Gosh, I’ve been quiet.

I guess the frantic pace of building has kept me away from the computer (ha). Actually, we went to Portland for a weekend (there’s a post over there, in the Drafts pile, which I need to write about it. It was fun), then we have continued on with what is definitely progress, if not enormously rapid progress.

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We have more or less finished the drywalling. The porch-hall wall and associate cupboard bit is lacking any kind of drywall – because our new front door is waiting to go in first. But other than that, and a little bit of attic space, we’re finished. We’ve even done the (bits of the) main attic (that we were planning to do).

So now it’s taping and mudding.

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Taping…
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…and mudding

Which is progressing fairly much apace.

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We still have the skylights to do in the main living space, and both bedrooms to do, (and one strip where the pitched ceiling meets the wall at the end of the dining room, oh and some corners in the pantry), but that’s trundling along fairly rapidly. Aided by the fact that despite proclaiming on the pack that it’s workable for 80 minutes (Ha*), the 90 minute joint compound is actually workable for maybe 30 minutes.

Which certainly lends a certain degree of urgency to proceedings once it’s mixed. Still my dad’s plasterer’s trowel is getting a fairly hefty work out (screw this drywall tools nonsense).

Which leads us to wall coverings.

See, we’d planned to use Murco M-100. It’s really a joint compound / texture, but a friend tells us that you can use it to make a smooth-finish plaster replacement. It was, until fairly recently, available from a place called Green Depot in Seattle. Which has closed. Tracking down anywhere that can even get it from the far-away land of Cal-i-forn-i-ahhhh has proven to be an unnecessarily tedious challenge.

And it seems that it’s one of those things where you have to ask the special person who knows.

Because having called a billion drywall supply places working my way spiralling outward, I ended up calling Murco themselves, who suggested a company who deny any knowledge of Murco. Then after several more abject failures, I called Murco again, and got hold of the right person, who gave us a place locally that will order it. But only after I explained to them that they had previously ordered it, and perhaps they could find the specific person who ordered it last time who might know how to order it again.

It turns out they can order it… and they will sell it to us…

At 3 times the price it was at Green Depot.

Plus shipping from California.

Feh.

Which has led us back to the circle of pain which is searching the internet for something that we like, can afford, and which isn’t super complex to put up. The nice thing about Murco was it could go up pretty rapidly and, we hoped, possibly in one coat. Many other things require you to prime the drywall first (ugh), or require multiple coats, or indeed both, or cost many thousands of dollars up front.

We’re also kind of stuffed by our location. No-where around us would sell us the kind of drywall you’re meant to use for veneer plaster (which is what we wanted to use), and so now we’re limited in what we can put on it. Feh.

Kathryn has suggested a plan so we can at least keep making forward progress, which is that I can start work on the underfloor heating pipe guides. Ironically, now we’ve spent some time in the place I’m really regretting the decisions we made early on about heating. While I’m looking forward to having a heated floor, it’s beyond overkill for the place. We’ve insulated it so well that it’s actually warm enough with the three radiators we have in the house. We’d still have needed some kind of water heater, but given the size of the house we could probably have had a in-ceiling ductless heater and a small tankless electric heater. Or even a few tankless heaters (one for each bathroom and one for the kitchen). BUT, since we’ve paid for the hot-water radiant floor heating kit – and it would probably cost more now to switch – but I have distinct guilt about putting in natural gas heating at this point in history.

If only they’d start using biodigester methane for our local gas supply.

Anyway, more joint compound tomorrow, and then onto the bathrooms where it’s thinset on the joints. Whee.

*HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA**

** HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA AAAAAAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. Dies.

Well, that’s a disappointment.

I treked up to Fife today to pick up our oven, about which I have been quite excited. In the yard I stripped off some of the wrapping to check the door (okay) and the control panel (looked okay). I peaked through the bubble wrap and saw the blue of the oven. Great.

We managed, with careful packing to snug it into the i3. It turns out that a US oven <em>just</em> fits in to the i3.

Having got it home it sat in the car until Kathryn arrived…

…and actually until the end of our work day.

