(The theme, unfortunately, being “Bloody HELL, the previous owners did a cruddy job on this house.”)
Question: You have a wooden floor with a hole in. What do you use to fix it?
If you are currently thinking “Is that a trick question? Obviously you’d use wood – what else would you use, for goodness’ sake?” then you aren’t the people we bought the house from. Which is nice, because it means a) you’re probably sane, and b) I don’t have to stick pins in your effigy.
Let me backtrack. Having finally (hallelujiah) bought this house, we have some leeway about getting it in order, because the contract on the rented house we’re currently living in lasts until December 28th. Which is very convenient, given the amount of stuff that needed doing. However, we don’t particularly want to stay in the rented house for all that long – it’s quite small, lots of our stuff is in storage, and there isn’t enough room to have all the immediate relatives to stay for Jamie’s upcoming birthday, which would cause some disappointment. So, we’ve set our moving date for November 8th (ulp) which will give us time to be at least somewhat settled in time for Jamie to have a birthday party. Hence, my husband has been working rather hard to get things sorted out before then.
One of the things we wanted to get sorted was the carpets. The main bedroom has (well, had until Tuesday) one of those inlaid wooden floors that looks rather attractive but doesn’t really give the place the nice cosy feel that we want for our bedroom, particularly with the baby crawling around. So changing that was high on our list of things to do. When the previous owners moved out and the living room was cleared, we discovered that the carpet in there was rucked up and could do with changing as well, and given the obvious advantages in doing this while the house was still empty and there was no furniture to be moved out of the way, we decided we might as well go ahead and do that too. And, in for a penny, in for getting on for a couple of thousand – we also decided to change the dining room carpet, which was a somewhat icky colour and had seen better days.
We also wanted to buy a super-duper large new bed and get that delivered prior to the move, along with some new bedroom wardrobes, since there weren’t any fitted cupboards. This meant that the timing of things started getting somewhat important, since clearly there would be certain flaws in a plan to have the carpet put down after the bedroom furniture was in place. So, we booked the carpet fitters for Wednesday so that the furniture could be delivered later in the week. As you may or may not know, removal of previous floor covering is not included in carpet fitting services, so we (meaning Barry) had to get that done before Wednesday – a procedure that involves leaving a border of nails sticking out of the floor, and is therefore incompatible with caring for an eleven-month-old child. So this was going to have to be on a day when I was home to take care of Jamie. On the weekend, we had a non-negotiable appointment to visit my mother for a major lunch in honour of my cousin, who was visiting from South Africa. The fairly inexorable conclusion from all this was that the one and only day Barry could rip up the existing carpets and wooden flooring was Tuesday. No leeway, no wiggle room – the job had to be done that day, and be completed before day’s end.
Which was perfectly doable. Ripping up that amount of carpet and flooring in a day is not the kind of pleasant, relaxing experience that’s ever going to make it onto the Red Letter Days list, but it’s manageable. Barry set off confidently expecting to have completed that and a couple of other small technicalities involving phone lines by the end of the day and still make it home in time to cook supper at a reasonable hour.
All was proceeding on schedule until he finished ripping up the bedroom underlay. And discovered that the previous owners had patched a hole in the floor with a piece of cheap drywall.
(I don’t know if the USA has that word. It’s the stuff you use for putting up partition-type walls. Walls, that is, as opposed to floors. You know – those bits of the room that don’t generally have people walking on them on a regular basis, and therefore do not have to display anything much in the way of strength or structural integrity.)
(OK, OK, before certain friends of mine comment on that last – most of the time they don’t, anyway. I know there are exceptions. But the whole Fanfic Filming Fiasco story is a different one for another day, and anyway I had nothing to do with it and didn’t even know Barry at the time and was miles away when it happened and you CAN’T PROVE OTHERWISE. So there.)
Cheap drywall, ladies and gentlemen. Not even good quality. One good stamp, and it was ex-drywall. Fortunately my husband has excellent reflexes, and was able to yank his foot out before it hit the downstairs ceiling.
So there we were, sixteen hours away from carpet delivery, with a hole in the floor.
Which entailed a mad rush to the local DIY store, hoping desperately all the way that they’d actually still be open when we got there, because we weren’t altogether sure what we’d do if they weren’t. The good news is, they were. The bad news is, their wood cutting service wasn’t. Barry’s saw is currently one of the many things packed away inaccessibly in the garage, since we hadn’t actually expected to have to saw anything in the time we spent in rented accommodation.
We charged round the aisles, buying wood and a saw and a drill, and headed back to the house. Barry cut the piece of wood to size and fitted it. Since this left him unavailable for vacuuming up rotted underlay from the floors, I got that job. Since the whole nails-sticking-out-of-the-floor thing was still an issue, the baby had to spend this time in a carrier on my back.
I cannot tell you how wonderful Jamie was. He was in that carrier for upwards of an hour while I did this, and he put up with it beautifully. He did try the Let’s Grab Mummy’s Hair game once, but after that he resigned himself to his fate and just uttered the occasional pitiful whimper. Or maybe that was my husband.
By the time we finished floor-related activities at the house, it was nearly nine o’clock and whatever it was Barry had been planning to do with phone lines (something technical, don’t ask me, I am so embarrassingly girly when it comes to that sort of stuff) had ended up on the already overcrowded to-do list for another day. And we still had to do the food shopping. So we did. As quickly as possible. Then we went home and Barry left me cooking the simplest dinner possible according to his explicit instructions while he had a desperately-needed shower. (My girliness unfortunately doesn’t include cooking skills. Bah. Worst of both worlds.) And, since the baby is unfortunately not of the variety that will go to sleep on his own in his cot when put down, he and I finally made it to bed around 1 a.m. What wondrous parents we are.
So that’s how we spent Tuesday evening. That, and speculating on what kind of mental illness leads one to believe that drywall makes a feasible patch in a floor.
On the plus side, we should be spending _next_ Tuesday evening in the house. Overwhelmed by unpacking, mind you, but at least we’ll be there. I may or may not have time to post before then. Given that we still have all our packing to do before then and it is now after 2 a.m. in the early hours of Saturday, I’m guessing that ‘not’ is the key word there. So, the half-dozen or so posts I keep meaning to make on various aspects of life, the universe, and everything, will just have to wait once more.