The renovation continues. We are more than half way now, with a final push this next month to get it all done. The garden is landscaped and fenced, the kitchen is being fitted, the shower room is half in and tiled, and the bathroom awaits its turn this week. My hands look appalling, all nails broken, with sugar soap having seeped into my gloves so they have puckered alarmingly. I am getting through mountains of hand cream to try and repair the damage.
Main receptions and bedrooms are now mainly painted on newly plastered walls and ceilings, I am waiting to do most woodwork like skirting and architraves until the builders are out as the dust is chaotic. New doors are primed, painted and hung. The main stairwell which winds up through the house has been lined and painted. We only have two more walls to be plastered in a hallway and a bathroom. The final job will be laying the flooring throughout. It has been a 7 day a week job for me, and I am shattered, but I can see the end now.
So, here are some things I have learnt over the past couple of weeks:
- Plaster can take a long time to dry when you want it to.
- Plasterers are the MESSIEST people, although the walls and ceilings they work on are smooth perfection, the rest of the room, (especially the floors), look like a plaster bomb has gone off. I have spent many hours scraping dried hunks off floorboards, windows, skirting and doors. After some chatting up, I persuaded the plasterers to clean up as they went, but only after we were 6 rooms into the project…
- When re-plastering walls, you might as well replace all skirting and architrave as the plasterers are also vandals who yank the existing ones off, cracking them in the process. I have extra hours to do now repairing the damage.
- New plaster also drinks paint, even with mist coats. My initial estimate of 30 litres for the whole building is now at 90. Luckily I have discovered Leyland’s acrylic based emulsion which is a one coat wonder, or I could be into the hundreds in terms of litres.
- Always make friends with the Builders Yard staff. I have managed to snitch a couple of free deliveries already, and they are experts at getting me in more paint from the manufacturers pronto when I clear their stock!
- Chose water based satinwood for spindles and architraves, and oil based satinwood for doors and skirting. The latter take the hardest knocks so need the 16 hour dry time, whilst the former can take the 4 hour version and get re-coated faster.
- Builders thrive on a lot of tea, Krispy Creme Donuts and praise. Apart from one errant Electrician who has vanished on a stag week to Bulgaria, mine are all pretty much present and correct. We did have a few days to wait on wet plaster, but otherwise they have been pretty good so far. The electrician returns this week, hopefully not with shaking hands from too much partying as he finishes the 2nd fix.
- Always make sure you lock your ladders, I have had a couple of spectacular tumbles so far. The worst day however was when my mum appeared to help paint and slid to the floor as the steps buckled under her. The guilt was unbelievable, but she was OK if not a bit shaken.
- Following on from that, invest in a small platform. Much more comfy than balancing on a step ladder.
- Invest in a strong metal extending pole for rollers. Some of the ceilings in this house are 12 foot and the stairwells up to 20 feet, and the pole makes painting a breeze.
Here are some more in progress pictures, remember the crappy garden full of brambles, mattresses and rubbish?
We found a patio area and an old lined formal pond under the mess, as well as a lot of bicycle parts! So we re-used the pond as a formal bed planted with box which will grow into a cute hedge with a Bay tree in the middle, and relaid new stones in the patio area surrounded with Cotswold chippings. New lawn and a variety of ornamental grasses in the rear beds finished it off. The garden was also fenced for privacy. I will add lots of pots of flowering plants when the house is marketed, plus more seating in the front patio area.
I had to replace most of the doors in the house which were either fire doors or cheap hardboard numbers with simple 4 panel shaker doors. After buying 10 internal doors and a new front door, to save some cash I upcycled two of the old cupboard door ones into something a bit more interesting using trompe l’oeil wallpaper:
The hallways stretch all through the house via a central staircase. At the top is a light well window which I renovated in a dark grey paint which is a lot smarter than the drab brown wood that existed. This involved a feat worthy of the Cirque du Soleil as I balanced on a ladder over a 20 ft drop. But I am still here, although I did not like that bit and my hands really shook!
Before: Disgusting textured wallpaper and electrics surface mounted in plastic conduit.
New electrics chased into the walls, new plaster, fresh paint and banisters awaiting attention!
Finally, for those walls that were not re-plastered and in a sorry state in some of the hallways, I lined them with 1400 grade lining paper which is a marvel and hides a multitude of sins:
It is a huge learning curve doing a renovation, but I am enjoying the challenge even if I am blinded by brilliant white paint every day. I will post more soon once the more exciting rooms are underway.