Thursday, November 24, 2016

Budapest VI

 The place is starting to look a little bit tidier, now that most of the rubble has been bagged and taken away. Central heating is in progress, with all the gas piping downstream of the meter completed with new shiny narrow-bore copper pipe instead of the original old and extremely chunky cast iron. 

Bed 1 looks tidier without bin bags full of rubble

New gas pipes. Shame about the obtrusive meter
There's still no boiler beyond a rectangle marked on the wall, but water pipes to the radiators are being installed today. I am told that the radiators themselves will be arriving next week, but before these can be fitted the holes in the walls left by the old gas burners have to be plugged and made good, and the walls behind the radiators painted in a suitable hue.

Central heating pipes
I went around the entire flat today with a red Sharpie and a couple of electricians. We discussed the final locations of all power outlets and switches, not forgetting the electrical supply to the boiler for ignition and fan. I am told that we also need an electric connection to the heated towel rail in the bathroom, otherwise it won't get warm during the summer when the heating's off. And there's also an extractor fan that will need a power supply. Power outlets are also provided above wardrobes and kitchen units so that concealed lighting is exactly 100% concealed and the cupboards aren't filled with plugs and transformers. 

The scrawls on the walls. Loads of power outlets, especially in the kitchen.
 All the light switches will be 1.2m above the floor so within easy reach of an adult human elbow, except for those controlling bedside lights. These are to be lower and within range of a prone person.

Having decided that air conditioning is too much of a fag for one month a year, ceiling fans are to be fitted. I found a nice model with reversible blades (for summer and winter, so the winter heat rising to the top of a 3.6m high room will be circulated down again where it can do some good) and a central light, and I ordered three: bedroom, bedroom, sitting room. The fans are each controlled by a magic wand, which has simplified the bedroom wiring somewhat. There's simply an over-ride master switch for each fan that will be left ON pretty much all the time, and the fan and light will be controlled 100% by the remote.  I got 10% discount for paying in advance, and the fans should arrive by tomorrow... maybe early next week.

I remember being advised to ensure connectivity for digital signals, so in addition to the main incoming cable carrying TV and internet to the sitting room, I've specified LAN and coaxial terminals in both bedrooms. The electricians will start chasing the walls for ducts on Monday.

While I was there, the guy from the window company turned up and finalised the dimensions for the new glassware. I'm told that the windows will be arriving the first week in December along with a new steel high-security door.

Naturally, because nothing is ever simple, three things have gone wrong. So far...

The only remaining existing ceramicware
Having chosen all the ceramicware for the bathroom, plus the shower cubicle and all the taps, I was annoyed to learn that the shower cubicle "has been sold to somebody else, but we do have another similar [but rather more expensive] one." Owing to my allergy to 'Bait and Switch', I have asked that my builder find similar items elsewhere and the previous supplier can go and engage in autofornication. Mucking a customer about over $200 and waving bye-bye to $900 does not strike me as particularly good business practice.

The other thing that has gone awry is the parquet floor. Now that the wall as gone it is obvious that the floor resembles the Rolling Hills of Eastern Europe. I have asked for a quote for skimming the concrete flat and relaying the parquet.

It doesn't look it, but there's about 70mm level difference across the parquet


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Budapest V

And so it begins. The contractor started last Thursday with a jackhammer.

The he ting system is going in this week and the electrics and plumbing will start a week after that.

New windows and front door have been ordered, the tiles will arrive in about three weeks, and I have made an initial payment.

Exciting, isn't it?


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Budapest IV

Progress is still slow. However, I got a partial quotation from a builder, and I now know what the kitchen will cost, and approximate costs for floors.

Pending finalising costs and getting a programme for getting it done before the heat death of the universe, I've been sightseeing. Although there's a comprehensive public transport network, I've walked bluddy miles in both kinds of weather. 

Roman baths at Florian ter flyover
Aquincum theatre
Aquincum in the rain
Aquincum colonnade
Aquincum: Painter's House reconstruction
Sunset over Pest
Buda Castle and the Danube
Elisabeth Bridge
Arpad Bridge and Margaret Island. Sunny weather
The other kind of weather

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Budapest III

Progress is agonisingly slow.

Builder No.1 turned up, listened to what I wanted to do, and said he's get back to me within a week. Then he disappeared into the aether, and two weeks later has been impossible to contact.

Builder No.2 appreciated my plans, noted that I know what I want and have some understanding of construction, and then told me that he's fully booked and can't possibly take on any new work until at least January next year. So why talk to me at all, if you've just signed contracts and filled your order book? Because I know what I'm talking about and there's limited chance of ripping me off, perhaps?

