The difference really is quite shocking. I'm startled every time I walk into the kitchen, because the street outside looks like some kind of hyper-reality. So clear! So vivid! So colourful! It's one of the few things we weren't willing to attempt ourselves, although having watched the men and listened to them working, I think the main difficulty is making sure you don't drop the glass. I think with a smaller (downstairs) window, this is definitely something I'd attempt myself in the future (after a good bit of reading, of course). Still, as we only replaced the glass, and as it only took a couple of hours to do all three windows, it didn't cost much at all. Another job off the list.
The plasterer is coming back this week to measure up for scaffolding. The job itself is straightforward, but the ceiling is so high you can't reach it with a ladder. It was boarded many years ago, but never plastered, and it's been annoying me the whole time I've been here but the last quote we had was so extortionate we put it out of our minds. This is another job the estate agent suggested we tackle, as it really does make the room look scruffy, and looks like it will be difficult to fix, so will put people off.
I've asked the plasterer to quote for the job I was planning to do myself, over the stairs. I'm not entirely happy about being too wimpish to do it myself... but his quote was reasonable and I'll still have to paint it (a job I can do standing on the landing, with a paint pad and roller on a stick). One day I'll accept that you don't have to do everything yourself (that day is probably not going to be today, though).
Still, in our year of house preparing, these are the only jobs we've had people in to do. Everything else we have done, or will do, ourselves. It's been difficult at times, and yes, we have complained. But let's assume it's going to take us another six months - that'll be eighteen months in total. My guess (and I'll work it out properly when we're done) is that we'll have spent around £1500 in total on doing up this house to sell - including the plasterer, windows, and all materials we've bought.
Yes, we could have moved an awful lot sooner if we'd have spent several thousands more getting people in to do awkward jobs and even just decorating for us. Peter's spent hours sourcing things (doors, floorboards etc) from Freegle and Ebay and Gumtree, and borrowing tools from friends, when we could have rocked down to Wickes and bought new. At times, I confess I've been impatient and wanted to do things right now, wanted to make a problem go away by throwing money at it. That's essentially what I'm doing with the plastering over the stairs, and I still don't feel comfortable with it.
I'm not saying we've done the right thing - I'm not even sure there is a right way of going about such things. You might be reading this and thinking 'for goodness sake woman, stop agonising and just get someone in to do the lot!' But as much as I've had moments of wanting to do that, I know that in the long run, we'll thank ourselves for having taken the slow route.
I think in some ways we're saying goodbye to this house.
We spend a lot of time saying 'in our new house, we'll....' but I know we'll miss this place. We'll miss the creaky floorboards, the wonky walls, the people walking past the windows and the children playing in the street. We'll miss being so close to both town and the countryside, and to friends and cheerful cafes. We'll miss the enormous windows and the skylights, and the many, many stairs.
But I won't miss having my eye distracted every time someone walks down the street. I won't miss knowing anyone walking past can see into my entire garden. I won't miss having the kitchen doubling as a music room. I won't miss having to park several streets away sometimes, having my wheelie bins fall over in the wind because there's nowhere flat to keep them, and hearing people walking past shouting on their way home from the pub.
Slowly, we're getting ready, both practically and emotionally.
I'm now back up to where I was before I unravelled it, and things are progressing nicely.
Today it's raining, and I'm trying to keep warm after a soggy Parkrun. I don't plan to go much further than the sofa for the rest of the day, although we might pop to a cafe for lunch if we're feeling adventurous. Got to make sure I'm well rested before going back to work, after all.