Lights & shadows…


Render work – day 4…

More progress on the render.

The plumbers were also around today to extend the soil pipe and pipes from the bathroom. Nearly up to the top of the house with the boards and the loft window has been blocked up.


New windows…

We’ve just had 2 new windows fitted in the back bedroom and bathroom. the old ones were roughly 10 years old and were on course to fail in the next year or so. There was a lot of condensation on the inside in the mornings and the room were quite cold.

Anyway, the first test was to see if there was condensation on them in the morning – nothing there!

The large bathroom window has a higher glazing bar with a small opening at the top, giving a large and unobstructed view over the back gardens. Really weird effect, given that usually windows have the central glazing bar. Really happy with it and it’s also resulting in far less condensation, even directly after showers.

The guys from Safestyle UK kept asking us if we wanted it frosted but we didn’t. There’s a really good view from there and it really helps to open up the internal space. We’ve got a blind which we use when it’s darker etc so no chance of anyone with a telescope having a sneaky look!

The windows are part of the grand plan for making the house more energy efficient and should help to keep the temperature more even.


DYI & the killer cat…!

We made a bit more progress on a few house jobs over the weekend, but most weren’t to do with anything we’ve already got on the ‘to do’ list.

All the jobs were insulation related, but also cat related to a certain extent. Because of the single storey, flat roof bathroom extension at the back of the house being so badly insulated (probably due to the roof), this creates quite a cold area, which works its way into the main living areas.

Due to this, i’ve been wanting to insulate around the door from the kitchen to the utility/bathroom area. So, I managed to cut and screw up a standard draft excluder to the bottom of the door. Plus, there was a big gap at the top of the door, which i’ve blocked off, using a modified metal corner brace, a wooden baton and some insulating rubber type tape.

I just drilled some screw holes into the metal bracket and screwed this into the wooden doorframe, then screwed the baton to this, then stuck the rubber tape stuff to it. There are now no drafts around the door and the fitting that in part only took 15 mins! Just have to paint the baton white and wood-filler around the edges.

The other kitchen door related bit was fitting a new cat flap into the existing kitchen door, so Tinks can get into the bathroom/utility/back door area, so she can use her litter tray and eventually the back door cat flap to the great outdoors!

This was slightly more complicated than it sounds (see images). It involved knocking out 2 glass panes and a wooden support bar, clearing away all the glass and bits, buying edging and plyboard, cutting the wood edges and hole, bending the board into the opening, screwing the cat flap to the board, getting Claire to re-screw it in as I messed that bit up (!!!!!!), cutting and gluing edging strip front and back.

Quite a fiddly job but it’s draft proof and functional, even if there are 3 different colours of wood in that bit! So, now the litter tray is in the toilet/music room and we just have to teach Tinks how to use the cat flap.

Finally, the kitchen window has been sealed with draft proof plastic sheeting. This covers all the window, except for a smaller opening part at the top, which we open when cooking. It makes a big difference and will help a lot over the winter, given the window is old and drafty.

A day after this was fixed up, Tinks decided to make a break for freedom via the small window, in the process ripping parts of the sheeting with her claws! We now have tasteful taped up plastic sheet, which we’ll have to re-do once she’s officially allowed out. I’m feeling stressed just thinking about yesterday!


House jobs…

Over the last couple of days, there’s been a fair bit of progress in the house, with lots of small but useful jobs being done…

– The King size and double beds have been swapped over, meaning the king size bed is now in the larger boys room and the double is in our smaller bedroom at the back. This’ll work better particularly for the smaller room.

– Final wood store built and loaded with logs. I also chopped up a pile of logs which were on the large side and swept up the area.

– The acrylic shower door was trimmed at the base so it’s even all the way along. This meant I could also fit the plastic strip which stops leaks out of the shower!

– The three shelves in the boys room were fixed up.

– The metal blind in the kitchen has been taken down and the area behind and around it cleaned up and de-moulded!

– We’ve also started cleaning the floor of the bathroom and getting all the small flecks of paint off + the masking tape which I originally put down to mark out the outline of the sink unit, but which stuck hard to the lino.

– Fixed up two supports for the worktop in the kitchen, which replaces the unit which was taken out.

– Claire stuck up white sticky back plastic on the kitchen door middles and went to Wilkos for some red feature wall paint.

Jobs left to do in the bathroom (which have to be done before we start on finishing the living room) include:

– Final grout around bath and shower

– Paint touching up around edges

– Order and fit handle for shower door

– Sealing around bath panel base and floor cleaning

One final push and we’ll be there!


Shower door (fun) + log store…

While Claire’s endlessly helpful Mum was here over the weekend, I managed to get on with a couple of jobs which had been holding things up a bit. The first was fixing the acrylic shower door in place and also building another log store.

