House Project at 12 Months

IMG_0723 I moved into my house exactly 12 months ago – boy, time flies! I’ve been busy renovating it so that I can eventually rent out rooms and then go off working in Nepal or Cambodia – it involves replastering, new wiring, plumbing, bathroom and kitchen – in fact pretty much everything! Time might fly but unfortunately, progress crawls. I wish I was a lot further along the road than I am but there’s still much to do. It’s a big project and I’m slower than I used to be.

It isn’t easy when there’s just one of you. I admit that I’ve had occasional help from my son and daughter and from friends, for which I’m hugely grateful, but most of the time it’s just little, old me. For a while, my friend Gabor came round a couple of evenings a week. He was keen and not only did he help with sanding down and painting but his visits encouraged ME to be productive too. But he’s moved away now and so not much gets done in the evenings. Weekends are when work tends to happen but it’s hard to keep focus and maintain enthusiasm for such a length of time… I’m struggling but I won’t give up. Writing blogs? Social life? Pah! That’ll have to wait.

So, what stage am I at? Well, there’s still no bathroom but I have at least now got bath, basin, loo, shower and taps on order, and it should all arrive in a couple of weeks’ time. I still I haven’t chosen the wall tiles though, and they have to go on before the bathroom can be fitted. I’m hopeless at choosing things – whatever it is it seems to take me forever. Friends tell me they simply visit the showrooms, make a selection, and load up! For me, with no car, just visiting the showrooms is an ordeal. And once I’m there I seem to lack the imagination to picture things into my home.

However, the upstairs is nearly complete, decoration-wise. I’ve finished painting the stairs and landing which was quite an ordeal due to the height of the stair-well. A lot of ladder moving and precarious balancing. It’s not the colour I expected it to be – I thought it would be a kind of muted dusky-pink but it’s turned out a lot brighter than I expected. A LOT brighter! Friends have described it as “Gay Cerise” and “Camp Pink”! It certainly didn’t look so bright on the colour chart. Perhaps I should have bought a sample pot to try out but I’d already tried too many and rejected them all. It’ll have to do. It’s durable paint so it’s quite expensive and the cost to change it, and the effort too, would be just too much, so “Camp Pink” it remains. Perhaps I’ll grow to like it!

I painted the bedrooms a very light greyish-creamy-white paint called “Snowdrop White”. The colour is OK but the quality isn’t. Retail paint is dreadful these days – it contains very little pigment so you need more coats to get a decent depth of colour. With “trade paint” you only need two coats at most. Obviously I only learnt this after a bulk-buy of the shop stuff! And then I discovered that it marks very easily, so I ended putting a coat of trade paint over the lot – all three rooms. Maddeningly I then found that the trade paint was just as bad! Aaaarrrggghhh!! This particular paint is flat matt, and looks fine until you rub against it when it kind of polishes up and goes shiny. Well, tough (or rather, not).

I’ve gone through several iterations with the paint on the woodwork too. I won’t bore you with the details. I don’t think I’m being over-fussy, I can accept less-than-perfect, but so many things have turned out not as good as I’d hoped. I know that everything will get knocked and bumped as soon as the place is lived in but I’d like it to start out looking good at least.

I employed a plumber for a few days and now have radiators installed throughout, but no gas boiler yet. There’s no point putting one in yet because there are no hot water taps or shower to test it on. Not having water in the radiators does at least mean that I can easily take them off the wall to paint behind. I’ve also had the gas meter moved from the kitchen to an outside wall – a right palaver to organise and expensive too, but it gives me a bit more flexibility in kitchen layout. The gas will have to be re-connected when the boiler goes in. The kitchen, needless to say, hasn’t been started yet.

I’ve asked the excellent Romanian guys who did my plastering to come back in a month’s time to do some non-plastering jobs – like the tiling and the bathroom installation. I can do all that stuff myself but I’m just too slow. I’ll get them to put up a fence on the boundary too even though it’s my neighbours’ responsibility, and have them cut back the neighbours’ ridiculously-huge over-hanging trees which dominate my garden, create near-permanent shade and draw all the goodness out of the soil. It’s not as if I can sit under the trees either – they’re filled with generously-shitting pigeons! Pigeons love to empty their bowels in dense, dark, hideous, inconsiderate, insensitive, thuggish Leylandii, or so it seems.

I had hoped that the house would be finished by the end of this year but there is still the downstairs and kitchen to do. Unless I get myself more organised, that prospect is looking increasingly remote. I’d better get those tiles chosen…

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