While everyone else is soaking up the sun in their gardens, mine is full of brick dust and tattoos.
I get back from holiday to find that the fireplace is too small to accommodate any wood burning stove on the market. Fortunately the brickwork is only about 4 courses high and this is easily remedied. As the building grows, I also think that the windows are a bit small. In both cases, measuring reveals that the builders have done exactly what the plans specify. I hadn’t realised until then how important the architect’s drawings are. If you think something looks a little bit out of scale on a small drawing it will be exaggerated in the final build.
I pay a very large bill on the eve of our builder’s holiday to Barbados and keep my fingers crossed for his safe return. I also receive 2 invoices from a surveyor, whose involvement in the project I’m rather hazy about. It turns out that the council no longer make site visits to ensure work complies with regulations, and you have to employ a surveyor to do it.
Two bricklayers and an assistant are working in weather conditions raging from Arctic blizzard to Mediterranean summer. They are doing an excellent job of matching the flat pointing to the rest of the house and tell me proudly that they are using a wooden ‘donger’ to achieve this. The bricks are new and handmade (rather than reclaimed) in order to get a good colour and texture match with the existing. My son tells me they look ‘broken’.
Joists are positioned, giving us a ceiling and a floor, and our kitchen is plunged into darkness (this is where the extension joins the house). We discuss installing a sun pipe and/or some more lighting.
My husband makes detailed plans with the electrician. I have to rein him in on some things (such as built-in air conditioning), but agree it’s easier to put more in than you might need at this stage than it is to fit retrospectively. The plumber pops in and makes some gloomy prognostications about timings.
Suddenly there is a spate of deaths in the village (not connected to our building works) – and a wedding. As our drive is shared with the church, we diligently move all materials, sweep up and hose down the dust, cover the skip (which is positioned as discreetly as possible) with a green tarpaulin, and even put out some tubs of flowers. I am thanked, but also told “It was a pity the skip couldn’t have been moved”!