Friday, 2 November 2012

Demolition Man

Today we have our first guest post, although it seems weird to consider my husband a guest since he's saddled with the as much house-renovating responsibilities as I am. If you follow him on Twitter, you'll know that he introduced my blog to his world by saying "My wife's now a reno blogger. She takes pics while I work. #needabetteragent" But he's more than muscle; he did the grunt work on the banner above, and is something of a writer in his own right. So enjoy this inaugural guest post, which may become a semi-regular feature if things go well. (That's right. I put my own husband on blog probation.) Without further ado...

Demolition Man

Hello, Grandpa Joe's House readers, and thank you for what I'm sure was a glowing intro, Cassy.

Okay, I won't lie, I wrote that too. It’s sweet, sweet revenge for every time she texts from my phone without identifying herself. (In totally-unrelated news, sorry for creeping you out, Mom.) Today I get to tell you about demolition.

As you'll have noticed from Our To-Do List, gutting the basement was originally scheduled to happen somewhere down the line, but not now. The plan was, we'd sleep in the basement for a while until we could get the master bedroom done, then move once. 

That didn't quite pan out.

In the span of a few days gutting the basement went from being a sometime-in-the-future thing to a needs-to-happen-this-weekend thing. (To make a long story short, we'd planned to swap out our boiler-powered hot-water heating system for a forced-air furnace and ductwork in the spring; however, some planned winter renos would be eased by not having to work around the hot-water system's baseboard heaters, and so we bit the bullet and moved the timetable up.) And thus began my love affair with demolition.

My prior experience with the work--nay, the art--of demolition was limited to taking off a few baseboards at our old condo. I just hadn't had much exposure to the elegant dance of devastation. So I reached out to some friends of mine who have a reputation for being destructive, and I'll reprint one subsequent conversation here:

So those are my friends. An insatiable appetite for destruction. (Crap, now I owe Axl Rose royalties.)

The day came, and more guys showed up than I expected. And they were well armed. We'd already gotten a couple of tools from my in-laws (including a dull-axe-looking thing called a maul, coolest tool name ever), but the assortment of prybars, knives, and instruments of devastation on display slightly terrified me. I was glad we'd invested in some rudimentary safety equipment: glasses, masks, and work gloves.

How did it go? Removing the ceiling was the plan for the entire evening. I had feared--based on our walls upstairs--that the basement ceiling would be plastered like a frat boy on Spring Break. And plaster ceilings from the '60s sometimes contained asbestos. I was prepared for their removal to be so slow and painful Terrence Malick would make a movie about it! Hey-oh! (What’s that? I'm being told to make my references more broad. Well, we'll see about that.)

The ceilings were in fact drywall. When my buddy’s learned this, it was like Mel Gibson teeing up an alien and telling Joaquin Phoenix to "swing away". (From Signs. How's that? Broader? Okay.) The guys attacked the ceilings with a ferocity I had only seen before in the hyenas that attack Scar at the end of The Lion King. (Everyone’s seen that one.) In 20 minutes--maybe 25--the ceiling was all on the carpet, the trusses and beams were all exposed, and the air was so choked with dust we had trouble taking a decent photo.

The success of scrapping the ceiling emboldened our crew, and realizing there was no real reason to leave the rest of the basement intact (save for the laundry room and small bathroom), we went to town on the walls and flooring. (I'd show some of the "Before" pictures here, but those definitely deserve their own post. Oh-ho-ho boy, do they ever.) We got two-thirds of the way through that before the guys had to run off to other engagements, but in a few evenings thereafter, I was able to polish off the job.

But I have to admit, I’m hooked on demolition. Since my inaugural experience, I have on several occasions donned my official “demolition sweatpants” and taken the hammer and prybar to a closet, a storage room, and even beheld the power of the sawzall (watch out world). And since I’m now an expert (branded sweatpants coming soon, ladies), here are some tips for future demolition exploits:
  • A hammer, a big prybar and a sharp utility knife are really all you need for 95% of the job. I had to be reminded several times that, unless I was planning on keeping the scraps for some future project, this was about wanton destruction, not dainty disassembly. 
  • When tearing out drywall, wear a mask. Even if it caused your safety glasses to fog up. Especially if you're an asthmatic. Trust me. (Unless you love that feeling where your trachea narrows to the size of a twisted drinking straw.)
  • Clean up the same day. Let the adrenaline of “Hulk Smash!” carry you through the dullness of collecting it and carrying it away afterward.
  •  I had expected to painstakingly remove the outlet covers and switch cover plates. Unless you're planning to reuse the same ones--and honestly, does anyone really love those almond-coloured ones that used to be everywhere?--just pull off the wall with them still on. They'll crack and come flying off in a way that is oddly satisfying, and you'll save your wrists a good chunk of time getting to know a screwdriver. I know this seems wasteful, but if you’re going to replace them anyway, I say “enjoy the pop!”
  • Having a couple garbage cans around is really helpful, even if you expect to take most of the large material to the dump. Things tend to break in pieces smaller than you'd hope, and having a bin around to carry them out in is awful handy. Need a garbage can? Check around your neighbourhood. Once a week they’re everywhere! (Kidding. But honestly, how would you go about throwing away a garbage can?) 
  • If you don't know if there are dangerous materials in your older home, don't take chances. Ask someone who knows. Asbestos is some nasty business.
So now we had a mostly empty, hollowed-out basement area with piles of debris ready to haul to the dump. For Winnipeggers interested, Brady Landfill was significantly cheaper ($11 for a truck bed and utility trailer) than the East St. Paul dump ($35, and it's for residents only, which they fortunately didn't confirm with me). But as mentioned previously, the demolition is the fun part; the task of cleaning up afterward is boring work that involved so many trips up and down the stairs you'd think I had a starring role in Jacob's dream at Bethel. (My Grade 4 Sunday School teacher would be so proud.)

