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.