Hey, is that a weird cube in your kitchen or are you just pleased to see me?

Okay.  So after much cursing, poking, peeking, and prodding. Also after hitting it with a hammer and something that was definitely not a screwdriver being used as a sort of chisel. And spraying it with lubricant… the lift seems to be working again.

However, because it wasn’t working we planned other things. Namely walls. And we got stuff to do them. And now we have a delightfully weird cube butting out into our kitchen. This was expected, but actually encountering it is quite different to “we’ll have a cube sticking out into our kitchen when we’re done”. 

It’s quite fun, and very angular. We, it seems, have all the angles.

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Many angles. Some of them are quite close to 90 degrees. Not many, though.

We’re almost all the way round the bathroom cube, then there’s many cupboards to attack. Well, one and a ‘sitting to put shoes on’ space, and one that I was a teeny bit short on when I was using up spare drywall. We’ll probably go back to me attacking cupboards, and Kathryn and I attacking ceilings now that the lift at least appears to be working. 

We stood around today at the end of the day talking about the cube. It’s very odd. We built this. On the exterior walls – so in every other space in the house – there’s some of the original house hiding. It may be patched, it may be modified, but it’s there. But the main bathroom has no walls that existed before we came. It even mainly stands on a sub-subfloor that we put in because the old floor was so rotten. There is no part of it not built by our hands.

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Look, more angles.

From the plywood subfloor, to the studs, to the ceiling joists, to the ducting, to the heating, to the plumbing, to the cast iron bath, to the electrics, to the drywall. It is our sweat, tears, time and effort that have made that little space exist.

It’s quite cool.

Also, angles.

And it’s broken, again.

So, today we were hoping to put up at least one of the final 3 pieces of plasterboard that make up the bottom two rows of our plasterboard ceiling in the lounge. That would be the end of the ceiling bits that we’d be lifting with our drywall lift – and then it’d be time to break out the rental lift.

But no, because our Arksen drywall lift has broken again. Now it’s just incredibly stiff to the point that we can’t lift it beyond about 8 feet with any load on it. I’m not sure if something bent, or if it’s just stiff because it has mating surfaces which are just bent metal against bent metal. At any rate, having loaded the drywall we got it to flat-ceiling height and could go no further. After several attempts to work out what was up we concluded that it’s b0rked and we can’t see where. I may try spraying some oil on it, but I suspect that it’s bent in a bit that you can’t easily get to without dismantling it, although I’m unclear how – or when – this happened. Also, I’m currently unclear whether it’s dismantleable without cutting welds. It’s hard to say when it broke because the last 3 pieces have been smaller bits that only went up to normal ceiling height on a flat ceiling, so it’s unclear what could have broken it.

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So it looks like we need to rent the posh lift, which is all very well but for the fact that I’m away for a bit in January at CES and there’s Christmas – which makes renting the lift for four weeks (which is the cheapest way to rent it for the amount of time we’ll need it) impractical; or at least wasteful. Which means that we’re not going to get back to ceiling work until after Christmas. Which is distressing.

It’s not like there’s not lots to do. But we can’t get the 12′ sheets up without a functioning lift, which means we can only do a few bits of the walls that require 8′ sheets – which restricts our choice. And again, it’s not like there’s not lots to do. It’s not like this actually really slows us down (apart from the half day we’ve lost today) but it’s irritating to have our plans thrown. And it’s more irritating because this piece of kit has cost us in time and money (although at the moment we’re out $40, which is a lot less than it’d cost for us to rent a lift for as long as we’ve had this one).

Thankfully, today wasn’t a total washout. This morning was spent working on the radiator in the bathroom. We’re tapping into the underfloor circuit (at the manifold) to feed radiant towel warmers in both bathrooms. This will involve fun with adjusting valves to get a sensible rate of flow through both circuits, I suspect. At any rate, I cut the channels in the floor (through our underlay-layer of subfloor) and laid the pipe run to the 3/4 bathroom. Then I broke out the insulation and stuffed the wall with it. It’s not pretty because this wall was built 1′ on centre (rather than 16″ on centre), so I had to chop the insulation up to get it in (I could have cut one long run, but that ends up being very wasteful). You can see the pipe run on the floor there, too, with my high-tech solution to protect the pipes.

