Thursday, February 21, 2008

Emerging, blinking

Right, said BJ the on-site plumbing assessor, I can see you've got your safety boots and kneepads on, but do you have a first aid kit with you? Oh yes! I replied, nodding vigorously like the dog in the Churchill adverts.

My first aid kit contains: tampons, hand cream, Lemsip, lip balm, and plasters (the bright blue waterproof kind: if I cut myself I like people to notice), but luckily he didn't actually ask to see it.

Shall we go upstairs? I said.

I was being assessed on the refit of the bathroom in the house of Plumbing S. Theoretically, we were doing it together, but in practice, once we'd got the old one out the plumbing was mine and the sawing up of floorboards and extra pair of hands was hers. It was more stressful than I expected: there were some unexpected surprises (not of the good kind, there are never good surprises in plumbing), and the basin had to be re-piped in mains as they drink it in the night. Don't drink tank-fed water, people, unless you know your tank complies with current regulations. This one hasn't been touched since oooh, the mid 70s? Think dead bat. Think fungus.

The deal was that she got her bathroom fitted for the cost of new copper so I could remake more pipework than you would normally bother with (to be assessable the pipework had to be taken back to one hot and one cold pipe entering the room) and agreeing to take lots of 'evidence' photos of me (here's Jo tightening an isolation valve! Here she is with her blowtorch! Here she is drilling a hole with ear defenders on!). I got J the plumber to come and give me reassurance (he is technically overseeing all this anyway), and do the cutting into the mains bit, I was too scared even though I shouldn't have been.

Plumbing S was anxious, which made me more anxious. I don't think she thought we could do it. But we could. Nonetheless, I was still bricking it when BJ the assessor turned up on Tuesday morning. What if he spotted that my fire extinguisher was for the wrong kind of fire? What if he saw that we'd notched away a bit of one of the floorboards to make up for the fact that the WC feed was a bit proud of one of the joists? What if you're not allowed to use flexi tap connectors? What if he checked the bath with a spirit level and saw it was just over the line?

He stood in the middle of the room, looked around, and asked me a couple of questions about continuity bonding and back-siphoning. Then he said, well, this looks great. You can be very pleased with this. He sounded, if anything, mildly surprised, but in a happy to be surprised sort of way. And he went off downstairs to do his paperwork while we carried on fitting the toilet.

There was no stopping me after that, and it was all done by the end of the day (well, all the plumbing, there's still tons of other stuff to do), freeing me up for a lovely evening in the lovely Cricketers with some lovely men.

I'm still tired, though. Takes it out of you, this plumbing lark.




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