Friday, 29 November 2013

Day 10: Shower and paint.

The painters were here nice and early, around 8.30, but they weren't stopping just picking up a key. That meant I could go off out for the day.
A long hike up and over the mountain and then back through the village with a friend and her dog and my legs feel like they're going to drop off! I needed to get out and get the fresh air and exercise though.Then this afternoon it was the school Christmas fayre. Nothing spectacular but I'd be told off by my youngest if I didn't go, we I went and bought some stuff, had a cuppa and then I could take her home early.
In the bathroom, there's paint on the walls, the light is fixed and the shower unit is in but not plumbed in and not to be used yet.
It's looking good though, and will look better once I get the grout cleaned off the tiles.
Still to be done in the bathroom: Flooring, another coat of wall paint, gloss on the woodwork; bath side to be put on; window sill replaced and everything sealed where needed.
I need to remember to ask whether there's any sort of splashback being fitted round the sink.
Then I can start thinking about where the mirror, cupboard and other bits are going to go in there.
The kitchen is getting there too. The tiles are finally looking clean and there's less grout dust everywhere. Today was the second coat of paint so there's not much to see. But, we moved a large cupboard out of the way, realising there was nowhere for it to go in the new layout, and the space it's made really makes a difference.
Still to do in the kitchen: Snagging on the cupboards and drawers - uneven and out of alignment; flooring to go down; door frame trim to be replaced; woodwork gloss; fix the fan housing (loose and not flush to the wall); window sill to be fitted; plinths under the units to be fixed (after the floor is done).
Now we have a weekend off and then it's into the final week and it looks like they might be finished early. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Day 9: Bathroom tiles and paint.

The new bath is noticeably smaller than the old one, but fills faster as a result. I'm not sure about the taps - the bath, bathroom and kitchen sinks, all have taps with levers, like hospital taps. I suppose they're easier to use for some people and I'm sure we'll get used to them, but they're not what I would have chosen. 
Call me odd though, but the new toilet is actually rather nice. I never thought of a toilet as aesthetically pleasing, but the shape of this one is actually quite easy on the eye. It's sort of more squat and rounded than the old one, and I quite like it.
The bathroom tiles are now up, although there are none round the sink? I'll have to check that tomorrow. I'd have expected some sort of splash-back for the sink as well as the shower/bath area. The tiles are big, and the decorative bit complements the kitchen tiles. They're still covered with grout dust, but still looking good. The bathroom still looks a mess and is a long way from looking good, but it's starting to get there.
In other bathroom news... The new light fitting blew a bulb this evening and I have no clue how to change the bulb, or what sort of bulb it takes.  Oldest child has christened the new bath and declared it to be "comfy" but the hot tap doesn't get hot enough.
The kitchen, on the other hand, has the first coat of paint on and will be getting a second coat tomorrow. I do have to check on the possible replacement of some door-frame trim. I'm not sure if it was meant to be replaced, but it's so knackered that if they just paint over the peeling and bubbles existing paint, it'll look a mess. It'd be a shame to have that one, small, area look a mess in the middle of all the new stuff. I hope they'll fix it.
Kitchen light fitting repaired and now secure.
Still left to do: Flooring in both kitchen and bathroom; painting to be finished in both kitchen and bathroom; shower to be fitted in bathroom.
Snags to be queried: Bathroom light; kitchen light (replacement bulb for the broken one); Door dropped on one cupboard (one handle is lower on a pair of doors and it's annoying me!); door frame trim.
Not bad, even if it is taking too long.

Day 8: Kitchen tiles and bathroom bits

Sorry, this post is a day late and pic heavy, bear with it while it loads up.
So, today...
First they ripped out the bathroom, removing the bath and toilet. Then they realised there was no replacement bath! Oops...
So, a bath was ordered - to be fair, all dealt with with minimal fuss and the bath was promised by the end of the day. 
Then they found the new toilet and cistern didn't match, or something, and a new one of those had to be brought too. Again, all dealt with quietly and efficiently. Nice one, plumber, you can have a gold star!
He did keep setting the smoke alarms off with his soldering, but that's understandable. 
Around lunchtime there was a toilet sat on the stairs, and Tenant Liaison came to visit the kittens see how things are progressing.
In the afternoon the tilers moved in to start on the kitchen. Warm cream tiles with a mosaic decorative panel, and they look great, better than I was expecting. The mosaic is resin and stone effect squares, some with shiny stuff behind, and they really catch the light. I really like those. It's a small detail, but I really do like them. The cupboards are all full now - the kitchen fitters said to fill the units to get some weight in to see if they settle. They shouldn't but if they do then that can be fixed on snagging day next week. 
It took all day to sort out the bathroom, but in the end it's all back in and looking very clean and shiny. That won't last long, eldest child has a rugby match on Thursday afternoon. 
So, what's left to do?
Painting both kitchen and bathroom, twice, including glossing the woodwork and possibly renewing the damaged trim round a door frame. Tiling the bathroom and flooring in both kitchen and bathroom. Then tidying up and dealing with any snagging issues.
The end is in sight, and it's starting to look good.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Day 7: Kitchen units.

