Who needs contractors?

We decided before we bought the house that we would knock the kitchen wall through to create a kitchen/diner. As you can see, it’s ridiculously narrow. Cooking in it was an art form, and really only for one person. The worktop space is one double unit on the right and the section on the left of the cooker, god knows what you would do if you wanted to put a microwave in there. If you open the freezer door, it hits the cabinets on the other side of the room.



Outside view

Back of the house

We also wanted to get rid of the wooden door you can see at the back and replace it with one big window, we’d need to change the window anyway as it’s single glazed. There’s also no point in having a door, as when the wall is down, there are large french door in the dining room anyway.

We had around 5 contractors round to do the work as it’s not something we had any experience doing, and thought it would be better to get a professional. I didn’t want to spend over £500, as its not exactly rocket science and the materials are minimal. The first contractor quoted £2000, “That’s a good price that is love, lot of work to be done here.” One was not amused, all the quotes we had came in around £1000 which to me seemed utterly ridiculous. We know a builder friend who said he would do the work for £500 but he’s about 200 miles away, goes to show though how many people like to rip you off.

Time drags on and we got generally pissed off and decided to do it ourselves. Phoned building regs for guidance with bearings and size of the beam and finally made a date where the two of us and both our dads could come and blitz it in one go.

So we begin… Due to the quality of the mortar and just general ease I thought it would be better to hire a disc cutter. While being hideously messy, it gives instant neat edges saving a fair bit of time in patching up the brickwork afterwards. That’s around £50 a day. I tried to stop the dust coating absolutely everything….

It didn’t work.

In between these two photos though, it went something like this.

Practice run with the disc cutter, it’s a petrol one and fairly aggressive.

First line gets cut and we start knocking out the top bricks where the RSJ will go.


So temporary wooden supports for the ceiling while we made some more space. I’m not convinced these are going to hold much up, and all the bricks from the wall upstairs are falling through the ceiling anyway. Still, nothing goes wrong!


Things are somewhat filthy.


Here we took out a line of bricks down the side so that once the beam was in place it could be pushed up the the joists above with acrows and generally hold stuff up till everything set.


Here you can see the RSJ is in place, ready to put the acrows (which you can see waiting on the right) underneath and the cement in place.


A bit later, and it’s half gone!


And down! I must say I took great delight in kicking the last half of it over. The mortar is old and very crumbling so the whole thing just wobbled around one it was only fixed by the bottom bricks.


So we’re all pretty knackered and absolutely filthy, but significantly richer. 

To break the cost down, the RSJ was £90, the disc cutter around £50. We borrowed the acrows for free and I bought a bag of cement. We had to buy all the wooden supports, which was about £100, but these are going to be reused in and around the house so aren’t really so much a material for this. Still even if you include them it’s about £250 all in, and 3 months later the house hasn’t fallen down so we’re pretty smug.

And here it is done, now we can all properly enjoy the stick on laminate floor tiles.


Later on we also took out the section of bricks above the doorway as this door is going to be moved. When it’s finished it will look as though there is one solid RSJ running the length of the room, rather than a separate small concrete one.


Using a car jack to hold up the lintel while it set, we took out the old wooden door lintel and patched up the holes after.


And here it is prior to being plastered. You can also see that we’ve bricked up the original entrance to the kitchen on the right.


Next… we’re replacing the window.

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