All 12 entries tagged House

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October 29, 2005

When is 45 degrees not 45 degrees… Revisited

Follow-up to When is 45 degrees not 45 degrees? from Tongue in Cheek

When the angle is in this house! Nothing is straight, the whole house is pissed, even the bits I had nothing to do with!

I swear I should start charging people to walk around it like those haunted/crooked houses you get in theme parks!

Lethargy… Ugh

Why is it that after a couple of months of a project, lethargy sets in? Whatever it is that you're doing after a certain amount of time (which obviously depends on what it is that you're doing) you just can't be arsed any more and its as simple as that.

No matter how important the job is, how much better life would be if it were done or how many extra marks you'd get when that assignment is submitted you just think to yourself "meh", roll over and have another hour in bed. Or write a blog entry!

I'm writing this sat on a camping chair in my semi-finished kitchen, I so badly want this house to be done yet at the moment I'm leisurely sat drinking my coffee, having my breakfast and browsing the internet without a care in the world.

I've started working 4 day weeks, basically doing 9:00 – 19:00 Tuesday through Friday and then getting Monday off work. This is good for me in a number of ways;

  • I work better in long stretches, I don't like starting and stopping something. So working a long day makes sense because I can get more done

  • In theory I can get more work done on the house in a full day than I can in an evening after a normal days work. Getting back at say 17:30, cooking & eating my tea by 19:00 then "meh" as I like to call it. Nothing constructive can be done in 4 hours, especially since me being the considerate neighbour I am I won't do anything that makes any noise like drilling or hammering.

  • I get a three day weekend if I ever want to go back to Manchester to visit family

  • I get a three day weekend, 'nuff said

But now I'm thinking to myself, what do you actually do in an evening once you've eaten? Mess around on the computer and drink beer for a few hours sat on your camping chair!... Why not use that time to tidy up areas of the house and prepare them for working on at the weekends? Once it is all done it will be a much more pleasant atmosphere for the important things in life such as beer consumption.

Why can't I get this into my thick skull and get past the laziness and do something in an evening, why can't I hit the ground running straight from bed to working hard until I drop from exhaustion like I did in the first month or so of having the house.

I need my zest and enthusiasm back!

October 18, 2005

When Ikea just isn't good enough…

What is it about the male psyche that when confronted with something that isn't good enough or doesn't do what they expect it to do, we have the urge to pull it apart and redesign parts of it so that it DOES do what we want?

I bought some under wall-unit lights from Ikea yesterday with ridiculously bright halogen lights in them. These things (in typical Ikea fashion) are magic. You can just clip together loads of them and power travels along the chain from the end and powers them all. Now you can also get a block that sits with them and gives you extra plug sockets underneath your cupboards! Cunning I thought, "It must be able to power the lights as well since the plugs obviously have power and the light plugs into it"

Plug the plug component into the wall, plug the light into it… nothing. Not a sausage. Interesting… Then I notice the cryptic hieroglyphics on the instructions that have a variety of pictures, some with crosses through and others without. Eventually I got the gist of the thing – the lights needed to be connected to a separate plug by themselves. Balls to that I thought; half an hour, a pair of wire cutters and a screwdriver later I now have power running straight from the socket!

Damn it, when I buy something I want it to work how I want it to work, not how they wanted it to work. Yes, yes, so the reason it was done was because the lights are on a 3A fuse instead of 13 that is on the plug socket but how likely is it that the lights are going to draw that much current!? And if they do, the fuse box will detect it and trip.

Of course this is just one of many instances where I’ve not been happy with something I’ve bought and had to hack something together to make it do what I want. But I’d rather do this and invalidate the warranty than “make do” with something not doing quite what I expect. How many people do this? Is it a male thing? Is it an Engineer thing? Or is it just me being weird?
Hacking things together is something I’ve always done and probably always will, it makes you wonder though why these products are designed in such a way that leaves people wanting more since the majority of people wouldn’t do this!

Tinkering is fun… house fires here we come!

October 09, 2005

When is 45 degrees not 45 degrees?

… When I'm the one doing the mitring. Damn these external corners!!

October 07, 2005

Slowly slowly slowly!

Woohoo, the Warwick Blog guys have finally linked their system up with the WGA and I can post again!

