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Ten tradesman-free days?

A friend asked me over lunch in the canteen yesterday whether I’d managed ten tradesman-free days. Well, the answer yesterday was “Yes”, but today it’s “Err, no!”.  I’m sitting at home waiting for a tradesman to turn up, though he’s phoned to say that he’ll be late, so I needn’t have come home early from work to meet him after all.

At work we’re having a load of refurbishment done on one of the buildings that dates from the late seventies. As part of that, the company that has won the contract seems to have done a deal with my employer to offer free cavity wall and loft insulation to all employees. A notice to that effect was put up on our intranet a few months ago, and I waited a while (not that I’m suspicious or paranoid!) to see if anyone posted in return that it was a scam. But it seems it is indeed a genuine offer, so I phoned them last week to find out more.

They said that they could send a man around to do a survey of the house and recommend whether I would benefit from having additional insulation. If so, I could ask them to do the job, and it wouldn’t cost me a penny. I pressed that point quite hard with them, but they were adamant that there is no commitment or obligation on my side, and the service is completely free to me. I asked them who was paying them, and the woman on the phone wasn’t entirely sure. She checked with her boss and said that it was part of the deal they’d struck with my employer. I suspect that the energy companies might also be sharing the cost as part of their “Green Commitment”.

I do in fact have some insulation in the loft already, but I think it’s less than the currently recommended amount. I also have lots of Victorian insulation in the form of sawdust shoved under the roof tiles. The mice love using that to build their nests! So I expect the contractor will suggest topping up the loft insulation. Though they will have trouble getting access to the roof space above my bedroom as there are huge disused Edwardian water tanks in the way. When we had the house rewired when we first moved in, the electrician really struggled to get the wiring routed to the middle of the bedroom ceiling, where we wanted a light fitting, as the access was so difficult. I’ve never been up in the loft in that part of the house, and don’t intend to start now, though Christopher did venture up there occasionally when we had a leak.

I’m less convinced about the need for cavity wall insulation. The main body of the house is Victorian, built way before cavity walls were in the building code. The walls of the living room, dining room and study are all solid granite, with a thin skimming of horse-hair-reinforced plaster on top. Makes it a right nightmare if you want to bang in a picture hook! My bedroom I think does have cavity walls, as it’s a later addition. And the extension we had built at the other end of the house is already well up to the latest building code and I watched the cavity wall insulation being put in as they built it. So I will be interested to see whether the chap recommends going to all the trouble of cavity-wall insulation for what is effectively just one room.