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Extension post #7 – weeks 6 & 7

Not entirely sure where to start on this one as about 6,911 things have happened since my last post. There are only a couple more weeks of the builder/electrician/plumber being around so the focus is now moving to us for stuff like fitting the kitchen, decorating, getting the flooring laid etc. so it’s time to roll our sleeves up.


Crack, crack, crack city

Week 6 started with a worrying discovery. After living away from home for a few days whilst the back wall was knocked through and steels were added, we found that some pretty confident looking cracks had appeared in the two upstairs walls that sat on the 2 walls that had been knocked through.

We’d read about it being common for small cracks to appear as the walls settle between being supported by acrows and sitting on the steel joists. But our cracks aren’t exactly hairline and at their worst are 3mm wide. Needless to say, we were pretty worried about this so had a natter with the builder. He seemed very casual about them and said that they’d just need to be skimmed over.

We were still worried so I shared images of the cracks on a forum to get a second opinion and the consensus was that the cracks are larger than should be expected and that they’d need to be properly assessed. This could have brought the build to a standstill and ended up costing a lot of money. However, fortunately, Jim from building control came round early this week and after having a look said that it’s not a major concern, phew. For a belt and braces approach, he’s recommended that metals straps are inserted into the cracks and fixed in place with resin before being plastered over. It was such a relief to hear this!

Progress

With crack-gate out of the way, I can focus on all the awesome things that have happened in the last 2 weeks. First up, the floor of the extension has now been built up to the level of the existing floor so there’s no longer a massive drop when we walk into the extension.

First fix plumbing and electrics are sorted ahead of plastering. We spent a good half hour with the electrician, working out where to put spot lights, sockets and the kitchen pendants. We may have gone a bit overboard with sockets but it’s far better to have too many than too few, as we found when we moved into this place which only had one double socket per room.

The most exciting day was probably bi-fold day. Being the old man that I am, I’ve wanted to live somewhere with bi-fold doors out into the garden for quite a while so it was pretty great when they went in.

On the side of the house, the old back door has been blocked up and a new door fitted to the right of it, where the kitchen window was, which will lead into out mini utility.

To fill in the door left by taking the back door out, the builders used bricks they saved from knocking out the back wall. The blocked in door blends in really well so we’re chuffed with the job they’ve done on that. It’s a shame to lose the wee arched porch but to get a decent sized kitchen in it’s something we had to do.

ALSO, the stud wall that separates the utility from the kitchen has been put up, and the door opening has been prepared for a door that we picked up on FB marketplace for £20 which ties in perfectly with our other interior doors.

Soon after the guys had started in the stud wall, I took them a brew and it’s a good job I did. I suggested that we check the positioning of it and after measuring the space, there was too little space left for the kitchen units so they had to start again. Far better that way than having to rip it out once it was plastered or having to lose a kitchen unit!

The last couple of days of this week have totally transformed the space. On Thursday, all the plasterboard went up and on Friday, the walls were plastered. Quite an impressive operation with 5 blokes here on both days just cracking on with it.

If ever there was a time for an image slider, it’s now. The before photo was taken on Wednesday and the after on Friday! Mental.

Extension life

It seems only right to mention the joys of life with only one downstairs room in action. Food-wise, we’ve been making the most of the slow cooker and microwave which has required some innovative thinking. We’ve been using paper plates wherever possible, but inevitably there’s still a fair amount of stuff to wash up so our bathroom is now washing up HQ.

On top of the house being a mess, despite Haz’ best efforts to put dust sheets up theres still brick dust and general dirt covering every surface. Outside, our front garden is an absolute state and the back garden is worse. Stopping Basil from trapsing dirt throughout the house and picking up things in his mouth that he shouldn’t is currently our main past time activity.

Some good, however, has come from all of this. Our downstairs doors haven’t closed properly since we moved in so to help prevent Basil running wild I planed the doors last weekend so they’d close properly. The hallway to dining room door also needed a new door knob so I made what I think is quite a fetching industrial-chic door knob out of wood but Haz isn’t a fan. We’ll see who gets the last word.


So all-in-all, a bloody decent couple of weeks. The extension is unrecognisable vs just a few days together end the end is in sight. Next week, our kitchen is due to arrive so I’ve got some time off work to get it fitted which I’m really looking forward to. Once the plaster is dry we can also start painting so we really are moving towards having an actual functioning space – this is how excited we are.

Maybe a bit more deranged-looking than excited, but you get the idea.

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Extension post #6 – week 5

This week has been VERY exciting. The walls have finally come down and we can now really start imagining the space


Goodbye old kitchen

Last weekend, in preparation for the knock through, I smashed up our kitchen. The original plan had been to sell our kitchen dirt cheap/free for someone who could take it away and use it in their garage or summat. However, despite gradually reducing the price it was listed at online I got a grand total of zero messages. So I ended up taking a sledgehammer to the kitchen which actually turned out to be incredibly fun.

It’s now sat on a bonfire, RIP. Alex the plumber came to disconnect the gas hob and shift a couple of radiators in preparation for the wall coming down.

The knock through

This week was all focussed on preparing for the steels, knocking through, and hoisting the steels into place. The first step was to cut into the side walls of the extension so that the pillar that would support the main steel would be set into the wall. If they hadn’t done this we’d have a great big pillar protruding out into the room. By cutting into the existing walls, the pillar will only jut out by around 12cm.

With the pillars prepped for the steel, it was time to knock out the back wall. Every time I nipped downstairs to offer the guys a brew there was another section of house missing! They’ve preserved as many of the bricks as poss to fill in the current side door and for some future projects I’ve got planned.

After spending months trying to work out what the space is going to look like, we can finally see it. It looks way bigger than we expected, although that’ll soon change once there’s a kitchen and furniture in.

Steels

There’s definitely a certain amount of anxiety involved in seeing the back of your house propped up by a few acrows… So I was delighted to see the steels arrive on Friday, along with five blokes and a couple of ‘genie lifts’ to hoist the steels into place.

Turns out that a 5.5 metre steel beam is pretty heavy. It took all 6 of us + the genie lifts around an hour to get the steels up in place. I say 6 of us because I spent around 45 seconds helping lift one of them…

Once the main steel across the back of the house was in position, a smaller steel was added perpendicular to it over the wall that previously separated the kitchen from dining room.

One side effect of the steel installation is that cracks have appeared on our bedroom wall above where the house was knocked through. I’ve read about this before and apparently it’s quite normal so I’m not worried about it, unless they get any bigger! We’ll just ask the plasterer to sort it out when he comes in a couple of weeks and if for whatever reason the plasterer doesn’t do it, Haz and I are blackbelts in filling cracks so will sort it ourselves.


We were like excited schoolchildren this week. Seeing the wall get knocked through and the full space opening up was awesome. The noise and mess are pretty horrific, but I reckon sanding our floors was worse.

Another busy week coming up with plumber and electrician coming for first fix, side door being blocked in, partition wall into utility being built and various other bits I can’t remember. Stay tuned!