12 November 2011

DIY - How to Fall Out of the Loft

We have decided to decorate the hallway. It should be easy because the hallway is a very small space. Needless to say, nothing is ever easy. It's complicated by virtue of the fact that I am married to a woman.

My Beloved wants new flooring, and I have to admit that the laminate flooring left by the house's previous owner is less than exciting. She also wanted a socket in the hallway (there having not been one up to now) and downlighters instead of a pendant light; all this in addition to new wallpaper and a lick of paint.

The socket got done on Thursday evening. This was surprisingly easy. The hallway is in the modern, single-storey extension of the house. Consequently, the internal walls are hollow and faced with plasterboard, much easier to work with than the lath-and-plaster construction in the old part of the house. The loft space above the extension has easy-to-find power cables, and so the obvious way to fit the socket was to drop a spur through the wall from above. This was all achieved with a couple of small holes needed to get past horizontal woodwork inside the wall, and only one hole drilled from above into the wrong room. The second attempt found the inside of the wall easily.

Today, I did the downlighters. The main problem with this job was having to clear junk from the loft so I could lift the boarding that lay over the area where one of the new lights was to go. I had already planned the job itself and bought the necessary fittings and additional tools on the way home on Thursday. Actually installing the lights was straightforward. The cutter I had bought made very simple the job of covering myself with plaster dust. Connecting wiring is always fiddly - there never seems to be enough room in a junction box. I dare say that electricians find it easy, having the benefit of plenty of practice, but for even the gifted amateur that I am it is a time-consuming, fiddly annoyance made worse by always being in a confined space. Connecting lighting units, their being overhead, also plays havoc with my neck and shoulders.

Anyway, all went well, and the final task was to make sure that the new lighting units were ventilated and not covered by loft insulation. Again, this was an easy task, and I had even remembered to buy (and wear) a mask to keep dust and insulation fibres out of my lungs.

Now we come to the highlight of the event. Crawling around between joists and roof bracing is a clumsy pass-time when you've been working for several hours and have forgotten to stop for lunch. One objective is to avoid placing one's foot in the room below by passing it through the plasterboard ceiling. In attempting to avoid the aforementioned disaster (successfully, I say now in an attempt to spare you any stress), I reached out to grasp a bookcase for support. This bookcase is normally nailed to the rafters but I had had to move it to get to the ceiling and, at this point in the proceedings, it was free-standing and unwilling to take my weight. Consequently, I found myself undertaking an unplanned lateral transition. In an attempt to arrest my fall, I stepped out only to find that my foot was on the less than firm support rendered by the open loft hatch. Had I not fitted a loft ladder when we moved into the house, I may well have fallen all the way to the floor below. As it happens, my concession to the influence of gravity was somewhat truncated, and I ended up half in and half out of the loft, having bent my thumb back during my flight, bashed my side against the rim of the hatchway, and clonked my right knee on the ladder for whose presence I heaved a hearty thanks heavenwards.

I decided that enough was enough and, since the actual job was done, I would reorganise the loft tomorrow and just tidy up the mess I had made down below.

Tomorrow, after a night's sleep has provided chance for the aches and bruises to set in, I will probably discover just how much damage I have done myself...

Meanwhile, I will attempt to allay the pain by use of muscle-relaxant in the form of a Cumberland Ale or two, and any other such medication that may be within reach...

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