Building of our extension started on February 20 this year. It was finished today*. That’s a full nine months. And it feels like we’ve been through a gestation period.
Today, the step tops were filled in and finished, bringing an end to the project and making me very, very happy. It’s probably pleased Builder Dave as well.
Clive, on the other hand, is probably thinking he’d prefer never to have heard of us. Okay, I think he enjoyed the early stages but the terrace has been a bit of a nightmare for him. First there was the uncertainty around the design then the Episode of the Incorrect Tile Thickness which had him take down what he’d built and rebuild at the correct height and then, finally, the revolting job he had today.
It all started well. There’d been some concern (mainly expressed by Builder Dave) that there wouldn’t be enough gravel so, before starting the process of permanence, Clive filled the top step with loose gravel. It turned out there was plenty of gravel and so the preparations proper started.
Today Clive was joined by Mikey (a guy I’d never met before) who would be in charge of cleaning everything between pours. The two of them spent a lot of time measuring out gravel and placing the bags in easy reach for when the crazy mixing schedule was running. The two part resin mixture was also placed in the optimum position. They then decided they’d need a cup of tea before the mayhem began…just like the song.
Having satisfied their tannin desiring tastebuds, the two of them then surveyed the job ahead for one final time. Just before the off, Clive said that Mikey would have to time the process. Mikey said he wouldn’t have a hand free. Clive said he couldn’t possibly do it either. Obviously I spoke up and said I’d time it on my phone. Clive was probably annoyed that the problem was solved, meaning he’d still have to do the job.
The mixer went on and they stood ready with parts A & B for me to say “Go.” I did and then it was all manic. The resin was happily spinning around, looking like a big bowl of caramel. After two minutes, I called time and the gravel went in. This had only one minute and the time was soon up. Clive told Mikey to tip the mix into the barrow. It was like a rather stiff cake mix.
This load was tipped into the bottom step and Clive immediately went to work, smoothing and levelling (the same as with concrete), cursing and groaning all the while. The problem was two fold. The resin was ridiculously sticky and the consistency was rapidly getting stiffer. To say it was difficult to work would be understating the obvious. Then the unthinkable happened.
While I’d been holding Emma, something she wasn’t too happy about, Day-z had spent most of the time sitting on the lounge, still recovering from her op yesterday. Naturally I wasn’t watching her. And naturally she decided it would be a good time to go to the loo. And, because the bricks we’ve been using for steps, were difficult to navigate because of various bags of gravel and pots of resin, naturally she decided to walk down the steps.
Three voices joined in shouting at her to stop, go back, sit down, beg…anything. Nothing worked and she proceeded to walk right through Clive’s beautifully level gravel. I immediately grabbed her and took her up the back. Given the resin begins setting as soon as the two parts are combined, I knew I’d have to get it off her feet as soon as possible. I left Clive and Mikey to sort out her paw prints.
I wasn’t that bothered about her hair. I figured I could just cut off the stickiness. Gravel between her paws, however, was my main concern. And I have to agree with Clive: the stuff is horrible. It’s sticky, smelly, and all things unpleasant. Anyway, against most odds, I managed to get every trace of rock off her feet, telling her off and being nice because of her ears, all at the same time.
Back in the house, I cut off the remaining (now solid) resin binding her hair together. In the process, I discovered that she’d somehow stepped on a leaf which has now become one with the bottom of one of her paws.
While Clive struggled with the bonded gravel, Mikey set to work cleaning everything for the second mix. It’s important that everything is cleaned between mixes because it sets like concrete if left for too long. This is not just in the mixer but on trowels, straight edges, levels, in fact every tool that comes within a few feet of the stuff. He looked a bit sad so I told him he was doing a jolly fine job cleaning everything. He came back with the fact that he’d have to do it all over again after the top step.
And so, the first section completed, they decided to stop for lunch before starting all over again.
And, to Clive’s credit, the top step seemed to go a lot easier. When I told him he now had the knack, he grunted. I told him the next time a client wanted bonded resin that he’d be the go-to guy. He said he’d never do it again; that our steps were the first and final bonded resin job he was ever going to do. I brightened his day by declaring how lovely it would be to have a unique Clive job.
Builder Dave turned up during the final mix and also mentioned putting the bonded gravel down as a job they could do with Clive the expert. I can’t really type what Clive said but it wasn’t very nice considering he was talking to his boss.
Finally, it was just a question of moving all the heavy machinery out of our back garden and into various vehicles. I stood on the terrace and just stared, a smile on my lips. Finished. At last.
Mirinda was convinced this wouldn’t be done until next spring after the weather had improved. I have always had faith in Dave, though it had been slipping a bit lately. Still, that’s all in the past now and I feel great joy and relief in typing OUR EXTENSION HAS FINISHED.
* This is not strictly accurate. There’s still a couple of tiny jobs to be completed upstairs but I’m not counting them, given they’ll take about ten minutes when Electric Tim can slot us in.