We managed to get the two top sheets on our tall bedroom wall up (which is pleasing). Then, since the rain showed no signs of letting up we gave in and carried in the oven.

We set it down and carefully unwrapped it.

And… bollocks.

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No, it’s not the angle the photo’s at. It’s been bent. Horribly.

Which is odd, because the packing material around it looked fine. Not a scratch, dent or bend. The door, which was travelling on top of the oven was also undamaged.

But the oven itself is fucked.

So I’ve requested a not-as-described refund.

*sigh*

What, more drywall?

Whaaat? More pictures of plasterboard? It’s almost like that is almost all we do at the moment.

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That end piece, we thought it would be hellish. There was a lot of measuring. A lot of approximating angles. A lot of adjusting, but Kathryn cut it and with just a little shaving it fits really well. The shims we put in have made it so the wall looks pretty straight now that first run of drywall is up.

Tomorrow we are going to add another sheet below that, and maybe attack that corner of slopes and short bits. It’s unlikely that we’ll get to the east wall, which is the next whole wall that I can do bits on.

Roughly 2 boards per afternoon is our target. Four boards in a day. Two boards if I’m there by myself.

So we’re plodding along and making progress.

Up and down and up

So, that could really describe the individual sheets of plasterboard which often need a little correcting before they fit well enough, our sprints up and down on the scaffolding, or my mood.

The last few days have been rough for some reason. The tax thing has at least been resolved. We went to a tax preparer, and for the cheerful sum of $159 he made it so we owed $1300 instead of $1900. So that was a saving overall… which is good. Also we feel more confident about sending it in now we’ve had some advice about what we can reasonably consider to be a ‘land improvement’.

I suspect my frustration at the car situation is creeping in to my mood. I was quite excited by the vehicular options I thought would be open to us, and I’m a little worried that we’re going to end up with a Bolt just because it’s the only one we can lay our hands on, and I really don’t feel like it’s the best choice for us. Bloody ZEV mandate-less WA.

And, well, I’ve not felt like we made loads of progress on the house this week. Tuesday was all errands and failing to do taxes, Wednesday I had to run up to Tacoma to collect our dishwasher, and by the time I’d got back there wasn’t really enough time to make it back to the house before we had our tax appointment – which meant two days with no progress at all. Thankfully, Monday and today went well, so I’m feeling better… My mood’s still a bit labile (although Rozi Plain is helping)…

Anyhow, so Monday I finished off the East wall, which we’d started at the weekend:

Look, I made an animation and everything.

And today we put finished the dining area (well, technically there’s a tiny bit above the corridor to do).

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It’s a big step forward. I’ve made a start on our bedroom, too:

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It’s possible that we might get the North wall completed this weekend. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s still 3 pieces… I’ve also started filling the upper bit of the wall between the dining room and our bedroom with insulation. It’s a minging task, with itchy fluffy dust filling the air. But it’ll be worth it. In fact it is worth it, because despite the fact that our walls are made of wood and an inch of gypsum, that solid filling makes them sound so much better than the cheap houses we’ve looked at where they’ve not bothered to insulate.

Despite the fact that we’re not finished, we have to get an inspection next week whatever happens, though, because our permit is running out. So wish us luck.

The car dance

In much less extremely awful news than my last post, we’re trying to buy a car. I say trying, because you wouldn’t think it would be that hard. But we want an EV (obvs), specifically, we’d really like a Kia Niro EV. But since they’re not out yet, and the Trumpian is trying to remove the $7500 federal tax credit for EVs, because the world isn’t ending quickly enough for him, we’re trying to rush through this process.

Worse, because Hyundai and Kia appear to have either massively underestimated how many cars they would sell in Europe, or not cared enough to buy enough batteries, both the cars we want are in ridiculously (laughably) short supply (now in Europe and from the get-go in the US).

As in dealers are talking about getting one, or maybe two. And Hyundai will apparently not be shipping the cars to non Zero Emission Mandate states, of which we are one. And where they are shipping the cars, also seem to mainly be shipping the higher profit mid-and-high end of the range cars, not the cheap and chipper version of the cars that we want.

