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Friday, 30 September 2011

kitchen catastrophe

I woke at 5 this morning feeling sick with progress on the kitchen fitting and the experience of dealing with a maverick, rude kitchen installer. (Jopar's Kitchens - subcontracted to Magnet). Following the experiences of the last few days, I have come to the decision the relationship has broken down irrevocably.
Walls have been hacked, cupboards botched, I've been left to source missing unit doors, the list goes on: I rang the kitchen company Magnet, catalogued the issues we've had, told them that the fitter has been horrendous to work with on site, and concluded we aren't prepared to let him come back on site.
I can't see any way round it. We've had builders working here without any issue for the last 4 months, and in 3 days, one man has made what should be an exciting experience, almost unbearable.
I am hopeful that I can write this off as a bad experience with one installer, not the company itself. We'll see. I rang Magnet today to outline the stage we were at, and stated that I now wanted to hand the situation over to them to resolve, so that I could try and get back the dream of the new kitchen and not the reality of this nightmare installation. They have 5 days to sort it out. The worktop goes on next Thursday.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Kitchen continued

The templaters came in to measure up for the worktop today. Can't wait. It is almost palpable that we'll actually have a clean, new kitchen one day soon. True to current form, their plan only shows a template needed for one side of the kitchen, not both.

Our kitchen supplier is rubbish from what I can see, as at design stage we agreed the kitchen would be templated both sides. What would we do otherwise?The price we paid assumed it was all accounted for.

My husband gets fed up with me sometimes because I'm usually really anal about the level of control I exert over things, yet when I don't get everything written down, i's dotted and t's crossed, double and triple checked, I can guarantee I wish I had. Damned if you do, damned if you don't?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Kitchen fitter fiasco

Sadly, this blog seems to be turning into a lament on all things construction. Today is no exception.

The kitchen fitters are in. They guy who runs the fitting (and who surveyed the site 6 weeks ago) didn't turn up day 1 (he was in court (!), apparently). Instead, his proxy crew flagged a number of issues with the measurements: Somehow we lost 150ml between a wall and chimney so a cupboard we've ordered is too now too big for space. And so it went on ...

The main man turned up last night at 5.30, while I was doing tea time for the kids and looking after a friend of williams from school. On anyday this time is a busy time in our house. Yesterday, it was mayhem. My 2 year old kept pinching my son's friend, my son shouting and telling her off, all of them screaming in between telling me they needed a 'wee wee'. In the midst of this, the fitter man was trying to tell me all the survey shortcomings was the builders fault. Apparently the plaster the builder put on must have expanded to make the 150ml difference on one wall. Or maybe the guys ruler wasn't working... I got cross, not like me, and had to tell him we should call it a day. I'd had enough by then.

Today, more problems. The bay window has hit the same problem. Its 200ml too small (now) so the cupboards don't fit: the plug for the tumble dryer has had to moved: the pipe plumbed for the dishwasher has to be taken outside the wall, not behind the units. We've had to re-site a spur for the dishwasher. The latest problem is the free-standing w/machine which is to be housed behind a unit door. I specifically discussed this issue with the fitter myself when he surveyed, but the fitter feigned complete ignorance and says he doesn't remember it, and so hasn't planned for, and essentially, it's not on his 'notes'.

What can you do, record every conversation? get him to write down what we've agreed? well, yes, seems to be the answer. Except when you are face to face with someone who you think knows their job, it doesn't cross your mind that they are incompetent and dodgy. I think we have a rogue trader on our hands and I feel stuck between a rock and a hardplace.

As a result, our builder spent the morning carving up the work he's spent 3 months doing. All the while the kitchen guy saying it's everyone else's fault not his. Absolutely farcical. I have been fuming today. To boot, he's rude, patronising and I don't trust a word he says. I never realised how emotional a kitchen could be. I used to close down companies without batting an eyelid, much, yet this makes my heart pound, and I can't seem to hold a rational conversation with this man without getting cross.

2 more days of this to go. Joy.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Kitchen capers

The kitchen fitters are in today. This is quite exciting.