It's starting to look like a kitchen again.
The bathroom, on the other hand, still looks the same as it did at the end of Thursday. Twice since then, I've been told the shower should be fitted by now and it's still not there. Without any sort of timetable, I have no way of knowing if that's true or not.
The kitchen light is still hanging by a bunch of wires, one of which is still bare and shiny. There was an electrician in the house today, I saw him, it said "Electrician" on his jacket and he was fitting an electric extractor fan in the kitchen. I now know how those work, information which would have been really useful last Wednesday when I realised the one in the bathroom won't turn off.
Tomorrow, apparently, is tiling - although how on Earth they expect to do that in the bathroom when the bath, toilet, sink, and shower aren't in place, I have no idea. The old bath and toilet are still there, but they're going to be replaced. The team today were surprised that they hadn't been done yet, but not at all surprised that I have no clue what is happening.
It's a shambles. But the kitchen is starting to look good.

Day 6: Week 2. Orthodontics, Catching Fire and most of a floor.

No pics from today as there's nothing to see. 
Eldest child had an orthodontics appointment, and both children had a day off school today. So this morning involved getting up at the usual time to wait for workmen to appear.
9.30. Van pulls up. "We're here to level the kitchen floor. We'll be about half an hour and then you can't go in there or walk on it for at least 4 hours."
Would have been good to know that before the day...
Sorted them out, established that they'd be fine and any appliances disconnected would be put back. Spoke to Tenant Liaison to let her know that they'd arrived and that we were vacating to a friend's house just up the road. Also that a key would be left with same friend in case the promised shower was going to be fitted. Again, a time and definite day for that would have been useful.
Left younger child with friend, took older one for his appointment.
Can you guess where this might be going?
Moments before leaving with oldest child, an electrician turned up for the key, he's here to fix the dangling light fitting.... guess where? You've got it, in the kitchen, above the floor that no-one can walk on for the next four hours. Shower? "Haven't they done that yet? They usually go in on electrics day." That'd be last Wednesday then. No, no-one fitted or mentioned the shower last week.
Went out, got child's braces fitted (they hurt, a lot, apparently. Sympathy and painkillers have been administered through this evening.) Took child to see Catching Fire (Hunger Games Trilogy). Good film, even better book.
Finally arrived home around 6 to find no shower, no fixed light and most of a levelled floor. Also no message or any sort of information about tomorrow.
Most of a floor? Yes, most, not all of the floor got levelled. They didn't bother moving the cooker, sink or washing machine. They just sort of went up to and round them, and the bit they've bothered to do isn't level. I can feel lines and bumps under my feet - and I'm wearing fairly heavy, thick soled boots.
There was a verbal, "I might try and fit it in tomorrow"  from the electrician.
Well, tomorrow is shopping day. They have until 9.30 to show up and then I'm off out. If no-one shows up by 9.00 then I'll be on the phone to Tenant Liaison again.
Just an aside though, I really, really want to spell that as Tennant....
So, a Borough Council does a kitchen and bathroom refurb and takes 9 days on the kitchen and 4 on the bathroom. They assembled a multi-skilled team who moved in and did the work efficiently, arriving at 8.30 every day and working through till 5 unless there was good reason not to - like the floor being wet and out of bounds. They issued tenants with a timetable so we knew what to expect on which day, which trades were coming in and whether any appliances, water or power would be disconnected at any stage. And Tenant Liaison was so much in my face on a daily basis that I was fed up of them. But they were always there.
This housing association does the exact same job (with the addition of a wall to take down, which took less than a day) and I have no clue what to expect on any given day, they workers seem to like half days and it's taking forever.
I will no doubt rant some more tomorrow. But now I'm off for some sleep, just in case they decide that tomorrow might be an early start or, miracles do happen, a full day's work.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Day 5: Signing off for the weekend.

