Get plan­ning, make per­fect


Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD PROJECTS - DON MacAL­IS­TER

THE WALLS are up and the roof is on, now it’s time for some re­ally se­ri­ous plan­ning. In the case of an al­ter­ation, it’s time to pre­pare for dust.

Let’s start with the dust. No mat­ter how much plas­tic and mask­ing tape you or the con­trac­tor use, dust is go­ing to pen­e­trate into all ar­eas of the house, so be pre­pared for it. Work with the builder, dis­cuss your con­cerns and to­gether cover as much as pos­si­ble and re­move valu­able ob­jects, which can be dam­aged by abra­sive sub­stances. Don’t ask the work­force to help move your trea­sured pos­ses­sions; Sod’s Law says some­thing will go wrong.

Most of the dust is caused by grind­ing out chases. But with proper plan­ning the pipes or con­duits could have been built in ini­tially. Be­fore plas­ter­ing be­gins en­sure that all pipes and con­duits have been fit­ted. Chases can be cut through the plas­ter later, but I have yet to see a chase cut into plas­ter which has been patched 100 per­cent.

Us­ing your plans, cut the shapes of your fur­ni­ture to scale and work out where you want to place the elec­tri­cal plug points, lights and light switches. Re­mem­ber you can never have too many plug points, and over­loaded adap­tors are one of the main causes of do­mes­tic fires.

So think and think again be­fore you hand over your lay­out to the builder and don’t for­get to men­tion at what height you want your plug points. A point above a work sur­face may look a lit­tle un­sightly, but it is much eas­ier to ac­cess than some­thing tucked in a corner be­low, and be­lieve me, as you get older, ease of ac­cess is para­mount.

Think past plumb­ing and electrics: TV ca­bles, tele­phone wires, bur­glar alarm wires, sur­round sound or hi-fi wires and com­puter ca­bles can all be run in con­duits out of sight, giv­ing a much neater fi­nal fin­ish, but make sure you plan be­fore the plas­ter­ing starts.

All items must be well pro­tected from the ef­fects of ce­ment and other cor­ro­sive el­e­ments, so en­sure that items such as alu­minium win­dows ar­rive on site cov­ered in a pro­tec­tive coat­ing, and that this is not re­moved un­til all the sur­round­ing fin­ishes have been com­pleted. Re­mem­ber to check that the backs or hid­den parts of each frame have re­ceived the spec­i­fied pro­tec­tive coat­ings: for ex­am­ple, the backs of tim­ber frames should re­ceive a coat of wood primer be­fore be­ing built in. Also re­mem­ber to check that where ap­pli­ca­ble the cor­rect damp cours­ing has been fit­ted around the frames and built into the cav­i­ties.

Stan­dard doors are 2 032mm or 6’8” high, so it is im­por­tant to en­sure that the frames are fit­ted at the cor­rect fin­ished floor level. I re­mem­ber see­ing a case where the door frame had been placed on top of the con­crete sur­face bed, with no al­lowance be­ing made for the fin­ish­ing screed. Ob­vi­ously the client was not happy that he ended up with doors 50mm shorter than they should have been.

Now is the time to re­ally com­mu­ni­cate with your builder as he needs to know and un­der­stand what you want and ex­pect. From here on noth­ing can be hid­den, so get it right first time. If nec­es­sary take your builder to an­other site or show­room.

Fi­nally: ev­ery time you change your mind it is go­ing to cost you money. You can­not ex­pect the con­trac­tor to work for noth­ing if you are con­tin­u­ally chang­ing your mind.

Next week: Plas­ter­ing

UN­DER WRAPS: Pro­tec­tive wrap­ping on this alu­minium frame will re­main in place un­til sur­round­ing fin­ishes have been com­pleted.

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