We have hit some problems already as it appears the survey didn't take into account the walls would be plastered(!) and so one cupboard is already too big for the size available between the wall and the chimney breast. I have spent the morning liaising with the fitters, our builder, and the supplier trying to agree a solution. We have one finally. Though I'm trying not to dwell on the comment made by the manager as he left that it may be a further 3 week wait for the alternative door needed now. Surely that won't be the case for me..

In any event, having done the school run, then spent 2 hours arguing the toss over whose fault it is /not, what cupboard widths and doors will fit the remaining space, and what 'compo!' I can get back for the problem along with trying to sort out a replacement hire vehicle while my car is repaired (having been reversed into by our bi-fold company's van last week) I couldn't help ponder my husbands glib comment last night that, 4 months in, 'this project has run itself'.

Friday, 23 September 2011

blind-ing discovery

We have no curtains in the front room. I took down the existing salmon-grey coloured ones to wash them, originally intending to put them back as a temporary measure but I haven't put them back yet. Don't want to either.. we have big Edwardian sash windows, in need of some tlc and the curtains ran on a track under a nasty looking 80's pelmet. Not really me.

The problem however, is that as the nights draw in, the lights are on earlier and earlier which means that anyone walking past can see in: unpacked boxes, piles of interiors mags, bric-a-brack... our lovely dismantled table from Heals propped behind the sofa.. and so on.

The other day I made eye-contact with one of the parents from my sons school, obviously a local, from behind the glass divide of our windows. Not good. The situation will surely only get worse as we head into winter and a 4 o'clock sunset.

I don't want to invest in curtains (yet) until we have decorated this room. But I have found an answer to the problem with 'blinds in a box'. These are paper blinds that can be 'stuck' to the window frame, cut to size and provide privacy, yet light. I saw these while walking past a local street today and was struck by how nice they looked even though they were clearly made of paper. It's only a temporary measure, but temporary chic is better than temporary goldfish bowl as far as I'm concerned. I'll let you know how I get on with them.

And then there was light!

The bay windows are here!! yes, it's true, who would have thought something so boring could be so amazingly fantastically wonderful? ... Me!!

To say I am happy at this development has to be the understatement of the year. I am absolutely chuffed to bits.

The bifolds went in yesterday (absolutely lovely), and the bay windows have been put in today. Frame to follow. The back of the house is bathed in light. It has truly transformed the (newly white) box into something that really nearly almost resembles a room.

The kitchen fitting starts Tuesday and the worktop is being templated on Thursday. I think i know what heaven might be like. I can hear singing in my ears and a sense of inner peace I lost the day we moved in to this rambling old wreck.

Having had a night of raging rows (me) and gesticulations (him) with my husband last night, courtesy of the continued, agonising delays and let-downs of the last 8 weeks, calm has descended: I love my husband, i love my children and i even love my 2 burner gas stove (with grill). All is well in the Jones household today.

Tra la! :)

Thursday, 22 September 2011

bifolds and a bump

The sliding doors arrived today - something at last seems to be happening on time. They are going in as I type. I think they'll look great. There will be day light in the back of the house at long last!

Unfortunately the van that delivered them reversed into the back of my car on arrival this morning.

I know because I was looking out of my bedroom window at the time and saw it unfold. The driver (not knowing it was my car) didn't mention it when he knocked.

When i took the kids to school i discovered my boot is dented and the lock doesn't work. Buggies and scooters are locked inside.

We've swapped insurance details.

I honestly couldn't make it up if I tried.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

It's beta-blocker Tuesday.

The deadline for the bay window has come (and, at 12.30, is going fast).
So far, no windows & no builder.

...Can you get valium over the counter?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Ha ha ha

Some jokes my 4 year old has brought back after 3 days in school:

Q. Why did the cow cross the road?
A. Because it wanted to go to the MOO-OO-vies.

Q. Why did the cow get in the rocket?
A. Because it wanted to go to the MOO-OO-n.

Q. Why did the bread loaf go to the doctors?
A. Because it was feeling crumby.

Q. What do you get if you put a rabbit in the oven?
A. A hot cross bunny.

These made me laugh. A lot.
(I don't get out much)

Woman HSNW (Has Shed No Windows)

The title of this post says it all.

