Wednesday, 7 September 2011

"Are we nearly there yet?"

Sadly no. We're further along than we were a week ago, but not as far as anyone would like. Usual Cumbrian problem - rain, oh, and don't forget some high winds too. Neither are conducive to roofing, or the installation of solar panels. Apparently combining water, electricity and a human being 20 foot off the ground is not a sensible thing to do, who knew?

Ignoring my imminent hysteria brought about by over-tiredness and nine different tradesmen in the house, above the house and in the garden this afternoon we are, in truth, making progress and everyone working here for us is going above and beyond the call of duty.

By the weekend we had half the roof done, the front section, and that is the biggest and trickiest. Although there are no valleys to negotiate, the chimney stack needed new lead and the PV brackets had to be firmly fixed into the roof trusses. Nothing particularly difficult, but it all takes time.

We were 98% watertight for the weekend, but of course high wind got through the 2% and more water than I'd like found its way down the sitting room side of the chimney breast. Why is it one of the very few bits of wall we have had replastered is the one that gets damaged?

Since then the weather has been an uncooperative pain in the bum and the Roof Goblins have not been able to start on the back. No point getting stressed by this, as Management keeps saying: It is what it is and even a Determined Hobbit can't change the weather this time!

LP has been back for a couple of days which seem to have involved mud, digging and standing around scratching our heads. When the house was built the water main for all the surrounding properties was buried along the then boundary. Very sensible location for it until one of our predecessors bought extra land, moved the fence and erased all above-ground traces of a large and important 4" pipe. We have maps, but know that they are not entirely accurate. By the time LP finished tonight he and Management were thoroughly soaked, covered in mud, but we have a fair idea where the pipe is.

(he's 6 foot tall which gives you an idea of how deep the hole is - and then it got deeper)

I said everyone is working their you-know-whats off for us, and this morning the Electric Pixie voluntarily took himself into the void underneath our kitchen floor to see if he could find out where the water main entered the house (missing stop-cock and all that). Management's shoulders are too wide to fit through the gap and I am too claustrophobic so the multi-talented Lawrence from Solway Renewables donned a head-torch and went exploring for us. Totally above and beyond the call of duty. When he wasn't doing that, he fixed up the inverter and supervised the Roof Goblins whilst they fitted the panels.

In other news, timber saved from the old roof got stacked for future use (when I have removed fifteen thousand and eleventy seven nails),

We've also removed the section of paddock fence dividing the side garden from the driveway. Once large bits of digging machinery have finished trundling backwards and forwards it can be replaced, but nearer the drive so that the huge bed with the magnolia tree becomes part of the garden. I shall miss this fence, it was the first thing we ever did here needing to make the garden safe for Ollie as soon as we moved in.

Old ridge tiles have been salvaged as they are covered in beautiful lichens which take years and years to develop. Not sure what I will do with them but I wasn't having them thrown in a skip.

The pond has acquired more stones, some snails and a water lily (thank you Country Bumpkin) and much more water.

LP has made a start on levelling the ground in front of the shed but it's now too muddy to carry on.

And if that were not fun enough, the little bathroom is half destroyed as Wayne has finally come back to deal with the row of white tiles which have metamorphosed into grey ones.

Sadly, that is the good news. The bad news is that there's probably more tiles in the small bathroom which are failing and when we subsequently did the family bathroom, guess where we used some left-over tiles before opening new boxes? It would appear the glaze on the tiles is faulty because when Wayne removed the discoloured ones the entire tile was wet . . . suspect we'll be getting another visit from helpful Manager of tile supply shop in the near future.


  1. Have you tried cat scanning for the water mains. If not, your plant hire guy should either be able to do it for you, or should know someone else who can. It's standard practice on industrial sites before excavating.
    Sorry to hear about the leak. Blooming annoying, especially on the new plaster.

  2. Ps - sorry to hear about the tiles too. Bit like our wetroom floor, which still isn't quite right;-( Drives you mad doesn't it?

  3. Many thanks CB. Cat scanning was one of the first things we did (LP's son-in-law works for a utility company and he did it for us). Because the water main is plastic we didn't get a response.

    Didn't realise your wetroom still isn't right. All this stuff is ruddy annoying but I'm trying to retain a sense of proportion ... (although at times this week it hasn't been easy).

  4. Crumbs, it's all go in Hobbit-land isn't it? Hope your weather has improved now so everyone can get on with things.

  5. What about using the roofing tiles to create a wildlife stack? The best looking roof tiles could make a decorative roof to the stack.

  6. Meant to add this link to the RSPB site but there are loads if you do a search for wildlife stack or bug hotel.

  7. Wow, it's all go up in Cumbria! But what progress you're making, it's all going to be so fabulous when it's done. Can't wait to see it all, but I won't expect you to entertain just yet :o).

  8. Hello - hello - midlands calling Hobbit....just to wish you all Deep Thoughts from down here in your time of Extreme Upheaval!! But have to say you need to hang on to your hat this weekend if the weather bunnies are even *remotely* right...

  9. PS Sorry - meant to say 'chin up' & hugs!!

  10. QuiltSue: the roof crew have been able to make much progress since Wednesday, I hesitate to say "the end is in sight" (hmm, title of next blog post??) but we're getting there. Just got high wind and a storm warning to contend with this weekend. Gotta laugh ..... the alternative is running screaming towards a bottle of Shiraz.

    GLA Sue: FAB idea and so much nicer for toads than the bits of half-buried drainpipe I have been using, Bag End wildlife thank you enthusiastically! Of course, Management immediately pointed out that the first thing to move in will be the damn mice but I reminded him they are food for the owl, kestrel and sparrowhawk. Thanks for the link.

    QuiltAli: You know there is ALWAYS an open door for you in West Cumbria and in truth, entertaining right now would be fine. Because I know everything is such a bloody mess I wouldn't be worried about "making it nice for your visit" and could just serve up something from the freezer, open a bottle and relax! What time are you arriving?

    Hazel: Now I know why those poor folk on Grand Designs always look half crazed and utterly exhausted. How on earth anyone manages a full house renovation completely beats me (how YOU managed a new kitchen and extension whilst living and working amongst the bricks beats me too). Let's just hope the weather bunnies were really on vino collapso and got it wrong.


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