Living in a building site…

Working in the building trade as plasterers, we get to see projects where the customer’s house is upside down. With furniture crammed into any space possible and often makeshift kitchens in the corner of living rooms and only a small table and a washing up bowl. It’s not ideal, but what else can you do? At the end of the day we get changed and head off to our respective homes, closing the door and forgetting the everyday mess of a building site that someone else is having to live in. Customers fill us in on stories of no hot water, dust everywhere and having a houseful of workmen. The kettle is always on and the milk seems to run out quickly. Bliss is when the door closes and they can settle down to having nowhere to sit, or even worse, no bathroom! Then they say “it’s ok for you, you’re going home now but we have to put up with this until it’s all finished..”

Well, I can empathise.. My partner and I moved to Goole in the middle of last year (2016). We moved into an old Victorian terrace, with all the charm that came with it. Not for the faint of heart, we soon discovered that not everything was as rosy as it first appeared. With a kitchen that had previously been home to ten cats and three dogs, there wasn’t much in the way of hygiene. Several hours of scrubbing gave an area big enough to butter a slice of bread without fears of catching something vomit inducing. Rank was an understatement!

The back garden was no better, consisting of a burnt out garage and gravelled area, which was mainly used as a dumping ground for litter tray bags. And to think this house was the best of the ones we visited (yes, there were worse than this..)

Right… time to get started…

First things first, the kitchen has got to go.. We have our budget for the entire house and the kitchen is going to take a big chunk of it. The old phrase ‘of hearth and home’ relates to the kitchen being the centre of the home, where the family gather to eat and discus the trails of life. In olden days it’s where the main fire was lit, onto which you would cook your meals and sit around for warmth – hence ‘hearth’. It was also a custom to remove the hearthstone when you moved, and to place it into your new home. But I digress..

The kitchen fitters duly arrived, full of the joys of spring until they saw our kitchen.. I’m sure they were hoping that removing it wasn’t in their job description.. No such luck.. Imagine grease mixed with cat hair liberally spread onto every conceivable surface. Unidentifiable remnants of food, which I’m sure, were starting to evolve into a new life form. You get the idea.. They duly suffered for their sins that day. We were so glad when it was empty and the electrician could get started. In the meantime, we had the table in the living room with a microwave and kettle plugged into an extension lead. Luckily, we were lent a camping stove to cook on. It was cramped with everything in one room but it was liveable. We got to work plastering it out and while it was drying I started removing the old tiled floor.. Not too bad a job, except for the stench of soaked in dog and cat pee where they must’ve relived themselves at night and it had soaked into the ground.. So fast forward, new kitchen is in, new garage/workshop built. Garden is still a mess but everything is looking up, right? Wrong…

It smells damp in here…

We discovered the back-room floor was rotten, not just a little bit either. Joists crumbling to bits, floorboards you can put your hand through and dry rot clinging to a part of one wall like a thick white dusty cobweb. Yes, we did get a survey, but the problem areas were well hidden with furniture and the owners family in the way. So… Bang goes the budget… The floor has been ripped out, walls have been injected, stripped, rendered and a new concrete floor installed. We have just finished plastering and for the first time it smells dry. The front room had already been done, so that was ok (except for dodgy wiring). Though unusable due to being full of furniture and a ripped out condemned fireplace. On the upside we are having a stove installed where there was a coal fire (which we couldn’t use as smoke leaks into the house next door.) the fire from which is going to be put in the front room where a gas one once stood. Hopefully that chimney stack doesn’t leak..

That’s my story so far, with updates to follow. So when we are working at you home and your house is upside down, and you say “It’s ok for you, you’re going home to a nice house that’s not full of mess, while we’re stuck in a building site…” I will gladly share a few pics of my home and say, “yep, I know what it’s like, all our house is a building site at the minute…”


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