A welcome hand or two
Gosh it’s been ages, I should have written this post up long ago, the promise of a catch-up report after the visit of my wonderful sibling and her equally wonderful hubby was very tempting, everything just dangling there and ready to tell and me just too busy to type it all up.
So here goes, weeks of work, lots of help and me poised ready to write it all up and ready to apologise for any inaccuracies or details missed out.
We left mydreamhouse in the balance, a thrilling conclusion, I’d got the room very nearly prepped for their visit, but not quite there yet. I had to at least get the panelling and skirting filled, sanded and painted before they could crack on and to this end I managed to engineer an evening out of nothing and relentlessly filled, sanded and applied the first coat of Dulux White Satinwood. No longer was the panelling a mix of Frankenstein-ian bodged and bolted parts but it became a seamless luxurious (steady on there, it was better than good at least ???? ) array of panels, excellently framing my tatty windows. The crazed and wholly awful paintwork on the skirting and panelling disappeared too, it did need a second coat on the morning of my sis’ and bro-in-law’s visit but once this had been applied it all looked great.
I must admit to having made a discovery too a mysterious super compound, I had tubes and tubes of the stuff but I’d not gotten around to using it. What am I talking of but the wonderful invention of decorators’ caulk. Gasp I hear you all gasp, “he’s not used caulk!” but hey I’m such a brilliant “filler” I’ve never seen the need for it. Anyway time was tight and after fitting the skirting board I needed to fill the gaps between wall and boards. I could have just filled the gaps with a bit of filler, then sanded and painted, as I’d normally have done, but time was tight. So in order to economise on the minutes I popped a tube of caulk into a gun and spread away, two minutes plus a bit of finger trickery later and hey-presto a perfect result. What was I thinking, what had I been ignoring? This was the stuff of witchcraft and would be used unsparingly in future, in fact that night a liberal spreading of caulk was applied to various gaps I’d been planning on filling and hadn’t gotten around to doing.
Thursday – two weeks back
Anyway prep’ work out of the way and on the Thursday morning sure enough bright and early my sister and bro-in-law arrived bright and early. I got on with the painting and they got on with… well they got on with everything…
They arrived with provisions and vittles, they even turned up with a vacuum cleaner knowing full well the amount of dust my work could produce, on Friday they even turned up with my parents and they managed to add to the work completed that day.
The plan was to get me out of living in the room I’d been using as my living room. This room was now virtually uninhabitable, the floor had been removed, it was freezing with the under-floor vents now venting directly into the room, there was no source of heat to offset this, the room was crazy deep in dust and furniture sat higgledy-piggledy on chipboard sheets set out on the exposed floor joists. I had been living in it for the spell between removing the floorboards to supplement the family room flooring and it had not been a pleasant couple of weeks.
The family room was nearly ready, well the living room end was nearly done anyway, we needed to get this all polished and shipshape ready for the move.
So while I set about painting the skirting and the panelling with its second coat of paint Sandra got on with tidying out my filthy bathroom and Russ set about finishing the wallpaper stripping in the bedroom planned for my daughter. Each was a nightmare job but basically we couldn’t get on with the family room until the paint had dried in there.
Russ had a terrible time with the wallpaper, the paper on the walls had come off quite easily during their previous visit but the ceiling was proving to be much more problematic. Despite the steamer it took hours and it was one of those nightmare jobs that I’m really grateful he’d undertook. The pair of them on that first day achieved incredible amounts of work with their industry. I cracked on with some other light jobs and they worked through the house like a dose of salts.
My house had – despite my best efforts – disappeared under a veil of dust. This dust had sprouted from my industry working under the floorboards in soil, sanding the floorboards and filling, chasing and sanding walls. The dust was a nightmare mix of plaster dust, brick dust and sawdust with some soil thrown in for good measure. However much I’d worked to keep the dust isolated in the room I was working in, it had managed to escape, there had always been that moment I’d forgotten to close a door, or when it had lounged on my overalls to visit new rooms, or when it had been in fine mist form and had sneakily drifted lazily around the house. It had got everywhere, the family room had been dusted but there was still dust aplenty, the old living room was a nightmare and the other rooms weren’t much better.
