Posted in House Diary

One Year!

I have left over chalk-paint and endless craft supplies so Santa is in luck.


Just need a fire now!

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Santa got stuck up my chimney.

Thursday will be the one year anniversary of my completion date. To celebrate, I decided to try and get the fireplace suitable for Santa. I had the old back boiler and fire decommissioned over the summer, a new combi-boiler installed and the central heating re-piped to make it more efficient. The company who did it were great, but they left the old fire in place rather than leave me with a large hole in the wall. “It’s just two screws and you can lift it off when you’re ready” they assured me.

I’m sure it should have been.

It was more like 6 screws and 4 bolts and 45 minutes of sheer determination.


But then the old Baxi stuck out a good 6cm proud of the fireplace and was pretty happy where it was.

I couldn’t replace the old gas fire, I couldn’t cover it with a new one and I couldn’t leave it like that!


Santa’s not going to like this.

I called a friend who turned up with better tools and bigger muscles, now Baxi is no more and I’ve potentially got the makings of an awesome fireplace with a real stove. Unfortunately I’m unlikely to ever be that rich, so I’m stuck with this!




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I found all of my tradespeople through which works a bit like TripAdvisor for workmen. 

It’s difficult to write a review for some of the work. The damp course company don’t deserve negative feedback, they turned up and worked their asses off get the jobs done and went the extra mile finishing the plastering before Christmas, and replacing and repairing damage done to floorboards and skirtings. They were like a whirlwind of activity for the entire of December. There were different people there every day but all of them were friendly and polite. My review on mybuilder will be positive to reflect the fact that they did a good job for a fair price.

When the job was initially quoted for I was asked about the carpets, I said I’d like to keep them. Something was said about how the workmen would treat the house as a building site as I wasn’t living there yet but that he’d make sure they knew. He said there would be dust sheets.

We’d just finished laying the kitchen floor tiles when I got the message that work would start next morning so I didn’t bother finishing the grouting, expecting they’d get a bit dusty. Black dust and wet white grout don’t mix too well. 

When the team arrived I reminded the one who seemed to be in charge that I was hoping to keep the carpets. We had folded the living room and dining room ones up to protect them. He said he’d get dust sheets. It was about to get messy so I left and went to work for the day. 

The pictures of the carpet when I returned are on this page along with my new tiles. The dust sheets used were actually one of my sheets and the cardboard box from my new oven.

The tiles soon turned to this;

and now have splashes of concrete on them. Those three in the doorway need completely replacing.

So, it was messier than I had anticipated, my carpets in the living and dining room aren’t salvageable and my kitchen floor needs a good scrub and some tiles replacing.

To be fair they did clean up. But they used my Henry, with the bag removed, and left it like this;

(Inside Henry after I’d cleaned out the rubble)

The next stages of injecting the damp course and reapplying the render were all great, they also treated the woodworm and fitted in replastering before Christmas. I have no complaints about any of the work done. They even tried to unblock my drain for me.

Replacing the radiators took longer than it needed to, more about that here. But as they explained, replacing the radiators wasn’t included in the quote so it must be standard practice to leave them off.

They left the place fairly tidy, there’s only a section of ecodrain and a couple of metal strips left in the back yard, only one of my kitchen wall tiles got knocked off as the cement mixer was carried back through the house and my front yard is only 1/3 full of rotten wood and other debris.

In summary, they did a great job but they were damned messy about it!

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All gone!

They’ve all finished. No more damp-proofers, plumbers, electricians or plasterers! 

To celebrate I’ve ordered laminate flooring and carpets and booked a weekend of painting and tiling where everyone I know is invited to bring a paintbrush over and help out.

Posted in House Diary

New Year

After a 5 hour journey back to Wales we arrived at a partially plastered and freezing cold house. Which meant I had to make alternative sleeping arrangements. When the workmen had finished on december 22nd they left a message with the plasterer to say someone would be back to replace the radiators between Christmas and new year. From previous conversations with them I had expected they would be replacing them on the 22nd when they came to ‘clean up and finish things off’ but they wanted a plumber to do it. 

They finally went back on on Wednesday 4th Jan although the original brackets were nowhere to be seen and the radiators themselves are looking a little worse for wear after being left out in the back yard for a month. The plumbers themselves were great though and the house is warming up!

Posted in House Diary

One Month

I’ve been pretty stressed out this past few weeks, so much so that one of my bestest friends advised me to ‘Chill the fuck out’. Stress levels (and dancing a little too enthusiastically to Man don’t give a fuck) lead to a pretty sore back and a day of enforced bed rest.

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In the past two weeks the damp course on the three internal downstairs walls was finished and the hall, living and dining room walls re-plastered. Outside the back wall of the house a trench was dug, tanked and an eco-drain put in so the back wall is doubly damp-proofed. A group of fresh-faced electricians put a ring-main into the upstairs with usb sockets in each of the bedrooms. They also installed my electric cooker. I made pancakes. A different plasterer has taken on the crumbling lath and plaster upstairs walls, so far the ceilings have been bonded and plastered and the new plaster-boards are ready to go up after christmas.

The damp-proofers have removed their equipment and replaced the skirting-boards. Hopefully they’ll have the radiators back on before January.

Dylan painted the kitchen walls and cleaned the living room floor because he’s lovely and because we needed somewhere to put a mattress for the night. The kids spent their first three nights in the house and loved it. Alex and Gar brought the sofa over, through the window, so now I have somewhere comfy to sit even if it is freezing.

I can’t wait to be doing nice things like choosing flooring and painting walls and bringing furniture in.

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Week 3 – Monday

On Sunday evening the builders said they could start in the morning. We got to the house at 8:15 and assembled the kitchen. By 9:30 the plaster and render had been hacked off three walls and the house had turned into a thick black dust cloud.


Guess I’ll be needing a new carpet then!

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Week 2

We put a coat of paint onto the wall tiles in the toilet and bathroom. Cut laid and grouted the floor tiles in the toilet, bathroom and kitchen. Just a bit of grout left to do in the kitchen now. Removed kitchen unit doors and drawers and painted with chalk paint. Thanks millions to Dylan and Iwona and Suzy.


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Week One

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I got the keys to my new home on Wednesday 23rd November. One week later, with a considerable amount of help from my partner, we have stripped 3 bedrooms of wallpaper and ceiling tiles, stripped paper from the living room ready for the new damp course, removed lino and vinyl floor tiles from the kitchen, bathroom and toilet, had the consumer unit replaced, had quotes for the damp and woodworm work to be done, and put the first coat of paint in the toilet.

Hopefully the new floor tiles will arrive Friday and I’ll have a functioning kitchen by next week.