ajft.org 2006-06-17


Stairway to heaven (Attic, part 1)

We've finally got the attic ladder in place, but not without its fair share of trauma, worry, and general tradesman-inspired angst. The carpenter was initially to come on Thursday, a destroyed wheel-bearing put paid to that appointment. Early Saturday morning, nine to nine-thirty, was the new time. Only a five minutes late, Mat turned up as we finished breakfast, verified that we really did want the ladder where we'd said we wanted it — apparently he'd once installed one where the customer had said, only to be told later by the customer's wife that that was not where it was wanted, and it should be in another room — then got to work.

Banging, crashing, sawing and hammering; after ensuring that there was a dust cloth over everything still in the front room we retired to the other end of the house and did our best to ignore the destruction/construction.

The electrician turned up around noon, all set to install the light once he had access, then discovered problems with the existing lights…. As with everything else in this house, as soon as we look at something, anything, that the previous owners did when they renovated, we discover corners that were cut, dodgy practices exposed. In this case it was the lights from the hallway and front room, both of them had their earth wire cut off and tucked away, and both of them had their wire joins exposed and floating around in the ceiling, and not (legally and safely) inside the light body.

“Can you connect the earth to them for us?” It seemed the obvious question, especially when we found that it was only a very minor extra cost! “Sure, there's a main earth running along the beam right next to the light”. Bizarre, why the hell didn't they connect them to the earth the first time? I guess the same mentality that had them paint the bathroom and not bother to unclip the plastic light fitting or cisterm lid.

I'm not sure how long I'd expected the whole installation to take, maybe half a day, it was almost five o'clock by the time the electrician was finished, and he very nearly finished himself off in the process! Sitting across the open hatch and resting his foot on a piece of timber that he thought the carpenter had nailed down, the timber slipped, his feet shot forward and he fell backwards and headfirst down the ladder, one big graze from elbow to shoulder, a second from ankle to knee. He finished packing up and hobbled off home, promising to get us the compliance certificate — and the bill — some time in the next week!

Phew, done. At last….