is this the one?

is this the one?

More from those retirement tales of DIY, just skip it if you’re not interested in DIY or retirement but then if you weren’t interested in retirement you wouldn’t be reading this blog would you? Where was I? Oh yes, more DIY stories. I said last time that we had decided to replace the kitchen or at least most of it, ever willing / keen to try and save money we’re keeping most of the cabinets but replacing sink and cooker. After the disappointment of finding exactly the right Belfast sink unit on-line, at a good price and trying to speak to the maker who wouldn’t answer the phone so we had to give up on this and all the equivalent on-line examples were twice the price, so no good. Why this company doesn’t answer the phone remains a mystery, maybe the price is so good they’re inundated with orders or maybe the other manufacturers have killed off the maker/s to prevent unfair competition, I’m not sure. But it’s annoying when we thought we’d found just the thing. So move on and look for another solution and where else would one look for (cheap) solutions other than good old IKEA.

All their kitchens are modular, they don’t sell any free-standing sink units any more, they tell me. They did because we bought one for the barn when we were renovating that. Now that was a renovation project because, when we bought the barn, it was completely derelict. But as we were working we didn’t have the time to do much hands on (other than pointing the outside stone in a blizzard) and we did have more money, most of it my retirement lump sum, to pay people. Not that that was stress free either. But I digress. IKEA, all modular, but will they sell us just the bit of the kitchen i.e. sink unit that we want? Yes, they will much to our surprise. The one in the photo above is pretty much the one we have decided on, looks OK, not too expensive and has cooker built in. Oh, and the units are vertically routed hence cleverly fitting with the cupboards doors that remain which are not yet routed but will be with my new birthday present router. It’s true we wanted the single unit, farmhouse look and this is verging on the modular but hey, as my grandma used to say, needs must when the devil drives, whatever the heck that means.

Putting in the unit will be tricky not just because plumbing and electrics are not easily bodged, I have willingly bodged both areas in the past but, as a retired person, I have a better sense of my limits and they are many. No, the challenge is how to remove the old sink unit hampered by the fact that I can’t turn the bloody stop tap off and if I could how to remove old unit to retile floor, of which in a moment, before placing the new unit on the newly tiled floor. Every part of the operation has to be timed to perfection and the words perfection and DIY are rarely seen in the same sentence for me unless accompanied by the words ‘lack of’. If the old sink isn’t removed, the floor tiled and the new unit delivered and installed all within the space of a couple of hours then Mrs Summerhouse will be an unhappy bunny and we will have no working water supply. This needs some careful consideration so I have challenged my neighbour, he who does work on house and garden when we are away. It costs me £50 each week and as he told me, it’s all mounting up, but it’s so nice to show up and find a task completed without any stress. And I have a cunning plan money-wise. I don’t add up each of the £50 so it never costs more than that week’s bill. Clever don’t you think.

the old kitchen

the old kitchen

Back to the floor, along with continuing to bash down the dividing wall which is taking some doing, to say the wall is / was over-engineered would be an understatement and I only have a small hammer and screwdriver, the floor has become the main task in the house. The problem is that for some reason I cannot fathom, the far right hand corner of the room has dropped, tiling it would be like tiling the side of a small hill. So self-levelling cement, that’s the answer. Looks so easy on Youtube (put cement in big bucket, mix water, pour on floor) but, I find, it isn’t at all easy probably because I mixed it too solid like normal cement. And I bought two bags, seemingly quite small, yet very heavy and very expensive. I thought I only needed one so anxious to recoup some money I took the second bag back next day, guess what, one bag isn’t enough. Hence the reason I’ve started to lay the tiles in the centre of the room (you can see them in the photo above if you look really hard), as one of the few parts of the room that is reasonably level. I’ll put off worrying about how I get the rest of the floor level for another visit. Perhaps my neighbour will take pity on me and finish the job for another £50? When I posed the question in my last blog, do I think I could do this renovating as a retirement business, I wasn’t exactly thinking about doing the actual work but there is no doubt that’s what a lot of the retirees featured on Homes Under the Hammer are doing. For me I’m generally good at the destructive side but, as the tiling is proving, the creating side is more irritating.

So there we have it, we have been down at the Derbyshire cottage, as we like to call it, for two and a half days this week only coming back to drive the gardening business trailer to the tip, but that’s another story. We’re still enjoying the challenge and, when it’s done, it will look, well not lovely, but certainly nice enough but whether it’s OK for a retired person to be bodging or is it botching his way through this period of his retirement I’m not sure.

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