As your blogger I thought it was about time I put my money where my mouth is and called in one of Plastic Surgeon’s Finishers to sort out a few problems around the house which were each, in their own way, a bit of an eyesore.
Now I would like to state at the outset that I am by no means useless on the DIY front, having a background in civil engineering and quite wide experience of working on construction as well as housing projects; and have even been “hands-on” with a couple of self-builds in the past. I can lay bricks, plaster, do first fix carpentry and will even attempt plumbing. Where I fall down – as my other half will attest – is when it comes to finishing jobs off: especially if something hasn’t gone quite right and I’m not sure how to tackle putting it right.
Which is why there were several glaring examples of my tardiness around our granite cottage, and little chance of them being rectified in the foreseeable future. So I bit the bullet and phoned Plastic Surgeon to get a quote.
They recommended two days of an experienced Finisher’s time and when Chris, the Finisher allocated to my site, arrived on the first morning I took him round to the side of the garage to see where some minor settlement of the footings (I dug them as deep as I could at the time but that part of the garden is a swamp) had caused a crack in the blockwork.
My remedy had been to take a disc cutter to the crack to deepen it and then chase out four slots across it, into which I bonded stainless steel bars using Sikaflex – not going anywhere as they say, but my reinstatement had stalled at a slurry coat of grout to get a key on the rubbery adhesive. Whatever Chris thought of my ‘repair’ he kept it to himself and fetched several tubs of Plastic Surgeon’s specialist external filler from his van and set to work.
By mid-afternoon the seven foot high ‘stitching’ had vanished and there was just continuous smooth render, which I have since over-painted taking the opportunity to redecorate the whole exterior, though it could have been colour matched if I wanted.
Next up there were a number of the granite quoin-stones in the walls around our back door which had suffered from a major bitumen spill when they collectively made up the corner of an older building we’d demolished.
Chris’s repair solution here was to mix up a quantity of Plastic Surgeon’s exterior paint system, blending pigments to match one of the grey/brown tones seen across different sections of the building. When applied on to the surface, two coats hid the bitumen spill completely, while a couple of months weathering will introduce the flecks of lichen and other random colours that distinguish Devon cottages and complete the effect.
Almost a day and a half into the two shifts allocated, we introduced Chris to our fireplace where a builder mate and myself had managed to smear wet plaster across the smooth but porous facing bricks we had rebuilt the arch with.
The strategy here was similar to that for the granite, just relying on more red tones and we were now looking about to decide how best to fill his last couple of hours.
Just a few feet from the hearth was a badly stained patch of oak flooring, where a radiator had leaked black sludge onto the polished wood: not my fault this time and not a problem to Chris who began by sanding back a substantially larger area to avoid creating a depression, and then ‘aged’ the wood back to match its surroundings. Two coats of lacquer ensured the work will stand up to regular foot traffic, so as a parting challenge we showed him the mark on the dining room table where one of us (identity still unknown) had put down a bottle containing something corrosive enough to leave a ring. It survived considerably less time than the radiator leak.
The bill, including all the materials used and the dreaded VAT, came out at slightly over £800, and when I look around now at all the different areas our Finisher transformed in his two days, I can definitely say it was money well spent. Our home looks loads better, inside and out, and I don’t wince any more at being confronted with my unaddressed list of DIY jobs.
You see it’s not just the waste and all the carbon emissions that Plastic Surgeon saves.