Friday, 20 April 2012

Life with the builders in

Life is going to be chaotic for the next few days whilst our en-suite is being refurbished.  The shower fitted by the house builders eleven years ago has started to come unsealed around the edges leaving a gap that despite repeated applications of sealer has continued to reopen and allow the dreaded black mould to prosper inside.  All this despite frequent applications of anti-mould, guaranteed to clear away unsightly mould and leave your shower sparklingly clean, patent anti-mould WMDs, bleach, and elbow grease, it still creeps back regularly.  So The Better Half (TBH) had decided it must go, and a more cleaner-friendly shower installed in its place.  For a week we stripped off the wallpaper, cleared the cupboards of eleven years of accumulated things we have never used, like aftershave given by a friend with no sense of smell and shampoo that was bought on holiday and did not come up to scratch in the hair washing stakes, tubes of something unidentifiable that has gone hard and so on. We then removed the fittings that would easily unscrew and placing our towels on a free standing towel rail and moved into the spare bedroom. 
Our shower
This current activity was preceded by an extended grand tour of every bathroom and decorating emporium in the county, where different styles and ideas were presented to us to mull over for hours at a time and TBH brought home piles of glossy catalogues which seem to breed overnight when placed on a coffee table in our living room.  This effect also seems to happen when they are left in the room we call the study, where our computers are.   This grand tour revealed to me just how many people there are in the world who would like to sell you tiles, flooring, bathroom fittings and other shiny stuff.   Some of the designs on sale are comical to say the least.  One or two places were displaying an object like a seven foot long gravy boat which was actually a bath.  It seems it is designed to go in a bathroom which would occupy the whole of one floor of our house.  Ultra modern designs like a large tea cup placed on a low table vie with Victoriana vogue, consisting of  elaborately decorated basins and toilets which would have graced my great grandmother’s employer’s house but which seem a bit inappropriate in a modern suburban home.  Really old style stuff has reappeared, old square wash basins of the type my grandma used that took about two hundred litres of water and which I carefully removed, along with many of my generation and placed them in the back garden to plant herbs in. These were replaced with, a then, modern sink and draining board.  Ancient style toilets have reappeared too, the ones with the water cistern mounted high on the wall above you, where you have to pull on a handle on the end of a long chain to flush them, just like the ones I remember from my childhood when no one had heard of close coupled toilets.  
These were so common once, that the commonest term for flushing the loo was ‘pulling the chain’ and any mum would ask ‘did you pull the chain?’ if a child emerged from the loo without the accompanying 90 decibel sound of rushing water that these old loos produce when you did pull the chain.
After a few months of touring these bath and tile, flooring and fitting stores, we came to a consensus on what we would like and after many many plans drawn to scale were poured over, we hit on a design that was both practical and within our budget. 
The window
 Our en-suite is not huge, containing a sink and shower and a loo, but it is an odd shape, being close inside the roof with a dormer window and sloping ceilings which reduce the amount of useful space at the window end of the room.   The builders had boxed in a lot of the space to one side of the window and looking inside, it was found that the floor continued inside so this has been opened up and another couple of feet of space has been added to the room.  That may not sound like much but it has made quite a difference to the look of the room.
Extra space found by removing the boxed in area

 So now J and A and M, highly skilled refurbishers all, have been stripping down the walls, removing all the tiles, any plumbed in and wired in fittings and putting new waterproof plasterboard  over the revealed,  uneven and badly constructed inner walls of our domicile, ready to re fit it with our carefully planned new look, easy to clean en-suite .
Considering the size of the room, under three square meters of floor space, it has had a disproportionate effect on life in the Snafu home, completely disrupting life as we know it and we are currently hiding in the study whilst people charge up and down stairs with sheets of plasterboard and wall insulation, buckets and bits of wood and so on, emerging only to feed them with tea and biscuits at odd intervals and to answer questions about the finer details of where everything is to be placed.
I will post some pictures of the finished product once it has been completed.  Watch this space.


  1. That's a brave move. Of course "en suite" implies that your bedroom is big enough to have its own facilities. Our bathroom is also "en suite" by virtue of the fact that it's on the same floor as the bedroom. I have actually stayed in hotrel rooms that were bigger than our upstairs!

  2. * hotrel? Erm... sorry officer, I didn't know there was sherry in it.

  3. Oh my, Snafu, I feel for you. We had our wee (no pun intended) bathroom renovated before your visit, with far less dramatic changes, and it nearly drove me crazy! At least, unlike us, it's not your only bathroom - now THERE'S a challenge!

    I remember 'pulling the chain' at Grandma M's house, in the outdoor toilet, and I also have fond memories of the dual purpose, very handy, reading material TP in those days!

    Anyway,I am sure you will be thrilled with the end results (again no pun intended)...may it be quickly accomplished!

  4. We had our bathrooms refurbished about 15 years ago. It was known as a 1 and1/2 bathroom house with actual tub and loo upstairs and shower and loo downstairs. We had the tub turned into a shower. So in the mornings the boys each had a bathroom. WOW! Was that good thinking. Anything that kept the boys happy together was a huge plus, so there was no fighting over who took the longest shower.

  5. Hate having the builders in. But I have almost cleared a small room that used to be an airing cupboard, to put in a loo and shower. It's just a matter of getting down to the boring task of choosing a builder that won't make a mess of it.