Garden round 2

With another day of brilliant weather upon us we took the opportunity to tidy up & plant the rest of the front borders.

The day started off with a trip to a nearby garden centre to stock up on plants followed promptly by B&Q for more (yes, more!) compost & plant food. Heading home with lots of roses, Phlox & lavender plants we hadn't quite accounted for the weather reaching 30 degrees outside...!

Fortunately most of the hard work to prepare the beds has already been done a couple of weeks ago, but we still wanted to dig out & clean up the overgrown bed just in front of the bay window.

Getting stuck straight in we cleaned up the bay window bed, dug in 120L of fresh compost to revitalise the bed into something that will hopefully support life & sorted out where the plants were going to go.

We quickly got cracking with the planting, and soon the borders took on a new lease of life - completing the transformation from how the house looked when we got the keys....

As aptly illustrated by how it looked when Google Streetview's car came to call at some point last year.


So far so good!

The next jobs out the front will have to be tidying up the honeysuckle that's trying to climb up the side of the bay window, and doing something with the front door & wooden surround.

Time to make a start on the outside...

Given the great weather I think the time has come to temporarily suspend interior jobs such as replastering the old kitchen, instead looking at making a start on some of the many things that need to be done outside the house.

First on the list is cleaning up the frontage of property. Shortly after getting the keys we removed a hedge that's seen better days, but haven't really done much more to the garden aside from regularly cutting the grass.

Right outside the new kitchen windows is a brick-built planter, which aside from a slightly cracked corner is in perfectly serviceable condition - just a) needing a clean, and b) needing some compost & plants!

Today's job therefore is to clean this up, build some sort of wooden structure so that we don't produce a nice damp patch to match the planter on the inside of the kitchen wall, and then to fill it with compost & get some climbing roses planted which will hopefully in time frame the kitchen nicely.

After a day's effort in the roasting sun we're happy with the result. The brickwork needs more attention but that can wait for the moment!

Kitchen removal

Having finally had enough time to make a start, the rest of the old kitchen's stay of execution has expired.

The remaining cabinets put up a surpassingly tough fight considering the state of them but it didn't take too long to remove them.

Based on the delights found previously in this house I wasn't particularly surprise to discover the state of the old kitchen's wiring. It seems that whoever attempted to fit the old kitchen didn't really have that much of a clue about how to do things safely - yet alone sensibly!

For example, cooker circuits are supposed to be dedicated to supplying a cooker/hob... Just a cooker... Not a cooker, oven, extractor fan, and central heating system! This is before you get to the array of sockets someone had thought it's be a good thing to add.

Evidently the idea of ring mains had passed them by somewhat. They'd come across the concept of "spurs" however, and put it into use to supply all the kitchen sockets from what looks like a single ringmain connection!

Its quite amazing that anything worked without problems...

This is before we get to the heating systems - all of which bar the boiler had seemingly been boxed in behind kitchen cabinets! Who knows what you're supposed to do if a pump or valve needed attention - rip out half the kitchen perhaps?

A project for a summer day will have to be sorting out the heating - it needs a rewire as a start, along with a new programmer & plumbing alterations as I've had enough of not being able to run the hot water circuit without the radiators!!!!


We never did quite work out how you were supposed to be able to fix motorised valves when boxed in and hidden from view...

Finally updated the blog…

Needless to say, life’s been a bit busy over the last few months.

We’ve moved in, and have just about got everything “straight” now. There’s lots and lots more that needs doing like ripping out the remaining bits of old kitchen, refitting the “family” bathroom, and sorting out the remaining bedrooms.

That’s all before we get to the outside!

One challenge for instance is just what to do with this….

The cat’s settled in though :)

It’s got to go!

One of the key rooms we wanted to change was the kitchen – the property’s original kitchen was well past its best, and had really seen better days.

We knocked through from an useless utility room to the original dining room, removing the archway (adding some lintels above the position of the arch & door however as it seems that they’d been missed when the room was built), and starting again with a new kitchen.

With the kitchen refit completed & us moved in, the time has come to remove what’s left of the old kitchen allowing us to make a start on refitting the room.

This is what it used to look like…

This all has to go – the room’s to be gutted and turned into something that will hopefully end up with some bookshelves and a table… One might call it a “dining room”, bu t that’s far too formal :)

First step of course was removing everything that’s currently stored in the old kitchen which had become a bit of a dumping ground for general building materials.

Then, demolition started…

More to come…

Post move… !

After the inevitable moving day chaos, the kitchen had been turned into a general temporary dumping ground for lots and lots of bags of stuff.

We felt the time had come for a bit of a clearup, so after a few hours effort order has now been restored and the kitchen reclaimed!

Moving day!

It’s arrived!

