Kitchen update – phase 3 – day 3

Paul arrived on time and got to work cementing the remainder of the tiles down. I was pleased with the way he had laid the tiles yesterday, and the the pattern he’d set out ensured the tiles looked good from any part of the kitchen. With a couple of spare tiles he then added a shelf to the window sill, which originally we were going to leave just painted but decided that it would probably get knocked so decided to add the tiles instead.

After a lunch break Paul then began the arduous task of grouting the floor, something I was glad not to be doing. I suppose doing a large area is not a problem for a professional but I would have got bored after half an hour and rushed to the finish.

Paul filled the gaps between the units and threshold with mastic rather than cement to allow for movement, which really finished off the tiles.

And so he was done…

And the kitchen was done (apart from the splash back and plinths)…

And it looks stunning…

At the weekend Tina and I will complete the job by painting the walls and skirting boards.

We are all extremely pleased with the kitchen; we have suffered a fair bit of disruption, with many takeaways getting us through. The dog has also endured lots of confusion too; his water bowl has been moved so many times I’m surprised he’s not paranoid. But generally he has been very good; making the decision to take time off to keep him out of the way of the workmen was the right thing to do even though towards the end of the ten days I was starting to go stir crazy. I never thought I’d say I was happy to go back to work bu

I hope the blog has been a good read, it certainly helped me get through the period by writing down the experience.

Kitchen update – phase 2 – day 4

Pete and Adam turned up on time and to Pete’s credit he asked us if we had any questions. We raised the issue of the electrics and he confirmed that with the cooker and hob both fully loaded it could cause a problem (the way to calculate the true power consumption is a method called diversity in the electrical world). Therefore in theory tripping should be a rarity but is worth putting up with rather than having the high cost of running new cables from the fuse board. I guess we’ll have to see how we go with that one.

Tina also raised the issue of the wrong cupboard and said she would like it fitted on Saturday but happily Pete confirmed he would be back tomorrow to finish off. That pleased her.

The guys cracked on with completing the kitchen, building the fridge surround, wall units and and installing and plumbing in the sink unit. They also installed the built-in appliances; the washing machine and dishwasher.

The temperature outside was steadily rising to a point where it was making working indoors unbearable and so I suggested I switch on an electric fan to try to help cool the guys down. They appreciated the offer and it helped them get through the sticky afternoon.

Finally they wired up the cooker and microwave oven and then called it a day, after another productive visit.

Hopefully if the cupboard and door arrives early tomorrow morning they will return to install the bits and then phase 2 will be complete. Saturday sees the plasterer make good the walls with the following three days taken up with tiling the floor.

I passed on the EURO12 semi final game between Italy and Germany in order to help Tina refill her new kitchen and we were both pleased that we managed to get everything into the cupboards with some spare shelves too.

Kitchen update – phase 2 – day 3

Pete arrived this morning with the good news that he should be able to get a bespoke splashback made to fit the cooker hood curve. Last night Tina had designed her alternative splashback using tiles, which would have been a compromise and not what we both really wanted. Good start to the day then.

Pete said the main aim for the morning was to finish off the main part of the kitchen, which included fitting the induction hob, the cooker hood and adding all the top and bottom pelmets and adjusting all the cupboard doors to fit. They also added the breakfast bar and end panels.

I meanwhile took Rio out for a long walk to try to tire him out, which seemed to do the trick for a short while. Unfortunately the peace and quiet didn’t last long and he had to be bribed with a bone to stop him from barking. It does seem that Rio also suffers from separation issue as when he is left alone whilst I speak to the fitters, he gets upset and barks. I think he’s just nosey and wants to be involved in all that’s going on.

I continued to supply Pete and Adam with copious cups of coffee, which seemed to go down well (I think keeping your builders sweet in this way must help to ensure they are happy in the work). Every so often they disappeared back to their van for a quick smoke break, which gave me the opportunity to have a look at progress and take some photos. I’m not sure what the thought of the client being on site, it must be a bit awkward at times.

At midday the water was turned off and the remaining old kitchen unit was removed, allowing them to get started on the other side of the room. Luckily I had taken a couple of pans worth of water to top up the kettle. By three o clock the water was back on. The other side was pretty much finished, with the ends of the worktops sealed with edging strip.

Then Pete raised the first major problem of the install. It seems when Magnet originally measured the walls they must have got something wrong as one of the wall cupboards ordered was too big to fit in the gap. This meant that the larger cupboard would have to be swapped out with a smaller version. The other impact of the mistake was that there would no longer be a gap for the towel rails, which would have used up the space between the fr fridge and washing machine. Oh well, Pete did warn us that it is rare that a kitchen is installed without one or two issues. Pete rang Magnet office who confirmed they could get a replacement unit delivered on Friday along with the replacement door for the one that was damaged. Pete then said he was booked on another job on Friday so perhaps could come over Saturday morning, although he didn’t seem too keen as the plasterer, Gary would also be here.

