Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Surprises pleasant and less so

Do you ever swing from hope to misery and back again? Perhaps you have one of those lovely placid natures or perhaps you are not in the middle of a cross between a major building project and a renovation. Don’t get me wrong, I love working on old houses even when I have calluses, bruises, dinted knees and aching joints. But sometimes I am just overwhelmed by the whole process especially when other things like the rest of my life intrude.

I sat down yesterday to write and ended up spending time chasing down tools for the roofing crew to borrow (they forgot their spirit level which is pretty essential for doing gutters); eyeing up a snake that decided to drape itself over our back window (probably disturbed by the workmen); rereading our development approval documents to try and understand the fine technical points; and most importantly having a long phone conversation with our builder.

I can now say “our builder” because we have an agreement to work, negotiated pricing and a tentative start date in three weeks. It will seem a long time, but it’s a pretty short lead time for a builder. We’re working with a local carpenter and joiner who put in our kitchen for us a few years ago. We were delighted with the kitchen, liked the man and his work and talking with him found that he would like to work with us on this project. The stairs that he will be putting in for us are come from the old Laidley School building, something that satisfies all my leanings towards recycling, history and local continuity.

Waiting for a few weeks will give us time to organise ourselves and finish gutting the house. So far we have three and a half rooms cleaned out – fittings removed, tatty cupboards taken out, carpets and lino ripped up and tacks removed from the floors. It’s very satisfying and largely a positive experience. We’ve had a couple of surprises: a bathroom floor a bit more rotten than we expected and a few more borer-excavated floorboards than we knew about, but such surprises are almost to be expected in an old house. On the other hand, the wonderful views and light continually astonish us. It’s all part of the cycle of renovation.

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