Chapter 35: Home Improvements
Muriel: Hello. Is that you, Harold?
Harold: Of course it is.
Muriel: I just wanted to know.
Harold: You phone me at this time every day, Muriel. Anyway, what’s new?
Muriel: I had a visitor this morning and I need your advice about what he said.
Harold: Fire away.
Muriel: Well, he offered to do a lot of work on my house at no cost to me.
Harold: Sounds too good to be true, Muriel. What does he want to do?
Muriel: He says he’d start with cavity wall double glazing.
Harold: What? I’ve never heard of anybody putting double glazing into a wall cavity.
Muriel: He claims it’s a new system that works by injecting glass and PVC into the wall then, as he put it, reconfiguring the mix in situ.
Harold: Astonishing. What else does he have in mind?
Muriel: He suggested coating my windows with expanded polystyrene.
Harold: Muriel, if he does that, you won’t be able to see anything outside.
Muriel: I can’t see much now. I’m almost eighty-four and my eyes have been failing for years.
Harold: I don’t believe this. Is that all?
Muriel: No. He wants to insulate my loft.
Harold: I hardly dare ask this, but how?
Muriel: He intends to put a six-inch layer of concrete on top of the joists.
Harold: But that will come ... oh, never mind. Tell me that’s the lot.
Muriel: No. There’s one more point. He wants to supply me with solar panels.
Harold: They won’t do you much good. You live in an inside back-to-back row house and the only bit of roof you have faces north. There’s very little sense in having solar panels up there.
Muriel: Oh, he doesn’t want to put them on the roof. He says the best place is my cellar.
Harold: And did he explain how the Sun is going to shine down there?
Muriel: I’m leaving that to him. He seems quite sure he can do what he has in mind.
Harold: So, to sum it up, he proposes to inject double glazing into your cavity wall, cover your windows with expanded polystyrene, lay six inches of concrete on top of your wooden loft joists and fit solar panels in your cellar. Have I got everything right?
Harold: And there’s no charge for this work?
Muriel: No. He says it’s done through government subsidies. All he wants from me is five hundred pounds for the survey, which he’ll do this evening if I want to go ahead. T