Restoration 101 – 3 – the state of the house.

I continue on our journey into our house with some more excerpts from emails I sent soon after we moved in…

Temporary windows – inserted by men – upside down!
Bracing to hold wall in place.
Prop for stabilisation – note the cracks in the concrete wall.

Over the next 3 weeks or so we visited the house several times. My son came with us on one visit – on a dismal day – and his prognosis was equally dismal!  His wife came up one fine day – and saw the big picture and the possibilities, as did others that came to see what we could see. Jim had the foundations checked – co-incidentally by the engineer who originally worked on the house – and did all the necessary research. The ground is stable and the house can be stabilized.

Yes, we did have few hurdles to overcome with finance and insurance but they’re another story not to be told here. We did rather miraculously, I believe, gain finance (& some sort of insurance) so next thing was to get the house to the point of habitation…

I had a few ‘must haves’ before moving in – simple things like windows, hot water, toilet/s, shower. Jim’s a man of action and within days he had the power on, a new hot water cylinder installed, drains checked, two toilets flushing and temporary glass installed in the window frames where possible. We went to the second hand yards and found windows to fit where the frames were beyond repair – there is a surplus of cheap second-hand material in this region at present! Son and Jim’s almost-adult grandson were ‘booked’ for a weekend, scaffold borrowed and windows were fitted – not a minor job one storey up. I came and swept up the glass, Batts, gib and goodness knows what else. I scrubbed the spilled food, 18 months old, from the kitchen floor and cleaned out the fridge that was left behind. I vacuumed from top to bottom and was delighted to find the carpet in our bedroom is actually quite new and very acceptable. Unfortunately, we had to lift the carpet in the living-lounge area as it had succumbed to the weather and was totally soaked through the underlay. But the good news was that under the carpet the chipboard floor is varnished and in reasonable condition. The carpet on the bottom level was damp and smelly but we left it and it seems to have dried out sufficiently for now.

After a few weeks of working 8 hours at our regular jobs and then another 2 or 3 (or more) at the house we eventually moved in. From memory (& my diary) we didn’t have an operational shower in our bathroom so had to bathe each night in the sunken bath – not such a hardship! It was beautiful day when we moved and the cherry tree blossomed showing that spring had arrived.

However, that warm weather didn’t last and I was soon curling up in bed with a woolly hat on my head as the draught falling from the window above our heads was enough to keep me awake.  I note that we even had snow in our gutters when we awoke one morning!

But, positive folk that we are, we continued to relish the views and coped with the heater-less, draughty house as summer approached and the work-load increased…


Restoration 101 – 2 – We move in.

I realise that it is now three years, almost to the day, since we moved into our “to-be-demolished-now-to-be-restored” home.  I looked back on some notes I wrote back then and thought I’d share some of those with you in my next couple of posts. I remCherry blossomember the weekend we moved in very well as the cherry blossom was just flowering – what a wonderful welcome!

Here is a part of an email I sent during our first week here :

So, at this point in time, it is 8.37pm and I am sitting in bed with a hotty, Jim’s asleep beside me! Yes, it is early to be in bed but our house is rather draughty one floor down whereas we’re much more snug up in the large bedroom “loft”. In saying that I will add that the curtains above my head are tucked up on the window sill to stop the cold air flowing down and I am wearing a woolly hat!

At this stage we were sleeping on a mattress on the floor.  Our bed base (queen) wasn’t able to twist up the spiral staircase! In fact, we had to replace the broken picture window in the bedroom and that had to be brought up in two pieces unfortunately. I think the original (one large pane) must have been inserted from the outside.

Waiting for new window.
Waiting for new window.

Another paragraph from that email which I think describes our circumstances quite well:

Well, as many of you know, Jim’s a visionary – he saw past the broken blocks and glass, wet carpet, missing windows, smashed and crumbling gib board… and brought me up to see the view! After climbing around the mess underfoot up the solid rimu spiral staircase to the first floor (yuk, food still on the kitchen floor 12 months old!) I saw the view too… then continued on up the stairs to the bedroom to an even more wonderful view! Mmmmmm… maybe there was a possibility… Funny thing was, here’s Jim & I tentatively exploring the house when we realise the agent wasn’t anywhere to be seen! She was afraid to come inside, such was the extent of the damage. Ah, we Taranaki folk are made of stronger stuff!

I should probably add here, looking at the photo, you can see that the bedroom is an odd shape! It actually has seven windows, two of those being internal ones and one semi-internal, semi-external. The windows are mostly of an irregular shape,also, in keeping with the rest of the house!

Next time… more recollections and some progress…