house – day 183 – 199 – the skip finally goes!

This is probably going to be a more compressed post than my previous one, but I hope to cover the highlights – that’s if there are any highlights in this quotidian chronicle.

[aside] I haven’t mentioned this before, but my blogging methodology for this torpid tale is primarily the reason for the infrequent posts of late. It involves me writing notes as draft posts on WordPress as soon as I can after a day’s work. When I get back to the flat (where my Mac is installed), I edit these notes into sentences. Adding whatever photos I have to illustrate progress and then retrospectively publishing the post, often several days after the event. That’s why several new posts may suddenly appear in a short time frame. It’s a method that worked well at the start, when I was commuting daily between the house and the flat, but now we’re staying at the house, the opportunities to write up posts is limited. Previously, when I left the house every evening, that would be my cue to takes some pictures. Now I’m here for a few days in a row, I keep forgetting to take any when we’ve finished the day’s tasks. The photos formed part of my note-taking. At the end of the working day we just stop what we’re doing and go to the pub, which means when I write stuff up, I have to remember a few days’ worth.[/aside]

Sunday (1 September)

We’re busy working in the large front bedroom, which is to be our home office. We want to get the room painted and floored so we can close another door on another room. (And get the office up and running). This, like everything else in the house is turning out to be a much longer process than anticipated. Partially, this was due to the paint on the cornice. This is the only upstairs room with a cornice and the top coat of paint (latex-based by the looks of it) has not stuck very well to the distemper underneath it. Instead of being able to give the cornice a light rub to key the surface for the new paint, I’ve had to remove the all the paint as it simply doesn’t stay in place. The fibrous plaster underneath the distemper is very soft, preventing the use of abrasives, so, with a knife and a spatula I peeled off all the paint a bit at a time. What I thought was going to be a two hour job took two days.  We’ve had a few other issues with bodged work, but now the room is painted, taking about three times longer than we anticipated. It was hot work painting, the weather has been unseasonably warm and this room has the sun for most of the day. And, as we work sweating up ladders and scaffold, we have the joy of watching everyone else walk down our road to enjoy the beach. It will be our turn next year. I now know we aren’t going to finish the house in time to catch the summer of 2013.

The skip’s still in the front garden although we’ve been asking for it to be taken away for a while now. People are still using our house as a dump, only now they’re not even bothering to put it in the skip, they’re just chucking it in the garden. I wish I could catch the bastards.

We’ve ordered furniture for our bedroom. We’ve had to buy new furniture. In our previous house, it was all built-in. When the new stuff arrives, I hope the house will start to feel much more like a home.


We’ve decided to get Marc in to plaster the remaining walls, they’re just in too poor a state to fix with filler.  The toilet needed plastering anyway, so Marc had to come in (he also had to finish off the external render around the doors and some odd patches. We couldn’t afford the time and money to get Paul back in to work his magic with resin and lining paper to give us a good surface to paint. Distemper has proven to be a problem on some of the walls walls so we’ve put (expensive) alkali-blocking paint on them before they get plastered. So far Marc has finished the toilet and rear reception, there’s just the main hall to do.


We got Paul (the tiler) back in to tile the toilet. Although it’s a small job, it’s now not even worth me considering doing it. Paul does it in a quarter of the time I’d take and his work is impeccable. Mine would look OK, but compared to Paul’s work, it’s like comparing League One to the Premiership. All I have to do to complete the toilet, is to install the pan and cistern, a relatively simple job (I hope).

We now have a solution  for the fireplace,. It is possible to add an extension to a conventionally-sized insert, in order to fill the tall aperture in the surround. We have a satisfactory quote from the Victorian Fireplace in Canterbury to complete the job – installation, fire, everything. I’ve also cleaned and cut the tiles I recovered from the old pantry to make the hearth for it, I think they’ll look pretty good.

Friday – Chris’s last day

Chris came back for a final day, he’s finished  the last few bits of snagging and all his stuff has gone. The work is complete and we now have a final invoice. Hurrah! And another, louder, hurrah – the skip has finally been taken away. Now it’s gone and I’ve chopped down the bushes hiding the front of the house, we can see it’s a decent-sized plot – about double the size of our previous garden. It might be worthwhile turning it into a parking spot, given the difficulties we have parking in summer. We’ll think about it.

Unfortunately, I’m having to take break from DIY. My mum has fallen and fractured her skull (she’s 80) and is in hospital, so we’re heading up to Sheffield, for a night to go and see her. Thanks to house issues for the last couple of years (tarting up the old one, selling it, buying a new one, renovating it), I haven’t been back north for over 18 months, it’s about time I saw everyone. My sister also has a new house too and I’d like to see it.

And there’s going to be further disruption to the renovation schedule. I’m back working as a technician in Computer Science at UCL. We’ve agreed we’ll be flexible on when I’m there and when I’m at the house, but that leaves poor Fiona to do a lot of work – I’d better get in a good supply of 1″ paint brushes.

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