Blog 54 One thing leads to another...
You know how sometimes you need to do something and it starts a chain of events…like for example you paint a door that’s scratched and then the rest of the room looks like it needs touching up as well…or you wash the inside of the windows and the outside looks even dirtier than before? It’s often the case that one little job in the house turns into a major incident. Well this week has been one of those times when something had to be done…but the consequences seemed to be far outweighing the benefits!
Our house was built in the early 1990’s…1994 to be exact, in fact we moved into it in the October of 1994 when I was expecting the ‘Intelligent-one’… whole different blog is that you know moving house when heavily pregnant and I know I’m not the only woman to do it! Well anyway, we moved into a brand new house and enjoyed the first four years with very little to do to it [much to the delight of the ‘Hubby’!] Over the years we have added a conservatory, replaced wooden frames with UPVC double glazing, replaced guttering, pipes, fencing, block paved the back garden, converted the integrated garage into a family room, replaced the faschia boards…the list is never ending really but that is part and parcel of owning a house. For the past few years I really wanted to have a bigger kitchen which could be easily achieved by knocking the wall down between the kitchen and the small dining room. Well it was easy in my mind and I have spent the best part of three years drawing designs, collecting pictures from magazines and looking in showrooms. I think it all stemmed from being at home all day…I had the time to think about it, I knew exactly what I wanted. The hardest part was convincing the ‘Hubby’ who would of course have to do the bulk of the work! Believe me it has been a major struggle to get him to even consider the possibility but I managed it…how I did is a secret which has to be kept to me because if he reads this and knows what my powers of persuasion are he will never allow himself to be persuaded again…and I’ve a few other things I’d like! So, he eventually agreed to go along with me to showrooms and he very VERY slowly came round to the idea of a bigger kitchen as the boys were getting bigger and they would need somewhere to sit and have pizzas and beers with friends and the ‘Bridezilla’ could have her friends round for coffee or wine nights and have somewhere nice to sit away from the televisions [little did I know she’d be getting married before I got the kitchen!] It did however take some time to get the ball rolling and last summer we had a few friends round for supper and one of them is a builder. He talked the ‘Hubby’ through what was needed as the wall I wanted to take a sledge hammer to was unfortunately a supporting wall and therefore a 'rsj-steel girder' was needed. Mmmm this made things complicated. Ah well, I continued with pricing units, checking designs, considering integrated or non-integrated appliances. Then this June the builder friend announced he had a week free before he would start building a hotel and he could come and knock the wall down and all of a sudden it was all very real and we were going to do this!
The kitchen ceiling was supported and the wall was removed and the girder was put in place…an amazing process…at one point I thought the ‘Hubby’ was going to have a heart attack whilst supporting the girder as it was guided in! We were left with an amazing sized room…of course the down side was the dust, the bareness of the girder and the beams, as well as an overwhelming sense of Oh My Goodness what have we done! So, spurred on by the fact that there was no turning back we proceeded to chip off all the wall tiles, remove cupboard doors and then we demolished the breakfast bar…I’m very much into recycling as much as possible so the bricks from the breakfast bar were used to build a fabulous bbq…some of the cupboards were passed onto a neighbour with the same kitchen and he wanted to use them in his utility room…all the handles from the other cupboards were removed and given to a homeowner who wanted a change…[eventually the ‘Birdezilla’ is having the dishwasher and the fridge freezer and washing machine will be sold…sadly the drier went way back in the summer after shouting; ‘Ste… ste… ste…’ at me once it was heating up…beyond fixing, it ended up in a council van for recycling!]
