helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

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How to aggravate asthma in three easy stages.

1) Get a large man to drill off the plaster covering the walls in several rooms of your house.
2) Have him drill holes in the walls and inject an unpleasant chemical into the brickwork.
3) Clean up the resulting mess.

I think that actually says everything it needs to, but in case you're interested...

Suffice to say, we would not have been replastering large areas of our house if it wasn't strictly necessary. This house was refurbished about 7 years ago, and a lot of the kind of work you'd expect to need to do on a house of this age has been done - generally to a reasonable standard. The part that wasn't done well at all was the damp proofing. We came into a house where interior walls had visibly swollen and flaking plaster - not really what you want in a new home.

We called the original company who had done the damp proofing and certified it with a 20 year guarantee, transferrable upon transfer of ownership; and a dodgy man came out and denied there was much wrong. He was supposed to be coming up with a quote, but mysteriously stopped answering our calls. After a few weeks, I said sod this for a game of soldiers and started ringing up companies in the Yellow Pages, choosing only ones certified by the British Wood and Damp Proofing Association. The first two companies I called had already gone into receivership (good start, that), but the third company turned out to be a reasonably large and robust firm. They sent round a surveyor reasonably promptly, who turned up wearing an official uniform and ID badge, and armed with a damp meter that looked a bit like a Geiger counter. Had I been more awake I would have asked more questions, but it was 8.05am and I Don't Do Mornings.

Two days later a professional-looking document turned up, with detailed information on the problem, explaining that the previous work had been done with the wrong sort of plaster. Apparently our plaster contained hygroscopic salts, which take in water. It shouldn't have ever been used for the insides of brick, exterior-facing walls - but it had been. (Possibly courtesy of previous dodgy company, who it later transpired had pulled out of the British Wood and Damp Proofing Association the previous year but had limped along for a while, dying completely about the time we were trying to contact them?). Work was recommended, but at scarily large price (ok, only ~£1500 - but still!) and we'd have to wait for them; as a reputable company, being somewhat booked up.

So we moved in anyway because we were sick of living in a flat that was too small, and started on everything we could do ourselves. And thus there was Ikea and Flat-Pack Furniture and Assembling of Flat-Pack Furniture and Trying to Understand Instructions that are Only in Symbols With No Words To Help.

This last week, I have not been here. This was because we finally(!) had the house full of damp-proofers. OK, there were only 3 of them, but they were big enough to fill the house (well, that and the fact everything in our downstairs rooms had to be piled up and covered with dust sheets). One bloke was the drilling off old plaster and drilling holes & injecting damp proofing chemicals man, one was the certified and certifiable plasterer, and the other was the bloke who carried heavy objects and mixed the plaster. I have no idea what the proper names for any of these tradesmen are: destruction engineer, plasterer and plasterer's mate? Hmmm.

Anyway, unsurprising though this might be, the removal of large amounts of wall covering from several rooms generated an enormous amount of rubble and fine dust. (I was quite impressed by the fact they actually cleared up and took away with them all the rubble, without being prompted. How impressed I am in the long run depends how this work holds up, of course.) Despite dust sheets of both cloth and polythene varieties, the plaster dust got everywhere (it consists of very small, very sticky particles). So it took several thorough cleans to get the house to a liveable state. Lucky us.

Today, there is still random dust around the place, but mostly sticking to surfaces which can be washed down (again). The air is fairly clean and unlikely to cause me dire lung death. But we still have furniture and... other objects all over the place. It seems pointless to put things back when in 3 weeks' time (when the plaster is dry) we'll want to pull everything out again to paint the walls. So boxes may persist for several more weeks. Hooray (?).

I don't know why I'm telling you all this, except that it's been a major part of my life for several days and it's now over (I sincerely hope). The best bit is - we get to do this all over again when we can afford to, but in one of the upstairs rooms, and with added removal of the lumpy render from the outside of the house! Yay!
Tags: allergies suck, house

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