Thursday, 23 August 2012

And so the kitchen saga continues....

It just doesn't know when to end or we have angered the gods badly. 

The floor was such a disaster that the tiles had to be lifted, this wasn't the end though; following all the problems and shoddy workmanship of all previously involved we have stopped dealing with our contractor and taken on a new contractor to complete the work and to redo most of the original work.

Floor after tiles were removed, glue still liquid
The floor was so badly damaged during the initial job that the original screed had to be chopped up and relaid completely, and only then could the tiling be re-done.

Floor after screed removed, ready for re-screeding
But not to let the original contractors fade into oblivion where they should be relegated, they have subsiquently fudged the invoice and increased it to cover their losses.

According to them we had requested them to sand and oil 10 windows, we then had 2 doors added, they said we were 2 windows short. So we had to pay for an extra 2 windows plus the extra doors and this cost miraculously came to more than half of the original quote..... now let me say this, I am not an accountant but I am definitely a business man and in no universe that I could imagine could costings like this occur.

Just in case any idea should cross the reader's minds or my mind that maybe the work is OK one just has to look at some plumbing work where part of the drainpipe peeks ever so coyly from the plaster work, when I confronted said contractor on this I was blithely told that it didn't matter as it was going to be hidden behind the cupboards. As Steve Jobs believed you should always put the same amount of effort to the inner hidden components as you do to the outside visible components - our ex-contractors obviously don't subscribe to such an ethos
Peek-a-boo plumbing below the outlet pipe

Electrical work ....... and just when you thought we could move on merrily along comes straight eye, supply all charged for components - electrician...... firstly he couldn't get all our plugs in a straight line along a wall; no that would be far too pedestrian, let's go for a much more risqué avant garde uneven skew look, but way prior to this he left live open wires hanging out of a wall at knee height, we were told it was disabled therefore safe, it stayed like that for two days until he came to finish the job at which point he told us he would have to work live even though it was a bit dangerous......
Then lo and behold as if insult to injury could not get worse he tries to charge us for two extra "supplied" circuit breakers.... did I check the board.... HELL YES, were there  supplied breakers..... HELL NO!!!!

Existing Circuit breakers minus the "supplied" one
Straight line plugs?... but check out the new zooty tiling....
Sooooo lets fast forward shall we, I could belabour the various points till your eyeballs melt, but that would just be pedantic and also I would probably get bored typing or worse still turn my laptop into a frisbee in a fit of pique.....

In comes new contractor... floor up.... screed down..... tiles going down, any sounds of hollowness (attained by tapping tiles with now very bruised knuckles).... definitely not.... these guys know their jobs.

Now at this point please remember back that I mentioned that them who will forever more be referred to as "ex-contractor" came on site without so much as a toothpick to share between them, well new contractor, now to be referred to as "current and future contractor" came on site with a veritable manly man's armoury of equipment in labelled crates, an absolute joy to behold, plus an electric water cooled tile cutter... OK guys....stop drooling you're wetting the keyboard.

I think I see the Phoenix rising slowly from the ashes.........

Monday, 20 August 2012

Some more Cufflinks......

On a far happier note, I have got my self back on line and into gear as far as jewellery is concerned, I have finished a soft square ring (blog to follow) and was then asked to make two pairs of cufflinks.

The first set are a pair of artists palettes, that were requested by the art teacher at my wifes school to give to her current headmaster as a gift as he is leaving the school, she is also leaving the school to go on a year long teacher exchange in Switzerland.

The second set are maps of Africa for the same art teacher who is going to work in Switzerland for a year and wanted a gift to give to the Head master of the new school.

Not a big leap forward but a step in the right direction to get me past the hiatus I have recently experienced.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Omnes relinquite spes o vos intrantes

Omnes relinquite spes o vos intrantes

As so written above the gates of hell in Dante's Inferno, so should it also be carved into the lintel above our kitchen door.

We had a perfectly functional albeit 25 year old kitchen which my dear wife Pam  suddenly decided was a room of desolation and needed replacement with something new and imminently zooty; and so it began.........

D-Day -30: We started looking for Kitchen suppliers, within a couple of weeks we had selected our installer of choice

D-Day - 15: Started looking for and select a company to remove the old kitchen, remove the old tiles, re-locate a number of power outlets and plumbing points and do a number of other small jobs around the house such as sanding and oiling our wooden window frames, and do a bit of brickwork around an outside shed.

D-Day - 5: How easy this has all been everything has merrily fallen nicely into naive.