Sandra was to be found everywhere, dusting and hoovering, she was in the bathroom, tidying my bedroom, de-scaling the kitchen, she was a Tasmanian devil of cleaning. By the end of that day Russ had finally managed to crack the work in stripping the unstrippable wallpaper and Sandra had cleaned the whole house to death. My bathroom was a new room of avocado majesty, the kitchen had been started, the stairs were exposed and un-dusty and things were coming along great.
Along the way there was one casualty, the dust had just been too much and I’m sad to say that their wonderful Miele vacuum cleaner sucked its last suck. There was a terrific sound that one wouldn’t associate with a healthy hoover, a smell of burnt armature and it no longer sucked as a vacuum cleaner should. I felt pretty bad about their loss and resolve that one day I will return a healthy hoover to them, but as I’m as poor as a church mouse at the moment, then that day will have to be postponed until post-house-finished day.
Friday – two weeks back
Friday arrived and so did my folks along with Sandra and Russell. My Mum and Dad were a big help too, lighter duties but they did help out in getting the fireplace stripped of paint, cleaning of the kitchen, working on some windows and generally being Johnny on the spot for tea and biscuits.
Sandra and Russell though were on heavy duties, Russell moved his attention to my old living room, again another nightmare job he dusted every object in the room – and there were lots – and moved them to more appropriate pastures new. There were objects large and small, it was an awful job, not just by the nature of the dust and volume of work but the inhospitable cold of the room. As I’d only recently moved that room around in order to get to the floorboards I could appreciate the work that was required, he’d done mammoth amounts and his work physically got me into my new living room.
Sandra applied herself to getting the family room prepped, this meant sweeping and cleaning the floors, going around the dado, cornicing and walls and dusting them to an inch of their lives. She also set about the fireplace, painting the inglenook, stripping the paint from the fire and hearth and in doing she completed a job I’d put off for weeks.
While this was being done there was a constant parade of soft fabrics from the old living room into the washing machine and dryer. Everything in that room had become irradiated with dust, it wasn’t just a simple matter of a quick thwack with a thwacker, everything needed washing. So that meant all the chair covers, all the cushion covers, all the fabrics, even the dragon draught excluder.
In fact I nearly forgot to mention it but the large rug that had been in the living room had previously been transported to my parents before the visit. This had been washed and dried and was now no longer a dusty stained piece of ex-rug but a wonderful vibrant sweet-smelling rose of a rug. Sandra and Russ with some help – I’m sure – from my folks had managed to achieve the impossible and lift my rug back to its ruggy best.
So with Sandra working on the room and Russell working in a pincer movement emptying the other room, well things were coming together to get me into my family room.
By the afternoon I’d helped a little and had tidied up some of the paintwork and done this and that but Sandra and Russ had done their lions’ share of the work.
The room was now prepped and ready for the furniture. Russ and I manhandled in the sofa and the chair, we fitted the stretch covers and the cushions and their fresh covers were reunited on the arms of the two-piece suite. Russell had meticulously cleaned, disassembled and removed my TV and AV kit, it had all been polished and set to one site and we both reassembled it, patched it together and fired it up. The lamps and table were quickly erected and in what seemed no time at all – this to me is always a sign of good planning – it had become a fantastic living room.
It had all come together marvellously, what would have taken me months had been achieved in two days. Many hands make light work, not half….
I’m sure I’ve under-represented the work done by everyone, I cannot state how tough a task it was that Russell had done in the living room/bedroom, what Sandra had done around the house and the effort my parent’s had to show in their travails too. At the end of the day I even had Russell helping me lift heavy sheets of chipboard upstairs and shifting an enormous redundant radiator into the garage, he was fantastic. Sandra was a whirlwind, she worked on every room that Russell wasn’t in and basically she took my house from being a building site to be a liveable tidy abode. A bathroom and kitchen that would have taken me days were finished in less than one day, she’d even killed a top spec’ vacuum cleaner with her efforts to get the house dust free, everything that could have been conceivably done in a couple of days was done. My Mum and Dad too were great, work that Sandra did was supplemented by them, my Mum helped with the kitchen, my Dad helped with the fireplace and even scratched through an inch of plaster to find a window and window ledge.
By the time they’d all finished my house was now a hospitable place to be and not the dark side of the Moon.
The first evening after they’d left I tasked myself with chasing out the electrics in Izzi’s prospective bedroom and the next night I chased out the electrics in the living room. Each job was a very very dusty job, this time however I kept the rooms airtight and barely a flake of dust ventured into the main house.
