Monday, December 12, 2011


It's been a while since I posted any progress on the blog; I've been too busy stressing out about the fitting of the bathrooms and finishing the small bits of the job before the carpets arrived.

Terry the driveway has almost finished - a few days late since some terrible weather consisting of hailstones, thunder, rain and rainbows and not much else in between, and yet despite this he's soldiered on with his hood up and his flask of tea. The results are one wonderful patio and gorgeous driveway. A man who walks his dog stopped me on the pavement today and told me our house is 'the best renovation we've ever seen on the estate.' Another man touched me on the arm last week and complimented me on a 'beautiful job.' I'm so proud of what we've managed to achieve with this ugly old wreck that nobody wanted to buy.

I'm happy to report that the tiler finally 'finished the job', though as I remarked previously, he was spinning too many plates and made some mistakes around the shower area in our ensuite, which led to our beautiful Matki shower valve being fixed to the wall with white silicone when it ought not to be - the plumber was trying to cover for the tiler's mistake but my eyes don't miss much and unfortunately for him I spotted the mistake immediately (as well as several of his other mistakes like radiators that didn't actually warm up). Fortunately he returned to fix the radiators two hours before the carpet fitters arrived because his 'fixing' involved messing up our paint by spraying yellow and brown liquid over the walls and skirting boards and creating little puddles on the floor. It was purely by co-incidence that he came and that the carpet fitters were 3 hours late. Anyway, the mosaic tiles look lovely (see the picture) and I'm just waiting for somebody to fix the shower door he's botched and we've got yet more bathroom tiles on order from Spain.

By the time the plumber left I was ready to chuck everyone out of the house. Never mind that Matt the spark hadn't told us how the underfloor heating works (he'll be back...) or that the washing machine isn't plumbed in. By Saturday evening I'd reclaimed the keys and by Sunday I'd lifted all that cardboard and chipboard that was protecting the floors and seen how great the Amtico looked. We've a few more jobs to do. We're exhausted. The house is truly fantastic.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Go Slow

This is pretty much the face I've been seeing in the mirror since Friday. Having miscalculated the number of tiles we needed for both bathrooms, our tiler has been struck down with some little-known 'slowing down' disease which has left him unable to finish our job. I like him a lot, but he's spinning too many plates and it's beginning to stress me out. The extra tiles for the en-suite had to come from Spain and we'd been making frantic calls about them all week. On Friday morning they were on a ferry but still managed to arrive in Altrincham by tea time, which left Dr B scooting over there to retrieve them in time for the tiler to finish the job this weekend.

Except our tiler had other ideas because the uncertainty over our tiles arriving (which would have been here on time if he'd calculated them right) meant he'd been promised on another job for Saturday, though as our project manager told us, all was not lost because he was coming to finish the en-suite on Sunday and 'wouldn't be leaving until the job was finished.'

On Saturday night I found him at the said 'other job' where I handed him the keys and he confirmed he was due on site in the morning but that he'd only be staying until 6pm because he had to go and screed somebody's floor. The latter comment led to two large gins and a lie down because by now I'm just a teeny bit stressed about the carpets arriving on Friday next week and 'leaving when it's finished' was starting to sound like a bit of a fib designed to keep me sweet. He could tell I wasn't happy because he used the line he always uses when I don't look happy, the line that goes 'we'll have a good day at it tomorrow.' He's promised several 'good days at it' in the last few weeks but none of these 'good days' has finished any of the work off.

This morning I arrived on site to finish some bits of painting that have been hanging over - patches of walls where the plaster hadn't dried in time; a bedroom wall that needed a third coat. It was 10am when I arrived and the tiler had just started work, only he hadn't started work because he'd forgotten to bring any tile spacers to work, which is a bit like turning up at work without your actual head if you're a tiler, so he'd sent his son off to get some and he was having a brew and a fag instead, complaining that somebody had made off with the plywood he'd ordered to tile our mosaic splashback. I suggested he would have to get some more plywood if he was going to finish the mosiacs but I'm not sure he heard me because no plywood was sent for and in the time it took his son to get back with the tile spacers I'd managed to touch up two rooms and wash the brushes.

By 11.30 still no work had been done and his son got back with the tile spacers, at which point I heard him complain that he'd been on site for two hours without doing any work. And then it was time for a fag break.

As soon as work commenced, there was a problem with the spacing of the aluminium brackets holding up the quartz. I didn't understand the logistics (or the measurements) because this was a part of the project that Dr B had been involved in and Dr B was incommunicado because I'd despatched him to the local swimming pool with the children so I could get on with painting some walls.

So Dr B was duly bleeped and turned up with two wet-haired children at lunchtime, at which point we swapped cars and I drove the children home while he worked out what the problem with the brackets was (later reported as 'nothing') and went off to get some plywood so the tiler could get on with the mosaics. By two o'clock he was back home reporting that the room seemed mainly finished with just the floor and mosaics to do - the tiler would drop the keys off to us around 7pm and the job would be ready for the plumbers to finish tomorrow.

The keys were dropped at 7pm as arranged. Our tiler had that look on his face that said he hadn't finished the job (I have come to recognise this face because he's pulled the same one every time he's promised to 'have it finished by the end of the day' and he's been on the job for about 3 weeks now). 'We've not had a good day,' he said as he stood in the porch. I can't honestly tell you why they hadn't had a good day because I couldn't hear a word he was saying with all the shouting and swearing going on in my head, much of which ended with 'sake'. Suffice too say, they yet again haven't managed to get the job finished. He looks almost as stressed as I do. I'm not totally confident I don't need to look for somebody who can 'stay until it's finished.'

Friday, December 2, 2011


Today is the fifth day we've had the pavers on site and in that time, they've dug the site out, stoned it up and begun laying the patio. Looks remarkably like the patio we had in our last house only the Marshall's flags we had there were roughly twice the price of this stuff, which is actually granite - we couldn't believe this stuff was cheaper.

The builders have been back today, though I'm reluctant to give them the keys that John Lewis have handed in as I'm getting tired of the place being a building site and having the keys does give you some sort of control. I'll have to hand them back on Monday but until then it feels like our house again.

Yesterday they got some scaffolding up the side of the house to replace the barge boards and chimney cowl as well as repointing the chimney stack.

Carpets go in a week today. Two weeks today, we'll be home. To our lovely new home.


It's taken five days, but handing our keys over to John Lewis has produced this lovely Amtico floor and we're really chuffed with it. It's called 'Fresh Oak' and all I want to do is look at it. The flooring runs into the utility room and hallway and is now covered with layers and layers of cardboard, sponge and plywood to prevent it being damaged by the workies, who seem to breathe dust and rubble of the sort it's not designed to handle.

Funny - the minute you install a floor, it all starts to come together.