Category Archives: TIWDD

TIWDD2: Think about a letterbox

Written by stephen gale

Yes, second in the series of Things I Would Do Differently (TWIDD) and this is all about the letterbox.

Every house that I have owned has always had a letterbox.  Except this one.

It wasn’t that we thought we didn’t need one.  It was simply something that we did not think about when designing the building.  As a result, we have ended up with a stainless steel post box next to the front door [As an aside, finding a decent modern looking post box is not easy].  Ok, it works, but there could have been a better solution.  To check the post, we have to open the front door and look in the box. If you want to get stuff out, you need to go and get the keys. Not exactly a nightmare, but it is a bit annoying in the winter.

A better solution we have been to have had a slot in the outside wall in the porch with some sort of post box on the inside. However, thinking about it, even this has drawbacks.

Like everyone else, we purchase quite a bit of stuff online, so having a safe place for deliveries can be really useful.  I have seen purpose built parcel “dropboxes” that have a combination code to open them, but they are hideously expensive (they seem a bit over engineered for our purposes).  We have resorted to a waterproof plastic box with instructions on our post box about where to leave parcels. [We used to have them left in the polytunnel, but the automatic watering system soon put an end to that!].

Not entirely sure what the answer is, but it needs to be thought about.

I don't really like this postbox. It was the best choice from a very poor selection. Looking at this picture now, I like it even less.  The whole "postbox" thing was a bit of an afterthought.  Even the placement of this postbox on the wall under the porch looks like an afterthought!

I don’t really like this postbox. It was the best choice from a very poor selection. Looking at this picture now, I like it even less. The whole “postbox” thing was a bit of an afterthought. Even the placement of this postbox on the wall under the porch looks like an afterthought! It isn’t lined up with the stonework or the light above or the door bell.  It is stuck in the middle of the wall, rather like pinning a tail on the donkey!

TIWDD1: Label all the wiring

Written by stephen gale

And in no particular order, here is the first of the Things I Would Do Differently (TIWDD)……

There is a lot of wiring in the house.  Much more of it than you think.  All of it put in as part of the renovation.  And very little of it labelled.

There is cabling for the power sockets, cabling for the lighting circuits (there are around 10 lighting circuits in the kitchen alone), cabling for the network, cabling for the TV, cabling for speakers, cabling for the burglar alarm, cabling for the light switches and then odd bits of cabling for rooflights, doorbells etc.  We even put in some spare cables on the basis that it was easy to do with a total renovation.  So for example, I put cabling in for a TV in the kitchen (both power and TV aerial) even though we didn’t intend to install one, but the next owner might.  Little of it is labelled – at either end.

Now to be fair to the electrician, it wasn’t always clear which room was which when we were doing the renovation.  For example, they had assumed that the large bedroom in the old part of the house would be the master bedroom.  So it was labelled as such.  They never realised that we would use the large bedroom in the new extension as the master bedroom.  So when they did label it, the label was often wrong.  They adopted their own sort of labelling schema.  I am sure that it all makes sense to them, but they aren’t here anymore and I am left with lots of unlabelled cables or oddly labelled cables.  2.5 years in and I have gotten to the bottom of most of it.  But it didn’t need to be that hard.

What would I do differently next time?

  • Make sure all the cables are colour coded.  Most of ours are, but not all.  Yellow for data, purple for AV, grey for power etc.  We ran out of cable when putting in some of the network points, so some data cables are yellow, but not all;
  • I would labelled (with numbers) both ends of every cable and record the numbering on the architect’s electrical diagram.  We have a big plan which shows all of the sockets in the house.  Using this plan to label the cables would have avoided labels such as “master bedroom” and been a definitive wiring diagram for the house;
  • I would have taken more photographs of where the cables run up the walls.  Now the walls are plastered, I can’t always remember where exactly the cables run.  This is particularly the case with the “spare” cables that have been installed.  I took hundreds of photos during the renovation, but I can’t always find exactly the photo I was looking for.  I should have gone around after the first fix electrics were done and taken detailed photos.
Most of the cables are colour coded, but not all.  Yellow for data.  Orange for light switches.  Purple for AV.  White for the burglar alarm.  However, there are some blue data cables around as well as some grey data cables.  We simply ran out of yellow data cable during the installation and we could only get grey or blue locally.

Most of the cables are colour coded, but not all. Yellow for data. Orange for light switches. Purple for AV. White for the burglar alarm. However, there are some blue data cables around as well as some grey data cables. We simply ran out of yellow data cable during the installation and we could only get grey or blue locally.

There is power and an aerial cable behind the plasterboard (it is dry lined) where two mosaic pictures are hanging.  This is for a TV that someone else might installed.  I am not exactly sure where the cables are, however, you can see the switch for the power next to the double socket lower on the wall.

There is power and an aerial cable behind the plasterboard (it is dry lined, so there is a gap between the plasterboard and the wall) where two mosaic pictures are hanging. This is for a TV that someone else might want to install some day. I am not exactly sure where the cables are, however, you can see the switch for the power next to the double socket lower on the wall.  I should have taken a picture before the wall was plasterboarded.

Things I would do differently – TIWDD

Written by stephen gale

We have been leaving in the house now for about 2.5 years.  Occasionally, I come across something and think to myself “Oh, I wish we had done that differently!”.  Fortunately, it is never anything that we can’t work around, however, hindsight is a wonderful thing!  If only I had a time machine!

These thoughts are pretty much random – they just occur to me as we encounter issues.  However, I thought it might be useful to document them here – as a series, as and when they occur.  I will categorise the entries as “TIWDD” – Things I Would Do Differently – this way it will be easy to click on the link at the end of the entry (on the left hand side) and see them as a separate set of blog entries.

You never know someone else might find them useful.