Thursday, February 07, 2008

Black Dog & Blogging excuses #3
What set the bout of melancholy this time?

Okay, so I've just come out of the latest god-awful fit of melancholy. (It's my phrase. I'm happy using it. I know it's a delusional statement. I know it's putting an easy, harmless label on it. I don't care. Melancholy it is.)

It all started with a few things going wrong with the house. Then I had the misfortune to go up into the attic and see water coming in through some of the brickwork up there. Obviously, me being the terrible pessimist that I am, I went straight to a worst case scenario and decided that not only was there something wrong with the main wall of the house, the chimney stack was also suspect and I just descended into what I still insist on calling "a fit of melancholia".

We've had small roof problems for a while now, it started last February with a couple of damp patches in Molly's ceiling. Instant panic hit and we got the builders in to look at it and then we got the roofers in as well. Of course, we're covered by the NHBC home insurance guarantee for a new house but that didn't really reassure me, neither did it stop me stressing over the trouble we had actually getting the builder to respond to phone calls.
But eventually, after a few roofer visits it was, seemingly sorted. One leak was due to a nail puncturing the membrane of the roof lining and the other was due to the very porous brickwork required of the build.
(When these houses were put up, so we're told, the council demanded brickwork and features in keeping with the area, hence old style bricks and wooden windows. All very nice until the water starts to get in.)
Roofer came several times about the main leak and eventually sorted it by sealing the roof joins and flashings and applying a waterproof seal to the brickwork.

Or so we thought.
All was well until a few months ago when I discovered a tiny leak leak in the main roof where the gas flue vent goes. Nothing too bad again and the roofer and I agreed that it could be done in the New Year when the weather improves. To be honest, like Louise points out, most normal folks who just pop up into their roofs for the Christmas tree once a year would never have seen this. And it wouldn't have made an iota of difference to the house. It's just me. Once I knew there was something wrong with one bit of the roof I was instantly on the lookout for anything else.

Then I notice that the brickwork behind the decorative chimney in the main attic is leaching salts and some water in. And finally, on one of my regular checks to ensure that the attic above molly's room was really not leaking again, I discovered the water seeping in through the brickwork again.

What doesn't help in these cases is that I have no sense of reason, scale or seriousness to apply to house and DIY type problems because I'm so incompetent at these things. The smallest thing can make me think the walls and the roof are coming in. And this was just that sort of thing.

When the builder came round I think he finally realised what an incompetent, stressed out idiot he was dealing with and explained everything in great detail, emphasising how minor and fixable the problems were. Another sealant on the walls, check the flashings and seals round the chimney, more sealant on the chimney bricks, and all should be okay. The water coming in through the bricks in Molly's attic was due to the incredible amount of rain this winter. the bricks can't cope and what I'm seeing is the side part of the cavity tray where water is naturally channeled to the drip holes at the front of the roof. All it will take is someone to seal the sides of the brick, create a lip on the drip trays and all will be well.
When he said it I immediately felt a weight lift from my being.

All was right with the world again.
The inside work has been done and we're waiting for the bricks to dry a little more before the roofers come round to apply final seals.
Of course, I'll be up and down the attic ladders near continuously onc it starts raining again, checking for every little thing and hoping, desperately that all really is well.

Perhaps the whole thing is best illustrated by this little exchange that Louise and I had just before the builder came in:
Louise: "what's the worst that could happen?"

Me: "the water could keep coming in, they never find a fault, and have to keep trying increasingly pointless things, the wall gets completely saturated, the chimney is weakened, comes plummeting down through the house, and we live with one end of the house wrapped in a tarpaulin sheet for a month whilst the builder goes out of business and we try to get insurance out of the bank before we can get the repairs done."

Louise: (deep breath) "okay....."

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