Builder No.3 appears keen, having been to the apartment twice and taken copious notes and measurements. But still no cost and time estimate. I'm stuck in Budapest at $35/day and achieving very little.

Not entirely true. I have made repeated visits to the premises and taken many measurements. The kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom layouts are pretty much finalised. I have an appointment early next week with a kitchen design specialist, and I have sources for tiles and hardwood flooring lined up.

The latest, and hopefully final, kitchen layout
Still no news on replacement windows and doors, nor on central heating or bathroom fittings.

As I said: agonisingly slow.


Thursday, October 06, 2016

Budapest II

So the Goat has met a builder and is awaiting a quote. He is meeting a second builder on Friday, and a third the following Tuesday. He's also been discussing tiling for walls and floors.


All manner of ceramic tiles are available, but blue terrazzo is inexplicably Not Coming In Budapest. The Goat has been on Facebook Messenger and Skype with Beloved Wife in an attempt to get an agreeable colour scheme, and to this end he's spent interminable hours in front of Google SketchUp.

The hallway with blue floor tiles
The hallway with slate tiles

The bathroom with slate

The kitchen with slate

The kitchen with blue terrazzo on the floor

The kitchen with wood worktops and floor
 No decisions have yet been made, except the layout of the kitchen is fixed so the power and water points can be finalised.


Monday, October 03, 2016

Budapest I

The exterior
The Goat has been busy since his contract in Qatar reached its logical conclusion.

Beloved Wife and her Goat have now got into the minefield known as ‘real estate’.

Having looked at numerous properties in Budapest, the Goat agreed that ‘The FixerUpper’ was the one that they’d want if only it were possible. And then the Goat suddenly reached the end of his contract in Doha and thus a construction industry project manager became available to oversee renovation of a fin de siècle apartment. 

There’s a lot of work to do. The place needs a total rewire, replumbing, new heating system, and gutting the gas system. The heating system consists of three horrible and ancient gas heaters that will have to go before they kill all the occupants by vomiting carbon monoxide… A combination boiler that will deliver hot water at the taps and for the heating is a major part of the refurbishment.

The master bedroom
 A wall needs to be moved, or more accurately demolished and a new one built a couple of metres away. Glorious parquet flooring will be retained where possible, a new kitchenette will be built, and the old and rather barren kitchen will become a master bedroom.

The kitchen
The kitchen and sitting room
The bathroom and toilet are both completely horrible, a situation made worse by the existence of the toilet in the ghastly German style.

Current advice includes that refurbishing the windows is probably more effort and cost than simply replacing them, and the old wooden units would still be draughty.

The Goat is currently preparing layouts in AutoCAD. He discovered that this building is far from square, which will be interesting. He’s staying in Budapest, seeing quotes from builders to do the work. Of course, all the really good English speakers are in the UK doing the ‘Polish plumber’ thing, so language may be an issue. Fun, innit?


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Raving

Six years in the State of Qatar made me richer; made me fatter;
Killed my student overdraft and bought a Nissan from some guy.
Just as I got comfortable came some unexpected trouble:
Made redundant. At the double, found a new job in Dubai.
Said to Qatar, “That’s goodbye”
Sold my stuff. Away did fly.

Then the global downturn floored us. Thus I got my marching orders.
Off I went to Abu Dhabi in a tiny rental car
Where it seems they were desiring those ambitious; those aspiring
Engineers, and they were hiring. It was close, but no cigar,
And so I said my au revoir
And found myself back in Qatar.

Now here comes a huge bombshell: I’d walked into the Job From Hell.
There really wasn’t anything that I could do to fix the mess.
Yet my slippy-shouldered boss who didn’t really give a toss
Or care who he could double-cross, he drowned me under piles of stress.
My valedictory address
Might well have been an SOS.

Thus I left, and I was banned , such are the rules of that fair land.
I had to wait two years, and then agreed to six months’ self-torment.
My brain had clearly gone haywire. I went from frying pan to fire
Because, alas, it did transpire that nobody would give consent
To anything I could present.
Hence my insanity descent.

“Six months,” they said, and two years on I can escape. Yes’ I’ll be gone.
I tried, but I’m not good enough to cope with this benighted place.
My shackles struck, and my release must surely offer me some peace:
The stress and grief at least will cease; I’m really not a waste of space.
And I’m not leaving in disgrace,
But entering the marketplace.


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