house – day 89 – the kitchen takes shape

On the way to the house, I picked up some of the bathroom stuff we’d ordered locally – a couple of sinks, a vanity unit and the two bathroom towel radiators. It was a slow journey back to the A2 as it was still rush hour – even though I’d left it until late. I got to the house much later than I wanted – again.

The house was a hive of activity – two plumbers vans and Chris’s van. There was a huge amount of noise upstairs and down. The bathroom taps and cabinets Fiona had ordered had also arrived and were sitting on a pallet in the street. I unloaded the stuff I’d brought and checked it, then unwrapped the pallet and checked the items on it. Two of them were mirrored cabinets, but thankfully had survived OK.

In the kitchen a lot had happened yesterday: the RSJ cock-up had been fixed and there was new plaster drying on the beam, the downlights and switches were installed and working, which meant Chris had enough light to start installing the kitchen units. What a difference that made, finally the kitchen was truly looking like a kitchen. The lights were also in place the shower room and small hall. Now I’ve got to paint the beam again. It looks a bit of a mess right now, but a few (more) coats of paint should sort it.

Upstairs, the plumbers were working on the bathroom and toilet – pipes had to be moved as they hadn’t realised that the new toilet’s soil pipe would go straight out through the wall and not through the floor as it did right now. The plumbing was going in for the shower tray (which appears to fit just fine in the space I’d prepared) and for the shower mixer and bath taps.

As there were floorboards up and tool boxes all over the place upstairs, it was pointless trying to do anything up there. I had to find something else to do. I still need to work on the under-stairs space, which will remain a cupboard, but I’m completely rebuilding it, it’s shoddy. So I got started on that. When I began removing the hardboard and cheap wood that constituted the existing wall, I found even more bodge-work. In order to square off the edge of the wall under the stairs, a right-angle moulding had been nailed to the existing moulding, which had been crudely chopped away to accommodate the square stuff. Under the old door support I found some ancient stained and varnished Anaglypta. But a mystery was solved. We had wondered about the original configuration of the space in the hall, particularly under stairs. The Edwardians tended to leave these spaces open, which I thought would have been the case in this house as I’d found original skirting board inside the cupboard (the stuff I used in an upstairs bedroom). It was unlikely to have been there if originally it had not been visible. When the last of the hardboard had been removed, we found the frame of a small door, which would have created a small cupboard filling the space under the lowest part of the stairs, leaving the rest of the space under the stairs open. Later, I realised we still have the original door for this space, it’s in the workshop. Anyway, with the woodwork removed removed, I could measure for the timber to build a new full size under-stairs cupboard.

After talking to Chris and the plumbers I went off to get a late lunch (I’d not eaten as there’s not really any food in the flat) and get the timber I needed.

When I returned, I got started on building the frame for the under stairs cupboard door. I’m using the old door from the pantry, it seems appropriate, somehow. I would have liked to have left the space open as it would have been in Edwardian times, but the main electrical distribution board and alarm control unit and and panel are there and we need somewhere for vacuum cleaners, mops etc. The plan is to build a panelled wall, maybe tongue and groove board to match a little patch of it still on the lowest part of the stairs.

The last three photos in today’s gallery show the underside of the overhang at the front of the house, the rotten cladding has been removed to be replaced. This work was done a few days ago, but I forgot to take any photos. Unfortunately there is more rotten timber than we first thought, as some time ago, someone had replaced rotten timber with new timber, but had used the smallest possible amount of wood to do this – most likely to save money. Instead of replacing every piece of rotten timber, new wooden strips had been stuck to the edge of existing cladding, inducing the new wood to rot quickly. So it was false economy, but it’s up to us, the new owners, to get it sorted. Additionally, there’s no insulation under the bedroom floor in the overhang, so right now you can see daylight through the floorboards. The bodgery just never ends. However, it’s a (thankfully) impressive bit of steelwork holding up the front of the house.