Deep in the Depths of Winter…
We had the unenviable task and expense of renovating the shop in the depths of Winter.
This involved replacing the window and door lintels which were so wet and rotten you could push your finger through them, as well as the windows and door which had eroded behind the boards which had covered them up for decades and the cause of the damp marching across the ceiling.
We had leaks from just about everywhere, I dreaded the rain as it was like living under the cover of a sieve. The only thing that didn’t leak in our house/shop were the legion of buckets catching all the rain water (inside).
We removed all of the wet plaster off the walls and stripped it right back to the bare brick. We re-pointed, insulated, re-boarded, re-plastered, re-decorated, rewired, re-plumbed it and installed heating. With the exception of the plastering my husband and I did all the work ourselves (luckily he is a fully qualified electrician). It was difficult as my husband works full time and we have a child with special needs. It was a big job!
Self Employment is Not Glamorous!
If anyone ever tells you that being self-employed is an easy glamorous businesses, please check for understanding as you probably misheard.
My Husband insisted that I put this suit on. It was necessary, he said. Hmmm. As you can see, looking like a picture of, well…, let’s just say not looking my best, I prepared to tackle the leaking Shop Window and not for the first time Brush and trowel in hand about to set to work, looking as though I’ve lost the will to live rather than enthusiastic.
Honestly? I wish ‘He’ were the one wearing this Suit he was enjoying it far too much if you ask me.
Room with a View
Ripping out, tearing down, moving walls, removing ceilings, plumbing, wiring and levelling the concrete floor and stripping the door and that was the smallest (although made bigger) room.
This door was the original front door to the property before it was a shop. It led directly into the hallway leading to the staircase which had been moved previously. We have still kept the original hallway tiles to retain the character and history of the building. It was boarded up from the outside and shelves ran down the length of the wall when it was a shop. This is what we found when we stripped it all out and removed the boarding. Horror!!
This was only surpassed by the state of the Windows, which were sash. It would have been good if we could have restored them but as you can see they were rotten through and through the only thing keeping them in situ was the outside boarding and the props which without doubt were helping to prop the ceiling up. Behind the boarding you could get not only your arm through the gap at the top of the window frame but your whole shoulder blade as well. This was when we discovered that the wooden lintels were shot too. I was wondering at this point how on earth none of this was picked up during the building survey we paid for.
From The Get Go
We started renovating this property from the ‘Get Go’ in 2008 when we purchased the Shop (just in the nick of time for the down turn in the economy and the Government’s decision to shut the majority of rural Post Offices) and before we knew that we had a child with special and additional needs.
We started with the leaking roof and worked our way down removing the rear Chimney stack which only served as an efficient water funnel to direct rain water down the inside of the gable wall and worked our way down. With the exception of the House Kitchen which is still to do, and the ceiling in the living room and replace the multi-fuel burner (which is condemned) and line the Chimney, nothing to do here!
My middle Son, whose bedroom was up in what was referred to as the loft conversion whom has a propensity for exaggeration complained that the draft in this bedroom parted his hair when he was asleep. It was probably only a small exaggeration to be fair.
Every square inch of the property was covered with woodchip wallpaper covered with decades of high gloss paint. The loft hatch used to lift up and move with the wind.
This picture is of the main shop. You can see the concrete replacement lintels and the need to repoint the internal bricks. It was the first time it had ever seen any insulation.
The picture below is where the rain water came down the Chimney and the pavement slabs that you can see the underside of letting the rain water through are situated in the fireplace recess in the living room above!
Just Paint it He Said …
I lost count of how many bags of cement we used re pointing mostly just loose rubble with the odd brick here and there after we removed the loose and wet plaster which was just falling off without too much persuasion.
My Mother said to me “Michelle, what on earth possessed you to want to buy this place, did you have rose coloured glasses on”? I went on to reply something like “It was all Steve’s idea, and I think his glasses must have been covered in tarmac”.
I feel that we have achieved something here against all the odds and so when we do leave this place and move on or life leaves us whichever comes first we leave behind a building fit to stand for over another 100 years or so…
It has been a huge challenge and commitment and not without receiving more than our fair share of backlash for us not being in a position to continue to run the Shop as a general store. We feel that when our offer for it to be a Community Shop was not utilised it was better to refurbish and for it to be used for something that I could combine with my priority of being a parent with a child with additional needs and combine them in the best way possible rather than leave it empty. A lady once said to me “When Life gives you Lemons, make Lemonade”.