Wednesday, 31 July 2013


My minimalist old ARTHaven!

From this:


via this:

61 Boxes for Move 1, Mar 13

to this:

WOYWW 217 Minimalist Old ARTHaven

I’m writing this on Tuesday evening. Today all my black office furniture, including the big black desk that also served as my art workdesk, went over to the new house, courtesy of a friend and his son, and their huuuuge van. Everything disappeared into the van leaving lots more space, and he said “anything else to go over?” so we filled the whole van with lots of other stuff as well!

This is the office section of my new ARTHaven. The room is subdivided, providing what the agents’ particulars referred to as a dressing room – this will be my office, so the black desk will be back to its original single function again – a desk!

01 Office Furniture Installed

My large black storage unit (now reduced to a single section, the other two having  been given away) is also over at the new house, ready to be reassembled and put on the other side of the office wall, in the free-standing storage area.

Again (becoming a regular for me!) not strictly a “What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday” post but we’re getting closer to the time when I really will have something creative on my workdesk. Meantime, bear with me as I share the long road towards that goal!

(In case you’re not sure what this is all about, click on the WOYWW logo in my sidebar, which will take you to our hostess Julia’s blog, where all will be revealed.)

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

My New ARTHaven–Office Section

My second of two posts for today.

Today a friend of ours and his son came with their large van (a TARDIS as it turned out!) to take some things over to the new house for us. Andy had said if I could get the office furniture over, and the storage unit for the ARTHaven, he would be able to plan where to put the high shelves I need.

Over the past couple of days I’ve been organising my room here at home and putting all the office furniture over on one side ready for removal, and I was a bit concerned that it was all far too much and should really be left for the removal men! However, Tom was totally unfazed by it all, and after they’d got the big desk out of the room (a mammoth task in itself), and down the stairs, the rest was a doddle… They put it all in the van and it sort of disappeared down the front, so he said, “Have you got anything else you want taking over?” so I introduced him to some of our packed boxes which have also gone over!

He and his son worked so hard on our behalf and we are very grateful for their help. My hubby went down and got fish and chips for them, and then ice creams for us all afterwards (they always go down well with the building team!) and then they set off home.

I had measured every piece of furniture and spent a lot of time with alternative plans for the best layout for the office section of my ARTHaven, and finally came up with one that will work. The large black desk exactly fills the space across the end wall, with 6 inches to spare! This gap will be used to store my small stepladder. Here is how it looks now.

01 Office Furniture Installed

There is also a bookcase on the right-hand wall but I couldn’t get everything in the photo! Beyond the tall filing cabinet in the left there is a space which will be occupied by the small desk, which will be partially under the left-hand side of the large desk. This small desk is a present in the sitting room, and I am using it when I come over and set up my computer to do various bits of work in between photographing the work in progress.

No further progress on the ARTHaven proper, but Tim will soon be connecting the new power points to the ring main, and installing the lights (maybe on Friday). He will also install some power points in the office section.

Today I tried clipping my new gooseneck camera clamp onto the high shelf above the main work area in the ARTHaven and it looks as if it’s going to do the job admirably! It will be a lot easier to use than the video rig I have at the moment, but that may be necessary over the work area in front of the window as there are no shelves there. Alternatively, I may rig up a removable beam between the two wall units in order to attach the camera and film in that area if necessary. All very satisfactory.

The whole thing is coming together very nicely. Not long now before I can start moving stuff in!

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!!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Our New House–Hidden Work

Again, only one post today because nothing further has been done on my new ARTHaven. Andy is waiting for the arrival of the office furniture – now fixed for Tuesday morning next week – before installing the final shelves.

There was a great deal of work done today but most of it was hidden, so not quite so many photos! Andy, Paul and Chris were on site, as well as Peter the roofer. Most of what was done today involved taking out the old lead pipes and replacing them with copper, and also Paul installed most of the plumbing under the floorboards for the new bathroom.

On entering the house via the back door, the first thing to see was that the boiler flue is now complete, and exits through the new white panel over the back door.

01 Boiler Flue Completed

02 Boiler Flue Exiting above Back Door

As for the roof, all the tiles are now on the back of the roof. All that remains is for the flashing around the chimneys to be completed, the ridge tiles added, and, of course, the lean-to roof to be replaced. After Peter has finished, Andy and the team will attend to the structural part of the roof from inside the loft – reinforcing braces, etc.

03 Slates on Back of Roof Complete

Guilty Chris…

04 Guilty Chris

Look carefully and you can see one little guilty looking eye peeking out through the hole in the bottom of Mum’s old washing up bowl. He admitted that he’d dropped his hammer on it. I decided to use this bowl for while the builders were with us because it was so manky and awful, and given her head, Mum would never have thrown it out, I don’t think! She doesn’t know it, but I’ve bought her a smart new cream one for her new kitchen, together with new brushes and sink tidy. This old blue one can now be thrown out at long last!!

