Wednesday, December 05, 2007

more home improvements

Nick and I spent a very uncomfortable 5 hours last weekend insulating our loft and eaves spaces. It’s very small and low up there, you can’t stand up, and it’s not boarded out so you have to constantly move around on little kneeling boards being careful not to crash through the ceilings below.

If you have the choice, pay a man to insulate your loft – it’s a horrible, itchy dirty job. If you are skint and frozen (like us) then go ahead, but beware. These are my tips:

Wear protective clothing, gloves and a mask. Here is Nick in his all-in-one suit. Buy the extra large size because when you are kneeling down you will split the crotch open resulting in an itchy groin area.

Don’t attempt to work using lamps with normal bulbs that blow with the slightest knock or you will be plunged into darkness fairly regularly, and the risk of skewering your head on a slate nail increases exponentially.

Try not to kneel on nails or other small metal protrusions that lurk in the loft.

Bribe a small child to crawl into impossibly small spaces behind and on top of dormer windows and the like. We could not find such a child so Nick sent me in. You never heard so much grunting and swearing. Quite obscene.

Go to a proper builder’s merchant to buy your insulation, rather than a DIY store. I got the price down from £26 a roll in Homebase to £18 a roll of similar product at the builder’s merchant by going in there, being nice, and asking for the trade price.

We were amazed to discover that large sections of our roof had no insulation at all. I can’t imagine how the previous owners managed all those years without getting hypothermia. All that was between us and outside was an inch of plaster, and a plank of wood with some slates nailed to it. No wonder our house is Baltic and our gas bill was £170 for 6 weeks. Hopefully we have rectified that now, but there are some areas that we simply could not get access to without cutting into the walls. I’m hoping we have compensated in other areas as most of the loft now has 350mm of mineral wool. It’s like a fluffy duvet for the house that’s not quite big enough and it’s toes poke out the sides!

Many interesting things were discovered in the loft, including this thing.

Nick says it’s a wasps nest. Is it? It’s amazing whatever it is, but I didn’t dare poke it just in case. At the time of discovery I was tightly wedged in behind one the eaves walls and could only get out by crawling backwards, so the idea of a swarm of wasps attacking me was not pleasant.

Other home improvements this week: We had our chimney swept yesterday in preparation for the new log burning stove arriving in January. Because nothing in our new house is ever simple (or cheap) we were informed that the inside of the chimney is knackered and needs lining to stop bits of sandstone falling into the new stove flue. This adds another £450 to the price of the stove. I was at work when the sweep came so I couldn’t tell you if he was a cockney with soot on his face, but I like to think he was.


Blogger Christian Briddon said...

I can confirm that your loft discovery is indeed a wasps nest. We had one in our loft last year that was about 2.5 feet across!!

If there were any wasps still in it you would see the odd one on the outside so I think you are safe.

Probably best not to poke at it though just in case. :-)

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our chimney sweep comes every Spring to clean up after our winter log-burning spree. No soot, but plenty of tips on rose pruning and cordon bleu cookery. I think this year's was on preserving pears in brandy and his holiday home in Croatia (yep, don't think my annual £100 is his only source of income, but he is about the only reliable sweep in Aberdeen):-)

8:50 AM  
Blogger Tracy said...

you won't get wasps in a nest at this time of year - and they won't inhabit the same nest next year - however - if they could get in this year to build a nest -they will try again next year. Check your eaves for gaps etc. The latin name for a wasp is Vespula Vulgaris - which I quite like and think is very apt!!! 2 years working for Rentokil taught me all this trivial stuff. If you need any help with mice or rats - let me know!!!

8:02 PM  
Blogger Twila Grace said...

What an ordeal! That "thing" is beautiful. If it is an insect's nest, it was an artistic insect. I wonder where it obtained the raw materials for that marbled look? I won't be planning any such insulating adventures based on your story, which is well-told and quite funny--to the reader at least!

12:32 PM  

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