Monday, June 30, 2008

Renovations - Day 6

Today was the longest day yet. We woke at 6:00 am and headed to town for an appointment. While I was there PeterC headed over to Home Depot to buy the insulation and Allure flooring we had chosen. He apparently had a hard time getting any help when he found there was no Patina colour of flooring. After much arguing back and forth with the salespeople he loaded the insulation and picked me up.

From there we stopped at a flooring speciality shop that had been recommended to us by a coworker. We hoped they also carried Allure but it turns out that it is a Home Depot only product. However, they had several vinyl floor coverings that looked just as good. It comes in 13 1/2 ft widths by however long, carries a 25 year warranty, is padded, sound dampening, and requires no glue to install. After looking through all the samples we chose a nice tile look and placed our order. It should be here the day PeterC has to go back to work.

We got home from town and started pulling nails from the studs in preparation for installing the insulation. Unfortunately, the supplies from BMR didn't arrive until 3:00pm so we got a late start on installing the subflooring. But, we did get started and plan to have it finished early tomorrow. For the subflooring we chose a 2" high density foam and 3/4 " good one side plywood. The two pieces we got laid today were attached to the concrete pad with 3 1/4 " masonry screws though I wish we had purchased 4" instead for the extra security.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Renovations - Day 5

When I said we had gaps between the house and the mud room wall I wasn't kidding. Yesterday, we used spray foam to fill the gaps and today we woke to find the foam had expanded not only on the inside as it cured but on the outside too. We'll have to take a knife and trim it back once we finish with everything inside.

We had to buy some cat food and a cement trowel before we could move on to the next step, filling the gap with cement. By the time we got home from shopping it was getting dark as a series of thunderstorms started moving through. PeterC mixed the cement in the bucket in small portions while I trowelled the previous batch into the gap, making sure to pack it as deep as possible. Considering it was my first time laying cement I think I did a pretty good job.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Renovations - Day 4

We got up early and headed over the BMR to pay for our order. They are going to deliver it Monday after lunch which is great as it gives us enough time to get the prep work done. We did knock the interior paint off the order since neither of us has decided on a colour but we both agree we do not want white. I'm leaning toward a very light orange while PeterC wants a pale green. I'd like to try one of those faux finishes but I'm just not sure if a small room mostly used for storage should be quite so decorative. Besides we have plenty of rooms to try that on.

When we got back home we gutted the rest of the room. During the gutting we found several new and interesting things, but nothing that brought a halt to the project. We found that the ceiling had absolutely no insulation which seemed pretty pointless considering the insulation in the walls. We also found rather large gaps where the mud room met the house. Large enough to require spray foam to fill them, which pretty much negated the insulation in the walls. We did find a piece of paper stuffed into one of the walls with the date of 1967 on it. We don't know if that was when the room was built or if that was when they took a screened porch and enclosed it to make the mud room.

We also found the remains of a huge paper wasp or hornet nest. When PeterC pulled the drywall away to reveal the nest we both held our breath and listened for the angry buzz of winged warriors. Thankfully, it was abandoned or we would be is serious deep trouble. It turned out the nest was so old that it crumbled at the slightest touch so it was easily removed with our shop vacuum.

The only truly worrying thing we found was a large spot of missing wood in the roof. We could easily see the membrane that is under the tin roof and so we were worried about water leaks. As we removed the walls we found that none of the insulation showed any water damage so it is obvious that the membrane and tin are doing their jobs. However, it does mean that we will need to repair the roof, or replace it completely, sometime in the near future.

We finished the gutting and insulation cleanup around 3pm and we started on the spray foam to fill in the cracks and gaps between the mud room and the side of the house. Because of the number and sizes of gaps we actually had to run into Home Depot, since BMR was already closed, and buy another 5 cans of spray foam. When we got home we filled all the gaps, cleaned up for the night, and called it a day.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Renovations - Day 3

We received the quote from BMR for the materials we need except the flooring and hardwood casing materials. We're using the Allure simulated tile vinyl flooring and BMR doesn't carry it. The casings have to be ordered in from the supplier so a price has to wait until they hear from them. It isn't a big deal since the casings are the absolute last thing to be installed, after the windows which arrive on July 9th. The quote actually came in quite a bit lower than what we had calculated at Home Depot which is a blessing considering Home Depot's cost was looking to run us almost $4000.00 including the flooring. With the BMR prices the whole project is going to cost less than $3000.00. Not by much but when pennies count dollars make a big difference.

