Category Archives: Prep

Fail to prepare; prepare to fail. Blah blah blah

89 days later

pausebuttonWe realised last night that we haven’t had a day off since August 18th (on which we drove back from a weekend with the inlaws in Shropshire). That’s 89 days ago.

That was the last day when we weren’t either at work (as in, our day jobs) or working on the house or – most often – both.

We ain’t looking for sympathy; no-one put a gun to our heads and made us work so hard. And we know we’re lucky to be in such an incredible house.

My mum would have called us ‘daft apeths’ – one of her favourite phrases. And really, we are. However, this weekend we shall press pause, take a break and hopefully reflect on what we’ve achieved so far.

Oly’s mum and dad (*waves* if they’re reading) are coming up for a couple of nights. Unfortunately, we can’t quite yet accept overnight guests so they’re in a hotel.

But we have vowed to do no work on the house despite the fact only half our furniture is built, we desperately need to go to (the dreaded) Ikea and B&Q, we have painting to do (still!), a much needed tip run, unpacking, repacking, selling, picture hanging, drilling, curtain fixing, stair waxing and so on…….. But no, we shall not. We shall entertain our guests and start it all again next week.

Now, there may be the small matter of an immense amount of cleaning required before allowing guests – let alone family – into the house. That’s Friday night rock n roll for you and it’s all that stands in the way of us and the pause button.

And next week, I promise to blog – at least once. With news that isn’t just about how tired we are. I may even show you some pics……

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Zombie decorators

So, we’ve kept up with our crazy schedule and this, my friends, is what months of hard slog does to you. You turn into zombie decorators!

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Actually, we had a Halloween party invite – terrible timing really given everything we had to do but it was a dear friend’s party that we wouldn’t have missed for the world. However, we had no time to sort costumes so we simply donned our decorating togs (already covered in paint) and added some fake blood. Simple!

A touch of liquid latex and tissue paper to create some pretty funky burns and we were good to go.

Had a great night and were sorry to leave early but we had a massive list the next day to get through.

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Sunday’s to-do list

And get through it we did. 24hours work over one weekend and we were ready for carpets!!

That’s where it gets very disappointing.

We were due to have the sitting room, 3 bedrooms, hallways, stairs and landing all done in a day. However, it turns out that some of our carpet is still being manufactured – because it’s 5m width – but the shop just didn’t bother to let us know on Friday when they had found out. Shocking lack of customer service and meant we practically killed ourselves getting ready for it at the weekend for no reason.  We could have stayed at the party!!

So, we have just the 2 spare bedrooms and a bit of the stairs done. We’ve had to postpone furniture deliveries and move furniture back in that we’d shipped out.

photo

This never fails to make us laugh….

Because we tore up the laminate in the sitting room we now have a bare concrete floor. Oh, and we freecyled our old sofa so now have nothing to sit on!

Yesterday we were absolutely fuming; today we’ve calmed down a little bit and just accepted it for what it is. It’s taken the shine off our carpet excitement though and totally messed with our schedule but hey, there we go, all resolvable just not ideal.

Isn’t it horrible being at the mercy of other people?  I guess that’s the joys of renovating.

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Hello. We’re idiots!

“The ultimate inspiration is the deadline”

Our day jobs both involve loads of deadlines – it’s got to go to print by X, the CEO wants it by X, the media need it before X. You get the general idea.

So, it’s fair to say a deadline doesn’t really phase us. So why then are our self-imposed house deadlines such a killer? For once, we actually have some control over our deadlines but have continued to make them virtually impossible.

Answer? We’re idiots basically. Total raving, exhausted idiots.

Idiots who think it’s ok to dress as fairytale creatures.

We’re currently fighting to get all our walls painted before the 18th. It was originally the 5th but we realised we had no chance of making it so moved it back. This deadline is the day our heating engineer returns to refit all the radiators and flush and balance the system  – now we are finally rid of all the microbore piping.

So, on the 18th Oct we will have central heating. Woohoo! But it means we’ve decided all the painting had to be done, on the walls at least. Hence the deadline. Makes sense, no?

We’ve also finally got a carpet fit date of the 4th November – so that means we want absolutely all the painting done; every last bit of wood, coving and ceiling rose. We ain’t spending THAT much on carpet to get paint on it – and trust me, I would get paint on it. Oh, and the floors need levelling/mending before the carpeting. There’s another bastard deadline.

Curtain and blind hardware can’t be fitted until the walls are painted; curtains themselves not fitted until the carpets are down (need to get the perfect hang length apparently).

And of course we can’t get furniture delivered until we have carpet and we’re really tired of having no bedroom furniture (“Oly, where are my socks being kept?” “In a bag in the bath, next to the holdall with my pants in it.”) So, yep, we’ve gone and created another deadline.

And all this has been leading towards the biggest deadline that’s been crashing towards us since we started our renovations a few months ago – “WE’LL BE DONE BY CHRISTMAS”.

