Stage 2, Day 34


IMG_2720Yesterday, in the guest bedroom, I painted the insert in the fireplace black, and this morning I cleaned the hearth tiles.


I also prepared the floor for the new carpet. There were a few loose boards that I screwed down and I adjusted one that had a very loud creak. I also vacuumed thoroughly, especially around the skirting boards to prevent dust eventually staining the edges of the carpet.

IMG_2726The carpet fitters began by laying dust-paper and followed with the underlay.

IMG_2734An hour or so later – done!

IMG_2738Looking good.

IMG_1628How it looked just a few weeks ago.

IMG_2741The hearth tiles clash with the wallpaper but I wanted to have them on show anyway.


Do you remember when I revealed this fireplace about eighteen months ago?

IMG_1664And how I found the fire pieces up in the chimney a few weeks back?

IMG_2751Wallpaper close-up.

IMG_2779Oliver, Ruby and Rose inspecting at the end of the day.

IMG_2773Ruby was first over the threshold.

And Rose was the first to christen the carpet with her claws.

IMG_2743Carpet on the landing leading to the back stairs.

IMG_2753T the decorator continued undercoating them today.

IMG_2754The neat carpet edge at the top.

IMG_2728T also gloss-painted the doors on the top floor. Cupboard.

IMG_2731Bathroom. He also started to fill the woodwork in the utility and toilet.

IMG_2770P the plumber was here too. All the fixtures are now connected.

The new downstairs toilet possesses the most forceful flush I have ever witnessed.


IMG_2771Utility room tap.

IMG_2729Top floor toilet and shower.


IMG_2732The room is looking huge!

IMG_2760Externally, work continued on the new planters.

IMG_2761A slight adjustment is being made to the alignment.

IMG_2758The fence has been repaired.

IMG_2756Our neighbour will be very happy with that. I am too – I love the castellated top of the old fence palings and that’s an extremely sturdy new post.


At the side of the house, the site of the old servant courtyard will become the fern garden.


All cleared and ready for topsoil.

IMG_2767I had noticed for a few days that this drain around the side appeared blocked. The last time the builders were here I had to unblock it as it became filled with sand and rubble which obstructed the P-trap. This time it was much more difficult to clear.

IMG_2768I had to break it up with the trowel to get it out – it’s mortar that has been poured or washed into the drain and had set solid. I hope for my builders’ sake I got it all! Luckily I had a CCTV scan of all the drains just before work began so we can always make a comparison if necessary.

IMG_2765Finally, at the end of the day, after everyone had gone home, the gravel arrived. It was delivered by a lone man with a pallet trolley – no crane. Each of these bags literally weighs a tonne – 1000kgs. The poor man struggled so I had to help him push the load up the very slight incline to their final position. It was hard going even with the two us. I can’t believe they allow one person to deliver such a heavy load. He was a strapping Eastern European but as he said to me in halting English “I am not horse!”


Stage 2, Day 32

On Day 32 T the decorator continued work. I didn’t take pictures as it was mainly more undercoats on the woodwork.

IMG_2634The outside wall got its first coat of render, called the scratch coat.

IMG_2641And P the plumber began the second fix. Radiator in the utility.

IMG_2636Toilet starting to go in.

IMG_2639The little basin.


IMG_2637High-level cistern.

IMG_2640And radiator. I was concerned that this room might be too cramped but it all fits in neatly, making the most of the available space.


Stage 2, Day 13

IMG_1692The new routines are setting in; the entire trio now get wound up around 8am. IMG_1696The reality of building work has also hit as boundaries between ‘home’ and ‘building site’ become blurred once more. Building materials have inevitably made their way into living spaces. IMG_1710Ruby doesn’t mind though as it gives her a platform to access to never-before-seen locations. IMG_1708P the plumber had to do a lot of brick grinding as he first-fixed the plumbing and heating in the coal store conversion. As a consequence, every surface in the kitchen and breakfast room was coated in a dark grey grit after clouds of dust billowed out of the back door. IMG_1701It’s very nice work though. Pipes for the washing machine and sink. IMG_1703Heating and pipework in the toilet. IMG_1704Connections through to the existing services. The heating has also been drained and the boiler turned off, so we are hoping for warm weather over the next couple of weeks. IMG_1695 The wall crept further up; the conversion is now fully enclosed.

