Saturday, 20 September 2014

Well That Escalated Quickly!

Today has been weird so far and it's only mid-afternoon.  It has been a slightly fractious morning, there have been short tempers (mine), some bickering (me) and a tape measure thrown out of the upstairs window (also me)...this was the preamble to measuring up lots of things and spending an inordinately large amount of money on my credit card as we have finally pulled the trigger on the remaining made-to-measure blinds for the living room and the upstairs doors and hardware...eek!

This has been in contrast to last Saturday when we had fun times awaiting the arrival of our new washing machine.  Basically, this saga all started mid-week when Matthew surrendered in one of our many battles of will regarding household chores and brought home some washing machine descaling solution.  You see, the washing machine has stunk since day one, and finally after almost two years, Matthew gave in first decided that it must be sorted.  

The door seal was particularly gross, and the mildew was not budging, so I told Matthew to pull it out and soak it.  He had got half of it off, when he realised all too late that the door seal isn't actually meant to come off, and by then it was too late as it most certainly wouldn't go back on.  So that's how we ended up paying £338.99 in stupidity tax!  In fairness it could have been less, but we decided to spend the extra £10 for the delivery guys to take the old one away, and an extra £40 as we decided the washing machine should really match the tumble dryer we had bought last winter.

And, this is how we went from this....

Minging, but perfectly serviceable...

To this...

And this...

 And this, in no time at all!

The normal steps associated with fitting a new washing machine are as follows: 

First task, TURN OFF THE WATER, once bitten twice shy on this one (Many moons ago, Matthew+plumbing=Poseidon Adventure)
Second task, remove the waste and water connections.
Third task, install new washing machine, and turn on water. 

Ah!  This is where it escalated, we did the above, and then some!  We actually stripped and cleaned the waste pipe, and holy shit, it was caked in yuck from where the people we bought the house from had a dishwasher feeding into the washing machine waste!  All I'll say is, thank goodness neither of us were hung over or it would have been curtains!  Then we ripped up the manky flooring that was damp, mouldy and held together by duct tape, the floor was literally peeling off where some idiot had put down levelling compound, very badly I might add and it was peeling off in places, and the rest of it, I spent a good three hours scraping off!  As it was so damp, that led to us ripping out the breakfast bar which we found out was supported by cobwebs and not a lot else and the then we started hacking off plaster just for fun, as we might as well let it dry out a bit...then we had to clean up and then finally we got to installing the washing machine a good 5 hours after it arrived! 

Now we'll have to live with a partially demolished kitchen for another year, but I actually had loads of fun as it's been ages since we demolished anything!  This just sums this house up really, even though we have been at the renovations for almost two years, simple jobs still turn into full on chaos!  

Demolished anything lately?  Bitten off more than you chew?...Join the club, feel free to commiserate / vent / I'm up for what ever!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Nobody Likes a Damp Patch: Revisited!

The weather was getting much cooler when I started to write this post, that is until this week which has been lovely so far.  I've even been doing some gardening in the sunshine and have the 16 mozzie bites to prove it.

But when it was all grey and mizzly, I was being a bit 'glass half empty' and was thinking about last winter which was a total nightmare.  I literally don't think it stopped raining for 5 months straight.  Definitely one of the worst in history according to the MetOffice, so many people were flooded that it makes our little watery winter nightmare pale in comparison.  

So, we have established long ago that I have an obsession with damp, I have done several posts on it like this one here and then this one here.  This house was riddled with it and just as we thought it was drying out the winter hit and water literally started pissing in all over the place.

Leak Number One
By the time we noticed the first leak it was too late, the water was pooling on the new wooden floor and it had warped slightly, much later we realised that small section needed to be cut out to lay the hearth for the wood burner.  Phew!  luckily crisis averted.

Damp patch...Yep!
Leak Number Two
This time coming from the back chimney and running onto our brand new plastered ceiling in the 2nd bedroom.  Nightmare!  This was the week before Christmas as well which is always fun and adds to the festive spirit!  Matthew noticed this leak when he went up in the loft for something or another, and water was literally pouring down the chimney was less than a week before Christmas.  

Leak Number Three
Water started to come into the living room, through the roof of the bay window, again on the freshly plastered ceiling...this was becoming ridiculous!  

Leak Number Four
The fascia board and guttering at the front were starting to come away and the join between ours and the neighbours was leaking and running down the front wall.  Luckily, the summer before we had the telephone wire removed from the house, as we knew it all needed replacing at some stage.  We were ready to get this done when we had some money.  

Leak Number Five 
The rain and wind were so bad, the water was coming up through the angled louvre vent in the chimney breast and running down the freshly plastered wall again in the living room.  I don't have piccies of this either as it was a total nightmare keeping up with where the water was about to start pouring in next.  

