Chapter Number 8
A fortnight passed by and with my new found wealth, the mortgage money in my bank account, work on the refurbishment of my property stormed along at a great pace. The three roofers were the first to arrive, and within a couple of days a scaffold was erected. By day three they were busy stripping off the roof.
On day two the carpenter turned up, and by the end of the day had managed to pull off every door in the place and stack them in a huge pile right up against my outside loo. The builder and his two mates arrived that very afternoon to start putting in the en-suites and immediately started to knock down some of the dividing walls between the rooms.
Day three saw the arrival of the electrician and his four very cute helpers to rewire the place, and put in a new fire alarm system. They immediately got to work by pulling up all the floorboards. The two guys who were going to render the outside of the building quickly followed them. They set up camp in the yard. The sacks of render, a cement mixer, an old tin bath for pouring the mix into, along with a humongous pile of doors and builders rubble, soon made it impossible for me to get to my bedroom in the cellar.
On day four the double glazers arrived, and by the end of the day I had no windows in the place at all. They insisted that as the place was obviously empty it would be okay to rip out all the windows at once and get rid of them. Where did they end up? In the yard, of course. I was left praying it wouldn’t rain.
In a blind panic, on day five I searched through the local paper and found an advert for rubbish removers. I contacted them and they duly arrived to give me a price to shift everything in the yard, along with all the old furniture still in the rooms. Just as well as all the workmen seemed to be using the wardrobes and beds as saw-horses.
The rubbish removers thought Xmas had arrived for them and quoted me £250 a day for however long it took to shift it all. I had no alternative but to agree as by now it was impossible to move in the yard, or get downstairs, or use the loo, and the various workmen coming in and out to get materials were beginning to argue amongst themselves, and threatening me with walking off if I didn’t get it sorted.
Thank goodness the rubbish removers soon started on shifting it into their clapped out old Transit Luton van. What a relief! But as fast as they removed it, by the time they arrived back the yard was full again with my old furniture, lino and carpets - with the workmen constantly adding to the pile each day.
By now there were eighteen people hammering away, banging, with each team seeming to have a portable radio tuned to a different channel, and all of them on at full volume. Most of the men swore profusely at getting in each other's way, and there would be the occasional crash as another piece of internal wall was knocked down, only to be followed by a huge pall of dust that hung in the air. The only loo still working was on the stairs, and I found myself forced into joining the line of men waiting to use it, so it was absolute heaven to see them all depart in the evenings.
Unable to use my bedroom, and with no electricity as the electrician had cut off everything, leaving just a long extension lead to the first floor so the workmen could continue to use their power tools, I was having to go upstairs to use the builder's kettle, and was living on the eggs I could boil in it. Fortunately it held enough water for me to also make a cup of tea using the builder's teabags and mug, and to get a shave with what was left. With no lights, no television, no heating, and the only place left with a few floorboards still down being behind the front door, it was there that I had to bed down in a sleeping bag. It was the only place.
I spent the evenings gingerly stepping over the joists as I perused the rooms, surveying the progressing work. Of course, my new found friends I met in the club had all invited me to spend the nights with them but, with no washing facilities or being able to get to my clean clothes in the cellar, I was beginning to smell just a tad ripe so I declined their offers. My personal hygiene was confined to boiling the kettle and pouring it into an empty paint tin in order to wash my important bits with a Jay cloth.
Once I had tipped the dirty water out of the window I made sure I always replaced the cloth over the builder's mug, as I think it was with that he cleaned it. Fortunately I was awoken each morning by the post dropping on to my head as the postman shoved it through the letter box. It allowed me just enough time to make a mug of tea, shave, and use the loo before they all start to arrive again.
By the second week it was all starting to take shape. The outside looked fabulous, the windows were in, the roof was on, and the rendering was coming to an end. Inside the electrician had put the power back on and I had light and power. The central heating guys arrived and were delighted to find all the floorboards still up, so within hours they were trundling in with bundles of copper pipes and radiators, spreading them around the rooms in preparation. Soon afterwards they were drilling holes everywhere. The builders had been marvellous. Suddenly the en-suites started to take shape, the loos and showers were all in place, and new sinks fitted in all the rooms. With new fire doors throughout - ones that actually shut, and quietly - the place was already taking on the air of a half-decent guest house.
I seemed to spend all that week going back and forth to the shops for the zillion bits and bobs wanted by various tradesmen, along with the then daily visits to the bank to withdraw even more money - and when I thought of just how much money I was getting through, I could feel the beads of sweat on my forehead.
With the builders assuring me that all the floorboard would be down again, and that his painters had already started to redecorate the rooms, the carpet fitter was organised for the end of the week. The rubbish removers were reduced to calling just twice a week, and at last I could get down to my bedroom. That is until the builder starts on it. He told me it needed to be tanked out - whatever that is! - and he will put in a loo with a saniflo for me. Apparently that makes the poo run uphill. Yuk! Still at least it will mean I won’t have to use the outside loo anymore.
That I plan to have removed, especially after the incident last week when the manhole in front of the yard lifted and logs began to float away, out under the yard gate and into the drain in the alley. Panic stricken at the awful smell, I had the plumber investigate. It seems it had been partially blocked for years. The last straw for it - or should I say dump? - was the workmen all using the only loo still working.
Thank goodness it was soon sorted. After a lot of prodding and poking, stirring and jet hoses, I then spent the next couple of hours cleaning the yard, and sweeping the alley free from all the logs that were quietly amassing by the kerb before any of the neighbours noticed.
The carpenter started on rebuilding my kitchen, fitting all new units, and I bought a new automatic washing machine to replace the twin tub. Next week all the new beds and furniture are due to arrive, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that within another week or so I can start to trade.
As luck would have it, a leaflet pushed through the door last week, one of those that had landed on my head whilst sleeping on the floor in the hall, was from a guy that built websites. Just what I needed, I thought, although I had yet to buy a computer. When I telephoned the man he told me that having one was unnecessary as he did it all himself. He could build a site for me so anyone in the whole world could see the details of my place.
All I had to do was to give him the information and tell him what I wanted to say. He would even take some pictures in colour to put on the site, including a picture of me, and all for a cost of just £500 plus vat. For this he would even maintain the site for me. If at any time I wanted to change some details, all I had to do was simply telephone him and he would do it instantly for just £30 plus vat.
I did ask him how anyone would find me on the world-wide web thingy, and he explained that if anyone put my web address in their browser (whatever that is) he would guarantee my site would come up as number one on the very first page of the search engines. Naturally, I have agreed that he goes ahead. He's such a nice man too. He said he would get onto it straight away, and would not stop until it was done and on-line. I do hope he doesn't have to stay awake working on it all night.
Well, with everything coming along nicely, at last I can but hope for the
hordes to start coming very soon.
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