The light is hanging from the ceiling, I can see a bare wire - but have been assured that it's the earth, and therefore "safe". I'm no electrician, but bare wire? Doesn't look or feel "safe" to me.
Aside from that, it's the end of week 1 (of 3), where are we?
 In the kitchen: The wall is gone, the wiring, sockets and light are all where they should be - having been moved about, again. The walls are patched and skimmed and the plaster is slowly drying. The cooker and washing machine are connected and available for use - but only after I called to drag a plumber back to reconnect the washer this evening. To be fair, there's only been 1 day I was without the washer, the cooker has been reconnected every day, or left connected and they've worked round it. I shouldn't have had to call for a plumber, and I could have reconnected the washer myself, but they're meant to do that as part of their end of day checks and it clearly isn't being done.
In the bathroom: There's still no sink, the bath is open underneath. There's dust and mess all over everything and the new fan they've fitted seems to be permanently on and makes a low level hum all day and all night. It's annoying me now, must remember to ask how to turn the damned thing off! Would have been useful to know that on the day they fitted it, which was Wednesday.
It's only been a week but I'm not impressed with the organisation on this. Simple communication would solve a lot of the issues. I'm at the end of the program of works, all this should have been ironed out months ago. 
The plastic floor protector stuff is still down and we're all walking dust and muck all over the rest of the house. And I broke the hoover - which isn't actually a hoover, but it's a vacuum cleaner and we all call them hoovers, don't we? Not really broke it, not properly.... one of the wheels on the sucky head part had broken so it doesn't move across the floor as well as it should. Right now it's no big deal, but I'll want to replace it once the work is finished. Cleaning up after it's all done could be fun.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Day 4: Some plastering.

Not all of the plastering, and not what I expected. But some plastering.
They turned up at 8.15, and were long gone when I got back at 3.00.
They were working and getting on with things when I popped back in at around 10.
When I was told I was having the kitchen and bathroom done, I knew what level of work to expect - having been through it before. I think I've mentioned this before.
So... I expected the kitchen to be ripped out, and the bathroom - all units, appliances, fixtures and fittings. I expected dirt and dust and chaos. I expected them to rewire, to replace the pipes and gas supply. And I expected them to strip the walls back to brick and re-plaster.
No. They've patched and skimmed over the existing plaster. I really don't understand the reasoning there. Surely, with the amount of work being done, it would make sense to strip back and re-render and then skim? So, patches of the bathroom are still marked and rough. I'm hoping the areas they've left will correspond with the areas to be tiled.
Oh, and the ceiling. They've put up boards to level it and then plastered over most of it. Yes, most of it, because they didn't have enough boards on the van. Really? There have been people in and out of this house for days, with pre-work checks and measurements being done months ago. No-one measured the ceiling? No-one said to take extra boards?
And, again, no-one thought to tell me when they'd turn up today, or what was due to be worked on, and I have no idea what time to expect people tomorrow. I know the same blokes will be back to finish the ceiling and they think there's something else going on tomorrow.
Communication is sorely lacking and I'm not impressed with the lack of organisation.
More tomorrow...

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Day 3: Sparkies and holes

A nice prompt 8.45ish start. Well, prompt.... early anyway and a full days work done by the 2 who arrived.
Today saw a fan fitted in the bathroom and the cabling for the shower is now in place - don't worry that circuit is dead until the shower goes in.
The fan seems to work.
It does feel very odd having a bath in what looks like a building site! But at least it's all functional and we can have a bath.
I do wish they'd taken the time to clean up in the bathroom, the bath was filthy and I had to clean it before the kids could get washed this evening.
I'm not sure what the idea is behind taking the sink out at this stage, it's a pain in the rear end and seems to serve no purpose that I can tell. Why not leave it in until the new one is due to go in?
Not a clue.
So, the kitchen. It's still a case of "What kitchen?" really.
Today they rewired it, again, and moved the new light fitting. That area was rewired only a couple of weeks ago, why they couldn't do it now.... Ah well, another argument for another day.
The kitchen sockets are now where I want them, and the light has been centralised according to the dimensions of the designated kitchen space in the room.  The cooker is now roughly where it's going to end up, and the under counter sockets for the fridge and washing machine are in place.
I think I want a new cooker.....
Plasterers tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Day 2: A bit of pipe work.

