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Archive for the ‘Workmen and Trade’ Category

Wooden floors go in

In Floors, Kitchen, Workmen and Trade on September 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm

This is how the dining room looked when I left for work. Progress.




When time-frames and specs change

In Floors, Kitchen, Workmen and Trade on September 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Today has been one of those days when you wonder if anyone actually understands their trade or knows how to do their job.

I realise that there’s always unforeseen issues, but surely good tradespeople build that into predicted timings? Also, I think our problems should have been foreseen by people with experience in their trade.  I shall let you decide if you agree. Here’s the background:

1. Decide that now is the time to do a new kitchen

2. Realise that floors should be done before kitchen goes in

  • advised that it is best to run floor all the way under cabinets
  • advised that it is best not to run floor all the way under cabinets  (decide to go with this so that timings aren’t as awkward and to save money)

4. Prep work on kitchen begins ready for units to arrive – this involves removing oven and sink.

3. Find out that kitchen doors are going to be 3 weeks after cabinets as the factory closes over the summer. Benchmarx didn’t tell us this at the start. This takes us into the period when out kitchen fitter is on holiday.

4. Benchmarx and fitter say that it’s fine, the cupboards can be fitted and doors added after, meaning the sink and oven can go in.

5. Fitter comes to fit cupboards and realises that the cupboards can’t go in because the spacer-boards are with the doors and therefore can’t measure round to where things are.  This means no sink/oven for another 3 weeks.

6. Benchmarx eventually give us an delivery date for the doors. It is the day that the fitter goes on holiday.

7. Today:  Delivery date for cupboards and  floor people come to fit floor  – husband organises to work from home for day

Floor people discover, despite having checked under carpets, that the floor is more uneven than they thought. They pour a lot of silicone leveller on. 4 hours later the workman says it’s not going to dry in time and he will have to come back tomorrow. Surely this could have been foreseen?

11pm and no sign of any cupboard doors and no phonecall to explain.  I guess it’s up to us to chase then?

Also, we’ve realised that the handles for the kitchen are not in any of the deliveries. We queried this and only then were told by Benchmarx that they weren’t in stock yet and would be coming “soon”

Despite all this, I’m still pretty relaxed about it all. It’s just a shame.  I do have to give a big “hooray” to Thames Fireplaces who are EXCELLENT and delivered everything they said on time and in the budget they predicted. You have my respect.





Kitchen carnage

In Building, Kitchen, Workmen and Trade on August 23, 2012 at 5:41 am

Bathroom done, we move onto the kitchen in the next stage of the lovely “project” that is The Squirrel’s Drey.

I have come to the conclusion that all house-renovation is like the song “I know an old lady who swallowed a fly”. In order to fix one thing, you find you have to fix another thing, which means something else has to happen. O.K, this is partly due to our own choice but still, for every moment that it is exciting and adventurous,  there are evenings when we are floored by the sheer range of decisions need to be made, things to be research and time-frames to be juggled.

Because we want to floor in the kitchen and dining room to run through into each other, this means it has to fit in with kitchen-fitting timings. We also have the afor mentioned fireplace in the dning room which needs attention. This has to be done before the floors. So…the fireplace before the floors before the kitchen. We just thought we were doing the kitchen!

We are completely dry-lining the kitchen (this means covering the walls in thick foam-back plaster board) in order the unsightly pipes. So here’s how this are going so far…

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Bathroom [Part1]

In Bathroom, Floors, Uncategorized, Walls, Workmen and Trade on July 13, 2012 at 11:10 am

The “Basin of Joy” was the starting point for our bathroom refit and one of the first items we bought for The Drey. it was a prime example of the fact that whilst Mr B and I often differ in opinion on the plainer items (eg the curve of a white bowl or the texture of a material) we tend to have exactly the same taste when it come to more statement items, such as bright yellow bathroom basins.

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The bathroom has progressed as follows

  • Mr B channeled his inner builder and gleefully removed the wallpaper, tiles, flooring (all three layers of it) and bath.
  • We discovered that the plaster was blown just above the tiles which meant that it would need re-rendering and skimming
  • The ceiling under the eaves was looked dodgy, so we decided to pull the rubbish chipboard off and get it plasterboarded
  • Long discussions about types of floor tiles. We nearly went for slate but were warned off it due to difficulties in making it flat and the slate splintering off over time.
  • Stacie-the-bathroom-lady started grinding out the channels for the shower. Lots of orange dust as a result, but she was brilliant and kept it all sealed in the one room (not like our re-wire crew)
  • Walls rendered, plasterboard up, flooring goes in
  • Tiling begins…and carries on…for ages..
  • Three weeks in, toilet is back and The Basin of Joy is  installed

Here’s a really bad photo of what the bathroom use to look like:

Old Bathroom


UPDATE: I was hoping to post this when the bathroom was completely painted and finished, but as you can see, it’s been a while. There’s only a little bit of finishing to do now, but I didn’t want to hold off any longer

Re-wire complete…and breathe.

