Tuesday 12 May 2009

I see a salty message written in the eaves....

For the last few weeks, we've had builders round working on converting our loft into something considerably more usable. Although we've had a bit of scaffolding up, from the inside you'd hardly notice that they were here at all: instead of dragging all of their stuff in and out through the house, they made themselves a little hole in the roof and have been carting everything through that. Simple. Given that one builder we had round to quote for the job told us that we might as well move out for six weeks because it was such a dirty job, this has been quite gratifying, and it's been no surprise that these guys came so highly recommended. Apart from the mysterious disappearance from the house of our stepladder, we've otherwise been able to watch in undisturbed comfort as our roof is transformed above us. Apart from the scaffolding and the piles and piles of stuff appearing in the skip outside the house, the only visible change initially was the arrival of two huge Velux windows. Not only did they give the outside of the house a new look, but thanks to a small hole that the builders made in the ceiling where they're going to put in the new stairs, we have been able to see brilliant sunshine streaming down from what had previously been an extremely dark and inaccessible loft.

All good things come to an end though, and as of the back end of last week, when a plumber made a few last adjustments, the builders were ready to break through into the house proper. C. was quite excited by this: one of the drawbacks of having the builders coming and going using the scaffolding has been that we haven't actually been able to see any of what they've been doing up there, and this is - for some people, anyway - a bit frustrating. All those changes happening and you don't get a chance to have a good nosey around and to watch what's happening for weeks. It didn't bother me at all, but I get the feeling that curious homeowners have caused these builders trouble in the past, and so they've always been very careful at the end of each day to make sure that they seal up the roof properly and take away their ladders so that all temptation to clamber up and have a peek is removed and, with it, all danger of having a clumsy homeowner put their big feet through their own bedroom ceiling.

C's been climbing the walls - metaphorically, at least - in her eagerness to have a look at what's going on up there. When the Velux windows were first put in, she kept wandering down the street to see what she could see of the new attic room through them. Not much, as I discovered when she dragged me down the street to see for myself. It probably goes without saying that she was very much looking forward to a hole being made in the ceiling, as it might give her a chance to see what was going on up there.

The hole, when it finally came, was initially only a small, trapdoor sized, incision in the ceiling of the hallway just outside our bedroom. Still wary of inquisitive homeowners, the builders made sure that they covered it each evening with a bit of wood..... that they screwed on. C. was away in Paris all week, but I wasn't really bothered and just left them to it. What was the big hurry to see the progress I knew what happening up there? I was more than happy to wait until the stairs went in. Others, it turns out, were less patient, and I got home from a swim that Friday night to find C. bouncing around the house with glee. Apparently she'd been initially frustrated by the screwed down cover to the hole, but had discovered that her hand was small enough to creep up past the cover and into the space beyond. Naturally, once she had realised that, sticking her hand up holding a camera was only moments away, and now she was hugely excited about showing me the resultant pictures.

Mildly curious, I had a look.... and I can tell you that, unsurprisingly, our new attic room currently looks like an unfinished room. Given that it used to be a horrible, dark, dirty attic, this is definitely progress.... but there's still some way to go yet. C. however was excited enough to point out to me where the new storage cupboards were, how light it was, how spacious it looked and, and this was her favourite bit, the solution to the mystery of where our stepladder had got to. There it was, leaning against the wall at the back of the new attic room.

"I reckon they must have put that there to stop us using it to try and get into the roof though the access hatch". C. had obviously been giving this some thought.

I glanced over at the new hole in the ceiling and at the gap where she had pushed her hand through to take the photos. It was at least 3 meters up in the air.

"So how did you take those photos then? How did you get your hand all the way up there?" I asked.

C. looked over and saw the other, much bigger, stepladder that the builders had left leaning against the wall underneath the opening and which she must have climbed up in order to get her hand up into the roofspace. Her face fell.

"Oh" she said, somewhat crestfallen.

She's a clever girl, that one, but sometimes.......honestly.

The stairs go in tomorrow, so who knows how excited she'll be when she gets back home this Friday.......


  1. That was an excellent idea, the camera. I'd have spent an hour with my eye pressed to the hole & possibly never have thought of it. Appreciating your work, C.

    What will become of the room? Has it a pre-destined purpose?

  2. They've just put the stairs in today, so I was greeted this evening by a cat hellbent on exploring her new territory, access cupboards into the eaves and all. It's weird going up there and having a look around. There's a long way to go though, and the house is currently a dusty bombsite, but it's quite cool.

    The stimulus for the room itself was the visit of our friends from Vienna for a week in the summer with their two kids. We are going to be showing them around, but felt that it was time to expand and get another bathroom and things.

    At least, that's what C. tells me. Other people seem to jump to other, different conclusions.

    There's a couple of photos on my flickr, if you're interested.... I put them there for c to view from her hotel in Paris so she can get exited from a distance.


  3. ...photos of the stairs, anyway. She's already got photos of the room!

  4. Great photos! The third one is especially good, as you will see an awful lot of the stairs from that angle I'm sure. Keep us posted. It'll be blogworld's answer to TV property makeover porn, apart from not being presented by a punchable twerp.

  5. ..I'm just trying to get my head around how much of the bedroom the stairs have taken up. I think they look great, but I can't work out how they're going to seal the bedroom back up. I was expecting them to take a lot smaller chunk out, to be honest - look at how that little landing bit hangs about 20cm below the level of the ceiling. They've been ace though, so I'm sure they've got a plan.

    More photos to follow, I'm sure!

  6. ...if I get back early enough tomorrow night, when there's still a bit of daylight, I'll take some shots of the room itself. It looks great, even unfinished. Not cheap, but it's really going to open up the house.

  7. (oh God, just listen to me. shoot me now)