All of which ends with ‘we may have to go to California to get the damn car’, which is ridiculous.

I’m also told that dealers in CA may be less than happy to sell us a Kona. Because why? Because they don’t get all the kickbacks they need in that state if they sell to an out-of-stater. Which makes me more irritated.

We might end up getting a Bolt if we can’t get this organised by the end of the month. Bird in the hand being worth several theoretical birds that may or may not be in bushes. But it really doesn’t meet our camping needs very well, and I’d like the faster charging, better range and base-spec-safety-features of the Kona or Niro than the Bolt. Also – black interior will probably not suffer as much as the black/white Bolt interior.

But hey. Beggars / choosers.

I spend a lot of time at the moment e-mailing dealers and asking about cars. It’s made more difficult because they’re two states away. The OR dealers will sell us a car – but they only have the mid-and-high end ones. The CA dealers are…unhelpful, for the most part. And the double difficulty is that we would have to fly down for several days and choosing when to do that, if we decide we will, is… tricky.

In the vacuum of information being provided by Kia USA, dealers are filling the void. One dealer told me today that they should have cars early next week. Another said not until May, someone on Twitter said they’re local dealer says only ‘showroom cars’ are coming at the moment. One dealer said they’ve only got an allocation of one at the moment, another said they’re expecting many cars to come in.

‘Do you see this shit’ (thanks sweartrek)

It’s driving me absolutely batty, and making me want to scream. Also, I’m wilful and difficult, and someone telling me I can’t have something I want makes me want it more.

The world outside the house.

Well, it’s more a whinge about adulting. Two whinges. At least.

So it’s tax time in the US. Let me share with you, for a moment, how that makes me feel.

Picard subtitled Fuuuuuuuuck (Thanks to sweartrek)

Now in the UK, I could set aside an afternoon, and almost invariably just run through the nice colourful form with helpful guidance on it and with my minimal understanding of tax law get to the end*. Once I stopped running a business, after a while, the nice tax people wrote to me and said “please stop doing tax forms, we’ll sort it all out”. Or words to that effect.

So I’d get a nice single page statement every year, and sometimes there’d be a rebate, and sometimes there wasn’t. Every so often I’d have to remind them that I’m a nurse, and so please give me the allowance for the cost of shoes and socks and nursing registration.

It was, it turns out, a golden period in my life.

Because now I get the US tax forms which are a nightmare crafted from the finest evil.

Now I get to navigate ‘guidance’ that looks like this:

Yes, that really is meant to be helpful. It’s doubly helpful because it turns out when we bought our land we didn’t get the relevant variant of 1099 (because all the forms here have random numbers assigned by using the particular shade of grey defined by a random hair on a dog walking past the office at 3:17 on the previous Tuesday was), but instead some sort of tax summary, which doesn’t appear to have the numbers we require.

Well, it might do, but the tax forms here reference the box number on the 1099 (which, may I remind you, we don’t have); and the form we do have doesn’t have box numbers on.

Fuck.

So after 3 hours of pain and torment largely like this:

(Janet from The Good Place wailing awkardly)

We have given in and decided to go and get a tax preparer to do our tax return. Which is fucking dumb. It’s not like we have a hugely complex tax liability going on. We have jobs in which we’ve paid tax. We sold a single piece of land. That’s it. That’s all we need to report.

And it really rubs in how much the gov’t here has been coopted by corporations. Because tax preparation doesn’t have to be this complex – but lobbyists from tax-prep companies have deliberately made it utterly opaque so they can keep profiting. And it adds to a general feeling of being unvalued as a member of society.

It also makes me utterly miserable, because this year we were reasonably prepared. We didn’t have the forms out for the land sale (honestly, I’d forgotten that we’d need to report it – since it’s reported to the IRS anyway, I really feel they ought to do the donkey work of working out taxes). But unlike most previous years where we’ve scrabbled around flinging paperwork trying to find all the relevant bits like tornado hitting a library, this year we were relatively on it.

