Progress from the Pit: 100 Bags of Rubble

8am Tuesday morning and after a couple of well deserved days off, we set off back to the Money Pit to resume renovations.

It was a frosty morning and the ice glistened on the roads.

Despite the cold we had an extremely productive day taking out the under-stairs cupboard, knocking plaster off the bathroom wall, digging out the rubble from under the floor boards and filling one hundred rubble bags. Yes, that’s one hundred bags of rubble!

Knocked out under the stairs
Removed the lathe and plaster from the dividing wall
Rubble under the floors dug out (by hand)
Bagged for removal
What’s left?

We’re now ready for the electrician to come in and rewire the flat and we’re ready to start the plumbing. We are actually making progress despite the appearance. 

That’s about it for 2014 though as everyone’s on holiday. Back to the QPMP in 2015!

Merry Christmas!

It was a lovely day spent with the family of Letad. Delicious food, great company and lots of laughs. 

Boxing Day has been spent relaxing and watching Christmas Specials on iPlayer before we head back to the Money Pit tomorrow morning. No rest for the Renovators!

Merry Christmas to all!

Putting the WOW back!

It was Christmas Eve and we set off to the Pit. We were meeting Mervyn the Structural Engineer at 8am. 

Mervyn became my new hero as he told us we could do everything we wanted to do. Hurray! 

It’s a case of lintels galore but we can move doorways, knock down the hall cupboard and take out a strange piece of wall in the entryway. Rather than accept a fee, Mervyn asked if we could make a donation to the homeless at St Martin’s in the Fields. It was really starting to feel like Christmas!

From there we ended up at Brent Cross talking to the kitchen planner at John Lewis. Another victory for aesthetics as we saw a 6′ wide kitchen in the showroom and came up with a fantastic plan. We can even squeeze a washing machine in.

Ignore the colors, otherwise a perfect fit!
Kitchen for midgets…nothing changes!

It was on the bus on the way home that we realized we could put a little wow back. We were originally thinking of putting in bi-fold doors and so, if we have to move the window to fit a fridge (as it appears we do) why not?

Just like this except for the view… think council flats

It doesn’t look like wow but it could be

Let’s see if the builders approve the plan!

The Christmas Mouse

Having accepted the idea of a resident mouse, I wasn’t unduly surprised when said mouse wandered around the kitchen. He cleaned up any crumbs and then catching sight of me, dashed back under the skirting board.

I decided to give the mouse a few crumbs of cake for Christmas. Yes, probably asking for trouble and will now be infested with small, brown, furry bodies, but surely one little Christmas mouse isn’t so bad?

Gin and a hamper

It goes without saying that there’s no detoxing happening in Chalk Farm for the rest of 2014!

A hamper of Yorkshire goodies arrived and then, after two hard days down the pit, hurray, a large bottle of our favourite gin, Sipsmith was delivered, and so that’s Christmas sorted!
This year we aren’t travelling as we’re busy knocking down walls and digging under floors, so at least we’ll be eating and drinking in style. 
Cheers to that!

This week from the Money Pit: Chim Chim Che-ree

It was back to the Pit bright and early, well, not so bright as it was pitch black at 7am in the deepest of winter. Still, we had a good start to the day as we now have fireplaces with lintels and on Day Two of the Christmas break, we’ve made good progress.

Bedroom fireplace – with lintel

After yesterday’s discovery, I did a little documentation. The wood was so rotten, it was just a matter of time before the upstairs neighbour fell through the ceiling in their bath. Lucky we found out now rather than suffer that embarrassment!

The upstairs plumbing – rotten wood bolted to toothpicks

I spent the rest of the morning steaming off stinking old wallpaper while the crew, Letad, Brother in Law and the Brickie, got on with the heavy stuff. It was the DIY equivalent of a European spa facial as the pungent steam really opened up the pores. Living the dream.

Cosy new sitting room fireplace…

Next thing on the list is to replace the rotten joists so it was time to lift the boards. We need to dig out some rubble in order to ventilate the floors, repair the joists and get the plumber and electrician in to sort things out.

Old pipes and rubble
Lifting the boards and venting the chimney

On the plus side, I’m allowed to have a third chimney mainly so the builders could clear out the rubble inside. It will have to be a very slim mantlepiece in the hall. One small victory for aesthetics!

Doorway into the kitchen – tread carefully

Tomorrow we’ve managed to convince a structural engineer to come out and tell us what else we’re allowed to do. My fingers are crossed we can move the kitchen door and take out a couple of interior walls otherwise we’ll be rethinking the floor plan… again!

Still, the chimneys look nice!

This week from the Money Pit: Something’s rotten in Queen’s Park

Monday morning, 6:45am. What sort of Christmas break is this?

Progress was made as radiators were removed and the last of the plaster came off, the damp proof course was injected into the walls and the fireplaces were opened and shored up with new lintels. 
Opening up the fireplace 

I walked through the electrical plan with the electrician. All ok there. He said it was all possible and would give us an estimate. He’s available in early January but we need to get the floors up before he can start work.

Removing the wallpaper – front bedroom

Things were going well. British Gas came round to look at the boiler and left immediately saying there were too many cooks and best to get the builder to install a boiler and central heating. Not very impressed with British Gas!

Deciding if we can move the door into the kitchen

And then things got a little more complicated. We started looking at taking out the cupboard under the stairs and bashing commenced. Suddenly it seemed things were not progressing as well as before.

We knew the lintel in the bathroom needed to be replaced but as bashing was replaced with excavating, it appeared that the joists were rotten in the ceiling. We were looking at a new lintel, new joists and new ceilings.

Wall down – hall and back bedroom 
Ceiling down
Are there any joists in here?
Rot in the bathroom ceiling

It was all a bit daunting but apparently it can be sorted.

I now have a binder of paperwork with bills, estimates, surveys and plans. It will only get thicker!

This week from the Money Pit: A Dose of Reality

Sunday morning and we were at the Money Pit bright and early to meet a plumber and a builder. It was time to get real.

We went over the plans, talked through the options, looked at the drains and decided there was absolutely no way we could swap the bathroom and kitchen over. It would cost thousands and would need drains to be moved and redug. It just wasn’t going to work. Victorian plumbing is a beast unto itself and best left where it is.

And so we’re going back to the original floor plan. A new kitchen and a new bathroom, a new doorway into the kitchen and a new configuration of the back bedroom.

Tomorrow is a big day at the Pit, we’re finishing up the plaster removal, doing damp proofing, we have an electrician and gasman coming round and we’re knocking out the fireplaces (and shoring them up so the walls don’t fall down.) Exciting stuff.

The plumber and builder laughed hysterically when I said we were hoping to move in at the end of February. I hope I will have the last laugh…

And so despite the creative disappointment, on the plus side, we should save some money.

Working from home

One of the benefits of my job is that I can work from home on occasion. Of course everyone knows “working from home” is a euphemism for not really doing much but as long as emails are answered and the work gets done, then everyone’s happy.

Having worked till 8pm (an epic effort considering I was slightly hungover all day) we finished everything before Christmas (or apparently the world would end) and I decided my team would finish work on Thursday and take an extra day off. 

Everyone needs a day to finish Christmas shopping (or start it), buy a new pair of tights to replace the ones which laddered at the Christmas party and rest from the madness of the festive season.

And so that’s it until January 5th. Just enough time to relax before January Insanity begins when I’ll be heading to New York twice, Paris and Copenhagen…

For now though, it’s time to settle in for a staycation (and renovation)