Saturday, December 25, 2010

Xmas Cancelled

We've been working round the clock (but keeping to the official construction hours for the noisy stuff, to not P.O. neighbours/tenants unnecessarily) to be able to accommodate my sister and her family for Christmas. They were supposed to arrive in Montreal on Tuesday, but 2 cancelled flights later and no prospects of getting here until after xmas, we'll just have to try for another year :( This is due to Heathrow not being able to clear a few centimeters of snow in a week.

Despite the major disappointment here, we've had a really lovely xmas day with Marc's family. There were 12 of us for Xmas dejeun-ouper - my attempt at french for a lunch/supper meal :) But I'd bought a turkey big enough for at least 17, so lots of lovely leftover meals (brown rice turkey casserole and turkey lasagna). The huge dining table that I bought (I put delivery off until just a few days ago) fit everybody nicely around it, and I even had an extra section left over. I've not decided on dining room chairs yet, so we have cheap folding ones in black and white (from Ikea - quel surprise)!

Plus it's good we've had the pressure of visitors coming for Christmas, because it means that we've made a huge amount of progress that I'm sure would not have taken place otherwise! When we sat down for the turkey, I was so happy that Marc's children had been able to stay the night, and that I could actually cook the meal (with all the trimmings) and serve it on the best china (thank you, Grandad).

Gratuitous doggie shot to cheer me up

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I can smell the pizza

The kitchen was delivered on Nov 27, but we've only be able to start putting it together the last week or so. The gas man was here a couple of days ago and hooked up our new stove, and the first thing I cooked in the oven was, naturally, pizza. Yum!

Last week Marc sent a pic to my sister of our kitchen with just the sink and tap hooked up. She was a little bit freaked out at how much we still need to do before their arrival. We've now got all the cupboards made (had to return one because it was the wrong colour) and the countertop on (it's a temporary one - but it looks pretty good and only about $5 more than the cost of plywood). I can't wait until we fix up the plumbing on the floor above so we can move that ugly pipe...

In Progress

Getting there

Not too far off

Of course, we're going to need to do something about the floor to level it before we finish that and can add the plinth to the bottom of the cupboards... then there's all the finishing pieces and backsplash... It would have been nice to properly finish the walls and level the floor before we added the kitchen, but we need to get this damn thing operational for Xmas. We're also planning on moving one of the cupboards to make a bar area, but I rather like it open as it is. So we'll see.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Home again!

After about 4 weeks with Marc's parents, we finally moved home today and I christened the bath. Yes, we have the ability to clean ourselves! We don't have a shower just yet, but that will come tomorrow when the plumber hooks it up.

It is soooo good to be able to get to work under my own steam (and just the metro), the commute had been sapping our energy dry.

Family Bathroom
- before the shower

Family Bathroom
- after the concrete has been covered with special blue waterproof coating and the shower has been installed (plastic added temporarily with red tape to make the shower usable until we have tiles).

Ground floor bathroom - getting there

Ground floor shower

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I can see clearly now...

...the snow has come. And we have windows!

It's taken a couple of days to get them installed (and there's some finishing touches that can only be done in the spring) but we now have lots of natural light!



And a few of the other windows:

Other kitchen window

Front right bedroom

Our bedroom - overlooking English courtyard

Basement patio doors and side window

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wet and Wild

Do you remember a couple of posts ago when I mentioned the issue with the lack of delta membrane in part of the basement?  So it got "fixed"; a special team came and injected some epoxy (or something like that) into the rock vein where there was no membrane. This would have probably been fine for average amounts of water, but a week or so later there was record rainfall in the region.

To be honest, if we had to run into this problem, we are extremely lucky that the weird weather happened when it did. We lost a mattress that had been against the wall where the water came in. Plus the drywall which Marc had just finished putting up in the front bedroom was ruined. Fabulous.

