Number 34

Thursday, 24 February 2011
Another viewer booked in for next Wednesday nite (can't fit them in any sooner due to our hectic lives!).

The garden was too big for the previous ones who were down sizing. I kind of thought that when they were here, they were a lovely couple too...never mind. At least we are getting viewers which is more than some people at the moment.

Still, we might be here for the long haul....

More pics

Thursday, 24 February 2011

I have been the first person (of those who will be living there!) to go up the new stairs. They are covered in black plastic to protect them, so not looking their best yet! Here is the view from our landing, front door looking better today :0)

A view of the front:

Pity about the Phoenix gas "decor". They were supposed to be finished in 2 days, arrived on Tuesday, so should be gone by now...

I can't get the height of the raised beds sorted out in my mind. The Bricklayer is a very patient man... ..he would need to be with me involved! As a matter of fact all of the men on site have been more than helpful to me as I'm trying to make all these decisions on my own. So far, I feel so very lucky to have had such good people involved in this build. And such characters too.... I'll not mention any names :0)

On what level?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011
It's been a very busy week. It started off on Tuesday with a site visit to discuss the positioning of steps, patio and planters! It sounds fairly simple until you realise that our site slopes, in more than one direction. And also, that the ground you are standing on is not at it's final height. Everything needs to be built a wee bit higher than you would imagine, and trying to figure out what steps will look like where the ground runs off in 2 directions is (for me) a bit hard on the brain.

I went up today cos I heard that the external doors and the stairs have arrived. I'm not sure what I imagined with regard to the doors, but I am not sure that they are what I expected. I am not a huge fan of the colour but as I look at the photo, it is starting to look better. I think when the windows are uncovered it will be better too. The stairs are all covered in a protective plastic so I haven't seen them yet. I do find this a bit scary as I have put in so much effort to get everything right. The size we decided on for the stairs looks to be perfect although the side walls haven't been built yet. It's a pity we have to have them at all, but it's for my own safety as I have fallen down the stairs more than anyone else (that might explain a few things!)
Anyhoo, I have a sore head again tonight trying to imagine the size of our raised beds in the final scheme of things, more slopes and steps to contend with, round the front this time! Hopefully a good nights sleep will help and I will be able to make the decisions I need to when I go up again to tomorrow.
On top of all that (moan, moan, moan) I had a house viewing at no. 34 last night as well. It's a good job we are getting a weekend away in Edinburgh so that I can wind down a bit. Hope I can ditch the OCD on all matters house related so that our friends aren't bored rigid! Perhaps a bit of ogling at some International rugby players might help :0)
Right, Neil Oliver is on the telly now and I'm off to find out about Ancient Britain and cosmology.

A Lot Less Muck

Saturday, 19 February 2011
The mess and muck around our house is in the process of being removed and what a difference it has made already. The outline of a patio can be seen, the garden is starting to look a bit more flat again. In fact, the property is starting to get back to some semblance of normality.

Inside, the screed is in, Virginmedia have installed stuff and we have a hot water tank, a bath, shower trays and all the radiators installed by the plumber.

The back doors are fantastic and we sat today with them opened wide in the glorious sunshine (which has disappeared for now I see!). And the warmth in the house was really tangible today even though there is no heating on - Phoenix come this Tuesday to connect their pipes.

The most exciting photo I took this weekend, however, isn't very exciting. But here goes anyway:


Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Spent the day yesterday down in Randalstown visiting my mum and dad and I took the opportunity to go round McCartneys tiles (again).

I am hoping I have hit lucky and found floor tiles at a very reasonable price. Not sure what colour yet but it is Atlas Concorde Pulse range:

For the walls in the family bathroom and the guest ensuite I have found a soft light grey tile and a black slate type one for our ensuite. It sounds simple but it has taken a bit of effort on my part to get to here. So when hubby gets home at the weekend he can look over the choices!

My first letter on Valentines!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011
On February 14th I got my first piece of mail at our new home. Not a Valentine but a boring letter from Phoenix gas to let me know that they were coming next week to install the gas line. At least I will have a utility bill in my name for identification purposes later on!

Today was very exciting as the first parts of our bathroom fittings have arrived! The plumber Mark and his mate had to move the ladder so that I could get upstairs. How many people does it take to get Jackie down a ladder? Three (not including me!) The radiators and towel rails have been fitted upstairs and the water tank has been installed. The bath is in as well - it is looking good!

Frankie and Jim were outside sorting out the patio and groundworks!

And the sun was shining! You can see how nice its gonna be.

