Is it because we’re getting just that little bit older, or has the Covid19 palaver distorted our interpretation of space and time? Whatever the answer, the last year of project house Barry has flown past so quickly that I only recall having blinked a couple of times.
The Dump of a House
Despite this, our humble abode, so clearly described when we first bought it, has started to become a little less humble and much more a castle for us to be proud of. What was a very dirty, neglected, ‘dump’ of a house has now become a homely, comfy and generally ‘nice’ place to be.
It’s taken (some) blood, (a lot of) sweat and (a few) tears to get where we are, but we can now safely say that there’s far far less to do than has already been done. My hands are a bit rougher, but by the same token, some of my own skill sets have improved immeasurably. It’s now such a pleasure to get home at the end of a day, whereas only 18 to 20 months ago Mrs C dreaded it.
Project House Barry had its moments along the way. Watertight integrity is something so taken for granted nowadays that when we discovered that water was pouring in through various breaches of the roof, it came as a bit of a shock. Our first, and definitely the worst, of these was into our bedroom.
New Windows – A Voyage of Discovery
Hardly a month had passed when our window fitter arrived to start replacing all the old, rotten wooden windows (and doors) around the house. This was no mean feat: 24 double-glazed windows and 3 Composite outside doors. This was by far the single biggest expenditure we’d planned for.
A couple of days in, it was time to replace the main bedroom windows. At this point we discovered that only panel pins held in the pane of glass in one of them. Putty? What putty? Hardly surprising it buzzed like it was about to take off every time a bus or lorry passed by outside. However, this was the half of it! The roof of the bay window turned out to be supported almost in its entirety by the old window frames, so when the old frames were released from their fixings, the entire roof dropped down into our bedroom, closely followed by about ten gallons of collected December rainwater.
Mrs C Questions Project House Barry
It was one of those moments that made Mrs C question the whole adventure. My thinking was ‘its a good job we fitted new windows, otherwise we’d never have realised how precarious the whole setup was’ and someone could have ended up getting hurt one day as a result.
We’ve had to give the roof some attention (many thanks to Alan for his help) in two or three other places too. But at least it’s all fixed now and we can sit comfortably in what is now a warm, comfy and dry home.
Papering Over The Cracks
Another fun part of project house Barry has been stripping the wallpaper. Every room had at least some wallpaper, but many had SO MUCH of it. Bedroom 1 had no less than 6 layers of the stuff! Most of these also had generous applications of paint on to boot! The one advantage of so many layers was that it was effectively holding the walls together. It brought a whole new meaning to ‘papering over the cracks’. More like ‘paper frame construction methods’! One of the layers happened to be a very early type of ‘vinyl’ wallpaper. It seemed to be totally impervious to steam, so the only choice was to take it off the hard way. A truly awful job for anyone.
In the name of energy efficiency, we now have a 2kW solar array on our south-facing roof. There’s also a brand new A+ rated Potterton combi boiler. These have chopped so much off our energy bills. The first quarter in the house was a killer. Un-closable windows, a leaky roof, and an old Baxi that put more water into buckets than it did into the heating pipes – all resulted in a bill of over £700! Ouch! We now look on target to bring the entire year of dual fuel at under a thousand. Not bad for a big 5-bedroom Victorian house, if you ask me.
Project House Barry – What Next?
So what next, you ask. It looks highly likely that we’ll attack the main bathroom. You know, the one we talked about when we moved in. The ‘show’ bathroom, with no drainage connected to the bath. It’ll need some serious TLC, a new suite, a shower and some more of Mrs C’s eye for style.