Kitchen… nearly done

And as if by magic; the kitchen now looks more like a finished room!

Still lots of work to do here but the end’s just about now in sight.

The bathroom’s arrived!

Although we’re still a way of needing it, most of the various bits for the new bathroom arrived today – in the snow, to say the least.

Shower screen, Sink, WC pan & cistern, sink/WC cabinets, tap, shower controls & shower head all arrived in one pallet-sized delivery which resulted in much slipping & sliding while we unloaded it into the house.

Kitchen update

While we’re sorting out the bathroom upstairs, the new kitchen is steadily nearing completion.

Cabinets are in along with the worktops & sink…

New DHW Cylinder

The new pre-lagged cylinder was first fitted with all the various bits and pieces needed to connect it up – new hard-water suitable immersion heater went in first:

Followed by a specialised Salamander S-Flange for the domestic hot water take off & dedicated air-free supply to a pumped power shower, yet to be purchased or installed but it seemed sensible to fit this bit now as once installed, access to the top of a functioning hot water cylinder tends to be challenging at best…!

The S-flange has a “dip tube” which goes down into the top of the tank and is supposed to provide an air-free dedicated supply for use with pumped showers (or probably any pumped hot water system). This apparently works on the basis that air gathers at the top of the cylinder and therefore by avoiding the air, pumps work better as they don’t encounter air pockets in the water supply and hopefully don’t need to be bled nor cavitate while in use.

The flange is sealed with plenty of PTFT tape & a fibre washer…

Top outlet is for the domestic water, side outlet for the shower.

The remaining fittings were then attached for the boiler circuit supply/return and the cold feed pipework made up & attached before the new cylinder was finally introduced to its new home in the airing cupboard.

Much pipe-cutting, cleaning & soldering then ensued to connect everything up with the end result being a fully re-filled and operational hot water system!

Finished product – complete with temporarily capped off supply for the yet-to-be-installed shower pump.

Unplanned works; new hot water system!

On inspecting the heating / hot water systems (DHW) when we first got the keys we’d noted that the hot water cylinder was getting a little tired, and would probably need to be replaced at some point relatively soon.

What we weren’t quite expecting was to come into the house at around 3pm on a Sunday afternoon to find a steady stream of water dripping from a hairline crack around the top of the cylinder!

Needless to say, getting a plumber out at this sort of time is virtually impossible without needing a second mortgage, so we turned off the water; contained the leak and headed off to Wickes & Screwfix to round up enough fittings & parts to replace the cylinder.

Having stocked up, the old cylinder was drained – requiring a series of holes to be drilled in the side of the cylinder to siphon the water out (drain cock was of course, seized) & the pipework disconnected.


With cold supply, hot water loop, house hot feeds & immersion heater wiring all disconnected / cut & capped as needed, and the cylinder virtually empty it was a relatively simple affair to remove it from the airing cupboard…

… at which point it became obvious that the cylinder was far beyond its best!!


Something you don’t see every day… One empty airing cupboard..!

With the old cylinder gone, work began to prepare the new cylinder & rework the existing plumbing to tidy things up & fit the new cylinder as obvious nothing on the new one was in quite the same position as the old.

As I’m not entirely sure I trust push-fit enough to use it on the primary feeds from the boiler, all joints needed to be soldered… which accounted for a substantial chunk of the installation time as unfortunately all the old pipework was covered in numerous layers of old paint which needed to be removed to reveal bare copper.

The existing 28mm feed /return pipes from the boiler presented their own challenges…  New 28mm copper doesn’t really bend too well, and most cylinder fittings don’t accept 28mm fittings.

No kitchen would be complete…

… Without a set of drains !

The old utility room was equipped with a water supply but unfortunately no drainage. As a result, during a rare break in the surprisingly snowy weather the focus switched to some outside works to lift most of the patio paving slabs & re-route underground drainage to accommodate the needs of the kitchen.

Back to the bathroom

One of the distinguishing “features” installed by the previous owner was a wood-panelled ceiling.

Perhaps not quite to everyone’s taste… and definitely not to ours…!

Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t particularly well attached and soon parted company with a little persuasion to reveal that it had simply been put up underneath the original plasterboard ceiling, which to say the least was in a bit of a poor state.

