This house is putting up a fight and it may well empty all of my savings before we agree a truce.

The latest challenge is gas pipes. When British Gas changed the meters from PayG to Smart, a 3 bar drop in pressure was detected, which means there was a low level leak. It was at the top of the scale that is permissable for this age of property.

As I keep saying to anyone who will listen, everything just needs to soldier on for a few more months until plans are approved and builder appointed. Clearly Sod’s Law was paying attention because the whiff of gas became more noticable (or maybe we were just more aware of it) so I found a nice local gas safe engineer to come out a take a look. He was very upfront about the conseqences of not being able to locate and/or fix said leak. I’m guessing you already know where this is going; the gas has been capped off and there is no heating, hot water or oven until next Tuesday.

Let me share how we got to this place: The source of the leak was identified pretty quickly. An old gas connection to the cooker hadn’t been properly capped off, so after much huffing and puffing a new thingy was fitted. Back to the meter to give it another pressure reading but now it dropped by 6 bar – the leak was worse!! Back to the cooker and identified the steel pipework in the wall has corroded (after a bit of chipping away at the plaster). At this stage I’m thinking well OK we can manage without the cooker, just cap off the pipe and we’re all good till the big build but no, nothing is ever that simple; it seems the same branching pipework also feeds the boiler on the opposite side of the room and new copper pipe needs to be run from the meter and that can’t be done til next Tuesday.

However, the engineer did suggest a quick fix to keep hot water going – convert the water tank to an immersion. Seemed like the only plan but I got him to investigate if it would be possible – there’s been a lot of bodging in this house’s history. First we had to find the header water tank. I was adamant there wasn’t one – the loft has been converted and I’d already had a look inside the eaves space (I saw lots of itchy insulation and shut up it quick) I phoned the builder who had carried out the conversion more than 15 years ago. He suggested it was in the eaves space, a long thin tank called a coffin and so it was under the loose insulation that had just been stuffed in willy nilly. The builder also mentioned that he had only been contracted to build the box and didn’t do the internal fit-out, which explains a lot.

Immersion turned out to be a no as the metal cap on the water tank was very firmly, indeed permanently sealed.

I waved goodbye to a rather fatigued enginer after 3 hours having made him promise he would definately be back on Tuesday. However, he was back rather sooner than planned. A few hours later while I’m in Sainsbury’s/Argos collecting a portable electric hob for a spot of indoor camping, eldest son calls in a panic that water is dripping through his ceiling (his life has been far too sheltered) I speak authoritatively about where to find the header tank and turn off the water. Next call is to Mr Gas Safe and to his credit, he’s back on the door step at 7.30pm and spent the next two hours in the eaves space replacing plastic fittings. There’s still no water to the main bathroom because of an airlock but that’s a story for another post.

One thing I noticed is the Smart Meter is telling I’m still spending money for gas this week, which is odd. I sense a call to British Gas is in my immediate future.

One bright spot is I’ve replaced the curtains in the living room with layered roller blinds, an idea stolen from a colleague. One slack afternoon, we did a show and tell about the space we were working from via Teams and a colleague had sheer blinds with a blackout blind over the top. I still need to figure out the fixings for the return window, that may well involve velcro and a pelmet type finish that will need something more substantial than velcro. Did I mention I needed to invest in an SDS hammer drill to get through the concrete. At least the upcycled chair does fit nicely in the corner as I’d imagined…