Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Behind the Scenes

I am all out of fabulous crafting things to share but that is fine because we are working really hard on our new house. I have been paid working only two days a week for January and February which has enabled me to go on to our building site and do some manual labour (and make tea in really grubby mugs) for a couple of days each week.

Because we are self builders we have a range of people who work on our house. We do not have anyone who oversees it and we can't even call ourselves project managers because that would sound like we knew what we were doing but I try to coordinate materials for each person before they arrive and make sure everyone gets paid alongside doing some menial jobs myself in between.

I have been showing you snippets in my ing posts, usually a tantalising picture of something quite tidy and enticing which may suggest that we are nearly finished but in truth we are a couple of years away from completing this hobby house. The kitchen mostly looks like this: a fitted kitchen packed in boxes, a table with sticky cups, milk you have have to smell before you use it and soft biscuits which you still eat because the hard work makes you hungry.

We have windows but not a front or back door so it has been bitterly cold in January and early February. This is compounded by the super insulation so the cold air stays trapped inside the house. Some days when I am painting inside you can see my breath but the builders pointing the stonework outside are warmer than me! 

I can light the log burner but it is futile without the rest of the heating system which is not ready yet. We use it to huddle round at lunchtime when who over is on site comes in to sit on plastic chairs and eat sandwiches, chat, tease each other and make plans for what to tackle next. 

We only have temporary electrics so we have to have spot lights rigged up to see later on in the day. We only have an outside tap meaning we have to boil the kettle every time we want to wash our hands or in this case keep my hands warm enough to clean the grout from the lounge tiles with a bucket and sponge. I have done two coats of sealant on the tiles in the lounge and am finished here. 

But floor work continues with another room to prepare, the kitchen, needed a full tile clean. This time with brick acid - nasty stuff. My cousin and I wore masks, gloves and glasses as we worked with caustic acid. The girls stayed outside and made sure the dog didn't wander in. Another spot clean for the ones which need a bit more mortar removal tomorrow and then back on my knees to add the coats of sealant. It is not all choosing curtains and cushions just yet!

The girls ate their lunch on bar stools today and the dog ran off with a huge chunk of cake when we weren't looking but he mostly likes to sniff out mice in the old grain shed when we are there.

There is not a staircase at the moment, it is in the kitchen which gave me the chance to paint the hall and landing in one swoop. When we have laid the parquet floor the staircase can go back in. Currently, the only way to get upstairs is via a ladder. This makes painting upstairs a pain. Everything has to be passed up the ladder but painting is a job I can do while other things are being done which I can't do or when builders leave our build to go and work on another. I plod on with three coats on every bare plaster wall.

Outside is another matter. The exterior of the house is nearly complete so we will need to remove all excess/broken bricks, tiles and stone now that we know what is surplus to requirements. This mess irks me because it is on the road side of the house and looks unsightly to everyone but it will be sorted soon enough. 

There are moments of order. The office is fully painted, the window cill I showed you previously pointed up well with the piping bag. It looks lovely with the sealant finish. I spent four hours putting a desk together to check it fitted in the corner. I wanted it to be checked before the electrician adds plugs to the room. With a new build, you get a chance to uber plan where things go and limit trailing wires and light switches in the wrong places.

So you see, although I am painting, we are a long way from the end but we are trying to enjoy the process - a bit like when you crochet a blanket or knit a jumper. The process is important. It will be part of our lives and certainly part of our girls childhood memories. 

I have chosen today to show you a little update because a) this is mostly what I have been doing and b) we are at the momentous stage where the scaffolding comes down this week and our house will be revealed to us just a tiny bit more. We are taking the chance to admire the view from the top level of the scaffolding before it comes down and this is what it was like today.

I love and loathe building a house but the good far outweighs the bad, even if at present, the beautiful does not outweigh the ugly in visual terms.

This post was inspired by reading A Colourful life blog this week. Christina's mundane titled post reminded me that we are all doing something different and it isn't always 'blog beautiful' but sometimes 'blog interesting'.

Thanks for reading. Jo xxxxx


  1. Just think how it will be when you're finally finished and all your hard work has been worthwhile.
    I really admire how you have undertaken this wonderful challenge. X

  2. That is all so amazing! I hope I can come on holiday one day in the future :-)
    Two years will pass quite quickly and before you know it, you'll be sewing in your new office. I hope the weather stays clear for you because cold and damp inside is not fun when you are painting. xx

  3. Well,I take my hat off to you really phew,the work,you must be exhausted as well as so chuffed when another lil piece of the puzzle slots in.Sooo exciting for you all.Will look forward to more posts.xx

  4. Amazing Jo! Keep up the great work. I started a full (unintentional) house renovation 6 years ago and I am still doing bits here and there. I remember how it gets a lot worse before it gets better and it looks like you will be turning an important corner when the scaffolding is removed and your glorious structure will be revealed in its full glory! Wishing all the best with the rest of the work x I really love reading the updates x

  5. Although you say you are not crafting. You are creating the most amazing home to nurture your family and the next space for you and your families creative journey. We all enjoy these little sneaky peaks at your progress as most creative/crafty people can only dream of creating our own home from scratch. Shropshire is a beautiful county and the view from the scaffold looks so peaceful. Take care and enjoy the journey. Xx

  6. Oh wow! I am in awe of the hours and hours of hard work that you are putting in. Your house will be so full of the love you have given it. It looks like a wonderful location too - what a view! Good luck with the rest of the work and thanks so much for sharing. XXX

  7. Bravo, Jo!!! I can especially appreciate your current challenges because on Monday I drove out to the house my youngest and her husband just closed on. It is a rehab property and at the moment has no heating. She was scrubbing rust stains off the bathroom fixtures with good results, but it was so cold I lasted about ten minutes...admiring and praising her hard work and trying not to be overwhelmed considering all the work left to be done. One of your many strengths is taking a task and tackling it in steps and appreciating the process even if things go awry. Thanks for sharing your current creative process with us. I appreciate the order and beauty you are creating and from across the pond I am cheering you and yours on to your next fine loving home. xx

  8. Definitely "blog interesting" and it's going to be so beautiful when it's finished. I'm glad the sun came out this week to light up that glorious view. Well done Jo, I'm full of admiration for your hard work. x

  9. I really enjoyed reading this post Jo. I love the history of houses and how they came to be. Your home will be so special for you and your family after this long process, and as you say will always be in your children's memories. You have put in a lot of hard work already but it will be so worth it. Thanks for sharing such an interesting post XXX

  10. I loved this post Jo, thank you. You have done so much! It's incredible what you've achieved, and it does sound to me like you are project managing quite well. The views though, they are going to be incredible.

  11. The house is looking fantastic Jo, and to think you and your husband are doing so much of the work is really wonderful. I know you have help but you are participating and really making it yours. Good luck.

  12. This looks a lot like hard work, Jo :-) But should be all the more wonderful and satisfying when you finally move it. My hat off.