Lots of things have been happening with the house since last posted. Like I have a kitchen! Fully functional with cooker, fridge and hanging pan rack! Its been a nightmare getting this far, so many things needed (and still need) doing and everything has to be done in particular orders with time left between to let bits dry. Everything just gets delayed and pushed back before finally being completed.

Its been quite demoralising actually seeing the slow progress that has been made, I think a lot of that though is that my expectations are too high. I was tiling the floor in the kitchen and a thought came to me – a hell of a lot has been done to this house by either myself or my friends. The thing that I'd noticed was actually the cemented up hole where the downstairs toilet used to be, this made me think that where I was kneeling in the kitchen actually used to be another room, and the bit to my left was another room. All this was now gone and in its place a large kitchen fully tiled and base coated with paint.

On the journey to this point I've taught myself to plaster, something that I was adamant was impossible for anyone to just teach themselves since it was a mystical voodoo art form. My Uncle was the one who told me to just give it a go, so I bought my £30 fancy plasterers trowel and various other bits of fancy kit and gave it a go… And well I'll be, I can plaster! My ceilings leave a lot to be desired (nothing a bit of textured paint can't fix) but you try applying even pressure while working above your head!! Quite proud of myself if I'm honest, didn't think I could actually do practical things like this.

So anyway, I digress – last week I hung the pans up in the kitchen, I stood back and I was happy. I enjoy cooking, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen because I like cooking, I like the social thing of entertaining and cooking for people (and I like eating obviously!) so I've gone all out on the kitchen. I've got a big momma of a fridge (ice dispensing American thing) and a twin oven, all a little extravagent but worth it in my opinion. And I've got a very good set of stainless steel copper bottomed pans which look the mutts nuts. I've had these things for about a year now I'd say and not been able to use them, so to finally get them hanging up from the ceiling in my own kitchen in my own house was quite a moment I have to say. No one else was in the house at the time which is probably for the best since it would've been weird seeing me just staring at the kitchen with a beer in my hand looking oddly peaceful and happy.

I would recommend getting a house to anyone, I'd tell you to think twice before gutting the whole house, I'd definitely tell you to do it a room at a time if possible rather than the approach I've taken which means I'm sleeping in a room with no doors or floorboards let alone decorated. I'd also warn you that it is bloody stressful and there have been time where I have really despaired about the whole thing. But some days have been good, like when I realised just how much had been accomplished in a relatively short space of time, and when the walls in the kitchen were painted. Its the little things like that that are pretty damn good.

Maybe I'll upload some photos in the not too distant future. In the meantime it is back to work and then tonight back to decorating and maybe… just maybe… I'll get a door on my bedroom some day and a living room to relax in!

August 10, 2005

I have a wall!

My house now has a variety of walls! The kitchen wall has now been moved to where I want it to be creating a rather vast kitchen space.
Some people have seen what I wanted to do with the downstairs and said I was a bit silly wanting to have a smaller living room. Downstairs consists of two rooms, the kitchen and the living room. I enjoy cooking a lot so I like to spend time in the kitchen, I also like cooking for other people so I need space in the kitchen to entertain (now all I gotta do is find the friends to entertain!)
A large kitchen diner was therefore a dead cert, especially since the wall was a stud wall anyway.
I have also knocked through two rooms upstairs to create my bedroom which is the same width as the house! I'd briefly toyed with this idea when I first moved into the house but decided against it since the house would then officially be a 2 bedroom house rather than a 3. And then a spark of genius, leave 2 doors into the room so when it comes to be sold I can simply put up the wall again and boom! 3 bedrooms! Cunning!

So now the house is at the stage where everything destroyable has been destroyed. Everything strippable has been stripped and most things buildable have been built. The only things that remain are painting and… plastering. I am dreading the quote for the plastering that needs doing, though it is a necessity. At the moment the kitchen looks like someone has taken a machine gun to the room and put bullet holes everywhere.

But with all this hard work comes pain, my shoulder is now requiring thrice daily applications of deep heat (now remember kids: wash your hands before going to the toilet after applying deep heat), I look like someone has spent several hours punching me in the eyes due to the late hours have been working with no days off (as well as working new full time job).

