Roof terrace

At this stage of the project it seems like a luxury to create a roof terrace, but a door leading out of the third bedroom leads to a terrace that goes over the garage, with a small wall surrounding it. We were waiting to get started on the central heating, and so most other things had come to a standstill until this was completed. We saw the potential in this and imagined sipping a G&T whilst watching the sun go down on the passing ships, up and down the Ouse- in this state it needed a fair bit of imagination to see all of this. The roof was unsafe as one entire side was rotten and felt very springy underfoot. We wanted a roof that was durable and could be walked on and generally used as an extension to our yet to be created garden. We decided on a rubber roof to ensure the area was totally waterproof. Rubber it Roofs of Chesterfield took the old roof covering off, and discovered this was the only part that was ruined- where water had held and eventually soaked through over many wet winters. The joist in this area was replaced.

The rubber roof was placed over new board, which sat on the existing roof boards- which were amazingly in tact.

The rubber roof surface was placed over this to make the roof completely water tight.

So the roof is now repaired and watertight. The rubber could actually be planted up with a layer of topsoil and would hold. While I like a green roof, I didn’t fancy lugging the lawnmower upstairs so we considered our options to make the roof suitable for heavy use, such as tables, chairs, plants, foot traffic. We opted for rubber roof tiles with a fake grass covering for better wear and to make this look much more garden-like. A huge pile of roof tiles arrived, a mild struggle to get them off the pallet truck and a couple of hundred trips up and down the stairs to get the tiles to the roof terrace in the making- I was definitely right about not wanting to carry the lawn mower up here.

The walls were patched up by Peter the Plasterer. Patches of render had fallen off over the years. Frankie and I then set about painting the walls to freshen them up a little. We wanted a mellow colour so went for Plymouth grey. Thankfully 2 coats were enough- painting very bumpy render is no fun. The gable end wall was painted to match- with the use of a brush taped to a long pole, and a bit of bravery from me- I’m not keen on heights.

These tiles have drainage gaps underneath so they don’t hold water, and need to be laid with the nap going in the right direction- once you have mastered the nap, they just peg together at each side. Cuts are fairly easy with a super sharp Stanley knife.

Once they were all in place, we decided on a bit of planting to stop this happening…

We also wanted to ensure next door’s garden wasn’t overlooked by our terrace. We bought a few bamboos- as a screen, but also because we needed something fairly flexible as it gets pretty windy up there at times. We also put grasses around the perimeter and a few chrysanthemums for colour, although these are sure to be blown over and next year I’ll probably got for something that can sway in the wind and give us a bit of colour at the same time.

The finished article-n we had about a day of summer left to enjoy this once it was finished…

The grasses will mature- or blow away! The marks on the tiles from storage will fade and this will be our look out post for many years.

A bath at last

The bathroom is finally installed and we are feeling much fresher. As floorboards went in, we realised that the floor is on a slope- it’s a downhill run to the bath. The joy of old houses. We had a cardboard cut out that was bath sized, to make sure we positioned the bath in the right place- there’s not much chance of manoeuvring a cast iron bath in here. The bath is another ebay find- luckily number one son was over for a visit on the weekend we needed to collect, so it arrived and taken upstairs without me getting involved. I was pretty busy laughing at the bottom of the stairs when Craig became wedged between the bath and the wall, halfway up the stairs. Sorry.

Here are a few before and during pics…

The sink is a Victorian one that was in the bedroom of the last house we lived in- we took it out when we moved in to make the bedroom less bathroomish- and stored it in the garage for 20 years, convinced it would come in for something one day. It was one of those things that was too lovely to throw away, and I’m pretty glad we didn’t- it’s perfect for this bathroom. Craig restored the seized taps. I bought a pair of brass bottle taps for the bath, that matched the sink taps pretty well. The sink had yellowy age spots that looked like they’d never come off- but a quick blast with soda crystals and it was revived. We ordered a couple of brackets to hold it onto the wall and we were ready to install all.

A quick battle with the bath from it’s resting place on the landing, through a couple of doorways and round a couple of corners into the bathroom, Craig got revenge for the wedged on the stairs incident by leaving me with the bath propped upon its end for a while.

Once we got the bath in place there came the realisation that the sloping floor played havoc with the four claw feet on the bath- we tried moving the feet around but not surprisingly this did nothing at all to make it look level. We finally gave in and put a small wooden wedge under one of the feet at the back of the bath. There’s still a slight downhill on the water level when you’re actually in the bath to remind you that old houses are not at all straightforward or straight.

There’s still a shower and a toilet to go in, but don’t worry, we have a toilet in the room next door- it’s not a bucket situation. We’re as happy as can be with our new bathroom- even happier to be able to get clean after working on the house- it’s grubby work.

The kitchen

The kitchen floor was pretty messy. It had been covered in Lino for a good part of the last half century and the glue that gripped this was well and truly stuck. I tried most things to remove this:

  • Heatgun- effective to a point- this took the majority of the glue off as it softened it and I scraped it off- it stuck to the scraper and had to be scraped off- making it a time consuming job.
  • Chemical glue remover- waste of time and money- this did very little for me and my sticky problem
  • Peanut butter- this breaks down the enzymes in the glue causing the bond with the floor to loosen. This was genius- I bought several jars of very cheap stuff and still have some in the pantry (unopened of course). The only issue with this is that my dogs love peanut butter so as I spread it on the floor, they thought me really generous with the treats and licked it off faster than I could put it on.

