The Anonymous Widower

Do Builders Ever Finish Jobs?

Just look at these pictures from my house.

I’ll accept the lack of mirror in the bathroom as my fault, but the others are just bad workmanship. Anyway I have a better idea for a mirror!

February 5, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Farewell To An Old Friend

I’ve finally given up on trying to shut up my thirty-year-old Workmate. What my builders had used it for to bend, I know not!

So I put it outside the house with an appropriate note.

I suppose the fact that it got bent was because I broke rule one of dealing with builders. I didn’t lock all my stuff up in a safe place.

At least now, I’ve taken the decision to only have a builder in my house, when the project is defined down to the last nail.

It’s not surprising news to me, that we have a shortage of habitable houses and apartments in this country. Many builders couldn’t put a up a shelf on budget and to an agreed time-scale.

What is the collective noun for builders?

I would put forward a never-on-time-or-budget of builders.


February 4, 2015 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

An Unusual Office Property

I went to see this property at Highams Park, as it was featured in Open House.

The refurbishment is not complete yet, but it would make a lovely small office for a professional, who needed a lot of light. In fact the developers will be using it themselves as part of a favourable deal with Network Rail, that would appear to ensure that the signal box gets sympathetically restored.

Obviously, you’d have to like trains.

There’s more on the signal box and its history on the Highams Park Forum.

One point to note in the pictures is the subway under the tracks, shown in the picture with the train approaching. Was this subway dug under the tracks to stop idiots crossing when it wasn’t safe? And was it dug without disrupting the train service?

September 21, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Would We Benefit From More Female Builders?

Over the years I’ve employed about half a dozen or so builders and rarely has progress been at the speed they said they would manage.

Usually, this seems to be because, the exclusively male person in charge, tends to muck up on the project management and some minor mistake causes a major delay in the work.

As the documentary on Crossrail showed some high level project managers in large construction projects are now female.

Could it be that the supposedly superior multi-tasking ability of the female of the species makes them good project managers, when they get the chance, as project management is often effectively juggling several balls with one hand?

Hence the title of this post!

But having been around project management for forty years, my gut instinct says that if more small builders were female-led, we would see an improvement in the performance of the building industry.

The odd fact about builders in my experience, is that whereas builders generally muck something up, decoratprs are usually much better with performance.

Is it because you’re dealing with a craftsman, who likes everything to be as good as possible?


August 7, 2014 Posted by | World | | 1 Comment

Easing London’s Housing Crisis

It’s now four years since I bought this house.

It had been built rather badly by a company called Back Street Developments about ten years ago and there seemed to be no NHBRC registration for it. In the intervening years the previous owners had put tenants in, and they had done there best to wreck it. The owner obviously skimped on maintenance, but then all these facts were reflected in the price I paid.

Some time ago, I started to get the house straight. Finding a builder has been a nightmare!

The first builder walked away from the job after personality clashes between the owner and his work-force, leaving me without a bathroom.

I’ve got one coming in fom outside London, things seem a bit better.

An illustration of the problem is that people locally are always asking, if I know a good builder. I also want to sort my dreadful kitchen. I have asked several companies to look at it and not one has ever made a fixed appointment or even turned up.

I suspect that kitchen companies would prefer to fit out some multi-millionaire’s house in Mayfair, rather than my small kitchen.

I do wonder how many properties are not lived in, as the owners are waiting for a builder to sort it out. And how many people are put off downsizing, as theycan’t be bothered to go through all the hassle of finding a builder.

So if we sorted out the refurbishment of small and medium sized properties, would we release more properties for occupation?

The first thing we should do is to seriously analyse the homes market and identify why properties are empty or under-occupied!

Any soutions we propose should of course be nationwide, as I don’t believe this is just a London problem.

July 28, 2014 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

No Wonder The Co-Op Is In Trouble

The Co-op is reportedly in trouble financially, so today they are in the news, not about curing their problems, but because of their new office block. Here’s the first paragraph.

The Co-operative Group’s £100m new office has been declared the most environmentally friendly building in the world – ahead of its official opening by the Queen today.

One Angel Square achieved the highest ever eco rating for a building by BREEAM, the industry environmental assessment experts.

“Does the Queen get a divi?” was asked on BBC Breakfast this morning. I suppose to the BBC in Manchester, this is a low-cost story, as their crew, can just get on the tram.

I occassionally go into the Co-op at Dalston Junction station, but rarely buy anything except a paper and the odd grocery item.  It does sell Genius bread, but the last time, I tried to buy one at the store, there was only one very sorry example on sale.

