We woke with a start by a knock on the door.
“Oh god” I said, sitting up sharply, “that will be the foreman. Is it 8 o’clock?”
S rolled over to look at the alarm.
“Is the baby still asleep?”
He was. Our natural alarm clock had decided on a lie in.
Bleary eyed we sprang into action. Already pyjamaed (its still cold!) I headed downstairs to get the door. S, less suitably attired, checked to see if the babe was still breathing ….the normal reaction to unusual behaviour for parents worldwide.
Opening the door to whom I imagined would be a tracksuited foreman accustomed to me winging a pyjama look having spent three months arriving at a similar ungodly time, I found instead a suited and booted building inspector.
“Morning! Coffee?” I overcompensated, as if working in some motorway cafe somewhere.
“Good morning” he replied cordially, “I was meant to be meeting your foreman at 8am….”
“He won’t be far behind” I promised, “come in” and leading him through to the kitchen I took his preferences for milk and sugar along the way.
“Please take a seat.” I indicated towards the table laden with a selection of bottles temporarily relocated from atop the oven whilst C drilled some air vents in the shelf. He nodded his thanks but remained standing, removing official looking portfolios as he did so. A rat-a-tat at the door indicating the timely arrival of the foreman negated the awkward need for smalltalk and, leaving them to discuss their business, I hastened upstairs to find something more supportive than pj’s to wear on my top half…
Upon my return I passed around mugs of coffee as they talked in hushed voices. The door went again.
“Hi I’m R, the electrician” R introduced, holding out his hand.
I shook it.
“Hi. No J then today?”
J, the electrician coming as part and parcel of the foreman’s team, had texted late the previous night asking for a snagging list and £150. He got the list…the rest would be at the discretion of the Finance Manager who wasn’t enamoured with his unfinished work thus far.
“No..I got a text this morning. I’m none too happy….he lives nearer.” replied a fairly jovial R under the described circumstances…the promise of a coffee appearing to appease him. I set about making another cup.
Meanwhile a dressed but worried S had joined the fray.
“You need an extractor” said the Building Inspector to the aghast ensemble.
“Most people have cooker hoods” the foreman mumbled to us accusingly, “I suppose I should have checked but most people have them”
“We didn’t have one in our small flat and here we have a big room and tons of windows.” I countered, “We have never had one on the plans”
“I know. I know….I should have picked up on it” apologised the foreman as the Building Inspector cut in.
“You need an extractor” he repeated.
A discussion ensued between the foreman, his carpenter and R about where on the wall such a thing could legally be positioned as S and I looked nervously on. Having gone to the trouble to sand a ceiling to get rid of patchy texture, the thought of a jagged scar up our beautifully architectural wall was too heartbreaking to contemplate. Even, we both surmised, if the damage to the plaster could be concealed the machine itself- think bathroom extractor fan – would never be discreet. With their options discussed and dismissed S had a few of his own.
“What if we promise to open one of our three Velux windows or our bifold doors?” he chanced. The Building Inspector smiled but shook his head.
“I’m sorry. You need an extractor”
S tried again.
“Could we get a carbon filter cooker hood, so we don’t need the ducting?”
There was an uncomfortable pause. Reluctantly the Building Inspector nodded.
“Technically no…but in this case Ill agree.”
We breathed a sigh of relief. A photo of the extractor is all that is needed to pass and the foreman will agree to paying towards it. Ill leave you to work out what we’ll do with it afterwards…
As S went upstairs to retrieve an awaking O, the electrician tapped my arm.
“Have you got a snagging list for me?” he asked.
“Indeed we have” I said. “One we sent J last night which might be why he called you”
Unfazed by most on the list bar the questionable oven feed, he went away to call J. He returned to an unamused S.
“He says he didn’t put a spur in for the oven as he didn’t know you needed it….but that you need to call him to discuss the price.”
“It’s on the quote!” I cried, feathers spitting forcibly from my mouth as I cajoled O into eating a spoonful more of his breakfast….distracted by the new faces he insisted on disloyally calling ‘C’.
Unable to get any more information from R who “didn’t want to get involved”‘ a seething S made the phone call.
The details go far beyond my comprehension of electrics but to summarise: J the Joker did indeed quote for it, hadn’t done it, plinths and floorboards need to come up in order to do it but done it will be.
Meanwhile I checked in with the foreman.
“How was your holiday?” I asked
“Yeah, good.” he nodded “a few late nights, bit of snorkelling…”
“Was the food amazing?” I asked jealously, removing the masking and cardboard from the floor of the Worlds Smallest WC so he could gain access to fit skirting.
“Um….I’m a meat man really. I don’t like vegetables. So no….not really”
Biting back my next question, “so why Mexico?” I went through his snagging list…most of which was greeted with an easy nod with a few more reluctant ones thrown in – most notably following an exchange with our resident Chief Negotiator to amend the last instalment to take account for hiccups encountered during the build. Amicably sorted, half an hour later skirting was going on and correct feeds were going in. With the arrival of C and the house well on its way to becoming an active building site again S, O and I retreated upstairs to dress and pack for a weekend away.
With anxiety returning as images of week one pushed their unwelcome way back into our memory, we set off once again for The North ….leaving a bunch of builders to their own devices for what we hope to be the last time.
Space at a premium with the site once again full of builders, the foreman’s carpenter cuts his skirting outside…..alongside our delightfully crazy paved path….to be pulled up in the, probably distant, future once coffers have been refilled