Thursday, 8 August 2013

Our New House–Visible Work Again

Today at our new house, there was visible evidence of work progressing. Much of the earlier work was hidden away, only evidenced by lots of banging and other activity, but now the surface stuff is being done.

On arrival, we found that Paul had tiled around the annexe bathroom, ready for the shower to be installed. On the left you can see the pipes projecting, ready to attach to the new shower. Paul is going to install the shower slightly lower on the wall than usual, so that Mum can reach it easily from a seated position.

01 Tiles in Annexe Bathroom

This work had been done yesterday, and the tile adhesive was now dry enough for Paul to begin grouting.

02 Paul Grouting the Annexe Bathroom Tiles

On the left, the white thing is the end of the towel rail, and immediately to the right of that, you can see the plumbing for the basin which had been taken out for the tiling to be done. This has now gone back in (forgot to photograph that!), slightly to the left of its original position to allow more room for the shower tray. The shower tray is looking very smart and clean now its vivid blue film has been removed, and with its shiny new chrome waste! Paul is going to install a fold-down shower stool and two stainless steel grab rails for Mum. The shower tray is the length of the original bath which was removed, which will give ample room for Mum and a carer should she need one in the future.

Mum’s old white bathroom cabinet, which I brought home from her old house and painted so it’s now nice and clean and white, is going on the wall to the right of the door, over the radiator, and the wooden cabinet which came with the house is going back over the basin, so she’ll have plenty of storage, and mirrors too – there’s a large square mirror over the loo as well.

Unfortunately the colour is a bit odd in these photos because the light wasn’t that good. The tiles are exactly the same as the ones that are going in the en-suite bathroom upstairs, and they do not have this slightly green cast!

Yesterday, Tim the electrician sorted out the weird cowboy wiring in the annexe bathroom. The light is now on a separate switch from the bedroom, and the extractor fan has been replaced. This now comes on when you turn on the bathroom light, which is as it should be. The switch is on the bedroom wall just outside the bathroom, and beside it is an isolator switch for the extractor fan, but we’re not going to tell Mum what that’s for if she asks – knowing her propensity for turning absolutely everything off, she’ll turn it off to save electricity and the bathroom will get all steamed up and damp! We will just tell her “Don’t touch that switch.”

Paul has now plastered around the new window and door in the annexe sitting room. This is the first example I’ve seen of his plastering skills, and Andy was not exaggerating when he told me what a wonderful plasterer Paul is. If you look very carefully, you can see my hubby through the window, mowing the lawn. I had to chase him away soon after this or he’d have found stuff to do all day, and he was supposed to be on the archaeological dig today – I told him the garden would always be here, but the archaeologists wouldn’t!

03 Plastering Around the Annexe Sitting Room Window

Andy tells us that we’ve got to get a carpet for that room. I was hoping to leave the bare floorboards as they are rather nice, and would look lovely with Mum’s rugs, but he says that they are not tongue-and-groove, and there is a void underneath, and it will be very cold if the floor is not covered. (I said also that without some sort of covering, there was a risk of watermelon trees bursting through the floorboards in a year or two, where Andy dropped all his seeds down the other day!!) With an underlay as well, it will be fine. We are opting for a neutral, oatmeal coloured carpet, hard-wearing and without too obvious a pile, so that her rugs will not creep. We need to get a vinyl covering for the annexe bathroom floor, too, and we will do that at the same time, immediately after the work is finished, and before we get Mum’s furniture out of storage.

In the annexe kitchen when I was last there, the units were in – I thought permanently, but apparently they were only placed there temporarily to get the final layout and to cut the backs to fit flush against the wall. Today they were all out again, and the wall where all the pipes are has been covered with plasterboard.

04 Plasterboard in Annexe Kitchen

Andy said it was great that there was a void behind the boiler (which has been installed on the board which is in place of the door which was removed) – there are so many pipes there, and they are all concealed.

On arrival today, I was delighted to see Jamie back again! He had to make some minor adjustments to the pipework in the annexe kitchen, which you can see him doing in this next photo.