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 #80

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 12.10.23The first ‘before and after’ pic: the breakfast room is almost finished as the floor will be cleaned and sealed next week. As you can see, this used to be the kitchen (and historically it was the scullery), with the outdoor servants’ toilet and the cold store pantry behind the demolished walls and door. We have also opened up the rear of the house to the garden with the double doors. The room has new windows and doors, the walls have been lined and insulated and the ceiling replaced. We have retained the original quarry tiles.

IMG_1973A ‘during’ shot. Tilting servant’s toilet cistern.

IMG_1992And another.

IMG_2254One more.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 12.40.05Looking in the other direction. The man in the first shot was the real estate agent, whose name was Oliver, so I kind of knew this was the right house for us.

IMG_1709Another ‘during’ shot. Builder’s kettle, ancient radiator and blocked up side door.

IMG_3875P the plumber was here today fitting the new pipe stacks.

IMG_3874Very neat.

IMG_3876The garden tap was put in a couple of days ago.

IMG_3870The old ground floor toilet in what was originally the Edwardian “telephone room”…

IMG_3871Decommissioned and ready to remove.

IMG_3879And in the skip!

IMG_3898Waterfall tap in the bath.

IMG_3894Ruby investigating.

IMG_3858My first cup of tea drunk in the kitchen, but not made in there yet…

IMG_3860I unpacked my hamper from the oven company.

IMG_3861Lots of goodies.

IMG_3862I put them in a random kitchen cupboard for now.

IMG_3865T the painter was here doing a few final touch-ups. Tomorrow the kitchen door will get its new handle.

IMG_3903Ruby trying out the new kitchen tap.

IMG_3906She loves water.

IMG_3963Oliver gave it a go a bit later.

IMG_3880I did a bit of a vacuum and clean in the kitchen and breakfast room.

IMG_3872Old lath and plaster removed and new wall plastered in the rear landing. Other patching continued elsewhere.

IMG_3877Broken leadlight by the front door – it will need to be repaired. My theory is something was dropped or fell from the scaffold above. Note the dent in the bottom right hand edge of the window.

IMG_3889Oliver and Rose emerging from upstairs at the end of the day.

IMG_3913The neighbour’s cat, Albus, waiting.

IMG_3915Rosie saying hello to Albus.

IMG_3917Fighting off Ruby!

IMG_3883External shot. The very top parts of the scaffold were taken down yesterday.








Build Day #79


Gloss paint. Ah – the smell of Volatile Organic Compounds wafting through the air – comforting. T the painter was here today working on the breakfast room, kitchen, dining room and en suite.

IMG_3846I had painted most of the en suite myself but had shied away from painting the woodwork, so T painted the door and windows today.

IMG_3848Looking very sharp.


P the plumber installed the bath today, as well as doing various other things.

IMG_3843New pipe stacks are taking shape.

IMG_3841While outside I discovered the new external power socket.

IMG_3842And another external light.

IMG_3840The kitchen is almost finished…six weeks later. The new extractor panel and mantel shelf have been fitted. Looking much better.

IMG_3849I don’t think Oliver is a fan of the smell of gloss paint. He refused to go downstairs for his daily inspection.

Meanwhile we are on night two of no lights on the top floor – every time you switch on an appliance the lights go out, and sometimes they just go out by themselves. It’s not really engendering confidence in my electricians…



Build Day #77

IMG_3763We have a toilet!

IMG_3764And basins!

IMG_3765P the plumber was here today doing the second fix in the en suite.

IMG_3768Heated towel rail.

IMG_3766Dual basins with waterfall taps. Looking good.


IMG_3771Mark really wanted a ‘rain’ shower and I wanted a normal one so I found this dual outlet shower head system.

IMG_3769Best of both worlds.

IMG_3762Oliver inspecting the glass shower screens that will be installed tomorrow.

IMG_3775In the other toilet I did an undercoat just around where the towel radiator will be installed  so that P will be able to get onto that tomorrow when I have completed the top coat.

IMG_3776Same in the bathroom.

IMG_3774Also in the toilet I removed the old casement stay and have prepared its replacement by stripping most of its paint. We will re-use the monkey tail stay that we salvaged from the upstairs window when it was removed.