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It took a few hours to do the door, mainly because it all had to be measured quite accurately and I really didn’t want to ruin a whole sheet of acrylic! It’s all up now but will have to make a small adjustment to one of the hinges + fit the door knob. The boys also loved playing with the hardboard packaging for the door with their cars, using it as a hill.

I also got another log store built, with just the metal roof needed from Claire’s Dad. I’m doing a series of alternating mono-pitched roofs which will drain to the sides of each store. The rest of the logs will be stacked in a row along the kitchen side of the house, opposite the log stores.

It seems we’re getting a bit more done every week and we’re gearing up for this winter, with the logs and insulation stuff we’re organising.


Music room takes shape…

God, this has been the longest day!

Jac was really unsettled last night and Claire was up with him from about 3 a.m till 4 and then I took over from 4 till 6:30, then we were all up! Trouble was, I couldn’t sleep till 1:30 in the morning, meaning I only got 2.5 hours sleep! GRRRRRRRR! Not good. I’ve spent most of the day in a semi-trance dream state, feeling very weird.

After Jamie and I got back from checking out the Tennis Tots thing at our local tennis centre, Claire had the inspired idea to get on with the ‘music room’ (ex-downstairs bathroom). I was really starting to flag at that point but this spurred us all into action.

Part of the idea for the room is to use the old living room and bedroom carpets as wall coverings, to absorb the sound and help to insulate. So far we’ve put up carpets on two of the blue-tiled walls and laid the floor carpet to cover the horrible and cold floor tiles. Some serious cleaning is needed though as they’ve been rolled up in the shed for a year or so + weren’t in the best condition to start with!

more soon…

Pipe leak & repair…!

A hissing – water leak somewhere – type of sound, started about a week ago…

We’d had a look around in all the obvious places but couldn’t narrow it down. Claire phoned the COOP insurance emergency leak people to come and have a look, but the guy who came out also couldn’t find it! We even took up a floorboard in the living room.

After a few calls back to the insurance people, they said just get a plumber to do a leak detection test, then either get him to fix it or get them back in. We got the plumber in who located the leak pretty quick then capped the pipe. It was a leaking plastic joint in the corner of the kitchen, just before the pipe went under the concrete floor. We were going to get him to do the re-routing of the pipe into the utility area and into the bathroom, but it was going to be £200, which we didn’t have!

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So, we called Claire’s Dad (International Plumbing Rescue) who came down the today to help re-route the pipe from the kitchen to the bathroom, via the utility area. We sussed it all out, I cleared out everything I could from the various rooms (coats etc, pulled out the dishwasher, pulled out the washing machine into kitchen, cleared bathroom).

We got everything down in a list and set out, with our helper Jamie in tow, to Screwfix for supplies. It was £60 roughly for everything we needed, including a new 450mm drill bit for getting through the main end wall into the utility area.

All went well and I managed to get the bath out before I had to leggit down to the sports centre to play badminton! Claire put the bath and shower on Freecycle and a woman from a dog’s home got it! I got back and it was all pretty much connected up!

The best thing about this enforced spending and work is that the ‘music room’ is now one step closer! With the bath out, there’s loads of space for the record decks unit. I just have to tidy up some pipes, paint the room then put carpets on the walls to muffle the sounds. Have to finish the upstairs bathroom first though!



I’m loving the effects of the late afternoon sun shining through the bathroom blinds…

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Sink jigsaw puzzle…!

Ok, we’ve finally roused ourselves from the DYI slumber of recent months!

There has officially been bathroom sink progress. Waiting for our plumber to get around to it wasn’t working, so we’ve taken matters into our own hands! To be fair to our plumber, it was looking like a real pain in the arse sort of job and quite fiddly.

So, after a fairly uneventful trip to the DYI shop of dreams, Claire had managed to get a collection of useful looking parts together (I was watching Jamie, and Jac was mercifully asleep in his buggy).

Claire got cracking on the job and I helped with the sawing through the worktop to make the holes for the waste and tap feed. The table turns out to be essentially hollow, but each piece of Oak top and bottom are fairly thick, @15mm, so it seems quite sturdy.

The main issue here is the thickness of the table and the length of the tap shaft. The table is too thick and the tap shaft isn’t long enough. These things seem to be designed to fix into a fairly thin worktop type material (maybe up to 50mm thick). As we didn’t want a standard sink unit design, this turns out to be a problem. I’ve checked online and no-one produces taps with longer shafts (which extend further below the surface level of the worktop).

We cut out the top waste hole and found out about the thickness of the table and also where any internal supports were – thankfully not where we wanted to cut or drill. The smell of the the cut Oak was also amazing and so strong.