Meanwhile Adam had wired up the induction hob and showed me that it worked OK, although we didn’t actually put a pan on it. They then called it a day and left shortly after 4pm.

It wasn’t until I discussed the days events with Tina and the issue around the wrong cupboard that Tina stated that we should insist that Pete comes back and fit it and the door on Saturday. One for tomorrow I guess.

Alarm bells also started to ring yesterday when I was chatting to the electrician about the fact that an additional feed had not been installed for the induction hob, just the breaker value increased. I was concerned that the power consumption of the cooker and induction hob at full power, along with the microwave oven could trip the breaker. I checked the manufacturers ratings guide and confirmed that the hob and induction really should be supplied on a separate feed as the total power consumption exceeds the 40A rated breaker (for the technical readers the total current draw from the three appliances could be 57 Amps). In theory if Tina was using all four hob positions plus both ovens (quite easily done when cooking a Sunday lunch or Xmas dinner) then the limit of the breaker would be exceeded. The electrician did confirm that the breaker was sufficient to protect the cabling but it won’t be great if the oven/hob keeps tripping out regularly. In order to get a new feed from the consumer unit the bedroom carpet would need lifting, which I guess is why it wasn’t done in the first place? Another conversation with Pete in the morning to highlight my concerns.

So the end of phase 2 is getting closer (with a couple of outstanding issues to resolve), but hopefully tomorrow we should have a fully functional kitchen, albeit without floor tiles or plastered walls. Then on to phase 3 (walls plastered and floors tiled) which once complete will mean we can paint the walls and fit the lighting, install the TV and add the furniture, with only the splashback outstanding.

Kitchen update – phase 2…day 2

Yesterday afternoon, Paul the tiler came to check the flooring and confirmed that it should be OK to lay the tiles but there is a bit of prep work needed before Monday so he will be arriving at 8.30am on Sunday morning for an hour to level and make good. That’ll please the family!

By the way, what is it with the names of the tradesmen we’ve employed? – Pete the fitter, Perry the electrician and Paul the tiler – I expect we’ll Phil see the plumber sometime!

Today, the guys started installing the base units, which Rio thought was a great idea as there was loads of packaging for him to play with. You could see one of the fitters was getting a bit annoyed with him so I decided to take Rio for a walk to wear him out. Whilst out, I got a text from Tina saying that she’d overheard Pete say that there was a problem with the oven tower. It seemed that Pete thought that we were having a double oven (which we’re not) and so the holes didn’t match up to one. Fortunately they did for the oven and microwave we’re having. When I returned all seemed fine and nothing was said to us. I said to Tina about the electrics as I didn’t think they’d put a point in for the microwave but decided not to say anything as it was not me doing the job.

It has felt odd allowing the tradesmen to get on with their work without helping out; I’ve always done my own DIY and to have others do things which are quiet easily in my capabilities was a bit strange, and frustrating in some ways. Still I vowed not to get involved in this work and have left them to it.

It has been tough living out of the conservatory; the area is like a gypsy camp and a messy one at that. We have kept back a few plates, mugs and the cutlery so at least we can prepare some food without having to live totally on takeaways. Luckily Tuesday is gluten-free day at the local chippy so there was no cooking today.

We kept some of the breakfast cereals on the side rather in a cupboard as it meant we could quite easily reach them. Unfortunately Rio spotted them too and I found him with his snout and head firmly inside a box of Coco Pops, munching away on the chocolate goodies. Suffice to say all the cereals are now on top of the microwave out of his reach.

The floor units seemed to go in really quickly, by lunchtime most of the long wall ones were in, with the wall units following shortly afterwards. The fitter said that the kitchen we had chosen, framed units, was more difficult to fit due to the limited tolerance to get everything flush. By mid-afternoon the work tops were being installed and the doors to the cupboards added. It was all starting to come together.

We had a visit from the gypsy community, spotting the old oven, cooker hood and a skip on the drive, or was it the state of the conservatory? Anyway those guys don’t miss a trick and soon they had the oven and hood loaded onto their van, although they did ask first and it saved me a job getting rid of them as the electrical goods shouldn’t really be skipped anyway.

Rio became restless about this time so a quick run around up the green soon wore him out and he came back for a afternoon nap, giving me and the fitters a rest from his constant attention. To be fair he had been pretty good today considering the disruption and whilst he was keen to see what was going on, keeping him on the lead at times seemed to do the trick.

The guys finished off adding the handles and installing the oven and then pointed out a problem with one of the doors that must have been damaged in transit. Hopefully a replacement will be sorted by the end of the weekend. Also, it seems the splashback we wanted fitting below the cooker hood may have to be ordered in to match the curved shape of the hood so Pete was going to look online to find one. When I discussed the issue with Tina we agreed that having a tiled splashback may be an alternative option but we would need to discuss this with Pete in the morning. We had a look at the work completed today and noted a couple of snagging point which may need to be sorted before the end of the week, but we were both very pleased with the kitchen installed to that point.

