Posts Tagged ‘home improvements’

It’s such a slow, ongoing process, this home improvement thing,  particularly with other calls on our time – namely the sheep and chickens, work, wanting to go out cycling and other jollies, and dealing with serious health issues (himself – stable now).  However we have now made a bit more progress in our kitchen – the previously blanchmange pink alcove (was it a window or a chimney?) is now a mostly white alcove, sporting a new bespoke (we made it) free standing unit with reclaimed wood counter.


No mean feat.  The alcove had a huge layer of cement and many, many coats of gloss paint on it, all designed to hide the water feature behind…  The incredible damp was dried out, the mud removed and  the stonework repointed, the original brick hearth was found – yes it was a chimney – the original one we assume since the kitchen has another one, complete with the remains of a (sort of ) filled in bread oven, and a lot of soot. The chimney had to be insulated and capped off  – more so than the previous owners efforts with a plank and a bit of fibreboard (no wonder there were so many drafts).


a delicious combo of horrid pink and horrid damp


We had a bit of a break then, re the health issues and a think about what we are doing, decided we like what we are doing, and picked up home improving again.

Just before Christmas the aforementioned water feature made an appearance.  It turns out if the gutter becomes blocked, the rainwater overflows and pours directly into our house wall – the walls being somewhat not straight – and the water turns up as a mini waterfall in the kitchen at the back of the alcove – hence the slight yellowing of the clay paint.  This has been going on for decades, hidden behind the cement and gloss paint barrier.  So we shall solve this problem from the outside and repaint then.


reclaimed wood, diverted from the log pile

And now we have a nice open fronted unit – open so the damp can continue to dry out, and I have put my nicer pans there (the more disgraceful ones can hide in a cupboard). I love the counter – made from reclaimed wood from a packing crate.  It looks shiny as I have just treated it with Danish oil, with built in wood stain.


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new hung slates
Last month we had the roof and the vertical hanging slates replaced. We had been putting it off, of course, due to the major upheaval and cost, but it was always on the cards. Then, once we had got the quotes in, spoken to building control, and gathered the funds, we waited patiently for our preferred roofer to become available – the good ones are busy.
Busier still following the storms of this winter just gone, and we were anxious that the stripping the tiles part would be done earlier than planned by nature! We were set to have the work done in January and February, the worst time – thus the next available slot, but the storms pushed the timings around and April was free and became our turn.
The roofers were lovely. Over the four weeks they were in our lives we got used to each other, formality was relaxed, they didn’t attempt to get me to make decisions until after my second cup of coffee in the morning, I got used to hearing them start work at the crack of …surely that time is still night?
We had our events. Early on we discovered the state of the wall underneath those hanging slates, so that had to be fixed, (and the builder came even earlier than the roofers – hence my accidental early morning incident involving the opening of curtains and not expecting to see someone standing on the other side of the glass on the first floor – still he didn’t fall off the scaffolding…)
Roofer slip
The moment the slates were all off, the heavy rains came. And they came in. Along with the roofer’s foot. We could have paid extra to have a big tent thing put up over the roof whilst the work was done, but it’s not really worth it, if you don’t mind the possibility of a little wet getting in. Unfortunately as they rushed to put the felt down in the rain, he slipped and hit a particularly rotten timber and his boot ended up in our spare bedroom. Right over where I work on accounts and such. Laths and plaster everywhere. He was so gutted and sorry – I was worried he had hurt himself. He made it all good, so no problems there, and need redecorating anyway. I was careful not to mention it in the village, him being the local man, but the people in the fish and chip shop already knew by the time we were buying chips that night… well he is the roofer’s next door neighbour. word gets around…. in fact the whole village came by for a chat, and to make sure we were reinstating the hanging slates and to approve etc.

After the foot in spare room moment, I was fairly relaxed about the puddle on top of wardrobe thing, and the new spring coming out of kitchen wall. Each time he came around and worked in the heaving rain to fix a temporary cover. And I learned to check in the morning for anyone outside on the scaffolding before another accidental flash, and to get up uber early and caffeinate in plenty of time. And as predicted, one side of the timbers were completely rotted out – building control came and gave an opinion (another nice man), the work was done, and no wonder we had such damp problems on that side of the house.

They were a positive joy to have around, safe, fun banter, we were able to get on with lots of other things like putting up the new greenhouse, going out for the occasional jolly, sowing a zillion seeds, renovating the kitchen, fetching new pigs, replacing a vehicle and generally not feeling obliged to hang around, nor chase them up, but it is still somehow tiring having work done. I’d use the same company again though – apart from the fact this roof should last us out.

And then it came to an end, the scaffolding came down and normal life resumed, albeit in a drier less leaky home.
We’ve been in recovery mode ever since, switching between trying to catch up on the digging and planting, and getting out and enjoying life – hence why I’ve been a bit quieter lately.

Such a joy to have the work done, the high winds do not scare any more, and the house is drier than any time since we moved in.

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