[Sticky] What Home Improvements Have You Made?
Morning Marc, I'm glad as well because redoing the ceiling upstairs was by far the most time-consuming job!
The light in the living room is in the centre but in the dining room it's nearer to the window, same in the kitchen. Also in the two larger bedrooms there are two lights, one near the party wall and one at the other end near the window. Someone told me having the ceiling lamps near the window was standard in those days and the idea was for privacy as it made it harder to see in at night. I don't know if there's any truth in that. Also, in the architects plans it shows a table or desk under the one position and a bed under the other. I didn't change the positions, but I did rewire them slightly as the far light was operated by a pull cord and the near one by a switch by the door. Instead I put in a two gang switch so they could both be operated from the same point next to the door and I could get rid of the untidy pull cord.
As far as I can tell the ring main runs from one socket to another with no junction boxes and the consumer unit has RCDs so I think it's basically fine and just needs a few extra sockets and cosmetic work. Actually my partner did get a shock from the dodgy socket when he plugged a kettle into it which must have drawn more current than the flex (table lamp/small appliance type flex) could handle. Fortunately it wasn't serious! I have checked the earth because we were getting static shocks from the electric shower and it turned out that the earth to that wasn't connected inside the shower unit!
Thanks for the tip about the vent, I'll look into that. Some of the other houses have two, one low down and one high up. It looks as though it was put in when the boiler was put in, maybe 20-30 years ago at a guess. The hole through the wall is round (you can see the plastic pipe for it on the window sill in one of the photos) but the face plate/grill is square. It does let quite a draught in, but obviously essential to let the boiler work safely.
Here's a photo or two of the vent under the window, which I had dismantled to put the insulation in. Then I cut through the insulation board which I thought would be easier than cutting the hole first and trying to line it up. The render is about 5cm thick. I guess they put it under the window to make it more unobtrusive. I looked into the vent question and the requirement is 100cm3 of free air, which is what I have (it's marked on the vent itself).
I have though removed the vent between the living room and hall by replacing the piece of plasterboard it's cut into, because I don't really see any point in it.
I have a quick question about getting the walls skimmed. I had two plasterers round for quotes but both said that the walls and ceiling needed reboarding because the surface had come away with the old paper. My dad said that's nonsense and it would be fine once primed with PVA. I also spoke to my neighbour and she said she had her livingroom, diningroom and kitchen skimmed without being reboarded. What's your experience with this?
I have reboarded the small wall between the door into the hall and the window wall to get rid of the vent and put in a new flush finish light switch. Underneath the old switch was this piece of wood with a hole cut through it with a surface-mounted switch on top (there is the same thing for the electrical sockets). I cut the wood out and put in a dry wall box for the switch.
I was surprised to find that there was no support for the studwork above the window - it spans the whole 2m between the steels with no attachment above. When I removed it, the wooden window surround started to sag a bit. To support it and the new studwork I cut a bit of the old 2x2 and bolted it onto the steelwork just above the window in the middle, which had a handy and unused hole in it! Then I screwed up from the underneath of the window surround into the 2x2 which lifted it back to being straight.
Here I've put the ring main cables that were in a surface conduit in behind the boards by cutting out holes above the battens on the party wall and notching them. It's a fiddly job but I think it's worth it to hide them. The thinner cables are ethernet cables - one to the back bedroom and one to the small bedroom that we use as studies. They run through the loft and I have built them into the bedroom/bathroom wall with a socket there as part of the bedroom refurbishment. The square hole is for the ethernet sockets and the rectangular one is for the power socket. Unfortunately there isn't enough space between the plasterboard and concrete blocks behind to fit in a dry wall box so I'll have to drill into the concrete to fix metal boxes in instead.
Here's the whole window wall - I've put the CLS timbers in the other way round from normal because there isn't as much space as upstairs because of the thickness of the concrete render. Obviously it's not quite as rigid as normal, but it should be at least as good as the original, which was fine. You can see the re-used piece of 2x2 which is darker than the new wood, above the middle of the window. I've also screwed the bottom of the window frame down as that was bowing upwards for some reason.
And now not directly BISF related, I found this G-plan sideboard on Ebay which I think will look fantastic with the 50s theme!
I can see now why the top of the wall isn't vertical. For some reason they have used a piece of 2x2 timber in the steel beam instead of a thinner piece of wood, so it sticks out further than the studwork underneath.
I haven't tried to prize it out yet because it isn't clear how it is attached but I thought I'd replace it with something thinner and then the wonkiness can be corrected.
*you should foil seal the joints between the insuilation board n timber really.