Friday, 25 October 2013

Oh La La! Installing a French Drain

The illness of last week has left the blogging schedule in tatters, the mystery virus / flu type thingy has left me absolutely knackered this week.  Prior to the outbreak of snot and pestilence we have been getting lots of jobs jobbed at casa Melton...namely prepping to paint, and fixing the flooring lots to follow on that very soon!

Our neighbours, who we share rear property access with went on their holidays last month so we had the perfect opportunity with a break in the weather to fix up the shared path between the houses.

When we dug the trench at the start of the year in readiness for the damp proofing, some of the concrete was less then solid, so when we dug some out, a great whacking big chunk came out right in the middle of the pathway, plus there was a great ankle breaking drop at the edge of the path.  My neighbours elderly father has a wheelchair, so the broken path was not ideal, plus it's pitch black back there at night.  The solution was to patch it up and install a french drain to tide us over till the pathway is ripped out in the future, as it's too high on the neighbours side as well. 

First, Matthew used some wooden stakes we had hanging around, the old skirting boards from the house, and some scrap wood that came with the bath when it was delivered to build a simple frame to hold the wet concrete in place.  We just measured a foot from the wall, and laid it in as straight a line as 100+ year old warped floor boards would allow and secured it with the stakes a mallet, and some screws in a couple of places.

The other stuff we had on hand was a brick trowel, a half bag of Mastercrete,  a half bag of ballast and a couple of sacks of sand, all left over from other other jobs around the house.  But all in, this lot would probably come to around £25, with a bit extra if you need to buy wood and stakes too.  We grossly underestimated the amount needed so Matthew had to make an extra trip to Wickes to pick up more supplies once we figured out we didn't have enough.  This job was still nice and cheap though as ballast, sand etc. is cheap as chips.  All in we spent the following:
Ballast x 4 bags: £7.36
Pea Shingle x 10 bags: £24
Mastercrete 2 x 10kg: £8.38 
Total: £39.74      

We also had some scrap wood on hand to act as a mixing board, as those things are pricey at the DIY shop, and luckily Mastercrete is like a cake mix, it has the recipe on the back so except for the stirring which made Matthew's man muscles ache like a bitch, it is pretty easy, just add water and a couple of drops of washing up liquid to act as a plasticiser - what this does I have no idea, but I'm sure the Google will tell you!  As it dries we mixed it in small batches and then dumped it in the gap, making sure we tamped it down to get the air bubbles out.     

Work those man muscles you sexy
Once we had finished with all of the cement mixing, filling and smoothing (it turns out Matthew would make a much better cake decorator than me), we filled the gap with a load of pea shingle up in there to provide drainage.  I smushed it down with a stick as my back recovery program prevented me from doing any of the actual hard work...Hehehehehe! 

Tah Dah!
And that's how you install a simple French Drain...and it has the added bonus of no longer being a neighbour deathtrap / civil suit waiting to happen...Boom! 

Friday, 18 October 2013

What a Catastrophe!

The weekend just gone and this week has been a total DIY washout.  It has more resembled the film outbreak just without the infected monkeys.

Both Matthew and I have been struck down with the lurgy and have been holed up in bed leaking from every facial orifice.  It's not been pretty or fun!  

They say couples should share everything, well I was was unamused when the hubby who came home Friday night from work feeling rubbish and was then sick all weekend & Monday, gave it to me, so by Sunday night I felt like death warmed up and have spent 4 days in bed, today will be the fifth and I still feel like poop.

So, I will definitely need to dose up and get on some jobs this weekend as we need to get the bulk of it done by December 1st so I can get my Christmas tree up...yippee! 

Friday, 11 October 2013

My Floor Isn't Made of Woodworm Poo Anymore!

Oops, so I am a little late posting today, was on such a DIY roll last night sorting out the flooring upstairs we decided to keep going instead of finishing off this post, did a bit more tonight as well.  It's getting really exciting, as it's coming along up there...the bedroom will be out of the dining room in no time at this rate.  

So when we left off a week or so ago we were here in the major balls ache that was rebuilding the floor in the living / dining room.  We now had a frame, and I told you here, that we had a delightful gang plank to get to the loo.  We lived with the gangplank for a good while as once the flooring arrived, we had to wait for it to get acclimatised to the room.  Never skip this step, it's super important and prevents shrinking and expanding boards which will warp your floor.  

