Sunday, February 7, 2010

Work Starts!!

Well, We have finally started work! Last week on a bright but cold Monday morning, after dropping off the children at school, I set off for Piosina, with a plan!
First order of the day was to begin stripping the old hand made "cotto" floor tiles, with the intention of rescuing as many as possible to re-use during the construction phase of the project!

I had envisaged this as a simple job...not taking into
account the fragility of a cotto tile!! The thing to
remember about old cotto is that the manufacturing process was really a bit hit and miss! So the mixture, size and the temperature the tiles were fired at were all non uniform therefore giving a very mixed quality level. So when you try to lift a tile it is a bit like a lottery as to whether it will come out whole or break! The first 80sqm has resulted in approximatley 25% broken or unusable tiles, which I don't think is too bad a return, especially as the idea is to re-lay the cotto in the ground floor and use warmer wooden flooring on the
upper two levels.

Tuesday was again a wonderful sunny winters day and I was beginning to think "this is a great way to spend your day!"
One of the hardest parts of this little job has been removing the tiles from the upper floor to storage on the ground floor....three storeys equates to about 8m of height! but as ever, where there's a will there's a way!!...the local builders merchant does a great line in big plastic buckets, pulley wheels and rope!

REMEMBER the bucket needs to weigh less than you or it will try to pull you out the window when you lower it!!...... a lesson learned the hard way!

Tasha decided to lend a hand for a morning on Wednesday, which unfortunatley was a bit overcast and very cold and no sooner had she picked up her first tile than it started to snow! But to give her credit she kept on for the whole morning and made life somewhat easier on the legs for me as I could stay upstairs and lower the full bucket for her to unload, reducing the number of times my poor old legs needed to drag me up and down two flights of stairs!
Thursday and Friday saw the rain arrive! Certainly puts a damper on your spirits as you trudge up and down the stairs and round to the storage area in the rain, but you just have to keep thinking about how great it will be when you have finished this part of the job and can start on the next bit!
To provide myself with a bit of a diversion from the tile job I decided to do a couple of simple but gratifying pieces of demolition! First task, was to "break" into the room next door as this was originally part of the main house and we plan to re-attach this room to give a third bedroom on the top floor, this required some brute force and ignorance to knock a hole through a wall made from a ceramic hollow tile which is commonly used for internal walls here as it has great thermodynamic properties...keeps it cool in summer and warm in old Roman design that has survived to this day! Anyway it was a great diversion for 15 minutes but made a lot of mess! I also decided to remove the old water tank which upon inspection proved to be made from concrete?...not sure if this is normal for water tanks but it certainly made it easier to remove. Rather than having to maneouvre an unwieldy tank down the stairs I applied the Royal Engineer method of removal....a 10lb sledge hammer! This made it so much easier to remove the now side-plate sized lumps of concrete by chucking them out the window!...Obviously checking in case any interested Italian farmers had decided to make that the moment for them to investigate what the strange Englishman was doing!!

I am really pleased with our first week and have to say it is quite a nice feeling to be sitting here on a Sunday morning and looking forward to work on Monday!

Any comments or ideas to make life that bit easier (or safer!) for a sole worker would be greatly recieved!

Ciao for now more next week!

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