It begins…

… but not quite in way we’d planned. Those plans were big, even mildly epic in scope, but in denial of fiscal realities and kind of missing the point. That point being two people in a big house don’t use all of it. There are three bedrooms rarely interacting with further humans, two of which recently occupied by now independent offspring. Sure it’s still sort of their home, they just don’t live here much.

Full disclosure, the insane plan was mine. It involved removing a roof that is needy but not desperately in need of full refurbishment, bolting eighteen large solar panels into what remained, installing all sorts of complex batteries, rebuilding most things above the first floor and replacing everything else. And that’s before we moved inside to gut an interior originally provisioned from a seedy 70s reclamation yard.

That’s not even all of the work. But it’s enough to send out clear signals that the budget would have many zeros, some of which I wasn’t sure we could realistically fund. More though it offered a miserly return on that large investment based on our stated plan of downsizing in a single digit number of years. I wanted the house to be perfect, but it doesn’t need to be.

Carol – of course – gently guided me away from the edge of that financial abyss. I came around to her view that we should only spend money on things we were going to notice. That starts* with the roof on the single story extension that has so many things wrong with it, it’d be less risky to shoot the building inspector and take my chance in court than deal with the findings of their report if we allowed him or her onto the premises.

And I do mean everything. The electrics have that ‘lucky you didn’t burn in your beds‘ vibe, the insulation was improved when a nest of hornets moved in last year, the mildly sub optimal way the roof finishes before the walls, etc – you get the idea. So I was easily persuaded this was a better place to start. It’s also the best room in the house with views across the rolling countryside.

Views we currently enjoy either wrapped up in a blanket or broiling close to melting point, depending on the season. A combination of large steels, a void where traditionally there’d be something other than moving air and the well understood concept of convection currents creats the perfect environment for temperature fluctuations that’d give the climate crisis a run for its money.

First of many holes being cut into the void.

Many, many sheets of insulation backed plasterboard to be deployed over said holes.

So that’s project one. The picture up top was an early relocation of our fragile connection to the internet super highway***. It’s not much of a connection – bouncing off the cell tower on the hill a couple of km away – but it’s kind of vital for worldofteams(tm) that represents much of my post Covid working hours.

It’s such a good solution, I’m tempted to leave it 🙂 You can argue with ISPs crappy customer support for ever, but it’s still fun to explain your connection is hanging off a long 2×4 offcut. Go find a script for that.

The antenna was originally somewhat inconveniently attached to the wall now being extensively modified to create something most of you would recognise as a working roof.

Once that’s done, we’re storming through the house like a tightly focussed tornado. Lights clearly snaffled from a 60s nuclear sub are to be dispatched to the skip, ancient fire doors will follow***, windows were care about will be embiggened and furnished with glass that lets in more than wind and rain, other windows will be painted and re-pained with glass from this century, random cables boxed in, dodgy decorating corrected, you get the drift.

I certainly do. Fix the things we see every day. Leave the rest. Perfection isn’t a destination, it’s a fallacy. That’s the second useful insight I’ve had in this process. The first being there is absolutely no way I’m getting involved in any of the actual hard graft. For reasons graded on a curve from laziness to incompetence.

Instead I’ve spent many hours researching smart LED strips which both plays to my talents and keeps me away from the proper adults. Anyway we’ve made a start even if there’s currently no end in sight. Things will certainly look different at the end of the summer, improved for sure, finished absolutely not.

Whatever happens, its going to look a lot better than that!

If I can really get on board with ‘good enough is good enough’ I might even enjoy the experience. Even if I can’t quite ignore what it’s doing to my bike buying budget.

*not quite. We had the fence fixed first. I say fixed, more taken away in embarrassment. Basically upright due to aged woodworm holding hands

**More narrow, twisted, congested lane with accompanying slow progress, frustration and swearing.

***the house was a B&B for a while. All a bit Hotel California 😉

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