Week five

Week five began, with Danny, his brother Stewart and their guys back on site, again on Monday morning at 7.55am sharp, to start the external brick and blockwork. Luckily the weather was being good to us again and progress was swift. While the blocks were going down, the remaining roof trusses were going up. A hive of activity. Although I wasn’t there during the day to see how things were going, on arriving home in the evening, the pile of empty water and lemonade bottles in the recycling bin were testament to how much work had been done.

Tuesday and Davy and Joe, the joiners, were up on the roof again, fitting the sarking in preparation for the roofing felt, battens and finally the concrete tiles. Danny and the guys, meanwhile, continued with the blockwork. It was nice to come home that evening and see the first signs of the facing brick details I had specified and see how well the brick was matched to the existing house.

Wednesday and a new body arrived on site. The sparky, Paul McLaren. (Tel : 01786 880379 or www.paulmclaren.co.uk). Paul I had heard about through contacts at work but basically was another one of my “gut instinct” decisions. Luckily when we had met in person, we had also got along well and seemed to be on the same wavelength about life in general. He was also enthusiastic about the job. I introduced him to Danny and the guys and when everyone was briefed, left for work.

On my return that evening, most of the wiring was done for the ground floor electrics and the roof was now felted and battened out, ready for the tiles. Davy & Joe, the joiners, were now finished on site and would return when we were ready to do the “knock-throughs”. When Danny phoned that evening, he only had good things to say about Paul and they had already swapped mobile phone numbers, as well as numerous jokes, (none of which are suitable for re-production here). Another stroke of luck.

Thursday and the roofer arrived on site. Paul continued with the electrics and Danny with the brickwork. We had managed to save most of the original roof tiles that had been removed and these were to be re-used on the extension roof to the front. The idea being that this would help it to blend in with the original house. When I arrived home that evening, it was clear that a fair amount had been done. Unfortunately, the spiral staircase had been delivered at some point during the day and the crate containing it had been left in the drive. It had come straight from Italy and I was supposed to be advised of the delivery date. I wasn’t. Never mind, I thought, it’s apparently liftable for two people, I’ll just phone a mate and we can move it down to the shed. Err…not quite. A quick nudge of the crate clarified that perhaps two people could lift it…..if their names were The Incredible Hulk and Superman. So, I was left with the fantastic job of opening the crate in the drive, emptying the contents and carrying them through the scaffolding and extension to the bottom of the garden, then rolling the empty crate through the same route, just to re-fill it with the contents in its new location. Joy.

The last day of week five arrived and it was more of the same. Brickying, roofing and electrics.

By the end of that day, the first lintel was in, the ground floor was almost fully built and the new boiler and radiators were delivered. Things were now picking up speed.

That weekend I finally got into some serious work. After two 12 hour shifts on Saturday and Sunday, the ground floor netlon, insulation and chipboard flooring was laid. The support joists for the centre of the spiral stair were fitted. The pipes were run for radiators, water supply to the first floor and to my outside tap. It all sounds simple when you write it down. However the work involved was extensive.

Especially when you factor in things like the netlon not being delivered and an alternative having to be sourced at the last minute. After much scratching of heads, the brainwave of using strawberry netting was raised. A quick check with Danny that this would work and I sped off to the garden centre to get it. It actually worked out cheaper and did the job just as well. Plus the Garden Centre was open on a Saturday afternoon, unlike the builders merchants.

Week six Monday began with the roofer and Danny on site getting on with things. I left for work with the strange mix of sounds of cement mixer, radios, singing brickies and a Michael Jackson impersonator on the roof, ringing in my ears. That day was supposed to see the existing boiler removed and the new one fitted, however, there was a slight communication problem with the gas-fitter, ie, he expected all the copper pipe to be on site for him. I, not unreasonably I thought, expected him to measure up what he needed to do the job, then go to the merchants five minutes along the road and get what he needed. Not so apparently. Here was the first real personnel problem. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really have a go at him because he was my fiancee’s cousin (!) and was doing the job as one of his first since setting up on his own, as a bit of a “mate’s rates” deal. (However he was Gas Safe registered and fully qualified). The upshot was, he left a list of parts needed and I had to get them for him to come back another day. Not ideal.

Tuesday and the roof was finished. No blockwork was done to give the courses built so far time to set. Also, it was raining. However, Paul was on site to continue with the ground floor first fix electrics.

Wednesday and Danny was back on site to finish the blockwork. By 3.00pm that day, the outer block skin was complete, ready for roughcasting. That evening I laid the final ground floor boards and ordered the materials for the first floor. It was taking shape nicely.

Thursday and the timber was delivered for making the doors and windows. There was a lot of it. Since I’d managed to get the flooring down in time, this could now be stored under cover in what was going to be my workshop for the next few weeks. That evening I fitted the perimeter battens for the first floor chipboard to be fixed to. After you’ve rattled your head on joists four or five times, you become numb to it.

Friday and the flooring for the first floor was delivered. There then followed a long hard day of hand-balling it all up to first floor level, a few boards at a time. By the end of that day, half of the boards were laid and the tails for the hot and cold water feeds to the en suite and the first floor radiators, were all in. I think I finished at 11.20pm that night. There was no weekend at all that week. On Saturday I was up at the crack of dawn to finish laying the floor boards so that I could get on with making the windows. I had managed to rope in my cousin John to help with making these. As a Cooper and Master Craftsman, he also knows his way around wood and we work well together. By Sunday evening, all of the wood was identified, numbered and we had made the triangular feature windows for the gable end. A productive week ended at last.

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