There is something quite draining about sharing your life with a team of, admittedly now familiar, strangers who don’t really care about your life at all. For them it is all in a days work…8am-3pm usually….and then they return to their own, private, lives. For us it is a constant occupation and everything about our life is laid bare. On occasion I have entered the bathroom we now all share at the end of a day to find feminine hygeine paraphernalia scattered across the floor due to the storage being shifted unceremoniously in order to gain access to the pipework. I have stopped caring if my morning check in with the foreman has to take place in pyjamas and dressing gown as I’ve had no time to sort myself before sorting O. And they are constant witnesses to my morning routine as I cajole O through the cycle of breakfast, teeth cleaning and dressing ending in us counting down the steps, arriving at the bottom of the staircase with a white (once blue) coat where he has brushed past our dusty walls.
The intrusion is, of course, the nature of the beast and nothing can be done other than chinning up and carrying on – and probably for a week or two longer than the foreman had planned. In his defence, his timetable has been slightly amended as both the extra job of creating the patio and retaining wall to the lawned part of the garden and the plastering of the whole house is overlapping. However the end, for them (not us), is nigh. The plasterer has finished the extension area and will move into the snug next. The plumber and his labourer were back on site today, in better humour, tackling the pipe work in the Worlds Smallest WC and affixing radiators and the cigarette packet finder was busy outside with the patio. The young labourer had his scrapers out and steamer heating up by 8.20am and the electrician also arrived on site having had a chat with S yesterday. Their deal wasn’t, at that point, sealed and the electrician was hoping I might help lower the price by cutting down my list of requirements.
“I’m glad I caught you before I left” I said, a fascinated O intrigued by the new faces and hive of activity on my hip. “There’s a couple of other things I forgot to ask you”.
I showed him where sockets needed to be chased out, a TV point needed to be situated and an extra light switch needed to be placed. We then escaped the Arctic conditions of below – doors at both ends of the house wide open – to look again at the plans to see if anything could be trimmed away. We managed two sockets…and with that I left the electrician to negotiate with S a price agreeable to both parties. Half an hour later S called with good news. The Chief Negotiator had pulled another one out of the bag and a deal had been done.
I had been hoping to learn the outcome of a deal I’m currently trying to seal with the recycled glass worktop people. I had placed our best offer on the table along with another borrowed line from S, “Can we do business?” and was hoping to hear back by now in the affirmative. In the meantime I’m still investigating other options and had a sample of the recycled coffee cup worktop arrive. It is far greater than the sum of its parts but we have ruled it out as it scratches easily, though I may well consider it for the bathroom. Fingers crossed Ill hear soon but meanwhile a plan C needs to be cooked up.
Before tackling the wallpaper alongside the labourer, I made a round of hot drinks accompanied by the remaining slices of birthday cake. With such a busy site I gave up trying to remember everyone’s dietary requirements…two sugars, one, none, three……and did a random selection instead. Whistles wetted, we cracked on with the wallpaper and the two of us made some headway but I think the chances of having this house completely stripped by the time the plasterer needs to start moving through are minimal. I can devote most of tomorrow to the job in hand and we have the labourer for another two days but after that I think even the plasterer is willing to make some concessions and agree to plaster sections of wall where it looks most resistant.
When S arrived home he checked on progress. We now have heating downstairs (operational radiators in the extension and a fan heater bought hurriedly in Argos in the lounge), a fully plastered extension, the discovery of a pretty tiled hearth beneath carpet in the snug and the patio area cut back….progress he could only see by hanging out of the upstairs window with a torch. The bifold doors are going in on Wednesday and 2nd fix electrics are taking place early next week.
We stood contemplating it. Although tools are still scattered around the space it has started to feel like a room. Our room. Resuming ownership, in itself, is quite a momentous shift. In a few more weeks we can say goodbye to this team and welcome back our carpenter – a lover of story telling and coffee breaks – booked to wrestle with our unwieldy flooring and kitchen installation. We may be reducing the number of bodies on site but I’m under no illusion that we’ll be reducing the amount of coffee making…..