Saturday 31 August 2019

A bad guest

Last weekend I was working in my orchard when I received a phone call from the agency who let our holiday cottage. Could I deal with an incident that day where the current guest had cut his hand on a broken door window. Apparently he'd broken the door window while attempting to close the door, unlike 100's of previous guests who had closed the door without damage. Now the gentleman was worried about leave the house unsecured. I put away my arborist tools, drove home to pick up some plywood and tools for shuttering.

On arrival, about 40 minutes later, I found the broken window of the front door, with glass facing out and shards scattered across the footpath and across the street outside the house. The pane was broken in it's centre and had clearly been struck with considerable force. I knocked on the door to check if the guest was in, and after some delay he appeared. I checked what injuries he received. There were some cuts to his hand but covered with small plasters and chose not to seek medical attention. We keep a first aid kit in the house.  I took the tools and plywood to the rear of the house and set to work. There was no blood to clear up and very little glass inside the house. After removing the remaining glass from the door, I cut and installed a temporary 11mm plywood shutter inside the door to make it secure. The guest was in the lounge playing a computer game on the TV, obviously not too distressed. I then cleaned up the broken glass from the footpath and the road.

As it was a Bank Holiday weekend I couldn't order the replacement glass until the following tuesday. It is a specialist pattern on the glass and it has to be tempered safety glass. Installing it will require quite a lot of work as the door wood is quite old. New beading will have to be milled. The door had been painted a couple of months ago with specialist marine gloss, undercoat and primer. That will have to be repeated. Yet more expense.

So, yesterday we attended the cottage to clean it after the guest's departure ready for the new booking. It had been left in a dirty state. The toilet had been left unflushed after use. Bathroom towels had been left on the floor in the lounge. They left a fat encrusted dirty saucepan on the cooker, the kitchen work surfaces had not been cleaned, recycling rubbish needing sorting. There was damp washing left in the washing machine. Food had been left in the fridge. The kitchen rubbish pedal bin had had the lid broken off and will need to be replaced (£25). The large bath towel left in the lounge was stained so badly that, even after washing, will need to be replaced (£30). They also managed to break the supporting arms on a bedside lampshade.

In short, they were guests we would not want to see again. The cost of fixing the place far exceed the rental paid to us by the agency.

Update (1st Sept 2019)

The replacement glass is a now rare pattern called Flemish and after some searching I found a glazier who can order that pattern in toughened glass. Each pane is specially individually heat treated for the toughening process and is cut to shape before toughening. Cost £25 + travel costs.

The wooden beading used to support the glass in place, against a bed of putty, is a moulding type which is no longer commercially available. It is called Quadrant Double Ovolo. None of the glaziers I contacted had supplies. The beading for the door is an old imperial size and has to be made to order. A local joinery company have agreed to mill the wood to size, if I pay for the router cutter bit. There are two UK companies providing these, the cheapest is £25. Cost of wood (Yellow Pine) and labour is extra. I tried a sample of the now standard beading wood, but it looks quite different from the rest of the door beading, not good in a Local Authority Conservation Area.

I'll have to chip out the old hard putty from the door before I can fit the new pane. It's slow work as I need to avoid damaging the pane frame. Fortunately I have some glazing putty available and don't have to buy any more to install the pane.

I've ordered some stainless steel 25mm brad nails for my air powered nail gun (£22 for 1000 pack). The previous steel nails in the old beading wood had rusted and stained the earlier paintwork. When I install the replacement pane, I don't want to be using a manual hammer, on copper pins, close to the new glass which can break easily! It does mean I have to haul an air compressor over to the cottage. The stainless is about 3 times the price of mild steel pins, but for the door repair a few pins is a minor cost provided the brads arrive before I commence work. There is a deadline as we are expecting new guests soon.

After the new pane is installed I'll need six clear days of good weather (and no guests) to complete the repainting process. I dread to think how much it would cost if I employed a painter to apply the five coats of paint for that tiny area. Fortunately I have the exterior paints to hand, but might have to find some colour matched acrylic paint for the interior paintwork

To protect the glass door from future idiots, I'm going to install a 6mm clear cast acrylic (perspex) sheet on the interior of the front door covering all of the glazing. It will be held in place by a White Oak frame constructed by the joinery company (cost awaited as some tailoring will be needed).  I've ordered the acrylic from Simply Plastics at a cost of £52 including carriage. The front door is currently protected by an inner door, but it seems the determined can find their way past that protection.

Edit 6th Sept 2019

When we performed the cottage turn round, after the last guest, we noticed a hand towel was missing. Today, I was double checking the cottage before the next guests arrived and I found the "missing" hand towel. Now, if you are the parents of a teenage boy you'll understand the next bit! The towel was under the bed head, heavily crumpled and the fabric was stiff. Ugh, I didn't bother checking for stains! It is now in the rubbish bin, no way would we let that be reused by other guests..

Hand towel found under the bed.