And I must admit, this year more than any other I resent paying taxes. I deeply resent paying to commit genocide. I resent paying to piss money away on Trump playing golf. I resent money going to build a giant fucking lawn ornament. I resent subsidising the destruction of the environment.

And I know, you don’t get to choose how your tax money is spent. Plenty of republicans resented paying for other people’s children to be educated, and for people to be lifted out of abject poverty, and for the attempts to ameliorate the harm of grinding inequalities in society. And the UK has committed plenty of evil acts with my tax money. We’ve sold weapons to horrendous regimes, waged wars with impunity. I don’t get to hop up on my high horse and lecture anyone about behaving like a decent country.

But it’s never been so clearly laid out to me before. And that makes me feel even shittier about spending over $100 to get someone to prepare our taxes, so we can pay more taxes (because we know that’s coming), to make sure that trump can continue to wipe his arse on unicorn fur and traumatise vulnerable kids.

*sigh*.

*I did give myself a migraine when I was running a business trying to do taxes with my business partner who’d thrown away a bunch of receipts. Long story.

The appliance hunt begins

Saturday turned into a long and fairly tedious, but useful exploration of what is available locally. We started off hunting for what I call ‘graded’ appliances, which is called “scratch and dent” here. First up, and the most surprising thing for me is just how expensive large appliances are here.

I get that fridges, which here tend to be much, much larger and have double doors and ice-cube-makers and water dispensers, and tell you your fortune, and perform predictive analytics on your stock holdings, they I understand (slightly) the greater expensive. But ovens. Ovens are crazily expensive.

And finding a ‘nice’ oven that’s used is almost impossible. Part of that is undoubtably the greater distance between locations. In the UK, if you want to buy a used, or a graded appliance and have it shipped, it’s cheap. The distance it has to go isn’t far, so it’s worth flogging this stuff online. And even if you don’t want to ship your used oven, then buying one a few cities away and hopping in your car and grabbing it is perfectly acceptable.

Kate!
548 miles, a boiler, an oven a cooktop…and I think some other bits and pieces.

Here, that’s not nearly so doable. The oven we wanted is in NYC. Hardly a ‘just pop and grab it’ affair.

But the base-price is also something that screws you here. I guess this comes down to Europe’s generally more design focused culture. We’ve probably all caught it from the Danes, but there’s something in Europe about having beautifully designed functional appliances which just isn’t the case here. There’s an argument to be made about function over form, but the problem is I’m a European to my core.

Lefty, liberal, and very design focused. And my beloved also has a similarly strong design ethos.

So when we looked around the local stores, we did find a few appliances that were ‘fine’. There was an oven that was perfectly adequate and while it was painfully expensive ($1500 for an oven that in the UK you’d pay maybe $500), it was just dull and somewhat ugly. At least to my eyes.

But we dutifully treked around the stores. There was, obviously, the Miele and Bosch sections of the stores that had things that were nice, but far out of our price range. There were a couple of fridges that have a nice, simple design and are small enough for our tiny kitchen, and one place had the one we’re now thinking about as a Scratch and Dent.

We were talking about Haier for the fridge, but the one that fits our needs size wise felt really cheap – and the plastic was just too thin to be something that’ll last in use.

The advantage of this, though, was to really drill into us that it doesn’t matter how much we think an oven should cost (also skewed by the fact that I got an oven for free, then paid 99p for the second one, I think); nor that our Smeg range in the UK cost us under £800; we are just going to have to suck up the cost.

(I did seriously think about the fact that I could order a Neff Slide and Hide from the UK and have it shipped here for less than the cost we’d pay for an oven here).

Still. We sat down and did our due dilligence and came up with a Samsung oven that is available that we didn’t feel was butt ugly, and once we’d factored in Scratch and Dent would come to around the same price as the locally available ones. It also had some nice features that we could at least get excited about.

It has steam bake, which is cool. We thought it had the ‘split oven into two different heat zones’ option, but it turns out that’s the model above. Which I’m slightly disappointed about.

It’s not a slide and hide though. *grumble*.

