Stage 2, Day 24

IMG_2233First, I know that some of you have been missing the cats. Oliver and Ruby in their dungeon ie. the master bedroom, during today’s work. Look at them suffering on the mink throw and looking daggers at me.

IMG_2236Rose on the damask attending to her toilette. I even had the QVC shopping channel on for her.

IMG_2210This morning A and D turned their attention to the front garden. They began by digging up a lot of the crazy paving.

IMG_2214Then there were massive tree roots to unearth.

IMG_2227That looks like an enormous tree branch but it is, in fact, a root.

IMG_2228All cleared and leveled. Next the hardcore base was laid and compacted but I don’t have a picture of that.

IMG_2272And then the paving stones were laid.

IMG_2267We finally have a front path! We have to wait for the cement to dry before we can use it though. The path and front garden will vastly improve the street-appeal of the house.

IMG_2270J the tiler grouted the utility room. I can’t get enough of those tiles.

IMG_2269Just look at that edge where it meets the quarry tiles.

IMG_2280He also finished grouting the bottom section of the shower walls in the top floor bathroom.

IMG_2271And repaired the section of loose grout in the kitchen’s original quarry floor for me.

IMG_2206Finally he tiled the hearth of the open chimney breast in the dining room. Before.

IMG_2238And after: it really completes the room. J the tiler said they look like they have always been there. Most of the other fireplaces in the house have inset gloss tiles in red or green which is why I was drawn to these.

IMG_0876Here was Oliver a year and a half ago helping to uncover the fireplace tiles in my study. The original tiles as you can see are smaller but it is the same effect.

IMG_4491And the green tiles in the bedroom when I revealed that fireplace.

While we are talking about the dining room, you can see some before and after shots here.

IMG_2208B the electrician was also here today. Switch plate before (sitting too proud of the plaster).

IMG_2211And after. Hardly any damage done.

IMG_2209Wire for the unnecessary extractor fan before.

IMG_2212And now gone.

IMG_2222Old ugly pull cords in the top floor bathroom.


IMG_2279Replaced by a discreet switch for the shower above the bathroom door.

IMG_2282And a new switch for the light just outside, which is a legal requirement if you want to have bathroom light switches.

IMG_2276The new bathroom light was fitted but unfortunately the glass shade was cracked, so I have ordered a replacement.

IMG_2223Utilitarian light and pull cord in the kitchenette in Mark’s study decommissioned. The main light in that room will be enough, plus we will no longer be cooking in this room.

IMG_2224New light fitting for Mark’s study.

IMG_2283With its New York Tiffany shade.

IMG_2275New light fitting for the top floor landing. And new smoke detector.

IMG_2273The trunking on the landing was also neatened-up.

IMG_2217New light fitting for the servant stairs landing. It’s the same fisherman’s light that I have in the breakfast room and I will have a matching wall light in the utility room. It’s my attempt to keep the ‘story’ of the old servant areas of the house consistent by using more austere lights in those areas.

IMG_2218Ready for the new light shade in the guest room. This will be a non-austere room, however.

IMG_2265While B the electrician was on a break, I couldn’t help but utilise his ladder to have a look in the loft. I managed to get my head and shoulders through that hatch.

IMG_2254It’s a huge space up there, at least six feet high from the rafters to the apex with no cross beams. Lots of old insulation piled up everywhere though. I think I’d like to get one of those fold-down ladders to gain access to this space as it would be great for storage. I’m sure we could even do a loft-conversion and turn it into an extra bedroom but we don’t really need a fourth floor or another bedroom. I’m tempted to explore the possibilities one day though.

IMG_2258There’s also a redundant water expansion tank up here for the old heating system. I’m glad it’s a modern plastic one rather than an old asbestos example.

IMG_2240The plaster work around the guest bedroom window was also patched up. I had a couple of windows measured for blinds today, including this one. I also confirmed the carpet order for this room. My nine week guest room challenge is running on schedule. Tomorrow the decorators arrive!

Stage 2, Day 12

A great deal has been happening today.

IMG_1635Rosie started the morning with some stretches. It’s important to be limber.

IMG_1639Ruby and Oliver were on the lookout.


B the electrician came and completed the first fix of the utility room and toilet.








Lights. I have decided to go with wall lights in both rooms as the ceilings are so high.


This is the “fisherman’s” light fitting I am using in the utility room. It matches the pendant in the breakfast room.


In the toilet I am having this Tiffany style light above the basin and mirror.


A and R continued work on the wall.

IMG_1690The time capsule is down in behind this brickwork now.

IMG_1681The space is quickly being enclosed.

IMG_1682Toilet taking shape.

IMG_1679The tiles for the top floor bathroom were delivered; a nice travertine-effect ceramic tile.


The tree stumps in the front garden were ground down. Before.