Whoever fitted the panelling had also left just enough of a gap in the corners so that steam from baths/showers etc had been able to get through the panels, resulting in this lovely mess on the plasterboard.

We’ll deal with this in due course, but as the house has been empty for a while the boards have had enough time to completely dry out – suggesting that the problem was limited to trapped moisture from the bathroom below rather than anything more substantial in terms of leaks from above.

Now that the kitchen’s underway…

Next stop was obviously to make a start on ripping something else out!

The house has two upstairs bathrooms, one that’s looking somewhat tired and needs replacing, and a larger “family” bathroom that is pretty new and perfectly usable in the condition it’s in.

The smaller of the two is just the right size to turn into a shower room, so without further ado we made a start on removing it.

First to go was the loo to create some more manoeuvring room…

Capped off the plumbing & drained the cistern


Removed a few rusty bolts with the aid of a blowtorch & hacksaw, and the loo’s now looking decidedly worse than it did at the start!


The pan came out shortly afterwards, following removal of the washbasin & pedestal.


Finally, the bath was the last remaining piece of the suite to come out. Needless to say this wasn’t quite as easy as you’d expect, and seems to have been the one piece of the bathroom that was actually firmly attached to the house!!

Before disposing of this I opted to remove most of the old tiles – working on the basis that catching the mess in the bath while it was there was probably a good move..


With the tiles removed (well, encouraged to fall off !), the bath’s plumbing was disconnected & capped, supports unbolted & cut through where they refused to unbolt… and the bath hauled up & out.

Why is there never more access or space to move under baths….?!


leaving a rather sorry looking bit of floor where there’s evidently been a leak in the past which has presumably not been noticed or ever repaired.

End result – one empty shell of a bathroom!


After several weeks’ wait, another milestone’s arrived – what felt like a pallet’s worth of laminate flooring for the lounge, hall, entrance porch & old kitchen has finally turned up from B&Q..

It's here!

The day has finally arrived....

Our new kitchen is in the building - in bits though!

The new room is nearly ready to have the bits fitted and with luck, will acquire floor tiles & necessary plumbing tomorrow with the kitchen going in next week.

All building work has now been completed; walls & ceiling have been plasterboarded ("dry walled") and joints taped/skimmed; electrics are all done; radiator replaced; and the ex-dining room floor levelled with a "underlay" course of tiles to bring it to the same height as the utility room floor.

More photos to come...!

Kitchen progress

Great progress is also being made in the new kitchen. The builders have demolished the old dividing wall, ripped down the ceilings, stripped off old plaster, sorted out the electrics & have nearly finished plasterboarding / drywalling the room ready to tape & skim the new walls.

New year… new kitchen!

With the onset of 2010, our builders have arrived in style on the first working day of the year.

We’ve engaged a brilliant local firm called Upgrade Building Solutions (UBS) to demolish the dividing wall between the old Utility & Dining rooms, make good, tile the floor and supply/fit a new kitchen.

The rooms started life as this – utility on the left, dining room on the right with a solid blockwork wall in the middle.

Aside from the dubious picture, UBS arrived en-mass on day one – filling the drive & most of the road with their vans.

Much controlled chaos followed their arrival with the wall coming down along with the original plasterboard ceilings in the space of a day – resulting in the slightly odd sight of daylight through the upstairs floorboards!!!

First challenge of 2010!!

After spending most of today using one, I'm convinced chemical paint strippers should carry more of a health warning: "do not use if currently alive" or "full-body protective clothing & breathing apparatus must be worn before opening" might do the trick!

We've been in the process of restoring the stair case back to more of a wood-like state than it's previous 1970's yellowed white look, and today have finally turned onto the home straight.

Unfortunately removing the last few bits of paint has required the use of a powerful paint stripper, advertised to strip all layers of paint back to bare wood in one application.
It doesn't quite work that well in reality but has done a pretty good job, leaving only a trace of paint to be removed via a palm sander & by hand.

The rest of the wood's already been stripped using a small armoury of electric sanders... Unfortunately you can't quite squeeze a belt sander into the corners, between banister rails or into the other assorted little gaps :(

I've definitely had enough of clearing up sawdust though - will be glad when this bit's done!!