The flooring was ordered while I was in India, the husband and I did it over email, and neither of us actually went to see the flooring in person, we just ordered it...that's how we are, fly by the seat of the pants type folks.  The only specification we had was that the flooring should be solid pine tongue and groove.  We got four images (courtesy of the retailer Treadwood Flooring & manufacturer containing three options.

Mmmm, too orange!

We went for the darkest option, and great news for us, it was ready stained, and pre-aged, covered in dings and dents already.  Manually ageing each board would have been super laborious, and annoying!  Plus, as an added bonus, we could save sanding and staining for a good few years, and it doesn't need oiling or treating in any way for a good while either.

The time to pack in some insulation, was right before we started to lay the boards, and this was the plan originally.  We decided the wood needed to breath, and it was never coming into contact with any of the brickwork or the ground as we spent so much time prepping and adding damp membranes on the joists, and the grooves would all be sealed so we wouldn't have any draughts, so we skipped it.  If we had of gone forward with insulation, the project would have been several hundred pounds more.  We also managed to saved some cash by using the equipment we already had; an electric chop saw, drills, and jigsaw.  We screwed those suckers down with two inch screws, to make it as creak free and long lasting as we could, which was great as nails guns that are nice and heavy duty are a couple of hundred quid at least.  

Laying the boards was pretty quick and easy, it was just the odd shaped bits to cut that took a little more time, which was fantastic, as my displaced living room ate my kitchen.  Renovation is a nightmare sometimes! 

Kitchen Chaos!

When laying a suspended floor, all you need to remember is that the joins between boards should be over a joist to give it strength, then just have at it.  Measuring the boards is super easy too, no tape measure required, just lay them down as they would be fitted, spin the board around, making sure the top is still at the top, mark up using the already fixed boards as a guide, cut, and fix.  

First lot in...
An hour or so later!
Then before you knew it, we were cleaning up, and actually had a living room for the first time since February.  It was short lived though, as about a week later, we moved the bed downstairs to start work on the upstairs.  Boo! 

Tah-dah!  The room is really coming along
This was the first time we had worked with real wood flooring, so we can share our newbie errors with you.  
1. First, there was a lot more wastage than we thought, sometimes knots and splits were in the most awkward of places, so the boards had to be trimmed and then laid in shorter lengths, which meant when the last board went in, we were one short...(slaps forehead!), as far as fails go this one was pretty epic.
2. We found using real wood over engineered, was that it's never really 100% square, there was a lot of grunting while using our legs to push the boards in under tension and a lot of noodling with gaps to get it evenly spaced before going at it with the screw driver.
3. If I had to do it over, I would seal the raw wood on the back of the boards, just because I am paranoid about damp...this is what this house has done to me...but we live and learn, and time will tell if this was a mistake or not.
4. We should have done our homework on the supplier, as the flooring guy was less than helpful once he had our order, if we order from him again, we will get stung with a hefty delivery charge when we get a pack to cover the one board we need.  We also asked him to supply some colour matched stain, he said he couldn't, so now we have to figure out how to get it direct from the manufacturer.  

Next little item of business, the scores on the doors!

Total Project Cost
26ish sq metres of Flooring: £877.28 (with free delivery)
Labour: £900
Wood, Screws and Sundries:  £520
Sand, Cement etc.: £25.10 
Total: £2,322.38

Not the cheapest but it looks fantastic, the downstairs is totally transformed, so I can't complain.  Plus, as I was still suffering with my back, we opted to get our buddy John in, but this would be much cheaper and totally DIYable if you wanted to save on labour costs.

So we are almost done, we need to seal any wider joins, touch up some dings we made in the stain colour, and fit the pipework for the radiators before the boards under the windows are all screwed down.  So this job may cost us another couple of hundred before we are done, but it will be before Christmas now as we are full steam ahead upstairs.  Can't wait to share some progress up there with you all.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Guilty Pleasure, Vintage Treasure!

One of the first things I did once I was feeling better and could walk was to go into Reading to get some bits and bobs that I needed as I had not been out for so long...came home with quite a haul from H&M, Primark, & New Look, but I also stopped in at the British Heart Foundation home store.

Well what a revelation, the store is pretty new to Reading, I have been in one in Bishop Auckland if I remember correctly...In the one in Reading I managed to pick up some great second hand we moved from a one bedroom flat with built in wardrobes, we are missing lots of the basic stuff for the bedrooms, so even when we can move upstairs, it would be pretty sparse and we still would have nowhere for clothes.

