Devil in the Detail: Wk 15 – Day One

It’s sometimes hard to know which are the battles to pick and which to run from as we strive to create our perfect home….the biggest lesson to learn being that having ‘perfection’ up there as a goal is one battle lost in itself.

Right now, with so much emotionally and financially invested, it feels like its all worth fighting for…at the unrealistic expense of positioning ourselves permanently on the somewhat tense and stressful upper scales of ‘flight or fight’ mode. Yesterday, the sight of the skirting flipped me within a nanosecond to ‘fight’, passing lingeringly through the state of ‘seething annoyance’ to get there.

We returned home from our weekend away looking forward to seeing the house having taken one more significant step towards the finish line. The oven would be working, skirting on, temporary door separating hallway and extension off and a few holes and knocks sorted. Perhaps unsurprisingly only some of that list had been completed and, irritatingly, not all to the standard to which we had expected.

Early Friday morning I had lengthily discussed with the foreman and his carpenter how I envisaged we deal with skirting some tricky changes of level to the flooring, using as an example an original piece of skirting upstairs which drops a level to accommodate a step. The builders had listened nodding their comprehension all the while.
“What I don’t want” I said, stressing my point “is a raw edge. I want it to wrap around the wall then drop down to meet the lower skirting with the beading running along all of the visible edges.”
They nodded emphatically with murmurs of “Course. Course”
We also agreed upon a suitable way to deal with the termination of the wooden floor which was at that point bearing for all to see a cross section of its layered make-up. The fairly simple and agreeable solution they presented was an MDF upstand affixed to the front with some curved quadrant fastened across this. A picture was sketched for me so we could be sure we were on the same page. It appeared we were.

Returning home it was clear that in fact we weren’t…..quite. Step nosing had been executed as described and looked fine. The skirting running simply around the room looked good and the tricky step in the hallway looked just as we had discussed. The other tricky step between kitchen and snug could be technically described as a pigs ear being treated in precisely the way I’d described I hadn’t wanted. In addition gaping holes had been created in the plaster from the removal of some old skirting and two other sections, nestled snugly between the doors of the utility and larder cupboards, were thicker than the architrave used so had been subjected to some wonky bevelling.

I looked on in disappointment as I felt the stress rise like bile in my throat. For 14 weeks we had endured disruptive and extensive building work but never again would we be likely to appreciate the solid foundations and accurately positioned steel beams….. as essential as they might be. For a far greater number of weeks we would continue to notice the bodged skirting.

This morning I called the foreman for my fight.

“It’s a mixed bag” I began, “firstly I wanted to thank you for doing the piece of skirting in the hallway as Id asked…it’s exactly how I wanted.”
The foreman grunted his acknowledgement, aware there was a ‘but’ hanging in the air.
I delivered it.
“But the piece between the extension and the old dining room is exactly how I’d explained I didn’t want it….in fact Im not sure you will have seen it as its not representative of the kind of work you do”
The foreman claimed confusion, then claimed falsely that he had explained that’s how it had to be, then agreed reluctantly to contribute towards C’s time in redoing it. Once materials had been salvaged from the skip C stepped somewhat smugly into the role of Knight in Shining Saw having first taken the time to explain to me that he had explained to them how it should have been done in the first place.
With the repair job in operation perspective belatedly fell back into place. It’s wood stuck to a wall. Bigger things have happened.

At that point K the plumber arrived ready to get started on the bathroom. As I made another round of coffees I explained our dilemma with the extractor/cooker hood and a new solution presented itself. Apparently as part of the work we are doing in the bathroom the ducting could quite easily be taken up through the ceiling and vented out of the bathroom wall giving us the option of tucking an extractor somewhere less obvious than had been suggested on Friday …..or going the whole hog and plumping for a cooker hood incorporated remissively into the design. I shall delegate decision making around that particular detail to the Technology Manager…me becoming increasingly bewildered about the pros and cons, necessities and requirements for each.

Later in the afternoon with the wall between the bathroom and spare bedroom removed with only the upright wooden frame remaining (to be strengthened as these will usefully form part of the new shower enclosure wall) I talked through the detail of the bathroom with K…the specifics having been beautifully illustrated and notated by my friend. All is possible and appears fairly straightforward….(famous last words?) ….with for me only the purchasing of some mirrored cabinets and the finalisation of the purchase of the flooring still to be done.

A few hours later, builders having blessedly left us after one very noisy day, I took a cowering O to investigate upstairs. The cacophony of C’s electric saw through his nap time, K’s sledgehammer through his lunch and C’s drill through his dinner appeared not to bother him in the slightest. The disorientating detail of a missing wall, however, incurred the heart wrenching cries of “no no no”. Bath time postoned…indefinitely judging by the dusty state of the bath….O was wrapped lovingly in his Daddy’s arms and taken into his bedroom for a reassuring nocturnal rendition of, I would assume, ‘Chocolate Mousse for a Greedy Goose’ while I made my way out to meet cousin Z, wondering all the while if the devil in the detail is in fact me.


The example skirting upstairs


The hallway executed well … In my opinion

The step between kitchen and snug executed not so well


C’s fix….a bit of filling and sanding needed before a paint to hide the joins

The missing wall


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