Now we the naive built our original house 25 years ago, it had 2 bedrooms 1 and 1/2 bathrooms a kitchen and open plan dining room / lounge..... a modest little start we were very proud of, we had a building contractor to manage it, so our involvement was minimal even when the supervisor and I were nearly killed when a large pre-cast slab swung out of control and burst through a wall into the lounge.

10 years later we got it into our heads to add on a larger master bedroom and en-suite bathroom, this was by far much more traumatic. but we got through it with a bit of blubbering and gnashing of teeth.

Did we learn..." hell no. . . . . Six years ago we, and I say we out of respect because I being of sane mind would never consciously decide to build on, decided to build on.... so It was that we built on an extra two  garages  (now we  had four) an extra lounge and patio, was it easy and peaceful; definitely a resounding NO!!!. . . . . did we learn.. of course not..... Enter the kitchen.........

 D-Day: And so It Began.. .. out came all the Food  and crockery. and fridge and... and.... .and..... all was moved into our second lounge where we have as our kitchen supplier says "a mobile Kitchen"

 D-Day +1: On site  came the first contractors,  and the chopping and breaking and cutting began.
Now it must be said that a contractor should arrive on site suitably equipped to carry out quoted renovations, my Jewellery instructor says one should look at a man's tools to see their quality and how they are kept and you will know the quality of his work; well our contractors arrived with basically nothing ... no tools.... we had to supply a Wheelbarrow, bucket, broom, pick, shovel, newspapers and sheets of cardboard.

Oil on the sills

Oil on the brickwork floor

Oil on the brickwork floor

Oil on the brickwork floor

And they messed and messed and messed, they didn't bother to put the newspaper on the windowsills when oiling the windows so we had oil on the window sills, they didn't put down paper on our tiles to catch rubble from the wall chasing, so it ended up on the floor, when I complained and gave them cardboard they put the cardboard down on top of the rubble on top of the tiles, enter OUR broom to sweep up the mess.

D-Day +2: The kitchen now removed, the tiling began.... and the painting continued and some brick work we needed got started..... all through this we had to supervise

D-day +5: We find that the tiles glued down were sounding hollow underneath; i.e. the glue hasn't been applied properly for a number of reasons, not one tile, not two tiles but dozens, the contractor was called in and an unholy argument ensued.

And so I've begun my own investigation; I lifted some tiles, the grout crumbled like powder and the tiles popped up as easy as the minute they were laid. The glue underneath the consistency of wet porridge.

I have discussed the issue with the supplier of the tile adhesive and they have organised for a rep from the manufacturer to visit us on site to investigate further.

To be continued............

Cathedral Peak

Been away again, yeah yeah yeah .... stop bleating about how I am always away some where, just think if I didn't go away all the time then I would probably go mad and then they would have to put me away permanently.

Anyhow, as I was saying we went away, down to Cathedral peak for a couple of days, Cathedral Peak is actually a mountain in the Drakensberg Mountains, and near said peak is a marvellous little hotel called the Cathedral Peak Hotel...(how amazing is that)

Its close enough to get there from our hose in a couple of hours but far enough away for me to feel isolated from the world at large.

The drive down was a tad stressful as the hotel is literally in the middle of nowhere and getting there involves passing through a number of rural villages, and the inhabitants of said villages with al their cows, goats, chickens, dogs, children etc. have a rather unpleasant propensity of wandering all over the roads or just standing in the road chatting and you as the motorist have to spend your time avoiding them while barrelling along to your destination, I am not a patient person when it comes to the human race so this does tend to cause quite a high level of angst for me which in turn causes my dear long suffering wife pain and suffering.

But we got there safely (no blood on the car) in time for afternoon tea.... tea for me is a VERY important beverage and tea at the hotel is quite an institution so I have to be there on time for my tea.

Our room as you can see in the photos had an incredible view of the mountains, and while it was a bit dry; it is winter now, not that the temperature was playing the game, we mainly packed winter clothes expecting it to be nice and cold an lo and behold the days averaged up to 25C or 77F .... did I say it was winter..... in the mountains.

The Hiking was as usual excellent, except for one that we got a tad lost, not that it detracted from the hike as a whole, and of course each day we made sure to get back to the hotel in time for the afternoon tea ritual. I also had to promise on pain of not going to the hotel that I would not make another attempt at climbing the Cathedral again following a previous trip when I nearly fell of the mountain, But that is a whole other story.

Food at the hotel is a gargantuan affair of the most incredible variety and quantity food breakfast and dinner, lunch is at your own discretion.

And so back to work until next trip............