And it all came tumbling down….

At last, the bureaucrats in the planning office are happy, the building warrant has been approved – building can commence. Hallelujah!

Well that was the plan anyway…

However you describe what happened next, it certainly wasn’t ‘building’ as I understand it. Quite the opposite in fact.

To start with my architect and engineer turned into human moles and became obsessed with digging little holes everywhere.  They would fill the hole with water, sit there until all the water had drained away, and then go and dig another one two feet away. (How many years do you have to study to be an engineer to learn how to use a bucket and spade??) Eventually, at the end of about 3 days impersonating moles, the fiat went forth: the whole building needed to be underpinned.

Really? I mean, there are parts of that building that are probably about 200 years old. Stuck up on the side of a hill exposed to the raw forces of the Scottish weather, the building has survived pretty well. I’ve witnessed 80mph gales and temperatures down to -20°, so surely if the walls have been standing that long, they must be pretty solid – why disturb them now? Who knows, but I suppose if you’re going to pay umpteen thousand pounds to an engineer to assess your site, even one with a fetish for digging holes, probably worth taking his advice. Foundations all round it is then!

So the whole stack of plans and elevation drawings and measurements and engineering calculations were handed over to the builder. Everything he needed so building could begin. Hahaha…

What would you do if you came home one day and discovered your builder had failed to mention there’d been a bit of a minor mishap….OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Did I mention, in one of my previous posts, something about the incompetence of the builder? Hmmm, on an epic scale as it turned out…

In truth, when faced with something like this, there are only 2 options: Laugh or Cry. I laughed. Hysterically. For quite a long time.

It appears that my Yellow Pages builder ‘lacked experience with old buildings’. (Really? I would never have guessed.) So instead of digging out and underpinning the walls a metre at a time, so as not to undermine the rest of the building, he decided it would save time to dig out to foundation level along the entire 100ft length of wall in one go. With no stable ground left to hold it up, the wall collapsed.

And it gets better! Not content with demolishing the outside of the building, he also decided to scrape out the ground inside the building, ready to pour the concrete. But again he took out too much ground and in doing so destabilised all the internal walls – to such an extent that the engineer decided that all of the interior of the building would now have to be underpinned as well.

At this point it felt like the entire building was mostly held up by Acrow props…

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And the occasional half a brick…

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 (Actually I think it was largely held up by my constant litany of prayer – Please don’t let it fall down any more, please don’t let it fall down any more, please don’t let it fall down any more…)

At this point I should probably have found myself another builder. But I really couldn’t face that yellow pages palaver again, so I generously decided to put it down to his inexperience, rather than challenge his ineptitude. But let’s be honest – by now, the divorce was definitely on the cards.

Still, at least when he moved on to the front of the building, he had figured out the right way to do it…….

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A bit at a time….

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My only saving grace was that since it was the incompetence of the builder that caused the damage, he had to pick up the cost of rebuilding. But it delayed the completion of the foundations by several months.

Moral of the story? Find an experienced builder – before you start!!

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