So, the first action was to call our local building and roofing roofing company for an emergency patch up job of the worst of the leaks which was through the back chimney breast.  We tried calling the guys who had fitted lintels in the living room first, but unfortunately, that company had gone bust, so we called the roofing company that had moved into their premises in the village.  They came round on the 23rd December as quick as they could to try to patch up the dice as the rain kept coming and so did the water ingress, albeit slower this time.  They had a quick squizz at the front chimney and could see no obvious damage causing that to leak, so we left it there.  They waived the original charge for the patch up and came back out in the new year to remove the chimney breast above the roof line all together...phew, no more pacing past the bedroom worriedly looking at the growing wet patch on the ceiling.  £834 later, a dislodged bird's nest in the dining room and a new bit of roof and no more leak, hooray! 

Chimney Removal

Then we had to cross our fingers and hope there was no lasting damage to the house until Spring, when we finally had enough cash put together to have more work done, we were really happy with their price and service with the chimney so it was a no brainer to have them back (more info on that here).  We gave them a list as long as my arm to complete, and they did with speed and efficiency so happy days, they are now officially our go to builders, and boy, we'll need them a lot in the next few years.  They replaced the fascias, soffits and guttering at the front, removed a TV aerial, re-pointed the brickwork and reset the air brick at the bottom of the bay window, re-leaded the bay roof, patched in the chimney air brick as now it's not needed as the chimney is vented in the loft, and finally, they rebuilt a window arch that had dropped in one of the upstairs windows.  

Here's some before piccies just so you can see how knackered everything was.  

Dropped Archway & 110+ Year old Fascias

Knackered Lead

So, fast forward and they started work...Hoorah!

Scaffolding up ready to go

Then £2014.32 later, we had this!

New shiny fascias and repaired window
Renewed pointing here
And here!  And a few other places too!
Renewed Lead Work

They checked the front chimney again, while the scaffolding was up, and nothing was untoward, so we are waiting and seeing on that this winter, they seemed to think the volume of water and driving horizontal rain had soaked the stack and rain was coming in up and over the chimney cap.  In the picture below, it looks a bit dog eared but we'll see if more work needs to be done on it.  

Then just as we thought we were water tight, this happened a few weeks back...the back guttering has come away as the fascia board is rotten, that's the next job once we get some cash together!  And there's a bloody wasp's nest in there, so that'll cost some money to remove too!

The moral of the never rains but pours...Total cost of winter 2013/2014 was £2848.32, eek! 

UPDATE: We got that final bit of facia board and guttering done, luckily the wasps nest died of its own accord in the colder weather, so that adds another £485...making the new total £3,333.32

Has the weather been causing you some troubles this year!  Holler back and vent should you need to! 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Wash & Scrub Up: Finishing the Bathroom

This post has been a long time coming, I shared the other bathroom stuff with you way back in Feb and March, and the bathroom was actually the second room we tackled with paint.  I would say we are about 95% done, so perhaps the above title is misleading, but hey ho, whats a bit of truth stretching between friends.  There are still some snagging bits & bobs to get done, none of which taxing or expensive, just really dull, which I'm sure I will get to once the 'to do' list goes below 1000 or I get really bored, which ever comes first.  

Now, lets get the cautionary tale out of the way!  I thought painting fresh plaster would be a dream!  I WAS WRONG!  It's horrible, firstly it needs a mist coat, 50% paint, 50% water, then it will take another 3 coats at least to get good coverage, and even then it doesn't look smooth, there will still be some patches that catch the light differently, plus gluey bits that need to be scraped back and filled.  It's not perfect, but it'll do for now.  

Regarding colour, we really pushed the boat out and went with white, which was possibly a silly choice as it shows up all blemishes!  We toyed with colour for a while, considering lime green, turquoise or grey, but nope, we were not brave enough and we couldn't make up our minds, so we went with brilliant white.  After all it goes with everything, mind you, you get snow blind putting it on the walls, but it looks fresh and clean!  We used our normal 'go to' brand, which is Dulux, we used Dulux Trade Supermatt for the mist coat and then Dulux Bathroom paint for the final coats, 10l of the trade will set you back about £40, we bought 3 originally, so I am pretty sure it was on a 3 for 2 deal at the time, we have only just used our last drop a few weeks back so I'll count it here, but actually we have got 3 rooms out of it.  Let's call it £80 for the 3 x 10l, then £23 for 2l Dulux bathroom paint.    

So we had a white box, next up was getting some privacy going as this was a bedroom there was no frosting in the windows, and the panes are pretty low down, so anyone looking could actually see you on the pan...bad times!  The privacy thing is actually a work in progress, as this room doesn't yet have a door, anyone at the front door can actually see straight up the stairs into the shower!  That'll be sure to give the postman a shock!   

We actually got a quote for replacing the panes of glass with sandblasted versions but this was going to cost £300 that we just didn't have.  Instead we opted for the cheap as chips option of window film, you can get it all over, it cost about a fiver and it works a goodun once you figure out the film needs to be cut a few millimetres less than than the space you are covering or the seal around the glass panes will make it bubble round the edges!   We went for opaque at the bottom, and had loads of offcuts, so did a striped design at the top, we think as it looks pretty snazzy.  Finally we ordered a made to measure plain bathroom roller blind from Direct Blinds, you send them the measurements and they post it out you, I've used them before in the old flat and they are really quick to manufacture and post them out to you.  This set us back just £26.74.  

