Sometimes the things that people do to repair their houses beggars belief. Those of you whop have followed the epic refurbishment of our new house will not have failed to notice that we discovered a lot of – how shall we say – bodge it and scarper repairs and ‘improvements’. The scariest up until now as the three pin mains double socket above the bath in the bathroom. You know, for when you really want to sit in six inches of water and make toast. Other gems included bare (live) wires in the wall where a socket plate had been removed. Home brew electrics out to the shed that were made of several lengths of offcuts of cables just twisted together and roof leaks at the front that had been repaired by just painting over the splits in the roofing felt with black household paint.
The previous owners of this house seem to have been very much of the school of “if we can’t see it, it isn’t happening. La! La! La! I can’t hear you!”. The carport was condemned when we found serious wet rot that was threatening structural failure of the main cross beam that had been hidden by panelling around the beam with thin plywood, wood filler and a lick of paint to hide the join. Under the bath the outflow was leaking due to – as it turned out – the wrong sized washers being used in the pipe fittings. Their response to the leak and the damage caused to the ceiling beneath? Cut out the square of ruined plasterboard and insert a new scrap piece and paint it. Out of sight and out of mind. Of course, the leak was still there, and eventually came right back through the ceiling.
The utility room has become the latest area to receive a full revamp. The roof had suffered from cowboy repairs, and the whole building was not exactly built to a good standard with signs of wet rot. When the builders arrived and got to work they found a few new horrors buried away. The most bizarre was finding that the walls only went to waist height. Above this level, hidden behind hardboard cladding on the inside and some cheap pine clapboard on the outside, there was nothing. The roof was held up by a couple of pieces of two by two and an old window frame (still with glass in but buried behind the home brew ‘improvements’.). We’ve had a real wall built up, with an inside wall added and insulation in between. The lack of insulation in the old utility room was shocking – more so because the combi boiler is in there. Back when we were having temperatures of -16C, the boiler might as well have been outside for what good a thin layer of hardboard could do to insulate it from the freeze.
That wasn’t the biggest horror though. Neither was finding that the roof had been patched with old newspapers dated July 1995 so that we know when the cowboys were here. No. The biggest horror was that the electrics had no fuse. Oh, they had a place for a fuse to go, but instead of a fuse the idiots who lived here before had taken the view that a rolled up wedge of tin foil was far better. Basically, there was no fuse to blow. If you had the misfortune to touch one of the bodged bare wires, you were live until the national grid got bored of giving.
The shocking standards of the electrics in this house (all now put right by visits from properly qualified electricians) just shows that it is about time that houses had to be both gas and electricity certified as safe at the point of sale. Forget all this vacuous energy certificate nonsense – let’s have a far more useful system that actually stops dangerous homebrew electrical work being passed on to the unknowing who could end up being killed or seriously injured through the previous owner’s criminal incompetence.