Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Our New House–New Door and More Hidden Work

The first of two posts – over again to the new house today, to find that Andy had already fitted the new window and exterior door in the annexe sitting room.

01 Annexe New Door and Window

We are very thrilled with how this looks. Andy said he couldn’t understand why they didn’t do this when the annexe was first converted, because it is such a natural thing to do! We know that Mum will be delighted to have her own front door leading into her little patio, and there’s so much glass that even when she’s sitting indoors, she will be able to watch the birds coming to the feeders.

Here is the new door from the outside.

02 Annexe New Door and Wndow Outside

Chris is working on the drain outside. A drain pipe had to be moved, which passed in front of the new door. They will have to build a step as well.

Here is Andy, making good the wall surrounding the new window and forming the new windowsill.

03 Andy Making Good Annexe Window Frame

As on my last visit, much of the work today was of the hidden kind – absolutely essential, but difficult to see what is going on! The team are still working on the plumbing, and the water was off all day today. They have replaced all the lead pipes within the house, and disconnected the tank in the loft which is now redundant. The lead piping has largely been replaced with semi-flexible white plastic piping which looked a bit of a nightmare to manoeuvre! Here is Paul feeding some of this pipe into the loft above the bathroom.

04 Paul Feeding New Pipe into Utility Room Roof Space

Chris was in the loft, pulling the other end and braving the spiders!

One problem is that some of the original pipes were not designed to take mains pressure, so adjustments have to be made. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes.

Here is more of this piping snaking down from the ceiling in the annexe kitchen.

05 New Plastic Pipe in Annexe Kitchen

Here is the plumbing in the new bathroom. I think it looks like the arteries and veins of our house, and Paul the surgeon has made an incision in the skin to expose what we never normally see! I observed that as for the muscles, they are all outside, in the form of the team!

06 Bathroom Plumbing

Here is Paul working on the bathroom plumbing.

07 Paul Working on Bathroom Plumbing

Before we purchased the house, we had a survey done (which revealed the major problem with the roof). The surveyor also reported the presence of lead pipes throughout the house, from the stop cock in the road, a common phenomenon with older properties. Unfortunately the pipe entering the house passes under the sitting room floor, and if this were to be replaced it would mean ripping up the parquet flooring which would be a great shame, not to mention more expense, so we decided to leave it. All the other internal lead pipes are being replaced, but I was concerned about this remaining lead, and was reluctant to have to flush the system every time we wanted a drink – this is very wasteful of water. I did some online research last night and discovered various in-line water filters which deal with heavy metals as well as other contaminants, and having spoken to Andy today, I can now go ahead and order one. This will be inserted in the pipe which rises in the downstairs loo above the mains stop cock in the house, which is lead below and copper above. This pipe goes the full height of the house and feeds the upstairs, tee-ing off to supply the kitchen etc. downstairs. A filter above the stop cock will mean that the whole house will be effectively free of lead in the water supply, which will give us greater peace of mind, as well as making the property more saleable in the future. Being placed where Andy suggests, it will be easily accessible when the filter needs to be replaced (they vary between every 3 months to a whole year) – this will add to our water expenses but not by very much.

Here in our present house I use a Britta water filter jug which greatly improves the flavour of our tap water. This will no longer be necessary when we have filtered water throughout our new house. The filter removes limescale, chlorine and other flavour contaminants, and, of course, the all-important heavy metals, of which lead is the most concerning. Chris said his sister has lead pipes in her block of flats, and he’s going to tell her about these in-line filters.

Moving on to the electrics, Tim the electrician was back today. Here he is, working on the wiring for my boiling water tap.

08 Tim Wiring Boiling Water Tap

There’s a story behind this tap. I saw them advertised and thought, “What a good idea” until I followed it up and went online and found out how much they cost! I thought, much as I love gadgets, that was a gadget too far and I really couldn’t justify the expense, and then I thought I’d hop over to Ebay just for fun, and see if there were any second hand ones.