Window film DIY striped design
Striped Window Design
Next up was some homely touches and the essentials like toilet roll holders, a bin, laundry basket, bathmats, towels, loo brush, & toothbrush receptacles.  I'm not even sure how much all these bits and bobs cost as they were bought over a period of time mainly from IKEA, but it was probably more than it could have been if I'd have shopped around. I know the cute sign below was £12 from Sainburys, kind of a lot as it's only small, but it was vintage-y looking and cute so I couldn't resist.  

Sainsburys decorative metal sign
Wakey Wakey!
Next up, the mirrors to sit under the sconces (lighting counted here) were £12 each from IKEA, they no longer seem to have the oval mirrors on the website, but I'm pretty certain they were the KOLJA range.  As an added bonus, as they are light weight, no drilling was needed, we stuck em on with waterproof 'no more nails', about £5 a tube me thinks. 

Then as we have kept the under sink area open instead of having cabinets, we needed some stylish storage, yet again IKEA came to the rescue with their RASKOG kitchen range, we got the grey cabinet and trolley for £50n each.  They cabinet in particular has a vintage vibe and was the right colour for the room, so even though we could have / should have checked out some furniture we could up-cycle for mere pennies, we were eager to get this room usable so we took the plunge.  

IKEA RASKOG Cabinet and Trolley
Think 1950s Apothecary!
IKEA RASKOG Cabinet and Trolley
Matching trolley provides much
needed storage
You might notice some of my other finds scattered in this room too.  Did you see them?  I used the elephant hooks I found here next to the basins for hand towels, and the altimeter I told you about here, it finally made it out of the loft!

Vintage Altimeter
Vintage Altimeter

So, there you have it, the finished-ish room from the doorway and from the window...It's a pretty big room, but I just couldn't seem to get it all into just one shot.  I have a disclaimer too, this has not really been staged, it looks like it normally does, maybe slightly tidier, but there's always stuff on the ledge that we use...I do promise to get better at lovely magazine-esque styled shots for future though!

Vintage bathroom design
Done for now!

And, now for the brass tacks!

The Sums
Paint: Approx. £103 although we only used a fraction of this,
Window Blind: £26.74
Window Film: £5 
Sundries, bits & bobs etc.: Approx £80
Mirrors: £24 
Mirror adhesive: £5
Storage trolley: £50
Storage Cupboard: £50
The other bathroom costs for taps, shower bath etc. are outlined here valued at £6,296.07, and the above comes to £343.74.  Cripes, it's a lot when you add it all up, but the bathroom is lovely, and exactly how we wanted it, so that's the main thing!

Added anything up recently that has made your hair curl..?  Let me know, leave a comment and we can commiserate with one another! 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Guilty Pleasure, Vintage Treasure!

Actually, it's vintage, but not so guilty this time around, that's right everything I'm sharing with you was scored FOR FREE!  

Let this post mark the awesomeness that was my very first SKIP DIVE, and holy balls it was amazing!  I've had amazing stuff for nothing before, but it has been given to me by my Mam or my Grandma, this is a whole new exciting prospect.  

The Saturday started out normal enough...we went out for a leisurely stroll round the village roads with the woofers we have nice loop that we take them on which takes us to some of the loveliest roads in the village.  

Then I spotted a skip outside a large 50s house that was up for sale, and I could see a vintage trunk sticking out!  Now, I've been looking for old suitcases and trunks for absolutely ages, there was an amazing steamer at an antiques fayre I went to last year, fate even saw to it that it had my EBM initials painted on it, fate however did not take care of the price, at over £300 I walked away!  But here one was just sitting there!  So we zipped home with the woofers and whizzed round in the car.  

So skip diving has some rules here in the UK, you must ask permission before you take anything, which I did, and the lovely lady at the house invited me to have at it.  Astonishingly she was very apologetic that all I might find was old rubbish, that's Britishness for you, isn't it just so proper!  Here's what we got and it most certainly isn't rubbish!

Here the vintage trunk, very careworn, but I'm sure I can do something with it, I was thinking it could go on top of my wardrobe (which still needs to be up cycled) for extra storage.

Vintage Steamer Trunk found in a skip
I'm in love!
Also nestled in there was an easy chair with distinctly mid-century looking legs and and a missing cushion, I estimate it's late mid-century, possibly 70s...snagged that too!  There is an upholstery course next year in Newbury that I'll take my find to to learn how to properly recover it in something a bit less brown!  I was thinking it could go in the living room under the bay window for some extra seating.  We'll see where it ends up!

Vintage Mid-Century Easy Chair found in a skip
It has potential!
Then I found lots of other bits and bobs that had some potential, an old shopping basket, which I was thinking could be spray painted a bright colour and be used for logs for our wood burner, a tray with pretty copper inlay, an old fruit crate, and finally the demijohn. 

Vintage Decorative and storage items found in a skip
Loads of useful stuff!
Best Saturday morning EVER!  What have you all found for free?!  Let's compare!
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