Pit Rescue Week 1
Finally! After 15 weeks of twiddling our thumbs and anxiously studying the Haringey Planning website twice daily, we were granted planning permission for our miniscule extension. In the end it came down to a site visit from a terribly friendly lady dressed entirely in hot pink cycling gear, who zoomed in, took one photo and said
Oh, you'll be fine! We just have to check you're not chopping down any ancient trees or ruining the neighbours' view!
Bit of an anti-climax really - I'd scrubbed the house and studied the drawings in preparation for an onslaught of probing questions about the design. Ho hum. By the final week of waiting, the tension level had been cranked up another notch by the realisation that our trusty builder, Grant, is a man in considerable demand - and would be snaffled by another client in Sloane Square (also awaiting that all-important letter) if we didn't have news soon. So when he arrived at our house with his measuring tape and a purposeful look in his eye, it was a joyful moment.
A week later we'd agreed a price (gulp), managed to persuade those nice folk at HSBC to lend us what we needed to plug the whole in the budget, and on a sunny Monday morning we opened the front door to the Pit Rescue team - four Kosovan builders who will be turning our outlandish fantasies into reality. Or something vaguely resembling them, anyway.
This week has catapulted us into the next phase with such force that we're only just catching our breath. Within hours, our prematurely-bought eBay kitchen had been whisked upstairs, the floors had been ripped up and the rotten floor joists pulled out (the result of blocked ventilation bricks at the pack of the house), and we were face-to-face with the foundations. We were ordering skip collections, paying for consignments of bricks and cement. Cranes were unloading enormous sacks of sand. The air was thick with earthy smells and Eastern European disco hits. By Tuesday, the lads were letting themselves in at the crack of dawn and were making coffee in the kitchen by the time we scuttled over the Indiana Jones-style gangplank and into the bathroom beyond. The lean-to disappeared, and the fridge and washing machine stashed in the ever-diminishing kitchen area. By Wednesday, they were drilling down a metre to create the foundations for the extension, where the lean-to used to be (god bless the neighbours for not complaining yet). Rain - lots of it. Mud in the trenches, mud in the kitchen, mud in the bathroom, mud on the mugs. The indoors has become outdoors. We are essentially camping. There are power drills and battery packs on the hob. You can't reach half the kitchen cupboards because it's so jam-packed. There's a big hole in one wall, open to the elements. But my god, it is So. Damn. Exciting. After all those weeks of stasis, every little sign of progress makes our heart leap.
Thank goodness for the euphoria, as Week 1 has been tricky - somehow Jess' long-awaited knee operation happened to fall the week before work started, and needless to say, it was quite a challenge having to negotiate an expanse of floorless living room to reach the bathroom. Thankfully, it's mending quickly.
So, Week 2 approaches. This could be the week that our hideous kitchen and bathroom, orange and pink respectively, are finally consigned to the skip. We've boxed up the kitchen except for the bare essentials, and braced ourselves for another crazy, muddy, exhilarating week.
Roll on, the demolition!