I am undergoing long overdue building work on my beloved house. Plans were passed in 1988, that's how long it's taken to get to this glorious stage. I'm using my pathetically small life savings to pay for it, mainly because the interest rate is so poor it's pointless keeping it in the bank and my son Toby will do the work giving us both the opportunity for creativity. And it will greatly improve my life, and probably add value should the kids need to fund the maximum security twilight home though hopefully not too soon....
The footings were so deep - I live on a steep hill -when they were started back in 1988 you couldn't see the builders heads and remember two things from that time, the builder lost money on the job due to the building inspector insisting they go down a further metre, and the builders comment that he'd started the first course of bricks so it was a work in progress which I would be immensely thankful for much later on.
We felt sorry for the builder and gave him extra money at the time as he'd worked so hard. After twenty-two years and a lot of hard work starting and running my business I'm finally ready to continue.
Finding the overhead power cable will be below the height of the intended new roof of my extension I approach UK Power Networks to arrange to have it moved. A simple task......or so I thought.
The first unpleasant shock I received was the bill for it - to be paid upfront- £828. I couldn't believe it could cost so much and queried it. The second was they wouldn't do the necessary internal work, ie new cabling and ducting from the meter, which also had to be moved. The third was the lead time: ten weeks.
After several frustrating phone calls there were more pitfalls thrown up. They wouldn't link up the new cabling unless the house had a wiring certificate. Not a problem, the house was rewired five years ago and was told by the electrician the certificate would follow. I hunted high and low in case it had been sent and I'd absentmindedly filed it away.
When I couldnt find it I rang the building control inspector who checked and told me no such certicifate had been lodged wth them. So I then needed to get a qualified electrician to run a check on the entire house and outbuildings. Much to my dismay it failed the check. And entailed further work done, even my lovely bathroom lights weren't of the new IP rating. Up to that time I'd been blissfully unaware of these new safety rulings.
Toby duly went out and bought all necessary compliant ducting, mter cabinets, light fittings. My bathroom now complies but the lighting now resembles a public convenience. So I had to get an electrician in - even my newish consumer unit failed the inspection - to make it compliant and also pay for him to be there to wire in the ties of the new cabling to both the interior and exterior where the new cabling enters the rehoused meter.
A pre site visit was arranged by a member of the team who would be supplying the new cable to the house. He looked at the scaffolding covering the entire width of my house and new building works and ask to see the 'flag' apparently it didn't show a health and safety flag. In a panic I rang the scaffolding people and they came over instantly and yet again the bill escalated. A weekly charge, I needed it for just two hours.
He then looked up to where the old cableing was attached to the house and asked where the handrails were around the temporary garage roof. And refused point blank to move the cable: 'Health Safety you understand'. By this time I was close to breaking point and dreading they'd find some other reason to abort the job, fine me a cancellation fee and have to start the four week wait for a new appointment. Taking the building work into the winter, which would be disastrous. Toby suggested he could do it which meant in essence some of the work I'd paid UK Power Networks to do was being done by us. But shrugged it off as by now desperate that something else wouldn't comply by D-Day Monday.
Come the day I was up at 5am, so anxious the morning would run smoothly. Everyone turned up on time and at mid-morning we had lift-off - finally new cableing and position. The relief was intense. And looked forward - having got over this massively expensive hiatus and delay - to continuing with the building works and what will be my wonderful new bedroom and new garage underneath. The whole process has cost me well over £2000 just to move a cable ten feet and eaten into my budget meant for other building materials. C'est la vie, I will just shrug it off and enjoy the mounting anticipation of my new bedroom and garage now able to go ahead.
I'm sleeping in the spare bedroom, which was firstly my son's and subsequently Celia's room for many years until she moved out. I did a quick fix, taking down the curtains, washing and ironing them, dusting and polishing and generally making it my safe haven from the mayhem and dust. Hanging my mothers 50's vintage pink glass mirror on the wall and making it my temporary but lovely space. My own bedroom has a huge gaping hole in the roof, ready for the dormer extension, all the old plasterboard ripped off so bare rafters and the floorboards are up. Basically a shell.
Every night Toby insists on screwing my bedroom door to the frame to make it safe for me and takes all his power tools home with him, I laugh and tell him not to bother as it's such a safe area but he insists nonetheless.....