05 Jamie Working on Annexe Kitchen Pipes

If you look carefully at what he is doing, he is using his famous level to get the new pipe absolutely straight! I told him how I love to see this being done, and how glad I am that I have got lots of photos of his beautiful work because it’s all being covered up, never to be seen again, in all probability!!

The next photo shows the units back in. The narrow upright piece will separate the cooker from the fridge, both of which are free-standing and will come from our house here.

06 Annexe Kitchen Units Going Back In

Here Andy has placed the sink under the window just to show how it will be. He’s taken it out again for the time being.

07 Andy Showing Annexe Kitchen Sink Position

Seeing everything going in like this, it’s hard to remember what it was like before, with that awful sink in the corner… The units are from the original man kitchen and are darker wood than I like, and the original worktop was a ghastly dark green marble effect which simply didn’t go with the cabinets. Even though it’s adding to the cost, I am quite glad that there isn’t enough of that remaining undamaged after removing from the main kitchen, and Andy has to get new worktops. He is choosing something a lot lighter, probably a pale marble or sandstone look, to go with the marble-style tiles we’re having as splashbacks in both kitchens. The whole thing is going to look much lighter and far less oppressive, and with all the light coming through the window, it’s going to be a lovely little kitchen for Mum. She will have plenty of storage space, particularly with the wall units which are yet to be installed, and being such a small space, she will be able to access everything without having to walk miles.

When the plumbing was being done, I asked for plumbing for a washing machine to be installed, and this is behind the units on the left. If in future a tenant wants their own machine, all they will need to do is replace the double unit with a smaller one and slot the machine in under the worktop. On the other side, on the wall that backs onto the boiler in our utility room, Jamie has installed a gas pipe behind where my present electric cooker will go, just in case someone else prefers gas to electricity for cooking. I think these future-proofing ideas are extremely good – a bit of extra expense now while everything’s exposed, and a huge expense later if kitchen units had to be removed etc. to install them. I like this sort of forward planning and attention to detail.

The sinks have been like musical chairs on this project – we’ve got a brand new one in the main kitchen, which replaced the original one there, which was supposed to be going in the annexe kitchen, but it doesn’t fit. It is now going up in my ARTHaven with its original base unit. Andy had brought a second hand sink from his store which was originally going in my ARTHaven, but which fits nicely in the annexe so it’s going there! The one for my ARTHaven has pretty horrible taps so I’ve got to order new ones – I may go for another one with a hose like the one in the main kitchen as I think this could prove very useful, even if more expensive. Fortunately that sink is reversible right-to-left, so I can have the drainer on the right, under the small microwave, in my ARTHaven. This particular sink is a 2.5 sink, too, which will give me extra scope with my work.

The other main job that Jamie did today was to fill the central heating system again after it had been drained in order to fit the boiler – he went round bleeding all the radiators, and you could hear the water moving in the pipes as he worked. Then he turned the central heating on!! It seemed so funny on a hot summer day but he had to check that all was working OK. He then gave me a lesson on how the boiler controls work, and gave me the instruction manual. The controls are quite easy to understand and pleasant to use – the whole thing is beautifully designed, with a manual dial style timer rather than the electronic one we have in our present house which is a pain – my hubby still doesn’t know how to use it!! The controls are all on the front of the new boiler and it will be easy-peasy to set the temperature of the heating according to the climate, and alter the clock too. Being a modern combi boiler, it heats only the water you use, so we’ve got no tank to take up space! Jamie took the cover off to show me the inside, and I was amazed how compact it all was, and how easy to access to servicing.

It is a gas boiler and will need servicing every year. Jamie is very happy to do this for us – he knows the system because he put it in, and his charges are also very reasonable, and he’s fully qualified. Best of all, he’s a known quantity, selected by Andy, so we know we can rely on him.