The good news is we have a shed.
...And our builder turned up today.

The bad news is we don't have the bay windows (still).
...And our builder is starting to look a bit stressed.

Kitchen arrives Wednesday (though I won't count my chickens) and the bay is supposed to be in, finished around, and decorated up to before the kitchen units go under it.
A lot can happen in 24 hours, but can this much happen in that time, given they've taken 8 weeks already.

The shed looks more appealing than my home at present. At least it's got windows...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

To be or not to be...?

Far from me to be cynical, but I can't help wondering as the new week approaches, whether :
a) the builders will turn up tomorrow (they haven't been here since last wednesday); and,
b) if they do, whether they will actually have the much-anticipated, long-awaited bay window for the kitchen with them.
Quite a bit is riding on it (mainly my sanity), having delayed the kitchen installation a further month because they weren't ready when they should have been.

I have a sense of trepidation about all this. In a way, it's like when you're  a child, waiting desperately for Christmas to come every day from November onwards, and every morning you wake up, and it's still not Christmas day. You hope it's going to happen, you know it's got to happen (hasn't it?), but it hasn't happened, yet.

Can't say I'm enjoying this feeling in all honesty... let's see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Door Knockers

A kind neighbour knocked at the door today to introduce himself and to deliver a bag of figs from their fig tree, 2 halloumi cheeses, a huge watermelon (for the children) and a bottle of brandy he'd just brought back with him from a recent trip to Cyprus. So kind.
Yet, so ashamed am I of our wreck of a home that I find myself saying thanks from the doorstep with my head wedged between the smallest possible opening of the door I can create in order to hide the dirty battered, woodchip walls which cover the extent of the hallway, the bare gap-ridden floorboards and the tatty stair well where we've ripped up carpets beyond. I know I shouldn't care, it is a building site after all, but I do.
After profusely thanking him I said we would invite them over for a coffee once things were a little further forward (understatement being my strong point). As I closed the door I found myself pondering just when that might be.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

builders block

No builders today, we're at that limbo stage of almost being finished, but not quite there yet. there are still a range of itty bitty jobs to do here, but nothing substantial. I know that they have a new job with another client starting next week and I think they are being pulled off here to put a good show on for the next job. I don't mind this in principle, just keen to make sure they don't let the last bits of our project drag on and on interminably. We have half the loft boxes from our old house piled up in our grotty old bedroom still, and can't unpack this until they move their tools from the spare room. Bit like a Rubics Cube, before one bit can move into place, 3 others need to have moved (in the right order) first.
They are usually here at 8 am and leave at 5pm everyday except sunday. So I found myself checking the clock once 8am came and went with no sign of them. At 8.30 I took william to school (first day, a proud moment, and a bit of a sad one too), came back at 10am to find the house still locked up and no sign of builders still. I did discover 2 used mugs, empty, in the sink, and a warm kettle. The only sign that (presumably) they had been here today, within the hour. A radiator they are replacing from the back bedroom has also disappeared. I presume the 2 factors are linked.
Don't mind that they aren't here today, don't mind they helped themselves to a cup of tea in the half hour or so they were here.. but they could have washed their flipping cups up!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Open House

I found myself sitting in John Lewis cafe (topping up the caffeine levels) with my son (starts school tomorrow, can't wait!) talking on the phone to a man I didn't know, from a company I've never used, (and who was at that precise moment already in my house), about sanding our floors.
It appears the appointment I'd booked with the floor-sanding company and thought was due to take place tomorrow was in fact today. The chap rang me slightly angst-ridden to find I was not in fact at home. I of course apologised profusely for not being there (though I really don't think the fault was at my end), and suggested he ask the builder to let him in. It was at this point he told me he was already in the house and in my front room.
Now, the house may well be a building site, but it is still my home. Despite this, and the vague sense of unease that all our personal correspondance, valuables, not to mention passports, keys and so on were there for the taking, it seemed a bit unreasonable to suggest this man vacate my house and wait until we could rearrange the appointment. And so, in a  situation I wouldn't have countenanced 5 months ago pre-house move we proceeded to discuss the various options &  logistics of sanding the floors, the man in my house and me 5 miles away in a shop restaurant.
I'm sure it will be fine.
I just haven't actually received the quote as yet.