With enough of the house ready to move into, we decided the time had come to get on with moving…

Cue one removals van (we’d already packed up & transported pretty much anything that would fit in the cars) along with a couple of suitably burly blokes to move everything left in the house.

Those uPVC front doors are seemingly rather easy to remove for access…

The cat decided to help & thought she’d get in the car…

Unfortunately that had to change!


Not much in the way of other photos unfortunately – been a bit busy unloading cars / vans, unpacking & finding homes for everything in the new house :)

It took some time for her to settle down, but the cat now seems to be perfectly at home…!

Now all we need to do is find some time to finish removing the old kitchen units & transforming the room into a dining room; fit a new hall floor & complete the remaining 3 bedrooms…. Ah well!

Bathroom… Done!

Just in time for our planned moving in date, and after many late nights the first bathroom was finally completed & declared ready for use.

Sink/Loo units (minus seat & a post-installation cleanup)

Installed shower head & screen


What isn’t pictured here is the plumbing installation needed in the loft – working in conjunction with the new hot water system we upgraded the cold water supply; cleaned out & re-plumbed the cold storage tanks & added a 2-bar negative head shower pump in the loft to supply the shower along with an up & over dedicated feed from the hot water cylinder using the air-free take-off on the specialised flange fitted when the cylinder was replaced.

With this hurdle cleared, we’re at a point with enough done in the house to move in!

Bathroom 8

We're definitely on the home straight with this room now.

The ceiling's been painted, and work's started on fitting two essential bits of equipment - a WC and basin.

In a moment which would have clearly been aided by hindsight, we opted for "built in" bathroom furniture with a back-to-the-wall WC and matching basin - neither of which turned out to be exactly easy to fit.


The (nearly) completed  fittings & fixtures!

Bathroom - 7

Kicking off by partially draining down the heating system again, the pipework was quickly checked for the new towel rail - at which point it became rapidly apparent that more work was needed.

Somehow one of the concealed radiator pipes had ended up 1cm adrift from where it needed to be to line up with the towel rail's tails.
Removing the tiles concerned and altering said pipe wasn't really an option so suitable changes to the exposed bits of pipe were hastely made to accomodate the required variance.

Without further ado the new rad was attached to the wall, connected up to the flow/return pipes and the heating refilled & bled.

One nice warm bathroom & a heating system that now needs yet another dose of inhibitor!!



Bathroom - 6

An evening of grouting later, the floor's looking like it's finished - and most importantly, is nearly ready for installation of a new WC, sink & heated towel rail.

Bathroom build …. 5

Tiling’s well underway, and with all the wall tiles firmly in place we made a start on the floor.

Started the tiles from the shower tray, with a view to keeping as much floor as possible covered by tiles where splashes are likely!

Leaving the first couple of rows to set overnight, the next step was to make a start on grouting the wall tiles & trim & fit the end row of tiles around the soil stack boxing & water feed pipework.

During this the shower tray doubled up as a handy work area for the tile cutting mess!

The rest of the floor tiles went down pretty quickly resulting in a finished new floor looking somewhat fresher & cleaner than it did before.

Next stop, grouting the floor once the adhesive’s gone off… and making a start on fitting the various bits & pieces needed to turn the room into a bathroom/shower room!

Bathroom build 4 – Tiling!

With all the prep work completed, the time had finally come to make a start on tiling.

Tiles were arranged with full-height tiles around the shower tray to minimise joints, and work began…


More progress…!

Bathroom build 3

With the ceiling boarding complete, we started taping & jointing the boards to provide a (hopefully) smooth finish to the new ceiling.

The joins were taped with plasterboard tape and skimmed over with a thin coat of plaster.

After letting this go off for 24 hours we then attacked the ceiling with a sanding pad and lots and lots of elbow grease.

Eventually, the end result was a nearly perfectly smooth ceiling, ready for sealing & painting!

Here’s the room so far looking towards the shower…

We’ve also applied a Dunlop shower tanking/waterproofing kit to the walls immediately around the shower tray. This should help to ensure that the plasterboard is fully protected against damage from moisture by creating a waterproof rubberised top-coat from floor to nearly ceiling height on the walls most exposed to water.

Bathroom build…2

With  the tray installed, waste pipework installed & tested & floor screwed firmly down we were able to make a start on the final bits & pieces of building work needed along with installing the shower.

Working on the basis that without it, fitting a concealed shower would basically need most of the blockwork wall to be chased out leaving next to nothing to secure the shower valve to, we opted to construct a stud wall on the shower wall – both concealing pipework & providing a smooth surface on which to tile.

Here’s one snap during its construction – nothing special… vertical pieces of timber down each side, with plenty of additional horizontal pieces across the width of the area to provide support for the plasterboard surface.

This is the end result – complete with pipework & shower plumbing.