Lack of updates....

Just a quick apology for the complete lack of any updates over the last few weeks.

We haven't given it all up as a bad idea, but have just been busy getting things done.

I'll post a fuller update later but for now here's a quick pic of the rather wintery view we currently have!


Things are moving forwards nicely so far this week – and it’s only Monday!

Lots of painting is being done, with vast quantities of raw plaster being covered with 1st coats of paint.

While paint's going up downstairs I'm taking advantage of a few spare floor boards that had been left in the loft to replace a couple of cracked & damaged boards in key areas - upstairs landing & hallway!


It's been a while since I exercised my carpentry skills but am starting to think  it's something I should do more often.

Problem board removed:

Needless to say, they were not all quite so easy to remove & replace.  Seems that whoever had installed the house’s central heating had taken a few shortcuts and fitted heating flow/return pipework right at the top of the joists, immediately below the boards.

As a result cutting boards over the joists was a bit of a non-starter as there wasn’t enough clearance to cut the board without cutting the pipes, and as I didn’t want to create a water feature upstairs I ended up removing the board piece by piece to reveal the pipes – creating enough room to cut the board !

Replacement boards (from a convenient collection of spare boards left in the loft!) were trimmed to size, and the fit checked.

Job done – boards replaced & screwed down. Not worried about the mismatch in colour as we’re sanding back & refinishing the floors throughout…!

Everyone should get one of these tools – fantastic bit of kit for cutting, sanding or scraping in confined spaces.. not too expensive either.

Busy week ahead...!

Just a quick update to say that a busy week is coming up...

Progress today includes lots of ground work to prepare the way - getting a couple of rooms nearly ready to finish off when a floor sander arrives on monday!

Window sills have been painted & coving "installed" in both main bedrooms. Tomorrows job will probably need to be painting said coving, along with a freshly prepared radiator & removing all upstairs carpets!!


Finally, we've just about lined someone up to do battle with the garden. It's a job that's at the end of a long list of things that need doing but needs to be done...


Watching paint dry…?

… we’d happily take watching paint dry over watching plaster dry out.

Paint never seem to take that long to dry to the point that you can move on and do something with the wall. Fresh plasterwork on the other hand seems to take forever to properly dry out!!!

Ah well… plenty more to be doing…

Decorating progress

Now the plaster’s done, it’s time to crack on with the rest of the house.

The first couple of coats of paint have been applied to the main bedroom to seal & cover the newly dry plaster, and this weekend’s job is to start getting the proper top-coats of paint done along with all the woodwork, window sills, skirting, door frames etc.

We’ve also been getting on with fitting coving to the nearly completed bedroom 2, and are in the progress of lining up various quotes for flooring downstairs & removal of an unwanted wall!

Plasterwork finally done!

Reached a bit of a milestone over the last weekend – all of the replastering we needed to do for the moment has now finally been completed.

The Lounge has now been finished, along with the hall, staircase walls and upstairs landing walls!

The biggest benefit of this work being finished is that it means we can start to actually decorate the rooms now – and hopefully the lounge can start to look slightly less like a building site, and more like a room.

As a quick reminder of why we need to do this, this photo was what the stair walls (and the hall / upstairs walls) used to look like….

They now look more like this… which even with bare plaster are a vast improvement over heavily ridged Artex!

More mountains moved!

Great progress today - starting to feel like the house is slowly coming together now.

Lounge plastering is well underway; bedroom 1 has had all of the remaining mess/carpet tape removed along with the first coat of paint on the replastered walls & ceiling and the remaining paintwork in bedroom 2 completed.

We've also made a bit of a positive discovery - all of upstairs bar the ensuite extension has good quality floorboards throughout rather than chipboard.

Does mean that we need to hire a floor sander for longer than thought but also means we don't need to recarpet everywhere!

A quick test of the varnish we're looking to use seems to have resulted in a nice finish on sanded boards - which is good even if it does seem to need 3 coats!!

Next steps are to finish off the bedrooms and to get the lounge painted once the plasterer's finished.

Lots more to do throughout however!!!!