When we first started to build the house we asked our friends Val and Ted, who had done it twice before, for one piece of advice we should ALWAYS follow. Val said, “Don’t set yourself deadlines, they will only give you stress.” Boy was she right!
We have survived all the delays that Argyll could throw at us by adopting Val’s advice but as Christmas approached and we really really wanted to have our first Christmas here, with my mum, who is 87 and would not do too well with the compost toilet etc, I worked out a timetable that seemed to work. That was when things started to go wrong, in fact everything started to go wrong.
The first thing was the people installing the insulation, whose exploits have already been told. The final installation happened two days late. Then we realised that I had completely forgotten about the brick wall round the hearth. The Errol brick company is no longer functioning but there happened to be enough unfired clay bricks left in the store so that took two days organising and collecting them. They are still in a pile in the utility room!
The plumber came a week late and then had pneumonia so sent two of his mates to do the installation. Crownall had given us a 45 degree bend and a 30 degree bend for the flue so John had to take another day off to go to Glasgow for the replacement. Eventually, we got everything working but Alan had to come back and sort some leaks at the cylinder.
Before the bathroom and kitchen fitments could be connected, we had to plasterboard the walls and build the raised floor, but had to wait for Ewan to supply the battens. We had enough left over from the (unfinished!) cladding to do the en suite and kitchen and kitchen walls and cobbled together bits of wood to do the en suite floor but by the time the proper battens arrived, we only had time to do the kitchen floor.
Unfortunately, the plumbers hadn’t left enough pipe for the connections, so we had a bit of faffing about to do to lengthen them and fit a tee for the dishwasher. We also connected up the WC without fitting the toilet seat, only to discover that you can’t get access to the back to screw it in, so the whole lot will have to be taken apart – a job for another day!
Gordon was fantastic about the electrics. He is making sure that we do everything the professional way, which is taking a while to learn but will be worth doing. He and Jenny are trying to finish their own kitchen and we are very touched by their kindness and generosity in giving their time to help us. They also donated their leftover kitchen worktops as we have to build the kitchen units before we can template our worktop.
On the Sunday before Christmas I was going to decide whether it would be safe or not for Mum. I had hoped to have the bathroom and kitchen finished but we had only laid half the kitchen floor. Nevertheless, with the wash hand basin, WC and shower working, we decided to go ahead and got the floor finished and the kitchen carcasses in on Tuesday, when Gordon and Jenny called up to check John’s progress with the electrics so we gave up and broke open the mulled wine. Ali came round in the evening so that was another bottle!
We routed the wires (phone and electricity supply to the caravan) overhead instead of tripping over them as we have done for weeks and had a general tidy up. Although there is still a lot of unpacking to do for the kitchen we are generally functioning and the red paper tablecloths and the skimmia/Christmas tree are making the place quite cheery.
So, with a huge thank you to everyone who has helped, let us wish you all health and happiness in 2009.