In Ceilings, Electrics, Workmen and Trade on June 9, 2012 at 12:02 am

The Re-Wire

Well, last time I wrote there were cable ties holding wires to the ceiling and everything was going pretty smoothly. Those more experienced than me will no doubt nod sagely when I say that since then there have been highs and lows, squeals of delight and tears of frustration. I am coming to the conclusion that combined with lots of forward planning and extremely clear instructions to workers, it’s all about being the tortoise. Slow and steady.

On the upside, close-ups of wires make for interesting photos:

Wires in their most beautiful form

We now have false ceilings 3″ below the origional ceilings. It turns out that the floor are not completely solid concrete, but nonetheless they did require this slightly alternative approach to rewiring as there is a thick layer of concrete, then an air-gap with occasional concrete beams, then some terracotta-y sub stance and then some ceiling. So whilst there is a gap between floor and ceiling, there’s not really any way of getting cables to where you want them once you’ve got them into the cavity.  Along the way we found old chimney flu’s we didn’t know existed..

Unexplained holes

…and had some huge horrible looking channels put into the walls, which our long suffering parents have now cleaned and re-painted (they offered):

Ugly channels and fuse box

Here’s our shiny new ceilings:

Plastered ceilings


Oh yeah, and we got a new boiler too. Interestingly, British Gas turned out to be the best value and incredibly good too.

New boiler from British Gas

Bathroom next…owards and water-wards…



Wiring going in

In Ceilings, Electrics, Workmen and Trade on May 16, 2012 at 11:17 am

The Drey is awash with electricians, false ceiling installers, plasterers and gas engineers. Needless to say, this means no electricity (no internet) and no water. So, all I can bring you at the moment is this:


Partition wall gone

In Building, Ceilings, Kitchen, Walls, Workmen and Trade on May 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Well, it’s gone from this:

Dining room with half-wall

Dining room with half-wall

To this:

Dining room minus partition

Which means some of this:

Plastering  and 

but less of these:

The wooden beams from the kitchen ceiling

Knocking down walls

In Building, Walls, Workmen and Trade on May 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Today the mayhem begins in earnest. Today they are knocking down a wall, well a bit of a wall, and putting a steel beam in. I left The Drey at 7am this morning and tonight when I return at 10pm I’ll find out whether they’ve broken out home or not. All limbs are crossed

Next week the re-wire and boiler replacement happens and after that it’s the bathroom. Yikes.

Boilers, Plumbing and Bathrooms

In Bathroom, Plumbing, Workmen and Trade on May 1, 2012 at 4:25 am

I’ve been on the receiving end of many visits from boiler and plumbing engineers recently. Every person who visits has a different take on what to do. Yes, it’s utterly befuddling.

It’s ok though, because it will enable us to install “The Basin of Joy”  eventually. In the meantime here’s a summary of what I’ve been told.  Perhaps it may be of use to you, or perhaps you have an opinion.

Sfera Yellow Bowl Sink

The Sink of Joy

Here’s our situation:

1. We currently have a large Concord WRS boiler. They stopped making them before I was born, but it is working fine.

2. The current boiler is illegally vented at the moment as the flu goes into an open carport, which still counts as enclosed.

3. Our pressure for showers is, well, let’s just say I’d get cleaner using a watering can.

The options presented to us have been the following:

1) Replace the boiler and keep the hot water tank, adding a pump for pressure.

  • Some say pumps give better pressure than mains and combi, some say not
  • Some say pumps are noisy

2) Replace the boilers with a 30kw combi boiler.

  • Could use an electric shower to stop hot water/pressure drain when using more than one tap. Some say it’s an issue, some say not
  • Put flow regulators on taps to solve pressure / water sharing issue

3) Other variations in advice

  • Whether or not to powerflush the system (this could highlight leaks unnecessarily. Some combi boilers have magnetic sludge filters built in)
  • Whether or not radiatiors will need replacing

So, all in all there’s basically every permutation of the above open to us and every time someone comes, we are persuaded that their option is best….until the next person comes.

Excitingly though I have discovered that some combi-boilers have weather meters that monitor external happenings and adjust pre-emptively to drops in temperature. Swanky.