My elderly apartment building has been under major renovation for the last sixteen months. Anybody who lives in an old house knows that they fall into disrepair without constant attention. If you live in an old building that was built 110 years ago for purposes other than human habitation, such as a factory, then you know the additional complications of ensuring that the charm of the original structure is preserved while meeting current safety and maintenance standards. Many 'Grand Designs' can attest to how such projects gobble time and money. In my building, lintels above the large windows were repaired or replaced, window sills were rebuilt, cracks were repaired and stitched, wholly new windows were installed and the building coated with a waterproof membrane. My side of the building was the last to receive attention. In May, scaffolding was erected along the wall outside my windows and was then covered in blue netting to ensure the safely of people using the street below.
Not only was the view of trees outside my window obscured, it was like living in an aquarium of blue filtered light. Worse was to come. The metal bars supporting the lintels above my windows were found to be badly corroded and in need of replacement. The builders erected a wall of plastic sheeting about a metre inside the apartment so that they could gouge out the rusted bars and rebuild the lintels.
Fortunately, the workers were efficient and the lintels were replaced in a couple of days and the plastic wall dismantled. Later the windows were replaced and internal repairs around the windows were completed. Eventually, after all the apartments on the eastern side of the building were done, the blue netting was removed and the scaffolding dismantled.
There was light! I've always thought of myself as someone who is relatively unaffected by the physical environment in which I live or work, but there was a wave of physical relief the morning I made my way from the bedroom to the living room to find the light had returned. By now the internal touch-ups to the paint have been done and my blinds re-hung. My living room has been fully restored.