It all started when I mentioned that it might be nice to have a separate place where I could go and watch TV or read or play on the Wii…I said that I’d also like a second bathroom and I’d like a utility room.
I wanted to convert the animal barn on the side of our house (accessed through the kitchen) into a ‘snug’. After a few months of persuasion Peter was in. We looked for a builder (traumatic enough, read the blog post) we found the one we wanted and work was scheduled for January 2014.
In December 2013 I started to take down the old bread oven in the corner of the room. A mass of stones, red clay, and 50 year old soot. I’d come out looking like I’d been down a mine. Our 90 year old neighbour sat on her step and laughed at me. She was still grinning when finally the oven was dismantled and I carried hundreds of stone down the 14 steps to the stairwell for storage. It wouldn’t be the last time I moved those stones!!!
January came, Mark and Rupert our builders came, so did the rain. In fact, it didn’t stop raining.
They did what they could. Took down and rebuilt a wall. Removed the rotten and bug infested beams in the place. Started work on the new bathroom. I started to clean the natural stone wall. The floor was levelled with the large stones removed and a concrete base put in. Peter carried hundreds of buckets of concrete up 14 steps in the rain. But soon they all had to stop, the roof needed to come off and it just would not stop raining.
February came and went in a mixture of rain, hail and thunder. I kept cleaning the natural stone wall. A wire brush and a heap of patience (which quickly turned into impatience), I soon realised why restoration work is so time consuming. ‘Render the whole lot’ became my mantra.
March arrived and so did the builders. Off came the roof. On went a new roof. Suddenly we had a dry room. I was still cleaning the natural stone wall as my first attempt was ‘not good enough’ according to some.
Work continued on the new bathroom, and work started on the megalith chimney Peter designed. It was then that I was asked to bring all the stones from the bread oven stored in the stairwell back up the 14 steps and into the snug. Following a few very choice four letter words I started to grade the stones and bring these up.
Work continued on the chimney, it was getting bigger and bigger. An intricate air flow system was installed, including a hole in the wall to draw in air, a hole in the top to let out air and a fan into the bedroom to pump warm air upstairs. The chimney got bigger.
May came and the builders went off site to start another project. We had some work that needed to be done, like cleaning the natural stone wall. Leveling and concreted the public path behind our house and waterproofing one of the snug walls (which is below ground level).
We had the doors and windows fitted.
In late May the builders returned, the chimney got bigger, the new bathroom got tiled. The rendering started. It was starting to become a real room, four walls, windows, doors and floor. Peter carried buckets of concrete up the stairs, I cleaned up after people, washing and washing the floor in the connecting kitchen (dirty work this building work). ‘It looks like a building site’ was the mantra for a while.
In June, disaster struck. Our builders had to go off and finish another job. They’d be back in July to finish up the work. I had planned to get them to redesign our upstairs bathroom too. But one of the builders almost cut his fingers off in a wood saw and while he was healing there was no way he’d be able to finish the rendering (he since made a full recovery).
July came, impatience set in. ‘Find another builder, I just want it finished’ became my mantra. ‘I’m fed up with this’ became Peter’s.
In August, Duncan came to finish the job. Duncan finished the rendering, pointed the natural stone wall (which meant I had to clean the whole bloody thing again) and tiled the stairs and the utility room floor.
Work started on the ceiling. If only it was that easy. The ceiling beams were not level, we’d decided to keep some of the old wood and the whole thing just couldn’t be plaster boarded unless we wanted a ‘wave effect’ on the ceiling.
Peter put his thinking cap on and came up with a plan….’we’ll fit the plaster board between the beams’ he said. After three weeks I bet he wished he’d come up with another idea. Every day he was in there cutting board to the strange shape of the room. Not a straight wall in sight. Now I certainly understand why they knock down old walls and rebuild and don’t restore walls.
I cleaned the lime cement mix from the natural stone wall.
I got covered in plaster as I sanded the plaster board. I broke the sander.
Duncan had done all he could do. It was now up to us. Paint, varnish, paint, varnish. Peter continued with the ceiling. Filling the gaps in between the plasterboard and the wood, he varnished the wood. I painted the bathroom, not well.
I painted the walls a little better. Peter delicately painted around the stones.
In September I went away for 2 weeks and the floor elves (Peter and Simon) put in the wooden floor.
We are almost there, bear with me.
Just the snagging to do, Peter worked his socks off. Varnishing, filling, touching up and then spent what seemed like hours trying to get the fibre optic cable working.
Finally we moved in. We love it. The fire heats up the room in about 10 mins, the dog sits on his bean bag in the corner and finally we can sit at a table to eat our dinner.
It does leave the other room a little under used. But Peter has a plan, he wants a nice kitchen-diner.
I am open to persuasion!