So, even though today was a work day for PeterC and a late one at that, we did some more demolition on the room. We finished pulling out the loose concrete around the edges of the room and it was worse than I had expected. Where the exterior door is there is a gap that must be 2" wide and opens into a small cavern under the centre pad. You can see all kinds of rocks and gravel under there so the centre pad isn't as thick as we would prefer. This also means that we have to talk to the people at BMR to see if they can suggest a better way to fix this problem. We may just have to buy a bag of cement and fill it in with that before using the patching compound on top.

We also started tearing out the drywall today. We only did one wall but neither of us could wait until tomorrow to find out what we had to deal with back there. If all the walls are as good as this one then we are in fine shape structurally. In the picture you can see the true 2" x 4" studs, which appear to be a hardwood but could just be dark from age. The outer cladding, seen in the empty section all appears to be free of rot and other problems except the holes they drilled to blow in the insulation.

You can also see the blown in paper insulation which we weren't expecting. With the insulation in evidence it now suggests that all the cold drafts were coming from the leaking window sills and the crack in the foundation. This stuff is a real nightmare to clean up as the slightest breeze moves it all over the place. We filled three garbage bags packed tight full with just this one wall. Luckily none of it showed any water damage which is a really good sign for the integrity of the wood.

So tomorrow is the official start of vacation/ renovations and we are already a day ahead of the game. The one wall took us an hour and a half to gut so the other three should take less than a day. That gives us plenty of time to fill the foundation crack with cement and let it cure before the materials arrive on Monday. Then we have two weeks to get everything installed and openings framed for the replacement windows and doors.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Renovations - Day 2

While PeterC was at work today I decided to get a start on the demolition. I took off the electrical covers and removed the casings from around the windows and door to the kitchen. For the most part the wood was in good shape but was cheap pine. Except the casing around the door to the kitchen. It looks like it was original to the house and was either maple or oak. Unfortunately it has been painted several times so I can only guess that the original colours used. Since it came off all in one piece I am thinking about stripping it and reusing it if possible.

The floor is poured concrete and all around the edges there is a layer of cracked concrete. We has assumed that it was simply cracked concrete with cheap floor leveller over the top. While ripping out the baseboards I discovered that the concrete in the centre of the room and the concrete under the walls of the mud room were not poured at the same time. In fact there is a 1 inch gap between the wall's concrete and the floor. Considering the fact that the concrete is cracked and flaking all the way around the outer edges we have to assume that we will find this gap all the way around.

When PeterC got home from work we went to Home Depot to look at ways to fill and patch this gap. We have decided to use Polyfill Cement Patch mixed with crushed gravel as a filler for the main gap. Once that is fully cured, about 24 hrs, we can use plain cement patch to bring the outer level even with the inner level. We purchased a small amount of patch and rock dust so we can try out our idea early Saturday. If it works we'll be in business.

It is the discovery I made while ripping out the baseboards that truly boggled my mind. It is the perfect example of really badly done do-it-yourself work. Whatever the previous handyman used to fill the gap was poured onto the centre floor and spread out to the walls, with the baseboards and drywall in place. So what I thought was simply badly cut and laid baseboard is actually 3 inch baseboard that has been covered up with concrete patch of some kind.

Needless to say this is going to be an interesting renovation. I'm almost afraid to see what, if anything, is behind the drywall. I suspect we will have to add wood between the studs just so we have someplace to nail to along the bottom. Of course, we still don't know what we have for studs or the distance between them. I poked a few holes in the wall under one of the windows and didn't find a single stud. If we have to we will add studs to the walls to make it more structurally sound and to give us anchor points for the drywall.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Renovations - Day 1

Spent the day cleaning everything out of the mud room. It is amazing just how much crap you can shove into a small space if you use shelving. Once I got the room cleaned out I took assessment of the situation then measured the ceiling height and room length and width. With those measurements I created a spreadsheet with a list of all the supplies I could think of and began calculating square footage requirements for the various building supplies.

Once PeterC got home from work we headed up to BMR to get a quote on what they could supply. They gave us some ideas for the subflooring and the like and in general are just really good people. They are supposed to fax the quote to PeterC tomorrow. The items BMR doesn't carry will be purchased from one the building suppliers in town, either Home Depot or Rona depending on the prices.

Vacation = Renovations

It is coming up on vacation time again and we already have our next renovation project planned and ready to go. Vacation time is when we spend two weeks working on this old house to either bring it up to modern standards or to just make it look good. Last year we had the exterior painted. The year before we had the electrical replaced. The first year we replaced the front porch. Small projects get done throughout the year but the really big projects always wait for vacation time.

This year we are renovating the mud room. For those who don't know, a mud room is a small room off the back of the house that is used for everything from storage to removing mucky boots in the winter. Ours is mostly used as extra storage space for all those items used outdoors that can't be allowed to freeze in the winter. We've also been using the shelving as extended pantry space for canned and boxed items. While the room doesn't freeze in the winter, it does have a lot of drafts that lowers the heating efficiency of the entire house. After the renovations this year we hope that will change.