We also bought a used Miele dishwasher. It’s apparently a lightly used one from a hotel suite, so I’m hoping that it’ll be good.

And then we sat down, poked at the internet, and settled (we think) on a fridge. All of this is definitely positive. And it’s quite exciting. And we settled on a finish for our cabinets, so we’ve e-mailed beechtree woodworks to say “yes, we’d like a kitchen from you”. Kathryn did her magic and found us a custom kitchen for very little more expense than an Ikea one, because she just has a sense for finding these things.

And it’s quite exciting. The drywall (you knew it’d come back to this) is proceeding. Not exactly apace, but reasonably quickly.

We actually have a finished room (walls wise, anyway):

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The sheet around the top of the door was an absolute nightmare, and took us 3 goes to get right. The unsquareness of the wall combined with the pitch of the ceiling made for a really difficult shape – and then we put the screws in at the wrong height so they didn’t line up with the shims and cracked the edge of the board.

All in all, not a raging success. So we ended up stopping that day, taking it down on Sunday and redoing it. It’s now better. Not fabulous, but better.

And we have now made a start on the not-spine spine wall.

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In a day we can get around 4 boards up, which is a marked uptick on the 2 boards on the ceiling. Thankfully, once the top row is up things get a bit less complex, but cutting the boards to match our uneven ceiling is a challenge that involves a lot of shaving some off, lifting it into position, then taking it back down again, shaving some more off… repeated ad infinitum.

There’s quite a lot of shimming to do up at the north end of the house to correct for our dreadful framing, so that’s the plan for this afternoon. This morning I’m off to go and collect a door. Our front door.

Which will be a nice step forward. Getting the front of our house closer to finished is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while, which has been waiting on us ordering the door. Now that’s done and it’s ready, we need to paint it and install it, complete the wrap around the porch, and then I can begin the infinite fun of putting up thin strips of cedar again. But this time they’re really small and fiddly!

Yay! ;)

What’s that about a rod for our own back? Sounds lovely.

Just for a change, more plasterboard.

Yeah, yeah. I know. First it was endless whinging about us drywalling the ceiling, now it’s a Lord of the Rings trilogy length treatise on the nature of drywalling walls. But it’s actually kind of exciting for us. While you could imagine the spaces when it was framed, and more so as the insulation went in (more of that still to go in, btw), the drywall going up makes actual walls.

Non-see-through walls.

And the transformation is rapid.

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Ta-da!

Which is handy, because I was in a bit of a mizzog mood this morning, having woken up with a headache. This is not hugely uncommon when I’m a little (or more than a little) stressed, because if I wake up in the ~couple of hours before I’m due to get up, then go back to sleep, I’ll almost invariably get a headache. It’s okay if I wake up enough to remember to drink a load of water, but if I just roll over, curse the fact I’m awake, and go back to sleep it’s a fairly reliable headache inducer.

No, I don’t know why. It might be entirely psychosomatic, but it also tends not to really respond to pain killers.

Sometimes it’ll go away, sometimes it’ll just drift to a background thing, but sometimes it’ll just last out the day. And as lunch rolled around it was still a cracker, and was making me feel less than thrilled. I’d spent the morning poking at the shimming in the office (so that when Kathryn’s free tomorrow we can do the big wall and the corridor wall). There’s still some to do where you need to be a bit higher up, but for the most part that’s ready.

Then I poked at the dining room wall framing in the same way.

And as I broke for lunch I contemplated that I might not want to carry on, and might want to come back to the apartment, dim the lights, and feel sorry for myself. But I needled myself enough with thoughts of “if every time you have a headache, or feel tired, you stop, this will never get done”. And eventually prodded myself enough to conclude that I would try and get this one board up.

It’s not a particularly easy board, and there was a hilarious (this may be a new use of the word hilarious you’re not aware of) moment when I’d finally got the board up and it was resting on the board below it, where I realised that I’d left the screwdriver (and the screws) just about a meter away from me. Juuuust out of reach.

