Sunday, September 27, 2015

Asbestos Off!!

The first week of renovations in the new home has so far went pretty smoothly. The contractors I hired to do the roof are almost finished. I did catch them nailing down the new roof to rotten fascia boards, but got on them about it, and they started replacing them. There was less water damage to the trusses than I thought there would be; a couple might only need an inch or two cut off the end, not a big deal.

I got to do the fun stuff this weeked: asbestos abatement! Being that the home was built in 1964, during the years that asbestos was not known to destroy your lungs and therefore was used in a ton of building materials, I have a lot of it in my home, ie the popcorn ceiling, drywall mud, linoleum flooring, etc. Luckily most of it is totally fine and avoidable; the linoleum can be floored over, but the popcorn ceiling and drywall in the basement had to go, mainly because of water damage. So in order to do that half of the basement needed to be contained with poly sheeting. I spent Thursday and Friday doing that.

I enlisted the help of my friend, Pete, who has worked for our friend Walter, who runs a contracting company in Vancouver that specializes in asbestos abatement, who hooked us up with a care package full of Tyvex suits, positive pressure masks with filters, and gloves. We spent all of Saturday and half of Sunday wetting down the ceiling, scraping off the popcorn material and ripping down the drywall ceiling. This turned out to be a really good move, given the shoddy orientation of the drywall layout, and it's removal allowed water that had leaked in through the roof and into the ceiling to dry out and hopefully slow down any potential mold growth.

So that brings me one step closer to having the basement completely bare. Next weekend I will work on ripping out more walls to expose the foundation and search for any more cracks that will need repair, and I'll most likely tear out the back deck. My contractor will start demolishing the wall upstairs to reveal the damage that is likely to be there, but given how things haven't turned out to be quite as bad as I thought they would, maybe I'll get lucky and just be dealing with replacing studs. Fingers crossed. Overall it was a very productive weekend, and I owe Pete and Walter big time.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Back By Popular Demand

I haven't posted here in a long time. I had a plan to use my Tumblr account to create a professional looking travel blog for advertising my photos for my photography business. While it was, and still is, a good idea, I need this blog to be able to be myself. The stories of getting the shits or robbed by prostitutes must be told, and this blog will always be the place for them, a place where I can pour my vulgar thoughts on the world free from fear of ruining my professional image. Professional image, who would have thought I would ever worry about that? Fuck, I'm getting old.

Ok so update: so far 2015 has been a great year. And there's a lot to tell, so grab a drink. First off, I took six weeks off in February and March to do more exploring in Southeast Asia. I hit the mysterious Myanmar, did a short stopover in Malaysia, and finished the trip stomping around and scuba diving the islands of Indonesia. I won't spend too much time telling a story that has already been told, instead I will redirect you to my photoblog:

While I was on my travels I received an email requesting an interview for a job I had applied for within my company. When they found out I was on holidays they waited four weeks until I got back home to interview me, and subsequently gave me the job. I now work in Fort Saskatchewan at a fractionation plant, which basically makes ethane, propane and butane from natural gas liquids. Taking this position has so far greatly increased my technical knowledge of oil & gas operations, and will be of great benefit to my career. And it has also allowed me to enrol in a 4th Class Power Engineer course through NAIT, the first half of which I completed last month!

In April I met and fell in love with a girl named Leandra, who has been a pretty great addition to my life so far. She has been to as many countries as I have, has live abroad for years, and has plans (also like me) to see a lot more. We've had a great summer of camping and hiking, which have included a short camping trip to Crescent Falls, a two day backpacking trip into Willmore Wilderness Park, and a recent long weekend camping trip to Rock Lake.

And now the most recent development: I bought a house! In July my Baba (grandma to you white people) ended up in the hospital after an infection drove her blood sugar through the roof. She had a quick recovery and was back to normal in a week, but it was obvious to her and the family that she couldn't live alone in her home anymore, which had fallen into serious disrepair. I had had it in my mind for quite some time that I may try and buy it with the intention of fixing it up and living there. So I hopped to it right away and had a home inspection done. The result: not good. My initial estimate of $100k of repairs all of a sudden became $200k+ with the discovery of the roof leaking into the entire side wall of the home and into the basement, creating a mould issue. With the house in that condition there was no way it could feasibly be sold on the open market, except for being listed as lot value only, meaning the house should be torn down. Given the neighbourhood and the current economic conditions in Alberta, it would have been a tough sell. Similar properties in that general area had been on the market for over six months.

I decided even though it was a daunting task, I was going to take it on. I agreed to buy it for a price that should put me in the average price zone for a home of that type, in that area, after the repairs. I set to work shopping around for a mortgage, and settled on Scotiabank, which seemed to have the easiest deal that was offered. Although it worked out in the end, it was not a pleasant experience. After three weeks of stress and yelling, I finally got them to approve the mortgage, and now I'm working on the house. I'm basically completely re-doing a home that has hardly been updated since it was built in 1964, so I have a huge job ahead of me that likely won't be completely finished until the end of next summer.

Today was the first real day of work on it. I tried removing the hot water tank, which had been leaking. I'm pretty sure it is original, and fifty-one years of use had made the fittings on it unmovable. It took me two hours, smashing my hand on the regulator (followed by some swearing), and some MacGuyverage to disconnect the gas line. After two trips to Home Depot I realized I will need one more tomorrow morning to buy a cutting tool to sever the copper line outlet. After giving up on that I settled for the fun stuff: tearing down walls with a heavy duty crow bar.

I will keep updating this blog with photos as the project comes along. Sorry in advance if this travel blog temporarily becomes a home improvement blog.