The end result is so going to be worth it, but the financial cost is starting to mount and show and the physical effects are now starting to become apparent on me.
I'd like to take this chance once again to thank the people who've helped out so far on my house. My Dad has been up and down the country like a madman coming down to help me, he almost got given a season pass to the rubbish dump this weekend he made so many trips.
Gaz and his Dad for building my kitchen wall, while I could perhaps have knocked up something that could pass for a wall I couldn't have done such a professional job and I most certainly couldn't have dealt with the "oh shit" moment!
Lastly Dan you have been an absolute dude so far, so please don't get too bored just yet! Working as hard as you have on someone elses house that you're not even going to live in is something I can't repay and most definitely appreciate.

Anyone know any cheap plasterers out there? Now I just gotta go sell my soul for some more money from somewhere to pay for him!

July 26, 2005

Decorating has commenced!

The lovely wooden panelling is gone; the highly suspect rubble pile under the load bearing beam on the stairs has been rebuilt with gasp mortar! The carpet on stairs is up along with more staples than your average junior school.
By far the best thing though is…

I get to play with a crowbar! Or more accurately; with a “wrecking bar” (can’t decide which sounds best!).

My slave labour pool (aka Dan) is working hard stripping wall paper and paint and other noxious substances (that left my hands disturbingly dry and cracked when I did it) from the upstairs rooms after the planned kitchen wall moving has been postponed. Dan and I have decided that a degree in Electronic Engineering (between the two of us, Dan is foolishly spending another year doing a masters!) is enough of a qualification to build a stud wall ourselves upstairs. Not load bearing, no sockets (that I can see externally, have to hope there are no wires about) and best of all, no door to hang! It will blatantly fall down within a day of having been done but it is all about the experience! ;-)

Anyway, it won’t be the wall of my bedroom, it’ll be the guy who is renting from me so all is good. Though it will form the wall of my study so guess I’d better do an okay job.

The kitchen is fully designed now using the wonderful Ikea kitchen planner (what an excellent way to waste half an hour) and the tiles picked out. Now just got to wait for the wall to be moved and prep for some serious flat pack assembly.
At some point in the not too distant future I’m going to have to pick the colours for the rooms and find a carpet for myself; now for me this is the worst part of the whole project… I’ve not got a clue what kind of carpet I want! Or what colour walls to have that’d go with all my black furniture (which I already have). Current thought is some description of light grey or some form of off white for the walls, and then ??? for the carpet!

Ideas on a postcard!

July 22, 2005

I have a house…

'nuff said! :-)

Must find all solicitors…

and show them how much they irritate us mere mortals. Damn are they starting to annoy me!
The rigmarole started on Tuesday with my solicitor telling me that there was something for my Dad (who is going on the mortgage with me just so that I can get something other than a cardboard box) to sign. Okay, no problem! A little late since we're supposed to be completing on Friday but okay. I gave her my Dad's address in Manchester so she could send it straight to him (previously I've been sending things up and down myself).
Wednesday I phone my Dad to check he has received it and surprise, surprise… No. Whilst eating lunch I get a phone call off my mate who is still at the house in leam telling me that there was something sent by special delivery but he'd not heard the door go and missed him.
At this point gears start turning in my head and I guess that the solicitor has in fact sent the urgent forms to me rather than to my Dad. Okay, so without these forms we're not able to complete right?

Why in the name of everything holy did they wait until Tuesday to ask for this thing to be signed if it was so goddamn urgent!? Nothing like leaving it to the last minute. So to cut a long story short (and also miss out the bits that might leave this blog with an "Adults Only", strong language and mild peril contained within rating) the forms were faxed around several times back and forth between solicitor, me and my dad.
Me: "We good to exchange contracts now?"
Solicitor: "Yep thats great, I'll do it first thing in the morning"

Thursday Morning
Clean the house in leam ready to leave and pack everything up, because of course I will be leaving tomorrow! The solicitor said so after all!

Thursday Afternoon
How strange, no phone call yet. In the meantime I've spent a lot of time in B&Q, Currys and Ikea (hmmm… meatballs) planning what to do with this house that still isn't mine.
So I phone the solicitor and she tells me that the other side aren't replying… The "other side"!? What the hell is going on? Is she communing with the dead!?! Don't they keep regular office hours and have people working there during the day?

