Monday, October 26, 2015

Prelude to Paint

As of this weekend the upstairs will be good to paint! I don't know why, but I find picking colours for my walls the most stressful thing I've had to do on this house so far. Maybe it's the huge variety of decisions and the magnitude of the impact a wrong colour can have on a room. Or maybe I'm blowing it out of proportion. Maybe I'm losing my mind.

This weekend I sanded down the door frames so we can re-use them instead of spending extra money to install new ones. There is a good scuff on one and we may have to replace it, however, but one is better than all. I was going to keep the original door frames but a door style I saw at a show home caught my eye. I won't spoil it now with pictures; if I buy them, I'll post a few. The garage is going by a little slower than I thought, apparently the contractor has given his subcontractor shit, and when I showed up today the electrical outlets were wired in, but the one I wanted on the front of the garage was not installed, so I'll have to raise a little hell tomorrow. Such are the trials of renovations, I suppose.

The basement is coming along nicely. I have one small sheet rocked wall to remove and some small 2x2 framing, which will be replaced by 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 to accommodate more insulation, as well as pink styrofoam vapour barrier against the concrete so I can avoid moisture problems in the future. Once the contractors cut the water lines and install valves, that old shitballs shower can come out, too. Brian also brought in a mechanical company and they gave the furnace a tune up, so it can run for the meantime without the danger of sending my house into outer space.

When all of that is done, I will start chalking lines down for a layout, which will allow me to draw up a floor plan in order to apply for permits and start slashing that bureaucratic red tape with a machete. Or something more construction related, like a skill saw. No, sledgehammer. Smashing red tape, yep. I think the permits could end up being the most difficult part of this house, but I'm being optimistic about it and taking steps to bring the whole house up to standard before I even start an application. For instance, saw cutting out the windows in the basement to make them larger in order to meet fire code for a basement suite. Doing these little things now, such as while the windows are being replaced, could end up saving me a decent amount of money in the long run.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Walled Walls and Singed Eyebrows

The upstairs is starting to take shape. My friend Andrew and I ran some cable and internet wires into the upstairs bedrooms, and I wired in an HDMI cable between the office and master bedroom, so if I ever desire to have a TV in my bedroom, I can hook it up to my computer. The day after we did that, the contractors reinstalled drywall in the bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen and did the taping and mudding.



The interesting part of the week was when I went to light the old Airco furnace. You can tell by the photo (furnace in this photo is not mine), and even simply from the badge, that this furnace is ancient. Definitely the original furnace from when the house was built. Since I'd had the gas off for quite some time, I had to blow down the line to purge the air once I realized the pilot wouldn't light. I don't recommend anyone do this by themselves, you could potentially cause an explosion if you're not careful; I work in a refinery so I have experience with this type of work. Once the pilot was lit the burners kicked on fine and the furnace seemed to be working normally. I went upstairs and cranked the heat up to see how the cycle performed, and when I went back downstairs the burners were blowing gas but not igniting. And just as I said to the contractor they're not igniting, they ignited, and shot a fireball right into my face, which was still a good few feet from the furnace. My eyebrows and eyelashes are a little shorter right now. Needless to say, this old piece of shit is not going to be restarted again. After all this work on the house, I don't need it to explode.

So hopefully a furnace company will be coming in to look at replacing it ASAP, as the weather is getting colder by the day. This wasn't really a planned thing so it is a little bit of an inconvenience but hopefully it all works out. As for the rest of the basement, I removed the moldy wood and sprayed Concrobium on everything, so a couple days of being circulated with a HEPA air mover and it should be good to be called remediated!

