Five hours

I didn’t remember anything after nine-fifteen in the evening on Thursday. After a much needed shower I was in bed just after nine and fell asleep almost immediately. It was the work I had put in on Thursday which knocked me out. I woke up just before the alarm which was set to four o’clock as I wanted to take my walk before five. Another pleasant walk with little or no wind blowing though I had to keep my hood up for a short time when it rained. It was only light rain which was good. I returned home by six-forty and ate breakfast. I spent an hour or so relaxing after breakfast and didn’t change into my working clothes until almost eight-thirty. I spent a full three and a half hours working on the project. My aims were to instal the wiring for the new lighting circuit and remove the old installation. I wanted to switch the supply over to the new wiring ready for connecting everything up at a later date. I wanted to finish plating the ceiling with the new plasterboard and instal the insulation behind it though I knew there was one area along the back wall which I wouldn’t have time to do. It is the wall facing you in the picture. That is because there isn’t a joist close enough to the wall to fix the small strip of plasterboard to fill in the gap. I needed time to come up with a solution though I am thinking of pushing those cables up and boxing them in which would solve the problem. I had to drill holes in the plasterboard ready for the new lights to be inserted later. I also had to rig up a temporary light in the room once the existing circuit had been disconnected and removed. I found a length of flexible cable which was around ten metres in length and also an old fluorescent fitting measuring around a metre in length and would use them for the temporary light. I would plug it into one of the power outlets on the Patio and would leave it there until it became in the way of doing other things. I got the majority of all that work done after three and a half hours at which time I had a snack for lunch. An hour later I spent a further hour and a half completing my set tasks. Five hours in total. The concrete lintel is still waiting to be lifted into place and until it is done I cannot finish the brickwork above it nor install the wooden lintel behind it together with the brickwork on the inside. Only when they are installed will I be able to remove the Acrow supports. Perhaps my son would be able to find the time on Saturday to help lift that lintel. I was sure hoping so.

Shirley Anne



More on the project

It was Thursday morning and my day to do the weekly shopping but first I had to cast my vote in the local elections. As usual I was up early to do the shopping and as the polling station opened at 7 o’clock I decided to go there first. I was there at seven and they were still setting up! I was the first one there. Soon I was on my way to the supermarket and was back home before eight-thirty. After putting everything away I had a drink then was off out again to purchase the wood preserver I had forgotten to purchase the previous day and whilst at the builders merchant I purchased some plasterboard sheets for the ceiling together with the special screws and the joint tape which has to be applied before the ceiling is skimmed with plaster. I had received a late-night call from my eldest son who informed me that he couldn’t come along as planned to help lift the lintel in place because his wife had made other plans for the day. It didn’t matter though I did feel a little let down but that’s children isn’t it? Children? He’s actually 36 years old! Anyway I thought it best to get on with other things, hence the material purchases. On my return home I began by removing all the temporary coverings that were on the ceiling and then removed countless nails from the joists. I then systematically brushed the wood preserver over all the ceiling timbers. Evidence of historical woodworm infestation showed up in a couple of places on the joists but fortunately they were small patches and hadn’t spread. That would have been a nightmare to repair had there been serious damage to the timbers for they support the kitchen above. Anyway a good soaking of preservative will ensure no further problems, especially once the plasterboard is installed to seal it all off. Much of the timber had previously been treated with ‘Creosote’ which is no longer in use these days. Once that had been done and after lunch I decided to install two of the plasterboard panels but to do the others I would need to instal the electrical wiring for the recessed downlights and also slide the insulation over those I have fitted. I also have to drill the holes in the boards in which the lights will fit.

There had been a hole in the wall behind the left-hand panel in the picture at the back of which was a ventilation brick on the outer wall of the cavity. I had to block it off in case insects, especially wasps and bees get in and make a nest behind the plasterboard. The two identical panels were installed in different aspects to save wastage. They are both 3 ft x 4 ft (you do the conversion to metric). The one on the right looks larger but it isn’t. That was pretty much all I did that day.

Shirley Anne


I wanted to do a little more on the outside toilet project but had to stop for a lack of assistance. It was approaching lunch time and I reluctantly downed tools for the day. I hadn’t started work until after eight o’clock and my first objective was to remove the outer door and its frame in order to fit yet another ‘Acrow’ support bar beneath the stone slab and in fact had to instal that before I could remove the frame. First of all though the door itself had to be removed so that I could safely remove the frame. Many years ago I manufactured the door and installed it together with the frame. It proved difficult when removing the frame for I had made sure it was going to stay there! Over the years the fixing bolts rusted and resisted my efforts to take the frame down but after a while it was done though I had to saw the frame in a couple of places beforehand. The frame was so stubborn to remove a couple of bricks came out with it on one side.†

You can see the spaces at top left. The next task was to chisel away the bricks on the left of the other doorway to allow the installation of the concrete lintel at a slightly higher position than it had previously been installed.