We then had to spend the rest of the summer surrounded by boxes of pans, pots, dishes, cutlery and a whole lot of junk! There eventually became not a room in the house that was clear…did all this stuff actually come out of a very small kitchen? At this point we were faced with the financial burden of trying to complete the heart of our home…my mother always said that it is vulgar to discuss money so in an attempt not to lower the tone of my blog suffice to say that the following procedures could only be carried out in parts each time the ‘Hubby’ received a bonus from work! [Then of course we had to wait for my retirement ‘golden handshake,’ more like silver but hey it’s better than a kick in the teeth, to buy the units!] We had to have a false ceiling put in to cater for pipes and wires as well as hiding the piping that had belonged to a radiator on the now demolished wall in the dining room: the walls, the new ceiling and the new squared off arch that concealed the girder all had to be plastered: once this was dry it could all be painted. Weeks turned into months but by the end of October we were ready to paint. I love fresh white painted ceilings and I dearly wanted a warm cream for my walls and a mink colour for my accent wall. [Ah yes, saw this in a home design magazine…we have a large 3 seater sofa that I wanted incorporated into the new kitchen’s family area with comfy throws and cushions, against the accent wall facing the new breakfast bar!] Could I find the correct colour of mink? Not at all…how many different shades of mink would you think there are? I wasted time and energy and money on these silly little tester pots that produced a wall of streaks of colour varying from terracotta to mud! The stress was beginning to hit me, how on earth I had coped all these months with all the kitchen all over the place without a melt down I don’t know…but throw in the lack of the right colour and I was beginning to sound like a ‘wifezilla’…my new word to describe me and my temper tantrums! The more I stressed over the colour the more my pain seemed to dig away at me and eventually I ended up in a miserable heap…the first of many miserable heaps let me tell you! As for the cream…do these people selling paint really understand how important it is to GET IT RIGHT! Four varying shades of cream splattered across the new archway…not one the warm colour I wanted and had read about…not one pot was the same as the colour in my mind…poor ‘Hubby’ was now getting frustrated…cream is cream is cream…not at all. This was my dream kitchen and even on a budget I didn’t want to compromise it by settling for any old colours. So he came to the rescue…he bought two rolls of wallpaper the exact same colour of a cushion I had wanted for the sofa…and he wall papered the accent wall…and believe me it is his least favourite occupation! He bought a small tin of ‘investment’ paint…my nick name for a brand of expensive paint…and proceeded to mix it in his own little way to get exactly the right colour of warm cream! [We now have enough cream paint to redecorate the whole house!] Peace restored…ah well until this week that is!
With the wall gone and the radiator gone and all this space…the new kitchen was cold. The conservatory has been cold forever…the radiators just never seemed to get warm enough; during the summer it’s fantastic but the winter just brings misery and this is now our main dining room. So we decided to get the ‘gasman’ in to look at putting a new, larger radiator in the kitchen and to have a look at the cold situation in the conservatory. Now then, bearing in mind that he serviced the heating boiler last winter and did say we needed to consider replacing it as it was on its last legs so to say after 18 years of loyal service…so it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise when he announced that in order to put in new a radiator and to get heat into the conservatory we needed a new boiler that would be able to handle the pressure efficiently as well as being far more economical and we needed to be aware that once a new kitchen cupboard is fitted around the existing boiler when it does conk out it would be extremely difficult to remove it without destroying the new fittings. OMG… ‘wifezilla’ was stirring inside me…this is the last thing I wanted to hear! Before I exploded he offered to go away and price up what it would all cost: a new boiler, a new gas pipe as the old one is too narrow [seriously yes you can have different sized gas pipes!] flush through the system, [?!] remove the old water tank and the water cylinder as these will not be needed with the new combi-boiler. This would take approximately 3 days…hate that word it’s a bit like seeing a cheap holiday advertised and then you see the small print… ‘FROM...’ Anyway, his quote was okay [!!] and the work needed doing AND he could start straight away as he had other jobs booked in running up to Christmas…oh yes can you believe that I was thinking way back in June “Ah I’ll have a wonderful kitchen to cook the turkey in…!” So this work began and for the first day with no heat and no hot water it didn’t seem too bad…I stayed in the garage [family room really… but after all these years we still say garage!] There was a lot of clonking and clanking and drilling and bumping…to get to the main pipes they had to take the upstairs carpet up and the floor…these things never go back the same do they? By the end of the first day I was feeling less ‘wifezilla’ and more myself: I had busied myself with ironing in front of the television. That night was horrendous, we were so cold, no showers and every room upstairs was in a tip as they had to take up more carpet and more floor boards… “Oh mum look I can see the kitchen lights…” shouted the ‘Intelligent-Cutie-pie’ [I said I’d come up with a shorter nick-name!] The kitchen lights were wired up through the false ceiling but with the replacement of the landing floorboards the lights were reflected upwards through the cracks…a very strange feeling to think that there really isn’t that much under our carpets when you see it from this view point! Day two just had to be considered as a day nearer to warmth and all seemed to be progressing until I was asked for a mop and bucket: unfortunately whilst the system was being ‘flushed through’ the teeny tiny radiator in the ensuite was overwhelmed and leaked massively: coming through the ceiling, down the newly painted walls and down the adjoining walls in the living room! Arrggghhh!!! More decorating to be done. A very dear family member offered heaters, electric blankets and hot water bottles in case we were to be without heating for too long. [Based on her own experiences!] Luckily the new boiler and pipes were fitted and by the tea time we were all standing in the lovely warm kitchen watching the boiler and the new remote, wireless controller that can now be carried from room to room…when a drip splashed on the engineer’s head…four adults looked up to see water beginning to pour through one of the new kitchen light fittings; I do mean pour…and the other three adults watched in horror as I morphed into ‘wifezilla’. The engineer raced up stairs pulled back the carpet and floorboards [definitely won’t be going back down properly now, ever!] and the leak was not from one of his new pipes. What? Where is it coming from? Old pipe…possibly the feeding pipe to the conservatory…have to trace it back…will switch everything off for now and be back in the morning…what? Could it get any worse? Well by now you know full well it can!
