Winchester Mystery House

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Right. I’m aware this is going to make me sound like a geek, and a bit off-topic, but I really like listening to the Stuff I Missed in History Class podcasts. I was listening to a few of the oldies the other day while painting and found one that was actually about DIY! While I was doing DIY!

Sarah Winchester, wife of William Wirt Winchester (of Winchester guns) went a bit mad (well, she did!) when her child and husband died, and was apparently informed by some spirits that if she ever stopped building, she’d die. So, day and night, she had contractors adding bits onto her house, until the day she died. What was even stranger was that she had them build things like stairs that went up to the ceiling, and outdoor windows inside the house, to trick the ghosts so they couldn’t get her. Check it out, it’s called Ghosts of history: Winchester Mystery House.

Imagine having building works in your house until you die, 38 years after construction began! It did make me think how important it is to have a beginning and an end to a DIY job. The planning and pricing, choosing colours and designs, can all be very enjoyable, but there’s nothing quite as satisfying as when you can lean back and look at your completed work. That’s when you know you can have a house party, let everyone look at your fantastic space and what you’ve done with it!

Barry’s been sanding all weekend and he’s started taking the old kitchen out. The new kitchen comes tomorrow! Then we can paint the walls and get the new one in. I’ve even managed to order the Next curtains that I wanted in the sale. It’s like Christmas Eve…

Lists, charts and automobiles

We have quite a hefty list of things to do, both in the living room and kitchen, and although it’s scary, we do need to get it down. Then it needs to be put into some semblance of order, and Barry is even contemplating the implementation of a Gantt chart.

While this may sound like an excuse to do anything but the job at hand, there is actually reasoning behind this. For those of you who don’t know, the idea of a Gantt chart is for you to plan what you need to do, when, and by whom, and plot it on a chart. It’s all about following the critical path, and for this, you need to know which jobs depend on other jobs being done. This is the longest the entire project should take, in an ideal world. As a simple example, we clearly can’t put the kitchen in until the plastering has been done, and we can’t plaster the walls until the ones we’re removing have been taken down. You get the idea.

It’s just a little tool to set us on track and give us a plan for each DIY day. Ours would be based on weekends only, but if Barry decided to take time off work, or we decided to spend a few evenings working on it, the schedule could be altered. Perhaps one undertaking may take longer than we thought. It also also allows you to see what jobs can be done that don’t depend on other tasks. For example, although I can’t take down a wall or move electrics, I can do paint touch-ups, clean or sand walls, fill holes with plaster, etc. I’m also not too shabby wielding a screwdriver. Drills are beyond me though!

On another note, we’ve been looking at some fabulous vertical radiators for beside the dryer in the kitchen/bottom of the stairs, shown here, but can’t decide on a colour at the moment.  Wickes have a nice range, but we may end up on eBay.  It’s a good use of the space, because we’re actually losing the only three radiators in that part of the house by losing the walls.  We’re also considering heated flooring (although slippers are cheaper!).  As we’ll be able to fit a table and chairs in the kitchen when we’re done, we will hopefully be spending more time in there, so it would be worthwhile.

Barry’s now blocked off the toilet and sink, although we had several comments from friends and family about the open plan loo (pictured right).

He’s sealed the drains with a nylon expanding plug, silicone, and expanding foam.  He did notice a full length of copper pipe down the drain, so God only knows what else is down there; no wonder we had problems!

Pictured below are the spots where they were, RIP little toilet and sink.  Show some respect; a moment’s silence please.