Now Boris Johnson is off to find a ditch we may still have time to finish upgrading the insulation and replacing the storage floor in our loft before he delivers Brexit, although personally I hope he never does.
We had been aware for a while that our loft insulation was old and not up to modern standards. It didn't match with our attempts to go green. It's one thing recycling, wearing twenty year old clothes, only putting on the washing machine when the sun is out and gardening rather than taking long haul holidays, but could we be green if we let the heat generated by our oil fired boiler escape through the roof?
If we replaced it or upgraded the insulation the whole house would be warmer. The Webmaster said it wasn't cold and we didn't put the heating on much so we wouldn't save any where near the amount claimed and not using the heating was actually greener than burning the oil and insulating the loft. What was wrong with extra pullovers, and what about all the stuff stored up there, how would we put down floorboards over deep insulation?
A year passed and we argued about what type of insulation we should get? Who knew there were so many ways of insulating a loft? Another winter came and went; we were no nearer settling the question of the insulation. As the second winter approached the Webmaster claimed there was a new technology that meant we wouldn't need to take up any of the old insulation or shift the things stored up there. I didn't care about them. It was all junk, not "precious stuff" as he insisted. If it was so precious why had we ignored it for 20 years?
He called in an expert to advise whether the new technology solution would work in our loft. The expert was doubtful, it would cause a lot of problems and we would need a lot more alterations first. He didn't really advise it, but by the way, when was the last time we'd had the woodworm treated? 30 years ago, Oh! He could see it had been done once but recommended that before we invested in new insulation we should have it retreated, there were signs of it returning.
Another expert came. He confirmed that woodworm needed treating and that we would have to move everything from the loft, including the old insulation before it could be done. It would take a week and cost a small fortune. It couldn't be done until the following Spring, so another Winter passed with the inadequate insulation.
Spring arrived and we stripped out the loft. All the junk (precious things) were deposited on the living room floor and dumped in the spare bedroom. The old insulation was ripped up and stuffed in refuse bags, rubble from the last time the roof had been replaced was swept up and a damp, musty smell pervaded the house, dust was everywhere.
Every day for a week in March an employee of the building maintenance company arrived, dressed himself in what looked like a space suit and disappeared into the loft with his equipment. Occasionally he emerged to top up his spray tank with water or to have a cuppa or use the facilities. Occasionally he had time for a chat. We talked about the weather and Brexit. What else would English people discuss? On the fifth day, at about lunch time, he announced he had finished. We'd paid for five days so we thought he should have the afternoon off and get some fresh air, take his dog for a walk, but he said he needed to go to prepare for another job. No rest for the working man!
He told us to wait at least two days before going into the loft - enough time for the treatment to dry. He needn't have worried - it smelled awful, there was no way I was going anywhere near it.
We waited a lot longer than a week. We weren't keen to come into contact with whatever it was that killed woodworm and the air in the loft was laden with it. We took the opportunity to sort out the junk and visit the local tip. So much precious stuff and years of our past lives thrown away. Who'd need all those notes on EU Law anyway? But then again they are probably more likely to be of use than an old leather motorcycle outfit that will never fit anyone in this household again, not that anyone has a working motorcycle anyway. Museum of lost youth and nostaligia anyone?
When we had first attempted to order the insulation it had been out of stock at most on-line wholesale suppliers. It was just before the first Brexit deadline and most of it came from Germany. A few suppliers had notices explaining that orders for new stock might not be filled before the end of March and they were waiting to find out what would happen. Prices and delivery dates couldn't be guaranteed. So this was the Brexit bonus.
Our loft is very old. It is divided into sections by waist high brick walls and wooden beams at irregular heights criss cross the space, the joists are not a standard distance apart and neither are they of standard cross section or even all the same cross section. None of the modern materials available fitted like they do in the DIY videos. The old insulation lay snug between the joists and the flooring had been fixed on top. The new insulation, even the thin layer was deeper than the joists and the "convenient" 40cm or 60cm widths were less convenient when our gaps varied from 38cm to 48cm. Cutting the recycled glass fibre insulation to size blunted the scissors in no time. One layer of 100mm then a second of 200mm laid across it.
It was uncomfortable and itchy work. The air filter mask kept steaming up my glasses but at least it reduced the stink of the woodworm treatment.
At the end of April the junk - that which hadn't found its way to the tip - still littered the living room floor or cluttered the spare bed room. We still needed to fit floor boards for a storage area but the weather was improving and we had things to do in the garden. We set a date, end of October to get it finished - in time for Christmas and before we turned on the central heating.
The plan was to work in the loft when it was too wet to work in the garden. At the back of our mind was a Summer like 2018 so we didn't expect to be in the loft often. Unfortunately it rained a lot this Summer. At first we stuck to the plan and made some progress, but it was slow going. When there were long wet periods we found excuses.
To put in a floor for a storage area required the construction of 48 bespoke posts, each one individually measured, cut and labelled and screwed into place. If anyone out there wants to complain about regulations setting standards they are welcome to come and work in our loft. Yes, it was possible and we did it, but the convenience of standards would have made it quicker, easier and probably given a better, more reliable result.
As the October deadline approaches we have nearly finished: half the floor is in place. We could rush it through in the next two days but we are reconsidering part of the design. The new floor is 275 mm higher than the previous floor and the reduced clearance between that and the lowest beam along side one of the partition brick walls might make the storage area inaccessible. That would defeat the point and we would have done it just for the sake of doing it because we said we would.
Now that would be silly wouldn't it. We'll take a pause while we wait for a couple of sheets of solid - and much thinner - insulation to be delivered which we can use at the access point under the beam. Fortunately with Brexit delayed we should still be able to order them for fairly quick delivery at a guaranteed price.
Unfortunately the junk is still cluttering the living room and ditching it remains a viable possibility. Maybe Johnson can recommend a good ditch.