Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Yet more noise, dust and chaos

Living room (from kitchen area), before
Work on an old house is never done. If you’re not plugging holes or shoring up walls or rewiring or fixing pipes – the boring, nasty bits – then you always have the much more interesting option of rediscovering or recreating spaces. Because old houses almost always have long histories with several owners, each with their own way of envisioning how their living space should look and work.

Living room (from kitchen area), with wall removed
Over the 12 years I’ve lived in my 116-year-old house, I’ve created a verandah out of a living room; a bedroom, bathroom and study out of a garage; and a flow-through kitchen/living room out of a galley kitchen and entrance hall. But this last has never really worked – an entrance hall is never going to be a living room, no matter how much you suspend disbelief.

West side of ballroom-sized bedroom, before
The plotting and planning (and, importantly, saving) for this renovation took about a year, and included getting a professional in to examine the roof and walls to make sure the house wouldn’t fall down when we started knocking out bricks. He gave us the go-ahead to take out a major wall, but pointed to several sizeable cracks in the same area which were, he said, being caused by shifting in the foundations – which he advised us to leave well alone. So we decided a drywall, despite its drawbacks in terms of both aesthetics and soundproofing, was the way to go.

West side of bedroom, with wall removed
And so it began – taking down most of a long wall to steal space for the living room from an adjoining ballroom-sized spare bedroom. I’ve been living on a building site for about 10 days now - in fact, a quick calculation reveals that, of the 12 years I’ve been living here, I’ve spent a full year in this state of suspended animation: wiping dust out of cups before using them for tea, getting grit in my toothpaste, working for quick bursts in the short periods when the chaos subsides over workers’ tea and lunch breaks, piling furniture and knick-knacks up in corners, in other rooms and on the verandah, trying to find the kettle under piles of bedding, trailing electric leads from other rooms for light, and so on. (And, for some reason, a lot of this has happened during winter – which has also meant wrapping up warmly because of holes in exterior walls and/or constantly open doors.)

Drywall framework up (from existing living area)
Bedroom-side drywall panels in (same view)

Yesterday, my incomparable handyman, Lood Erasmus of Fluksnuts, cheered me up considerably when he showed me the industrial glue he was using to fix the drywall panels in place. It’s called Sticks Like Shit.

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