There are some people in life who appear to be able to make things unintentionally very difficult. Maybe, though, it is not so unintentional but a reflection of a subliminal desire to be in control. The local planning office, it would appear, have some of these. I phoned the planning office some weeks ago to enquire about what exactly was needed to change our unattractive and leaking flat-roof for a more attractive, warmer and generally superior pitched and tiled roof. Allegedly I had to fill in a form, draw pictures of said roof, maybe include a photo, and write a cheque for £20. Allegedly the planning office like pitched roofs so much that they don't really need a full application for planning permission, they just needed to check that all is well and then give the go-ahead. Allegedly.
At the beginning April before we even owned the house, we fulfilled all their requirements, sent off the paperwork and cheque, and waited. And waited. And then waited some more. I phoned the office and left four, or was it five, messages on the answer phone of the designated planning officer. We heard nothing. The builders were getting edgy by this time as they were running out of work to do. They were talking about going home.
I called again and this time spoke to a person. They informed me that designated person was in the office and she would ensure they they returned my call. This time. She did.
"I am sorting out your application now. But I am a little confused: you have filled out all the paperwork for a full planning application but only included the fee for an enquiry."
"Oh," I replied. "I was informed that we only needed an enquiry as you like pitched roofs. I filled out the forms I was told to fill out. What is the problem?"
"You need full planning permission for a pitched roof. We do like them and will give you permission but you still need to go through the enquiry and THAT WILL TAKE AN ADDITIONAL SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS AND COST YOU £150"
At this point I nearly hit the roof, pitched and flat! I had been leaving messages on her phone for the last four weeks! I had fulfilled all the requirements they wanted! Why wasn't I told this before when I first phoned up? What numpty gave me wrong advice in the first place? I WANT TO SPEAK TO YOUR BOSS!
I did. He was very apologetic. They are putting the application through in four weeks not eight and are being very helpful. It is just as well as I told them I would be sending them a bill for the additional costs if they didn't. The builders did run out of work to do and have gone off to other jobs but will be back tomorrow. Phew.
We have used the time to strip wallpaper, wash walls, and sort some stuff in the garden.This isn't easy as Isla and Angus both want to "help". Isla's help mainly consists of moving things around although she tried to strip wallpaper yesterday. She picked up a scraper and tried poking it at the wall in an 18 month-old effort to imitate Mummy and Grandma. Sadly it wasn't very effective and we also haven't seen the scraper since. Angus tries to help too and sometimes is an asset. Other times he gets either so excited that he begins to bounce, or so bored that he wanders off. He is currently trying to lift floor tiles from the lounge with Dad while I work hard at checking that Isla is still asleep. I am curious as to what is going on right now in our new house... The floor tiles appear to be the one thing that we really don't like but that have been firmly and securely fitted.
I also, at this point, need to publicly thank the in-laws Chris and Tricia. They have been staying for the weekend and have child-sat and paper-stripped and garden-tidied and wall-washed and tile-removed and dinner-cooked all weekend. If you know them, do thank them on my behalf.
A few photos of the house so far:
The back of the garage had, at some stage, been extended but was done so badly that it wasn't safe. It had to come down although we had wanted to do that next year. It became evident, however, that it had to happen sooner rather than later. We will be building a proper utility area with downstairs loo and shower.
The builders had already removed the ceiling from the room over the extension is preparation for taking it off and replacing it with a higher ceiling and pitched roof. It is rather noisy in here now when it rains!
We have done a lot of garden clearing and have found three umbrellas, several balls, various dolls and doll accessories, a spade, two brooms, a shoe, a slipper, socks, a dvd cover and various other items all hidden in the long grass and under the bushes!
Another view of the back of the garage. Do you see the small freezer in there? That was left behind along with a double bed, snooker table, some cookery books, bags of clothes, a baby's changing table, horse's feed bucket and grooming brushes, and a lot of other stuff in the garage.
The hole in the kitchen ceiling has been extended to remove all the rotten boarding and prepare it for repair. The builders won't do that until the roof is replaced in case we get heavy rain while the roof is off and ... Let's not think about that.
We still have a long way to go. Most of the wall paper is off and we are trying to work out just how much we can do before we move in. I know what I would like to do but I need to be realistic. I will keep you posted on the balance between dream and reality!