Dre-e-e-e-eams.. dreams, dreams, dre-eams....

Next week is a busy week for the house:
On Monday the shed arrives (I feel disproportionately excited by this) and... the bay windows (aka bane of my life) for the back bay/kitchen arrive.
Tuesday the bay sash windows will be fitted;
On Wednesday the kitchen installation starts; and,
On Thursday the Bi-fold doors and single leaf door will be fitted;
On Friday, we might have something resembling a room by then.
What can possibly go wrong?!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Just call me Dorian Grey

Almost through the summer holiday and the majority of big build phase 1. My 4 year old starts school on Thursday, a big day for us all. I can't wait, yet at the same time don't want to let go of him and join the treadmill. Feel old as I think about his starting out on school life. Perhaps it's  the mid-life crisis. I feel like the picture in the attic, growing visibly older, greyer and more knackered looking while they grow stronger and more gorgeous, bounding through life with more energy andoptimism each day. The quid-pro-quo of being a mum I guess. i wouldn't change it (but a spot of Botox and a brace may be in order before I hit 50).

Sunday, 11 September 2011

cooking for kids on a camping stove

My kitchen during the build has been a 2 burner camping stove with small grill. Getting through the summer holidays using this for all family meals has tested my mettle. I find myself in Asda (we're budgeting!) frozen food aisle scrutinizing the back of food packets to see not whether there are E numbers but whether you can either a) microwave it, b) grill it or c) boil it. If I can, it's straight in the basket.
I've found microwavable pancakes (IKEA) - actually taste much better than you'd think, and grillable chips though I wouldn't actually recommend doing these on a camping grill. The chips took 40 minutes after which time I'd had enough, and decided that the translucent, glistening, hard-in-the-middle things lying flacid in the grill pan were ready, and surfed up the same to the kids for tea. They didn't eat them. Fish-fingers are a good option, but on my grill they take 20 minutes (each side). bit painful. Due to the limitation of the equipment, some meals I've served up to my children have taken on a  colour theme: orange (fishfingers & beans) : yellow (chicken goujons & sweetcorn). Wraps are increasingly popular for lunch with whatever filling i can find in the fridge. I put the picnic blanket down on the floor (too dusty otherwise), stick some crisps and apple on the plate, call it a picnic and the kids love it.
My kitchen is due to be installed in a weeks time. Not sure how i'll cope with a range cooker after the last 3 months bending over my stove.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

I say potato, you say pota(r)to

ok, so the title of this post bears no direct relevance to the subject matter. I think the point I want to make is that  any time i  liaise with a 3rd party provider (gas, electric, builders, flooring co's, bath co's, door co's.. you get the jist) i feel like i am speaking a different language. Yesterday is a point in case. I arranged for the floor co to come and survey at 11 -12noon and the bifold door man to come and survey at 11. I dropped my youngest at nursery, popped to the shop on the way back and headed back home with william (him protesting as usual at having to do anything that involves going in a straight line direction) thinking i'd be in good time for my booked appointments. On arrival home, my builder told me the guy to survey the floor had been (and gone), having surveyed in my absence. Feeling a bit irritated, not least because I had some specific questions I wanted answered about our flooring depths etc, I waited for the door man to come at 11. At 11.10 I glanced at my email and found a message sent at 10.50 saying he wan't coming, along with apologies. so that was that. a totally flipping wasted morning waiting in for 2 people who didn't come (or came when I didn't want them to). What is the point of booking an appointment in the first place. I feel like  anything that can go wrong or add to the irritation of this project, generally does. to top it all I got a £60 parking ticket for parking my car one street away. nothing to do with the no-shows but it sort of summed up my day. bah humbug.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

boxy kitchen!