Ikea is usually our go-to place for basic furniture, but the wardrobes we were luke warm about was just too pricey for us right now, plus the furniture I really liked was the Edland range in grey, which of course has been discontinued, the Hemnes range which is the closest, just isn't as funky....

So, I wandered in and had a rootle around, and it was like a gold mine of stuff.  Managed o get quite a haul for my first time in there.  I got a side table for the living room, this is circa 70s I think, a wardrobe for the master, and a bedside cabinet for the guest room come office, not sure which era the other bits come from but I would guess somewhere around the 60s-70s.  

Now, here's the disclaimer, the pictures are rubbish, I took them in store to send to the hubster, and you will remember from this post here that I am only going to share great pictures once they have been tarted up and are in situ. And if you are wondering, this little lot set me back just £70, I managed to do a deal as I picked up three items, the price should have been £85.  

Midcentury side table

Vintage bedside cabinet, vintage nightstand

Midcentury vintage wardrobe

So this stuff was bought on the Saturday, and we popped in to collect it all on the Sunday.  While the husband was turning the car around, I stopped into the Duchess of Kent House charity store, almost right next door, it gathers funds for an amazing respite and palliative care centre in the Reading area.  Lo and behold, we picked up a mid-century chair and an old fashioned leather suitcase for £20.  Bargain!

Now, the brain cogs have been spinning as I have some big plans for these pieces.  Lets see where we end up shall we?

Monday, 7 October 2013

One Year Anniversary of the House of Horrors: To Do List Revisited

Now October is here we have been in our house an entire has been tough, but we have almost broken the back of the renovation to get the main part of the house livable.  Way back in May, I shared the 'To Do List' with some wildly crazy estimates of how much we reckoned we would spend.  I have had a bit of a re-arrange to try and group things together by areas, and I have added some room by room to do lists too. 

Here's how it's all shaping up with what we have shared so far, and of course what we have spent.  Eeek!   

Electrics & Lighting
1. Get a new consumer unit so we don't die when we use the hairdryer, and re-wire the entire house, you known so we don't die!
2. Get sexy modern light switch plates to give it the 'high spec' look
3. NEW: Obtain new light fixtures and fittings for the house
Update:  We are all re-wired in the main part of the house, just the kitchen and extension to go, and we have almost all the switches we need, just a few random ones we missed and we have some light fittings included in the costs here too, but alas more are needed.
Total so far: £3,290.65

Damp, Guttering & Drainage
1. Damp proof the entire ground floor 
Update:  We are all done with the main parts of the house, just the kitchen and extension to go.  See how we got on here.
Total so far: £1,910.64
2. New soffits, fascias and guttering everywhere 
Update:  We did a patch up job here on the front down pipe, but the rest is still to do.
Total so far: £32.11
3. Dig a soak-a-way in the back garden as there is zero drainage
£Free as I can dig with the best of them

Plumbing and Heating
1.  Get a big ass boiler as we have big bathroom plans. 
Update:  We are all done with the boiler, see how we got on here!
Total so far: £2,570
2.  Replace all the radiators with more traditional styled ones
Update:  The radiators are all bought, it's just getting them in the house now, costs and styles to be shared very soon. 

Outside Spaces
1.  Landscape the front garden and make it sexy, put in a local authority approved dropped kerb and driveway. 
£Your guess is as good as mine
2.  Re-instate the Victorian-esque tiled pathway to the front door which some doofus has covered in concrete or removed completely
£Your guess is as good as mine
3.  Build a huge patio for alfresco living, complete with pizza oven and BBQ, as we are known for our great summers in the UK - Yeah right!
£Your guess is as good as mine
4. NEW:  Doggie Proof the Garden
Here's how we got on here
Total: £198

1.  New front door
Update:  We are all done, see how we got on here!
Total: £1,062
2.  Replace all the doors throughout with reproduction period doors and add more Victorian-esque hardware

1.  Convert the loft to re-instate the third bedroom with a full width dormer and a en-suite
2.  Build a side return to widen the kitchen area
Update:  We are scrapping this plan entirely as there just isn't enough space for the money, as £6,000 is wildly under estimating how much this would cost.  This involves some major structural stuff.  
3.  Demolish the existing bathroom extension
£Free as I am that good with a sledge hammer
Update:  Hopefully, the existing bathroom will be staying, the plans are in from the architect, but no real movement on this will happen until next year.
4.  Heighten the first extension off the back of the kitchen and have doors opening out to the garden.  Update:  With the plans in we have changed the budget here to renew the roof across both extensions, so this budget has increased from £6,000 to £15,000
5.  Repair the floors in the living room that have suffered from the damp
Update:  We are almost done in this respect, so I will share some costs etc very soon.  I can tell you now, that £600 was only a distant dream....Ooops
6.  NEW:  Plastering
Update:  Well we didn't allocate any money here, and it ended up a massive job!  We have had the whole place done except for the kitchen and old bathroom, I reckon I will cover this cost in the the extension renovation, so we will consider this done and finished.  Here's the story here and here.
Total: £5,446.89 

