Posts Tagged ‘tiling’

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The house, MadAlex style

December 24, 2009

In previous posts there have been assorted references to MadAlex, the previous owner of this house.  During a recent sort through of house photos we realised that although we’d mentioned the interesting state the house was in when we bought it we’d never actually included any documentary evidence.

So, for your amusement and delight, below are images from the very first time we saw the inside of the house.  Think of these as an early holiday gift from us.

Before you peek though, remember, this is the house that MadAlex said would need “a little painting and perhaps some light replastering in one or two places“.

Of course MadAlex is an artist and it is clear that his perception of the world is very different to that of us non-artistic folk.

The living room

Open fires are lovely, especially in the cold weather we have up here in the hills.

Sadly this one didn’t draw properly so there was extensive smoke staining on the front of the fireplace … and the wall above … and the ceiling … and in the dining room … and the study.

The builder replaced the chimney to help the airflow and to prevent it setting fire to next door’s pomegranate tree – again.  That was one of the first of the stories fellow villagers rushed to tell us when we started work.  Apparently it was a talking point around these parts for quite some time.

Returning to soot for a moment.  Did you know, if you paint on walls that are sooty the paint just peels off again?  So, before you can paint, you have to scrub the walls and ceilings with a solution to neutralise the soot.  It is a filthy, tedious, unpleasant and back-breaking job.

Guess how we know?

The kitchen

Fitted kitchens are just so last season, no?  Really who needs more than strong coffee and food cooked in a toaster oven anyway?

On the right of the picture are industrial machine tools for cutting and stamping metal.  In the kitchen.

Once the existing kitchen units were removed the room was re-wired and re-plumbed, re-floored and re-plastered.  One doorway was blocked up and the windows were replaced.  The sink was re-located out to the garden.

And, the hole in the wall through from the kitchen to the bathroom to allow the washing machine to drain into the basin was blocked up.  Really, why bother with expensive plumbers when you could just use a hammer to knock a hole in a convenient spot and route pipework that way?

Speaking of which … behold the downstairs bathroom.  To be clear, at the point at which this photo was taken this was the only working bathroom in the house.

The bathroom

Aren’t those tiles lovely?  Sadly many of them fell off the wall when one of the builders sneezed so they all had to be replaced – such a shame.

The bathroom, just off the kitchen, was eventually split into a utility room and a downstairs cloakroom (a half bath to our north American readers).  The ceiling was replaced, as was the window.  The floor was dug up to allow new pipework to be laid as part of the re-plumbing.  The room was re-wired and re-plastered.

It’s interesting how time tends to dull the memory.

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Ructions over measurements

November 28, 2009

As mentioned previously the non-squareness of the walls of this house provided some interesting challenges during the renovations.  Prior to moving in they caused us to re-work plans for the utility room when it became clear that things simply wouldn’t fit due to the allowances that had to be made for the quirky walls.

Upstairs proved just as challenging, but for different reasons.  When we acquired the house the upstairs was essentially an unfinished open space with a bathroom built into one corner.  Around about the centre of the room was a supporting pillar, and half way across a 3 inch step down.  To be able to plan where and how we’d divide the space we needed at least a rough plan of the space.

We spent hours and hours measuring and remeasuring the space … and nearly came to blows.

Now, where should we put the walls?

Hey! A drop in the floor. Shall we put a wall there?

The intention was to confirm the width of the space by measuring it in three different locations;

  • Measurement #1: the inside of the back wall of the house + the depth of the bathroom
  • Measurement #2:  wall to pillar + width of pillar + pillar to other wall
  • Measurement #3:  the inside of the front of the house

All three measurements should have been the same; each was the long end of a rectangle measured at a different point, but there was a massive inconsistency, over half a metre.

We re-measured, and then measured again.  We shouted, we swore, and there may even have been a little throwing of tape measures and the like.

We were totally baffled.  If the shape was a rectangle then those three measurements should be the same.

Eventually the penny dropped.  The house shape is not rectangular, it’s trapezoid.

The front and back walls are (vaguely – let’s not go there right now shall we?) parallel, whilst the side walls extend out.  Essentially the front of the house is a little over half a meter longer than the back of the house.

No, once more, we have no idea why this should be so.

A handy trapezoid diagram
A handy trapezoid diagram

Anyway, our measurement #1 was ‘a’ in the diagram, #2 ‘m’ across the middle of the space and #3 across the front of the house ‘b’.

With hindsight it might be clear how we got to hurling insults before we figured out what was going on.

Note the water tank in danger of collapsing

Note the 1000 litre water tank in danger of collapsing through the bathroom ceiling

Incidentally, a little research for a handy diagram of a trapezoid finds that it’s not a term used in North America.  Who knew?  For any American or Canadian readers the shape in question is an irregular quadrilateral!

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Not a square wall in the house

October 27, 2009

This new (to us) house is somewhere in the region of 200 years old.  Despite our best efforts it hasn’t been possible to get a better indication of exactly how old, nor be sure of the original layout.  We know it has been added to several times and, best estimates suggest, it is at least quadrupled in size.  That said, since the original building was probably only two rooms it’s hardly huge.  All told it is currently about 125m², about 1350 ft².

When we first viewed the house it was clear that there were few, if any, square corners.  “No matter” said we, “It’s an old house, if we’d wanted regular walls and corners then we’d have bought a new house.”  It wasn’t until the builder started to lay the new floor tiles that it became clear just how far off square some of the walls were.

Internal doorway from the dining room to the kitchen

Internal doorway from the dining room to the kitchen

That led to some re-planning of the little utility room.  The space had been measured at a little under 2 metres therefore there should be no problem fitting a 60cm wide fridge freezer, a 60cm wide washing machine and a 60cm wide cupboard.  Logic, and a little simple maths, suggested there’d be a good 20cm spare space and therefore plenty of room to open the door to the downstairs cloakroom at the end of the room.

Once the room had been tiled though it became clear that the walls were shockingly off true.  Which wouldn’t be a problem but for those planned white goods and units.  Concerned that we would try and install them and have a problem Mandy spent one Sunday morning making templates of the units out of brown paper and then taping them to the floor.

Our concerns were justified … yes, they’d fit but it would be at the expense of being able to open the door.  Far from ideal.  In the end, and after much deliberation, we sacrificed the tall larder cupboard and made do with a unit two thirds the width.  Even so the door only just opens.

As we used square tiles, of assorted sizes, throughout the house it is now possible to see just how off-square some of the walls are.  Our trusty builder, Kieran, didn’t curse us too much … at least not in our hearing :-)

Inside the upstairs door

Inside the upstairs door

Inside the shower room

Inside the shower room