Renovation Update Christmas Building Site

*American voice* Previously on Renovation Updates : We finally got hot water, our bathroom was pretty much finished, the plasterer had plastered every stationary surface within a 4 mile radius, an extension had been removed, our roof had been raised, we had no back door, our kitchen had started going in and our foreman had sacked the joiner. Phew! You can read the last post in full here.

With the joiner gone, the foreman (himself a trained joiner – actually it seems he can do anything, he is definitely our hero) put in the rest of the kitchen cupboards, fixed a few mistakes and also around that time, our worktops came.
The worktops are our one big splurge. We have gone for a fairly cheap kitchen (in the grand scheme of kitchens), so we decided to add value (and just make it look friggin’ amazing) with the added extras. After lots of research (and taking home samples and off-cuts to stain test) we went for white quartz with a grey pattern running through it at a 2mm depth rather than the more traditional 3mm because we wanted a more modern look and also because it knocked about £800 off the price.

A guy from the worktop company came out to measure up on a Friday and I made Mr Thrifty work from home that day because I knew I’d have to sign off on the measurements and I wasn’t confident in doing that alone when any mistakes couldn’t be corrected and replacements would run into the thousands! I wanted back up, my friends.
I thought it would be a case of the guy simply measuring with a tape measure and buggering off but he brought in huge lengths of polystyrene boarding and laid them all out and marked joins, holes for hobs, sinks and any curves we wanted adding in. He did a really professional job (although he did ask to use our “wee wee room” which made me do a weird scrunchy face) and when he came to fit the worktop it was exactly right in every single place. He peeled off the covering and I could have wept, it looked beautiful, seriously beautiful. I knew we’d made the right choice and the extra money was a real investment.

The next day, after the worktop had settled in, the tiler was back in to get the kitchen tiles on. Christmas music blasting out of his beloved radio, several cups of coffee and a good bit of chatter about his love for tiles and he pretty had much finished tiling our kitchen walls in a couple of hours. We opted for a cheap bevelled metro tile (I think the tiles were something like 19p each EDIT, actually there were 20p each and the exact ones we got are these, we did however use a voucher code too and got a nice chunk off the total) but used black grout and fine black metal trim along the tops and side to keep the tiles looking great next to the expensive worktop.

You can get away with using cheaper items if they are basic neutral colours and then adding in more expensive trims and grout. The trim cost about £30 all in all, compared to the usual £3 for plain plastic white rounded tile trim but paired with the cheaper tiles it looks fantastic and lets us get away with spending less over all.

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Our electricians then came in, connected our kitchen unit lights and sorted out our garage, then‘first fixed’ our downstairs loo and a small vestibule in between our kitchen and back door which seemed to take them all of an hour! The our joiner/foreman/amazing at everything guy came back in and added shelves to a cupboard he has built in our bedroom. The shelves went into our new wardrobe but everything else seemed to stop dead. Then everything started to wind down. It was the week before Christmas, people were going away, the foreman was getting married on the 27th and building yards were closing or had stopped ordering in products until after the new year. We had plans to travel to be with family over Christmas but we had no back door and some very obvious parts of our house were pretty much wide open. We had a ply wood covering on some of the larger openings but I just didn’t feel very confident.

My birthday was Monday the 22nd and whilst still a tad drunk from a squiffy birthday lunch out we had a chat with the foreman who told us he couldn’t find an appropriate door casing in the whole of the North West but he said we could “rest assured that whilst my company signs are on your building, your house won’t come to any harm”, despite his hilarious Mancunian Maffia promise (and I did laugh, quite a lot) we decided that, actually, it was best to stay – especially because our insurance would be completely invalidated if anything did happen. So Mr Thrifty had to phone his parents and tell them we wouldn’t be able to drive down to stay with them over Christmas. My in laws aren’t the “typical in law” type and we had both been genuinely looking forward to spending a relaxed and happy Christmas with them and abusing their washing machine, it was a hard blow to be dealt. I’m a pretty highly strung person, so I thought cancelling Christmas would be the moment in all of this that would break me but as truly sad as I was, I got up, grabbed a fresh glass of G and T and just laughed.

There wasn’t much we could do about it. We had an oven, we a fully functioning bathroom (minus door), we had a dining room table and a microwave, we had much more than many others. So I dug out some tinsel, old crackers and fairy lights from the cellar, dragged the dining room table and chairs out of the back bedroom where they had been stacked since works began and set up a makeshift dining room in one of our spare bedrooms, in fact the spare bedroom which until the day works began, was actually the main family bathroom.

We hit up the supermarket on the 23rd, bought everything we would need for Christmas dinner (it’s a weird meal to cook without a hob but it is possible) and may have sneaked in a couple of extra bottles of vodka. And we just bloody got on with it. Christmas on a building site wasn’t too bad actually and we’ll always be able to look back and laugh at the year we spent “Christmas on a building site”.

Many more updates to come!

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