After mopping the floor

The basement team came back again and finally put the delta membrane around the rest of the basement area. Not a moment too soon.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Warm and cozy... almost

I was talking with my niece, and she said as long as the house was warm for Christmas, she could handle anything! So the long anticipated day finally came to turn the heat on in the basement. Room by room the underfloor pipes pressured up nicely. But then the front bedroom with all the pipes in the corner wouldn't cooperate. Thoughts of having to destroy our concrete floor came to mind... and we did have to break it in one area.

I have no idea how the plumbing/gas guys knew where the pipe was punctured, but I'm really glad they found it quickly, plus it was in the corner.

Of course, this was never supposed to happen because the concrete is supposed to be ~4 inches thick everywhere. But in this corner with all the sewage pipes etc, the rock had not been cut very effectively and so the framing screws punctured the pipe. Grrrrrr... You can see how thin the concrete is in the picture. We'll need to ask JF to come back and patch things up (and guarantee that the concrete really is the thickness required).

After the excitement of all this, we now have a wonderfully heated basement which also helps heat the rest of the house (although don't worry - we've got heaters on the ground floor too).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Connected and Flushable

We have stairs!

They're just temporary, but it means the two floors are now connected.

We also have a flushing toilet. Although it's not what I'd call private...

And running HOT water. So it's almost time to move home... (just need a shower)

That's the gas heating system and the pipes in the right hand corner. Almost ready to go!

Getting the plumbing connected has not been without it's trials, there was a pipe going through the purple insulation stuff that was too close to the outside of the house and managed to freeze, cutting water to our top floor tenants. As you can imagine, they were thrilled. Of course, I'm writing this after the issue has been fixed. I'll let you imagine the fun that ensued.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brick work

A little post after a busy week on the JTW project...

The masonry work is almost complete. It still needs the "ferblentier" to finish the metal work on the top edge of the roof. But it's looking good.

We've cleaned up the interior of the house and moved things around in preparation for having the hole cut for the stairs to the basement. We also cleaned the floor of the kitchen as we need to get the plywood floor in (hopefully this Friday). Another milestone came from taking down all the plastic inside our storage room (the former purple room!). It was amazing to see the space really open up now that all the studs and plastic has been removed. Marc's dad has almost finished framing the new bathroom and walk-thru closet on the ground floor. Once that is done, there won't be any more walls to move (except the entrance - but that doesn't count coz we're not touching that until next year!).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Framing and the Roof

Finally, I'm posting some pictures of the basement which now has a floor!

In the basement we are using a gentleman called Yves (Karukera Construction) for the work on framing all the rooms. He also made the steps down into the English courtyard, which is now complete!

All the rooms except the mechanical room have their interior walls framed now. We're really getting the feel for the space now that all our plans are coming to life.

You'll also see the purple insulating foam that has been sprayed all over the exterior walls. It feels positively warm to the touch.

Marc and his dad have also removed all the old pipes and wiring, which was a huge job. The ironmonger that came down the back alley the same day must have thought he'd hit the jackpot!

And let's not forget all the brickwork that's well under way in the front. They have put the new cornice on top and it's just about visible under the green drapes. (Our house looked fabulous for Halloween ;)

There is a (hopefully small to rectify) problem with the water seeping through the wall in the front wall. It's right next to the end of the delta membrane. I've no idea why the contractors didn't do this area. It looks like they ran of the membrane and figured it'd be OK. Hmmmm.... no idea. Anyways, we will have to figure something out.

The problem area

The roof was completed today - yes, it's a Sunday, but it has been beautiful weather (although pretty cold) so the roofing company finished off the work from last week. It was a good surprise since we didn't expect it until tomorrow, however we learnt from our not so happy tenants that they arrived at 7am this morning.

As for our living conditions, we have moved in with Marc's parents! This is working well except for the hugely long commute in the morning. What should be a 45 minute journey is taking a good 2 hours and more. :( It's good to get to know them better, and helpful for my French! We were going to move into the caravan in the back garden, but a leaking water pipe in the house, led to a decision to remove all the pipes and so now we've no sink, shower or toilet. What this means is that I think we'll stay here in Les Coteaux until the house has somewhere to wash and somewhere warm to sleep (I'm not too worried about waiting for the kitchen to be installed). Don't ask me when this is going to be! We're just working hard on making it happen...

