With the holes in the rear wall growing and the battered toilet finally in the skip, it was definitely time to run. Since then we’ve been migrants - calling in favours, flat sitting, couch surfing, cooking meals, shampooing carpets and whatever else it takes to endear ourselves to our merciful hosts. We did attempt to spend a few days back at the house in between flat-sitting stints, but we arrived at 10pm on a Sunday, dragging our enormous suitcase, to find the loo hadn’t been connected and the entire rear wall was missing. Cried, ranted, drafted angry texts to the builder, and called Tiffany to ask if we could sleep on her floor. Thank god for our nice friends.
This is the frustrating period of the build when it feels like things aren’t moving forward fast enough. We’re told this is the way it always feels at this stage. In the past month or so there’s been lots of digging, fitting of drainage pipes etc - apparently the old water pipes had been leaking into the foundation for god knows how long, hence the nasty smell the house has always had. Ventilation bricks have been fitted at the rear of the house, which should eliminate the damp problem, and they’ve put in foundations under the new patio doors. The entire back of the house is being transformed, and the frame for the 2 metre wide patio doors has been installed, as well as the space for the single rear door which will be the fire escape leading out from the soon-to-be-reversed stairs. The load-bearing steel beams are in, which means (as our Kosovan friends have cheerfully assured me), the house will not fall down now. Just as well - the cracks in the rear room upstairs grew to alarming proportions when the back wall was pulled down. All perfectly normal, we’re told. Just recently the extension itself has really taken shape - the skeleton of the roof is on, and the skylight frames are in. The guys have done a god job of matching the reclaimed yellow bricks with the original ones, and I guess in a few years you’ll hardly see the join. Best of all, those pink iridescent bathroom tiles are gone at last!
All our meticulously researched fixtures and fittings are beginning to trickle in - radiators (designer ones for the living room, bog standard elsewhere), bathroom fittings etc. Can’t wait for the moment when they all get unwrapped and installed - but that feels like a very long way off.
At the moment we’re ensconced in luxury at Helen and Nigel’s rather posh apartment while they’re on holiday in Australia, but when they get back at the start of January our fortuitous run of flat-sitting will come to an end and we’ll have to move back into the house. Will they really have reversed the stairs and done the loft conversion by that time? It seems unlikely. But there’s really nothing we can do, except try to stay sane.