My new kitchen arrived on Monday. It's sitting, boxed up, in the new white box which was once 2 poky old rooms in our Edwardian home. Installation delayed (again, sob) until end of the month, pending the windows going into the bay at the back.
I'm supposed to have checked within 7 days if anything is missing or damaged apparently. I signed my life away to this effect when the delivery man thrust a sheaf of papers at me, listing the 100 or so items delivered. After a cursory look over I signed, knowing I wouldn't have a clue what was or wasn't in the boxes, whether it's damaged or not, and that we won't be looking in the boxes for at least 3 weeks. I presume everyone has to do this, but seems crazy that I sign the paperwork off confirming receipt of undamaged dishwasher, taps, sink etc when it could be anything (or nothing!) in the boxes stacked 8ft high in front of me. hopefully it will all be fine, just have that nagging feeling that something will be wrong and we won't have a leg to stand on if it does.
feel a bit overwhelmed by the scale of work ahead and our dwindling funds. I watch tv programs where people seem to refurbish their entire home for £60k. we've spent that on just 2 rooms. hardly scratches the surface here. I must get a job soon!!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Skip skirmish

We've had a skip outside the house since the beginning of the build. When i say outside the house, I should really say outside our next door neighbours house. This was not our doing directly. We were out when the first skip arrived and our builders directed the depositing of the skip. It appears the space they chose was on the spot of (public) road outside our neighbours house, rather than directly in front of ours. We didn't really give this too much thought. I remember noting it at the time, then remembering that our neighbours don't have a car, don't own the property (they rent) and are relatively young free and single, I figured they wouldn't really care or notice a skip. I was wrong. 
the doorbell rang at 9.30 the other evening, and our previously reasonably pleasant neighbour stood there with our recycling box in hand. this had been left on the street for collection that morning. He handed this to my husband, then said when we moved in the removals company had put a load of recycling boxes out the front to reserve spaces for the van on the road and once completed they then put all the boxes into his garden by mistake. His point being that he wanted to return them. Paul said this was fine, and we found 6 recycling boxes put into the front garden within seconds. Far be it from me to be cynical, but given the previous owner of this property was over 100 when he moved (into a retirement home) I find it surprising that he was such an avid recycler.. but to get back to the skip... it seems all this rather erratic behaviour by our neighbour was a precurser to asking us 'why the skip was outside (his) house rather than ours', 'could we move it', 'why was it still noisy at times with the builders in the back?', and 'had we put the skip their on purpose (?)'... all a bit bizarre. So, we've got the skip moved, I can understand his point. I probably wouldn't want it outside mine if it wasn't my rubbish, but given this was the first reference he'd made to it to ius, he could have omitted the paranoia. We are not bad neighbours, so give us a chance to rectify problems please.. 

Friday, 2 September 2011

what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. right?

aJust been told that the windows for the back of the house, which will go in the bay over the kitchen, which were due to go in last week (but didn't), then this week (but haven't), are delayed and won't be ready until 20th September. i am not happy about this.
The kitchen fitting which was due to take place on monday, has now had to be put back a second time, to the  22nd of September, which means the worktops can't be templated until the week after. Which basically means i won't have a kitchen until mid October. To rub salt into the wound, it's too late for me to cancel the actual delivery of goods, so they will arrive on monday and i will just have to sit and look at them in their boxes throughout the next month.
In real terms this means that another month beckons with me and my camping stove, 2 children under 5, living in our building site, in the summer holidays. This is not good. In fact this is pretty bad.
I had to eat a whole box of pringles after speaking with the builder.
the Polish connection seems to mean that if his supplier lets him down we are all buggered basically.

oh god they've painted my bath!

the builders have scratched our lovely roll top bath. I may have mentioned this before. i told them not to do anything to it, and specifically, not to paint it or try to repair until we'd had a chance to check with the supplier how to repair it. I don't think i could have been clearer.
Went away for the bank holiday August, came back, and made the mistake of looking at the newly installed bath to find not only had they painted in the scratches, but also half attempted to wash it. the dirty tide mark sweeping the side of the bath is one thing. the fact it's a water based paint that it's covered in, has meant the washed bit is now a different texture from the non-washed bit. there are lumpy bits where they've painted it.

felt sick.

asked the builder who painted the bath the next day. he sort of feigned innocence initially (not a good move) but conceded they might have painted 'a few bits'.

can't understand how me saying 'don't pain the bath' made him think it was ok to paint the bath, in our absence, without checking first. is it me?