On the right in the lower picture about halfway down the bricks stop. They appear white in the picture. The lintel will sit on them on that side. On the opposite side you can see where the red bricks stop before the next one steps back. The lintel will sit ontop of that stepped-back brick. The one above it had to be chiselled to make it possible. The one beneath it will be filled in with a piece of brick. It was at that point I had to stop for there was no-one to assist me in lifting the lintel up and there was no way I could do it alone or even attempt to. Before the work around the doorway could continue that lintel would have to be in place. I could have mixed some mortar and done some patching up but that wasn’t worth doing. I would be mixing a lot of mortar later and it could all be done at the same time. Well I potted around for a time sweeping up and disposing of the old timber then I salvaged as much of the door furniture that I could, the hinges and the bolts which were all in good condition save one small bolt which I abandoned. I had phoned my eldest son for his assistance but he wasn’t available as he was at work that afternoon. I was expecting the guy later in the afternoon who would be measuring for a new door. It would have been better had the lintels been installed but I knew at what height they would be. Until I could get them in place I would have to start on something else like preparing for a new ceiling for instance.

Shirley Anne

Just about

For one reason or another I found myself a little under the weather yesterday and took the opportunity to have a complete day of rest. I even retired to bed earlier too and my head hit the pillow at nine-fifteen. It didn’t take long to fall asleep. Friday morning saw me up at ten before six and ready to go. It wasn’t for a walk though as I had decided to take that later or on Saturday morning instead, no, I was going to get the floor in the new outside toilet project finished. When I say finished I mean as close to the door opening as possible for I wanted to leave that small area until later. So after a little breakfast I put on my overalls and boots and went outside to set things up. We had rain yesterday, quite a lot of it and according to the forecast we would get more today (26 April) but it would be later rather than sooner in the day. I only needed a couple of hours to do what I wanted and fortunately it was bright and sunny when I started at seven-thirty. However the sunshine didn’t last long and clouds began to appear but I plodded on. It took two full mixer loads to finish the work. I had to place some temporary shuttering, basically a couple of pieces of wood weighed down with heavy tiles to form a stop.

I had just about enough mix to do it. During the mixing of the second load rain began to fall but it was extremely fine and short-lived. The remaining small area by the door won’t require the use of the mixer I shouldn’t think but may use it anyway. I managed to pack everything away and clean out the mixer by nine-thirty to return indoors. The rain didn’t fall again until after ten-thirty at which time it was pouring down hard. I was so happy I managed to do what I had set my mind to complete for it would be Monday morning before I would do any more work. I was going to take another long weekend off from work for a change…………………..Shirley Anne

Weighing things up

During the last couple of days rain has threatened to fall and it looks like we are going to have a few more days of unsettled weather before it returns to the way it has been lately. It is Thursday 25 April and I write this late in the morning. I should have been doing a little more concrete screed laying but I am not. I was up quite early at 4.45. I had set the alarm for 5.30 but had awoken at 4.00. I usually get up this early when I have the shopping to do though I don’t actually go out until after 7.15. I was feeling fine until I returned from the supermarket and had stored everything away when I began to feel tired and listless. The idea was to take a short break before recommencing work for the forecast had indicated a few hours of dry weather before it would rain.

Although the work is inside the building the preparation work is all done outside, collecting the materials loading up the mixer and emptying into the barrow to take indoors. It just isn’t practical to do that outdoors if it is going to rain. I suppose I could have rigged a shelter of some sort but it wasn’t worth the effort seeing as the weather had been generally dry. I went to the room to inspect the work I had done the day before and it had set just fine (see picture top left to bottom right, driest where it is pale). It would be best to allow it to dry out some more before pouring wet concrete alongside so doing the remaining area would be better left off doing for another twenty-four hours. It sounds like an excuse not to work but having weighed up the situation I decided that was best. In any case I wasn’t feeling up to it. Friday I would take an early morning walk but having again looked at the forecast the driest part of the day was in the early hours up til noon or thereabouts. I would have a window of around four to five hours before it would rain but I would have to take the walk later to take advantage. Decisions decisions. It all would depend on the forecast being right and me being fine and in the mood. Well the remainder of Thursday should give me the rest I obviously need! I am eager to see the floor finished (as far as the screed is concerned) so that I can begin other work such as door frame removal, lintel replacement, ceiling stripped and boarded and other minor works. When the shell is completed then I can plan installing the toilet furniture and arrange for a new door to be installed. A lot of work but I am taking it slowly. ……………………….Shirley Anne

End of rest

It is the Tuesday after the Easter break and the end of my four-day rest from work, not that I had been completely idle of course but it was a break from the project. Much as I like doing the construction part of a project it can be a little tedious sometimes, especially if I am mixing concrete. Fortunately I don’t have to mix it by hand as we have a mixer but it still has to be filled and emptied and then it has to be transported and laid. On most jobs that in itself presents no problems but on this project it has an extra hurdle. The wheelbarrow cannot be pulled into the room so easily unless it is only part-filled which would slow down the process considerably. I have therefore to get it as close as possible and shovel the concrete into the room. Even that is awkward because the wheelbarrow handle is in the way and there is limited space for using the shovel. I manage but it gets tiresome. The plan for today was to begin laying the screed which is simply a finer concrete mix giving a smooth finish. The base concrete had set hard and had four days in which to do so. After two full mixer loads and a lot of manipulation I got this far….