After that, it was a matter of getting dozens of metres of pipes, eight baseboard rads, a 500+lb boiler and 40-gallon hot water tank out and the forced-air system in. But that'll have to be a story for another time--I'm sure you're waiting with bated breath. But take heart, because no telling of that story is complete without the phrases “arterial spray,” “black ooze,” and “internet love,” so it’ll be worth the wait!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Procrastinated Pinterest Challenge

In case you aren't an avid home improvement blog reader, you might not have heard of the Pinterest Challenge. It's hosted by Bower Power Blog, Young House Love, Ugly Duckling House, and Our Fifth House. I read Young House Love more than once a day (Philip has to remind me from time to time that I shouldn't talk about John & Sherry as if I know them in real life - it gets weird), and through their blog I also started reading Katie Bower's posts. I would recommend them both! 

So the challenge was to stop pinning and start doing, by creating something inspired by Pinterest with the deadline of Tuesday, October 30. I'm obviously late...but better late than never.

I had planned to make the monogram holiday wreath I've been drooling over from Our Unexpected Journey but have been encountering difficulties with finding supplies.

Determined to come out with something, my friend Brittany and I continued our search at Dollarama. Having given up on this beautiful wreath (for now) we ended up coming home with some canvas and craft paint. I don't have a lot of craft supplies so we bought everything, but it only cost $5.32 and future projects will cost even less as I accumulate some supplies!

The project was inspired by this splatter painted chevron idea by Baby Black Bird

diychevronwallart DIY | chevron wall art

Brittany and I both decided to make one so we got started with taping. I only had one roll of masking tape that I could find (a lot of our stuff is still packed or just randomly strewn around the house) and so Brittany used the masking tape and I tried my hand with good ol' clear scotch tape. I am one of the least patient crafters around, so I very quickly gave up on trying to make them all even. We were also limited because I couldn't find a ruler. In the example above, the lines were all carefully measured and beautiful, as you can see below mine weren't quite like that. If you have a ruler, definitely measure, although I kind of like how mine turned out a little wonky and homemade-esque. You can see how some of the gaps are super small and then they are suddenly bigger in other areas. 

Instead of the mess of splatter painting, I just started putting dabs of paint in different colors anywhere I wanted. At first I really did not think it would turn out. Definitely thought it would end up in the thrift store pile by today based on the first few minutes.

We had bought primarily pastel type colors, but then I borrowed a bunch of paint from my mom as well and so it started looking a little more aggressive than I had intended.

I added some more pastel colors on top and then forced myself to quit because it was just getting to that point where I kept adding for the sake of adding and it was going to be terrible. At one point I started painting up and down the whole thing smearing them together into a browner shade than I'd like and freaked out a little.

Still looks crazy right? Oh my...also just noticed a foot in this picture...that looks strange. Anyway this is when I decided to call it quits and let it dry as-is, no idea how it would turn out.

Brittany ended up doing hers more ombre style, with different shades of blue. Looked super neat!

While waiting for those to dry we painted some wooden letters spelling J-O-Y with white and glitter paint, that's why you'll see those in the background of some of the tape peeling off ceremony photos.

Once the tape was off, this was the finished product. I must admit, I'm super pleased with it. Not quite sure where I'll put it yet, I'm thinking either the bathroom when it's renovated, the mail organizing place once that's set up (it'll be kind of my work station in Philip's office), or maybe in our hallway frame gallery. None of these things exist yet, but they're pretty vivid in my imagination.

The finished product! Now I just need to either paint the sides a solid color to cover those nasty staples, or put some ribbon or a frame around. That's for another day.

Anyone else finish any projects they saw on Pinterest? Share the link in the comments!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Yard Work

A shorter post is definitely in order after that list yesterday! 

