Saturday, 8 December 2012

December already?

So, it's December and we've officially moved from the basement up to the main floor.  Of course there's a few things left to finish off - just little things like:
- hang doors
-install window coverings
-finish baseboards
-install new stairs and handrails/guardrails

However, despite having a few deficiencies we've had a few victories.  The kitchen has slowly been coming together although it was functional in late October so we could finally expand meal offerings from just cooking with microwave, BBQ and electric griddle.  I present the new kitchen...ta da!

Other victories have been getting the washrooms on the main and upper level functioning, although without doors it's a bit interesting.  We also are still working on the shower, so the only main floor washroom with a functioning toilet + sink can't be used for bathing, and none of them have any mirrors installed which makes hairstyling and makeup application interesting.  I'm sure my co-workers are wondering why I'm looking like three years old are running my glam squad. 

And our monstrous fireplace finally took form with last week's installation of the glulam mantel.  Luckily I was willfully ignorant of the simple math required to calculate the weight of a 12'-6" long x 5' thick x 2' deep chunk of glulam, which required the collective efforts of our tilesetter and AV equipment installer to help us move into place. 

And one last shot for posterity...guardrail installation in progress in the Great Room (the rest of the glulam wrapped in brown paper is for the stairs).

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Let there be light(s)!

And thanks for all our faithful blog followers...on August 31st we achieved a massive spike in hits to this blog - eighteen!  Woo hoo!  I wonder whether that's enough for major sponsors to become interested? 

Well, once again a month has slipped by and progress has slowed to a crawl.  Jean and I are happily camping out in the clinic, cooking meals with an electric griddle, microwave and BBQ, and musing 'I wonder where we packed that' as we peruse our stuffed-to-the-ceiling storage room.  The shorter days are reminders just how long we've been working on this little project (7 months tomorrow, yeegads).

While we wait for mudding/taping and painting to be finished, we're putzing around on small projects like framing in the fireplace to make a space for display shelving, staining the deck, and installing lights in the rooms that have been painted so far.  I'm also trying to beat down the weeds in the garden and keep the windfall apples under control since we already have a well established ant population in the yard. 

A few recent photos of new bathroom and closet lights, prep for kitchen hood fan and deck with new stain and glass guardrail:

 And yesterday's project was framing in the shelving beside the fireplace.  There will be a glulam mantel with a waterfall edge down the left side.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Catching up

Oh my gosh - so much has happened since our last post.  We've understandably been a wee bit preoccupied with renos, and packing up Jean's house and moving into the new one (at least into the clinic space).  The clinic is up and running;  today is the official Day 1.  So far, the new space seems to be well received by clients who are seeing it for the first time.

The flooring install and baseboards went in relatively smoothly.  A few paint touch ups and some washroom accessories and pictures on the wall and we're done.  Almost.  Today, I get to figure out the barn door hardware so we can actually close off the sauna room.  How hard could it be?  Hopefully, easier than all the other doors which somehow all seem to have expanded since they were taken off their hinges and now won't close smoothly.  Arg.  Easy to fix, but a hassle.

And some other recent's the reception area with Jean's toes in the foreground.

And....oh yes.  I suppose we should finish off the rest of the house at some point.  The novelty of sleeping on an air mattress and cooking on a campstove may wear off eventually.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

I Didn’t Know That! D’oh! (Part 1)

So, while I optimistically think of myself as reasonably handy with tools, logical and well informed, there’s always a few ‘aha!’ moments in the course of working on a big project.    With every project I’ve undertaken over the years, my skills have been refined – sometimes with baby steps, sometimes with giant leaps of ‘Oh, how could I not have known that!’.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far.  Feel free to laugh and mock as appropriate.

#1: Screwdrivers (at least the better quality ones) are color coded to indicate varying sizes.  And here I thought they were just pretty.  Sure saves time staring at the end cross-eyed trying to guess if that Philips one is the right one.  I won’t mention that I still confuse Philips and Robertson types.

#2:  Waterproof membrane:  you don’t have to use the cumbersome orange waffle grid Schluter membrane.  Our tile guru used a couple of coats of a roll-on liquid.  Looked like raspberry yogurt in the pail, but is much easier to work with and dries to a striking hot pink color.

