Week 85

The contractors are back this week to sort out immediate Stuff. These include things like painting the garage floor and filling large gaps in blockwork in the walls out there, fixing the rainwater diverters, sorting my neighbour’s drive, and changing the loft boards. What’s been lacking on our side is any kind of oversight or ensuring that the work is carried out to the expected standard. So, …drumroll, please… we welcome Phillip to the role of Contract Administrator III. He’s the new Alyson/Ben, and so far he’s a total rock star. He’s come in, assessed the build, found 65 items to put on the rectification list, and written a comprehensive report, with photographic evidence!, to circulate. Why oh why didn’t we hire him earlier?? He’s a cyclist as well which makes his appointment even more jammy.

While Tim has been dicking me around on timing by deliberately not letting me know what the plan is or what he’ll be doing during his Week of Fixing Stuff, I’ve been biding some time for Phillip to get up to speed and take the reins. Brave man is Phillip, jumping on board this moving train. Meanwhile: patience, patience, patience. I won’t be rushing to contact Tim through his lawyers as per recent arrangements to get stuff like rainwater pipework and the insulation complete, I’ll wait it out, try to chillax about the When, and leave it all to Phillip.

Although he’s employed by us, it will be Phillip’s job to impartially enforce the contract as CA. That means that he makes Tim do the stuff he said he’d do, and he makes us pay the stuff we said we’d pay. Our spanner in these works is that thanks to previous management’s weird ideas about signing off everything willy-nilly without checking properly, we’ve paid…

e v e r y t h i n g

…in full. Usually, in a normal world, that would put us in an unenviable position leaving us exposed for overpaying for an incomplete job. But in the Weird World of Building, this is entirely normal; lots of contractors won’t even talk to you unless you’ve paid them first, never mind actually show up and do anything. Three years in and there is so so so much I still don’t understand about all this.

So, returning to the day-to-day….. Mike’s been back with his paint brush to paint the garage floor. You may remember that this was the solution given when it was discovered that a 1 cubic metre hole had to be butchered out of the pristine garage slab (and rebar) to re-route the water pipe that somehow was seen fit to be installed too close to ground level. The reinstatement of the concrete floor left a great big square of different concrete which isn’t cool. The rectifying painting never happened, so they’ve come back to do it now. Over last weekend just gone, in preparation, we, and the now-very-grumpy children, had set up the scouts’ mess tent (thank you 1st Oxshott) in the garden to temporarily house all our Stuff.

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temporary garage
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leaning tower of tent

Dave recommended Watco products as the fix, and Mike got set to work on the first day cleaning out the dust, cutting back the plastic around the perimeter and using their Etch and Clean product to provide a good base. That took overnight to dry, so painting started the following day. First coat down and Mike was off to his next job while it dried before the second coat scheduled for our third day of fun and games. Luck would have it that we’d had a storm blowing through the last few days, and you’ll recall that we live right near the heath. This combination is a bit toxic for painting garage floors as loads of beech and oak leaves swirled around in the breeze and blew directly through the door that Mike had left open and onto the newly laid paint.

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I couldn’t get in there to remove them because the paint was wet. So I left it. Not my usual vibe as 9 times out of 10 I’m a get-stuck-in-and-sort-it-out kind of girl. Although this was frustrating to see, in actual fact I think the leaves didn’t stick too badly, and the second coat hopefully would have erased whatever slight marks the pesky leaves would have left anyway.  I haven’t been in to check because it takes a few days to get seriously un-wet. But,… reminds me of Michael Roux. It will be nice we can repeat our Grand Move of Stuff back into the garage in reverse and return the mess tent to the scouts.

The environmental guys visited this week to inspect the mould in the loft. They tested all the boards with their whizzy little water meter and found the really mouldy ones to be around 30%. They should be around 15%. To our horror, they suggested that the problem wasn’t left-over damp from the flood, but instead, that the flat roof between Gillian’s room and the main structural oak frame is leaking or allowing condensation to build. They think that either it’s a seal that’s properly gone, or that a thermal barrier is missing and making water condense on the boards, causing them to grow their fuzzy mouldy surface. And the growth on the floor is due to spores flying around and settling onto it. Ew.

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one of the mouldy boards
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a row of mouldy boards

This means that the whole problem shifts its Sauron-like focus from the insurers re the leak, to Tim re general building and warranty. But he doesn’t know this yet. The environmental report is due out soon and will go first to the loss adjusters and maybe then on to the insurers. I’ve just got to make sure that Tim gets a copy of it so that we can start the ball rolling and get it fixed. I spent most of my day yesterday wandering around in a disbelieving daze wondering how things could get any worse than they already were.

In a fit of wisdom and unusual allocation of resources, Tim sent Josh the young chippy, his finance guy and Dulux to tear up the horrible bit of destroyed rear drive and replace with a 6″ deep concrete float. Nothing like having experts do the job they’re trained to do. All nice guys, but I’d expected Lee and the groundwork guys to do, er, groundworks. James reckoned there were a couple of metres square that needed replacing, but he’d forgotten about the temporary tarmac and barrowfuls of hardcore shoring up the drive they’d put down during last year’s rains. He marked his assumption in yellow.

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that’s not quite all the horrible-ness, James

All in all, there’s about 12 square metres to replace from corner to corner, and to his credit, they re-marked the larger area before they set to work. And the leftover bit from the demolition needs a clean line cut into concrete as well. Luckily, Mark and his landscaping team put us off for another week, so they won’t have to face setting their fence up and having dead slabs in the way.

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digging out the broken bits
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ear defenders are for wimps “I’m deaf anyway!” shouts Dulux

Concrete was poured by the afternoon, and it was looking great until they said that they’d be back next week to remove the kango-ed out spoil. Whoa! Brakes on! No, they’re supposed to FINISH THE JOB and take it all away TODAY. Full truck, I’m afraid, madam. What about my landscapers who are coming next week to put up my fence right through the middle of your pile of shite? Sorry, we only do what we’re told, and we’re clearing another site tomorrow, so that leaves us next week.


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Oh yeah, and it rained this week. So that means despite Ricky’s magic touch with a silicone gun, the outdoor lights tripped.


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