Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Playing House

I like and trust my builder - he is conscientious, wants to solve problems that come up, is helpful, intelligent, reliable and just very nice all round. He would be good to have as a brother-in-law. He built his own beautiful house even futher North than we are so he looks at the issue of costs from both sides - making a living and the "Oh my God, you have to be kidding" side. I asked him for a list of costs for all those jobs we want doing which are not in the spec. I do wish I hadn't.

"List of prices for extras
Stripping and Danish oiling beams £300
Stripping and repainting existing windows £335
Cottage B, master bedroom, en-suite, stairwell and corridor to
Cottage A. stripping wallpaper, two coats emulsion to walls and ceilings,
undercoating and glossing woodwork (assuming re-plastered) £850

Making good and re-plastering in A. £1,500
As above to stairwell and corridor in B. £500
Removing floor and replacing with concrete sub floor with damp
proof membrane and insulation in kitchen- extra cost negated by
builders saving from floor in barn.
Roof- extra cost of using slate- cost removed as goodwill gesture
(saving retrieved from scaffold hire)

Installing DPM(damp proof membrane), insulation and oak flooring to new family lounge and boiler room £2,100 (Flooring included in price)
Laying oak floor to kitchen (fixed to 50mm x 50mm battens on architects
recommendation) same arrangements as above £1,700.

Other extras still to price
repairing existing windows
installing client’s loft ladder, plaster boarding sloping ceilings and laying chipboard flooring to loft area above boiler room and part of family room
forming shelving to wall in new corridor
making good fireplace in family room. Installing multi fuel stove will be about double the cost of a conventional fire
Forming fireplace, flue and chimney to accommodate client’s stove in barn
Taking down garden wall, installing proper foundation and re-building to client’s design"

There is a certain irony here. The house is like an art installation, the smell of dusty pink plaster in the air, ersatz snatches of ancient paper shouting out pop hits from the seventies as it clings to its youth on the walls. As you pick your way around doorframes emptied of their doors and walk through the disappeared walls, you look for rooms that are not there. Your eye is caught by pipework twisted off like an unfinished sentence, the hanging, questioning flex and exposed brickwork taking you back to basics. The house, the two houses, are a statement on the grammar of your life - mixed up and incoherent. We are struggling to bring it all together, men are sweating out their days to brick-build our dreams and yet I can see it all slipping away. Can you have a dream house and an unhappy child living in it? I do not think so. We had a successful meeting at school this week; we figured our way through to strategies that will protect my six-year-old and get him past his feelings of isolation. The only problem is my son does not yet know that his problems are over; that happy days are here again. He did not want to go to school today.


Steve said...

Dear Wifey,

Don't despair! Here's an article on bullying from today's paper in Minneapolis; a bit abstract, but some good ideas to add to the list your other blog friends have been compiling. Be patient with yourself, your son, and your builder!

Steve said...

Sorry about the previous; here's the link:

Anonymous said...

The stripping bit sounds fun - but I guess it could get repetitive unless they vary the performers?

Anonymous said...

Hello Wifey!

My six year old is to the best of my belief a thoroughly happy, gentle and rather charming little boy who enjoys school.

Perhaps not quite as much as he enjoys his nintendo DS but more than eating anything green (except peas because they don't count).

Yet there are days when he doesn't want to go to school. Most Mondays in fact. Wednesdays are occasionally dodgy too.

Things sound tough for him right now but it doesn't follow that he is doomed to a thoroughly miserable childhood which will blight his entire adult life because he didn't want to go to school today.

Best of luck to you and yours. Keep on blogging!

Anonymous said...

I thought my son would never be bullied. He is the giant of the class and looks like the boy you can't mess with. In reality he is a sensitive soul who is yet to learn that even children as young as 6 can have a mean streak.

Knowing that we talked to school about it and more importantly, that school took him serious made a world of difference.

You can't stop bullying; it happens with children, it happens with adults. But you can give your son the tools to deal with it and the feeling that he's not on his own.

It seems you're doing that.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

By the way the builders are way over price I know this bloke who could do you a good deal ...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... If you win the Turner prize, surely that would go some way to paying the builders ?

mutley - best pay a visit to Chip'en Dale..!

Cathy said...

I grew up in a small rural community and I can imagine how hard it must be for incomers, whether child or adult. But people can and do fit in, given time.
When you are ALL happy your new house will become the dream home of your imagination. Keep working at it with the school.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could remember the name of that record which had sampled a line of dialogue from a film "Do you wanna talk business or d'ya wanna play house" - a great line for a house music song, although I guess chez WITN not a choice you have to make - you can have both !!

Glad to see you are also 'blog-rolling' Rilly : The british have a long tradition of tongue in cheek satire as evidenced by Dead Ringers, and as Noel Coward [?] or Oscar Wilde [??] once said 'There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about..'

Imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, although I suspect you and Rilly turned up for the same social event wearing the same posh frock it could make for an exciting evening's entertainment

We love you lots - keep it up and 'don't let the b--b--bears get you down'..