Weston S Mare Refurb – Wiring and Plumbing
Having neutralised the dry rot in last week’s blog, I’m onto the first-fix wiring and plumbing. First-fix means everything that goes in before the plasterer, and includes most of the pipework and wires that are hidden in walls and ceilings, but not the final connect up at the outlets. Doors and architraves also have to come off, so the plasterer can get a flush finish to the door linings.
Anyway I’m doing most of the plumbing myself as there is no gas in the property. All the hot and cold supplies and the wastes have to be swapped over between the kitchen and bathroom and the hot water tank moved. I’ve done most of it in push-fit plastic as it’s much quicker than copper, and is concealed in the walls or under the floor, bath or kitchen units. A good tip is to mark an inch from the end of each pipe, to make sure it’s been pushed all the way into the fittings. Also I fit the metal supporting inserts immediately I cut the pipes, as it’s all too easy to forget them when connecting up. Without the inserts, the pipe may be watertight to start with, but soon develop a leak when the plastic deflects. Also to be careful which supply you are connecting to – I once accidentally connected the toilet to a hot supply – every time you flushed, steam came out! Surprisingly, the hardest thing about the plumbing was drilling through a wall two feet thick of metamorphic limestone to join the new wastes and soil pipe into the stack.
I could have attempted the wiring myself then got it certified by a third party, but since I’m not fully familiar with the 17thedition building regs for wiring it makes more sense getting a qualified electrician to do the lot.
Likewise plastering is something I can do but a plasterer who does it every day is much faster, so attempting it myself is false economy.
Both tradesmen were both nice guys, but having other people on such a small job reminded me why I like working alone. It’s impossible not to get in each other’s way, and you waste time chatting. Two men working together rarely get 2 x as much work done as one man working alone. There are exceptions, such as plasterboarding a ceiling, especially with 8’ x 4’ sheets which I prefer to reduce waste. I have a technique for doing this alone involving wooden props, but it’s always a struggle, especially with very high ceilings like these. I did the lounge on my own, but John the plasterer kindly offered to help me with the bedroom and we did it in a quarter of the time. He’s also been very helpful moving things between rooms, so I’ll round his money up from £360 to £400. He was charging me £120 a day labour only, 3 rooms in 3 days, which is very reasonable for a good plasterer.