All was going well until I received a text from my teen son in mid-November, it read:
I hereby inform you that I am withdrawing my services from the ‘project’. What’s for tea?
I hereby warn you to stop seeing the parson’s daughter. Since you made her acquaintance you have been sullen and beset by ill humour. In addition, your curtains are permanently drawn, and when you eventually emerge from your quarters, I notice that you appear more hunched. It’s fish fingers.
A shame, but it all started out so wonderfully…
Fade in. Spring 2017.
Stage one: The base.
Standard 6×2 floor joist propped up by 4×4 posts.
Please note, when you buy timber marked as 4 inch by 2 inch, it is of course smaller than that. It is in fact, 3 and 6/8ths of an inch by 1 and 6/8ths of an inch.
The imperial measuring system is from times of yore, and we have now ditched it for the far more accurate metric system, which the timber yards refuse to use. Saying that, you can actually buy timber that is 3 inch by 2 inch but you have to ask for a ‘Full 3 inch’. Which they will pretend doesn’t exist, because they have to go to the extreme effort of pushing through those plastic flap curtains to get it.
“Ere Geoff! Got an awkward customer out here. He’s asking for some wood that’s the same size as what he wants.”
Of course, the timber yard does have its benefits. I found a piece of dowling in Homebase for £4.25. I found the exact same piece in the timber yard for 80p. The only difference was that at the timber yard they called me a ‘bald twat’ and made some rather wild assertions about my wife’s nocturnal activities.
So, if I had to give Homebase some advice, it would be to lower their prices and dial up the abuse. I put this on twitter and I was thrilled to discover that they immediately implemented 50% of my advice. Now all they need to do is lower their prices.
Another important thing to note is that any young siblings will try and walk on your frame before the post cement has set. This is a great opportunity to reintroduce swearing into your family circle.
Stage 2. Boredom.
Once the initial enjoyment of outdoor swearing wears off, boredom soon smothers your enthusiasm. I took a ‘project break’ and decided to clean the chimney instead. Things escalated quickly…
This is a picture of me in my youth. Full of hope and optimism.
This is a picture of me in my mid-forties, after I’d been up a chimney because I’d become bored of swearing at my own kids.
Stage 3. Teen Banter.
Time to insulate the base.
The best product on the market is called Kingspan, but it’s expensive. You can use a cheaper alternative called Quinn Therm. It took my teen son only a few moments to change this to ‘Quim Therm’ and then ultimately to ‘Fanny Foam’.
Please note. You only need to insulate the floor if you want the outbuilding to be habitable. If you using it for storage only, you don’t need any Fanny Foam.
Stage 4. Summer break.
If all is going well, the project should be progressing at a snail’s pace. It’s now time to leave it all behind and go away on your family holiday.
My wife and I both don’t drink. I had to stop because when I drink booze my feet swell up, and my wife stopped because when she’s drunk, she finds it harder to take pictures of my balloon feet and post them on the internet.
So it came as a great surprise to both of us when we discovered that my wife had mistakenly booked us on a booze cruise. It was a disaster. We all hated it, apart from our teen son, who had his ‘coming of age’ holiday. By that I mean he met a Scottish girl called Judy in the arcade. It transpired that Judy was generous with her affections and also amazing at Frogger.
Stage 5. Back to the grindstone.
You’re suitably refreshed from your holiday, and ready to get back to the project. Which is why it comes as a complete shock that you decide to go back up the chimney.
Take heart. This is just a temporary diversion based on the fact that you have totally underestimated how much the project is costing. By going back up the chimney you are not only metaphorically, but physically hiding from your costly mistake.
This is a deep psychological fault that can take many years of expensive therapy to cure. Or you could just board up the chimney.
Stage 6. Walls.
Back to the timber yard. Get some 3 and 6/8ths by 3 and 6/8ths of rough sawn softwood. Or ask for a ‘Full 4×4’ but remember, these don’t exist.
My timber yard does free deliveries but this can work out to be a false economy. They don’t have time to sift through the stock, so you end up with damaged and bent pieces. You can of course take these back and complain, but this will put you on their ‘Hate list’. As discussed above, being on the ‘list’ involves being exposed to ‘wife ridicule’. If you’re thinking about complaining to the timber yard, it may be prudent to get a divorce first.
Stage 7. Take a break.
On a long term project it’s important to try and forget you ever started it. To do this, my wife and went to London for the weekend.
My wife loves London, but she also loves to laugh, so I took her to the Tate Modern. There were plenty of modern art installations in there for her to laugh at. But the laughter soon stopped when she saw this…
Of course, when I first entered the room I thought I was back in the timber yard and tried to order 4 lengths of wood from the small boy with the otter’s head.
Stage 8. Present day.
It is now nearly Christmas and my son has abondoned the project. I am left with a half-built hut that resembles a Hillbillie’s moonshine shack.
All in all, a monstrous project that was hastily conceived, and so was the hut.