Friday, November 28, 2008

The Staircase

Here's a test of the slideshow feature. This could make for a real cool finish for the blog...

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Our New Closets

P1050045, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

When first installed, the framing for our closets was only as big as the doorways. We had a quick chat with the builder and the closets grew another foot each. I think he was preparing for a pull down movie screen to fit between the closets, but we can come up with a an alternative.

Those wires hanging from the ceiling are for the movie sound system.

All that cabling in the basement

P1050059, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

The geek in me squeals like a schoolgirl over this stuff.
The speaker wire will connect into one amplifier and I will be able to play music in the Living Room and Kitchen from a system in the basement. The ethernet cables will plug into a patch panel and I'll be able to route phone or internet to any room in the house.

By my count there are now three devices for sale that take streaming video off the net and pump it straight into your tv. If you want to drool, google Netflix and Roku to see what $99 US gets you.

As a Canadian, I'm ticked that they aren't available to us yet, but i'm patient. Still, the writing is on the wall and the wait won't be too long.

One week later....

P1050031, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

And we have drywall. No tape yet, but that's okay.

Our Neighbours Approve

P1050014, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

This is upstairs looking towards the front of the house. It will be insteresting to see how they will insulate this.

Windows! And Insulation!!

P1050004, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

Last Tuesday, I bumped into John and Glynis (our friends from around the corner from our house) We walked and talked until we were near my house and I invited them in to see the progress. I like to invite fiends in whenever I can. Their enthusiasm and encouragement are good for reminding me of how much we've done. Looking at the bones of our house for so long has made it seem like it will never get done.

That night as we came into the house, it was toasty warm for the first time since we left it. They had cranked up the heat for the spray insulating. All our new windows were in place too.

Based on what we'd read and our contractor recommended, we figured foam insulation was the way to go. It functions both as insulator and vapor barrier.

Now it actually is starting to feel less like a construction site and more like the home we've been waiting to come back to.

Monday, November 17, 2008

One pricey new roof later...

P1040993, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

I swear to god we're living to be 100 so we can wring every penny of enjoyment out of this renovation....

Who's a Big Geek? I am! I am!

P1040989, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

This is in our upstairs bedroom at the front of the house, now called the Media Room in our plans.

Later on, you'll see how Barb thought through the kitchen. Here's whee i got to run wild.

That's 4 blue ethernet cables coming out of a conduit that runs straight .to the basement. I've run 3-4 ethernet lines to nearly all the rooms in the house and they will all terminate at a patch panel in the basement. Just to be sure, there's pull strings too. Any time in the future I'll be able to pull whatever new cable is required.

To the right of the ethernet is coiled speaker wire running to the ceiling. That's for the surround speaker system that will be mounted overhead.

I'm betting that the future will be streamed.

Look Waaay up! There's Musty!

P1000145, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

Musty the Rotting Roof, that is.

By far our most expensive surprise has been the discovery of our decaying roof. In the last year, our shingles seemed to begin crumbling at a rapid rate. We knew that it would be silly to proceed with a renovation while leaving a roof that could start leaking at any time. Sure enough, in inspecting the roof they discovered that the boards were rotted beyond salvage. One brand new upper triangle later, we're looking forward to serving mac & cheese at our open house.

Why we'd never do open concept...

P1000160, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

This is a view standing in the living room looking to the back of the house. The ladder on the ground is where the stairs used to be. They had to go (just too crooked) and the railing I had hoped would stay is looking pretty doubtful. Having no interior walls makes a 16 foot wide house look very, very, small. Kind of like a shotgun shack.

That's a new subfloor there. It turns out that you could fall through the old one in a couple of places. As you can see, the unexpected is starting to drive up the costs.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

They sure don't make 'em like this anymore....

P1000139, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

This is our upstairs bedroom and you can see that there was a window that had been boarded up. You can see that the work had been done with castoff lumber.

There were a number of places in our house where the lumber in the walls was obviously scavenged from previous work. In many cases the lumber wasn't long enough and our contractor had to shore things up.

On our assessments, it says the house was built in 1916. Records show it was the first constructed in our development, by a developer trying to make good on his investments in a real estate market stalled out by the First World War. The Developer ended up moving into it for a couple years, waiting for the war to end and the market to heat up again. The earliest maps I can find show our house as one of four on our street. by 1924, all the houses on our street were in place.

Maybe scarcity of the war had left builders without choices. The insides of our walls a view into a time that forged Canadian identity.

Or maybe they were just crap builders.

What the hell were they thinking?!?

P1000107, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

This photo is in the dining room looking onto the back side of the stairs. Note the 1/2 inch furring strips on the exterior brick walls. Yep, that's it, the sum total of ALL the insulation we had on the walls of our downstairs. In this room you could see daylight between some of the bricks. One of our first decisions was to sacrifice some space in our rooms and add provide some depth in the walls for insulation. Given that the house is 16 feet wide, three inches less space may actually be noticeable

And then it was gone...

P1000108, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

Once the gut started, it went pretty fast. I had hoped they would find old newspapers and other artifacts in the walls. With the lathe and plaster down, it became clear that a sheet of newspaper was about all that would have fit inside our walls.

Livingroom: Calm before the storm

P1000006, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

You can see the cracked plaster on the stairwell wall. Of all the things in the house, the one thing worth saving is the railing on the stairs.

Pretty much unchanged since 1950

P1000016, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

Yes the wallpaper is hanging in strips. Note the testing of the dill pickle colour on the cupboard door in the foreground. That's the colour of our new cabinets.

Barb lived with this for nine years

P1000081, originally uploaded by davethetemp.

Amazing she didn't divorce me, eh?

It all seemed so simple at the beginning

Nine years last June, when I burnt out on my food bank job, I launched the renovation of our house. Thinking I would be unemployed for months (or at least weeks) I began tearing down the horrid painted panelling in the kitchen, revealing horrid cracked plaster underneath. Two days later, I was working and have been employed ever since. My Kitchen reno slipped from passion to occasional hobby and finally an example of the "charm" of our home. Barb never did accept this eyesore of cracked plaster, strips of wallpaper and exposed lath and we waited for the day when we would have just enough money to do a nice renovation.

Our renovation really started when we hired a design firm to help us plan. Several thousand dollars later we had drawings, a contractor and a start date. I am of course leaving lots out, but you'll have to come to the housewarming to hear the good stuff.