Activity commenced bright and early this morning with the skip guy arriving before even the foreman. It’s ludicrous to think that we have reused three existing doors and bought two reclaimed ones allegedly to save on landfill yet simply by undertaking this project we filled a skip in the very first day. In the spirit of R (reduce) R (reuse) and R (recycle) we should really have stayed as we R (are).
Friday means a lovely day (out) with O and I was getting ready to go. . . wrestling O into his hat and scarf and making an impromptu nappy bag out of a Sainsbury’s shopper as the wonderfully functional (Hop Skip Jump if any mums are reading – it’s not a looker but it works) one I have is now unfunctionally covered in brick dust… when I asked the foreman if he thought we were still on for eight weeks.
“No…it was never going to be that” he said.
“Really. . . ?” I asked, crestfallen
“More like six and a half”
He explained that prices are competitive now so they have to move fast if they want to make money and I tried to push away any thoughts that they would try and cut corners by doing so. I have had no reason to suspect that’s the case so far and in all honesty it was this belief, that the builders would get the job done, which swung us towards a company that churns these things out rather than an independent builder for whom this would seem like a cushy job on which they could dawdle on a day rate. I may yet eat my words…but scarily/excitingly this news does mean that we are almost halfway through (the worst of it).
We chatted too about the list of ‘extras’ I’d asked him to quite for..namely tarting up the front of this poor old bird and lengthening the ‘terrace’ at the back. Our garden is sloped and the terrace, if you can call the patch of concrete that, is fairly small. We would like our new doors to open out onto a fair sized terrace before perhaps going up a few steps to a levelled-off garden. For now this might only mean digging up the A19 path bolting up the garden straight into a brick wall at the end and chopping back the land to form the terrace at a later date…or may mean going as far as building a retaining wall and laying the terrace itself. That would mean a) money and b) ideas. I’m not sure which of those we lack the most. The same goes, pretty much, for the front of the house.
Right now you can park right outside our lounge window, if you don’t mind the risk of crashing into the house as S and I have done a few times. The gradient requires you to hit the accelerator but only just enough before your bumper gets pebbledashed. So we’d like to reinstate the front garden by building a wall, removing the crazy paving path and perhaps putting in a central bed for a nice tree…something ill-chosen which will require me to constantly sweep up leaves or petals of needles or something.
However, in order to quote, the foreman will need to know exactly what we want so he recommended S and I spend the weekend researching paving slabs in Travis Perkins. Thrilling as that may sound, the instant he said the name I went into guilt mode. Aren’t we are meant to be trying to be green? Should we at least try to be buying reclaimed? I can, and I think you can too, just see the foreman’s face when I tell him a pallet of odds and sods from ebay are arriving next week.
Regardless of the foreman’s opinions of our questionable ethics, S has imposed a rule. . . (have I not yet told you about my job lot of vintage school desks? Another time perhaps….)
If we buy anything reclaimed it can only be if we’ve seen it in the flesh.
For many that rule would send them straight to T Perkins. Me…I think Ive already decided on a trip to a salvage yard in the next week.
He has a point though. On my vintinquing list are a pair of large frames for posters bought for O by his uncle and auntie for Christmas. I saw two such frames today outside a junk shop and took a look at the price tag. £45 I kid you not. I continued on to my destination (lunch) but decided I would try my luck with a best offer of £20. Four men were standing within the empty shop drinking tea so I gave the closest one my offer.
“The label says £45” said the man.
“They aren’t worth £45” I said firmly.
“I have to agree with you” the man said but the best offer his boss would allow was £35 which was a no go and I walked away.
As an extra special treat my angel cousin and her boyfriend babysat this evening while S and I had a lovely evening out. We made a pact not to discuss the work but of course we did – we had to. There is no escaping that this process is an ordeal, the house hasn’t ever yet felt like home and right now it feels less welcoming than it did even on that first day. We are throwing all we have at it …money…love….energy.. to survive it we need to ensure we keep a sense of humour which is at risk of eroding way before our budget. For now, its intact. Most evenings end with me in the bath, and S, tripping on the ironing board temporarily stored leant against the loo, commented on its depth.
“Did you fall asleep while you were running your bath?”
“No” I answered “I forget that our cold water is stronger than the hot now so I had to run more hot afterwards.”
He raised an eyebrow, “Is it?”
“Yes. I did experiments like this as a child…what’s more powerful cold or hot water? I filled beakers of hot and beakers of cold and when I mixed equal parts together I felt the result and it was definitely more cold than hot meaning cold is stronger”
“I can see you are dumbfounded by my scientific intelligence” I say
“I’m dumbfounded by something” he replied.