The grinder exposed a line of red bricks that had been enveloped by the tree trunk. It wasn’t good for his cutting blades, apparently.


And after. We can now walk straight to the front door from the footpath! The stump of the yew tree that was next to the front door was also ground out.



I continued preparations in the guest bedroom clearing things out and tackling the fireplace.


There was still a certain amount of debris falling into this fireplace that I revealed last year so I donned my mask and gloves and set about trying to sweep the chimney out. It was an extremely dusty job. I ended up just having the vacuum cleaner running a metre or so away just to try to suck up some of the airborne dust. As I swept more and more of the debris out I was reaching my arm further and further up into the chimney. Given my past experiences I expected to come accross a bird skelton or two. On the ledge I felt a large piece of loose metal and pulled it out, bringing a load of debris with it. It was the bars for the front of the fireplace! As I continued there was more.


The ash pan cover.


And finally the baffle – the thing you use to close off the chimney (I know these words because I just looked them up). Whoever had boarded up this fireplace was thoughful enough to leave all the fireplace parts up the chimney. Thank you person-from-the-past!


It certainly saves me a few trips to reclamation yards to find replacements.

IMG_1677I still need to strip it the and have it repainted but I am so happy that I found the original fireplace parts.


I looked up the chimney, which now seems fairly clear (this photo was taken before I did a final sweep – you can see more debris on the ledge). I replaced the baffle, effectively blocking the room from draughts and future debris.

IMG_1678My bucket was full – this is in addition to the foot of debris that I cleared out the last time! It’s a mixture of soot, masonry and a lot of old bird droppings – the pigeons still love to hang out on top of the chimney pot, Rosie watches them every morning from my study window. The content of the bucket was probably 50% phosphate – I could give Nauru a run for their money.



Build Day #96

IMG_4222Oliver and Ruby spending the evening on the sofa together – a rare occurrence (Oliver on the right with his usual slightly worried look – and gorgeous chubby cheeks!).

IMG_4251A the carpenter was back today and he began fitting the new ironmongery to the front door. The letter box is the original one but I have given it a good polish. I think it will all need to come off again though when T the painter comes to give the door the final coat. T was here today doing some decorating work on windows around the back of the house.

IMG_4250The new back plate for the letter box was fitted too.

IMG_4244The main news today however involves electrics. We have lights downstairs for the first time in over four months!

IMG_4262Lights! And Ruby.


IMG_4233Lights!!! The chandelier is still covered as the men have not yet stopped making dust.



IMG_4261Lights!!!!!!!! Can you tell I’m excited?

IMG_4242Not only lights but full power to the kitchen! An oven!

IMG_4259A microwave!
IMG_4243And – our favourite object in the entire house – the dishwasher!

IMG_4235Lights outside too!

IMG_4246And out the front! A bit crooked though – needs to be straightened up.

IMG_4237Did I mention over counter lights?! Still being installed.

IMG_4255Upstairs there are more lights but no electricity yet. Master bedroom ceiling light.

IMG_4253Master bedroom wall lights – they’ll look better once the room has been decorated…

IMG_4252The electricians will be back to finish tomorrow. Not sure about this light for my study – I bought it before we decided to fit the ceiling roses and I don’t think it’s big enough.

IMG_4258Main bathroom ceiling light, wall light and extractor fan.

Electricity on the ground floor is a major milestone. It means we (humans and felines) can move into the kitchen and breakfast room. It also means I can unpack more of the kitchen and dining room – I was holding off in case the electricians needed to move the large dresser or the china cabinet to get to sockets.


Build Day #81

IMG_3973Electricians installed lights and smoke detectors in the hallway.

IMG_3996Wall lights in the lounge. They don’t have their little shades on yet.


IMG_3986Another hallway light.

IMG_3988Back bedroom (former servant’s bedroom).

IMG_3989On the back landing this fitting was attached to the still wet filler – a bit of a mess really but the electricians were determined to power up whether we were ready of not. In the end they spent half the day trying to figure out a short they had created in the downstairs sockets. So in fact some of the rooms that were ready, sanded and painted still didn’t get their lights! Argh! Frustrating.

IMG_3991Downstairs cloak room now empty after the removal of the old toilet. The little pane of broken glass in the window has been removed and a replacement ordered.

IMG_3994Rosie inspecting. Thankfully the terrazzo under the toilet was undamaged.

IMG_3992Our new, single stopcock for incoming water. Much better than the four original ones!

IMG_3993I have the hooks to put back on these timber struts. I just need to apply some paint remover to the old hooks first though.

IMG_3972P the plumber connected the top floor to the main pipework and the temporary pipe was removed. Also, on the top landing the three old pipes that ran up this wall to the old expansion tank in the roof were removed. It won’t be long until the temporary Great Wall on the left is removed too so that this ceiling can be over-boarded and plastered.

