Faced with a big cold damp and rather miserable Victorian house and a few months to work on it I decided to break the mould and get some advice.
I ended up on contacting, Neighbourhood Construction and booking a site visit and home tutorial.
“I am cracking, cutting, bashing off decades of cement render and gypsum (even internal walls painted with gloss..) and replacing old joist ends and etc etc. End terrace Victorian house in Knowle. It’s a cold old damp house and I would like it to be better.
Could we talk about what you do, how you might advise etc? I am a carpenter and I’ve done quite a bit of building in the last 5 years but this is rather overwhelming. A builder friend and sometime colleague, suggested I talk to you.”
“Well anyway, give me a call if you have the time.”
We spent the best part of a day looking at my project in my house. It was one of those moments when all of those question marks, all of those suspicions about what I could do, or should do with the property were crossed off my list. Decisions that I had put off for three years were made that day.
Stuff that I knew instinctively were made clear – it was like the difference between understanding a language and being able to speak it.
NC provides – illuminates – a clear scientific approach to problems attached to problems in buildings. The diagnoses are clear and the solutions always elegant. The decisions I came to were all ones that I felt intuitively and intellectually good about. The approach to the design and ideas were negotiated and easy to get on board with. Decision making and communication were adult and there was no sense of expert talking to an idiot. I am a carpenter with some building experience but it felt like talking to an old friend about a complex project.
There are no simple right answers but we know that we are faced with living spaces often ruined by unthinking or unknowing choices in the past few decades. Time for a change?