Upstairs, the bedroom washbasin has now been removed. My dressing table will be going in this corner. Andy said that removing the tiles would make an awful mess of the plaster which would have to be redone. I suggested that since my dressing table will be in front, there was perhaps little point in removing them, to which he agreed. There is a hole in the floor where the waste went, but we will ignore that, too, since it’s going to be covered by the furniture.

05 Bedroom Basin Removed

Back downstairs, the annexe kitchen sink has now been removed.

06 Annexe Sink Removed

Here is Chris removing the tiles from around the annexe kitchen sink.

07 Chris Removing Tiles from Annexe Sink

At last! The windows have arrived for the annexe sitting room. My hubby and I have a running joke whenever we watch Grand Designs on TV. The thing that always, without fail, holds up the project is the non-arrival of the windows! With each episode we wait for… “the windows haven’t come.” Our windows should have come last week, apparently. Here are the double-glazed units for the new window and the door which will give direct access to the patio at the back of the house.

08 Double-Glazed Units for Annexe Window and Door

Here are the window and door frames.

09 Annexe Window and Door

Here is an example of Chris’s artistic talent. The other day, Andy took a piece of packing cardboard and placed it over the glass hob to protect it. With Chris working on the extractor above, he thought it would be a good idea to provide some added protection!

10 Glass Hob Warning

Nice pen-work, wouldn’t you agree?

Chris has now finished drilling the hole for the extractor, and has inserted a flexible lining.

11 Flexible Pipe for Extractor

The job was more difficult than anticipated, because the chimney does not run up vertically, but slopes up to the right, where it eventually joins the sitting room chimney before ascending vertically to the roof. When Chris drilled through, he had to drill through solid brickwork to get through to the outside, when he had hoped to enter the chimney itself. A horrible dusty job when the weather is so hot, and extremely hard work using a heavy power tool above shoulder height.

I said how awful it would be, if at this stage we suddenly realised that this was a terraced house and not detached – and Chris had drilled right through into next door’s sitting room! I’m sure it’s been done.

I shan’t be going over again until Tuesday of next week, when a friend of ours is helping us with his van. He and his sons are going to take my office furniture over so that I can get the office section of my ARTHaven organised, and Andy can decide where the high shelves can go, in there, and in the ARThaven proper. This weekend I am going to have to sort out my filing cabinet and make sure there’s room to get the furniture out – i.e. move loads of boxes (mostly empty thank goodness).

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Our New House–Plumbing

Over to the house early this morning, getting a lift with Chris and Paul, who both live in our village. They came to collect my new bath which has been sitting in the garage since it was delivered, and my hubby was getting a bit fed up with it taking up so much space!

This is my only post for today, because there is nothing new to report on my ARTHaven. We are waiting for the electrician to come next week.

The first thing I noticed on arrival was progress on the roof. The first of three photos shows the roof first thing in the morning…

01 The Roof in the Morning

At lunch time…

02 The Roof at Lunch Time

and late afternoon when we were leaving:

03 The Roof Late Afternoon

As you can see, great progress has been made in one day, and the tiling is now almost finished. The front is finished but they are not taking the scaffolding away till next week, apparently – perhaps they are waiting until the whole job is done.

You will notice on the first picture that there is a window over the back door. Although this does make more light in the back passageway/utility room, it looks a bit odd over the white door. In the second photo you can see that this has been replaced by a white panel which looks better, but the main purpose for this is so that the flue from the new boiler can exit here.

Still outside, some further work has been done to prepare for the new door into the annexe sitting room. They can’t complete the job until the door and window arrive.

04 Preparing to Make Annexe Door

Going inside, the first thing I noticed was that the new boiler is in!

07 New Boiler from Back Door

Behind it, you can see the old door into the annexe kitchen has now been blocked off. The quickest access into the annexe for the moment is now through the airing cupboard!

08 New Boiler and Blocked Off Door

This is a modern combi boiler which doesn’t require a hot water tank as it heats only the water that you use. It’s very compact – considerably smaller than the monster that’s been taken out! All the controls for the hot water and central heating, including the timer, are all on the front of the boiler. This is much simpler than the system we are used to at present.

Here is the blocked-off doorway from the annexe kitchen side – you can see that holes have been drilled through for the pipework.

09 Blocked Off Door from Annexe Kitchen

Today I met Jamie, the plumber, for the first time. He is a real craftsman, like the others on the team (definitely meeting Andy’s “exacting standards”!) Here he is, soldering up some pipework.