The last kitchen I had ripped out and replaced took 9 days. They started on the Monday and finished around midday on the Thursday of the following week. The bathroom in that house took 4 days. The vans were sat outside my house ready to start work at 8.30 and they didn't quit until around 5. All the trades required on any given day would all show up together, argue over which radio station to listen to, make an unholy mess and then clean up at the end of the day.
The kitchen was bigger than this one. The job got done in minimum time, fairly efficiently.
So, this time round the kitchen and bathroom are being done at the same time, and it's going to take 3 weeks.
The work is slightly different. There's some structural stuff to do - a wall needed to come out. That was done yesterday. They arrived at 9.30 and were long gone when I got home at 3.00. Today was some plumbing work and no-one was here when I went out at 11.00. I passed the keys to a tenant liaison person and hoped the work might get done. When I got home at 3.00 there was soldering and stuff going on in my kitchen and he'd "got here about an hour ago." A simple communication would have sorted that. I should have known to not expect anyone this morning, and I should have known that yesterday at the latest.
He took another hour or so to put some pipes in, make a hole in the wall and take out the bathroom sink. The sink is in bits, sitting in the front garden.
Apparently the trades don't like working alongside each other, so a plumber can't be working while there are sparkies working, and the plasterers make a mess.
This would be why it's going to take 3 weeks then.
This is work being done towards the end of a program of ongoing improvements, and as such I would expect lessons to have been learned and timings to have been sharpened. It should be possible to have all this done in 2 weeks, maybe with an extra day for the structural stuff, or for last minute fixes at the end. Three weeks is excessive and a waste of resources.
Tomorrow I expect electricians to rewire the kitchen, which was rewired 2 weeks ago as part of the whole house rewire. Why they couldn't have incorporated that into the whole program I have no idea.
So, thinking abut it, it's not 3 weeks, it's more like 4.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Day 1: Demolition.

The van arrived, and I went out for the day. The shopping needed doing anyway, and once that was done I sought sanctuary at a friend's house.
All because today was demolition day.
The bathroom's not much different - the tiles are off the wall, the sides off the bath and the built in storage under the sink is gone - but it still looks like a bathroom.
It's not messy and the bath, although looking odd without the panels, is secure and steady and I'll be soaking in it later!
The kitchen, on the other hand......
More like, What kitchen?

The wall is gone, the door is gone and the radiator (attached to the wall) is gone. The cupboards, drawers, tiles, and a large slice of floor - all gone. The kitchen is now reduced to a building site with holes where the wall used to be and dust everywhere. The cooker and washing machine are still in place, and still connected so we can use them, and there is a temporary sink so washing up can happen.
It's actually not as bad as I'd feared, and although it feels a bit like camping, it's mostly functional, if not overly pleasant or practical.
Today's changes have been dramatic; the removal of a whole wall would have that effect. I imagine subsequent days may well be less big and obvious changes, although the overall process will be interesting to watch unfold and the end result will be great.
I wonder what tomorrow will bring?
See you in the morning. 

Countdown. D minus 1.

It's tomorrow.
The kitchen is cleared, the bathroom will be finished in about half an hour. Then tomorrow morning, around 8.30am, the workforce arrives to start the chaos!
So, what's happening? My kitchen and bathroom are both being ripped out, a wall removed and a new kitchen and new bathroom are being put in.
This is the kitchen as it is now.
It's a narrow, galley style arrangement, that is functional but not easy for more than one person - and my kids like to chat while I'm cooking, and sometimes want to help or be helped in there too. It can be a bit, erm, cosy.
 The door, open in the second pic, leads to the dining/living room and is handy for shutting out washing machine noise!
But it's going. The door is going, the wall is going, and the kitchen is going. In its place, over the course of around 3 weeks, will develop a spacious kitchen/diner/living space that is open, light and hugely more useful and practical. It's going to be great. The brick dust, noise and hassle will be unpleasant to live with, but it's a small price to pay and relatively short lived. It'll be done and still looking new and shiny for Christmas!

The bathroom as it is now.
Again, it's tiny, narrow and, quite frankly, a bit grotty. It's functional, but not very nice.
No walls being moved here, and nowhere to extend it really but it'll get an overhaul and I'll be gaining an over-bath shower, which will be great. There's not a lot they can do with the layout, and no room to change it really - but new floor, tiles and fittings will all help.
I'm aiming to blog pics as the work goes on. The process and developments will be fun to watch!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Family portrait

I took the kids out for a professional photo shoot, after looking at family photos and realising I had very few with all of us in. After all, when we're all together, who holds the camera? Someone is always missing. And a set of good, professional photos are something a bit special - and will make good Christmas presents too, so I'll not be sharing the pics!
Apart from this one. We had a few minutes at the end of the shoot so I sat for a handful of head/shoulder shots for my business websites. This is my favourite of the three.
We all enjoyed the experience and I love the set of photos we got.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Here we go again

