Saturday, 24 September 2011

Let's get ready to rubble

The front bedroom after we removed the old roof
There comes a time in your life when you stand on top of the walls of your home and come to a sudden realisation.

"Oh crap, I've spent £X,000 on a pile of rocks."

That was me last April after our neighbour Bruce the builder and I had taken advantage of what turned out to be the only decent fortnight of the year. I stood on the (impressively thick) wall of the house, just where the front bedroom used to be, and tried very hard not to get upset.

Having said that there was a cracking view over Westray Firth towards Rousay and Orkney Mainland from where the box bedroom had been until a few hours earlier so it wasn't all bad.

Easily the best view from a box bedroom in the UK
The construction of a new living room at the front of the house (complete with big windows for enjoying sea views, birdwatching, checking who is going to and from the ferry and so on) and of a new roof for the whole house has dominated our lives for the last 18 months, right from the moment I started the planning and building warrant applications to the point now where the extension is built and Bruce is attaching slates to the roof with extremely expensive copper clout nails.

I can't say I'll be disappointed when it's all over.

A hell of a lot's been done, but we still have some considerable way to go - small luxuries like ceilings, plasterboard on the walls, flooring, a light in the bathroom - and you can see why one builder asked us when we moved in: "Have you not thought of knocking it down and building a new house?"

Frida inspects progress in the utility room
The phrase "It'll be worth it in the end" is in danger of being worn out, but, now that we can at least sit in the extension and enjoy a book, cup of tea and the view, the optimism is a little less forced.

The old walls are, as I've already said. A metre thick, they are made largely of stone stuck together with red clay which apparently was beaten to a creamy consistency - a regular pain-in-the-bum (or arm) job given to the youngest workers on the site.

Over the last 150 years that's become damp and perished so it has had to be picked out and modern cement pointing applied before the walls can be lined with insulation and plasterboard.

The whole building process is satisfying, frustrating, infuriating, exciting and depressing all at once, but it IS going to be worth it - really it is.


Rod McDonald said...

During renovations / conversions I try to avoid asking myself "where has the time gone?" or "where has all the money gone?" We're now on "plan c" with our spiral staircase and not at all confident that "it'll be worth it in the end"!

Sian said...

I can so relate to that! I had similar experiences during the house renovation. The worst one was when the roof was off and we had storm force winds - I expected to wake up, look out of the caravan windows and see both gable ends as rubble on the ground floor having smashed through the 1st floor floor (so to speak). Thankfully that didn't happen, but the waterfall down the stairs was still a sobering moment. It WILL be worth it!! (Just don't add up the money!). Look forward to sitting in the extension with a cuppa and piece of Sal's delicious carrot cake when I next visit ;-)

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I hope you will post some more pictures of your much improved home. I guess that on such exposed islands it is vital to ensure properties are strong and watertight. Now I understand a little better why your blog was often untended.

Frith said...

Wow! I hope you get it sealed up before the weather comes in. I spent the last month making a chicken coop. Hardly the same scale of undertaking, but I built it all alone, every free minute I had. It was fun, although I also had moments of "where the **** has the money/time gone?" I hope your project wraps up soon! More photos!