10 Jamie Soldering Pipework

You can see what a beautiful job he is making of it, on this picture which shows the pipework beneath the boiler.

11 Boiler Pipework

The beginning of the flue from the boiler. This will eventually extend to the back door and exit through the new white panel above the door.

12 Boiler Flue

Here are some waste pipes being formed. They remind me of a screen saver I once had on the computer, called (wait for it…) pipes.

13 Forming the Waste Pipes

Here is Jamie connecting up the pipes in the annexe kitchen.

14 Jamie Connecting the Annexe Kitchen Pipes

The next photo shows the pipes completed. He has done such a beautiful job. I complimented him on it, and remarked that I’d noticed that he had used his level to get them absolutely straight and parallel, even though they were all going to be hidden behind the plasterboard. I said this was a mark of real craftsmanship, and he said that he couldn’t bear to think of someone many years hence pulling away the plasterboard to replace the boiler, and turning away in disgust at shoddy workmanship! He wants them to say, “Look at this beautiful plumbing!” Like with the cathedral architects of old, when people centuries later climb up and examine the work closely, they are amazed, and touch the craftsmanship of history!

15 Annexe Kitchen Pipes Connected

Going through into the main kitchen, all the cornices are now up on the units, and more or less everything is now in.

05 Kitchen Cornices

Much of Chris’s time this afternoon was spent drilling a hole through the wall into the chimney – a nasty, dusty, noisy job on a very hot day. The previous owner of the house had an cooker hood which just recycled the air through a filter, but since the original chimney of the kitchen is immediately behind that wall, we agreed that it would be a much more sensible solution to do a proper job and have it extracting to the outside.

06 Drilling for the Extractor

Wait till you see what a beautiful extractor we are having!

The annexe bath has been removed since my last visit.

16 Annexe Bath Removed

There will be a shower tray occupying the whole space left by the bath, so that if Mum becomes more infirm, there will be room for a carer to be in there with her.

17 Equipment for Working on En-Suite

This is the main bedroom, now temporarily converted into Paul’s workshop! This is all the equipment he needs to work on the en-suite bathroom. I am glad that I thought of closing the mirror doors the other day, to keep the dust out – I have already put some books and things in there.

The doorway into the en-suite bathroom has now been formed. Propped across is a piece of plasterboard in the bathroom.

18 Forming the En-Suite Doorway

Paul has started boarding up the bathroom. The doors on the landing no longer function, and the room is being lined with plasterboard in readiness for tiling.

19 Plasterboard in En-Suite

There is a lot of stuff on the landing, including some strips of plastic, which Andy explained was arch bead, which he is demonstrating over the other bathroom door.

20 Andy Demonstrating the Arch Bead

Here is Paul working in the bathroom – and this is my famous arch being made!! The floorboards are up in preparation for plumbing.

21 Arch in the En-Suite

Before I had time to grab the camera, my bath was disappearing up the stairs! I could hardly ask them to wait for me, as it was heavy and unwieldy, so I just managed to catch it before it disappeared!

22 Bath Going Upstairs

Here, Paul and Chris are unpacking the bath. They put it in my hubby’s study for the time being, and Paul needed to decide how it was to be placed in relation to the tap and the wall, once it eventually goes into the bathroom.

23 Paul and Chris Unpacking the Bath

Now the fun began. Of course, as soon as the bath was unpacked, Andy had to get in!!

24 Andy in the Bath

Of course, once he was in the bath, Paul decided he needed a wash! Grabbing the top end, this left Chris with the other end, and he said “I’m not washing those smelly feet”!!!

25 Paul Washing Andy in the Bath

They eventually managed to get serious again (well, just a bit!), at least, enough to discuss the tap and where it should go in relation to the bath.

26 Free-Standing Bath Tap

Being a very lazy person, I said I wanted the tap placed so that I could reach it with my foot while lying in the bath, so that I can add more hot water without having to sit up! Here I am testing it.

27 Testing the Tap

Finally, here’s me getting really comfy in my new bath!! Paul is measuring it, not me! It looks as if I’m getting measured for my coffin…

28 Getting Comfortable in the Bath

I am going over again on Friday, and by then, more progress will have been made on my lovely new bathroom (my “girlie bathroom” as my hubby calls it!) and before long, the bath will be in! Lovely to see it in the flesh for the first time today.

Andy gave me and Chris a lift back to the village, and for the first time I experienced Andy’s mad Greek driving!!! He said that the Italians are civilised drivers compared with the Greeks! It always takes us about half an hour between our village and the new house, but tonight we did it in 20 minutes!

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