Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ode to The Underapprectiated

We had taken this already short work week off to work on the house. It has been a while since our last big messy project. Even without having to worry about our day jobs this week, the progress hasn't been quite as fast as we'd like. So far after Tuesday, i've only managed to get the demo done. And doing demolition has given me a renewed appreciation for something that i usually take for granted. And that thing is...nose hair. After 4 days of demolishing tile, cement board and a mortar bed, i was a wheezing mess. Even with a dust mask, i breathed in more than enough construction dust for a life time. Whenever i blow my nose after doing a large demo, i always have a new appreciation for that evolutionary folicular miracle, that is nose hair. And anyone who has done a bunch of demo will know exactly what i am talking about.

So the plan for the new bathroom is to leave all the fixtures more or less in the same place, except we're losing the bidet and moving the toilet forward a couple of feet, so that we can use the space previously occupied by the toilet and bidet as a linen closet (accessed through the main hall). I'm attempting to infuse the new washroom with a rich, timelss look. Basically, my guiding principle is - What would Brigette Bardot's washroom look like? For flooring i've chosen a 6" x 18" bianco carrara marble tile, which i plan to lay in a herring bone pattern, with dark grey grout lines. For tub surround i am once again using clean white subway tiles, i always find the look of white subway tile to be both timeless and enduring. For fixtures, i am turning to American Standard's Town Square line, which i've used before in my first house, it's a line that looks a lot more expensive than it actually is. I also plan to finally put the table saw i bought 3 years ago to good use, as i plan to panel the walls in painted wood (actually mdf). The panelling will have a chair rail, bolection moulding around each panel and crown moulding around the top. For a vanity, i plan to customize an IKEA base kitchen cabinet. Standard kitchen cabinets are 24" deep, for this smallish washroom i'll galdly forego the storage space for more floor space, so i'll rip the cabinet down to 21" deep. Hopefully the smaller cabinet depth will also translate to slightly less money for the marble counter i end up choosing. Should be interesting to see if i really can achieve a rich look, while trying to stay below a materials budget of 6K.

Anyhow, here are some progress pics of the demolition process:

The Sweet Smell of Progress

Ah progress, sweet progress. The guys at Diox Inc, have pulled down the make shift awning, and have constructed a new roof structure. These guys were quick, honest, reliable and reasonable. Now i know it doesn't look much better than what was there previously, but atleast now the posts are actually anchored into the ground. And the structure is super-solid, they had two guys on the roof hammering in shingles. This past weekend's thunder storms were a good test to see if the water leak had been solved. We used to get buckets of water pouring in, and now with the new roof structure and flashing, we only ended up getting just a few drops. Once the downspout has been re routed directly to the ground, we should be 100% water tight. And once I get some time, I’ll trim out the posts with some gingerbread and railing.

This past weekend I also began demolishing my 80’s bathroom to make way for all new fixtures and a linen closet. More posts coming soon on that, but in the mean time here are some of the befores.

Even though I grew up in the 80’s, I have never been a fan of the designs. The 80’s were all about conspicuous displays of consumption and status symbols. And nothing says "You’ve made it!", like gold taps...

...and a bidet:

In the 80’s strange accent lighting was all the rage, and having UFO lighting on your bath tub meant you were totally wicked and rad:

Monday, June 21, 2010

What's the exact opposite of "Craftsmanship"?

Lately, i seem to be uncovering more and more examples of previous reno-stooging, that i now have to fix. So much so, that i invented my very own term to describe all the bungled examples of "home improvement". The term is meant to have the exact opposite meaning of "Craftsmanship", Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to introduce you to a new piece of vocabulary: "Half-Ass-manship". And just in case the term isn't self-explanatory enough, there will be some prime examples of Half-Ass-manship to follow.

In my last post i mentioned some of the water problems that we were having. Long story short, one of the previous owners decided to protect the exterior basement stairway from rain and snow, by building an awning. However they apparently also decided that the total cost of the awning could not exceed the total amount of Canadian Tire Money that they happened to have on hand. Now the awning keeps rain off of the exterior stairs, but instead channels it into our dining room window. Needless to say the pictures i am about to show you are not pretty, but Glow over at MoneyPit on Steroids, asked me to share some pictures. While i am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that these are indeed pictures of our house, i think they will make for dramatic before and afters.

This first shot is a full frontal of the pile of P/T wood and corrugated plastic that has been built on the back of the house. Yes, the ugly A/C compressors are my fault, but the "Shanty town of Mumbai inspired" roof thing and boarded-up window have absolutely nothing to do with me:

You'll notice running across the boarded up window, a brown downspout that is no longer attached to the brick wall. Well it used to channel water to the storm sewers, but because the awning now lies below it, they decided they would simply cut it off, and let all the rain from the main roof dump onto the awning. In what must have seemed like brilliance to them, they decided they would try to control all that water on top of the awning, with one of these green bendy hoses, unfortunately by pulling the downspout away from the wall to get it to the green bendy thing, they also created a big fat leak where the downspout connects to the gutter, so water splashes all over the awning. And look closely, that's right....of course there's no flashing, just gobs of caulking:

This next picture shows a creative use of cheap white downspouts. This thing reminds of the giant alphorn from the Ricola commercial.

And finally what does a Half-Ass Man do when he needs ten foot posts, but is only willing to pay for 8 footers? Simple he lets them all rest on a single 1 inch piece of wood to support the entire weight of the structure. All that's missing is some duct tape. This last picture, makes me want to go all Mike Holmes-y on someone:

Because i have no idea how to frame a roof, and because i am afraid of heights, i'm going to leave this project up to the pros. Stay tuned and i'll update you on the progress.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's a Girl!

It’s been an awfully long time since I’ve posted anything house related, and the truth is I haven’t gotten much done since completing the basement bathroom. The only real updates I have are some new sheer blinds that I installed in the front bay window. These are by a company called Elite Window Fashions and were ordered at Mayfair Paint N Paper in Brantford Ontario. They’re basically a knock off of the Hunter Douglas Silhouette blinds. We like that they provide privacy without blocking what little natural light we get.

And I can give an update on the veggie garden. Here’s a pic of what it looks like two weeks after planting out the seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil) and seeds (arugula, coriander, onions, bush beans and garlic) into the beds.

All the rain lately has been great for our plants, but unfortunately not so good for our house. We noticed a leak above one of our windows, and so begins the next wave of projects, which you’ll see covered in this blog over the next few months. On the outside of our house, we’ll be hiring pros to replace our gutters and downspouts as well as replacing a jury rigged awning thing that covers the exterior stairs to our basement. And on the inside I’ll be spending the summer rebuilding our main bathroom and converting our guest bedroom into a nursery, because we’re expecting a baby girl! So stay tuned, the reno action should pick up real soon.