Week 58

Without going into too much drama about tempers flaring, lines of communication being tested, inspections on the edge and deadlines looming, …, despite all this, it’s all mostly going to plan. This week’s post will be mostly pictorial as I’m struggling to write anything at all coherent in the rush to finish this project. Loose ends include all electricals as we haven’t seen a blub a-flickerin’ yet, the entire fireplace concept, some of the big wood pieces from Neil, the sanitaryware, tiling and the drive. On the positive side, the Moldovian chippies Adrian and Vadim are generally fantastic and are busy getting on with doorframe, skirting and ironmongery. Terry and Josh finished the stairs too–I don’t think they’ll be in a hurry to fit any more capping in the hand and floor rails, but Josh remains undeterred, even when faced with a chisel in his hand and a trip to Epsom hospital. Didn’t stop him smiling when he returned to site to finish the day’s work.

The cornice company arrived early in the week and transformed some of the rooms.

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awesome coving, but, oops, poor decision on light placement
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does this work around the units?
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drawing room looking more formal

Finishing touches around the staircase are being decided with things like skirting beading, window/stair boards, and capping under the newels. James is great at making use of extra pieces to create some of the finishing touches. And it’s only when you see these things installed that you can get a feel for what the finished product looks like. Most things have been fantastic, and some require small tweaks, like the window board used on to top the plasterwork in the front bay. We’ve decided that the trim should have a profile more like the stairs, so this bit of boarding will be replaced, but it was excellent to have the flexibility and chance to check out the profile and have the option. This exercise prompted some deep thinking about what exactly we’re trying to do in the space.

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is it a window board or a stair board?

Likewise with the trim between the structural oak and the floorboards. Initially, I wasn’t keen to have so many different kinds of oak hanging around, so I didn’t want the trim in at all when we started the finishes. And James’ advice was not to have too many different trims or the whole thing looks cluttered. But now I feel that if each piece does what it’s expected, then it follows the ethos of honest materials in the house, and it should be ok to have a little bit of trim that matches around the house, and it will blend in better in time. We opted for the little bead around the structural oak in the photo. The floors remain protected, and the windows will have a layer of dust on until the final sparkle-clean, so it’s hard to tell what the final finish will be anyway!

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beading on the floor
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Vadim and Adrian have been boxing in pipework and building wardrobes around them. We’ve decided on a semi-complicated painting scheme with the interiors being darker shades of each room’s trim.

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Gemma’s wardrobe
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Gillian’s wardrobe
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double checking the spec on ironmongery

Looking forward to snagging the kitchen next week. We’ll discuss a few trimming bits, and do a double check on things like the work-surface edge.

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discussion piece: is this pencil or bevel?

The bathrooms are looking good, but we’re finding a few things that could have been better designed. Like,…. the door slamming into the unit when entering the bathroom. We’ll have to install a rubber baby buggy bumper on the back side of the door along with advice to tell the boys to be jolly careful without entering their bathroom with too much energy (shouldn’t be a problem, they’re a bit slow int he mornings). Much consultation with Allison in the States and friends in the UK to generate a survey of vanity unit heights in an attempt to get ours right. We’ve decided 900 to top of unit is a good height–a little higher than most, so it won’t be our family keeping the local chiropractors in business.

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boys’ bathroom

In a dull moment, the guys found time to remove the plinth they’d lovingly installed before we changed our minds. Our MO seems to be build it, then remove it….

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plinthless fire

…. just like the piers!

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looks better now

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Clinton never really liked the piers in the front; they were only put there to carry the rainwater downpipes into the ground in a clean swoop. So, taking advice from the architect and structural engineer who both said that they weren’t critical to the structure, we decided to take the bold (= expensive) move to remove them. This leaves an obvious problem for the bricklayers who now need to come back and make these areas pretty again. But the overhang looks much less fussy now, and we’re happy with it. At least we were until a giant gaping crack appeared around the first floor cavity trays.

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On further advice, we adopted a suck-it-and-see approach, and the whole thing looks pretty stable despite the crack. It hasn’t shifted since it first appeared, so should be ok. After all, there is an enormous great big steel holding up this side of the house, and the roof is all complete as one separate structure spread across the whole building. It SHOULD be ok. At least it is when I close my eyes. And a little mortar in the joint before we move in and all will be well. Right?

Lee, Jamie, Djokovich, and the groundwork gang were back to lay the paving for the patio. Their work was hampered by the water board inspector who deemed it fit to ask the guys to dig the main supply to the house a little deeper. This was an enormous pain which required un-building of the garage and some of the edging stones the guys had laid last week. The inspector didn’t stop there, took a deeper look at some of the work and started going off on other trench work depths, like the supply into the taps in the garden. He even had a go at some of the pipework internally, which never happens apparently. Usually the inspector has a cursory look around near where the water enters the building and leaves the M&E team to get on with things downstream. The groundwork guys have done hundreds of jobs like this without fuss, and the plumbing team was livid by the time the inspector finally passed it all, and all the trenchwork could be filled in. They’d none of them ever seen anything like it. Clearly this house has been jinxed from the start. The guy earned a few choice nicknames around site, and luckily for him some of the spare pieces of wood lying around didn’t get airborne.

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high water table in the mains trench
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on the positive side, slabs are looking good

We’re even venturing into town to look at furniture and light fittings. Mostly these experiences highlight that fact that neither of us like shopping very much, nor do we like going into town unless it’s work related. We’re much more country-bumpkins these days. Either we’re super boring (likely), or we just dread the time it takes to travel around aimlessly looking at one low-profile uncomfortable sofa after another. I think Clinton was definitely going to lose the plot entirely if he got close to one more Edison bulb singeing his retinas.  The best way forward is to continue on our current course of clicking our way through doing most of the furnishings.

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keeping the guys happy

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