Day three I needed to go to a memorial service and was in no mood to mess around…just get it fixed was the ‘wifezilla’ motto of the day; they had to empty the ‘Intelligent-one’s’ bedroom of his bed, pull back the carpet and floorboards and see if that’s where the leak had sprung…as I was getting ready to go out they cornered me and explained that the leak was not coming from there but from another pipe which could only be reached from under the bath. Decision time; choice number 1 they could cut into my nice smoothly plastered new kitchen ceiling OR choice number 2 they could take the bath out and lift the floor…another floor ruined…”Just take the bath out” I found the ‘wifezilla’ barking and then I added “I have to go out so I’ll leave you the door key, I’ll push it through the door on my way out…” trying desperately not to get flustered, the pain in my back was winding up tightly now, I haven’t felt this bad in ages, I took the car key off the key ring, collected my bag, locked the front door posted the keys through the letter box and walked to the car whilst rummaging in my handbag for the car key…oh for goodness sake I had put it on the radiator shelf as I went for my bag…OH no! I had locked myself out with the car key inside and two heating engineers upstairs trying to sort my leak and probably a bit bothered by my attitude; they are only doing my job after all! So I banged on the door [the door bell hasn’t worked for years…!] and shouted through the letter box…until finally one of them came downstairs to let me in…oops!
On returning later that day I was faced with a real old mess but a warm house: a) the bath will never go back properly if the ‘Hubby’ has to do it as it needs adjusting and a lot of the tiles came off as well…and he’s in no rush as no one uses it that much anyway…so he decided that we can manage for now and one day he’ll fit a shower like the one in the ensuite; b) also the fact that the heating in the conservatory is a bigger job than they first thought as the pipe work is not correct and they need…wait for it…to take the carpet up in the conservatory, trace the pipes back by removing the skirting boards and then remove the plaster that houses the pipes in the exact spot where my new breakfast bar is supposed to go! Oh dear Lord what did I do in a past life to deserve this? Add to this problem they are booked in to do a job for the next few days and will return the following Friday; ‘wifezilla’ bit her lip…I just wanted to cry…I now felt the full brunt of a week’s worth of extra stress and I was in a miserable heap yet again! They left and I surveyed all the carnage: my kitchen was due to be delivered the day before the heating engineers can return…it’s not their fault it’s just the way things go…but my whole house was upside down with floors and carpets and bedding and all the kitchen contents everywhere…there was only one thing for it…the house was warm, the new boiler heated water in an instance: I’ll treat myself to a steaming hot bubble bath that’ll ease my back…I actually opened the bathroom door before remembering the bath was no longer in there but in the study! The irony of this is that 18 years ago I said to the ‘Hubby’: “We can buy a hook that matches the over-the-bath-shower taps and create a second shower for when we have visitors…” 18 years later I was still waiting for this when my cousin offered me her’s! Her house was similar in age and the bathroom was the same except that she had one of those hooks fitted in: she was having a new bathroom fitted and after a conversation about the shower hook she very kindly offered me it which has now been sitting on the bathroom shelf for the past two weeks…now I didn’t have a bath or a shower tap; but I had the hook!
Hey ho! So you see how one thing can lead to another?
My kitchen is due to arrive at any point now but there is already a delay on the sink…
...what else could possibly go wrong…?
...I’ll keep you posted!
[Footnote the next blog will be week beginning Monday 10th December.]
Blog 54