Whilst O and I are holidaying in North Yorkshire the builders are busily planning their own getaway for which they need not pack quite so many hats and scarves. . . . they are off to Cancún, in celebration of the plasterer’s 30th. This event has been referred to with escalating excitement as the days have ticked by and we were rather hoping the deadline would help maintain the Duracell Bunny-like speed they have been maintaining almost unfalteringly over these past 7 weeks. It would appear to have done the opposite. Tonight S reported a slowing down of progress with no sign of the plasterer, plumber or electrician having been on site. The lack of sanitaryware in the Worlds Smallest WC means its looking the most spacious it ever will. The extension could yet look brighter as the electrician has odds and sods still to finish and the walls could still look smoother…namely the huge wall rising from the front door, up the stairs to the landing for which the plasterer will be calling in some help. On the plus side, the work on the garden is progressing well with the path now in the skip, the patio area dug out fully, block work completed for the retaining walls, ‘scratch coat’ on (in preparation for painting) and the steps cut out.
The foreman’s confident prediction of completion within six and half weeks is likely to extend into the scheduled eight – though is still well shy of the anticipated twelve which S and I had mentally prepared ourselves for. Within the eight weeks they will also have completed two large pieces of additional work, the patio and plastering, not factored into the optimistic timescale, so we hardly have the grounds to complain ….even if we are getting rather eager to bid them a bon voyage.
Sadly though, running parallel to the change down in gear has been a gradual increase in tension. We have been harbouring a suspicion that the quoted price for the path removal, an extra announced on Monday which we had believed to be included in an already agreed price, had been manufactured to equate exactly the amount of spends the foreman still needed to raise for his trip. S broached this, though not quite as bluntly, and a sour tasting exchange took place in which our house was compared to the foreman’s, exposing him as having a touch of the green-eye. Hearing of the episode second hand, I felt outraged, ashamed and indignant in equal measure and had a good mind to tell the foreman what I thought of his misguided comparisons. Not ever one who enjoys confrontation, I have, instead, been grappling internally with the emotions his words have spiked in me.
We don’t ever intend to boast or gloat. We are simply trying to create our home, one which we have worked hard (and will long continue to do) to afford. We make our choices…..to compromise in places and push the boat out in others. We know, of course, that there are many people who can afford more than we can and many who can afford less. We know, too, that there are others who might simply elect to spend their money in a different way …….and thats just life. That said, to my mind there is no reason why any builder who does what he says he is going to do for the price he said he’d do it should not be making good money. That’s all we ask from those we trust to build our homes. How that builder then spends that money is up to him.
I know, nearing as we are the end of their residency, that our foreman has a habit of flying off the handle yet calms down almost as quickly. True to form he rang S today and agreed to a couple of things by which we could draw out a pinch of an apology. I wonder if a few of these tensions could have been avoided if the Chief Coffee Maker hadn’t handed in her notice quite so suddenly. Many emotional reactions, I have come to discover, can be neutralised fairly quickly by the consumption of a chemical compound of hot water, coffee granules, milk and sugar.
While he may have already forgotten his outburst, coffee or no coffee, I have decided to try to take on board his point, however badly made. We are, despite the butterflies who have flown, very lucky. We have family, we have friends and we have each other. Whilst the home we are building around our own precious family unit will, we hope, serve to strengthen us it it is not what is holding us up. “I would live in a hole if it meant I could have you both” S said to me very recently. It’s knowing that, not having oak kitchens, recycled glass worktops or rusty Oxo tins, which feels like home.
The lounge plastering completed