The Builder’s Mate

There is a word that strikes fear into the very depths of my heart, and that word is: renovation. This week we are renovating the kitchen. In other words, I have been to hell over the weekend. Let me tell you, it doesn’t look or smell good.


A spanner in the works – for the forensic lab kitchen.

The only redeeming aspects of renovating are that it develops my aptitude for patience and I found my long lost pair of ivory knickers. (Our kitchen is also our laundry).

My Englishman and I have a massively  different approach when it comes to renovating and the duties and responsibilities of ‘the builder’s mate’. As he’s the big strong man who wields the hammer, he’s always Chief Builder, which puts me in the lamentable position of Builder’s Mate. 

I’d much prefer to be the one swinging the hammer! (Don’t ask me where)

But I have learnt a few things during my apprenticeship and here they are..This is what you need to know about being the Builder’s Mate.

1/Poker Face – It is extremely important that The Builder’s Mate has a brilliant poker face as during the renovations she/he will be required to nod blankly and remain positive at all times. Especially when confronted by questions like:

“There’s no problem having the water off for a couple of days is there?” 

Oh dear God, he said a couple of days!

“We do have water upstairs. You don’t really need it in the kitchen, do you?”

You will also need the poker face when he bangs away at something like a demon until there’s an almighty creak and then a crash followed by ‘£$%^&!!’ There is no correct reaction to this situation, except to refrain from asking ‘is everything alright dear?’ as the answer will usually be in Ancient Saxon.

2/ Zen is within you – Don’t be tempted to nick upstairs to the relative calm of a sweet smelling bedroom and the soothing sounds of whale song and a packet of Tamazepan, the Chief Builder requires your attendance at all times! Especially when he is confronted by dank, vomit-inducing water from the sink’s waste water pipe. If he’s heaving, so you must be. It’s all part of the apprenticeship.

Donut anyone?

3/Shun Google the Plumber – Do not be tempted to refer to Google the Plumber or Google the Electrician. If you ever wanted to see a spanner fly and a mini waterspout in your own kitchen, simply throw a couple of suggestions to the Chief Builder like; ‘Google says that you shouldn’t connect that pipe to that one because….’ and you’ll see both. But make sure you duck.

4/A very Creative Chaos – It’s not mess, it’s just practical creativity. That’s what I keep telling myself, especially when I’m attempting to cook a meal whilst standing on one leg, behind two fridges and half a washing machine, whilst cooking on a gas hob that’s balanced carefully on a workbench that isn’t yet secured down, whilst reaching around the snaking extension power cord to blindly locate a wooden spoon in the drawer full of screws, with which to stir the fry.

My ‘crime scene bathroom’ (no, it’s not finished yet. DON’T ASK!) has now been joined by the forensic lab kitchen.

My forensic lab kitchen has disembowelled appliance bodies spewing innards of cables and metallicky bits onto the floor, whilst the kitchen carcass lies naked and cut open for the Chief Builder to inspect the damage within. It’s like Kitchen CSI! And just like working in a real morgue, you need to breathe through your mouth in Vegemitevix’s Forensic Kitchen Lab.

5. Don’t ask, won’t tell – Of course this is the most important pointer of all. The one thing the Builder’s Mate must not ever, ever do , is ask ‘when do you think I can use the kitchen?’

This is like asking – ‘will it ever stop raining in England’ or ‘will the teenagers ever get out of bed before midday’. It’s just not likely to ever happen.

The Chief Builder in our household is also an engineer, so there is only one response to that question, and it’s not positive for those of us who like to cook, or eat. Engineers, as a breed, need to solve problems on a daily basis, it’s their version of oxygen, so if there are no problems immediately apparent they will make some. Ergo, nothing is ever finished. Working, yes with a few ‘improvements’ but finished….oh…no….never!

There really is only one thing for it. Wait until the Chief Builder has gone to work and then call the plumber and offer all manner of saucy inducements to get him to come around and fix it.  Chief Builder will hardly notice when he walks in the door. Especially if you greet him with a nice soothing cup of tea. Will he?

Do you have any advice for the Builder’s Mate? Oh and do you know where my matching ivory bra is?


Image: Flicker CC


'The Builder’s Mate' has 6 comments

  1. August 20, 2012 @ 2:42 pm expatmum

    Basically, when the Ball & Chain approaches with a hammer, screw-driver or other tool I walk off in the opposite direction. It usually involves about four trips to the hardware store (’cause he buys the wrong bits the first time), lots of swearing (and I mean words that I didn’t know he knew) and at least a couple of accidents that I have to live with, such as dents in the walls where his first attempt at something went wrong, or a makeshift solution that looks as if the 9 year old was responsible. We have so many things around our house that need fixing and I just can’t bring myself to attend to them. Sigh.


    • August 20, 2012 @ 5:10 pm vegemitevix

      So you related. I know I should just say no, but the kitchen was really a bargain and will add so much to value to the house. Nevertheless I should have just said no. I’m just a girl who can’t say no?


  2. August 20, 2012 @ 6:16 pm MidlifeSinglemum

    I’m so pleased to read this as I assume it means that the bathroom renovation got finished – I remember it dragging on a bit last year. Think of the bathroom when you get upset, to remind yourself that it’s worth it int he end.


    • August 20, 2012 @ 8:18 pm vegemitevix

      Erm well the bathroom is kinda finished. But both will need to be spick and span before the end of November. Maybe a deadline is just what we need?


  3. August 20, 2012 @ 9:31 pm Steve

    Hope you drowned your backteeth in cups of tea ‘cos that what all the builder’s and builder’s mates I have ever encountered have done!


    • August 20, 2012 @ 10:23 pm vegemitevix

      I’m really a coffee girl, maybe that’s why I don’t get the whole DIY Building thing? I’d much prefer to pay a man who can, and who drinks tea obviously.


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.