1.  Move the bathroom upstairs into a small bedroom
2. NEW:  Add some bathroom storage
Update:  We are done mostly...more details to follow once all the scores on the doors are in.  Here's a sneaky peaky...

Don't you just want to lick the metro tiles?  Soo

1.  Put in new kitchen, flooring and tiling

NEW:  Master Bedroom
1. Put in the salvaged period fireplace from the living room
2. Patch up the flooring and paint
3. Add a DIY tiled hearth
4. Paint and decorate
5. Add furniture, wardrobes drawers, & bedside cabinets
6. Add window treatments
7. Reinstate coving, picture rail and skirting
8. Add art, decor and finishing touches.

NEW:  Guest Room / Office
1. Put in a salvaged period fireplace, again, because some doofus has removed it
2. Patch up the flooring and paint
3. Add a DIY hearth
4. Paint and decorate
4. Add furniture, bed, drawers, desk & bedside cabinet
5. Add window treatments
6. Reinstate coving, picture rail and skirting
7. Add art, decor and finishing touches

NEW:  Living / Dining Room
1.  Get a wood burner & two slate hearths in the living room, one the planned log store and the other for the log burner
2. Paint and decorate
3. Add custom built in cupboards in the chimney alcoves
4. DIY floating shelves for the alcoves
5. Upgrade dining table to a 6/8 seater, I have my eyes on some lovely mid-century pieces
6. Add window treatments
7. Reinstate coving, picture rail and skirting
8. Add art, decor, a rug and other finishing touches
Update: I snagged an Eames-esque rack for magazines for £10 herethis might find it's way into the living room
Total so far: £10

NEW:  Hallway and Landing
1Paint and decorate
2. Add coving, skirting and door architraves, possibly some corbels
3. Renew the hallway floor, stabilise the joists and surface, and tile
4. Add in a sunken coir mat in the entryway
5. Patch up and paint the stairs and landing flooring
6. Remove the door from the airing cupboard and add custom open shelving for towels and bedding etc. 
7. Add art, mirrors etc.
Update:  I snagged some mirrors for the hall way here, I think they would be great in an arrangement by the door to bounce light around
Total so far: £60

I am not even going to bother adding up the estimated costs here, it's just too heart attack inducing, but as I am a slight glutton for punishment, what we have shared so far in this delightful blog has come a whopping £14,580.29...and I have yet to share the full flooring story, the bathroom remodel and the other bits and bobs of decor and furniture I have been squirrelling away to go into this house.  I feel faint, I am so in over my head right now, and the worst part...I still don't have a single finished room!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Rosemary's Giant Bush!

If the porn fans of the Internet were getting all up in my business over 'Nobody Likes a Damp Patch', let's see if they stumble upon this little gem!

Remember herehere and here when we tackled the damp issues in the house, as part of that, one of the first things we did when we moved in was pulled out a humongous rosemary bush, Rosemary's giant bush was literally growing through the walls.

Big Bush, Big Hole, Big Rosemary Bush
Wait...WTF...this is not the bush I was after!

There might be a moral, hell, even a point to this post, but then again, perhaps not!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Did Your Mother Teach You Anything?

Conversation I had about an hour ago at the Petrol Station while paying for fuel and a birthday card for my Grandad...I'll set the scene, I've just been to physio and to the gym for the first time in forever due to being a cripple, granted I don't look that hot today, but seriously, W.T.F?

Selfie, in my gym gear!

Assistant:  Happy birthday!

Me: No, it's not my birthday, it's for my Grandad, it's his birthday.  (I'm thinking said assistant is a weirdo, I mean who buys themselves a birthday card?) 

Assistant:  Oh your Grandkid's birthday.

Me: (Incensed OBVIOUSLY and staring daggers)  Err, how old do you think I am exactly?...I would have had to have been like four when I had a kid...It's my GRANDAD'S birthday.