I can see this morning, why they are in trouble. Flagship projects and forgetting about customers.

November 14, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment

Tottenham High Road Continues To Rise

After the riots of 2011, this area of Tottenham was in a bad way.

Compare these pictures, with those taken just after the riots, which are shown here.

November 5, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

The Problem Of Living Alone

Yesterday wasn’t the worst of days by a long way, but it does illustrate the perils of living alone.

I had four jobs to do, when I planned my day.

1. Take delivery of my new television from John Lewis.

2. Go to the Regent’s Canal to prepare myself for the Ward Forum tonight.

3. Go to John Lewis to see if one of their kitchens would fit my requirements, when I replace Jerry’s terrible one.

4. I was also expecting the builder to come round to sort out when he would finish my half-completed bathroom.

That would all seem very simple.

But the builder and the television turned up at the same time, so I naturally asked him, if he’d help me put it on the wall.  All it needed was to remove the old television, swap the bracket and then lift the other one on.  But of course the old bracket didn’t fit and just needed to be drilled out. The sort of job, that I could have easily done, if I could find my Workmate, which is somewhere under the builder’s mess in the garage. The builder then left, leaving the old television on one sofa and the new one on the other.

So I decided to go for a walk along the Regent’s Canal and then when I got to Haggerston take the 242 bus to Oxford Street for John Lewis and lunch. But then I cut my hand on something and had to get it patched up. As I was a fair walk from home, I decided to go to my doctor’s surgery to clean myself up first. They checked the wound and put a plaster on it, so at least that bit worked. I then walked home looking for someone to drill out the plate. I didn’t find anyone, as most small engineering workshops have closed.

I then realised that I also needed to get a set of spare keys cut, as the builder has all my spare ones, so I walked around the corner to the local Locksmith.  And there it was, sitting in the back of the shop, a proper bench drill. So I got the keys cut and the plate drilled so that it would fit the new television. And all for £14.  Well done, Barry!

In some ways though, it was my undoing, as I now fitted the bracket and attempted to lift the television onto the wall. I could lift it with ease, but the constant stretching of the fingers in my left hand, meant that the cut opened up and the plaster fell off. This picture shows the location of the cut, which explains a lot.

My Poor Hand

My Poor Hand

I couldn’t mount the television, as it is a job that needs two hands and two sets of eyes, because the television blocks your view of the bracket.

So eventually, I set off for Oxford Street to hopefully go to John Lewis and have some lunch. The first bus to arrive was a 30 and I intended to take it to Highbury and Islington station to go to Oxford Circus.  But the dreaded roadworks struck again and the driver couldn’t take a direct route, so he went round the houses before dropping me and perhaps twenty irate passengers at the station.

I got a train without a problem, but by the time I got to Euston, blood was now going everywhere, so at the next station I chickened out and went to A & E at University College Hospital, where I got it properly bandaged. I was also in and out in forty minutes.

I now have the problem of putting one television on the wall and getting the old one downstairs for the Council. If I could do just one of these jobs, I could at least sit on a comfortable chair.

You can really understand, how One Foot In The Grave got written. But it’s just so much more likely that things will go wrong, when you live alone. After all, if I still lived with C, she’d have cleaned up the first cut, ut a decent plaster on it, told me to take it quiet and probably made cups of tea for me all day.

I’ve now got the problem of strapping a plastic bag over my hand, so I can have a bath.

A Bath In A Bag Hand

A Bath In A Bag Hand

It wasn’t too difficult. But this is probably because the fingers of the left hand work better in their bandage and I could cut the parcel tape before I put the bag on.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Health, World | , | 2 Comments

Handyman On A Bike

I saw this bike chained to a lamp-post by Haggerston station.

Handyman On A Bike

It’s an idea of which I very much approve. I wish Green Workforce the best of luck.

October 3, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

And The Winner Is!

They announced the winner of the Carbuncle Cup this week and the story is here in the Guardian. Here’s the first paragraph.

Cramped rooms with low ceilings and one small window facing directly on to a brick wall. If you crane your neck, you can just about see the outside world. It could be a description of the cells in Pentonville Prison, but these are the conditions enjoyed just down the road from the Victorian jail in a new student accommodation block for University College London – today announced as winner of the Carbuncle Cup by Building Design magazine, for the worst building of the year.

It might appear to some, that the judges thought the student residence at 465 Caledonian Road was even worse on the inside than the outside.

This is generally unusual, as I think we’ve all stayed in bad looking hotels, where the rooms were excellent.

August 30, 2013 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment