Stage 2, Day 18

IMG_1897Today the plasterer began in the extension. Utility walls skimmed.


IMG_1903The toilet is completely plastered now.

IMG_1899And everything except the ceiling is done in the utility. The wire for the wall light was moved to the correct place.

IMG_1905It’s very neat plastering work. Just look at the plaster around this switch – like wet sand.

IMG_1906Compare that to the previous plastering in the kitchen. Admittedly that is also something to do with my inexpert decorating. Must do some touch-ups.

IMG_1888The plasterer also started to repair the area in the lounge where the damp was treated.

IMG_1837Ruby was feeling indignant about being shut out of her own kitchen.

IMG_1853She decided to play up by dancing on the banisters.

IMG_1857She acts so casually when she does it too.

IMG_1858It gives us a heart attack every time.

IMG_1859It’s a long way down. We’ve learnt to just turn and walk away as our protestations only encourage her.


Work began on the top floor bathroom.


It’s actually a decent sized bathroom with the washing machine taken out.

IMG_1844Old toilet and shower. These were the most modern fittings in the house when we first moved in and this was our only bathroom during the build. The top floor had been modernised about seven years ago when the previous owner needed a live-in carer. The toilet flush broke when we first moved in so you had to activate the flush mechanism using a pen. All the drains blocked on that first weekend too.

IMG_1840The window was replaced in the last stage of the renovation – there were three weeks last summer when the window openings on the top floor were boarded up and we had no light or ventilation.

IMG_1863Shower and toilet gone.

IMG_1866Basin and tiles gone. I am keeping the shelf and mirror as they were my very first bit of DIY in the house. Plus if they were taken down it would expose all the failed drill holes I made into the bricks…

IMG_1895Shower tiles gone.


Floor coming up.

IMG_1890The washing machine and dryer were moved to the ground floor, their third temporary location in the house.

IMG_1566 - 2014-04-18 at 10-04-34When we first moved in the washing machine taps were on the servant stairs back landing.

IMG_1562 - 2014-04-18 at 10-04-08The dryer was located in the servant bedroom (future guest room).

IMG_1225 - 2015-04-27 at 11-12-32When Stage One began in April 2014 they were both moved to the top floor whilst we lived in the little makeshift flat.


Now they reside in the utility space under the stairs on the ground floor that was created in the last build. This used to be the little passageway leading to the back part of the house (we knocked through into the kitchen last time). There also used to be a tradesman’s entrance behind where the washer and dryer are now stacked. We never moved them down here as we were still waiting to restore the terrazzo floor and decorate. The washing machine and dryer have now been on every floor in the house.

IMG_1889Soon this area will be superseded by the new utility room conversion in the coal store so they will move for a fourth time. This space will be turned into my walk-in “Nigella” pantry as it is adjacent to the kitchen.


Nigella’s pantry.

butlerspantryBecause the washing machine has been plumbed in, there is hot and cold water and a waste drain in here, so the pantry could potentially have a sink, turning it more into a butler’s pantry like this. Could be handy as it’s opposite the dining room.



Or perhaps a cocktail bar set-up like this one?

IMG_1881Top floor bathroom in the skip. A couple of times a day vans drive past and check the skip for scrap metal. This guy used an axe to break up the sink from the bathroom to take the tap. I guess it’s a form of recycling.

r611crpAppropriate number plate  – “all crap” taken? I know this makes it look like I spend my day peering out of the window watching everything that goes on but I was just opening the bedroom window when it happened. Honestly.

IMG_1907Am I mad to clean the kitchen and breakfast room and mop the floor at the end of each day? Some would say so but I’m just trying to localise the effects of the work. Having said that, I actually cleaned that toilet today before it was ripped out, so maybe I am a bit obsessive.


Stage 2, Day 1

Today Stage 2 of the renovation officially began!

IMG_1384This is the current view from my kitchen window onto the servants’ courtyard – not very inspiring. This was part of the service area of the house: the Edwardian cistern collecting rainwater is to the left and there would have been a pump to utilise that water for washing. There was also access to the coal store and the servants’ toilet. No verdant views of the garden for them. In Stage One we blocked up the external doorway to this courtyard and converted the original servants’ toilet into part of the breakfast room. The covered area you can see here is going to be enclosed for a new downstairs toilet (with indoor access, unlike the one we removed!). The coal store, which is on the other side of the black door, will be converted into a utility/laundry room. The courtyard will eventually be developed into a more picturesque space, perhaps with a small tree like a Japanese Maple, or a water feature or bird bath.

IMG_1377Inside the coal store.

IMG_1380The original lath and plaster ceiling. Today we discovered a massive abandoned wasps’ nest above this.

IMG_1381The view onto the courtyard from inside the coal store.

IMG_1382Edwardian thumb latch on the coal store door.

IMG_1305On this handmade brick we can see the imprint of the brickmaker’s hobnail boot.

IMG_1391This morning Ruby was on the lookout for the builders.

IMG_1407A skip was delivered.

IMG_1409And a lot of building materials.

IMG_1412The coal store door was removed and the pavers and brick floor of the coal store dug out. If you look carefully you can see that each brick is stained with a few centimetres of coal dust that has filtered in deep between each brick. The smell of the coal was so strong that you could even smell it indoors.

IMG_1413A deep trench was dug out for the foundations of the new external wall.

IMG_1414Some new bricks were incorporated into the foundations where they were beginning to crumble at that corner.

IMG_1415The scene by the end of the day. Spot Oliver in the window. He was very brave today with all of the activity. In other news, some more blinds were fitted (pictures to follow) and the Edwardian leadlight window we are going to use for the new toilet was delivered.

Build Day #87

IMG_4134Yesterday was a public holiday but A, the floor man, was here sealing the quarry tiles. This morning it still looked a bit patchy and uneven but we are hoping that it is just the sealant still penetrating the tiles rather than anything to do with the floor not being quite dry enough to take the sealer. He will stop by to have a look at how it is going in the next few days.

IMG_4129Today I obscured the glazing on the en suite windows with a special self adhesive film. The glass was clear before as this was originally a bedroom.

IMG_4127We are also keeping an eye on this corner of the bay window as there is a wasp nest under the lead. How the roofers didn’t discover it when they were installing the new lead is beyond me. I have done some reading –  as it is late summer this nest will be well established and it’s not the best time to try to spray it. Soon the wasps will die off from the autumn cold and the nest is never re-used. In the winter I think we should block the holes where the wasps were going in. Despite my research I would still like to get the opinion of an expert.

IMG_4132The lads were her continuing to do odd jobs finishing up the inside. They managed to get dust and hand prints all over my beautifully painted dining room walls. Difficult to see in the picture. Argh!

IMG_4128The odd floorboard was replaced, this one in the creepy under eaves cupboard.

IMG_4131A box was being constructed for the incoming copper water water pipes.

IMG_4125The final skip was taken away!


Build Day #47

IMG_2843Today was Saturday but we still had a couple of trades here. The en suite walls were plastered.

IMG_2844You can see the future shower taking shape. The pipe running through the wall is our temporary water supply upstairs. It won’t be a permanent feature of the en suite.

IMG_2845The pipe snakes through the floor to the new water connection downstairs.

IMG_2846Mark’s future study got its ceiling plastered. To be consistent I should probably just call it Mark’s study, as I don’t refer to other rooms with a ‘future’ prefix.

IMG_2847When it first goes on, the plaster looks like milk chocolate. Could you imagine? The ceiling wouldn’t last long in this house it if was!

IMG_2857The roofers were also here today applying new lead to the front top floor dormer window. That room is our current bathroom and will become the guest bathroom. We currently only have one window upstairs as the front and rear dormers are boarded up while the new windows are made. It’s a bit dark. At some point we must take care of the wobbly fence and that rickety, rotten white fence post that looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You can also see the skip is overflowing – we may have to pay for a fifth!

IMG_2855Close-up of the newly leaded window.




I was also very busy decorating today. I had to make sure I protected the unsealed quarry tiles before I began.

IMG_2851I sanded and prepped the breakfast room and gave it a mist coat.

IMG_2849Once you start painting things always look lighter and brighter.

IMG_2850I tested my two yellows for the breakfast room. The top one (Dayroom Yellow) was far too bright – almost an acid yellow. The one below called Hay is more subtle and is in the same tonal range as the Ball Green in the kitchen, so I think I will go with that.

Build Day #45

IMG_2825Today the hot water system joined the boiler. It all looks very complex. I will have to ask P the plumber what those small white and red cylinders are for.

IMG_2823A toilet bowl has made it into the toilet to try the room out for size.

IMG_2826This sink will be joining it one day.

IMG_2821The future recesses in the en suite shower were boarded.

IMG_2824The ceiling in Mark’s future study was boarded over now that the leaky dormer window above has been taken care of.

IMG_2828The skip is close to overflowing. There were also lots of deliveries of carpenter’s materials: timber, skirtings, architraves and such.