Of course, if I let go of the board it slowly cambered away from the wall. And I had nothing to hold it there with. Oh, and it’s excitingly near our french doors, that was fun too.

Thankfully, the step-stool acted as a hook so I could drag it towards me (note to self, plan better), rather than as I thought I’d have to, me taking it down again. Which would have made me quite sad. Because they’re quite heavy.

At some point in the process the headache got bored and wandered off, which made me happier. And the other thing that made me happier is that more and more, it’s starting to feel like a house.

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Like a place we might actually live some day.

It’s deceptive, because the floor is not in, and that is a non-trivial job involving a lot of labour. Because labour is cheaper (theoretically at least) than expensive poured floors. And the floor also requires quite a lot of planning to get the pipes in… despite us notionally having paid for a pipe plan. Nor is the boiler in, or any of the plumbing fittings…

But it’s definitely more house like. And that is very positive.

Aaand there’s more potentially positive.

We’ve been talking to a custom kitchen builder, and it was looking like we might have to settle for less than we’d hoped, despite the tinyness of our kitchen. Just trying to hit that sweet spot of “this costs us money that the house isn’t really worth” and “but we want it to be decent quality that will last” and “we want something we like” was tricky – but it turns out that they have some cabinets that were…made for someone…in error? Or from a material they don’t like? It’s unclear exactly, but they happen to be some of what we wanted, which they’re willing to sell us at a discount and then make up the rest of the kitchen.

So we’ll go check that out tomorrow.

We’re still waiting on the quote for the garage. Finally got the quote back for a surveyor to map our site – which is insanely expensive, but we don’t want the garage or the fence sitting in the wrong place… That is a ‘feh’ situation. Apparently they can’t just come out and mark the corners, they also have to draw a map and submit stuff to the county. Since this is the first company that’s actually come back with a quote, I’m inclined to end up accepting it.

There is one nice thing about drywall

The transformation is quick:

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There are now two complete walls in the office. They’re not perfect, but they’re up, and they look pretty cool.

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Just two more walls, and then we can move onto the main bedroom.

Today, however, I took advantage of the sun and finally – after a year of it just sitting – got rid of the scrap metal. We still have some remnants of the carport in the form of the roof panels. I’m hoping we can salvage the best bits of them to be our shed roof.

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Other than that, our garden is more gardeny. Although this bit will actually be garagey, if everything works out. I asked for a detailed quote from the mid-point quote (mid-point between “tuff-shed” and a proper garage builder).

This does mean we’ll have to get rid of the trusses, hopefully we can find them a home. If not, then I’ll have to break out the reciprocating saw and we can turn them into firewood.

In other news, I’ve been endeavouring to run on my days off. I’d stopped because it is f’kin freezing (often literally), and therefore icy. This morning it was looking just evilly cold, so I stuck on my leggings and a teeshirt and a a hoodie-zip-top thing, and did a short run*. This reminded me that my lungs don’t like the cold. There was some suggestion that it is asthma a while ago, but my peak flow remains unchanged, and an inhaler has no effect. So essentially I just attempt to cough my lungs out when I get sufficiently cold and work hard.

Which is what happened today.

I’m not sure how much of the persistent cough since this morning is the cold, and how much is the endless fibreglass dust that occupies our house. I mean, I wear a mask a lot of the time, but still.

Ah well.

Tomorrow it’s back to the drywall mines, as I’ll attempt to do some more bits and make our house look more housey :)

*All my runs are short.

And just for a change, plasterboard.

Yeah, yeah. I know you’re all heartily sick of Kate’s Adventures in Plasterboardland. But it’s quite exciting to me to see an exterior wall in a real room (not one of our titchy bathrooms / laundry rooms) sporting drywall.

This is not one of those days when Kathryn’s able to come work on the house, so this was just me and the giant sheets of drywall and the deeply joyful torment of the ages.

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Please also note the beautiful rotozipped socket boxes. For once I didn’t maul the drywall in the process.

I actually put up 3 sheets, there’s one in the hall (which didn’t go so well, I think I was really a bit too tired for doing it).

It is definite progress though.