The second evening upon moving into the family room and despite not having any curtains installed I fired up the fire, hired a movie on Box Office “The Martian” and watched it at 200 decibels until the early hours of the morning.
Saturday – two weeks back
The next day I checked Facebook and found a message from my lovely neighbour, timed 1am the night before, “Are you having a party over there”. Ooops, my house is detached and I’d never disturbed anyone with my loud movie viewing before, but this room being without curtains and only single-glazed seemed to be a bit leaky on the sound front.
There’s a bit in the movie where they play David Bowie’s song Starman. I don’t do a bad David Bowie and despite being five sheets to the wind I’d recalled standing to attention and singing along at the top of my lungs. David Bowie has only recently died and I could say that this was my tribute to him but really I just love singing, I thought no-one could hear, I don’t do a bad Bowie and most importantly I was rather squiffy.
I answered the messenger post with an apology, I expressed that I’d not known that they could hear me and I hoped they’d not heard too much. The reply was that they could hear every word, I’d kept them up till three and that my Bowie impersonation was good.
Erkkk…. I now need curtains and double glazing, how embarrassing.
By the way not only did San’ and Russ help out in my house but they also bottomed my Mum and Dad’s house, they even did my ironing and prepared the Sunday lunch for my visit on Sunday.
By the way I also managed to acquire a two-seater sofa from my little girl’s Nan, she was enormously generous and arranged delivery on the Sunday I was visiting my folks. She was wonderful enough to turn out with the van driver and make sure that it got into my house with little fuss. She’s a belting help too, the chair looks great in my family room and shows up my furniture somewhat.
Y’know I never should drink, I think I had four months without a drop last year. Not only did I embarrass myself and keep my lovely neighbours up all night but to add insult to injury a timber delivery I had booked from Travis Perkins awoke them early the next morning. Guess what too, who was in bed snoring away when the lorry turned up, having forgotten completely that he’d order more chipboard and insulation… well it wasn’t David Bowie.
Anyway, the driver that morning was a steadfast chap and managed to wake me with two calls on my mobile. He’d been instructed to just leave the wood and insulation on my doorstep when he’d initially not awoken me but kindly he’d chanced another call that had prodded me awake. I’d never got dressed more quickly in my life and in a semi-lucid stupor I soon found myself carrying large sheets of chipboard and insulation across the road avoiding traffic while blinking into the sunlight.
Anyway that morning little work was done and the rest of the weekend was spent at my parents, well Izzi does need to see her Aunt San’ and Uncle Russ once in a while.
Since then time has been short and I’ve only had one evening and a day to work on the house.
The evening was spent removing the bits of floorboard that had been left lodged under the skirting of the old living room. I’d then moved on to cutting and removing the pipework that had been part of the central heating in that room and after that I’d actually garden-raked the soil under the floorboards to take out any stones, wood and debris that would stick in my back while insulating the floor.
Sunday – last weekend
The Sunday last weekend was spent first on removing the panelling under the windows, I then painted it with liberal amounts of wood preserver. The wood preserver was then applied to the ends of the joists under the bay window, a sheet of damp-proof course was inserted under these joists and then I set about the insulation.
The insulation in this room wasn’t to be as elaborate as the family room but it wouldn’t be far off. There would be no spruce plywood supporting the tongue and groove on top but instead there would be a 22mm layer of structural Caberfloor chipboard. The void between the joists would be filled with insulation just like the family room but under the floor there would still be 25mm of PIR insulation, only this time there would be no sheet of plywood to attach the insulation to, the insulation this time would be fitted directly to the joists.
Anyway I had hoped to get the entire room insulated – well the PIR insulation fitted at least – that day, but after a promising start getting the panelling and joists water sealed it all decayed toward the end of the day. I’d managed to get the first half of the room insulated double quick, however the second half proved more problematic with the ground clearance being too short for my stubby little electric screwdriver. The only ways around this were to use a hand cranked stubby screwdriver – really tough – or to put the screws in at an angle – only slight improvement – or to use a round-the-bend extension on the driver. The extension worked fine but the extra load on the little driver proved too much for it and the battery barely lasted a handful of screws before it expired.
A promising start but the ground looks a little deeper elsewhere, hopefully I can get the insulation finished soon.