Friday, September 30, 2011
Anyway, the reason I'm showing you this is because I've been to the bathroom shop this afternoon, where Roger the tap and Keith the click clack have been looking at our plans and weighing up my amateur bathroom designing skills, which are only marginally better than your average orang-utan might achieve with the same pencil.
The Matki Essence valve is non-negotiable, you see. Despite the price, this is not a corner that can be cut or a saving that can be made and the reason for this is because the Matki Essence has been winking at me since 2004 and would have been fitted in our last project around that time if our budget hadn't then run away with itself, much as it's doing at the moment. In fact, the Matki Essence is beginning to feel a bit like Warner Brothers' Road Runner - always just out of reach of Wile. E. Cayote, only this time the Cayote is me and I'm going to catch it.
'You can't fit it on a wall' says Roger the tap. 'Well, not on an external wall - it has to go on a stud wall.' I hadn't a clue about this, so it's a good job I went to the bathroom shop because the other option is to buy all of this stuff online where nobody is going to advise you about what goes where.
'And your stud partition is blocking your light' he points out, quite rightly - just in time to save the said partition wall from being built and rendering the corner of the en-suite our very own black hole of Calcutta.
I like this bathroom shop. Keith the Click Clack lives round the corner from me. He noticed the postbox had been knocked down, but he's willing to forgive me because he likes my new roof. You don't get that online either. Long live the local business.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
I was trying to work out what light this used to service this morning - it's difficut to tell with the old kitchen in such a mess but suffice to say the old electrics are hanging (quite literally) from the rafters and I don't fancy plugging the toaster in. Tate and Dan (the brickies) were on site again this morning and I'm pleased to confirm that the cement mixer was mixing cement rather than washing their undies as I'd suspected. Oddly for a builder, Dan is afraid of the electrics and having to curl this flex up into the ceiling sent him white. Can't say I blame him, but then I don't work on a building site, I work in a prison, where I'd be buggered if the jangling of keys had the same effect.
Our project manager turned up at 9.15 to discuss the splitting of the largest bedroom, which is a great room but can't really accommodate an en-suite bathroom due to it's location, which is just about as far away from the plumbing as it could get. The room will be split in a 2/3 arrangement to provide guest bedrooms but the builders need to know where to put the dividing wall.
Next up we met with 'Gary the Window' (I think all people ought to be known by their trade, which is why we've dubbed Ella's swimming teacher 'Sue the Fish'. Of course, this makes Dr B 'Will the Gas', though in the circumstances I'd be surprised if he had grounds for protest). Gary asks me where I want the window openings and which bits need obscure glass. Does the garage need an opener? Probably not. What about obscure glass in the utility room? Erm I'm not sure.
After Gary leaves, it's onto the central heating, which I suppose involves 'Graham the Pipe'. Carl has given us a quote of £5,000 to replace the boiler and heating, but £5,000 is a 'PC sum', which means 'provisional cost' and could go up or down according to exactly what's required. At this late stage, a 'PC sum' needs ironing out, especially with the possibility of paying for a new roof, which is why we've asked to talk to Graham. Carl assures us it won't go up, but Graham has the look of a man who knows the cost of a Worcester boiler and I'm prepared to believe that could change.
The older part of the house needs new central heating since the radiators are 50 years old and no longer effecient (or attractive). Graham calls them 'rads', which is builder-speak - a whole language of it's own which I'm sure they no longer realise they use. Dr B uses similar doctor-speak for his green tubing and anaesthetic gases and I just nod enthusiastically and look like it's making sense (if you look confused, a lengthy explanation ensues and I've learnt to cut my losses).
Graham measures each room and calculates the cubic area and the number of external walls, which gives him the 'BTUs' required to heat it. This allows him to choose the right sized radiator, something I'd never given any thought to until we began this project. Some new radiators will be in new positions, some walls will be left free of radiators where vertical ones are used to save space. The porch will finally get some heating, which means we'll no longer have to suffer freezing cold boots and tossing coins to see who's turn it is to open the front door in the winter.
And then there's the new boiler, talk of which leaves me totally confused because try as I might, I can't get my head round 'unvented' systems and combi boilers and condensers. I try to look knowledgable but all I really know is that condensers have run-off pipes and they're prone to freezing in the winter, which means you ought to have wider pipes and lag them if they're in a cold place. Everything else I know has been gleaned from 'Which' magazine, who seem to change their mind about everything every other week - I'm trusting that Dr B and Graham's muttering about the heating system will keep us warm and keep the pipes from freezing. After that I really can't get excited about it.
With Graham measuring the rooms, Carl turns his attention to the issue of venting our cooker hood. Our hob will be on the central island, but unfortunately this is situated directly beneath those steel beams and we've been wondering for quite some time whether we'll be able to run the venting system to an outside wall or whether we'll have to buy a 'recirculating' extractor hood, which I've heard don't work very well despite being more expensive. My understanding is that the vent can run to any outside wall but can only have one or two turns (or 'elbows') otherwise it won't work properly. Of course, Carl sees the solution immediately - we'll vent it to the nearest wall and the vent will run alongside the steel. Despite scratching our heads for several months, we were totally unable to see this solution, which is why Carl builds houses and we don't.
The final point to discuss was the new roof, which has become more important since I saw the lovely new grey one that's on a house round the corner. Once you've seen something you could do, it becomes increasingly important that you do it. I think Carl thinks the same - he wants to replace the roof because it will provide a better finish to the job. Eventually we agree a price we can afford and we're officially going grey - hurrah!
By eleven o'clock we'd installed ourselves in a cafe with bacon butties and a plan for the rest of the day. First off, a visit to the kitchen designer to tell him about the 'Elephant's Breath' and the 'Bianco Sardo' granite and our decision against the Quooker, which is one of those instant hot water taps that look fantasic but cost a minimum of £500. He also needs to cost up our appliances and the units for the utility room, another 'PC sum' that's floating about on our spreadsheet.
Afterwards we headed to bathroom shops, by which point I'd started to flag and found the only place to sit was on an actual toilet, which drew quizzical stares from passers-by. The assistant in the first shop showed us an oval basin that looked lovely but we concluded would be 'too splashy' and a tap that swiveled from side to side but looked 'too shonky.' And then she asked me whether I wanted a 'click' waste or a 'push' waste and I had to admit that by this point I'd struggle to choose between 'bacon' and 'eggs' and would quite like a 'plug' and a 'plug hole', which have apparently gone out of fashion since I last looked.
And then skirting boards were chosen (lamb's tongue design if you're interested) and we arrived home to find tile samples from the Winchester Tile Company, which we've decided are probably worth the expense, especially if they really were knitted on board the Al Fayed yacht.
Nine more weeks to go.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Already I'm seeing a belfast sink with one of those stretchy hose-type taps for washing muddy wellington boots. I'm seeing labelled boxes stacked neatly into cupboards. Stain removers, light bulbs, batteries. If you're reading, Philippa McFarlane, this is all your fault.