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I’ve also started insulating the main bathroom, but I need to do the same trick of running some pipe in there, which means whacking some more screws in the floor before hand, and deciding on a pipe run. Fun, fun. Well, dusty, then itchy.

I keep having these thoughts about when we might actually get to move in. Sometimes it seems like it might be tolerably close. Sometimes it seems infinitely far away.

You may find yourself endlessly trimming a piece of drywall…

…and you may ask yourself, “How did I get here?”
(…and you may tell yourself, “This is not my beautiful house”)

We finally, finally got the corridor done. All four pieces of drywall are up and fit…sufficiently well. There’s going to be some patching, some tape-and-joint compound to cover miscuts and a joint that is pretty shonky. Since we’re skimming the whole damn lot we’re hoping it will be okay, but it turned out to be all the nightmares at once.

At first glance, it doesn’t look that bad…

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I mean, we got the first board up and apart from cutting around the light fitting that, it turned out, was just caught, not actually in need of a cut-out, it went fine. Well, it took a few goes because our hall is hilariously unsquare.

Things we have learned are that unlike building in brick with plaster over the top it’s better to have a straight wall with a nice 90 degree angle on it and suffer the fact it doesn’t look right somewhere than to try and average out the errors across the house. Our house is a non-parallelogram. It’s made of curvy sides attached at corners that approximate 90 degrees. The floor is unlevel, rising half an inch to the door across a span of about 1 meter. It’s all insane. And we made many compromises to try to make it look kind-of-right. And those are biting us at every turn, because things that should be flat often have a bit of a slope. And it turns out a lot of building materials come in flat and rectangular forms.

So our hall is not square, and yeah… it has been trouble. Despite that thet first board went up yesterday morning without too much pain.

Then we tried to make the second board.

We tried every trick in the book. It was cut slightly overlarge, then scribed to fit the shape. We measured at multiple points. But having put it up-and-down probably 10 times (please recall, these things are f’kin heavy and yet fragile), it still didn’t fit at the end of the day, and it became apparent that it was still far enough out that it wasn’t realistically going to happen without disintegrating. We ended up putting it down and coming home – which was deeply disheartening as it meant that in a day we’d put up one board that’s just under 2 ft wide.

Still; Today we took the challenge up again, and took many more measurements, then hacked off more board, cut off the corner that had been damaged in it’s 800 cycles of raise-and-lower on our shoddy-ass-wavy-wobbly lift, and finally managed to get it in place. I cut the light hole pretty well, then munged the smoke-detector hole. But it’s patchable (which is becoming a mantra).

Kathryn put pretty much all of the many, many screws that hold it up (despite our book saying that if you use glue you don’t need so many screws, that isn’t something that we’ve confirmed with Oly – and frankly, on ceilings, I like them to be screwed in place).

And then we cut the final piece of corridor board, and put that up. The light hole in that one is okay, and the fit along the edges isn’t terrible.

All in all, the corridor is probably adequate. No picture, because it was dark by the time we’d finished, not because I’m afeared to show it. I’ll take a pic tomorrow :)

The good thing is we’ve now cleared enough floor space that we can do the final 3 pieces of ceiling we can do with our drywall lift in the living room area. We’d got the bottom two sections up along the rest of the ceiling:

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and it’s just the bit above the lounge which until now has had a big stack of drywall covering the floor. Now there are just two sheets – so we can move one, and the other one goes up on the ceiling, then that one we’ve moved will get put up.

I’ve also started work on the heating plumbing, some of which has to ‘sneak’ into the walls to run to the radiators in the bathrooms, and that has to happen before we can drywall the other side of the walls (we’ve done one side of them already). Then all those interior walls need insulation, the exterior ones need special little blocks for the drywall to screw to (because our floor is 3/4″ higher than the old floor) – and then they can all be drywalled.

The fun with drywall never ends.

Yes, yes, I know, I’m whingy. But as we inch closer to a house that’s liveable, it’s increasingly painful to not be in it.