The screed is the darker colour in the pictures. Having decided what depth of screed I would lay over the existing concrete by the doorway (at the bottom in each picture) I had to make sure I lay the screed to that same level. I used a square of plywood laid on the existing concrete and using a level with one of the two long pieces of timber (one is shown in the pictures) laid the first part around the edges and what was left elsewhere. The timber was left as you see it because it wouldn’t fit inside the room lying down. It was used for the longest measurement from the doorway. A slightly smaller in length timber was used inside the room. I had to make sure the mix wasn’t sloppy or too dry so that it could be manipulated using the ‘float’. Subsequent mixes can be a little sloppy to aid quick levelling using the timber as it will be contained inside what I laid today. Then it is a case of getting it smooth using the float. That is the part I like doing more than anything else. I stopped work at twelve-thirty but it took another half-hour to tidy up! Four hours was enough for the day. During the afternoon I watered the garden then walked down the road to a neighbour’s property and sat chatting with her for a while. More about that later……………………………………….Shirley Anne

Outside toilet

If you remember in my previous post I am now calling the new project the outside toilet. Today, that is Tuesday (April 16) I have put in pretty much a full day’s work. This is me, just don’t know when to stop. After some time in saying I will restrict my working hours each day I put in a full day! Ah but it is infrequent and I don’t work (on projects) every day but once in a while I see the necessity. Currently I have been preparing the floor in the new toilet in readiness for laying concrete and today, apart from laying a membrane I finished that part of the project. The reason I took the whole day, aside from my lunch and coffee break, is that after lunch I had almost completed the task so it was worth the extra time to finish it. Here are a couple more pictures

They don’t look much different from the previous pictures but there is a world of difference between them. I removed more of the sand and rubble and gained an extra three bags of sand. I levelled out the remaining sand and lay a membrane over it a section at a time then covered it with the rubble before putting some of the sand back. On top of that I will lay another membrane, the main one which will lie on the soft sand. I will then begin laying concrete over it a section at a time. 

The sand in these bags will be used to make the concrete. Waste not want not! All the bags of rubble I put at the side of the house have been emptied and used today though I had to break up some more old tiles to make more. Nothing gets wasted. Before starting work this morning I took a trip to the builders merchant to purchase some granite stones and cement but I fear I will need much more. I will see how far I get with what I have. You can see in the top pictures the small area of existing concrete floor which I didn’t dig up. What would be the point in that? The new concrete will be slightly lower than that area so that when I lay a thin screed it will cover that small area too.                                                                                                                                           Shirley Anne 

Forgotten room

As you know if you’ve read my latest posts I have begun to start work on a new project, ‘The forgotten room’. It is actually the room in the cellar which is beneath the kitchen. As I know what I intend to do with the room I am now calling it the ‘outside toilet project’. I had made a start on it a couple of years ago and on Saturday last returned to start the work in earnest. It is Monday 15 th April as I write and early this morning I went for my walk. It was quite cold and the easterly wind was relentless making it feel even colder. I was glad to be back home. An hour after breakfast I put on my overalls and boots and set about the task for the day which was to remove some of the sand from the floor of the outside toilet. Unfortunately it wasn’t all sand, there was rubble mixed-in with it. The idea was to lower the floor so that it could receive a thick layer of concrete and a screed later on. I was on my knees most of the time shovelling the sand mixture into a large bucket through a garden soil filter. This removed most of the brick rubble but not the smallest pieces. There were lots of large broken pieces of brick in there too. It was as though the builder had used the area for dumping all the building waste before covering it with sand. If I were to dig out the whole cellar flooring I am sure it would all be the same. When digging out the pit in the gym I came across rubble too so I know it is down there. I’ve worked on too many building sites not to know how they do things! Here is what the floor looked like after I had finished for the day.

The dark band around the bottom of the wall is the exposed brick after the sand level was dropped. I may have to remove a little more before I am satisfied it is deep enough. Once it is I plan to cover it with a plastic sheet to form a waterproof membrane before covering it with the concrete. The sand is actually very dry except near to the outside walls (right-hand-side and in the right corner at the bottom in the picture) where it is slightly damp. This is because there isn’t a damp-proof course on any of the walls. It was the way they built them in Victorian times when the houses were built on sand. The membrane will cover the base and will rise to the finished floor level along the outer edges. That will prevent any water rising from beneath or through the walls to the floor. Anything above ground level stays dry anyway. I removed enough sand to fill two large bags….

