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...)