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.