We've already ordered window inserts and a new door and are currently pricing out the rest of the requirements from nails to window casings. The whole room is going to be gutted, insulated, vapour barrier installed, floor levelled and subflooring installed, drywalled, new windows and exterior door installed, and finally the room will be painted and made pretty. It sounds like a lot of work to get done in two weeks but PeterC and I are pretty darned determined to do this whole job ourselves. Not only will it be a learning experience but it will save on the cost of a contractor, as long as we do the job correctly and not cut any corners.

Over the next few posts I'll show you pictures of the various stages of the work and talk about any surprises we find. Crossing our fingers there won't be any expensive surprises waiting for us under the drywall.

Friday, June 20, 2008

What a Smell!

Wouldn't you just know it, Dunny our normally well behaved and goofy dog, decided he was going to catch himself a skunk by the tail this morning. PeterC was taking the dogs for their early morning walk before work when Dunny dived into a brush pile beside the road and pulled a skunk out by the tail. By all accounts he then tossed the poor beast into the air but not before getting a mouth full of the good old stinky stuff.

Dunny is in his kennel outside and I'm sitting inside at the computer, and I can still smell him. He is salivating pretty good and he has plenty of water to drink so we aren't to worried about him. In fact, it serves him right for going after a skunk. What I don't know though is how to get the smell out when it is in his mouth. I'm pretty sure we'll never get him to drink tomato juice, which is the classic cure for skunk spray. I guess I'll give the vet a call and see what he suggests. It may be that time and lots of water is the only thing that will work.

Luckily, the skunk seems to have suffered nothing more than a blow to his dignity as he was seen strutting away from the scene of the assault.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Medieval Festival

Yesterday we spent the day at Upper Canada Village and Seaway Valley Parks first annual Medieval Festival. It was quite interesting with Vikings holding sword fighting demonstrations; various archers doing archery demonstrations; a talk on Falconry in history and a Raptor show by the Canadian Raptor Conservatory; horseback games; and most impressive a joust competition with members from Canada and the USA. Rather than talk about it I'll just show the pictures PeterC took.

The Joust. Yes, those are lance pieces flying through the air.































The Vikings and Archers.










The Royal Court. A Falconer with his Kestral.










The Horseback games.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

36º C and Counting

Yep, it has been a hot one these last few days. On top of the 36º temperatures it has been incredibly humid outside with humidity hovering around 80% all day and even more so at night. I'm pretty sure that we reached a record high for June 7th yesterday when the thermometer skyrocketed just after the sun rose and didn't drop much after the sun set.

The house is closed up tight to try to preserve the cooler, and dryer, air inside but it is starting to warm up and get stuffy. If it wasn't so humid at night we could open the windows and at least let the house cool down to 20º but the excess humidity would just make things worse. So instead we use fans to circulate the air and run a small room air conditioner at night when we sleep. Once the humidity dries up and the temperatures drop at night we will remove it and let nature cool the house once more.

With this unseasonably hot weather we have to be careful of getting overheated when we work outside. We have to drink plenty of water and wear a hat if we have to spend more than an hour outside. I am afraid that this summer is going to be so unbearably hot that we will spend the majority of our time indoors, but the vegetables should love it as long as we keep them well watered through the dry season.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Rainy Weekend Opportunities

Well, this weekend turned out to be a bust in the yard. It started raining Friday night and didn't stop until Sunday around 1:00pm. We went outside to feed the birds and it started raining again before we were done. However, the light shows Friday and Saturday nights were pretty cool and the garden seems to have not minded the weather one bit. We did get a small bit of hail but that didn't do any damage here. The neighbours weren't so lucky and several are now missing part or all of several trees.

Since we couldn't go outside without having to change clothes we made a really good Mexican Salad with homemade corn tortillas. The tortillas aren't labour intensive but they take a long time to cook when you only have one cast iron skillet the right size. We put the first six into the oven and crisped them up to make chips. PeterC commented that he would like to have home made chips more often for those nights he enjoys his salsa, which is pretty often. I don't think that will be happening until he figures out a way for me to cook more than one at a time. I'm thinking a big steel plate over the fire pit would work great.

As has become routine for Mondays, I am trying to get caught up on all the chores that didn't get done on the weekend. I can't say that I mind though. With me staying at home and keeping the house clean during the week, PeterC doesn't feel pressured to try to get everything done on the weekends like we used to do. Instead we spend time doing things together outside or when it rains we spend time talking to each other about things that for so long were just to trivial to discuss. It seems our relationship is stronger now than it has been for several years. I guess a cessation of stress and continued conflict will do that for a relationship.