On another side note, but yet an important event in my life, a couple weeks ago Leandra and I decided to go our separate ways. It's sometimes true in relationships that because they look good on paper doesn't mean they are meant to last, and unfortunately this was the case. We parted on good terms and are still friends, so I'm happy about that. And the silver lining is I'll have more free time to work on this house!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The First Appliance

I don't know why, but above all other appliances, I have been on a serious hunt for the right refrigerator. Because it holds beer, maybe? I wanted a french door model, and had eyed up a good LG that was on sale, but alas the width wouldn't allow it to fit in my fridge space and open properly, because of the wall. So this morning I decided on a GE:

It's a new slate finish, which I will also buy other GE appliances in (I'll order the range tomorrow), in order for my kitchen to match. But as I'm in no immediate rush, I'll wait a bit to see if some sales happen. The fridge did happen to be on sale at Leons, so I took that back to Home Depot and got another 10% off the sale price! Booyah!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Taking Shape

A LOT of work has been done this past week. First off, my man cave is taking shape. They have the frame up and had just started sheeting the exterior on Friday. I'm crossing my fingers that today's 100 km/h winds didn't scatter their unused plywood all over the neighbourhood. The garage structure should be finished by next week, and hopefully another week to have the gas line plumbed in, the 100 amp electrical wired from the house, and the interior insulated and drywalled. All in all, this 26 x 26 beauty is going to be one hell of a man cave!

The contractors also brought in a concrete company to remove the concrete foundation that supported the old deck. The way they had poured it back in the day was way overkill; a one foot concrete perimeter around the entire deck complete with six inch diameter footings. And it looked ugly as shit. But it's all gone now! The plan next year is to replace those areas (and the entire yard) with sod and build a flagstone patio. with a fire pit on the end. Another piece of good news is that the ground underneath the deck was layered with pebbled rock, so I can salvage that and use it as liner around the spruce tree, making it look a lot nicer than it currently does.

As for the interior, the contractors have demolished the bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen. The water damaged wall is a bit of a tricky issue: the rotted 2x4's cannot be removed because there is a layer of old stucco on the exterior of the house that was never removed, instead they installed vinyl siding over it, so the stucco is fastened to the house by staples in said 2x4's. If we were to removed them, it would mean another $5k of removing and reinstalling the exterior of the home. Instead, we're going to dry everything out, liberally apply mold killer, replace the crown and part of the floor, and reinforce that wall with new 2x4's, making everything guaranteed to be structurally sound. I knew there would most likely be complications, but 15 years of water leakage guarantees that.

As for this coming week, the concrete people are supposed to show up to fix a crack in the foundation, the granite counter-top company is coming in to measure the counters and give me a quote, and I should be finished the basement, which can facilitate finishing the mold removal in time to kick on the furnace just before mother nature brings the frost!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


The opposite of construction, which has been the definition of work at my house over the past few days. Not in a bad way, of course. On the contrary, destruction was necessary to facilitate construction. And that's what I've been doing. On Sunday, after a morning spent watching Rugby at the pint and drinking Guiness, my bro-in law, Scott, and I demolished the oversized, rotten deck attached to my house. When I say rotten, I mean it. Quite a bit of it literally disintegrated under the blows of a sledgehammer. So much so that my back yard is now covered in bits of rotten deck wood. It did, however, make it a lot easier to dismantle, taking us just over two hours instead of the four I figured it would. I took a time-lapse video, once I get it uploaded to YouTube I'll post it.

And as for the inside of the house, demolition revealed this nastiness:

The top picture is mold caused by water leaking in through a crack in the concrete foundation, which will be repaired hopefully in the next two weeks. The latter picture is what we found when the contractor removed the west wall that runs along the back of the two main floor bedrooms. While that wall is bad, and some studs need to be removed, it's actually better than I thought. No floor boards or joists will need to be removed, and the contractor is going to reinforce the wall despite being confident that it's still structurally sound. While the mold in the basement looks bad, removing it won't be difficult or problematic since the entire basement is being gutted anyway.

So progress is being made. The window company will be replacing the windows and cutting larger ones into the basement bedrooms to facilitate a secondary suite, I am supposed to be meeting someone soon to get a quote for granite counter tops, and once the mold is removed I can kick the furnace on and count the days until that ancient tank of a unit is replaced by a newer, high efficiency one!