A few years ago, in the old house, we had the kitchen and bathroom ripped out and replaced. It was chaos, with dust, noise and mess for a couple of weeks. But the end result was great, a huge improvement on what was there before.
Then we moved.
Now we have to do it all again.
I've been looking for the before and after pics of that set of works, but I can't find them. They're not on my hard-drive, not on a memory stick and I can't find them on any of the CDs I have with data on either. They used to be on facebook, but I've obviously deleted the album there too. I took a couple of pics each day and the sequence would have shown what to expect.
Never mind.
The layout of this new house is better for this kin of work, with a separate sitting room we can move stuff into to keep it all out of the way. It'll be cramped for a couple of weeks but we'll cope and it's going to be great once it's finished.
I intend to take pics again, and I intend to blog it if I have power and internet through the work - there may be days where I don't.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

A picture of us.

I'm a parent. I have children. I have a phone with a camera.
What I don't have is anyone who will take pictures of me with my kids, and getting my kids to stay close enough to each other to be in the same picture is close to impossible.
There are some family snapshots with various combinations of us all in, but I've become very aware that my children are growing fast and I don't have any really nice pictures of all of us, together. There are other posts and articles around the internet discussing the notion that family pictures often don't have everyone in, because someone is always holding the camera. Or that one parent is always too busy to sit down for a photo. Or that someone is always missing.
My photo files, and albums, are very much like that. Lots of images of children, pets, house, garden, landscape, friends.... But I'm noticeable by my absence. And now I have a teenager. Where did all that time go? Where are the memories, the pictures?
So, today I made the children put on clothes that weren't shapeless t-shirts and tracksuit bottoms, and I took them to a proper photographer to get a bunch of shots done.
I'll get a set of around 20 on disc at the end of next week, then I can get some printed and framed and I'll be happier. And Christmas presents for various family will be sorted as well. Bonus!
Do you have those special pictures of you with your family?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Sparkies are in.

They were meant to be here yesterday, but they were dealing with something else and couldn't make it until this morning.
So, 8.30am, I'm barely awake, only just had breakfast and not managed to finish my first cuppa of the day yet, and there's a knock on the door. A van full of electricians (sparkies). Three of them - nice blokes, friendly, considerate, getting the job done.
I'm having the house rewired. It's not my choice, it's my landlord, but it needs to be done and will give me extra sockets, better light fittings and outside lights at both front and back doors. It's going to be good.
But today, the carpets are up, rolled and piled all over the place. There are floorboards up, holes in the floors and cables trailing all over the place. The house is a mess, and cold where they're in and out for tools and equipment. And they're hammering, drilling, shouting up and down the stairs and .... actually, just getting the job done.
I don't enjoy this level of disruption - and tomorrow will be worse with the power off most of the day! It's work that has to be done, and will improve the house. It'll also mean I can lose some of the extension plugs I have in places. Extra sockets will make life tidier. It's a small price to pay for good things in the end.
Oh, and the kitchen is getting a nice new light. A bar with spotlights on - which, given the current shape of the kitchen, will be a huge improvement. Not that the kitchen is staying how it is for more than a couple of weeks now, but that's another post for another day.... Or, possibly, several posts over a few weeks - with pics.
I wonder how traumatised my cats are going to be? They're shut safely in the bathroom, but they're not used to that.

Saturday, 2 November 2013


I love the weather, mostly from the security and warmth of inside my home, but I do love the weather. It's powerful and scary and beautiful, all at the same time.
Today, driving back along the sea front, the sand was blowing across the road and the patterns it made were amazing. It was like magic, a vortex of particles, spinning into another world. Or maybe they came from another world? I'm glad I was driving, I wouldn't want to be walking in it. You'd lose skin in the sandstorm today. Cheap exfoliation, maybe?
Maybe not.
Further on the car was hit by torrential rain, almost obscuring the windscreen. I thought about finding a safe place to stop and wait it out, but by the time I found somewhere it had blown over and was headed somewhere else. But it was heavy and not that safe for driving in.
As the rain lightened, the forest on the side of the valley I was driving along was filled with mist, in layers like paper-cuts in shades of grey. I wish I had a better camera, and time to stop and take pictures. It was stunning. A view to really take your breath away.
Safe at home now, with the kettle on, while I still have power - it keeps cutting out and I suspect it'll be erratic through the evening. So, a fresh brew and curl up with a book is in order.
Stay safe, everyone.