Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Fig Rolls and Caffeine

Well, now the girl has gone to school, the next big milestone is the communal repair we`re having done to the building in which we live. We`ve been trying to get this moving since back in the dawn of prehistory...well, we`ve been living here for eight years now, and the repairs that were obviously due then are still outstanding. Partially the delay was due to Robbie getting ill within a year of us moving here...you can`t do that sort of major works when you`re dealing with a child on chemo and we were the driving force behind wanting to get the repairs done. Then after he died we decided to get moving on the repairs again because water was starting to come through the ceiling, into the then newborn Mairi`s bedroom, eek!

Except one of the shops below us (we live in a double flat over the top of two shops) had changed hands, and the new owner was having nothing to do with roof repairs, communal or otherwise. So the last four years have been spent trying to persuade him to fulfil his legal responsiblity to keep the building in safe and good order. It was only when bits started to fall off our crumbling window mullions into the street that the local Council moved in and did a bit of "persuading" of their own.

So since last January we`ve been ploughing through the paperwork, surveys, permissions, meeting etc etc, and though we are getting there, we`re getting there very slowly. However the contract has been awarded, the relevant sigatures obtained and we are having the first on site planning meeting with the contractors, the surveyors and the Council chap on Friday. Of course, this doesn`t mean we have a start date yet, oh dearie me no.

What are we having done? The roof has to be stripped and renewed, both the slate pitched roof at the front and the flat felt roof at the back. The window lintels, mullions and sills are being removed and replaced. All the outside pipes, from the rhones to the drains, is being redone. The render is being completely refurbished, patched and painted. Stone surrounds to our front doorway and the shop frontage refurbished. Doesn`t sound too bad? Well, this flat alone has 14 windows. The pitched roof is 45 feet long. Our gable end (that`s` OUR gable end, not a communal one) is about 40 feet high Etc. This is a BIG building, and tall. They estimate the scaffolding alone will be up for three months..if (big IF) they don`t find anything nasty when they open up the roof and wall voids, like skulls or bats or dry rot.

And yes, even our share, with grants, is going to cost us one arm, one leg and a mortgage on our souls for all perpetuity. Don`t ask. It makes me feel ill to think about it.

Also someone here had the bright idea that while they were ripping out the window lintels, they might as well get new windows put in to replace the ghastly non-functional 70`s ones here at present. You think it`s impossible to design a window that cuts out 50% of light transmission and provides only 10% of necessary ventilation? Wanna picture? I`ve got 14 of them. So the workmen will have to be inside the house as well, at least for that. And for the huge gaping holes they have to knock through above the windows to replace the lintels, of course. Did I mention that we have 14 windows? They`re going to have to knock a hole through the wall of every single room in the house.

So after, we`ll have to redecorate every single room in the house. So wait...how about getting the new boiler and central heating we so badly need before we redecorate? Yup, we`ll do that. Except we need to renew the old 30`s water pipes to take the pressure of the new boiler. And if we have a new boiler installed in the kitchen, then the old kitchen will need remodelled round the boiler. Just as well the workmen will have to take down all the kitchen wall cabinets to put the new mullions in, yup? And of course, the floorboards (and carpets) will have to come up to lay the new central heating pipework, and the old radiators will have to be removed and they`ll leave gaping holes because the new ones aren`t going in the right place.

Other arm, other leg. Redecorate? I`ll be doing that. We won`t have any money left to buy food by then,let alone employ anyone to do it. Hey, I might even get thin for the first time in my life. Usually I need copious quantities of fig rolls and caffeine in the form of strong tea to see me through this sort of thing. I don`t think we can afford enough fig rolls, not if we have to buy paint too..

Today, however, is a dejunking day. Because we don`t have a start date I have all this jittery home improvement adrenaline that needs dissapaited, and what better way than getting rid of some of the junk? Less to move around while the builders are here, and less stuff to scrape dust and stour off afterwards. I have set myself a target of one 80 litre bin bag per day...and I`m achieving this effortlessly. Nearly twenty bags gone in the last week.

(House doesn`t look any tidier though...)

9 comments:

The Knit Nurse said...

You sound stressed. I bet it'll be fab when it's all done. I'll pray for good weather for you, so it all gets done quickly and fig roll special offers, so you can stay sane at affordable prices.

glittrgirl said...

I will happily post you fig rools - email me your addy.... Sounds very streswsful - and you are going to continue to live on site through it all? Mad. Mad I tell you. I am sure it will be worth it though. You will have a brand new house in teh same place as your old one at the end of it all....

gourdongirl said...

I'll keep you supplied with fig rolls and tea. I might even be persuaded to weild a pain brush and scraper too, in fact I'll publicly volunteer to help with the redecorating....well thats what friends are for!

gourdongirl said...

Ooops thats not a pain bursh but a paint brush....I know its going to be a pain, but thats too much!!!! hehehe.

rho said...

I'm sooo confused -- do you own the building or your flat - in which case I can see it costing you but if you rent isn't it the owners responsibility. Or maybe that is another of those things that are worlds apart between here and there.

But it sure does seem like everything goes at the same time -- we had our roof done - and had to get a new dishwasher --- now my other appliances are about at that point - my freezer died - well the compressor died the part that worked the light to let you know it was working didn't die - what a surprise to open the freezer and see all defrosted stuff.
We just got a new furnace/hot water heater last year after 6 months without either -- Thank God for wood stoves for heat and regular stoves to heat water to do dishes in and wash up in -- those old time folks had it hard - I found out just how important hot water coming out of a faucet is to me....and the first shower after it was done - heaven - I tell you heaven has to feel like that. :D

Hang in there - have tea and fig rolls (which sound yummy by the way) breath, knit and work in your garden plot to keep your sanity. And if you need to -- send me an email to vent away....you do realize that dealing with contractors is one of the levels of hell and contractors are minions of the devil....

Juno said...

Oh dear. I'm getting a new roof next month and that is stressful and expensive enough, thank you kindly. My very sincere sympathy.

By all means de-junk. A friend of mine just went through something about the scale of what you are about to do and she has been amazed by the things they turned out not to need after they'd been in storage for ...well, I'm not going to tell you how long, because that would be mean.

But she says it was worth it and life is much nicer and more pleasant now with no holes and proper light and ventilation where it belongs.

So that's something. Best of luck....

Alison said...

aaack!
guess you can all eat lots of allotment potatoes, though!
at least it's going to happen now. having the work done will be hard to put up with, but I suspect not as hard as the anticipation has been.
14 windows. we have about half that, and I would love to replace them.. i shall watch with interest!

PURLPOWER said...

Our flat in London is above another flat which is above two shops. It took two weeks last month just to sort out a minor, minor leak what with all the go-betweening and 'it's nothing to do with us-ing'...you have my maxmimum sympathethy. At the risk of sounding trite though, it will be worth it in the end......won't it?!?!?!

PURLPOWER said...

P.S. the thought of Shonz wielding a pain brush is a scary one, although now I think of it I'm sure she could earn some extra pennies for your home repairs if we sent her down Soho with it.......