The new project is a go

The new project - going back to the mill
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I have been quiet on the blogging front recently, largely due to a new project. A wise man once said that you shouldn’t make life changing decisions at times of stress. The bloody minded Northerner in both of us has meant that we have ignored the advice recently. Having decided to leave the wacky world of corporate IT just before Christmas we are now about to move house.

We originally came to live in the city centre to avoid the hour (at least) commute. We could both walk to work (healthier) and we only needed one car (financially healthier). However, within three months of moving Ruth’s job moved to Manchester. We should have seen it coming as she ran the project to move it!

The global downturn (or a useless estate agent) meant that we never sold the apartment in Apperley Bridge. When showing perspective new tenants around we both realised that we actually missed living there. With no offer on the table we thought that with a lick of paint we could happily move back in and rent out our city pad. However, in true project style, that lick of paint turned into a major project. Comments such as: “It always annoyed me that the grill was at waist level”; or “that shower cubicle is too small, they shouldn’t have squeezed it into that corner” ; and “that laminate floor is all scratched” – took us to the point we are at now. We are tackling a full scale refurbishment with new kitchen, bathroom, flooring, colour scheme, furniture and outdoor seating area. I seem to have convinced the finance committee that we don’t want all of those unsightly cables either so wireless speakers are the way to go.

We picked a budget by licking a finger and holding it in the air. This is known in IT as a SWAG – Scientific Wild Arsed Guess. This is arrived at without knowing what the customer wants, when they want it or how the hell you are going to achieve it. The downside is that there is always a row when the more refined estimate is exactly double the SWAG. This is basically what happened but, being the customer as well as PM we avoided the row. The finance committee did however issue a cost challenge. This will send a shudder down the spines of my former colleagues. The format is the same the world over. The people who are too busy in the first place spend several days justifying the increase in the budget. Then there is a row, the requirements change and the cost goes up again. Guess what? No row but the requirements changed and we added 20% to the budget (the granite work surfaces in the kitchen are essential).


New project - no turning back
New project – no turning back

Several weeks of planning and choosing designs led us to the point where the floors were stripped and the decorator was making a start on the top floor where there were no structural changes. In true project management style, I then buggered off on holiday for a week and left him to it.

Then the phone calls started. Can we deliver the bathroom this week? Erm -No I’m in Tenerife. The day after – The fitters will start on Monday as agreed. Erm – No, Tuesday as agreed. We can deliver on Tuesday – Fine, that’s when the fitters are there. You can see a pattern here. Anyway, we settled in and had a lovely week in Tenerife (despite a flurry of emails about kitchen appliances and door handles).

The fitters arrived bright and early Tuesday morning and started knocking down walls, ripping out showers etc.

New project - one wall gone
New project – one wall gone

I found it all a bit disturbing and set off on a mission to find the new spotlights to be fitted in the hall which the electrician is fitting as I type this. The major crisis now concerns the tiles. The idea was to rescue tiles from the walls that were being demolished and use them on walls that were being built. I had been warned that this was a risk and, true to form, they are proving difficult to separate from the plaster board. Unlike the plaster board that separated from the walls quite easily – more plastering to do! So, tomorrow is a mad search to find tiles that either perfectly match the existing one (million to one as nearly ten years old) or get some that contrast so that we make a feature of them (scary). I am trying to focus on the vision of what it will be like to move in at the end of June but this retirement lark is not quite as easy as it looks!

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