Tomorrow the existing sink is to be removed so we will be without water for most of the day, but as no-one else will be here, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for me.

Kitchen update – phase 2 update

As confirmed the Magnet fitters arrived just before 8am, along with the electricians. Jeanette from the Peterborough Magnet Kitchens branch had rung on Saturday to confirm with us that the new kitchen units had arrived and said Pete, the fitter and his team would be on site early on Monday morning.

They got to work straight away, removing the old units and the floor tiles, which were also being replaced, not before having the obligatory cuppa to focus their minds to the job in hand. The electrician also confirmed where the new sockets were going, along with the built in appliances and cooker hood. All very exciting.

As the units were removed they revealed a number of ‘lost’ items including a metal ladle, a sieve and a number of brochures that had fallen down the back of the drawers. There was also a lot of crap that was left when the original kitchen was installed; it’s amazing what can be hidden from view when installing units.

Rio was pretty good with all that was going on, although he had to be kept outside in the conservatory and garden for most of the morning. Eventually he gave up barking, resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to be able to be nosey and see what was going on.

Outside the front was a gathering pile of rubbish, the contents of the kitchen being stacked neatly on the lawn ready to be loaded in the Hippo Bag, the alternative solution to hiring a skip and which was included in the cost of the kitchen. Inside the house was  gathering layer of dust, the residue from the lifting of the kitchen tiles. Despite the fact that the kitchen door to the conservatory was closed, the layer of dust got everywhere and soon everything was covered. The guys worked for most of the morning, continuing to make a mess, which unfortunately was a necessary evil when carrying out a complete makeover. It’s funny how the TV shows that you see don’t show the utter mess that is created when carrying out major building works. Still by Friday, hopefully the majority of the works will be complete.

Just before Pete went he said he that the floor was in a poor state and suggest that a layer of latex be put down before the tiles were installed. Judging by the trouble we had lifting the old tiles last year and how uneven the concrete was then, I agreed.

They loaded a few bits in the Hippo bag then Nick next door agreed that they could put some of the old kitchen in the spare space in his skip, which he had been slowly been filling with his rubbish over past the week. Pete was pleased at this offer as he said the Hippo bags were never big enough to remove all the debris from a kitchen.

At lunchtime we were left alone, the fitters having to go off and sort out a problem with another customers new kitchen; I hope that’s not a sign of things to come!

Kitchen update – phase 2 begins

So far so good…

The delivery lorry arrived at 7.30 am, earlier than they had indicated on the call to Tina yesterday but as I was up and prepared, this was no problem. The delivery guys went through the process of how they were going to unload the kitchen and we agreed where the various boxes should be stored. The builder installing the kitchen had already suggested that all the floor units should be placed in the dining area and the rest put in the garage. This would help  with the install, which starts on Monday.

And so the unloading began.

I meanwhile, tried to keep Rio out of their way as he thought it was great to have someone visit the house to see HIM so early.

I watched the first carcass being carried up the path and suddenly there was an almighty crash as the other delivery guy dropped the box in the front door way. After swearing, he picked it back, gave it a bit of an inspection and declared it looks OK. Great start, I thought.

Over the next thirty minutes or so they continued to unload the units and soon the dining room and garage were full of our new kitchen, albeit in boxes. I then had to sign to say I had excepted delivery, but luckily I didn’t have to check each of the 190 items on the list only that the boxes were visible.

And then they were gone, leaving a very excited Tina itching to look at her new oven and hob (well the packaging anyway).

So in terms of doing what they said they would do, Magnet have delivered on that front, with no items missing or on backorder. That’s got to be a good sign.

On Monday the builders will be ripping out the old kitchen and starting to fit the new one. Hopefully, the installation will be as trouble-free as the delivery process was. I will keep a daily blog of their progress.

Kitchen Update – Phase 1 started

There was a knock at the door yesterday and within twenty minutes chaos descended on the house.

We had a phone call earlier in the week informing us that the builders who were going to knock down the wall between the kitchen and diner would be turning up at eight o clock, along with an electrician to carry out the wiring changes. We pre-warned the the kids of the early start and had a bit of a plan as to what to do with the dog to keep him out of the way of the works.

They arrived on the dot of eight.

We had cleared part of the kitchen the night before (and starting to remove some of the wall tiles), which meant the team could get straight off and they certainly did. Firstly Pete said the water would need to go off for around five hours so suggested we fill some  buckets and jugs during the dry period, which we did. This of course causes consternation with Abby as she was expecting to get up and have a shower and ended up with a cold wash. Then the electric went off, not before the obligatory cup of team was made for the team of four. Matt was a bit upset with the no power situation as he’d planned a study day at home, but with no electricity this proved difficult.

