After the small trickle of construction in the last post, it feels like the flood gates have opened. There has been some further progress in the kitchen which I’m sure is not as major as it feels, but it feels huge.
The door between the dining room and lounge has been blocked up and the party wall has been constructed between the kitchen and the WC – also forming the new kitchen doorway. Now we can really see the shape and size the kitchen will be.
The holes left by the chimney in the dining room ceiling and floor have also been covered over. Now we will find out if we have enough spare wooden bricks to complete the parquet floor.
We’re off to Edinburgh this weekend for a friend’s wedding, so we’ll stop at the house for a couple of days on the way home next week and get to see the changes in person again.
May dad sent me a message today asking if there was any more progress on the house. “Nope” I said, only to be proved wrong when Sarah got home and declared “The chimney’s gone!”.
It’s extremely exciting to see and hear about progress happening, but also really frustrating that we are so far away from it that we don’t really know exactly what’s going on and where it’s at.
Sarah’s mum sent us photos of the progress. The last portion of the chimney has now been removed meaning there is a hole all the way from the roof to the floor of the cellar.
As well as the de-struction there has actually been a little con-struction happening. A lintel has been installed in place of the arch that used to separate the toilet from the rest of the bathroom. A partition wall will be installed set forward from and overlapping part of the existing one to allow space for a small basin to be installed. They have also added the brickwork and lintel which complete the new doorway from the kitchen into the hall.
We don’t know the order things will be done in at the moment, but I’m hoping that they’ll make good all the downstairs rooms before starting to work on the upper rooms and roof. That way we’d be able to think about some decorating during Easter or the May half-term. That would mean some rooms would be almost finished! Too much to hope for?
Part of the importance of removing the chimney stack has been to allow us to turn the big room upstairs into a usable double bedroom, but the extension plans don’t stop there.
We wanted to be able to make the most of the fabulous views from the back of the house, so we (Rob, mostly, with Sarah making encouraging noises) designed a full width extension to the back of the house. Rob’s proficiency on Sketch Up meant that it was easy to show our architect what we wanted when it came to him drawing up the plans.
Almost inevitably, we had to make some compromises in order to secure planning permission – this felt frustrating at the time, especially given the reasons the planning officer gave for the initial rejection – but we have essentially come out with what we wanted.
The biggest differences between the first and second planning drafts was that the extension now looks (from the outside) like a big dormer extension, rather than the initial asymmetrical roof we had planned. The planning officer also asked that we changed our originally-planned timber cladding for a tiled finish. What difference this makes, we don’t know, but she requested it, so we did it!
The other change to upstairs is that the bathroom is moving up there from downstairs, into one quarter of the upstairs space. The other available quarter will be a “landing” (so called so it doesn’t have to have a door to meet building regulations), leading on to a small balcony.
All this is yet to come – it looks very much like a building site up there at the moment. The lining of the ceiling is gone, as have the previous walls that gave storage in the eaves, so the next big step is for the roof to be taken off, but that requires scaffolding, so the builders are doing all the interior prep work in advance.
Our builders have been hard at work for the last few days, and the fruits of their labours are evident. Where there once was a chimney, there’s now half a pile of rubble (which has now been moved – some to save, but a lot for the skip).
The change in the room is already pronounced, and we can see the huge change that this will have to the available space, particularly when the doorway is blocked up and so the room isn’t doubling up as a corridor.
When we were clearing out the cellar, we found a box of spare parquet bricks, so when the chimney is gone completely we will be able to fill in the gap with matching bricks. We will be sanding back the floor (when all the brick dust is gone!) and bringing back the natural wood colours, but that job seems far off when we are looking at a pile of bricks!
My grandparents had a gas fire in their living room. This always caused great distress at Christmas – how would Father Christmas get in? Would he get stuck? Grandma solved this problem by showing us that the front door was left unlocked before we went to bed and the stockings we left by the hearth (presumably because that’s where Father Christmas was expecting them to be) were filled when we woke up in the morning.
The problem with the chimney, however, is the structure – which is fine downstairs, but runs from the cellar, up through the living room and then right through the centre of the bedroom upstairs. The result of this is that you can’t fit a double bed in the bigger bedroom upstairs, though you can (and we did) fit a single bed in each corner of the room.
My grandparents had their bedroom downstairs, so this was never a problem for them, but we plan to use the upstairs room as our bedroom, so removing the chimney has been one of the first priorities of the build. The removal has been done this week, which is quite exciting, so we’ll share some pictures when we visit next week.