After a long day of window installation (more on that to come), we had some serious leaf clean up to do. I realized I've never really lived anywhere that leaves gathered on the grass each year. I grew up in a neighbourhood without a lot of mature trees. So anyway, I totally underestimated the time it takes to do the task. We worked for an hour and filled 8 bags/bins for yard waste day this week. Excuse the low quality photo, my iphone flash was not cooperating.

In other news, lawn vacuums don't work that well. My in-laws purchased a lawn vacuum on Monday so they brought it over for us to use. I think we probably clogged it, so I don't want to blame it all on the vacuum...but it definitely takes longer to do it with the vacuum than by hand, especially if you've already raked piles. We ended up doing it all by hand in about an hour, but probably have another round to do tonight. Lost the light pretty early so we didn't get as far as we could have.

The fact that we procrastinated on this leaf clean up for this long is pretty apparent also in our back lane based on the fact that we are the only ones on our street with yard waste out for pick up. Everyone else finished weeks ago. Oh well, we're getting there.

Anyone else scrambling to get some yard work done before the snow flies? 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The To-Do List

One of the first things we did upon moving into the house was make a pretty intense To-Do list. I made one by going through each room and thinking of what the dream would be for that room and what it would take to accomplish it (Philip calls this the MLK method--you know, "I have a dream..."). Philip made a similar To-Do list but his method of choice was by breaking it down over a timeline of what we'd like accomplished in each time period, assuming we can steal enough little kids' lunch money to cover the costs. 

We ended up combining them into the below and since we've started some things here have already changed! (And maybe it's not such a great sign that, budget's being tight as they are, we've already completed the Winter 2014 category we jokingly titled "To Burn the Extra Cash." But that's a story for another time!)

Warning: This is extremely long... feel free to skim. I was going to just include Fall, but as you'll see over the upcoming posts some things have changed and we've completed a couple of items that were way further ahead in the timeline. Thus it will make more sense if I just share the whole list now and we'll refer back to it periodically. 

Anyone else with an insanely long to do list lording over you motivating you to do great work? What does your Fall To-Do list have in store? How much progress have you made?

Fall 2012 (September-November)

Get HVAC inspected for the winter
Look into having boiler system and air conditioning system replaced with furnace and central air
Cut Insurance Rates
Silicone exterior cracks
Repair front steps
Have electrician address electrical issues
Correct other inspection issues
Present evidence of repairs
Bedrooms/Living Room
Remove old trim/baseboards
Convert outlets to properly-grounded three-prong
Replace windows
Install new trim/baseboards
Move out of basement
Fall Clean Up
Remove vines and trees from right side bushes
Remove circular flowerbed and seed
Empty rain barrels and store, redirect eaves troughs
Till the vegetable garden to prepare for sod
Seed open spaces
Turn off water to outdoor hose
Bleed radiators and reserve tank

Winter 2013

Plans Plans Plans
Quote new HVAC system
Design/quote bathroom
Design/quote kitchen
Design/quote deck
Design/quote basement
Design/quote upstairs ensuite/walk-in closet
Design/quote landscaping and outdoors
Window Coverings
Quote blinds and curtains
Install blinds in master bedroom and living room
Light Fixtures
Replace bedroom/hallway light fixtures
Replace living room light fixture
Replace dining area light fixture
Garage Door Openers
Remove existing garage door openers
Install new garage door openers
Identify lighting solutions
Interior Doors
Remove bedroom/bathroom doors
Rehang bedroom/bathroom doors
Gut Upstairs Bathroom
Remove mould
Discard wall tiles
Discard bathtub
Discard flooring
Discard sink
Discard vanity/cabinets
Uninstall toilet
Replace window
Upstairs Bathroom
Install new shower/tub
Install new lighting
Install new flooring
Re-install toilet
Install new cabinets
Install new sink
Install new mirror
Reconnect plumbing

Spring 2013

HVAC System
Get necessary permits
Check for high-efficiency rebate programs
Remove basement ceiling
Remove boiler/pipes
Install new heating/air conditioning
Install new venting
Patch ceiling/wall holes
Lower Yard Maintenance
Plough in garden, unwanted flower beds
Sod remaining open spaces
Build raised beds
Reshape right side flower bed to be curvier
Replace bricks on right side flower bed with rubber trim, or other edging that is more aesthetically pleasing
Replace petunias with perennials
Plant hydrangeas in front flowerbed
Move peony to somewhere else away from the house

Summer 2013

Exterior Doors
Remove exterior doors
Replace locks
Replace alarm system
Rehang exterior doors
Garage and Shed
Remove garage shed
Sod empty space
Replace garage windows
Paint garage floor
Put up shelving/cabinets in the garage
Backyard Safety and Fun
Build a gate to close off the white fence for safety
Build/Purchase a fire pit with a proper cover to meet code
Lighting solution around fire pit entertainment area
Plant privacy bushes at back of yard
Remove clothes line
Buy a barbecue