IMG_3780Oliver, Ruby and Rose downstairs looking see what else has changed.

IMG_3777In the kitchen I fitted the glass shade to the light. I will need to remove a few links of the chain.

IMG_3778The light in the breakfast room is far too long and will need to be adjusted.

IMG_3782I must remember to ask if we can grout these tiles before the end of the week, as A the tile restorer will be here next week.



Build Day #52

IMG_2998Today (well, yesterday but let’s pretend I posted this on time) P the plumber was here finishing off the first fix. One of his jobs today was to refill the heating system and check for leaks. He had joked yesterday that this could be day all the nice new ceilings could come down in torrents if there was a breach in the system.

IMG_2997He had joked too soon as there was a leak! Luckily it was a very small leak from a old pipe joint.

IMG_3004It was one of these elbow joints in the floor above. We drained the top floor of the system and then P replaced the faulty joint. I only hope there isn’t other old pipework with weak solders!

IMG_3013The cast iron radiator has been re-hung and is ready for painting.

IMG_3012These are the fancy new valves.

IMG_3006The carpenters were here continuing to frame the new windows.

IMG_3008New skirting boards as well. At the end of the day they showed me how they has cleaned and tidied up – perhaps their ears were burning from my earlier post! Oliver will no longer return from his adventures downstairs covered in sawdust.

IMG_3010The biggest story of the day – the kitchen arrived! Cabinets.

IMG_2999Doors and other bits. Kitchen fitting begins Monday! It will be a major milestone.

Also next week we will have tiles delivered and tilers arriving, roofers, window fitters, electricians, new electricity and gas meters, delivery of kitchen appliances including, hopefully, the range cooker and, definitely, the number one item we have missed over the last ten months – a dishwasher!

Build Day #51

IMG_2968I haven’t seen all three cats on the window sill together for a long time, so perhaps the Feliway diffuser (calming synthetic cat pheromones) is having an effect already.

IMG_2970Ruby discovered this shoebox was a good place to sleep so of course Oliver has to try to shoehorn himself in.

IMG_2980More of the Feliway love-fest? Having said that, Oliver and Ruby had a fur-flying set-to shortly after I took this photo.

IMG_2995The painters continued on the exterior. With all the old paint stripped off the the window profiles look so much sharper and more defined.

IMG_2983The carpenters were here too. They laid the marine ply in the wet areas and gave it a PVC sealant coat. Ready for tiling now.

IMG_2984Same in the toilet.

IMG_2985And bathroom.

IMG_2988Window frames were also being constructed.

IMG_2989P the plumber was doing various work today – hanging radiators, running new pipework and doing the first fix of the kitchen. The kitchen will be delivered soon and will be fitted next week.


Build Day #50

Wow – fifty days of work have now been completed on the house – ten working weeks! So much has happened in a short time that it’s only when I look back at blog posts or photos from just a few weeks ago that I see how much has been accomplished.

IMG_2962My first lesson for the day – chippies (that’s trade talk for carpenters) make a lot of mess and don’t clean up after themselves. [By the way, electricians are called sparkies].

IMG_2960They have made a nice frame for the bath to sit in.

IMG_2959The toilet and bathroom got their marine ply floors, ready for tiling.


IMG_2957And we have our first new window sill!

IMG_0838It is the sill on the small window that used to be in the cold store pantry, now part of the breakfast room. I am loving that I can start to do before and after pics (well, before and during).

IMG_2953P the plumber was here again today. This is the new copper pipe that will connect the house to the mains water. Our temporary pipe is the bendy plastic one.

IMG_2963We also have a shower base! P and I had quite a time deciding on what the best place for the waste pipe would be.

IMG_2958Chippies’ lunchtime reading. ‘Ferreting then and now’ – I wonder what has changed?

IMG_2955More chippie mess. I am glad I covered the unsealed quarry tile floors with dust sheets yesterday – no-one else would have!

IMG_2951The painters were also here. They have made it to the ground floor windows. They are burning and stripping the paint.

IMG_2950Right back to bare wood.

IMG_2954The restored radiator from the entry hall got its first coat of the metallic paint called Old Penny Bronze. It just looks brown in the photos but trust me, it looks better in real life.