#3: Critical dimensions.   Toilets are supposed to be 15” to centerline from the inner face of the wall.  The plumber doesn’t care about ‘high efficiency space planning’ – he just wants to meet code requirements.  The tile guru wants a new layer of plywood not because he’s a pain in the @ss, but because a 1 ¼” underlay is required.  Fine.

#4:  The elbows in copper piping is made of a different material and must be separated from the straight lengths of copper pipe if you want top pricing from the metal salvager.  Thank the gods for the Sawz-all.  Two dollars a pound isn’t enough motivation to get me to spend an afternoon using a hacksaw.

#5:  Commercial door frames are wider than residential door casings.  I knew this somewhere in the recesses of my brain, but still managed to frame a couple of rough openings too wide.  Shims to the rescue!

#6:  Tape measures have a diamond at apparently random places (19 3/16”?).  There’s actually a logic to this as it divides standard lumber/plywood into equal spacing.  Thanks to Scott for the tip.

#7:  You don’t have to order the jets in a whirlpool tub directly from the manufacturer as the supplier often has an in-house department to do after-market refits.  Plus, this option turns out to be cheaper.  Thanks to our sales rep for screwing up our order and allowing us to find this alternative.

#8:  Don’t be lazy and keep the electrical plug in its box when drywalling.  Spend 30 seconds per receptacle to undo a couple of screws and pull it out so you can cut the edge of the drywall tight to the edge of the box.  This will greatly reduce the amount of eye rolling and mocking from the drywall finisher. (Vat eez  theez  sheet?   Quel eediots!  Merde!)

#9:  Forming tight curves with drywall can be done a couple of ways.  Yes, you can score the back of the sheet.  Or, you can buy ¼” thick drywall instead of ½” and most of the problem takes care of itself.  Plus, you can use a spray bottle to dampen the drywall to make it easier to form into curves.  Thanks Mr. Drywall and Stucco Supply Store Man!

#10:  When framing a sleeper floor to raise the level to a uniform height, keep in mind that plywood subfloor comes in 4’ x 8’ sheets.  You will realize that leaving an unsupported edge of plywood (bouncy, bouncy!) is Not A Good Thing and you’ll now need to add yet another sleeper to keep everything stable.  Not difficult, but it wastes time and materials.  (And I get the chance to post another photo of Jean modifying the Family Room ceiling.)

#11:  There’s a big difference in the quality of stainless steel sinks.  Wherever possible, buy one that you’ve’ tire kicked’ in person.  Thanks to Chris and Kim for warning us about a bargain sink that turned out to be a pain to keep clean.  Keep an eye on the gauge of steel used and pick a heftier one if possible.  However, if your sink doesn’t come soundproofed, and each drop of water resonates like a cowbell (Digression:  google the ‘ SNL Needs More Cowbell’ video and enjoy the Christopher Walken silliness.) it is possible to add this later.  Adhere a layer of mass loaded vinyl (essentially flooring underlay product) to the underside of the bowls.  We may be experimenting with leftover blueskin dampproofing membrane product as it has similar qualities.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Your doing it Wrong! Oops

 You’re Doing It Wrong

Among the many joys of renovating are the inevitable goof-ups that are part of renovating an existing house.  Particularly one with walls that are the architectural equivalent of a free form, interpretative dancer pirouetting barefoot  to the accompaniment of music composed by a room full of chimpanzees for bagpipe, harmonica and whoopee cushion.  I imagine that back in 1976, the builder must have muttered ‘Close enough’ and ‘Whatever’  or possibly ‘Groovy, man’ more than a few times.  However, I must confess that more than one issue cannot be attributed to wonky existing construction but falls squarely in the realm of ‘amateur renovator’.  Aside from self inflicted head wounds caused by not noticing rivets popping out of a hand saw and finger pokes on hidden nails and staples that have previously been mentioned on this blog, there is a level of incompetency that qualifies as a Code Red on the Oopsie Scale.

Please note that no humans were harmed (seriously) during this project.  So far.