Andy has done some research on water filters and has decided on the best one for us – it’s quite large, and the filter cartridge will only need changing once a year. A larger outlay to start with (which will include fitting) but it comes with one cartridge installed, and once we know what to order, we should be able to get replacements online. It will add about £25 to our annual water bill, but we will have the peace of mind that any danger from the remaining lead pipe from the main in the street at the front to the stopcock in the loo at the back will be dealt with, and also make the house more saleable in future. Also, the water will taste much better! Our original plan was to install it on the pipe rising from the main stopcock in the downstairs loo, but I mentioned to Andy that it would be good if it could filter the annexe kitchen water too, and after some discussion between him and Jamie, they decided to put it in the small loft space above the utility room – you can climb in there but it’s considerably less convenient than on a pipe in the loo! It will be better there because it’s quite large, and it will filter both kitchen supplies. Also, we have agreed that every September when Jamie comes to service the boiler, he will also change the filter, so it will never get forgotten, and he’ll be there on the spot, and will make sure everything is done correctly so there are no leaks. A very satisfactory arrangement.

During the morning, the two wardrobes we’d ordered for Mum arrived, and the two men who brought them assembled them for us, all bar the mirrored doors which you can see propped against the sitting room wall to the right. We chose these particular wardrobes because they combine shelf space and hanging space, which will be the most useful for her, and also because of the mirrors.

08 Arrival of Mum's Wardrobes

They are being stored temporarily n the main sitting room until work on the annexe is finished, when they will be transferred to Mum’s bedroom. We had to buy them because she had fitted ones in her old house.

The man who brought them works part-time as a wardrobe fitter for the shop where we bought them. His main business is a carpet shop further into the centre of Torquay, and he and his assistant do fitting too. We are going to visit him soon and choose the carpet and vinyl for the annexe, and they will fit them at the same time as returning to move the wardrobes and hang their doors for us. All very convenient.

Finally, outside, Andy has finished the central part of my new ramp, which leads from the back door step (you can see the tiles at the bottom of the picture, in shadow) right up to the bottom of the garden steps.

09 Ramp Completed

Already it’s much easier to get to those, even for the able-bodied! Tomorrow Chris will be back, and he will make the two side ramps. Andy and I discussed how far from the wall they should be, and they are going to begin where the tiled step ends, which will look neat, and also allow space between them and the wall to get a broom in to sweep up any debris which may collect in the space. They can’t go right up against the wall because of drainage pipes coming through the wall. I love the slightly striated texture Andy has created in the concrete ramp, which will make it have more grip.

We had some fun today! It was gone 1 p.m. (time for lunch) and Andy ticked Paul off and said he would sack him (again!!) – this time the sacking offence was not to have put the kettle on for 1 p.m. We had lunch in Mum’s patio outside the new door, and there’s a bush in the upper garden that side, which casts a lovely amount of shade, making it a very pleasant place indeed to sit. Once it’s all how we want it for Mum, with pots of flowers and her bird feeders etc., I think she will love it. After lunch Paul was going down to the corner shop for a choccie bar and I sent him off with some cash to get ice creams for us all – lovely on a hot day!

We admired Andy’s knee pads, but agreed they weren’t a patch on Chris’s. Andy said you had to have Chris’s rotund shape to give the proper impression, but I thought it was a lot to do with the shorts!! I was a bit worried about Chris today because he wasn’t there, and I was sure he’d been sacked. When I last saw him I asked if he’d be there and he said he didn’t know; it all depended whether Andy sacked him or not. I asked how many times he’d been sacked that week, and he said four times!! They all call each other boss, which really amuses me, and I think it’s so that they can all sack each other with impunity. Poor Andy still hasn’t been sacked and he wants to be so he can have some time to do work on his own house!

He was moaning about the general inefficiency of B&Q and how he hated dealing with them, and when something needed getting from there, he deftly delegated the job to Paul, who he said was far too lazy anyway! Lol! They all work extremely hard, actually! Poor old Paul. Still, I suppose it’s one of the perks of being project manager, that you get to delegate all the rubbish jobs to the others!


  1. What a fun post, Shoshi! Sounds like you have some totally awesome workers there!!

  2. I am so glad you are putting a sink in your studio! That would be a luxury I will want if I ever build a studio off the house and well, heat of course LOL! We are having a professional in today to lay kitchen floor to finish the mess I started when I ripped out the old tiles back in May. Its about time huh? I just don't seem to pay much attention to the kitchen I guess:)


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