Life is a Renovation. Go big or go...home?

Posted on March 16 2018

Life is a Renovation. Go big or go...home?

Hello folks, 

My apologies for my absence. I had planned on posting at the beginning of this month, but that was when the renovation gods descended upon us. Here I am, with head barely above water, squeezed into my tiny office, rambling on to regale you with the latest in the saga of our renovations. 

It all got started a week and a half ago. We had (mostly) packed up and stored our worldly possessions. We have carefully scheduled everything to happen back to back to back, reducing any time wasted nor help wasted:


Note to homeowners - do not order on your own. Try to do it through a trades person who has an account with that disposal company. If not, you will be overcharged for the bin weight when removed as well as a daily fee. This would have meant rushing around to get the bin filled then taken away as quickly as possible. When our contractor called them, the daily fee was waived. Unfair? You bet! Now you know and knowing is half the battle!  

Also, insist that the bin be located EXACTLY where you would like it to sit for the duration. Do not give in to the driver's insistence that the angle is hard for him to maneuver. He is just being impatient, feigning tentativeness. Rest short and wide wood boards under the "feet" of the bin to avoid crushing your lawn or damaging your driveway. 

Once that's all done, enjoy throwing all those things out which you've been keeping in dark recesses, for that never to happen trip to the disposal site. I love this part. Purging is so therapeutic and so much fun!  Poor husband always looks a bit ill, whenever his natural packrat tendencies are being challenged.




DUST is most definitely a four letter word. So is DIRT. Do not underestimate either's ability to get past your "good enough" defences. They are mighty and stronger than your will to keep things clean. For the first week of demolition when husband and a friend were working, I was very casual in the way I draped off key openings. Shaking my head now, I guess I was lazy and forgot how the consuming mess could really damage our psyches and our home. To beef up our defences, we added a nifty device I had seen used before by friends - a zipper which sticks to your drop cloths for easy in and out.  This way, the plastic's edges can be completely sealed and left undisturbed. 

A word of advice - really think about where to locate the zippers. Ours are inconveniently in front of both staircases - one for upstairs and one for the basement.  I would say put the zipper a step or two away from stairs.  Where they are now, we find it difficult to extricate ourselves in both directions. But on the brighter side, all this contortionist training will come in handy when I finally audition for Cirque de Soleil!  


Call it 6th sense, woman's intuition or just dumb luck. I had been quietly wanting to extend our renovation to our upstairs guest bathroom. The night before demolition started, while showering, I found 2 recessed wall tiles. When I gently pushed on them, they sank back quite easily indicating water damage. When husband pulled the tiles off, that whole tub wall was sopping wet and full of black mould. It smelled mushroomy, which couldn't be good. 

So poor husband had to don hazmat suit, mask and gloves to tackle the daunting task of removing it all as quickly as possible, including the bath tub. Then I thought of a way to decontaminate the room. 

USEFUL TIP:  English Ivy plants are excellent for filtering all types of mould spores in the air.             

We happen to have 2 ivy plants in the house. So we sacrificially shoved them into the bathroom and closed the door for a couple of days. After that, the air smelled fresh. We worked quickly to install a new shower base and better wall boards for battling moisture. Our focus then went back to the main floor again.


We are 1.5 weeks in and already over budget. How could that be? I thought we planned this thing to the nth degree? Well, the bathroom is an overspend. It looks like we will need a second bin, which surprises all of us.  Also, our front entry tiles may have to go as they may get irreparably damaged after relocating duct work. 

Things got even more complicated when our dream of an open concept space hit a road block. This can happen a lot with older houses with old beams and joists. Are they load bearing or not? We were given the choice of hiring a structural engineer (which would cost approx. $800-$1,000), or bypass that by removing all the existing drywall/plaster ceiling to see what supports are needed. Reading between the lines, the main purpose of a Structural Engineer seems to be to act as a human X-ray machine who understands point loads! If you can't see it, the engineer determines what is happening and what is needed. If you can see it, your contractor can act accordingly. 

We really didn't want to fatten the pockets of an engineer, so we are opting for full on ceiling demolition. I am hiding at my neighbour's house right now to avoid the mess. All in all, this allows for about 5-6 inches more in ceiling height, better access for installing lighting, wire management and husband's all important ceiling speakers. I'll be so relieved when all the demolition work is done and they can begin the task of rebuilding. Right now, our poor house looks broken, like a scene from Walking Dead. I try to keep alive dreamy images of an HGTV worthy space, finished and beautiful. 


In the meantime, our temporary kitchen setup seems to be working well. Although I think we have too many things still in use and not enough stored in boxes, we are also enjoying the many frozen meals I prepared in advance. They have come in very handy. The crock pot has become my new best friend and we are fortunate to have supportive friends and family who are helping to keep us fed and sane! 

Stay tuned for my next update coming soon!  

And here is a before picture of the kitchen.


And here is a before picture of the main living area.


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