IMG_2829This morning I went downstairs with my good camera (all of the blog shots are taken with my iPad Mini) to take some more arty shots of the front door. Unfortunately, P the painter had already stripped it further and given it an undercoat – by 8am! Not to worry.

I have also been negotiating with my local tile retailer for the purchase of bathroom and en suite tiles.

T the kitchen man dropped by to do final measurements for the kitchen. The cabinets should arrive in week’s time and then the following week is allocated for the fitting! It’s hard to believe that we will soon have a proper kitchen again – with a dishwasher! The granite worktops will still need to be templated, cut and delivered, plus I’m not sure how ready the electrics are, so it may well be another month before the kitchen is functioning.

Build Days #16 & #17

IMG_2231The electricians continued the wiring. Here you can see the bedside table solution taking shape – wall lamps with switches beside the bed.

IMG_2197Skip three was taken away.

IMG_2215We had some deliveries.

IMG_2220This is the insulated board that will line the walls in the future breakfast room.

IMG_2223They will be slotted into this frame.


IMG_2222The servants’ toilet floor got its second layer of cement.

IMG_2221As did the step down to the new future French doors.

IMG_2218Speaking of steps, the one outside the bricked up tradesman’s entrance is on the move.

IMG_2232Yet more wallpaper samples.

IMG_2225We also knocked through the blocked up fireplace in the dining room revealing this! Now to work out what to do with it. The brickwork was never intended to be seen so I am thinking that we should plaster it but keep the arch shape. Eventually we can reinstate the chimney and put some sort of wood burner in there.

IMG_2217It turns out that this board was blocking the fireplace. It had been screwed to the wall and then plastered over. Do you recognise the wallpaper?

IMG_2209Rosie continues her love affair with her preferred carpet sample. She grooms it obsessively.

IMG_2214And then uses it as a pillow.

IMG_2200This morning Oliver and Ruby decided to go on an adventure – in the roof… As their blue food barrel in the spooky eaves cupboard is empty, one of them (my guess is Ruby) had managed to push it out the way and climb through the hole that the barrel had been blocking. I hadn’t been too worried about the hole as I thought it was far too small for a cat to fit through but I had blocked it with the barrel just in case.


I got down on my knees, peered though the hole calling their names. Finally I saw some little paws in the distance. Ruby managed to slip back through the little hole quite easily. Then Oliver tried. He stuck is head through but couldn’t work out that he needed to put his front legs through first. He then retreated back into the roof.  I went downstairs to get tools to break open the hole a bit more but when I returned Oliver was trying again.  First came one front leg and his head, then his second front leg. Oliver is a little husky and is quite rotund in the middle. Halfway out of the hole his tummy got stuck and I had visions of the fire brigade having to come and cut him out. He looked like a sausage being squeezed out of a sausage machine. He struggled a bit and I was worried he was panicking but then he managed to squeeze himself back through in one piece. They both look very proud of themselves and Ruby wanted to go back in immediately but I wasn’t having that. At the moment a large suitcase is blocking the hole and tomorrow I will try to cover it over permanently.


Build Day #12

IMG_1986Today we said goodbye to skip number two.

IMG_1996The servant’s toilet door was blocked up.

IMG_1991A structural steel was placed into the brickwork to hold up the chimney above the future breakfast room.

IMG_1990More of the walls around the toilet were removed. Unfortunately this revealed that the floor level inside the toilet is higher than the other floor. Not sure what will happen with that but I assume it will be dug out. It means that more quarry tiles will have to be relaid than I thought.

IMG_1988The breakfast room is taking shape. Note the old wooden toilet roll holder still on that back wall.

IMG_1992See the blue bucket? The section of wall directly behind it (about three bricks wide) is still to be removed, which will open up the room to the light of the new rear doorway to the garden.


Build Day #6

IMG_1858One week in and we have filled our first skip! When the new skip arrived I wondered how they orchestrated the changeover.

IMG_1860The skip is covered and lifted onto the truck.

IMG_1864At this point the full skip sits on top of the new skip.

IMG_1865Both skips are then placed back onto the road.

IMG_1869And finally the full skip is lifted back onto the truck leaving the new skip in position. An elegant solution.

IMG_1870The brickwork continued. The electrician visited. The structural engineer returned. Apparently we are going to save a fair bit of money as the chimney breast in the kitchen does not continue all the way up through the rest of the house – though I’ve been saying that for some time now (it’s always good when the experts catch up).

IMG_1890For some reason Miss Rose has managed to claim the top of the cat tree – she looks very proud of herself.