Form or Function: Wk 5 – Day One

Today we were faced with a classic refurb dilemma. Form or function?

We have grappled with heating solutions for a while. We quickly ruled out wet underfloor heating due to the installation cost and S is resistant to electric underfloor heating due to running costs. Radiators are probably the cheapest and simplest solution but the issue is where to put them. This morning those decisions had to be made with the foreman’s own plumber to the detriment of our beloved banquette idea.

“Where are the rads going?” he asked.
I retrieved the plans pinned to the board and pointed to an area at the back of the extension.
“We were thinking we would put one here” I said.
“Not enough.” he announced, shaking his head, tongue balling into his cheek.
“I was afraid you’d say that.” I countered. “In which case we would have to put another there.” I pointed to the banquette wall. “We are planning to have built in seating but could put a grill along the top to allow heat to come out”
He looked doubtful. “You can’t build seating round a rad” he said. “You would block in the heat.”
I look back at the plan.
“You see the problem we have is all of that is kitchen” I wave at one corner, “and all of this is utility cupboards” I said waving at the corner opposite. “I suppose we could put a tall one above…”
He cut me off.
“No good. Heat has to go at the bottom of the room to rise, it’s no good having one up the wall.”
I stare at him.
“What you could do” he said eventually after considerable thought, “is put a grill at the top of the seating and as long as you don’t go mad building next to it that could work. You’d just get away with it”
A familiar sounding idea and our only option as far as I could tell. I mused over the fate of the banquette all day. Would we build it after all or simply stay with our table and chairs, perhaps painting the chairs in a ‘Kirsty’s Vintage Home style. S seemed to share my thinking. “Let’s live in it” he suggested, “then see what we think.”
I’d be sorry not to be able to say the word ‘banquette’ every day but I think he is right.

The rest of the plumbing was sorted out fairly quickly.
“Washing machine and tumble dryer there, sink there…. ” I directed
“Dishwasher next to it” he interrupted as he wandered away, clearly bored.
“No” I corrected, “it’s going here.”
“Oh?” He walked back and peered over my shoulder at the plan. “Ok.”
“And the WC there. The sanitaryware is being stored in the lounge if you need it. Actually perhaps you could help me. I ordered a sink which has an exposed chrome waste but it has arrived with a ceramic cover so wondered if it was the right sink or if they have sent me the wrong one”
“Depends. It’s the right sink if you ordered it” he suggested insightfully “and the wrong one if you didn’t.”
“I meant, does that cover come as standard?” He said something in reply but I stopped listening.

I was almost caught out later that morning as I was packing up the car with nappy bag, snacks, coats, baby, plans and scale rule ready for my Google Sketch Up lesson offered by a friend. As I fastened O into his seat I looked up to see a bifold door company branded van. I unpacked O and we went back into the house.
The man flipped open his briefcase seemingly enjoying the authoritative click it made, and pulled out a few bits of metal. “whichonewouldyoulikeyoucouldhavethisoneinwhitethisoneinblackorthisonecomesinbothwhiteandblack.”
I blinked and looked appealing towards the foreman who nodded to signal he had it covered. The bifold guy continued on in a similar vein explaining the virtues of each track and the various options for the doors themselves. I would sound regionalist if I told you where he was from but his accent coupled with both speed of delivery and technical jargon meant that I caught, let alone understood, not a word. The foreman answered for me, explaining afterwards that he had asked for one with no cill so that we had a continous level from the house to the terrace outside, outward opening to the right so that the doors stack against the fence and the single opening door on the left. With that sorted and signed for we moved on to the window.
“whattypedoyouwant?”
“What are the options” I ask
“well…” he flipped open a catalogue of technical drawings…squares apparently representing windows with triangles and dots all over them signifying the way they open, or fold, or pivot. I frowned at them as O wriggled in my arms, aching to get down and play with the sand and dirt. It turned out that any opening versions would require a bar to go down the centre of the window so I opted for a fixed panel and left it at that. It’s a rare occurrence that a decision I make affects the budget positively but this time apparently it did so the Finance Director will be pleased. The Chief Negotiator less so as it means conversations will need to be resumed with one of those pointy shoe/asymmetric hair type salesmen.

The Sketch Up tutorial was cut short as a grumpy O needed food, attention and a nap pretty much in that order. On my return to the house I had another innings with the arrogant plumber about a water softener but the conversation was cut short swiftly as soon as he mentioned its astronomical cost…one of those figures you know has been concocted not because of its value or the work involved but because they just can’t be bothered. Upstairs his labourer was busy putting an angle grinder through the ceramic toilet waste. O looked worried and covered his ears with his little hands. After lunch, as I vacuumed up the bits of soup soaked toast which hadn’t made it to his mouth he covered his ears against the noise again. It seems he is getting quite good at blocking out sounds he doesn’t want to hear. Later that day at a museum with a friend he about turned and started trotting towards the automatic doors leading out into the park. I called once…..he continued running. I called twice…..the patter patter patter of his Kickers was as constant as a metronome. On the third call, continuing unfalteringly upon his trajectory, he brought his little starfish hands up to cover his ears.

On our return home I embarked upon the bedtime routine of dinner, bath and bed but as I pulled the plug I heard a familiar gushing sound. Sure enough the bath was emptying straight into the extension downstairs over a pile of neatly stacked plasterboard. It transpires that the foreman had no idea his plumber had left it out of action. On S’s return home, investigating the damage, he let out a flurry of expletives. “I’m sick of this bloody house leaking all the time!”
I know I should be annoyed too but for some reason the inconvenience of not being able to have a bath tonight or shower tomorrow is cancelled out by the smug satisfaction of knowing that the plumber may be about to receive from the foreman a portion of his just desserts.

A bargainous gorilla available to purchase from the salvage yard I visited with a vintique-loving friend at the weekend. Unfortunately the paving and other items it sold were about as appropriate for our project as this fella

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