Case Study #1:  Installing gypsumboard wrong side out on the clinic sauna room ceiling.  In my defense, it was an extremely complicated cut as there were no parallel walls and I was focussing entirely on getting the angles right and forgetting to mirror image the measurements.  Oops.

Case Study #2:  Installing plywood over concrete.  It worked well, except in one spot which lifted.  Of course, that spot is in the worst location possible right in front of a doorway and the slight movement means that we now have to figure out how to screw down plywood through concrete to achieve a stable base for the tile floor.  Note to self:  don’t be chintzy with the PL400 and keep pressure on it until it’s absolutely cured.  Then wait a couple days longer before removing the bracing.  Oops.

Case Study #3:  Nominal vs actual sizes apply to both lumber and steel stud framing.  After furring out all our living room ceiling clouds with 1” metal furring channels over 4” studs, we discovered we were short a critical ½” in depth and the pot lights would not fit.  So, we had the opportunity to reframe the furring in wood after the clouds were already overhead.  Not easy or fun.  Oops.

Case Study #4:  Be aware of your surroundings.  If there’s only a couple of square feet of plywood subfloor removed, and you’re walking backwards carrying materials, you will find the hole.  Just sayin’.  On the bright side, we have a new ceiling feature in the Family Room now. (Nice Five Fingers shoes, Jean!)  Oops.

Case Study #5:  Be aware of where services are under the floor you’re sawing out.  Just because it’s too dark to see the electrical wire, doesn’t mean it’s not there.   At least the Renovation Gods took pity on you and had the breaker turned off.  Oops.

 Case study #1

Case Study #2

Case Study #3

Case Study #4

Case study #5:

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Are We There Yet? (from May 14th)

I’ve used the metaphor of ‘this is a marathon, not a sprint’ all too often to help beat down the sense of panic and weariness as we enter into Month 3 of this project. We’re well into the middle of the race now – just about the point that the runner is realizing that his shoes are tied too tight, the six energy bars consumed for breakfast aren’t sitting very well, the pace starting out was probably a touch too optimistic and maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all/can I go home now please. We’re left the starting line far behind, the finish line is still a long ways ahead and we’re just plodding along.
This weekend wasn’t the most productive one as a series of outside circumstances need our attention. I was able to spent most of my day off on Friday and the weekend putzing around, but Jean is being pulled in all directions at once with kidlets, house selling, motorhome retrieval and a very ill father in hospital. Jean’s friends Guy and Bruce were able to come over one day to help out. Bruce’s carpentry skills were put to the test levelling out our wonky subfloor at the back of the house where three different levels all came together. We have a slight ¼” transition now at one spot, but it’s strategically located where two different types of flooring will come together.

We continue to make progress picking out finishing touches and resolving little issues, all of which take a surprising amount of time. We found a place to order the remaining doors we can’t seem to scrounge through our favorite re-use stores, decided on all our new exterior light fixtures, ordered a sample set of the barn door hardware we’re hoping to use on all doors, and bought the last remaining faucet. Although our flooring is being stored at various warehouses around town, our basement looks like a hardware and plumbing store with all the bits stashed away. There’s just a couple of light fixtures (the kitchen island and dining room are proving to be difficult to source), a kitchen sink/garburator and two sets of door hardware yet to buy.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

(Jean) Finally brave enough to write something.

This is Jean.  As our faithful followers will notice I have not put anything into this blog as of yet.  I was reading through the blog posts and realized I have not given anyone my perspective of this amazing project.  I have come to realize that I am a great assistant at doing some of this.  Thank the Renovation Gods that I have such good friends that can actually put this construction stuff together and a fantastic lady that can see the vision with such great clarity.  ( Sandra's favorite tongue-in-cheek line is "If I can draw it, you can build it." and "How hard can it be?...")  I will continue to add my thoughts as we continue on this journey.

Since we are getting closer to the finish line I was wondering if anyone has any ideas as to the color scheme I should use in the new clinic.  Bright? Dark? Neutral? Brilliant?...  The floor will be a mid tone mahogany color. Here's a sample of the flooring and a color translation chart for our male and female blog readers: