Money’s too tight to mention
So money’s too tight to mention, so I won’t mention it.
I need a plumber, an electrician and a builder but having no readies presents its own set of problems, I would have to just soldier on and find some way – eventually – of sorting this out. Ideally I would find some financing but failing that it would have to involve some shuffling of debts and then hopefully I could have a few pounds to hand. All I need to do is get the kitchen and living room finished, then I could apply for a re-mortgage, however this was beginning to get a bit like Catch 22. The funding needed to complete the kitchen/bathroom and the trades, materials and gizmos this involved, plus the repayments on my loans quick firmly outstripping my cash flow availability.
Still soldiering on though.
My house was moving on, unfortunately my garden wasn’t, what had been reasonably trim a month or so ago was now incredibly overgrown. Triffids and man-eating nettles were stalking the postman, I’m sure I’d seen a tiger lurking in there earlier. I’ll have to keep an eye peeled for American dentists. My garden had rapidly gone through being the scruffiest in the village, it was now being sneered at by passing vagrants, the thistles being large enough to be seen over the bonnet of my car as I parked on the verdant driveway. It was all a bit embarrassing.
Anyway the work was slowly coming on, this was a slow period of the job, the floor was always going to be the biggest job and a right trudge it was too. Half the family room subfloor was done and only a couple of nasty jobs to do before I could start over and do the next half of the room. However have you ever had one of those jobs that you just don’t want to do and it drags on and on, taking ages before you can muster the effort to start the darn thing. Well I had a week of procrastinating before I finally got my wits about me and started on the air vent and floor levelling. I’d not wanted to do them, the floor levelling could turn into a nightmare and the vent I knew would become very involved.
Basically the floor levelling was a product of my new beam ends. I’d worked hard and gone at them big time with a spirit level and I was sure I’d got them all pop on, I’d done the levelling and then I’d fitted the subflooring and insulation. So having finished all this work and standing back and admiring it I’d noticed that one beam in particular seemed a bit higher than the rest. Why this had happened – I actually blame pixies – I haven’t got a Scooby Do but it was higher and a couple of other bits now seemed a bit out of kilter too (not my doing these, honest guv). This could be ignored or sorted, I preferred the sorting option but the resolution would probably be pretty nasty.
Sitting quietly with a cup of tea one morning I gave it the job my full attention and my hardest concentration settings – it had taken days to get to this stage, I really didn’t want to do it. The first option was to plane it down, but this would weaken the joist, it would be tricky and it would involve lots of work. Another option was to dismantle the floor, re-jig it then reassemble but this would take flipping ages, would have wasted lots of materials and I reckoned it would have compromised the structure of the floor. The final option was to jack up the floor and remove some packing, this however would probably damage the insulation, it would cause to subfloor to twist – as it would essentially be lower at one joist – and it could prove dangerous for a blokey working by himself with a ton of floor resting on one jack.
My tea had long gone cold and I was still no closer to a remedy when eureka… I happened on the idea of simply doing what I’d done in the bedroom upstairs, why this hadn’t occurred to me sooner I couldn’t think? This bedroom floor had been all over the place and where it was too high I’d suspended the plywood subfloor on structural battens between the joists and packed it up where it was too low, simples… no s**t Sherlock. It was still a job that was pretty labour intensive but it was doable.
Anyway the job that needed tackling first before any flooring could be done was the air box. Well that’s what I’ve just christened it anyway, the boxed-in area of the floor catering to the air vent in the outside wall. Now take note, I’ll be asking questions later but basically a Victorian house works by breathing, under the floor there’s a sprinkling of air vents that allow fresh air to flow from the outside world into the cavity under the floor. These vents are necessary to the happy workings of my Victorian home, they cannot be blocked and if blockage were to happen then my void under my floor would become a zone of festering dampness, eating into the fabric of my subfloor, it would be the home of snails, slugs and Gollum, just not good, it needed sorting.
Now a vent and just not blocking up of the vent shouldn’t pose a problem but my vent didn’t vent directly into the void under the floor, it vented into the space between the floor joists… bother. What would have been a simple exercise now became much more work and lamentably involved lots of use of damp proof course sheeting and the extremely icky double sided DPC tape. I could simply have boarded in over the hole near the vent and then just got on with it but noooo not me, that would be against my religion. I’d made my mind up to insulate the floor, so by Heavens I would insulate this floor section too, no simple capping off, this area was extra-draughty it would need insulating. Also further to my pedantry… although a hundred years had come and gone without the floor joists being affected by the damp cold air flooding into the vent, there was a teeny chance that it could perish the timber, so I wasn’t taking any prisoners, I would damp proof it, I would damp proof it well and then by Jingo I would insulate it too.
So to begin with I had already boxed in the area around the vent with a neat structural timber batten forming a neater rectangular frame, big enough to provide oodles of airflow into the void underneath the floor. I had tinkered with the idea of a plastic periscope affair that one could get from the local builders’ yard, this would achieve the same results but it all looked a bit Heath Robinson, it was expensive and I thought it was a bit narrow too to allow the entrance/egress of airflow. I then lined this frame with double sided DPC tape, sticking to it, ruining scissors, getting gunked up etc. I then lined underneath and above the hole with a frame of DPC and then fixed sheets of DPC to this tape hence forming a weather tight seal over the wooden frame. I then belted and braced the full affair by roof tacking it into place and foil taping the edges for extra security. The top DPC tape I left uncovered so as it would form an airproof seal when the top layer of subfloor was applied to it.
I then cut out the cover for the frame from the sheet that would become the top layer of the subfloor. A panel that would pop out to expose the frame underneath, I cut it a little larger than the framed hole itself so it could rest on the frame. This panel I then covered with DPC and I tacked the DPC into place, once this was done I cut a piece of foil-backed insulation to the exact size of the hole, I fixed it to the panel and then covered this too in DPC, once constructed I dropped this into the top subfloor plywood layer – that had been recently fitted to the newly levelled joists – and it fitted perfectly, the insulation dropping into the hole and forming a tight seal and the DPC tape gripping the panel once it was screwed into place.
While this was all in progress I was simultaneously levelling out the floor shouldering up and smoothing out, lots of measuring and fitting of noggins, still at the end of the day my error was sorted and the others that I presumed were always there were all lovely and horizontal, to the micro-metre, well near enough. The air box was now fitted, it was tight as a drum and the floor was lovely and level and ready for the top floor of pine tongue and groove.
The void between the joists, the bit above the plywood pinned to the bottom of the joists and the plywood subfloor above the joists was filled with Knauf Ekoroll insulation. The gaps was 115mm, the roll was 100mm so I packed in two layers, in future I’d be buying 170mm roll, this would more than suffice, the 200mm was a bit too much. The end bits of the joists that butted up to the wall were protected by the DPC I had fitted earlier around the room, however I was still unhappy about the Ekoroll resting right on the outside wall (well apart from the DPC), so to satisfy dissatisfaction I added cut sections of foil-backed sheet insulation, fixing them in place with screws, washers and sealing up the edges with foil-tape, luvely jubbly.
Anyway another weekend gone and I had barely completed 5/6 of the bay window subfloor top layers, I still had another nasty bit to do (tackled this last night, I only got half done and it took two hours to do this) and hopefully once the bay was done the rest of the – level – floor would be a breeze.
Touching wood now.