Fall 2013

For some reason we have nothing here... apparently we're going on vacation or something

Winter 2014

Moving Walls
Get any needed permits
Remove kitchen cabinets on doomed walls
Discard wood panelling in kitchen
Remove doomed kitchen/living room wall sections/closets/shelf
Place beams to in place of missing walls
Remove hardwood flooring in entryway
Remove tile in entryway
Drywall around beams/patch modified walls
Build new front closet
Patch/refinish hardwood flooring
Replace trim
Install new light fixture in entryway
Patch ceiling in hallway corner
More efficient closet shelving solutions
To Burn the Extra Cash
Purchase new washer/dryer
Remove old washer/dryer
Replace water heater with larger water heater

Spring 2014

Discard appliances
Discard kitchen sink
Discard kitchen cabinets
Discard flooring
Discard ceiling fan/patch ceiling
Patch walls/paint
Replace windows
Install new flooring from front door through kitchen to side door
Install new cabinets
Install new sink
Install new appliances (incl. larger fridge, dishwasher!)
Reconnect plumbing
Build banquette dining area
Update dining room table
Light fixture

Summer 2014

Get permits
Remove side door stairs
Remove paving stones where necessary
Install wiring
Build deck
Get outdoor living room set

Fall 2014

Gut Basement
Get necessary permits
Discard wall coverings/wood panelling
Discard carpets
Discard shower
Discard vanity
Discard medicine cabinet
Uninstall toilet
Relocate plumbing for bathroom, laundry, upstairs ensuite
Move electrical panel
Remove doomed walls
Cut out needed windows wells
Replace basement windows
Fix/insulate former cold room
Install sump pump
Insulate ceiling

Winter 2015

Basement Bathroom/Bedrooms
Frame walls
Replace wiring
Rebuild ceilings/lighting
Install shower
Hang drywall
Paint/tile walls
Install flooring
Install cabinetry
Install sink
Paint doors
Rehang doors

Spring 2015

Laundry Room
Move washer/dryer out
Frame walls
Replace wiring
Rebuild ceilings/lighting
Hang drywall
Install flooring
Install cabinetry
Install laundry sink
Move washer/dryer back in
Reconnect plumbing
Install sump pump
Remove cold storage area
Try to Forget
That, crap, I (Philip) am 30!

Summer 2015

Exterior Façade
Get necessary permits
Remove decorative brick from facade
Build craftsman style façade
Front yard rock display with lit-up house number
Change front porch light fixture
Hot Tub
Get necessary permits
Install hot tub
Install wiring
Build deck around hot tub

Fall 2015

Rec Room
Frame walls
Replace wiring
Rebuild ceilings/lighting
Hang drywall
Install flooring
Install needed entertainment cabinetry
Move living room furniture downstairs
Updated Living Room
Built-in bookshelves or cabinets

Winter 2016

Ensuite/Walk-In Closet
Get necessary permits
Remove door/patch wall
Remove middle bedroom closet wall
Install door into master bedroom wall
Install door into far bedroom wall
Frame walls
Replace wiring
Install shower/tub
Rebuild ceilings/lighting
Hang drywall
Install flooring
Install cabinets
Install sink
Install mirror
Reconnect plumbing
Install closet shelving/racks

Spring 2016

Play structure?
Higher fence?
Tree house?
Fix up garage?

Summer 2016

Watch sports on TV
Play golf
Go for a run
Go to the cabin
Start looking for the next house

Monday, 29 October 2012

An Introduction

Some History...

Philip bought his Oma's condo almost 2 years ago, it was wall to wall beige carpeting and walls, with a splash of pink on the lovely velvet sofas. After almost a year of work and some serious nail hole patching, we had an entirely new place.

We got married August 2011 and moved into our freshly renovated condo. With the wedding money we decided to move forward with a kitchen renovation, making our condo complete.

The Present...

A year and a half later, after making some major condo improvements, we're ready for the next challenge. On July 30th we got possession of our new-to-us, fixer upper.  Grandpa Joe's house is so wonderfully 60s and more than ready for a facelift.

We're hoping that this blog can force us to document our progress and share the adventure. We're new to all of this, but by the end fully intend to be handier than the offspring of Bob the Builder & Bob Vila (although I'm pretty sure that he drives a bulldozer, and I don't know that we'll ever reach that level of skill).

We finally exited the Stone Age upon having our internet hooked up, so we're a little bit behind on starting this blog and there will certainly be some posts about what's been started/completed so far, but at least that means we can post regularly with a little backlog of to-do's completed). Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment with a link to your own blog so we can do some reading and hear all about the projects that you're working on as well!

Philip & Cassondra Wiebe