Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The snagging bit

There's been a bunch of small but irritating fixes around the house that have been ignored for many months. The to-do list probably added up to three days of solid work, but trying to get a builder back for three consecutive days when they aren't getting paid extra was always going to be a mission.

I'm pleased to say that Teia did manage to come back twice in the last couple of weeks and sort a few things out. Firstly, he put a thin strip of white wood along the top of the cupboards - this was to disguise the fact that the ceiling wasn't completely level. If the cupboards had been aligned to the ceiling, they'd never have sat completely flush with each other at the bottom.

Secondly, he put a length of timber at each side of the external doors to hide the concrete where the doors are braced against the brickwork.

Thirdly, he filled in some of the more noticeable cracks in the wall. I haven't got photos of the other two things as they're hardly photogenic but definitely worth mentioning: Teia lifted the planks of the deck to lay a membrane which prevents weeds from growing up between them. And last but not least, he finished connecting the extractor tube (which takes the smells from the kitchen extractor/range hood) and now spurts odours outside. We used to have that tube dangling in the garage so all the laundry that was drying in there smelt faintly of bacon smoke. It's been so nice to go in there and not balk at yesterday's dinner smells!

Teia's done a terrific job and hopefully he'll make it back for one more day to finish off a few more things, before moving back to New Zealand.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Outdoor furniture sorted

Our new neighbours have great taste. Aside from the numerous coincidences that have sprung up since we've got to know each other, they saved us several hundred pounds by sourcing the perfect outside dining table and chairs from the end of line department at... yup, Ikea. Despite frequent visits to Ikea and hours perusing the catalogue in the last couple of years, we'd never seen either this table nor the chairs.

Our mission to find an identical set involved a trip to the Edmonton branch for the table and then a couple of phone calls and a 40 mile round trip to the Croydon branch for the chairs. They look like they match but are from two different lines, and being discontinued were a little difficult to track down. Still, at £75 for the table and £15 for each chair we didn't mind the time involved as the alternative was a similar set from John Lewis which would've cost £1,108 vs the £165 we ended up shelling out.

Coincidentally one of the weekend newspaper supplements had an advert for Ronseal Perfect Finish Garden Furniture Oil and for £15 including delivery it seemed a sensible investment. I managed to do all three coats myself - as indeed it was extremely easy to apply (just like the ad promised). Each coat took about 20 minutes (to do six chairs and a table), which was touch dry within an hour and totally dry after four hours. The furniture now has a slightly darker, glossier sheen which should make it weather proof for the next few years.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Wood burning angst


Summer's officially over, and it's funny how within days of the kids going back to school/childcare the temperature is instantly autumnal. I've been trying to get an invoice out of NPower for about a month now as our last one was issued back in February. Despite leaving two meter readings and phoning a couple of times, the invoice is still elusive. I suspect this is in part a terrible system, but also because no doubt our exorbitant monthly direct debit has put us into credit.

Funny how big companies are quick to chase you when you owe them money but are very slow to refund it if you've overpaid. Obviously quite motivated to get this sorted as the central heating will be put back in action in the next couple of months.

Our downstairs space could do with an extra radiator actually. We had to get a little fan heater to help warm the room up as someone miscalculated the space and the two radiators (or "rads" as builders call them) don't fill the room with toasty warmth, they just sort of take the edge off, even when cranked up to max output. When we were planning the extension I was keen on getting a wood burning stove, something like the Focus Gyrofocus pictured top, sadly they cost over US$18,000 which means
that they were firmly in the "not in this lifetime" category. Shame really as there's something cosy and earthy about a fire, and provided you get a well designed wood burning one they can be better for your carbon footprint than other methods of heating your home.

This place does a more affordable selection of wood burning stoves - Style wise there's a lot of ultra modern versions or very olde country kitchen, but sadly nothing like my beloved Gyrofocus. Still, when you're talking about £600 vs $18K most people make compromises.

It's probably too late now to even put in any kind of fire into the extension so I should probably keep an eye out for another rad, but not until NPower gives us a bill so we can see how much the gas is costing us!