Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Living in Denmark

The builder knocked at the door to see if we were coming up to the cottage today. That is never a good sign. It is the financial equivalent of a policeman walking slowly up your garden path in the middle of the day, shaking his head. It is not going to be good news, is it? You do not look through your slightly grubby net curtains and think: "Oh good, there's a panda car parked outside and a grim-faced bobby heading my way." My very nice builder nodded at me. "We've found dry rot," he said it quickly as if it would hurt less that way. Little hanging things are dangling under the floorboards. Apparently there was a give-away smell of apples when he broke through the floor. When we went up to inspect ourselves, I knelt down and edged close to the gaping black hole. I sniffed; to me it smelled like dirt and several thousand pounds.

The other slight glitch in our plans is the four inch difference in height he also discovered between the two cottages. On the "up" side, this might not be a problem if you had one leg shorter than the other. They were supposed to knock down a wall between the two cottages and make one big kitchen. They knocked down the wall, all but two bricks of it, to discover one house has effectively been built on its own platform. We now have to chose between a smaller kitchen and a step up, into a dining area - effectively two rooms - or swamping the entire downstairs in concrete, as you would if you were planning a Victorian extravaganza on ice. Oh, and the grain shute they found in the arches which made me think "Golly, I have a grain shute. That is what you call an original feature. We'll keep that." Gone, rotten to the core.

25 comments:

sunshine said...

You are going to LOVE your house. It'll be like being pregnant -- all the discomforts, glitches, thinking you are NEVER going to get to give birth -- But you will, you will revel in the new surroundings you have designed, gaze on it like a perfect newborn; a newborn you and TW have created from within yourselves!

kinglear said...

I hate to say that I would be astonished if you hadn't reckoned on some rot.But the good news is, but the time you rip all the rot away, the treatment is not too eyewateringly expensive.
Keep the step up - nelive me, it will be cheaper and also more interesting

Anonymous said...

builders love this sort of stuff, as they can 'load up' their profit margin onto this sort of scope creep.

Also, they have discovered it by taking your building apart, which means that they have you over a barrel.

In aviation they talk about the terms V1 and V2. V1 is the fastest speed at which it is still possible to slam on the anchors, abandon the take off and come to a halt on the tarmac.

V2 is the speed at which you are able to get into flight. It is usually higher than V1, so you need to get to it as quickly as possible rather than be stuck in the no-mans land between the two.

Unfortunately you are passing the V1 point at which you could junk this project and go for a less complex. Just be bloody sure to get to the V2 point where you have the time and momentum to get this baby flying.

Luckily 'kinglear' is a property developer of wit and wisdom and he often drops by these parts with a little canny scottish advice.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you could ask Rilly Super for some advice ?

Anonymous said...

There is a reason those 'Grand Designs' programmes with that nice Mr McCloud are so popular - it is called 'schadenfreude'...

Anonymous said...

Nothing ventured, nothing gained...

Fortune favours the brave...

Anonymous said...

...and it sounds like it will cost you a fortune.



Never mind, easy come, easy go..

aims said...

Dear WITN - We have been renovating our house for 12 years now. It was an old barn converted into a house in the early 1920's. We live in Alberta Canada where the weather often drops to -30c during the winter - sometimes colder...and there was not one bit of insulation in the place when I bought it. However - unlike you - my husband and I decided to do this all by ourselves - actually - we couldn't afford to hire contractors. Needless to say - I have learned to do many things that alot of men don't even know. One thing I've really learned - is that old buildings have more surprises than anyone can imagine and 'always' cost more. We are still at it - I can drywall like a professional now after ripping out every single wall to insulate then rebuild. However - the surprises have become great stories to tell when showing people around. I've always been grateful that we only have 2 fairly well behaved cats who haven't learned the english language.....now today I am grateful that our old barn doesn't have dry rot...thank you!

GO! Smell the flowers said...

Hi from Dubai....oh how we miss the musty smells of 'reality'. So, the apple smell, about the apple smell....did it inspire you to knock up an apple crumble while the guys found replacement timber and got splinters?

Suzie said...

I like the sense of continuity with the Hamlet references - makes me feel mildly intelligent!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

bit of a bummer isn't it? alone with 3 kids, back of the beyond, husband awol AND builders...what time do you start drinking in the day?

wife in the north said...

re kinglear:you are hereby appointed a project consultant
re anon: I never knew that. I am not sure I want to know it either.
re aims: do you travel?

Eurodog said...

I am sorry but why the title "Living in Denmark"?
Am I missing something?

Suzie said...

Eurodog - "something is rotten in the state of Denmark" - famous line from Hamlet. At least, I assume that is what is being referred to.

LiNaLaNi said...

maybe later u can say that the house has character eh:D

Eurodog said...

Suzie,
I thought that perhaps Wife in the North was referring to last week's riots in Kopenhagen in which public buildings were heavily damaged. Just as strong a reference, I feel.

rilly super said...

what a super surprise to find that you live in Hamlet wifey, and not just in a hamlet, because by yet another remarkable coincidence of our paralell lives my maiden name was Rosencrantz. Curiouser and curiouser..

Rare Breed said...

Wifey, I am going to let you in on a very small secret I have been hatching over the last week.

I got a compost bin for my birthday, and I get the greatest pleasure filling it with food waste. But the bit inbetween is a bit iccky - as I have an old bucket on the kitchen bench which gets filled during the day and then goes out to the real compsot bin when full.

So whilst pondering this problem I came up with the idea of a chute - straight out the kitchen wall into the utility room [we, too have a step difference in our house - interesting feature!!].

So I am thinking your ancient grain chute could become a fabulous labour saving device, like a compost chute or a laundry chute, or even an indoor child chute for those rainy days.

Am I onto something here do you think??

Anonymous said...

sunshine - stop being so bloody sarcastic; that is rilly's job around here..

Matt Wardman said...

Don't forget to damp proof the floor! And why not put under floor heating in when you level it up.

Matt

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should have one of those 'church spire' thermometers outside your house. Or do it with the amount of money spent, so that people can see when it gets dangerously close to the amount of the advance and can bail you out accordingly. Anyway, you make out Northumberland is a bit way out, but we now hear that is where 'cannabis gran' lives - so actually it is pretty hip, happening & cool!

I would have thought there would be more dangerous criminals up there that need catching but maybe not.

My parents live in Wales, and whilst lucky to live in a low crime area, the downside is that the cops have more time to catch innocent, unsuspecting motorists..

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine had an old coal chute at the back of the house which had been bricked up. He opened it up, put a glass floor in, a conservatory over the top, and hey presto ! day light flowing into the previously dark and dingy basement...

sunshine said...

Sorry anon thought I was being sarcastic. I don't do sarcastic -- gave that up years ago. I really mean what I said. Major renovations ARE like a pregnancy. You're sure you will be in a horrendous mess forever. But one day it does end, and suddenly it's worth all the discomfort, money, hard work and awful discouragement.

red dress said...

Just trust that you will have a beautiful house one day soon. And keep checking on the work. My Mum had a house built last year. Even after it was certified fit for occupancy, we found they'd forgotten the insulation (this is in Australia, 40 degrees in summer), forgotten to connect the electric stove to mains power, and had excavated the foundations right to the boundary line. So we need new fences and retaining walls all round.
Just discovered your blog; it's great, keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

This came up because I'm looking for info on moving to Denmark so I was surprised to be reading about dry rot in Northumbria. Why the title..... just out of interest????