Saturday, December 3, 2011

Big Update

Ok... it's been a long time again, I know. Plastering is more or less finished (except for the finish coat of clay in the hall which we'll be doing ourselves rather than hiring it out because we don't really trust our mason/plasterer to make it look the way we want. Basically the base coat is fairly rough and uneven and we want to keep that bumpy look, just applying a very thin final layer to smooth out the walls without making them flat and even.

Two new windows are in. Unfortunately I'm less than impressed - we hired a Czech carpenter who didn't speak more than three words of German (basically hello, good bye and problem) with the help of a local interpreter. We showed him EXACTLY what we wanted, hardware, casement profiles, hinges,... only to have him mess up everything. Had we ordered wooden double glazed units for a modern home they'd be fine - but as we asked for exact replicas of old windows they're flat-out garbage. My parents didn't have the time to start fighting though, and they are paying for the renovation... but I'm still VERY annoyed. At least we now have decent windows everywhere (even though the bathroom window might have to be replaced at some point, but I spent a considerable amount of time fixing any rot and repainting it, so it should be good for a few more years at least).

The whole experience really got me wishing to learn some decent carpentry and build my own doors and windows. I guess the first thing to do is getting LOTS of practice doing mortise and tenon joints with basic tools (saw, chisel and drill).

The last thing I did was whitewashing the back bedroom and hallway, but both will need at least one more coat.

Two weeks ago, the plumber ran all the copper plumbing for the new central heating system (the first the house ever had!) and installed the radiators. BIG progress! The pipes are run between the concrete slab and the finished floor, so we couldn't do anything before that was done.

There are still a few big tasks though. The most daunting one seems to be waterproofing the floor slab and bottom part of the walls. The damp-proof course doesn't exactly run at the same height throughout the house. In some (most) spots it's below the finished floor level, in some up to 4" above though. In those spots we need to cut off the membrane that sticks out of the wall, waterproof the section of wall below as well as the floor and patch the plaster (currently, all walls are only plastered down to the damp-proof course).

Then of course we need to get insulation and flooring down. We want to do wood floors in most rooms, tile in the bathroom and stone in the front hall. I did devise a few tile schemes, but we're still discussing them in the family... the original idea was salvaged tile, white squares for the walls and white octogons with square blue inlays on the floor. However, that setup would BEG for a clawfoot tub and my mom doesn't want one - she wants a decent shower, and certainly no curtains. That means modern tub with folding shower wall. The second scheme I devised was more 1930s/50s with light blue or turquoise wall tiles, black trim around the top and bottom and a mosaic floor. This has the advantage of being possible using plain 4" square tiles that are fairly affordable. Another floor option was black and white checkerboard as my dad was afraid mosaic would be difficult to install. Then there's a third option, white wall tile with a dark blue profiled border around the top and a black (or blue) and white floor. Again, this can be done using standard tiles, in this case even big box store tiles. We're all much too busy with work/school/university, so no decisions have been made.

I'd love to get the heat running this year, but unfortunately I don't think that is going to happen. We don't have a boiler yet, and I don't really want to get the boiler installed before we got done with all the dusty work, including floor sanding. Otherwise we'd have to get the boiler cleaned every few months or even weeks.