Virgin Hooked Up

Wednesday, 16 February 2011
The race to the finish line is well and truly underway and yesterday it was the turn of Virginmedia to hook up their services to the house. They are a little early, but I certainly didn't want them turning up at the end of the project only to make a mess of our newly landscaped front garden and newly laid driveway. So yesterday, they laid their cable from the road up to the house.

Staggeringly, though, they insisted on leaving behind a set-top box. There is no television in the house! There is no front door yet! The house is not habitable! And Virginmedia were told of this situation - we shan't be in a position to move in until the end of March at the earliest.

But rules are rules! The STB was left. Even though I will be sending it back as soon as I move in to be replaced by a V+ box.

Yet again, my dealings with Virginmedia have not lived up to the expectations I would have of a professional organisation. Unfortunately, those same dealings have lived up to the expectations I have of Virginmedia.


Saturday, 12 February 2011
When the builder said that the drains had been put in, I did expect that some digging would be involved and that the recent "wetness" would ensure our building site was a bit of a bog.

I wasn't wrong.

My shoes - what was I thinking! - got "stuck in the mud" on too many occassions today. But the visit was still worthwhile. And that was despite our inability to enter the house!

The liquid screed has been poured and isn't quite ready to take the weight of my bulky mass - maybe tomorrow. But it was great to peer in through a window and see a smooth floor.

The other sight to behold was the patio doors. They have finally turned up and been fitted:

The rest of today was spent in tile showrooms. After a while they all start to look the same to me. Thankfully, the boss (my wife) has a keener eye than me. Her sensitivity to colour variation is invaluable at this stage!

OMG - The Scaffolding Has Gone

Sunday, 6 February 2011
The scale of what we have built has now been revealed as the scaffolding has finally come down. Without the driveway, raised borders, paths and steps, the house looks a little "elevated":

Of course, with so much glass in that hallway, standing inside the hallway feels wonderful - look how tiny Emily looks in this picture:
As you can see - she can't reach the ceiling!!!

The floor insulation has also turned up and has been laid in most of the downstairs floor area and it is tremendously thick. As the insulation has been put in place, so has the pipework for the gas - a pipe to the hob and a pipe to the gas fire in the front sitting room.

The house is almost habitable which means we have a significant number of decisions to take THIS WEEK! For example:
  • Select stairs
  • Select door handles
  • Select floor coverings
  • Select the covering for the "drainage channels"
  • Select the paving material and pattern
  • Select the light fittings

Phoenix Gas and Virginmedia have been given installation dates as have Stevenson & Reid (for the bathrooms) and McAuley's Kitchens (for the kitchen, unsurprisingly).

Financially, it's all a bit squeaky bottom but it looks like we will just about make it albeit we may be on bread and water for a few weeks!


Thursday, 3 February 2011
I was up today to have a 2.5 hour meeting with plumber, electrician and builder and while I was there the guys came to take the scaffolding down. How exciting is that? We will be able to see what it is really like!

The hallway is plastered now and looks really great. Outside are huge piles of underfloor heating insulation. I am a bit worried about them as there is a storm blowing here - 60mph winds and heavy rain.

I am a bit under the weather (lol) at the moment so it is hard to take everything in but I believe that the floors are being poured next week. Not much else can happen til they dry out so next week will be a bit quiet.

We have a lot of decisions to make in the near future about paving, raised beds, the garage, stairs, light fittings, flooring and tiles, but it really is starting to look good!

Completion Date Almost Set

Wednesday, 2 February 2011
The panic surrounding the notion of whether we'd get into our new house in advance of my 40th Birthday subsided a few weeks ago when we addressed the issue by assuming that it just wasn't possible and that a mid-April completion date was more realistic.

Panic has returned, however. Our builder believes that we should be done and dusted by the end of March. I'm guessing that's the 31st March, ie the same weekend as my 40th Birthday. If so, my Birthday celebrations are likely to consist of asking friends and family to come along in their vans or with trailers in tow, suited in their dirtiest jeans and prepared for some hard labour. In short - I may need removal people!

It also means that if we do get in that weekend, we shall be supping Champagne from our Champagne saucers surrounded by upturned buckets masquerading as chairs; unopened tea chests and an empty fridge-freezer. That said, Champagne cannot be spoiled merely because of the surroundings.

Of course, with this dramatic "speed-up" (ahead of our expectations) comes the realisation that bills will need to be addressed rather sooner than expected. Note to friends and family: forego 40th Birthday presents in favour of cash. As one philosopher once said, "cash never offends". Or maybe that was my dear friend Lyndsay. Either way - wise words!

Equally exciting is the arrival of Virginmedia on the afternoon of 15th February to connect cables together. We just need dates for Phoenix Gas, Stevenson & Reid and McAuley's Kitchens. The next few weeks will be very busy indeed.

In the words of another great philosopher... TTFN.