Claire had to make a mad dash to B&Q at 3:40 (20 mins before the shop shut) to get another connector for the waste as we were having trouble joining it all up as nothing seemed to fit properly. She came back with  a whole bunch of wastes and attachments.

Once she had connected that up, the rest was fairly straightforward. There was a problem with part of the copper pipe which fits into the base of the tap being bent. This meant that there wasn’t a very tight connection to the flexible pipe, but she got it in the end.

We also had to cut out a bigger hole for the bottom of the waste as the pipe wasn’t quite small enough for the smaller hole, but once that’s sanded and oiled, it’ll look good. We only had a 10cm cutter and a 3.2cm one, and only a diamond edged tile cutter which was between these sizes. We had to use loads of drill holes then knock the piece out as the hole cutter was just skipping over the surface. We’re also going to fix a cloth cover to hide the pipes.

After testing it a few times, and stopping a few small leaks and tightening the tap onto the table, it was done! I have to say Claire did a brilliant job plumbing it in. We also saved the cost of the plumber doing it.

The last thing was to fit the toilet roll holder – Claire was excited about this, maybe more than the sink! Total cost of doing it ourselves was £25.44 for parts and £38.44 for drill bits which we’ll use again.


Busy day…

We got lots done today as Claire’s parents (over from France for a couple of days) were able to take both kids out to town for a good 4 hours. We were meant to be getting on with the bathroom, but after setting up the sink and tap, we realised that the ‘free’ tap which we had got with the sink, wasn’t going to be very practical. It’s a nice tap but it only reaches into the sink a small way, meaning washing hands under it would be tricky.

So, we researched and ordered another bathroom sink tap, which reaches further into the sink. While on a roll, we loaded up the car with stuff from the house and garden.

First stop was the charity shop to get rid of childrens books and toys, then to Big Yellow, to put our old high chair into the Little Bundles storage unit. I was really impressed with how much stuff Claire and her team have collected over the months.

Then to the Dump to recycle loads of card boxes and general garden stuff. During the day we also managed to get 3 loads of washing washed and dried, all out on the clothes line. I’m loving the good weather and the seedlings are all coming up well + new growth on the heavily pruned apple trees and Elder.

Finally, Claire and I drove to a nearby hill and collected lots of fire wood. We loaded the Maclaren buggy with two loads of pretty good sized wood, then got back to the house and chopped it up (with Claire’s dad’s help). There’s still a huge amount of fallen wood there so we’ll go back there tomorrow for some more!

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House & garden progress…

Ok, mucho progress in the last week or so.

Claire has been cracking on with the bathroom decorating. She’s painted the skirting with undercoat and top coat and varnished the door twice. She also varnished the bath panel to stop drips marking the side. I’ve just got to fix the handle on the door and that’s pretty much done.

We’ve got window people coming on Monday to look at the failed glazing! I’m hoping we can just remove the glazing panels and it looks like we can from the outside.

The loft people are coming on Tuesday morning to take measurements and ask us what we want for a possible loft conversion. They’ll do a survey and a basic design and costings, then we’ll see where we go from there. It’s all free and they’ve already sent us loads of information to look through.

The bathroom sink table is arriving on Tuesday, which means we can then get on with installing the sink we already have.

Acrylic sheet samples are also arriving on Tuesday (hopefully). We might be using an acrylic sheet for the shower door, instead of glass. This will be cheaper and probably safer + we can easily drill holes for handles etc. We’ve ordered 5mm thick, colour and frosted samples so we’ll see what looks good.

We’re going to spend as much time in the garden today as we can, sorting out the raised bed, clearing rubbish, dump runs and drying washing. Already went to the dump once yesterday and got a whole area by the old bathroom cleared – it’s looking much bigger already.


Bathroom progress…

It’s been a good weekend for the house…it’s getting towards the final bathroom details and it’s starting to look how we want it.

We’re still waiting for the shower pole fixing to arrive and hopefully that’ll get here soon. Once it does, we can start using the bathroom for real! The blind has been fixed up and looks good and creates a nice softer light which works well with the wall colours.

Claire also cut a piece of opaque film for the lower part of the window – still lets light in but cuts views!

I also cut and nailed up the arcitrave around bathroom side of the door frame which helps to finish off that area. Just have to varnish the door and paint the arcitrave and skirting.

10 pieces of the skirting were cut yesterday, with 3 left, which I finished today. These were also fixed onto the walls with No More Nails and wood glue for the corner joins. Pretty tight fit and the angle tool worked well.

Since 15 plasterboards fell on me while I was doing the front bedroom (!!), and since we all fell onto the angle saw, it hasn’t been the same (my leg is fine now though)! So, i’ve gone back to basics and cut everything like this by hand.