House renovation

Oh My God. Whit’s happenin’ tae oor hoose?

Well, it’s having a bit of a face lift, so I’ve been busy over the past 3 or 4 days, having to move precious plants and such. Luckily it’s the best time of the year to do that and they should survive with no problems.

Our house was built in 1903 and although the front of it is a traditional Scottish double-fronted bay-windowed design (rooms either side of the front door), the back of it is a bit more unusual, with the kitchen sticking out in the centre, with the dining-room window and study window on either side. I think about 1/2 an inch of the stone surface has worn away in the last 107 years, which is fine as the stone blocks are more than 18 inches deep.We needed to have the old mortar scraped out from between the stonework because over the years the stone wears down with the weather and the mortar ends up sticking slightly above the stone. This means that water can get down behind the blocks of stone and cause dampness and if the stone gets very wet and then it freezes then the stones can split and crumble, which is very expensive to rectify.

As with all work like this, the worst thing is the preparation and it has taken our builder days of hammering to remove the old mortar and he is also removing the chimney from what was the old scullery/wash house and is now our kitchen, because they often get damp when they aren’t being used.

The main chimneys are also in need of re-pointing and the cement seal between the slates and the edges of the roof are also being sorted out. We’ve been meaning to get around to that since we moved here over 20 years ago but good and experienced workmen aren’t easy to come by.

Although the upstairs has been built into the roof and eaves, it isn’t an extension, this is a traditional Scottish design and I suppose in England it would be described as being a cottage, but downstairs the ceilings are very high and have ornate cornicing and ceiling roses, which cottages don’t have.

So, as you can see, it’s all going on here and I’m being kept busy boiling the kettle for cups of tea and distributing the chocolate biscuits. You’ve got to treat your builders well!

My husband has taken advantage of the scaffolding to reach the upstairs windows to paint them. I hate all of the windows in this house because the previous owners removed the lovely original Victorian sash windows and replaced them with horrible double-glazing. To me, old houses with new windows always look like they’ve had their eyes poked out, but it would cost at least £30,000 to have sash windows again so we won’t be doing that.

At the moment I’m just really happy to be getting all this necessary work done before the winter sets in, but I’ll be ecstatic when the builders pack up and we can have the place to ourselves again. Stand by for more photographs next week!

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