I'm a 'normal' guy called Dave. I'm a husband, a father, and a dog owner. This is my life.

Breaking out of the box (room).

We moved into a 2 bedroom (and one box room) house a couple of years ago, just before we fell pregnant with our second child. The box room was suitable for the second born for a short while, you could fit a cot in there, but as he got older I realised this was not a viable long term solution. The room was 2.5 metres x 2.2 metres, ish. Half the room was taken up by a box that was necessary for headroom going down the stairs.

So we had 2 options. Move again, or extend the box room. This was our 3rd move in 5 years, I was done with that.
I knew this wasn’t going to be a small job, I had to extend the box out over the stairs, and extend the partition wall into the other front bedroom. I did what any self respecting man would do. I called a joiner. 3 in fact.
First one took my details, took a description of the job, said he was interested and would call back to arrange a visit, and then ghosted me.
Second one took my details, took a description of the job, came out to have a look, told me he would call me with a quote, then ghosted me.
Third (time lucky?) Joiner… Took my details, the description, came out to have a look, said he’d call with a quote, ignored me for 3 weeks, texted me with some short staffed excuses, and quoted me just under a grand. I was fed up at this point, I accepted his offer in order to get the job done quickly.
Then he ghosted me.
How difficult is it to get someone to take my money!?
At this point I was really tired of the ghost game, so I decided I was doing it myself. Cost me a couple of hundred in tools that I needed to do it, another couple of hundred in materials. The box was concerning me though. I drew the plans, calculated the measurements, everything was perfect, apart from one thing. Me. I know how quickly I lose interest. Things usually always start well planned, well documented, all set for a professional job. Then I get bored and go into “meh, its close enough” mode.
By chance on one of my evening dog walks, I bumped into one of the locals. The dad of one of my daughters friends from nursery. Got chatting, told him my story, found out he was a builder / joiner. Offered him some money to help me and he agreed. Now all I had to do was wait for my delivery. The day my materials were supposed to arrive and I’m eagerly waiting to give Keith a call to see when he’s free. Lorry turns up, drops off the materials, hands over the invoice, leaves. One problem. Half of my delivery is missing. Not just missing from the delivery, missing from the invoice too. I called B&Q, they apologised, said it went missing at the warehouse, and resent it. A week later, delivery day 2 arrives. Lorry turns up, drops off the materials, hands over the invoice… Half of my delivery is missing again! By this point it was the end of February… 2020… I called again, told them I needed this delivery, all of it, as soon as possible. They resent it again. Finally, March 2020, my delivery arrives. Keith comes down at the weekend, we make a start on the room. As I said, I had to extend the box out above the stairs as the plan was to have the box stretching from the wall above the stairs, right to the external wall, and use that as a base for the bed when my son was old enough to get up and down there safely when half asleep. This meant I had to raise the height of the box. Health & safety regulations state you need at least 2 metres clearance (headroom) on the stairs. So we had to extend the box out and up, make sure it was attached securely to the wall, and could support weight. Once the wall was knocked out, we could see more clearly what we needed to do. First thing, build the box. This would give us the height we needed to build the external wall, and the frame to attach to the wall. We built the frame for the new box on top of the existing one (no point in redoing work that was already done). Then, at the end of the frame, we built the stud wall supports. Finally, we had a finished frame.

Just one more thing had to be done. Test it. As it was my house, and I wasn’t sure asking Keith to risk falling through the floor onto and down the stairs would be an appropriate favour to ask, I hopped up on to the frame. walking across the beams from the safe end to the floating end, I was ever so slightly nervous. After all, I helped build this. Success! I didn’t plummet through the floor, I didn’t destroy half the house, I didn’t end up in A&E!

Now we just needed to cover the frame, but this had to wait until the next day. I had some plywood from my delivery for covering the box, and some plasterboard for the walls. I cut the plywood to shape for the sides of the box, perfect fit. I then measured out the awkward shape for the top of the box, and this is where it started going a bit wrong. The shape I had cut was about 10 mm too big, and squint. No idea how, i used a set square for the corners! That’s what I get for thinking “I’ll just make a start on this before Keith gets here, how hard can it be?”
So, we chopped the end off and re-cut that, planed and sanded the larger part to fit, attached them to the frame, and BOOM! We had a box. Next we attached the plasterboard to the stud frame. This was going really well, until we got to the wall over the stairs. Neither of us is 10 foot tall and neither of us had ladders that would stand on stairs (they would have to be sideways as we couldn’t lean them on the wall we were about to cover). Gave it a bash anyway. We cut the plasterboard to size, one of us went under it and pushed it up, while the other leaned over the banister to guide it into place. It was such a snug fit on the edges that once it was up, and before any nails had even seen it, it stayed up.

We still had to nail it in place though, and the ladders I had were either far too big, or far too small. There was only one thing left to do. Keith stood on my shoulders to get the top ones in. The rest were relatively easy, a bit of leaning out, stretching up, but do-able. Finally, after 2 days work, 3 deliveries, 3 ghosting’s by “professionals”, and a lot of swearing on my part, the first wall was complete. And not a moment too soon, as lockdown happened the following weekend.

Just the ‘easy’ wall to do now. (And painting)

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