Immediately I found one, and started bidding, and was delighted to get it at a very good price indeed. I had a long chat with the seller who lives in the North of England. She was quite delightful, and explained how she came to be selling it. They were having a really wonderful new kitchen fitted with all mod-cons, and a solid real granite worktop throughout. She was out of the house at the time, and the kitchen fitter drilled the hole in the worktop for the tap, and drilled it too large. Her husband was there, and the fitter said, “I’m afraid the hole’s too big, but if you have this different sort of tap, it will fit.” He agreed, and when the lady returned home she was very annoyed indeed, because the tap they’d fitted was not a boiling water tap at all, but only a hot water tap, which meant you couldn’t use it for making tea. If she had been there, she would have insisted that they made good their mistake – they would have had to pay for a whole new worktop. As a result, she was left with a useless piece of junk – a very expensive mistake by her kitchen fitter – and her only option was to sell it on Ebay! Tim said to me that that’s why they take out insurance, to cover this sort of thing. The lady was very, very cross with her hubby!!! She was pleased that it went to a good home in the end, though, even if she lost money on it.

Here is Tim under the stairs, working on the wiring for the stairlift. You can see the gas meter on his left.

09 Tim Under Stairs Wiring for Stairlift

The stairlift man said that there had to be a power supply in place before the stairlift is fitted, and we discussed various options for the placing of this at the time of his visit, but we decided against his original suggestion as it would have meant taking cables around the doorway into the annexe. A suggestion was made that the switch should be the other side of the annexe wall but I immediately poured cold water on that suggestion, knowing Mum’s propensity for turning everything off at every opportunity!!!

In the next picture Tim is fixing the fused spur on the outside of the understairs cupboard. The cable will run under the bottom step, hidden by the carpet, and will end up on the wall on the further side of the stairs, where the lift will be installed.

10 Tim Wiring for Stairlift

Beside him, the large parcel contains the shower tray for the annexe bathroom. Stuff is arriving all the time!

The final picture shows the completed roof. Note the ridge tiles and the flashing around the chimneys.

11 Roof Complete

Peter the roofer will be back to do the lean-to, and also put new felt on the summer house/shed, half of which has blown off, leaving untreated timber exposed to the elements – not a situation we want to remain for long now that it has started to rain. He will also clean and seal the corrugated roof on the outhouses.

The scaffolding should have come down yesterday at the latest. The team are a bit annoyed because they were very slow putting it up, and now they seem reluctant to take it down, and have stopped answering their phone!! Andy says that if the local council charge for an extension on the highways licence, we are not paying it! I have heard of these problems from scaffolders before – they seem to live in a world of their own…

Once Peter has finished his work on the roof, Andy and the team will take over and do the bracing necessary on the inside. Instead of the additional purlins which the surveyor recommended, they will put in some horizontal braces at mid-height across the loft space, forming an A-frame shape, and then some diagonal ones from the same level down to the rafters of the loft floor. All these triangles will make it very strong indeed!

My next visit will be on Friday, when Tim the electrician will be back. He is bringing some samples of spotlight fittings for the kitchen and my ARTHaven, and some bulbs of different kinds, so that I can choose what is best. I need as close to daylight as possible, and he suggests LEDs as the best – they are quite a bit more expensive than halogens but are extremely low energy and are maintenance free, and last for years. He has got them in his house and loves them. I am not happy with regular low-energy bulbs which are not bright enough and seem to become dimmer with time. I am having 2 spotlights over the sink in the kitchen, and he’s going to replace the central pendant light with its hideous lampshade with a ceiling-mounted flush fitting identical to the ones which he has asked me to choose for the bathroom. If I order these tonight, they may even be with us by Friday. Additional lighting in the kitchen will be in the form of strip lighting under the wall units, shining down onto the full-height worktop.

Even though most of the work today was not visible, great progress is being made. These vital alterations and renovations need to be sorted, and once done, other exciting work can begin, such as installing the new bathroom! The kitchen is virtually in now, and Tim is working on connecting up all the electrics. I’ll soon be cooking in there!!

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