Once I had paid, I rode out of that shop on my high horse...then I got to thinking driving back home, I'm 32 if I had a kid when I was 16, who had a kid when they were 16, I could be a Grandma, this chick was a Granny at 23, granted she's from somewhere in the back arse of nowhere, and I'm in the home counties darling, but it is in the realms of possibility!  Anyhoo, I got right back on my high horse, (look away now if you are in the P.C. brigade) as basically, I was either just called an old hag...or he just called me a chav...seriously...I say it again, Dude, W.T.F!

So, either I look like a chav, an old hag, or the assistant is mentally deficient!

Yep, that dude will be carted off in a straight jacket any day now....

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

My Floor was Held Together with Woodworm Poo!

I know it was poo, and not them holding hands (who said that?!?! possibly a surveyor) as they were all long dead, I checked religiously for days and days crumbling the weetabix wood to see if I could see fresh signs or larvae...luckily none to be found as it had been treated some time in the past.

We knew our downstairs flooring was bad in some places, left to rot due to damp, woodworm, and neglect.  We figured it was a patch up job, it became apparent when we took up the edges of the floor to let the damp proof people in to inject the walls that perhaps the damage was a little worse than we thought, we took our estimated budget from £300 to £600...Wrong again as this happened!

Almost 80% of the boards & joists were shot to bits...not only that, the walls the joists were stood on were no longer walls, they were random piles of bricks stuffed under there to patch up the floor...There goes that £600.

We sucked it up, raided the piggy bank and brought in the big guns (John our awesome bathroom & kitchen guy, who is amazeballs at everything else too, the hubby was being the coffee maker and labourer) - I was working in India again, so, 5* hotel for me).  

First everything out.  Dump outside for wood burner, bonfire and chimenea use for the rest of the year!  Well here's hoping we get a wood burner at some stage, those prices be redonkulous (I am clearly not very street as just had to Google the spelling)!

I've got wood!
I've got wood!
Tons of it!

Don't forget when you enter the room there is just a nice ankle breaking drop behind the door...the husband left it open just in case he forgot when going to the bathroom in the dark.

Second task, dig out 100+ years of rubbish and building waste that was sucking the groundwater up over the damp proof course.  

Dump that outside too, as your house really couldn't look any worse, and your neighbours are all awesome so they don't mind the temporary eyesore, even though they too hear the zeros dropping off their property value.  

Fast forward from May to a couple of weeks ago, when we finally got the giant pile of crap removed from the front of our house...Sorry it took so long lovely neighbours, you're all invited for mince pies and mulled wine at ours this Christmas!  All except you angry neighbour bloke, trying to start a fight with the husband during said rubbish removal...if you had pulled that stunt a few years ago, he'd of knocked the white off of your teeth... Glad your moving, don't come back now you hear!

How's that for curb appeal?

Next up, rebuilding the floor.  Now, if you are a better DIYer than Matthew and I, this is totally do-able without help, it's basically just a big frame set on top of bricks.  

First the dwarf walls were rebuilt, they are only a few courses of brick, and as long as they are level, the rest of it doesn't need to be neat.  

Next comes the damp membrane, it comes in rolls almost the exact width of a brick, you lay that on top of the dwarf walls, then some more mortar to set the wooden plates into to get it all level, make sure you check those levels in all directions.  Also, ensure there is a small gap (a couple of mm is fine) between the new wood (all pretreated, kiln dried and seasoned for some time in the room they are going to be laid) and any outside walls, your damp proof membrane will be above the level of the plates and joists, so this will keep them dry, and well away from the water that comes up the first few brick courses on the house when it rains.  You will notice in the pictures, the new plaster also doesn't go below the damp course, if it does it will suck that water up the wall quicker than I can hoover up a crisp glass of Chardonnay.


Next, it's time for the joists to be cut and placed at right angles to the plates, these get nailed in with with huge 10 inch nails, just like this.  Don't forget to keep checking your levels.


When that's all done, get your offcuts and get some noggins in between the joists to get them nice and sturdy. 

Next up is framing out any odd bits, ensuring the floor boards will be fully supported, when they are laid, we had some awkward bits in the bay window, and in the alcoves formed by the chimney breasts.  Remember, MORE IS MORE, go to town!

Finally, before the floor was laid, the chimneys which had been dug out as they were damp, needed to be re-filled with a new membrane, followed by hardcore and cement.  

Who can resist drawing in wet concrete?

So there you have it, a sort of step by step guide to rebuilding a suspended floor.  I will be providing a cost breakdown, and details of the all important floor laying very soon.  
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