Things have got exciting at the house recently. Well, exciting to me, anyway.
For the first time ever, instead of removing rubbish and horrible stuff and ghastly mistakes from the house and heaving it all to the tip, we are putting good things back onto to the house and beginning the process of making it a beautiful, stable, dry, well-made home once more.
Dad's builder friend came for two days this week and patched up one of the chimney stacks, which means the stairs wall will no longer run with water when it's raining. Hurray! He would've done it sooner but his other job is filming for the Formula 1 racing so it's difficult for him to find enough spare time. Anyway, chimney stack and nearby roof tiles repaired.* And the horribly ugly, rusty radio mast thing that had been bolted to the side of the house has been removed at last.
And we got a nearly new washing machine for free, so that's one more expense I can stop worrying about. HURRAY for Freecycle! I've been watching the list for weeks, hoping that one would come up. When this one did, I emailed within the hour, but it had already gone. For some reason that deal fell through, though, and we were next on the list. Turns out the couple who wanted rid of it had bought one of the houses that we'd looked at last year. So we had a nice time chatting about renovation, and all the awful things that we'd spotted about their house. And then we made them happy by explaining that the house we eventually bought was in fact much worse. FREE WASHING MACHINE!
The structural engineer finally turned up to assess the sagging joist -- after forgetting to visit for a second time. I think he's senile, because after that visit he then forgot to send us the measurements that we asked for (and also because he's old, and he kept weirdly changing subject in the middle of the conversation when he visited the house). When I phoned him to remind him, he started talking about drawing designs for supporting walls and pillars, at which point I asked how much he charged and then died a little inside when he revealed the huge hourly rate. So I'm girding myself to be obnoxious about it next week. All we asked for, on the phone, and in person, were the measurements for a steel beam and for a timber beam. We didn't want designs. We didn't want clever ideas. And our time costs money too, so I'm steeling myself to say something about a discount on his presumably very high bill for the times he kept us waiting.
Matt started on the repointing this week, in the bedroom that had originally been the ugliest room in the house (north facing, with shiny lime green walls, black woodwork, ugly built-in cupboards, and no working electrics).
The above picture shows the fireplace, which has been thoroughly raked out (ie. all the loose mortar between the stones has been scraped out, chipped out, raked out and washed out), and the alcove to the left hand side (which used to be an ugly cupboard). Before re-pointing with lime, you have to totally soak the stonework and mortar joints, which is why it appears darker. You can see a patch of newly re-pointed stonework about two-thirds of the way up the alcove. That was how much Matt had done by Wednesday night.
I joined in yesterday (to the chimney guy's delight), and this is how much we've done now:
It's all done apart from the bottom foot-and-a-bit!
It's going to take longer than I thought to do the whole first floor. After doing a few sums, we realised it would be more cost effective to buy a cement mixer and then sell it on than to continue renting one. So we did. It's shiny and lovely and is going to be a right dirty old mess by the end of the week. But the walls will be pretty, and that's the main thing.
After buying the cement mixer we trudged up a hill with our chicken-keeping friend to steal a lot of little stones from a beautiful old quarry. But I'll write a post about that (with pretty pictures) later this week.
* One slight hitch with the chimney stack repair: a seagull's nest on the other chimney stack. When the builder man climbed out onto the roof on Thursday morning, the seagull mother on the nest did some kind of panic call, and within minutes he was being dive-bombed by twenty seagulls. After some debate (kill them? Wear protective gear? Just leave the work until the chicks have left the nest?) I phoned my chicken-keeping friend and he volunteered to come over with a ranger from the forestry board to kill the chicks and remove the nest. It took only a couple of minutes, and after that everything was calm and lovely on the roof once more. Matt's dad thinks we did a bad thing (this is a man who eats meat for nearly every meal...) but our need was greater than the seagulls', and there are still hundreds of them wheeling in the skies above our village.
And that was the drama for the week.