Talking of the kitchen and bathroom, they have been the most difficult rooms to demolish. The kitchen had 2 layers of drywall on top of plaster and the ceiling had a layer of drywall, lots of wood with really long screws (that had to be individually removed) attaching it to the old plaster ceiling. When we ultimately removed the ceiling a huge amount of black soot came down, but no pictures to show the state of me after that!




Yesterday I rented a jack hammer and removed the tile in the kitchen floor (this was fun!) while Marc and his dad started to frame the new bathroom on the ground floor. Marc also used the jack hammer to remove a few pieces of rock in the basement that would have caused problems putting walls up.

Lots of progress, but still soooooo much to do...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Concrete Floor has Landed

Yesterday it really did happen! The concrete arrived early in the morning. The English courtyard stairs were laid and the floor of the basement was poured. Since we'd like to keep the concrete floor showing, JF had a special finish included in the concrete which gives a nice glazed look. Unfortunately, with this glaze being in such large quantities and in a closed space, it was giving off such noxious fumes that we had to put our tenants up in a hotel last night. But JF will cover this, plus he had his guys bring in some huge fans to ventilate; this morning the odour was pretty much gone and we were able to walk on our lovely new floor for the first time :)

Marc took today off work to finish off the bedroom demolition. Tomorrow we have a new dumpster arriving and we've both taken the day off to get a head start on the demolition of the kitchen and bathroom ceiling and walls.

Next week, the roof is being replaced on Monday. Framing of the new interior walls should also start (maybe even as early as tomorrow), then gas and electricity on Thursday, followed by plumber on Friday. Plus the masonry work continues...

Photos to follow...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Generosity of Plan D

Since I last posted, we purchased the kitchen cabinets and gas stove from Ikea (to be delivered November 20), rented the largest container (dumpster) possible, demolished the dining room, most of our bedroom and the big kitchen cabinet (that housed the washer/dryer), removed all the kitchen cabinets, filled a container with all the crap, had it removed and ordered another one, and last but not least, we moved out of the house. The original plan A had been to move into Marc's parents caravan. His dad drove it here and while it would have just fit into the back garden, it would have taken at least half an hour to move it in and out. This just wasn't an option given we were going to need to move it every other day while the basement work is still very active. So, plan B, we considered a hotel, which is still an option, but we need to save every penny we can, which led to plan C, the "Lenny" option. The first couple of nights were spent in my beloved campervan which had served me well on my 3-week trip across Canada last year. It's small but perfectly formed, and since we've not demolished the bathroom in the house, works OK for us. However, we now have a plan D due to the generosity of our neighbour, who offered to put us up this week. THANK YOU, Gilbert!

Now we just have to figure out how to get things to the point in the house that we can move back in... But at least once all the basement work wraps up at the end of this week (REALLY, Joanna?! Are you pulling my leg?!) we then go back to plan A (the luxury caravan). Marc and I have been talking about what's the absolute minimum we have to have done before living in our home is a real option. It involves completing the demolition, then insulating and dry-walling the bedroom. Given our current rate of progress, and all the help from Marc's dad (and not forgetting his son too!) we think 2 weeks, yes, just two weeks, is enough to make this a reality. However if plan A works for us, it takes the pressure off, and allows us to focus on the real goal of being ready for Christmas.

That's just the things we've been working on. On the contractor side, the mason work has finally started! Our house is ready for halloween as it's been covered by mesh and scaffolding. In the basement, the back wall for the house has been framed, the courtyard stairs have been made ready for the concrete, and the concrete will be poured for them AND THE BASEMENT FLOOR... TOMORROW :) I think it really is going to happen. At last!

One other piece which happened at the last minute, today to be precise, is that we had Delta Membrane put up all around the walls of the basement. Marc had thought we may need this since the beginning, and long and the short of it, it got put up today. So all good.

