Tag Archives: DIY

Renovations and the Great Worm Ouroboros…

The Great Worm Ouroboros, a symbol of infinity, since it's eating its own tail. Although Renos seem to go on forever, I actually had a different metaphor in mind. But it was harder to Google.

The Great Worm Ouroboros, a symbol of infinity, since it’s eating its own tail. Although Renos seem to go on forever, I actually had a different metaphor in mind. But it was harder to Google.

This is not a post about the library renos, they’re done. Also, way too late, I realised that I wasn’t thinking of the Great Worm Ouroboros, but of the infinitely recursive nature of Critical Path Analysis, but I thought the first title was better, semantically speaking. Votes in the comments section please.

We got lucky, finding this house. It needed work, it was old, and they showed it while work was still in progress on the basement, putting a lot of people off. We didn’t exactly pick it up cheap, but we got a bargain. We’ve sunk a fair amount of work into it, but now we’ve been living here five years, we’ve really thought about the changes we want to effect. Things we’ve been putting up with for a while have reached the point where we’re going to DO something.

That’s where we encounter the infinitely recursive nature of Critical Path Analysis. Our bedroom faces the street. In the summer, when the nights are warm and the windows are open, we’re occasionally woken by people chatting as they walk past the house late at night. So we decided to swap the bedroom and the room behind it, which is currently used as the study. Before we can do that, I have to take down the closet in the corner, because it’s not a useful one.

How hard can it be, right? Oh...It's lath and plaster, not wall board...

How hard can it be, right? Oh…It’s lath and plaster, not wall board…

Two weeks later, and there's still loads to get rid of. Plus, we're still using the study, so every destructo session has to be followed by cleanup.

Two weeks later, and there’s still loads to get rid of. Plus, we’re still using the study, so every destructo session has to be followed by cleanup.

Another two weeks... But progress, right?

Another two weeks… But progress, right?

So far, so traditionally linear. But removing the closet is simply the first thing I have latched on to because it’s something I can DO. It doesn’t need measuring, or wiring diagrams, or forward planning (except vaguely wondering if that’s a supporting wall I’m whacking on with my lump hammer…). Because if we’re moving the bedroom, it only makes sense to sort out the shocking bathroom on the main floor too. So we found a new toilet  on sale, which is just as well because our old cistern is on the way out, but before we can put in the new toilet, we need to redo the flooring, and we can’t do that because we haven’t got the new tub, which we can’t install anyway because we have to shift the shower plumbing to the other side and we can’t do that without a builder to advise us. And we can’t get the builder in until we’re ready to move ahead with the next phase of changing the windows in the new bedroom, because it makes sense to get the guy to quote for several jobs at once so we can prioritise our expenses, right?

Recursive critical path. Before this, there’s that… And at the same time, I’m wondering how much it’ll cost to move the Internet Access point from the current study to the old bedroom, and if we can use this opportunity to split off a cable running direct to the Living room so I don’t have to run my TV internet off the wireless, which is still on a party line with next door, and while we’re at it why don’t we go for a new dedicated fibre optic line into the house to triple the internet speeds? But to do that we have to go to another supplier, which means changing our email addresses, and they are linked to about sixty  per cent of the web services we use, aren’t they? So, can I change them BEFORE we move to a new supplier, or can we get them changed automatically? And what happens to the inevitable one or two things that get missed in the changeover and send sad and lost emails to the old address for five years while we remain in blissful ignorance? And we can’t be the only people doing this, can we?

Ok, maybe the idea of a worm who eats his own tail forever was the right one. And thinking about this, I have a strong urge to just pick up the hammer again, and take a few cathartic swings at this wall right…here…

Talkin’ ’bout my …..Renovation…

This week has been long-awaited. By me, anyway. The Eldest Weasels are off on their first residential camp. They’re probably going up the climbing wall in their kayaks right now, or practicing archery as they jump off the pontoon into the lake. Tiniest Weasel is too tiny to attend, so each morning I drive her over to a day camp at the local Heritage Village. (What? You don’t have a local heritage village? Well, if you’re in the UK, you probably live in one…) Anyway, the upshot of all this Weasel Absence is an increased likelihood of me achieving things. On the days when I am not Greeting, I have been rushing off to….The World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer! Yes, strange but true, because this time I’m going in as a customer. It’s quite a thrill to go in through the main doors, click my fingers at the staff and demand service.


I’m going in to work on my days off because the Reno work has stepped up again. We’ve met the man who’s doing our new roof, and it’s going to happen very soon. Trouble is, there are a couple of other jobs that we need to take care of first.

We said that we’d demolish the old stairs that lead up to where the back door isn’t. But we can’t do that until we’ve taken down the porch roof over where the back door used to be. And we can’t do THAT until we’ve plastered over the board that covers the gap that used to be the back door.

And this is how it looks at the beginning...

***Sub Note: It’s not plastering, obviously. What I should be covering the door with is STUCCO, but I’m not, for several reasons.

1. My store does not sell stucco.

2.The rest of the house seems to be sheathed in some sort of reinforced concrete.

3. Stucco is stupid.

4. I can’t be bothered.

Instead I’m using a mix designed for another purpose entirely, chosen on the basis of some muttered advice given by a guy who was on the phone to someone else at the time. I’m mixing it using the time-honoured “That looks about right” method. END OF SUB NOTE***

I may have mentioned that I’m not a world champion at DIY. The fact that my staircase is still standing three months on is a source of wonder:

Advanced stairs - they go up AND down! And these days they look better than this too...

 So, I did research on the internet, asked for advice at work, bought a carload of kit, and eventually had to admit that I couldn’t put off starting any longer. And to be honest, starting was the easy bit, because all I had to do first was staple on the waterproof backing. Like this:

Just like wallpapering...with a staple gun!

Then I had to cut some wire mesh to the right size and staple that on. I found the easiest way to do this was to catch my trousers, arms and hands on every bit of wire so that I resembled a person who’s just run through ten miles of brambles. I made a note to buy some gloves for the next day, when I wouldn’t be doing anything that needed gloves.

Finally though, I had arrived at the part I was dreading. I had to mix the stuff and slop it on the wall. This was where it could all go horribly, horribly wrong. Could I get the mix right? Would it stay on the wall, or all dribble off to make a messy lump on the floor? I mixed the first batch by hand, literally mushing the powder into the water with my bare, scratched hands. Then I read the warning on the bag that said the mixture was corrosive. YIKES! I loaded up my trowel and set to before the mixture…er…set too. An hour later, I had almost all the door covered and no more mixture:

As darkness fell, so did my enthusiasm...

So today I swung by work one more time and picked up a couple more bags. Wearing my new gloves I mixed with a stick and got the rest of the door covered and slapped on a second coat. Now I reckon I’m one or two bags away from bringing the door up to the level of the walls, and we can set about demolishing the porch roof for tomorrow. Then I might get around to doing to writer-type work again. On the plus side, the e-book (www.tiny.cc/ghfo9) has been selling again and I’m itching to get back to some older projects. It’s all working with the hands, folks.

Yes, it's scruffy, but when we take the stairs away it'll also be ten feet off the ground, and who's going to notice?