house – day 286 – 287 – a house is not a home

This post will be my penultimate house update, as, after this weekend, we will have finished the major renovation. In a month or so’s time (maybe longer), I’ll write a postscript summing up what we’ve done, where we are and how we feel about what we’ve done. We’ve been working flat-out for the last few weeks (although our progress often didn’t indicate it) and we’ve had little time to stand back and contemplate our situation. I hope, over Christmas, we’ll have time to do that. In the meantime, here’s our final DIY weekend…

This weekend we need to get the house ready to receive our stuff arriving from storage on Monday. There’s also a final carpet laying session on Wednesday. As we have a light coloured carpet upstairs, we thought it better to leave that until our stuff had been moved in. Timing is tight – on Wednesday evening we have our first overnight visitors.

Saturday

There’s woodworm in an upstairs floorboard, which I will need to deal with before the carpet goes down in a few days time.  In any case, I need to do some work in the upstairs hall, to ensure all the boards are fixed back in place after they were lifted for the plumbing and electrical work that was completed months ago. I had left it untouched until now, just in case we needed access. Having the upstairs hall carpeted will really signal the change from restoration project to new home. Having to put on shoes to go from bedroom to bathroom is tiresome in the middle of the night.

Having inspected the boards as I fixed them back into place, I found another piece of timber with woodworm. I have only just enough timber to replace the infected pieces and the nearby bits, although I have plenty of wood worm treatment left for the surrounding timbers, which, thankfully, appear unscathed. I’m just using the treatment as a precaution.

After fixing the upstairs flooring, I fitted the quadrant in the hall and study – a tedious process as there are lots of fiddly bits in both rooms. The pin nailer usually works well when fixing the quadrant, but there are places where the skirting board flexes too much and the pins take an unpredictable path. Quite often, the pins don’t enter the wood behind the quadrant, but deflect into empty space, leaving the quadrant unattached. Occasionally the pins turn through 180 degrees and come back out through the quadrant. You need to keep your fingers clear otherwise the quadrant gets pinned to you. Eventually, though, the quadrant was complete, I still need to fill it, so Fiona can give it a final coat, I’ll do that first thing tomorrow.

Fiona got on with clearing and cleaning the house, whilst I did more work under the stairs. I want to get all the major woodwork complete, before our stuff arrives in two days and that means getting the door hung and the frame finished. Before the door went on, I clad the inside of the panelling with the remaining plywood, so that we have somewhere clean to hang coats and store cleaning equipment.

Sunday

After a bit of filling and punching down pin heads, the quadrant was ready for Fiona to paint, leaving me free to concentrate on the work under the stairs. The old pantry door I’m using here is very warped. I hadn’t noticed that until a couple of days ago when I laid the door on the floor, just how wonky the door is. As a result, I’ve had to modify the hinge rebates to make the door a better fit (although it’s still very wonky), which is annoying as it make the door edge and frame look untidy. These won’t be seen very often, but it’s irksome after you got to a lot of trouble to keep them neat. With any luck, once the door is hung, it may warp back into a better shape. It’s been leant against walls in a cold, often damp house for the last eight months, so it shouldn’t be surprising it’s not in best shape. The front reception door was out by about 11mm in one corner after I installed it, but the door has now straightened as it has dried out and warmed up and now the gap is “only” about 5mm. Let’s hope the same happens here, as an 11mm gap would be a major improvement right now. I got the handle and roller catch fitted and it all works OK and used some of the surplus oak flooring inside the cupboard, to hide the plywood I had put down to cover the old floorboards. Now we have a proper under stairs cupboard and we can put things away.

After a trip to the supermarket we carried on, me taking tools and materials back to the workshop, Fiona painting the quadrant, she’s finding it a bit too much right now, but it needs to be done. Eventually, though it’s finished. It’s taken four days to lay the flooring and a day or so to fit the quadrant, but the house has been transformed. After seemingly endless weeks of prep and coat after coat of paint, with little appearing to change, it feels things have suddenly happened very quickly.

Finally, I think we’re pretty much there. It’s late Sunday evening, but we can  now clear away all the remaining tools and materials (at least temporarily, until we get on with snagging). We’ve still got a lot of clearing up to do and I want to get as much stuff as we can in the loft in anticipation of a lot more things going up there in the next few days. We’ll do what we can tomorrow morning, the removal guys are due around lunchtime.

Monday

We were up early (well it’s an exciting day and it was difficult to sleep anyway), to get what we could, cleared and cleaned-up. By mid-morning most of the rooms were empty. I’d taken some photos of some of the rooms and was just vacuuming the rear reception when my phone rang – it was Fiona (who had just got out of the shower) telling me there was someone at the door (I couldn’t hear anything as the door bell is broken). Our stuff had arrived and there was a lot more of it than we anticipated. We knew we didn’t have much furniture as most of it in our old house was built-in, but we’d forgotten about all our other stuff – 160 boxes in two vans. Crikey!  It would have been nice to have an extra half hour to get more photos of the finished rooms, but what I had taken would have to suffice. That’s why today’s gallery looks incomplete (at least it does to me). I had to get on with helping the guys put the right stuff in the right rooms and start unpacking. Some of the boxes were very heavy. We have a lot of books and, when we moved out of the old house, the packers appeared to have taken great delight in filling the biggest boxes with the heaviest books. The guys unloading the vans were not best pleased and there were 33 of these boxes.

By mid-afternoon, the removal men had left and we had boxes everywhere, so much of it is stuff we’d forgotten about. There was a lot we would no longer need and a few things we could have done with months ago, we’ll have to go through it box by box and sort it all out.

And suddenly that’s it. The renovation project is over, the main work is complete. Now it’s time to change this house into our home.