My street is a hive of activity right now. Every other home is having work done; painting the exterior, repairing gutters and windows, even changing paving in the front garden. And I’m one of that number. My replacement windows arrived yesterday and will be fitted as soon as the scaffolding comes down from the repainting of the upper floor. Very soon my house will be looking smart and be well protected from the winter storms no doubt to come.
The bizarre thing is we’ve had such a great summer that on Saturday evening when it was much cooler than usual, it was instantly recognisable that autumn was here. Just like that. So why is September the time of year that everyone plans their outdoor work? You’d think May or June would be more practical. The summer is still to come, the days are extra long because its not dark til 10pm, but instead we end up racing against the weather! The last two weeks have been settled and fine. Last night it rained. And the sky has continued to drip on and off all morning. Grrr.
I didn’t actually plan to have my exterior painted in September. That much I have to say in my defence, it was all planned for the end of August, but my windows were delayed. They took about three weeks longer than expected and the contractors didn’t want to be here more than a week in advance of the windows. So it all got pushed back.
I started planning my window replacement and exterior repainting in about February. I stood looking at the rain as is lashed against my damaged window sill and knew that I had no choice but to schedule the repairs for the summer – and unless you plan on doing the work yourself, there is a lot to schedule. Why? Because any contractor that is currently decorating an interiors project will be snaffled by his clients and asked to ‘carry on’ and do the outside as well. You may be lucky and live in a home that is unpainted brick. So much easier because the only choices required are for the window frames, reveals, woodwork and doors, but given the height of most of our houses in the UK, even that requires scaffolding which is now generally used for exterior redecorating and they too get booked up. And as they get booked and the available choice gets smaller, the price goes up. Where scaffolding is concerned, get this booked by your decorator, it’ll be so much less complicated. And there are some companies that have their own scaffold, as mine do. It’s a mobile tower that fits in small spaces and can be moved along the building as required. Such a good idea, I can’t quite understand why more contractors/decorators don’t have them.
If, as I do, you live in a house that has a painted pebble dash and brick exterior, you also have the mine field that is choosing your paint colour. I do this every day for other people and feel completely relaxed in helping them decide what colours they’ll use. For myself, it’s a nightmare! I don’t even know how many colours I’ve looked at, how many tester pots I’ve bought, how many patches of colour I’ve painted on the side of the house – and how many I’ve painted over because I instantly hated the choice that at first had looked wonderful on the colour chart. I think it’s fair to say I’ve been looking for the right colour for three months. No client in the world would allow me that long to put the scheme together for them!
As part of the process, I investigated bespoke paint mixing. It sounds a great idea if you’ve fallen in love with a colour that doesn’t come in the formulation you need – in this case masonry paint. But then things get complicated, the company I visited is a firm that has a long history of paint mixing, but they do it for a cost. To have the exact colour mixed was going to take two weeks in a laboratory and then a £25 charge for a 300ml sample, plus a mixing charge for the colour to be blended into masonry paint. This was all on top of the paint cost, there was no offsetting of the lab charge against the final product. It didn’t take me long to decide no dice.
So, the lessons to be learned from this are that planning exterior work is a slow process and that delays to components make it even more unpredictable. Don’t think that you can decide one Saturday that you’ll get the work done and it’ll all be finished by the end of the week. Allow for your work to be scheduled and for the previous jobs to overrun – there’s no-one who’ll let their contractors go without adding a few extras to the snagging list! And even if you’re doing the work yourself, allow time to find the colour you really want.
Next on the list, paving my front garden and patio….
Don’t forget to vote! The closing date is 5th October.