It’s now four years since I bought this house.
It had been built rather badly by a company called Back Street Developments about ten years ago and there seemed to be no NHBRC registration for it. In the intervening years the previous owners had put tenants in, and they had done there best to wreck it. The owner obviously skimped on maintenance, but then all these facts were reflected in the price I paid.
Some time ago, I started to get the house straight. Finding a builder has been a nightmare!
The first builder walked away from the job after personality clashes between the owner and his work-force, leaving me without a bathroom.
I’ve got one coming in fom outside London, things seem a bit better.
An illustration of the problem is that people locally are always asking, if I know a good builder. I also want to sort my dreadful kitchen. I have asked several companies to look at it and not one has ever made a fixed appointment or even turned up.
I suspect that kitchen companies would prefer to fit out some multi-millionaire’s house in Mayfair, rather than my small kitchen.
I do wonder how many properties are not lived in, as the owners are waiting for a builder to sort it out. And how many people are put off downsizing, as theycan’t be bothered to go through all the hassle of finding a builder.
So if we sorted out the refurbishment of small and medium sized properties, would we release more properties for occupation?
The first thing we should do is to seriously analyse the homes market and identify why properties are empty or under-occupied!
Any soutions we propose should of course be nationwide, as I don’t believe this is just a London problem.
I saw this tap in John Lewis today.
I’m going to have one in my kitchen. It’s a Franke Belfast.
The BBC article says this.
He said there were simple measures anyone could take – whether living in a well-insulated home or not – to keep heat levels down, such as keeping windows closed during the day to trap cool air and opening them at night.
Fitting shutters to windows and painting exterior walls white – both common sights in Mediterranean countries – would also help, but were unlikely to be widely adopted in the UK due to the relative rarity of heatwaves.
Couple this advice with the actions of a friend, who lives in her house with a flat roof and gets it painted silver every few years.
My roof, is virtually matt black and is therefore a wonderful heat absorber, which it then just radiates into the house.
I will be doing two things.
In the first place, I’ll be getting the roof fixed and then painted in a reflective colour.
But the most radical thing I’ve going to do is put up a sunshade over all of the flat roofs. One roof is probably about 4 x 7 metres and the other is about 4 x 5 metres.
They will of course help to pay for their own installation, as they will be solar panels.
As the roof is flat and they will be invisible to everybody except the police helicopter or the Air Ambulance, I don’t think anyone has any grounds to object.
If the roof is making me ill, it should at least help to solve the problem.
A couple of days ago, I decided to fit a new lock on my bedroom door, as when I bought the house the keys were non-existent. It was then I noticed that the escutcheon was on the inside of the door.
Hence the title of this post!
Jerry wasn’t the best roofer, as these pictures show.
He also seems to have created a roof to absorb heat into my house, which probably explains why it gets so hot.
The man was an idiot.
I’ve finally got a new front door, replacing the rotting one, that Jery had used.
A new door needed a new lock, so I went to the excellent Franchi on the Holloway Road and bought a Banham.
The lock did cost me £230, but then it does have a few advantages other than the strength and security it offers.
The biggest one is that to be secure, I now need only one normal-sized key.
When I go out, I just pull the handle to open the door and close it behind me to securely activate the lock.
It also means that I don’t have to find the key to let visitors in or open the door to such as postmen and couriers. When a visitor leaves they just open the door and shut it behind them.
So hopefully life will be easier and I won’t be constantly going up and down the stairs. It should be said that for most of the year, I have an upstairs window open and I just put my head out to check who’s there!
These Banham locks must be one of the classic British designs. And the company is still owned by the original family.
I saw the rat scamper across the kitchen and luckily I had a camera handy, as he went down the stairs.
He didn’t seem too unfriendly, but I wish he’d stop eating my bananas.
It is always said, that in London you’re never far away from a rat. This article on the BBC asks if we’re never more than six feet away from a rat.
Six feet is a large distance compared to the close encounter, I’ve just had during my bath.
My bathroom isn’t completed yet, despite being started nearly two years ago. The bath works, but the toilet hasn’t been fitted yet and there is just a hole into the drains.
As I sat up in the bath, something brown and moving caught my eye on the floor.
It wasn’t a very large example, but I know a rat when I see one. In fact, it looked pretty healthy compared to some that my cats brought in, whilst I was living in Suffolk.
But it was probably less than a metre away from my eyes.
I was just on the point of thinking I should get out of my bath, so I pulled the plug and my only slightly dirty bathwater went down the drain, hopefully showing the rat where to go.
I suspect I should turn myself into the RSPCA, as I’ve probably been guilty of inflicting pain and suffering on an animal.
At least if he or she does come back, they”ll have had a good bath in reasonably warm water!
When I bought the house that I live in, I checked all the maps and it looked as far as I could tell it was unlikely to flood.
But then C and myself lived in six places and we were never flooded once. Admittedly, three properties were flats on the third, fifth and eleventh floors of well-built blocks.
My father had always said buy a house on top of the hill, so you don’t get flooded! I think he may have had trouble once, as he lived in a house in River Avenue in Palmers Green.
To make this current house even safer, I live on the first floor above the garage and the downstairs bedrooms and bathroom.
The roof does leak slightly though, but I think I’m more likely to be killed by a falling aircraft in my bed than be drowned.
But some of the flooded houses I’ve seen on the news, were in such a position, that even Noah wouldn’t have looked at them!
If you want to read some sense on the floods read Charles Clover in The Sunday Times today.
He misses out one thing that would improve matters and that is build more flats! As you can’t predict weather like we’ve been having lately and it’ll probably get worse in the next twenty years, if the geography of a site could possibly lead to flooding, then build accordingly.
My house has a theme of dark black-brown steel beams fitted together with brass fittings.
When I bought the house, it still had Jerry’s gold-painted steel bolts, which I have replaced with real brass ones. Even if some might be just be real bolts glued into Jerry’s crude holes.
So when I bought some of IKEA’s Expedit boxes, which are just the right colour for the beams, I was disappointed that they only come with natural aluminium knobs.
So it was off to Birmingham by train to visit Honeyglen Anodising in Sparkbrook to see what they could do. I’ve now got the trial batch and here’s one in place.
I’ve now got to get all the others together and send them off to Birmingham. I am getting them in a pretty standard brass colour, but there are more details here of the colours available.