…..and a number of bags of rubble which I had to store down the side of the house out-of-the-way for the time being until I need them. They will probably go back on the floor to form a hard ‘crush and run’ base for the concrete. The membrane will be laid on to the hard base before the concrete is poured.

In the last picture you can see the soil pipe top centre to bottom right. This will be the pipe the toilet waste connects to. It rises to collect the toilet waste from the main bathroom above the kitchen. In the picture you can see the long horizontal pipe I installed and connected to it when refurbishing the bathroom a few years ago.

During the day the temperature rose quite a lot and the sun came out. I was able to sit out on the patio for a while to relax later in the afternoon. I was rather tired at the end of the day I can tell you!

Shirley Anne

Here we go again

It was Saturday the thirteenth and much cooler than it had been during the week. By the end of the following week we were told to expect it to be much warmer, up to 18 deg C. Now that was good news but my greatest concern lately has been the lack of rain. It is the growing season and plants don’t grow if if is dry. I had been watering the rear garden nearly every day this past week especially as I had bedded new plants. The front garden hadn’t been watered as often but it was a due today so the first thing I did after breakfast was to do just that and a spot of weeding at the same time. When I went indoors I made a coffee and sat on the patio in the rear garden whilst the sun was shining. Even though it was sunny the easterly wind tempered it somewhat. I spent only enough time for drinking my coffee for I had been contemplating what I might do for the rest of the day and I had an idea. It was something I have intended doing for quite some time but it got shelved when my projects took preference. On the corner of the house nearest the patio there is a room which is beneath the kitchen. I had sealed it off a couple of years ago after I had bricked-up an internal door which used to give access to the now refurbished utility room. It was more a case of security at that time and the entrance wasn’t really needed. My intentions were to convert the room into a toilet for use when out in the garden to save having to come indoors to the first level wet room. Here is a picture I took today showing the access to the room.

There is a black wooden door which is kept closed and locked because the white door (blue on the inside) has no lock. When I had finished my coffee I put on my overalls and cleared away the accumulated cobwebs and debris that had covered the area and went inside to see where I had left-off working and what needed to be done. Yes, I am thinking about doing that conversion into a toilet but with a simpler plan than I had two or three years ago. I had plans to remove the white door and brick-up the entrance as well as removing the outer door and bricking that up too. I was then going to put a new pvc door to the side of the building which faces the Plot adjacent to the patio. Now I think it would be easier and far less expensive to just replace the white door but still remove the black outer one. I took the following pictures before I did anything else.

The entrance beneath the white door had been concreted but the remainder of the floor still had the same fire clay tiles as elsewhere in the cellar rooms but unfortunately many of them were damaged. The floor sloped toward the entrance and if it was to be used it would have to be levelled out first. My first job on this new project was to therefore lift up and remove all of the tiles which I managed to do easily with the help of a pick axe. I moved them all to the concrete plinth where I store all materials of this type and other things I intend to either use or dispose of later. Notice the ‘permanently temporary’ patchwork ceiling! It had been intended as a temporary measure until the room could be refurbished, honest! The beauty of this project is the lack of urgency to have it completed and the fact that it is under cover yet gives ready access to the fresh air and the garden bench!

Shirley Anne

Nearly there

After doing the weekly shopping I arrived back home at eight-thirty and put everything away before spending an hour relaxing on the patio with a coffee soaking up the bright sunshine. When it isn’t too windy sitting on the patio early in the morning sunshine once Spring is here is wonderful. One side of the patio faces eastward and with the wall on the west side is is a sun trap. I didn’t want to stop there long as I wanted to continue with the garage door project. I finally got the slot cut to the right size and the holes for the handle bar and the key cut out. So it was time to fit the lock and screw it in place. I used the two white plastic door knobs which were on the old door and the square metal bar which was long enough to go through the new and slightly wider door. Unfortunately the plastic disks on which the knobs sit couldn’t be removed from the old door without breaking them so I will either have to purchase new ones which is unlikely (they are usually only sold with new knobs) or I will make a couple as I do have suitable plastic sheet. I will however purchase a couple of keyhole covers for they will be available. In the meantime the door is ready for use and therefore I removed the old door and moved it to the front driveway for disposal later. My word that old door was heavy but then again so is the new one! The old door was about to become in need of replacement for the base was showing signs of rot. I had made repairs a couple of years ago but knew it was only ever going to be temporary. There is more work to do on both the door and the frame and they will get done over the next few days. The door is now in use. No pictures today but I have some scheduled in tomorrow’s post

Shirley Anne