Embracing the Dust: Wk 1 – Day Five

Today we escaped with family for the weekend …..and I felt the need to recheck that budget to see if there’s any way we can afford to do similar every week for the next 12. ( There isn’t. Not if we actually want a kitchen in our kitchen extension)

The extension is due to be completed in 8 weeks time, to a ‘builders finish’. A wonderful term we nodded our heads at while we were sitting in a fairly comfortable, warm house but now, with the January wind blowing a gale through what’s technically a building site, I’m beginning to wonder why we didn’t pin down the detail of what a ‘builders finish’ might really mean. . .

It goes without saying that an extra month needs to be tacked on to the 8 weeks for the floor fitting and kitchen installation. Then we have the joinery and decoration. Then we may decide, budget and nerves dependent, on ploughing straight on with completing the rest of the house – in which case we are talking closer to 6 months.

I’m not a stranger to ’embracing the dust’ – a phrase coined by my Dad who has spent most of his life doing some kind of major building work to one or more properties. But on two occasions I have gone past the ’embrace’ stage and started to sink in it like quicksand requiring me to call in the cavalry. The first time with my first ever flat, aged 21. To be fair on that occasion Dad was on board from the start – a bit like an authorised overdraft I suppose – and he, his mate (the fisherman friend I quoted previously) and I camped out for three weeks as we pulled out bathrooms, knocked through a wall and sanded doors (hang on a minute…..?!)

The second time was far more serious and the phone call more like one to the emergency services. He and the fisherman saved me from a leaking house and helped me take a builder to the small claims court. And win.

Now I’m a married woman he is within his rights to defer that knight in shining armour responsibility to my husband …but I wouldn’t be surprised if he and the fisherman have bets placed on which week out of the 12 the pleading call might come…

My mum has also redecorated a number of my properties, some of them twice over (not through indecision on my part but due to time elapsing between refurbs!) and has her painting gear permanently housed here so she can be called upon at the drop of a hat. But decoration is a long way off yet, though having the two rooms finished upstairs does provide that light at the end of the tunnel…it’s a reminder that its all achievable which is a hard thought to keep close when the whole place is a danger zone to your baby. O has to be carried almost everywhere with only the lounge and his bedroom truly safe ( our room contains both a poisonous plant – a peace lily – which we are trying to find another home for and a brand new knitted throw he insists in knotting his fingers in then pulling whilst expectantly awaiting my furious reaction)

But before we left we had not one but two more incidents with our neighbour who is convinced we are building on her landlord’s property. We have had written permission to build up to the boundary and verbal, soon to be translated to written, permission to build astride it so that the landlord can use the wall if he or future buyers plan to build a similar side return. So S (working from home today) and our site foreman tried to calm and reassure her. You can see her point though, in the picture our new wall does not line up with the fence but it does line up with the party wall. I’m hoping this is an issue which will blow over once the landlord reassures his overprotective tenant…and I’m not even going to put into writing what might be an alternative and extremely stressful scenario…

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