At 4:30 I get a call from her saying she had been in touch with the "other side" and they were ready to exchange; had I considered drawing up a Bill of Trust with my Dad since he is entitled to half the house if I sold it, she didn't want to exchange until that was decided… At this point I'd almost lost the ability to speak and was quite possibly going red in the face trying not to shout down the phone and point out that:

  • Why didn't you ask me this months ago? Why wait until 4:30 the day before I'm planning on moving IN to this fecking house

  • I trust my Dad and he trusts me, thats why he is on my mortgage

  • You could have exchanged contracts on your last phone call if you'd already asked me about this sodding contract of trust or whatever bollocks it is called.

Can I just add that I'm sure I've provided great amusement today in my ranting and raving to my mate Dan who has been doing an absolutely sterling job helping me shift stuff and get this house ship shape and Bristol fashion.

So after the call about the trust thing she said "I'll phone them now and exchange contracts", oh goody. I might actually move in some time this century.

This was all going on in the car park of Currys near Ikea in Birmingham by the way, so obviously the M6 (and the midlands in general) being the world's largest car park there was traffic. We went the scenic route back and I suddenly realised where we were and the fact that we were near where I work. "Excellent, its sunny and nothing else to do - lets go for a quick pint at the pub we go to from work". Typically, I get the phone call while still driving and my secretary (Dan again) answers and takes the good news that contracts have still not been exchanged. Is probably for the best that Dan answered my phone otherwise I may have been less than polite.

After chilling out and calming down again at the pub we head on back to leamington for the clean up operation. By the way, the pub is called The Orange Tree and it is near Fen End (near Knowle and Balsall Common), absolutely wonderful restaurant/pub thing and is staffed by an entirely Australian staff it seems, can be quite a nice view really when the right staff are on ;-) I highly recommend going there, though if you're planning on eating there (food is top notch) I'd wait until someone offers to take you out for food and asks you where you'd like to go since it can get a bit pricy. But any pub that has spring rolls and prawn crackers hot from cooking as free bar snacks is a good pub and well worth it in my book!

Anyway, now back home in Leamington spending my last night here ever again. The main reason for desperately wanting to complete today was that I'm getting kicked out of here on Friday! The landlord has been excellent and let me stay here until now for free, I owe him so much for that. But I must be out by this weekend.

So anyway, here's hoping that I get to move in tomorrow – otherwise you may here some shouting coming from the vicinity of Coventry city centre (now there's a novelty, shouting in Coventry) as I explain to my solicitor, who is happily taking lots of money from me, just how much moving in on Friday meant to me.

Grrrrrr is all I have to say! ;-)

July 20, 2005

T minus 2 days and counting…

This is extremely scary, in 2 days I will be the owner of a house and all the associated joys that goes with it. I'm too young for this!
Everyone keeps telling me that I'm acting like and old man and that I shouldn't be buying a house at the tender age of 21 (and only just that!).
I kinda agree with them to a point but then again what is the problem?
I have a job where I am going to be for at least a couple of years if not a significant time longer so I need some digs of some description!
I have been brought up to be my father's son; I resent the idea of lining someone else's pockets with rent money. I'm spending the same on my mortgage as I would be doing on renting a house, except the bricks and mortar are mine to do what I want with. If I can afford that much money each month then I want it to contribute to something that is mine, renting is dead money…

So tonight I've got to start moving stuff out of my rented student house in leamington to a 3rd party location, my God I'd not realised how much random crap could be accumulated in two years of living somewhere. I dread to think what my next move will be like when I've had my own house and been there a lot longer!
At some point this week will make another trip up to Ikea and pray to the God of flatpack that a nice kitchen is going to cost me less than I think!

First job once in the house is gut the place, remove every last nicotene stained Artex ceiling, every single layer (for there are many on each wall) of wallpaper from the walls, remove the carpet and take out the kitchen. Basically destroy the place. Then comes the job of rebuilding it, for which I have recruited (read: they were in the wrong place at the wrong time) a slave army of several thousand… Okay around 10 people who will come and help out at various points over summer and turn the house into a home.

Be it good or bad, this is all going to be an experience… kinda like University really!

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