I'll let you know if we really did get a basement floor... tomorrow...

Sunday, October 17, 2010


It's been a fun filled couple of days. We got up early for the purpose of being first at the stores both Saturday AND Sunday! I may be unable to get out of bed most days, but for shopping... well, that's a whole other incentive ;) A rather large dent has been put in our personal credit cards, but just think of the Aeroplan points we're earning. Australia here we come!

Saturday involved a trip to buy the shower column, chrome p-trap, kitchen sink and kitchen faucet. The Kohler faucet I've been eying up for months was even available on sale. But at well over $800 I still couldn't bring myself to buy it. (But don't ask how much the one I eventually decided on still cost.) The rest of the day involved cleaning up the wood (2 trips to the dump - we're now all out of free trips - renting a container next weekend) and doing the last bit of demolishing in the corridor. We also spent an inordinate amount of time cleaning up the area in preparation for moving all our stuff in there from the dining room/bedroom/kitchen/bathroom. But still not quite finished, the plaster gets EVERYWHERE. Next weekend the massive demo begins (and we move into the caravan to live for a few days... errr... weeks).

Sunday morning involved yet another trip to Ikea (actually 2 trips today, because we ran out of time in the morning as Marc had tickets to see the Alouettes CFL game with his mate). I returned in the afternoon to pay for the kitchen (including stove) and received 15% back in gift cards. Nice bonus! It was very reasonably priced, but of course we have to install the thing ourselves, which is going to be quite the feat... It'll be delivered November 20 (I put it off as long as possible).

Piles of wood...

And yet more of the same.

The English Courtyard
p.s. The Alouettes won their game!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Full Steam Ahead

It's amazing how things have been progressing since the last post just three weeks ago! The roughed in plumbing is complete, covered by gravel, styrofoam insulation, steel mesh and finally the piping for the heated floor has all been laid overtop (and culminates in some fancy plumbing work on the wall that will be the mechanical room). We're a little concerned that the height of the ceiling is not going to be quite what we were expecting, but JF assures us that things are on track and the concrete will be the correct depth. The big plastic bin for the sump pump is not flush with the floor and JF was annoyed about this, but it seems this is not such an issue, the waste flows well and the bin will be hidden inside a cupboard.

Gravel laid with troughs for plumbing visible

After the plumbing has been laid, covered by styrofoam and steel mesh

Close up of the same

The concrete floor could be poured as early as tomorrow! The English courtyard was framed and had the supporting walls poured today. Things are moving...

Digging the English Courtyard

While all this has been going on, the brickwork on the front is STILL delayed. The latest on this had it starting tomorrow, but I don't believe that for a second. It seems the mason has been tied up on the previous job. Fortunately getting the brickwork done has ended up being a very independent task, so not too much of a problem yet. Originally we thought it had to be done before the roof should be done, but after reviewing with the contractor, roofer and mason, it seems there are no dependencies. Phew!

Then there's the inside of the house on our existing ground floor. Well, it's not so existing anymore! Marc and I demolished the kids bedroom a couple of weeks ago. Last week, work commenced on the office/living room. This is almost complete, but it got to the point where we will need to move out of our bedroom before it can really be finished. The current goal is to get the main floor bathroom framed and installed, but half of the bathroom is in our existing bedroom closet.

We're taking a new approach. Rather than trying to live in the construction zone, we're going to move into Marc's parents RV (caravan). It's actually quite luxurious, having a kitchen, shower and toilet, although I think we'll try to make use of the house ones for as long as possible. This is a great idea in principle, but in practice, we have to park it somewhere, which in the middle of a city on a narrow one-way street isn't ideal. At night we should have enough room in the back garden (assuming we can get it down the back alley and turn it into our lot). But we'll likely need to move it during the day as the various contractors typically need to have wide access to the basement. So we're still figuring out where we'll park it...

The windows for the basement and kitchen have been ordered! (From Alcora) They'll be installed around December 1st (plywood until then - nice).