IMG_3977All of the taps and pipes and toilets were commissioned. In the darkness you can see Oliver sizing up his new steam bath platform. He likes to accompany you in the bathroom when you are having a shower and needs somewhere to sit.

IMG_3979Spotting the running water in the basin for the first time.

IMG_3981These waterfall taps are great.

IMG_3984Endless fun.

IMG_4005The trouble is now the cats come to expect water on demand…

IMG_4003New rim latch and handle on the under servant stairs cupboard. Looking smart.

IMG_4002And on the servant’s stairs door.

IMG_4014New handle and mortise latch on the kitchen door.

IMG_3974Ceiling rose ring ready for fitting in the master bedroom.

IMG_3999Range cooker fitted and connected to gas and electricity. Shiny.

IMG_4039Oliver inspecting the ovens.

IMG_4015There are going to have to be some new rules enforced when the kitchen comes into use.

2014-08-15 15.22.14JB and P the plumber lighting the gas for the first time. We have fire!


IMG_4045Miss Rose. Just because.

IMG_3997Washing machine taps and outlet in the utility closet.

IMG_4047Build Day #81 was yesterday (Friday) and today there was a small amount of work done but I don’t consider today’s work a fully separate and complete build day as the trades were only here for an hour or so. The roofers were replacing roof tiles until their tile cutter broke down. T the kitchen man measured up for the glass splashback in the kitchen. The tilers came and fitted the splashbacks in the toilet…

IMG_4048…and bathroom.

IMG_4049They also repaired some of the lost grout in the kitchen and breakfast room quarry tile floors ready for Monday’s final cleaning and sealing.

IMG_4050As of Monday everyone will be barred from these two rooms while the floor is treated. Everything has been completed in here apart from the final electrical testing and the fitting of the over counter kitchen lights, both of which are low impact on the floor. Then on September 1st it will be time for us to move into these rooms!


They will become the new ‘Cat Headquarters’ and we will be moving all of their things in – cat beds, cat trees, food, litter, toy box etc. The rooms will also be my new Command Central for the rest of the build.







Build Day #78

IMG_3798The dining room chandelier was installed today, after much head-scratching from the electricians. Each one of those strands of crystal had to be hooked on individually – about halfway through one of the lads realised that each strand had graduated-sized crystals and he was putting them on the wrong way around.

IMG_3834Picture lights.

IMG_3822Adjusted chain and cord on the kitchen light.

IMG_3824Cord shortened on the breakfast room fisherman’s light. Reminds me of Van Gogh’s painting The Potato Eaters.

IMG_3805Some new switches on the top floor.

IMG_3810Other wiring is yet to be completed.

IMG_3808Shower screen in the en suite. Nice.

IMG_3811Toilet, basin and heated towel rail in the WC.


IMG_3815Towel rail, basin and cabinet in the main bathroom.

IMG_3817Waterfall tap. Ruby will love it.

IMG_3802This afternoon I wondered why my water glass had splashes around it…


IMG_3825T the painter worked on the gloss paint for the trim and doors in the breakfast room and kitchen. There is a bit of a prejudice against gloss white woodwork in this country but I love it, plus it is very hard wearing, unlike the satin paint we had in our Liverpool house (and on the top floor here).

IMG_3820I had to shut the terrible trio out of the kitchen and breakfast room as Ruby was about to leap onto a window sill that had wet paint on it. She is determined to be like Pepe le Pew’s girlfriend with the white stripe on her back.

IMG_3826Maybe she wants to make Albus jealous. His 5pm vigil.



Build Day #72

IMG_3640Carpentry work continued today with Mark’s study window undergoing repairs.

IMG_3641We thought the centre casement would need to be remade but it is in good enough condition to be repaired.


It’s all boarded up until tomorrow.

IMG_3645Some doors were eased.

IMG_3636The electricians continued to fit lights and switches. This light by the front door was done the other day but I didn’t take a picture. I chose it because it has panes of glass that match the lead work in the windows.

IMG_3637In the porch has been fitted this genuine Arts and Crafts copper lantern that the boys rewired for me today.


I found it on eBay.

IMG_3646Entrance hall light.

IMG_3638One of the three lights in the back garden.


Build Day #66

IMG_3357Today the former tradesman’s entrance external door became the internal kitchen door! It needs a handle and also has to be stripped and painted.

IMG_3362Other carpentry work included the reinstatement of skirtings around the chimney breast in the dining room/

IMG_3354The dining room floor is also now ready for sanding and polishing next week.

IMG_3347Luckily JB and I had a talk about the chandelier I would be hanging in the dining room. He realised that we would need to reinforce the ceiling to take its weight, so D the carpenter lifted Mark’s study floorboards one final time before they are polished on Monday.

