Tempus fugit — time flies. It certainly does! I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last blogged here. I guess that in itself tells a story. Progress since my last post has been painfully slow and for a couple of months it felt like things had ground to a halt, even though they hadn’t.
It’s very deceptive, with the outside of the house finished it looks like most of the work is done, and even though I’ve done this before even I kind of felt that way. I couldn’t have been more mistaken! There is so much more work to do inside. Let me take you back a year or so…
The house I’m building is right in the centre of a small village, and directly opposite the village pub, The Pheasant. As such it’s become a bit of a talking point for the village. When I first started everyone was concerned what was going to be there because its in such a prominent position, and it’s in a conservation area. Thankfully as things progressed on site and you could see what was going to be there it seems to have been universally approved by the village (or at least I hope so).
The only downside to all this is that everyone in the village wants a constant update on progress, especially when – from the outside – it looks as if the place is nearly finished! There have been so many people who simply can’t understand how it’s taken so long for me to be able to move in, which I can understand, as to their eyes there has been no more progress from the outside alone.
So what have I achieved these last few months? Well, a great deal actually. So much so I can say I am very nearly done! Most of the landscaping has been done. The floor insulation, underfloor heating and floor screed has gone down. The first fix plumbing and electrics have gone in. The walls have been plastered in lime render. The whole house has been painted. The bathroom has been tiled. The kitchen and utility room units have been made (but not yet installed). The boiler has been installed and connected.
Whats left to do? Second fix electrics and plumbing; tiling of the stone floor downstairs; installation of the kitchen; the oak flooring upstairs; skirting and architrave; and the last bits of landscaping. And then it’s done!
All being well it’ll be totally finished by the middle of February. The last item to arrive on site is the oak stairs that the boys at Devoran joinery are making for me — the same gang who have done all the windows, doors, and kitchen units.
But whats taken all the time?
The main stumbling block for progress was the lime render of all the internal walls. It took forever. I went for lime render because I wanted the cottage to have a traditional feel and appearance and I felt I could only get this with the texture and appearance of a lime render on the walls. Richie and Tom of Candy plastering who did it have done an excellent job, the rounded corners and window reveals really add character to the place.
The main delay was the completion of the upstairs plastering because all the ceilings upstairs are vaulted. This made it a total nightmare for the boys plastering it, constantly putting scaffold towers up and down, moving them, and lugging their gear up and down them. It took them a lot longer than even they thought it would take them to finish the whole place but they did a fine job with it in the end. The oak beams and the vaulted ceilings are a real design feature that add an enormous amount of character to the place but they have certainly added some challenges and unexpected costs of their own. Still, I’m really pleased with the finished product and I think it looks amazing.
It’s a cliché with building projects, but things always take longer than you think they will. No matter how well you plan there is always something that sets things back a bit, be it availability of materials, availability of tradesmen or human error, there will inevitably be something that delays proceedings, unless you are very lucky indeed. Likewise, not only do things usually take longer than expected, they usually cost more too. Time is money after all!
Also once you move onto the inside that’s where the money side of things can really run away with you. There really is almost no limit to how much you can spend here so you must be quite disciplined. As per my previous blog post, you can’t scrimp on materials and finish but there is a limit to what you can spend. I should end up with an excellent quality finish for a modest budget. My next blog will update you on the finished house and hopefully some nice pictures to go with it so you can see for yourself and be the judge of that. Tomorrow the travertine stone flooring goes down downstairs which should work well with the gas fired underfloor heating and the oak flooring starts to be laid upstairs.
It’ll be no time at all until I’m finished…