Finally, there's the planning of the interior itself. We've purchased the shower, toilet and sink for the ground floor. The bathrooms in the basement are planned (mainly Ikea and Bain Depot, although I think we'll use Plomberie Mascouche too) but we'll need to wait and see real room dimensions until we can order the baths, things are tight. The dining room table has been purchased (at a discount since we had to take the floor model - that works for me!) and the kitchen has been fully planned using Ikea, which has a 15% discount back in gift cards running until Oct 31 - we'll use this to buy the bathroom :) I'm not convinced on the Ikea sink and countertops at present (I like these ideas. Although the cost may win me over in the end. I don't expect we'll have more than plywood counters before Christmas.

Hmmmmm, so I think that's about all for now, phew! (but still soooo much to do)
The fun stuff is starting for me with picking out the interior:

The sink we've purchased

And the shower

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Beam, Plumbing and Other Animals

While I've been quiet the last few weeks (work trips to Orlando, Dallas and North Carolina have kept me away from the noise of the renos) things are progressing, albeit slowly, in the right direction. We seem to have spurts of work, and then nothing. And it's getting difficult to have the contractor to commit to when they'll be here. You'll see we have replaced the old main beam of the house which was rotten in places, with a super strong engineered wood. Plus there's the steel supporting beams and structure.

BEFORE - the rot

AFTER - the beam

AFTER - beam with steel support

AFTER - steel posts

AFTER - Back wall removed - new steel structure

Now they've started on digging the trenches/holes for the plumbing. Started, but not complete. No idea when they're going to finish. Marc's going to talk with JF tomorrow as the weather is starting to get cooler and we HAVE to get the plumbing done and the concrete floor laid since there's no heat in the house until then... We heard a rumour that the English courtyard will start this week - HAAAAAAA!

The brickwork restoration was supposed to start today, but we had an email yesterday saying that they won't be able to start until next week. Not too bad a delay what with everything else. The roofing company actually called a few days ago to let us know they'd had a spot open up and could do our roof immediately. Unfortunately, with all the house movement right now, this is not something we'd like to embark upon early. So this is currently still planned for the first week of November.

In the meantime, we got restless with the inaction in the basement, so have started on the main floor. While I type this, I'm back and forth helping Marc hold plastic sheeting and bits of wood in place to separate off the areas which are about to become very dusty. This past weekend, while Marc's mum and I packed up and moved tons of things into the living room, Marc and his dad were removing trim, old wiring and old piping.

The wall on the left is coming down next weekend

For the past few months, every time we've been in a home decoration store I've been eyeing up the dining room tables. So we took a break on Sunday and stopped at Mariette Clermont, after a picture in a magazine had taken me to their website, and ultimately to the store. I now have a deposit on a table that I won't have delivered until December. It's made from solid oak, oil-treated. I love it and the way it expands. It feels like it'll last a lifetime and more. Here's hoping!

Now a heart-warming story. I can be a bear of little brain. While putting a huge bag of dog food into the back of the car, I put my purse on the roof. Of course, I forgot to take it off before driving away. Somehow we made it all the way to the highway before it flew off the roof and somehow, I was completely unaware of all this happening. While we'd made a stop on the way home, I had a call from a stranger saying that he had my wallet; he'd found the contents strewn all across the highway and he was crazy enough to stop and pick up what he could.

Just 2 weeks ago (no pun intended) I finally received my business cards from work and the stranger had found one and called the office number. This weekend was unusual because I had it forwarded to my mobile. Not only did this gentleman call me and get through to me, it was before I even noticed my purse was missing!!! He then went out of his way to drop it off in the middle of a shopping centre car park. I did not have one card missing (and I have a lot) and there was very little cash there to start with, so not a big deal. TALK ABOUT LUCKY! Then as we were leaving the shopping centre we were rear ended! Not so lucky, but no damage. Quite the day.

The stranger was called Stephan. Thank you, Stephan, you saved me A LOT of headaches.