Saturday, 19 January 2013

All The Small Things

So we're into our first winter living in the house, and only 4 months away from finishing the first year here. Christmas was a low-key event with some co-op members and some guests present, and we had a separate co-op Christmas day when the rest of the co-op were back. In general people were home lots, and this meant that things got done. A lot of the things were small, annoying jobs which have somehow lingered for months and months, so it was very exciting to get them out of the way!

Firstly, between me and Sven the kitchen floor is now entirely tiled! OK, so the wall behind the door isn't done, but it's still progress. It actually looks quite smart, and will look even better when the grout dirties up to match the rest of the floor.

Everyone realised they'd been stepping over this gap since we moved in!

Sven and I replaced the pane of glass in the kitchen window, which got cracked in August. We've had the glass since September, but it's only just been done - shocking! There were huge amounts of putty to hack off, and it turned out that the window had been interestingly altered by a previous bodger, so we had to bodge it back together in our own way. It's looking good now though, and when the putty's hardened we can paint the outside of the frame to protect it a bit more. Alas, we're still awaiting an exchange on the extractor fan which broke very soon after we got it. I wonder if manufacturers will ever learn that making moving parts out of tiny bits of plastic is a bad plan?

It's destined to look a lot less scraggy, I promise!

I finally finished altering the kitchen plumbing to include a pipe for the boiler condensate outlet thingy. Fun times!

Sven made a blackboard for the kitchen so it's easier for us to see what the next stage of different jobs is, and I think it's really helping.

Made out of stuff lying around the house by Sven's fair hands!
Between a number of different Golems, the spare room is now painted! Well, the cupboard isn't, and the doorframe needs doing, and there's tiling to do too (once we've picked the tiles) but still, yay! Although it is in need of furniture, soft furnishings and things on the wall to make it homely, this still feels like progress. So much so, in fact, that Sven has finally moved the bed out of the tool room, so anyone staying from now on won't have to sleep amongst piles of tools and random timber. Huzzah!
Guests used to have this lovely pit to sleep in...
... but now they will have this beautiful pit instead!
The bed is a temporary measure, just so you know!

We've had one of our pay-as-you-go meters taken out, and the gas meter should be going in a week or so. This is exciting for two reasons. Firstly, no more running out of gas or electricity at random hours of the night - yay! And secondly, it will mean we can switch our power supplies to Good Energy. Win!

The last small thing I can think of is less practical, but still feels like a major achievement. When we moved in, we did a rough estimate of what we thought we needed to pay as a contribution to bills. Everyone decided it was easier to pay a flat rate payment each month so we could budget better, and we came up with a payment of £36. This was to cover gas, electric, water, internet and TV licence (council tax is included in our rent), but we soon discovered there was also enough money to cover washing up liquid, washing liquid, toilet rolls, toilet cleaner, teas of various sorts, coffee, sugar and milk of various sorts.

Even with all of these things being included, we discovered we were paying too much, so from February our bill payments will go down by £10 to £26. £26 for all of those things! Although it might need adjusting upwards in the future, this still seems fantastic to me, and it's all by virtue of having a lot of people living in one house. Even with our total lack of insulation and draught-proofing (not forever, but at the moment it is a leaky old house) none of us are struggling to pay energy bills, or having to decide between food or heat, and I think that's a pretty awesome thing.

So this is what even a young housing co-op can do: provide affordable rent and affordable bills, the knowledge that neither will go up without warning, and the income to keep improving the house so that our bills become even more affordable. Now I think about it, I don't think that's a small thing at all.

- Hannah

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