I repeat: idiots.

Idiots who take it back to the 80s.

We have no spare annual leave so are out to work for 10-12 hours, coming home and picking up our brushes every night as well as putting in 12 hour days on a weekend. We’re on our knees…..quite literally much of the time.

Are we regretting our madness? Nope. Wouldn’t we like to take our time? Nope.

We want our lives back, we want a house we can really live in. I want to know my mum would have been proud. We want to host a family Christmas. We want our friends to come and visit. I want a goddamn manicure.

It does explain why our blog posts have been lacking  – and, oh, I have so much to catch you up on and show you – but needs must, sorry. (I’m only writing this now because we’re waiting for a takeaway….)

So, deadlines? Bring ’em on, because nothing ever feels quite as good as when you smash them.

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Lots of grain, lots of pain

We’ve not really been blogging much recently. Sorry, have you missed us?!

“What’s been stopping you entertaining us with your witty musings” I hear you cry. In a word, dear reader? SANDING.

The sanding box of doom. The sight of it makes my heart sink.

The sanding box of doom. Just the sight of it makes my heart sink.

Now, I am the Queen of Underestimating at the best of times but this time, woah, holy moly, that’s some serious work. Every single bit of wood in this house (except the ‘we’ll do it next year’ study and bathroom) has been lovingly rubbed, smoothing the way for a more elegant future.

I don’t think we realised just how much wood there was in this house or how fiddly sanding it all would be.

Original architraving and skirting is certainly stunning but the nooks and crannies hide varnished crimes that stubbornly refuse to be shifted.

We also never realised just how evil the sticky reddy brown varnish would be to get off. We were originally quite joyful at the lack of gloss in this house and yet half way through would have given anything for some simple gloss to go at!

We’ve spent weeks covered in icky red dust. Weeks covered in a film of skank. Weeks wheezing and puffing our way through misty clouds that gets EVERYWHERE! And don’t even get me started on the state of our poor hands.

Of course, we had an added problem – our plasterer. I’m not sure its possible to have found a tradesman who was messier or more inconsiderate. There were dribbles and lumps of plaster everywhere – we would frequently disappear behind clouds of plaster dust only to emerge angry and swearing.

He had also managed to get PVA all over the woodwork, and that stuff clogs up a sander faster than drunk chavs in Maccie Ds on a Friday night.

So, the plasterer has become He Who Must Not Be Named because of the extra mess and time he has cost us. Throughout our sanding ordeal Oly has very nearly needed anger management because of Him.

And yet, triumphantly we have now finished the sanding. Woohoo!! It honestly feels like a bit of a turning point.

Clearly sanding isn’t all we’ve been up to but it has totally dominated – we reckon we’ve done about 60 hours each.

We’ve actually just had a week of leave and are now absolutely exhausted, not having stopped work till about 10pm each night. We’ve really just returned to work for a break (Oly even started a new job today!)

There are however more exciting things we can blog about and will do soon. For now, we’re just giddy to see the back of the sanding.

So the next time you have a friend or family member embarking on any type of renovation, don’t offer to give them a hand with the painting, do some emulsioning for them or even suggest a paint party* – just help them out with a bit of sanding, they’ll love you forever.

purvs corner Haworth*We did consider telling our friends we’d get the pizza and beers in if they’d come to our Rub-Down Party.

Decided against it in the end, sounded a touch pervy.

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Filth

Getting tired of looking at this

We don’t seem to have much luck with plasterers. The first one we tried to contract broke his leg just after leaving our house.

The second kept cancelling and eventually we had to sack him off.

The third got started around 10 days ago. When we say ‘got started’ that’s probably being generous. It’s taken him days to really get started. He’ll turn up, do a bit and then either have to go and tax his car, get fitted for a suit for his brother’s wedding, smoke a fag or or run some other mysterious errand.

We’ve discovered several key facts about our plasterer since he’s been (occasionally) in our house:

  • He works at a slow pace. Treacle would give him a run for his money
  • He’s a bit stupid (sorry, but it’s true) so needs to be told the same thing on several occasions
  • His bucket has a leak in it and it will flood into your new kitchen diner from above, through the light fitting (no lasting harm done thankfully)
  • He can eat his own body weight in biscuits
  • And above all? He’s really really really messy.

Admittedly, we always knew the plastering stage would be a touch messy given the state of the walls and the artex ceilings but  he gets it EVERYWHERE.

We won't be having overnight guests any time soon

We won’t be having overnight guests any time soon

We now feel like we’re living in a bit of a building site and, I’m ashamed to say, we’re not even attempting to clean it up each day. I’m too ashamed to even share the photographic evidence. We are living like pigs, surrounded by plaster filth and detritus.

