There should be a Golden Rule: never, ever, start DIY on an old house. It can never end well. There has always been something done in the past that was not done right. Either that or you are going to find a degree of nastiness that you really would rather have remained in ignorance of.
Our assumption was that the partition wall was fairly recent and that the concrete floor had been floated across the whole area. We were wrong. The plasterboard came off in the sitting room, not to reveal a stud wall frame but the old boards from the original house – those and a few piles of worm-dust that were several inches high. No kidding. No exaggeration. About four inches in places – heaps and heaps of fine sawdust were encased in the wall. Mr L put his foot to the boards and they simply caved in.
If you imagine the old cottage, a but and ben of two rooms in a single rectangle, it was partitioned in the centre and also, from there, along the short leg of an L, by the front door. The bit between the partition and the door is still floored with flagstones but the remainder had been re-floored at some point and floated with concrete. The partition frame went down below floor level, so we have two halves of the room with a level concrete floor, with one small area of stone, and the three sections are now divided by channels about 6 inches deep. The “damp proof course” is now visible and appears to be simply some heavy plastic sheeting laid under the new concrete. It does not reach the walls.
Also discovered: a rat tunnel. Well, that explains the source of the smell last winter. The beggar(s) had tunnelled all the way in under the front porch and the flags in the hallway and then come up under the partition. From there, a clear run into the loft. I am honestly a bit ambivalent about rats. I don’t hate them, I think they are formidable and intelligent beings (even, dare I say it, cute) and I believe they have their right to their place in this world. I just think that their place is not supposed to coincide with mine. Outside the house, please! We’ll be filling the tunnel in. Firmly. Permanently. Nature being what she is, the wee furries will find another way through in time.
Clearing up was a big job. The worm-dust is superfine and spread everywhere. I was thankful to have the Polti at hand as the water filter does a 100% job on the dust and does not spread it about as an ordinary vacuum cleaner does. I just found myself changing the water tank every two minutes. Literally.
Yesterday morning we spent in carrying all the wood and plasterboard that we had removed up to the bonfire. Then we awarded ourselves a rest. We have done sufficient to know that we will love our new space when it is completed. There is far more light and the kitchen is a nicer place to be than it formerly was.
It’s probably going to take a while. I have been applying a brake to Mr L’s ambitions and have him persuaded that planning to do the work next year is a far better way forward. This year we shall tackle the new doors and windows and possibly the new range. Next year will be for room lining, and new kitchen cupboards, I think.
The immediate task will be to fill in the floor. Suzie’s eyes are not what they were and she keeps falling down the gaps. I’m afraid I might do the same if I do not keep my wits about me and, frankly, the knee won’t take another slamming. We also need to make sure that the floor is level throughout and I have a nasty feeling about that.
There has not been much knitting done but the second Vanessa antiopa sock is now mid-heel. I had forgotten how much fun this sock is to knit. The sock may need setting aside soon, it’s no longer fully co-ordinated with my knee, which is now starting to turn yellow and green 🙂