Builders and plumbers plus the school trip
Again I was very aware that things were not getting done, the family room was taking forever, finance was a worry and I had to make some progress, so I took a week off work as a holiday. This week was not only to get some building progress done but it was also in an effort to get my debts and a new mortgage sorted out.
Money matters are always a nasty pill to swallow when working on a project. Builders don’t come cheap, neither do rather over-specified central heating systems, throw in a horse making mincemeat out of your motor, a garage roof blowing away and the credit card bills soon start to tumble and fall through your letterbox. My plan for the project –as I didn’t have any readies to hand – was to finance the whole deal using zero percent credit cards, this had worked well to start with, zero percent means zero charges, lovely jubbly….. Well lovely until it all goes a bit awry and the unplanned monies start etching more zeros onto the bill. It had all got a bit out of hand.
Couple this with mortgage companies being wary about outstanding credit card debt and there’s a bit of a recipe for disaster brewing there, a nasty catch 22 in that in order to get out of debt one shouldn’t be in debt.
Anyway that’s all being handled…. I’ll get around to that once it’s all been sorted.
So pressing on with the project there were a couple of elements that would perhaps need professional help:
- The chimney conversion for the range cooker – I could get someone in or I could press on with a sledgehammer.
- The downstairs radiator manifold – I could try to do this myself or I could get the lovely Brian the plumber in to do it for me.
The chimney DIY idea… it was possible that I could do it myself but much pondering later and I decided to bring in the services of Ray and his grandson Damon the builders. I’d previously managed to get a quotation from them for the chimney and a soil pipe for the downstairs privy so they were ready to go, just give them the nod. The work for the chimney would be a not unreasonable £700, but it was £700 that I didn’t have and it was only with the grace and generosity of my folks that I managed to cobble the cash together.
The work started the week before I started my holidays and took the pair of them five or so days to complete. It did take up two days of my holidays, I didn’t like to be around while they were doing manly things with plaster and hammers so I melted away while they were onsite. It cost me a couple of days of my precious free time but they did sterling work and five days of two men working for £700 was pretty excellent.
What they most importantly did was save the entire project though, as if I’d pressed on with my sledgehammer it would have been likely that I could have brought the whole house down. One night I’d turned up just as they were finishing work and they asked if I’d wanted some stones removing or a lintel fitting, I preferred the stone removal – as it was cheaper. The next day I arrived and a lintel had been fitted, I postponed my thoughts as I was sure that there would be a good explanation and sure enough Ray later told me that the stone they’d nearly removed was supporting a leaf that was holding up the entire gable end. There was also the other lintel in the chimney supporting the room division they’d put in the previous year. It could/would have been a disaster if I’d gone in swinging my sledge’.
Anyway Ray and Damon were brilliant, not only brilliant builders but lots of entertainment. I say I stayed out of there way but I did spend a few hours chewing the fat with them. Ray is a great storyteller and full of tall tales, he’s had a zillion different careers, owning a pub, selling cars, being a bodybuilder are just the tips of his career iceberg. Damon is great too and the pair of them make a double act, they’re just a great pair of guys.
Not only that they saved my bacon.
The plumber was a more difficult decision as I was quite sure I could do the work, but I knew it would take me ages and I would have to purchase new tools such as a pipe bender etc. It turned out that I was very glad that I did get Brian in. Again it cost me a day of working on the house as I didn’t really want to be around too much while Brian was working but the work he did was much tidier and achieved much more quickly than I could have done it. It turned out too that at £140 for the work it wouldn’t have been far off what it would have cost me for tools and materials.
Brian fitted the ground floor manifold for the radiators, this was part of my exotic heating system that allowed me to fit the radiators individually. Unfortunately the simplified fitting of the radiators meant a more drawn out fitting of the central manifold and it was important to me that it was done well, hence Brian the wonderful plumber. Brian without doubt is the most reliable plumber I’ve met, he turns out on time, he communicates well and as well as this he’s unphazed by my complex system and does a great job too.
The manifold was to be fitted to the under-stairs cupboard and needed a bit of woodwork installed to offer up a baseboard onto which the manifold could be pinned. A bit of bishing, bashing and boshing later and I had a nicely framed bit of plywood was ready for the manifold. I think I’d pushed and pulled it into position and an entire second passed before the back doorbell was rung and Brian was there ready to fit the manifold, timing or sheer coincidence, I’m just not too sure.
Anyway Brian did the job and by the end of the day he’d also fitted some of the pipework for the kitchen’s hot and cold water supplies. I would have to finish it all off but he did get that bit started too and in doing so he’d tackled the nasty bits I wasn’t too happy to do.