That damn carpet is holding up better than we are

That damn carpet is holding up better than we are

So, all in, we are finding our patience is exceedingly stretched and we’re not really getting anywhere fast. Still, he’s an honest lad, desperate to do a good job. We had been hopeful it would all be completed within the 3 week timescale he originally gave us but that is looking more and more unlikely – particularly as he ended up in A&E last week with chest pains……turns out he’s torn a muscle in his chest, right by his heart. How? Stretching to do our ceilings. Ooops. So, now there’ll be a few days off whilst he recovers from that.

Will we ever get rid of the artex that plagues us?! Even the cat is getting stroppy.

Meanwhile, we are limping towards the finish line with our kitchen diner. All will be revealed soon – promise! – but it’s looking, quite frankly,  incredible and is the one thing maintaining our sanity. Just.

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Strippers

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We have a lot of wall. Here’s the maths:

The ceiling is generally 3m away in most rooms 

+

The total internal sq meterage of the property is 191

=

A lot of wall. Fact.

Every single one of our walls was papered. Some had lining paper too, many had several coats of paint on top of the wallpaper.

Yep, in the last couple of months we’ve done more stripping than a cheap hooker in an Amsterdam window.

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Oly’s brother lends a hand

In some rooms it came off in great long, satisfying strips – like a ready-to-pick knee scab.

The back bedroom was one of the best rooms for this and we also uncovered this curious declaration:

Wilb loves Deev

Love graffiti. Who the hell are Wilb and Deev?!

In other rooms it unveiled impressive cracks:

Bedroom crack

The bedroom crack, also the homepage header. Recognise it?

In some areas it pulled huge wads of crumbling plaster with it:

Ooops.

Ooops.

But most of  all it just stubbornly clung to the walls, impervious to steam. However, we got there in the end and learnt a few things along the way.

  • Anyone who attempts to get wallpaper off without a steamer is, quite frankly, an idiot.
  • Wallpaper is surprisingly heavy when bagged up.
  • You will need a lot of bags and a lot of trips to the tip.
  • The steam is excellent for asthma and also a great mini facial.
  • Steam burns.
  • You will be covered in what we eloquently described as Wallpaper Jizz.

We also had lots of reproduction (cheap) plaster mouldings to contend with and they’ve left a bit of a mess where they’ve been chipped off.

It took two of them to work this out

It took two of them to work this out

And so this is what we’ve been left with and have been living with for weeks.

Kind of a mess? Huh? Our plan had been to get cracking with the plastering on all the walls (and the hideous ceilings) as soon as we could however the electrics threw a major spanner in the works – no point plastering when we needed rewiring and investigation.

However, that’s all now sorted and we can finally begin the plaster work. We have been warned about the total disruption, the mess and the dust but, to be honest, we’re not sure the house can get much worse at the moment. And besides, there’s always whisky.

Come on! Let’s get plastered!!

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Bye-bye hideous kitchen. Hello, ‘the something room’.

We were delighted to get home and find this sight greeting us:

Outside oven

How on earth we managed to cook Christmas dinner in this is beyond me…..

That oven had absolutely no place in a proper kitchen and deserved to be put outside, unloved and unwanted by the skip, like the bad, crappy, naughty oven it is.

The overflowing skip indicated that the old kitchen had been ripped out.

The overflowing skip indicated that the old kitchen had been ripped out.

Hooray the kitchen was gone! It was a room where you ALWAYS had to put the light on, even in the middle of a bright sunny day, just to see what you were doing.

Old Kitchen

Darker than the inside of my troubled mind…..

It has also signified the final piece in the puzzle that has been our electrics. It’s a long, boring, story involving a missing earth, a dodgy connection and multiple failed safety inspections. We have had electricians hunting for days to sort out our very weird, illogical electrics and the final problem lay in this ceiling.

It’s now all sorted but because of it the false ceiling also now needs redoing – it was a choice of cutting holes in that or the en-suite floor (being directly above). For obvious reasons, we went with the ceiling. Now the final part of the electrical work will be paying – and we are DREADING the bill. <gulp>

Rip out

The pointless hanging light contraption remained. Almost ironically.

Already this room seems bigger and brighter.

Already this room seems bigger and brighter.

Anyway, we really have very little idea what to ultimately do with this space and loosely call it the ‘utility room’ as that’s the primary function it will serve. Well, actually, it’s main function is that it’s where Lord Humphrey sleeps as his cat tunnel is in there.

Oh, and its other function will be to store the spare freezer. And the new boiler. And some furniture. And paint. And all our booze (hic). So, it’s clear why this room has a bit of an identity crisis.

So, for now, we’re just going to plaster, get the damp proof course finished off and concrete over the floor. Plumb in the washing machine and tumble dryer and that’ll be about it. Well, we may put the dart board up.

This room is way down the list of priorities at the moment and not something we can justify spending cash on so it may remain unloved for a little while. Though not as unloved as the kitchen that used to be in here.

We all know this room swill become known as 'Humphrey's Room'. Why are they fighting it?

We all know this room will become known as ‘Humphrey’s Room’.  Aren’t they all?

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