Saturday, May 08, 2021

THE WEEKENDER: Decorating the money pit... by Wiggia

... or, The Colour Of Money:

The gap between house moves often shows up changes in taste, layout etc., that have occurred during that period. Till now the worst aspect of the recent move was the process about which I gave vent earlier; the physical aspect of the house you move into is not always apparent till a bit later, however much you delve, and the content of the surveyor's notes are found to be largely padding, I honestly believe that going round a prospective home with a builder you can trust is a better option, at least you are there and can direct him to items that may or may not be faulty and more importantly relevant.

So much of a surveyor's notes are protected by the words 'could not,' as in see under the carpet, behind whatever or was inaccessible; and virtually nothing relates to the grounds or boundaries unless you specify that he look at them.

If you need a mortgage you have no choice other than to employ a surveyor but otherwise I would take the other route now. In my last home the surveyor noted the shed, a large one, was leaking at one corner badly; fine, but it was a nothing job to put right; but the insect damage in the garage roof went unnoticed. I noticed it months later when the little piles of dust started to arrive on the car bonnet; luckily despite its being widespread a spray of insect and wood rot treatment did the job, so no harm done, for a surveyor - though I'd have thought the bore holes would have been hard to miss!

I think this decorator has been on an inclusivity and diversity course; where to start?
But back to the present. Again, in our last house the whole place needed redecorating, a big job and a lot of paint and elbow grease needed. We decided as there was an offer on Dulux trade to get all the rooms sorted as to colours straight away and purchased all the paint in two visits to B&Q, spending in the region of £650+ for the lot. The 5 litre cans of Dulux trade, priced at something in the order of £33 each, came in for the 'three cans for the price of two' offer, so cost around £22 a can; and we used it all, plus a little bit more from a couple of other producers - it was a big house and a big job. That was seven years ago. Luckily this place is smaller, a bungalow and only a couple of rooms need painting at the moment and the outside front which was painted in a trendy battleship grey - only they don’t call it that, Wishing Well? said the half empty can left in the garage; still battleship grey; so our paint outlay for the time being is modest.

Nonetheless, off we go to the usual suspects to get what we need, firstly to the Dulux Decorator Centre, which only sells Dulux and affiliated paints; very helpful got exactly what I wanted and then came the bill... 'Is that right?' I queried, as I realised the price per 2½ litres was a 5 litre can cost seven years ago, and then some!

We then went to B&Q to get something completely different but I was intrigued with the paint thing so had a stroll round. They no longer stock Dulux Trade but have replaced it with Valspar: never used it, so no knowledge, but it was a bit cheaper. Then onto the Farrow and Ball section; I have used Farrow and Ball in the past with very mixed results, the high pigment content paints are dry before you get them on and drag terribly and one in particular faded badly in a couple of years in what was a dark room in a barn conversion; so not happy with them, but there they were in all their trendy colours with the top price £73 for a 2½ litre can - that is bonkers.

Can anyone explain the huge rises in paint prices? Even Dulux have jumped on the bandwagon with their own trendy paint range Heritage which matches F&Bs standard prices, yet before now you could  - and still - can get any colour you want with Trade. Yet it appears off-the-shelf trendy colours are big business and big profit; I find it difficult to believe that adding colour to the basic trade quality white at a fraction of the price justifies these sky-high prices.

Looking through one of the wife's ‘lifestyle’ magazines (I know, I know) there were the latest paint hues - everything black, dark blue, dark green, dark red, truffle! And others making everything look like the local funeral parlour unless you have a big room and a lot of light coming in, but there was even more madness: small specialist paint firms with Chelsea type names (it’s never Smith and Co.) actually had trendy coloured emulsion in 1 litre cans for £68! That’s getting into Dom Perignon territory and I know what I would rather spend the money on.

The same can be said of Crittall-style windows. No home is complete without them these days, despite anyone who had any contact with them in those days before when they were popular knowing how they became rust traps; of course, with modern materials that no longer applies but the memory lingers.

Or the obligatory rear extension with bi-fold doors, most of which look like U Boat pens such is the lack of design in adding them. A neighbour from the old house is having one built against the backdrop of an old Edwardian village shop (it was the grocer's); it is so out of scale with the house it is obscene, the height is such the the upstairs bedroom window above it is having to be rotated to landscape view so as not to be covered by the height of the extension. Still again, it's their money, and they talk about the house having integrity; they are both doctors - is that an excuse?

On the serious side, it is worth doing a little research into what is the best paint for the job. As in so many areas we are spoilt for choice, the different types of paint, the make up of them and their suitability is simply mind boggling. One thing I have found that is really an advance for all those filling and making good jobs is Easyfill, by Gyproc: I used the 60-minute setting version in 1kg bags so as not to waste too much but there is a ready mix version called Lite which is apparently even better for the DIY-er - but only the Lite version, the other one is not so good.

I also took the advice of a decorator's forum for ceiling emulsion and purchased Johnson's Covaplus Vinyl Matt; it is very good, better than the Dulux trade equivalent that I first used which gives a good finish but cannot be touched up (‘ooh matron!’) so if anything's been missed you have to do the whole ceiling again.

So there you have it, free DIY tips from an erstwhile Barry Bucknell.

Though it appears that most of us should leave well alone:

That didn’t stop hundreds invading the local enormous timber yard after the first lockdown ended; the place, really a trade outlet, had to stop private buyers clogging up the place to buy one fence post. They sold out of decking and most fencing products which meant the price went up due to demand, but nowhere near as much as paint!

Nice, if you are a Morlock...

That doesn’t mean that dark colours cannot be successful in the right place, but this current fad is creating a land where people will have to have lights on all day, and we all know that won't continue; or live in another room.

Naturally I was assailed by Number One when I started groaning that nothing ever goes down: 'you live in the dark ages, want everything for nothing' and on and on; true, but unless I am missing something, the price rises in that period are extortionate. Is there a rational explanation as to why paint has risen by over 125% in seven years and no discounts of substance to ameliorate the pain?

On the other hand 'Nut Nuts' (aka Carrie Symonds) is putting up gold wallpaper at over £200 a roll, but of course that is allegedly not her money; if it is, more fool her or Boris.

Still, Lulu ‘banquettes to the stars’ Lytle (Chelsea) will be pleased. Out of curiosity I had a look at her website Soane: how on earth designs that look like poor knock-offs of Louis X1V sell is beyond me. If the Sun King could see this stuff he would wince and order them to the Bastille. Needless to say no prices are given, if you have to ask you can’t afford it. Everyone to their own; Boris of course has no taste so he wouldn’t know he was being ripped off until the bill landed.

Now with Louis of course it was a different matter: no Lulu Lytle for him!

Back to reality...

He’s got to go! He refuses to move or get a job, and I refuse to paint round him;
and now he says the sofa doesn’t match the curtains! Ingrate.

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