IMG_3363Everything’s ready now. Well, once the ceiling rose is fitted.

IMG_3349JB removed the old lath and plaster wall in the toilet and started attaching the plasterboard.

IMG_3348He said the old laths were probably chestnut wood, which is a sign of quality in the original building.

IMG_3350He also did a coating on the walls of the bathroom.

IMG_3356The electricians were here. This is the first functioning light downstairs! It is in the future utility cupboard. Unfortunately it is now the only light that works in the house – we discovered an hour ago that none of the lights on the top floor work any more. Luckily the sun doesn’t go down until late…

IMG_3346Wall lights installed in the en suite. Ignore all the marks on the wall – the paint is washable.

IMG_3345Both lights.

IMG_3358Everything was left in a big mess today so I spent an hour or so sweeping, dusting and vacuuming the house at the end of the day. I know it will get messy again but it’s nice to have everything as tidy as possible for the weekend. It also means the cats don’t wander back upstairs covered in sawdust.IMG_3360A view down the side of the house. Lots of brick dust on the path.

Build Day #65

IMG_3339It was a fairly quiet day today. The electricians were here this afternoon – white spotlights installed in the en suite (in Australia we called them downlights).

IMG_3340Brushed chrome spotlights in the kitchen (to match the stainless steel appliances).

IMG_3344The dining room floor underwent some repairs in preparation for next week’s sanding and polishing.

IMG_3343Oliver looking through the boards lifted in the lounge.


Build Day #42

IMG_2753A quick pit-stop in the understairs cupboard.

IMG_2752This is our new fuse box! It was put in last week but there was no light in here for me to take a picture. I could have bought a very nice car with what the new electrics have cost, so please indulge me.

IMG_2792Today D, one of the labourers, was here doing various odd jobs. He removed the cast iron down pipe outside (not pictured) and stripped the airing cupboard of all of its plaster ready for relining and the installation of the new hot water service and the boiler. Looking now at that flimsy stud wall, we perhaps should have knocked through the bathroom into the toilet next door but the budget simply wouldn’t have allowed it.

IMG_2755Today was also the day of the stripping and deep cleaning of the quarry tiles. Kitchen ‘before’ shot.

IMG_2756And looking through the kitchen into the breakfast room (with servant staircase adjacent). Note on the right that you can still see the outline of where the old Welsh dresser was positioned for over fifty years. The room had been decorated around it several times – the skirting board behind almost matches the colour I have chosen for the kitchen walls.

IMG_2757Breakfast room, with the reclaimed tiles in the far left corner.

IMG_2779Tile cleaners at work.

IMG_2781After cleaning. Bear in mind we are only half way through the process. The tiles need to dry and then on Saturday they will be sealed with a gloss coating. We’re really pleased with how they look so far.

IMG_2784It is very important to keep the unsealed tiles clean and dry so I constructed this barrier. Pretty imposing.

IMG_2785Guess who was, within minutes, on the other side chasing a fly and leaving dusty little paw prints? Ruby!!!

At around the same time I lost Oliver. I couldn’t find him and when I called I heard a plaintive meow from somewhere in the house. I searched up and down all three floors and seventeen rooms, twice.

IMG_2787Eventually I found him here in the airing cupboard in the bathroom.

IMG_2788Proud explorer’s tail. I wondered how he got in there as the door to the bathroom was closed.

IMG_2789He’d managed to squeeze his way in through the hole in the wall of the room next door. What is it with Oliver and the need to squeeze himself through small holes in the wall like a sausage? I thought he’d given up after his last adventure.


Build Day #21

IMG_2298Today the master bedroom was cleared out, ceilings were boarded over and the plasterers began.

IMG_2299Here you can see repairs to the old plaster where it was water damaged. The first layer is the base coat.

IMG_2304The door from the bedroom to the future en suite was finally reinstated. This is the first time that anyone has seen through this door at least fifty years.

IMG_2306In the en suite the door that leads to the hallway has been blocked up. There will be a shower in this corner soon.

IMG_2307The view back into the bedroom. I now have my eye on that blocked up fireplace…it may be time for a reveal while the room is empty and messy.

IMG_2312The newly blocked up door as seen from the hallway..

IMG_2313In the lounge the plasterers have skimmed the ceiling and patched the walls. Mark asked why the ceiling was brown – that is the colour of setting plaster as the plaster is clay based.

IMG_2315We are fortunate that the cornices are so deep. It means we haven’t lost a lot of it with the overboarding and plastering.

IMG_2322At the back of the house the Celotex insulation and boarding continued. It’s starting to look more like a room now.

IMG_2327Even the little cupboard under the servant’s staircase has been given the insulation treatment.

IMG_2328Also the ceiling of the former pantry.

IMG_2320In the coal store the electricians did some future-proofing ready for Stage 2.