Mid July it was back to the house- this time with my treasured chum Clementine! I had Manchester MCM comic con to attend which meant hauling all my comic book and t-shirt stock to Manchester Central, but first a trip to the house to rip up some floor boards!
I had a company coming that tuesday to check the joists for damp- unfortunately most companies won’t pull up the boards for you so I borrowed Clem to help haul them up, and to have another human being with me in case I found a corpse.
Turns out that pulling up floorboards is DIFFICULT. One hour, a hammer, two crowbars and some battered floors later we had a hole in the front of the house.
The joists were fine! It’s not often you rip up a floor and it’s BETTER than you expected.
…Is it bad that I’m disappointed that we didn’t find anything weird down there?
The floor had a slight dip when you stepped near the window, which I assumed was rot. Turns out it’s actually that the stilts going down from the joists that support the floating floor (pictured above), don’t actually touch the ground. A phone chat to my most knowledgeable Auntie Meg (an experienced owner of a victorian town house and a church conversion) revealed that this gap is probably what kept the floor from getting rot. The solution will be to wrap each of the stilts in some damp proof membrane and whack a slate tile underneath to prop it up and prevent damp travelling up the ground into the floor.
The joists in the dining room however do have some rot, but quotes to fix it are around £500. Also I don’t have rising damp!
I decided at this point to leave the floor open- I’ve got some rewiring to do so no point putting the floor down only to have it ripped back up again. It niggles to leave stuff open like that as all I want to do is make the house *nice* already.
These past few weeks have been about realising that this house is going to get a WHOLE lot worse before it gets better. It’s like I have an entire crate of eggs and must crack them all before I can start cooking the first omelette. Unfortunately it just makes sense to rewire first, then plastering/door replacement/ flooring etc.
Then Clem was off back home to Southampton- but not before a trip to the highly recommended Richmond Tearooms, an Alice in Wonderland themed cafe in the Gay quarter of Manchester. Excellent sandwich options and a cream tea for about £15 a head if you’re happy to combine a regular one with a fancy one and split the desserts. We also made it to the Sugar Junction in the northern quarter which has some of the best tasting, simply elegant cocktails that I’ve had for a long time.
Moving to Manchester was supposed to be about finding a life of comfort and class, so the following week was about getting life as comfortable as possible.
The most important thing in my life is my bed. It’s where I get all the energy from to do, well, EVERYTHING I do, so it’s gotta be good. Unfortunately the ikea mattress I bought the previous week was the wrong size- after I rolled it out the mattress tube I’d hoped it would get bigger to fit the bed, but unfortunately it was the weird Ikea size. So I sheepishly rolled it up in a sheet, tied it with rope and wheeled it back to the store for a relatively painless return and an upgrade to a spring coil mattress.
I like to make sure every trip in my car I do more than one thing, as it saves fuel and time, so I also stopped at argos for a larger ladder (as the 9.5 foot ceilings were proving very hard to reach on my little step ladder) as well as a wallpaper steamer and a circular saw.
After some hunting I managed to find a microwave for £40 in asda that I didn’t hate. When did microwaves get so expensive?! I might just be a cheap bastard but I wasn’t going to pay more than I did for a microwave than I did for my washing machine.
Remember these fires? I’d lined up a bunch of different people that week to quote for removal, but I took a liking the the first guy and he said he could disconnect them both for £100 and was free that afternoon.
Until he checked the system and found that the shut off valve at the metre was letting gas pass through. One call to the gas company later and I had a team on my door within 2 hours.
After some talking a SECOND van turned up and there was discussion about whether they’d have to pull up my front patio. I’d been hoping to go to a life drawing session called Dr Sketchy in Manchester that night but with the gas adventures I resigned myself to staying in that evening.
At 6pm the gas people let me know they have a final test and they can leave- my train was due at 6.12 so I grabbed my art gear and dashed out, only for the train to be cancelled.
So instead of a fun evening out I slouched home and took out my anger on the damp chimney breast.
Pulling plaster is a lot of fun, especially when it’s crumbly like this. The damp in this room has been caused by the chimney being blocked up without ventilation. While this seems like a good idea to stop draughts, over time the inside of the chimney builds up moisture and it’s just a bad thing.
I was hoping to be able to open up the old fireplace, but someone in their infinite wisdom blocked it with solid concrete, making it impossible to chisel through. Fortunately there was a magical brick hole already there for me!
Ancient cobwebs of very annoyed, long dead spiders.
Oh look, the abyss. What lies within?
Ehhh, nothing bad.
With the flash on you can see it’s basically just a brick wall that’s a bit wet from condensation. I’m leaving the hole there to air it out and shall be hunting for an airbrick of suitable prettyness to keep it open.
Whoooo for no dead bodies!
This is the remains of a gas pipe for the old lighting system- there’s lots of these pipes left all over the house, including the front bedroom.
Good gawd plaster removal is messy. I spent all of this wearing my organic breather, because hot damn do I not want to get the ‘beige lung’.
The plaster either side of the chimney was pretty DIY and crumbly so over the next few days I poked it and took most of it off. Some of the patches are made with some magically strong plaster that I couldn’t make a dent in.
Is it bad that I think it looks kinda cool and would be a shame to cover up in plaster?
Then the hard job- cleaning up the plaster and putting it all into rubble sacks. Here’s to getting fitter through house work!
Next post is about wallpaper stripping, window finishing and wardrobe demolishing!