Monday, 23 November 2009

Taking the piss

A client wanted to do a spot of plastering and fancied trying his hand himself. Nothing wrong with that - I'm all for spreading the word about proper materials as well as hogging work for myself.
He wanted to mix his own plaster, and saw from Ty Mawr's website that a local branch of Jewson's stocked tubs of their lime putty. How very forward-thinking of Jewson's. And then he asked the price.
£24.45 per tub, plus VAT!
That's seriously taking the piss. OK, as a trade customer, I could get that from Jewson's for around £13 a tub, but Nigel at Ty Mawr sells the stuff direct for £8.40 - or a tonne for a shade under £200. By contrast, a tonne of putty from Jewson's would cost my client nearly £800. Is it any wonder that people are put off doing the job properly because of the cost?

Now where was I?

...before I was interrupted by a vulgar little myocardial infarction? Probably ranting.
Anyway, it would be nice to say that I'm back with lots to report, but if truth be known, the chill hand of the recession has gripped this part of the world to the extent that very little is ongoing. In some cases that's a blessing; I was beginning to despair of the number of "renovation" projects that involved stripping out as much original fabric as possible and replacing everything with either plastic or imported hardwood before giving everything a liberal coating of cement and gypsum. thankfully most such projects are on stop, and the speculative cowboys and ignorant second-homers seems to have retreated for the time being.
The second-homers are a bloody pain, though. This year many houses have remained empty and unkempt as the absentee landlords forsook their two weeks in the rain and cut back on the gardener and the part-time housekeeper, and some villages around here are looking rather shabby as a result.
Even before this summer's abandonment I ground my teeth when I heard Lord Hindlip's lumpy daughter on the Today programme. She said that as the owner of two holiday homes she did her bit to support the local communities; nevertheless, "communities have to save themselves," was her blithely Thatcherite prescription.
I'd love to plonk her in the middle of a village near me where two thirds of the houses are empty for much of the year and see how she sets about galvanising that community in helping itself.