Anyway the contractors had done lots of good work that would have involved days if not weeks of my time and probably a vast insurance claim for a collapsed house too. Still despite all this I now only had around five days of my week of holiday left.
I don’t wish to make excuses too but I’m going to 🙂
My dream of self-employment would involve dropping Izzi off at school on a morning and picking her up at the end of the day. So when her Mum developed an ailment that involved medication making her too drowsy to drive, then I was quite happy to volunteer to drive Izzi back and forth to school each day. So my dream of taking my daughter to school and back and it only taking a quarter of an hour for each journey was finally a reality, how costly in time could it be. Well erm, it was pretty costly, my normal 8:30 starts had to be postponed till I got back from dropping her off and it meant dressing for the public, then dressing for work on getting back. Then later in the afternoon it was a de-scale and a quick brush up, put on the civvies again and off to the school in plenty of time not to miss her, then over to her Mum’s, a cup of tea and back and into the work gear…. phew. All in all brilliant and wonderful to see so much of my fantastic daughter but in reality it meant at least two hours out of the working day and generally the way it all stop-started it meant that five two or three hours shifts would become only two or three shifts. Buggerations 🙂
Anyway the remaining time of each of my remaining days were either spent on the phone to banks or in banks or working on the family room floor.
The floor had turned out to be a much bigger job than I had intended, so far it was nearly two months of unpleasant work and it was now coming to a close. There were still lots of jobs to do in routing pipework, electrical cable (Ray had kindly routed in the cooker and cooker hood cables into the inglenook) and networking and still lots of jobs to do with the insulation too and these took up a lot of time. What I had estimated as four hours work insulating around the edges of the room and over the sleeper walls turned into a full twelve hour stint.
There were also jobs thrown in that I didn’t expect to have to do, lots of these involved sacks of concrete, filling in gaps that were begging to be filled in and general concreting of things that I hadn’t thought might need concreting. The list just went on and on.
By the end of the week my intended target to get the room up to a point where I was decorating hadn’t been reached. I was a bit disappointed but I knew that I had thrown myself, mind, body, soul and any other throwable bits into the time allotted. I would be lying if I were to say that I’d not had one or two (or three) lazy moments when a bit of daytime TV hadn’t lulled me under its spell and work hadn’t progressed for a half hour or so, but generally I did about as much as I could under the circumstances.
On the final Sunday before returning to work I did an epic day of work, my only consolation would be a hot bath at the end of the day (after two days without bath or shower – I don’t have a shower yet – so I was a bit grubby) followed by a ready-meal curry. I worked my bits off that Sunday and at the end I drew my bath and climbed in to find it very cold, my heating oil had ran out, buggerydoo 🙁
At least the curry was warm.
I think these things are deliberately set to test me y’know 🙂
I wrote up this summary, I got to Thursday before I ran out of energy, Friday and Sunday being far too busy for any typing I reckon.
It gives an idea how the week unfolded:
Builders over and plaster boarding chimney, I had Izzi all day at my folks.
Not really too motivated, worked on routing radiator pipes a particularly nasty job
Took up floor in downstairs corridor
Struggled with lots of nasty work
Fitted new display adapter to computer to ease out of the day
Builders over plastering fireplace
Dropped off and picked up Izzi
Didn’t get home till too late to do any work
Paid the builders
Spent time chatting to them
Filed credit card statements
Got up and took Izzi to school
Trip to Tesco (food shop) then Screwfix (H02 fittings, SDS drill and bits) then B&Q (concrete)
Home unpacked and photos of fireplace and shopping
Tidied up the kitchen (moved all the tools and fittings), tidied around and sorted out the washing
Filled up hole under hearth found another hole in corner and filled that
Picked up Izzi
Home and tried wood battens for door and corner
More cement in B&Q
Fixed in battens with concrete
Took Izzi to school
Worked on the house – drilling holes with new drill for central heating and kitchen water supply
Removed shuttering and battens on the concrete
Picked up Izzi
Izzi swimming lesson
Went to parents and watched Arsenal beat Spurs 2 -1
Phoned Brian who confirmed he could come the next day
Scanned lots of bank statements and sent them to YB
Started on a frame for the manifold
Got up and didn’t have to drop off Izzi today so I started work straight away on the manifold frame
Fitted it just when Brian arrived
Brian cracked on with the manifold while I sorted out the payment and then picked up Izzi
Brian half-finished the work on the kitchen plumbing too
House now an absolute mess, the new lowest point
Worked on the evening routing pipes
Ordered more bits from Screwfix to finish off the job
Oil order lots of lovely cheap oil (a bit too late)
Rest of the week
Lots of stuff I forgot to record…. but generally builders and plumbers plus the school trip