Once this was complete, the rest of the shower area was then boarded out and studwork constructed on the window wall as needed along with re-boxing in the soil stack as most of the original woodwork was in fairly poor condition and came away when the old tiles were removed. Although not strictly necessary took the opportunity to tape & skim any joins in the plasterboard to gain a little practice before attempting the ceiling…!

The previous owners had installed a DIY suspended wooden ceiling in this bathroom, and as a result the original plasterboard ceiling was in far from a usable state. We didn’t really want to take this down due to the amount of mess it would leave us with (think 30 year old loft insulation sat above… along with all the associated dust, dirt & mess you’d expect to find in a loft) so we opted to overboard it with fresh plasterboard after sealing the old ceiling first.

As you’d probably expect this was far from a simple task….. Needless to say, the ceiling joists didn’t line up with the dimensions of the new plasterboard sheets  so nearly every board required the installation of new noggins and/or non-load bearing sleeper joists between the existing joists to ensure sufficient support for the new ceiling!

As it was to be replaced by a heated towel rail we also removed the original radiator & took the opportunity to conceal the new feed/return pipework in the wall…

Bathroom build

With the flooring prepared, joists strengthened & route prepared for the waste pipework; the first major task in the bathroom build was to install the shower tray on the required mortar base. Given the size, shape & weight of the tray this was no easy feat – and as a result, not many photos were taken during the process!

A weak mortar mix was made up using a 5:1 ratio of building sand to cement, and liberally  spread out under the tray’s position while ensuring that there was enough of a gap around the location of the shower tray drain & trap to connect everything up afterwards. Two lengths of 15mm copper pipe were used to provide something to support the tray between manoeuvring it onto the bed & easing it into place / levelling it.

The tray was then manhandled into position (no pix, sorry!) and laid on the mortar mix. The pipes were then eased out and the tray tapped down onto the mortar to level it. All sounds nice & easy, but probably took around 3 attempts to get it sufficiently level & supported !!

After letting the mortar set/go off for a couple of hours, we then installed the waste trap & connected everything up to the soil stack.

As the pipework was going to be under a tiled floor, all the joints were sealed/bonded with plenty of Fernox’s LS-X joint sealer (just to be sure that nothing could going to leak) and once we were happy, the floor boarding was screwed firmly down to the joists with plenty of “Superscrews” to ensure nothing was going to move… ever again!

Bathroom – floor down & shower fitting…

With the subfloor up to spec, next stop was to cut & lay the new plywood flooring ready for test fitting of the new shower tray etc.

With the plywood floor down, the new shower tray was manoeuvred into position and placed on the fllor. All somewhat easier said than done as this is a stone-cast resin tray and calling it heavy would be somewhat of an understatement.

Test-fitting the tray also provided an opportunity to check & mark exactly where the waste needed to be fitted leading to holes being cut in the new floor to accommodate it.

Finally, to ensure that it is possible to access the waste to attach the pipework after the tray has been cemented down, a small “access hatch” needed to be cut out and sufficient additional batons added around its edges to provide something to attach it back to once the plumbing has been completed.

New bathroom floor

Given the state of the old floor boards in the bathroom we were left with little option except to remove them & start again with a new plywood floor – more suitable as a solid base for a shower tray & floor tiles.

Thanks to the joists being just slightly too far apart to support the new plywood sheets where they meet the first task was to construct sufficient additional support under the joins to prevent the new floor from sagging or the tiles cracking…

Getting underway.. lots of measuring, planning & sawing…

New “sleeper” joist / “long noggin”ready to install…


More new supports under joints…

Ready for the floor…. and waste pipework…!

Kitchen – the reveal!

All building work’s now been completed and the kitchen is finished (bar a tiled splashback).

Here’s how it was supposed to end up, according to the plans:

And this is the finished result!

For a look around, have a look at this “PhotoSynth” of the finished kitchen!

Full credit has to go to Upgrade Building Solutions for completing a first-class job!

Bathroom floors

Once the old bathroom had been stripped out we were able to get our first good look at the floor….

… and promptly determined that this was a prime opportunity to remove the old floor boards replacing them with plywood as a much more stable & solid base for tiling.

With the boards up, we got our first clear look at the original plumbing and promptly set about removing most of it as it seems that over the years hot & cold pipes have been extended & run to every corner of the room when they’re really not needed.

The feeds for the last extension & new kitchen supplies also run through the room so this was a prime opportunity to upgrade the hot supply to 22m pipework to boost the flow at the taps as once the floor has been replaced & tiled we’re not planning on taking it up again any time soon.

Breaking out the blowtorch & flux, this task kicked off…

New 22mm hot supply going in:

Quick static pressure test to check for any leaks…

New hot & cold supplies completed for kitchen & extension, along with feed to the new sink & WC positions.