Dogs removed, more peanut butter and a lot of scraping, and a week later my floor was ready to sand. My first ever go at using an industrial belt sander and circular edging sander. I highly recommend ear protectors and gel gloves for the edging sander. I didn’t want to strip all the character out of the floor- the history of the house is really important to us (honestly it’s not an excuse to do less work) so I left some markings on the floor- especially around the doors where many many farmers’ boots had trodden over the last couple of hundred years. Anyway- that was the least fun way to spend a bank holiday weekend, but we were pretty pleased with the floor- which instantly brightened the room.

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I used a couple of coats of Fiddes hard wax oil to protect the floor. This paints on and dries in about 4-6 hours. I left the first coat overnight and worked my way out of the room on the second coat and went to Sheffield to visit my daughter while the second coat dried. It looks great- but not overdone.

After looking at the cost of a new kitchen and comparing this with our meagre budget for the whole house, we decided that we really, really wanted a free standing kitchen. I bought two old oak cupboards from Ian at Flipping Furniture in Selby, and an oak worktop online- I wanted planked oak to run the full length of the worktop and opted for rustic oak to keep the price down- it’s really not as rustic as you’d think.

I sourced a gorgeous Belfast sink with drainer from EBay and a stainless steel table that came out of a pizza restaurant’s kitchen- by now I had spent £350 on the kitchen- we had a free standing oven- a factory second- a tiny scuff on the stainless steel had made this imperfect AEG stainless double oven and induction hob half price- I love a bargain and was pretty sure I could have scuffed a new one to look like this within a day anyway. Shockingly we paid full price and added a slimline Kenwood dishwasher to the kitchen- I’d never had a kitchen big enough for a dishwasher before so pushed the boat out- a decision I do not regret- if you don’t have a dishwasher, get one- it saves time, and saves messy dishes cluttering up your kitchen, as well as being way more sociable after a meal where everyone can load their own dishes in and get on with life. I bought a very cool stainless pre owned  fridge freezer from eBay for less than £100 and we were done. So, with appliances, new (to me) items, and a table, dresser and sideboard we already had, as well as floor sanding and waxing (Fiddes wax oil isn’t the cheapest but you have to spend a little on some things- I really don’t want to do this job too often) I reckon we had spent around £1500 on the entire kitchen.

We had by now decided on a solid fuel Rayburn to do our central heating- this took weeks of going round in circles. We wanted to avoid oil because of the environmental impact of using a fuel that isn’t sustainable, but mainly because the price of oil fluctuates so much and we have been over a barrel with this before. We looked at what seemed like every solid fuel Rayburn and Esse for sale in the entire country. We were torn between a new and pre owned article- new we could guarantee would work well, but could not really afford. Whereas pre owned we really had no idea whether it would work or not but we could afford. In the end I think we got so fed up of looking that we bought the next one that came along. I only had one stipulation for the colour- it must not be greeen, I don’t like green Rayburns. In the end we got so fed up of looking we bought the next one that came along- and it happened to be green. I rekindled my love of green Rayburns, painted the walls with Dulux putting green in readiness for our new arrival and we got a great fella, Jack, to pick it up from South Wales and deliver it to us in East Riding of Yorkshire.

The finishing touches went in and we’re pretty pleased with our cosy kitchen- which will be even cosier whe we have heating- please let the Rayburn be fully functional!

Before

The bathroom was our first project- in hindsight this was a terrible idea. As we peeled away layers of wallpaper, carpet, Lino, chipboard, Lino, carpet, wallpaper- you get the idea… and uncovered completely rotten but original floorboards, we started to regret this being the first room we tackled. Our budget is small, therefore we will be doing as much as possible ourselves, including having a go at plumbing. All’s well that ends well.

We had a chat with the conservation officer who gave us permission to put a bathroom in, for our own safety, sanity and cleanliness, replacing the floorboards needed to be like for like. We sourced and ordered 9inch boards, picked ourselves up off the floor after discovering the financial implications of sourcing original materials, and waited…

We waited a bit longer- got bored and decided to start the kitchen while we waited for the floorboards to arrive. The kitchen by now had a huge hole in the roof where the bathroom floor should be. In hindsight, this was the second terrible idea that we had so far. We took out the existing kitchen, sold it bit by bit on Facebook marketplace- the Craigslist of the UK. People came round and took it away bit by bit, I hoarded the cash away to pay for floorboards- we were still waiting…

Now we had no kitchen and no bathroom all at once. Running water in the utility room and a single induction hob were our cooking and washing facilities.

Ross Farm

I decided to mark the long journey that moving from North Wales to the East Riding of Yorkshire turned out to be, by starting my blog. A year ago this week we finally got an offer on our 300+ year old cottage in rural North Wales and got our offer accepted on a gorgeous, if a little under the weather, Georgian farmhouse. We moved in and started work some seven months later… relieved that the house buying and selling nightmare was finally over.