View Single Post
Old 3rd Dec 2018, 22:49
  #34 (permalink)  
Loose rivets
Psychophysiological entity
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Tweet Rob_Benham Famous author. Well, slightly famous.
Age: 79
Posts: 4,646
This self-congratulatory ramble does have a punch line - and a moral to the story.

I've done most everything since I was one year old. I managed to plunge Colchester library into darkness during the war and flooded the hospital waiting room (huge, with Parquet flooring) while learning about wiring and cast iron plumbing.

First job, take down old red-brick chimney, extend slate roof, and install the first north facing window where the fireplace used to be. Second, a 10' X 8' book shelves backing onto what was a very 60's open staircase. All solid mahogany, 3/4" that would support Britannica on a shelf with ease. Then a 300 sq ft kitchen with 5th bedroom above. That cost 1800 quid including the planning application. Okay, it was in 1978.

Years later I moved half the roof up and forward using 17' RSJ's to span the lifted area, installed another bathroom under and then rewired the 113 sockets and introduced two consumer units with the new-fangled RCCD's. I then oak panelled my den and a walk-in cupboard. A thousand quid's worth of American oak to get the height, and Chinese oak for the panels. Six weeks of detailed work using a router, but finishing with chisels to give the hand made look to surfaces. There was not a single finger mark on the light oak. The box section around the vertical plumbing in one corner took a week to do. It had to be removable for pipes and ever increasing alarm and data cables. Hiding wires and pipes has been a fetish of mine since sproghood when I drilled holes in my Hercules crossbar to take lighting wires to the dynamo.

Yadda yadda yadda.

DIY in the genes? Could be. The semi-siblings I discovered in 2001 had worked extensively on their homes, and both had zoned the heating to save running costs. My boiler-house contained the controls for the three zones and two hot water circulation systems to give instant hot in the furthest bathroom.

I can still hear the estate agent's voice on the phone. "Mr Rivets, we just want you to stop". DIYing, that is. I was just finishing the grouting to the laundry. Nice it was. Bloody nice. Kitchen had three sinks and the laundry offered the fourth - under a suspended ceiling with spotlights. The sink from there was going into the integral garage as the 5th sink.

I then picked the wrong moment to sell the house and may as well not have done one single job.

But it got worse.

One visit home to the UK, the Rivetess comes back to a summer rent flat and says, 'There's a load of broken oak on the front drive.'

'NO! Can't have done . . . can he?' Yep, he had. Stripped the lot off and for some reason pulled down the brick built and newly tiled side building that was the walk in cupboard, and water softener room, and log drying store, and . . .

He removed the tiles from the 'Half Bathroom' downstairs and blue washed the plaster. The tiles were very expensive (a bloke that had called selling kitchen stuff, who'd done tiling as his main trade, told me the standard was as good as he could have achieved. Secret was, I'd built the loo and it was planned around a tile size and very accurate.)

SO F42^$#^@$# what? Bloody Nora! The tiles, along with all those spares hidden away, had gone.

He's uprooted a lovely weeping birch that was taller than the house, and torn down a garden wall that was capped with home cast . . . erm, caps. I think the fine oak is now just a stump. A big stump. Its boughs were 10" diameter.

Evening after evening I'd realise that I hadn't cleaned the cement mixer, or I hadn't brushed off the mortar from new brickwork. (It has to be done just as it has dried but is not hard. - next morning will NOT do. )

All in all, a waste of a good chunk of my life.

Or was it? The doing of it. It carried on in the US. Something used to drive me to just do jobs. Two days to hang the front door? The Rivetess suggested. Two weeks, more like. And that's exactly what it took to hang a $1000 door I'd paid $90 for. It was dead centre, dead vertical and shut like a Rolls Royce, but the people that bought the house couldn't have given a toss - but it pleased me every time I closed it.
Loose rivets is offline