the back of the island to the aga

And from the front to the aga

The run of units by the window

The view as you enter from the lobby

Inside the cupboards either side of the aga

Each of the top drawers has this lovely velvet (or something!) lined cutlery organiser (or whatever they're called)

Look - a fridge!

And a dishwasher!

The sink, underneath its protective board

The bins, which are in the island

The Kitchen Inspector

These shelves will be glass and lit up

These cupboard doors will be painted to match the kitchen (dove grey)

Nothing much happened on Friday, apart from the electrician doing something in the top cupboard of the three above, moving a circuit board or something. So, this was the state of play by the end of Week One.  What will next week bring, we wonder.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

K Plus 2

And this is where we had got to by the end of Wednesday.  The island had appeared.  The doors were ready to be rehung, the extractor fan was in, as were the fridge, dishwasher and sink.  

Friday, 4 November 2016

K Plus 1

Progress on Day 2.  More of the run of units by the sink have been fitted.  Then the electrician came to set up the wiring for the 'fridge, dishwasher and extractor fan.  The 'chimney' was created and plaster-boarded.  It looks massive at the moment but will look much less obvious when painted, I think.

I hadn't envisages that the units to the side of the aga would be so big.  But I'm pleased that they are.  I will take you on a guided tour of the cutlery drawers and inside of the cupboards soon, fear not!

The view to the lobby with sink on the left and aga on the right

The aga with 'chimney' above - doesn't look quite so startling in this picture - phew!

The aga with the added interest of some boxes

Still no island but plenty of boxes

The units to the left of the sink