Tina, Rio and I retreated to the conservatory, grabbing some cereals for breakfast.

The builders soon got to work and within an hour the plasterboard wall was half down; it’s amazing how flimsy new build houses are. This work created a large amount of dust and soon the place was looking like the sahara desert, even with doors around the house closed. The removal of the wall allowed us to see for the first time how big the new room was going to be and it is certainly going to be big. The rest of the wall was soon removed and they were starting to make good the gap from the old wall.

The electrician started installing cables to the new lights and also fitted a socket in the wall where the TV was going to be fitted. I also got them to fit a box for the aerial cable which mean the wires would be hidden from view once completed.

Whilst all this was going on Rio was determined to be nosey and desperate to get to the builders but we managed to keep him out of the way, with the occasional barking just to let them know he was there.

I suggested to Tina that we treat the builders to some breakfast and Tina agreed to go down to the local tea house and get some bacon butties (it always pays to keep your builders sweet and from experience food and plenty of cups of tea does the trick).

By lunchtime the electrician had finished and by mid afternoon the others were clearing up leaving us with a very dusty house and  a pile of rubble outside. Tomorrow the plasterer will be arriving to finish off the walls and ceiling.

The closure of the door between the kitchen and hallway has caught us all out, I think it will take us a while to get used to it being blocked up. Incredibly the dog seems to have sussed it out straight away.

Time marches on…

Wow, what happened to March and April?

With only one blog entry since the end of February, it is clear the blog-a-day-in-february cleared me out of any inspiration or inclination to want to write anything new. But my life didn’t stop so what has happened in the past two months?

Family-wise it’s been fairly quiet with the only notable highlight being Matt starting his new job at Virgin Media. His first week saw him on an induction course in Dudley, where he met his fellow apprentices. The company put them up in a £140 per day hotel next to the main office and Matt thought he was in heaven. He seemed to enjoy the week and it set him up for a positive start in joining VM. The following Monday he had to report to the Northampton office and so we both went to work together, which was nice, although I think Matt was a bit embarrassed when we arrived as his other apprentice colleagues were waiting at the gate. He soon joined them rather than hang around with his dad. He’s now into his third week and says he’s still enjoying the job, which is pleasing.

Whilst mentioning work, I attended a management conference in Birmingham last month. The event was held for all field managers and was really well organised and I really enjoyed it. It was also the first public showing of the video I took part in February. The final cut was really well put together and everyone I spoke at the conference seemed to enjoy my performance :). It still hasn’t been released onto the company intranet, but when it does I’m expecting Hollywood to be knocking. In the meantime my equity card is in the post…not!

In other news, Tina and I have decided to update our kitchen, which is now looking a bit tired. I managed to persuade Tina that it would be a good idea to knock down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, creating a larger room and would allow for more cupboard space. We started looking around and saw a kitchen in Magnet’s that we both liked. Plans are now afoot to get things moving but me being the geeky person I am decided to try to do a bit of CAD planning myself using an iPad app called  ‘Home Design 3D‘. I was really impressed with how easy it was to create a room, add in the units and then view it in 3D. The results were pretty good and we now have a good idea on what we want when we go and visit the showroom at the weekend. Tina mentioned what I’d done to the Magnet designer and she said that there was always a job for a kitchen planner should I want to give up the day job.

One casualty of the new kitchen/diner is my piano. It won’t fit in the new room and there is nowhere else in the house it will fit so it was placed on eBay last night. I stuck it on for a low price and insisted it was ‘collection only’ as it would have taken a hell of a large amount of wrapping paper and packing tape to post it to the new owner. I won’t really be too sad to see it go as it was really one of those hobbies I really didn’t get into and got ridiculed from the family over my ‘ Les Dawson-esk’ playing.

Rio has been challenging over recent weeks, we think he’s going through his troublesome teenage years and so we’ve had to go back to basics with him, stopping him from going upstairs and jumping on our heads. We have had the last laugh this week though as he visited the vets for castration. He’s now a Ria rather than a Rio. It didn’t seem to make much difference last night though as once the anaesthetic had worn off he was back to his normal, playful self.

The only other thing I’ve been doing over recent months is joining the ‘Instagram‘ crowd by posting a few of my photos on the popular social photo site. I had used the site before the announcement of the Facebook takeover but not really uploaded too many pictures to it. Over recent weeks I’ve been regularly posting photos from my albums, using the app filters to change the pix to make them look more arty. I will upload a few here sometime.

So all-in-all a pretty busy few months has gone by in a shot. With the kitchen work due to start at the end of the month, along with a two week holiday, I think it’s going to fly by and it won’t be long before we’ll me talking about how the days are drawing in!