Sunday, May 30, 2010

Head Room

Marc and I are finally back in Montreal together at the same time! It's been TWO WEEKS since I've seen the basement, so while I couldn't wait to see Marc... I was also very anxious to see the project progress :)

To be honest, it's a little disappointing to still see there is so much more to dig, but it's what I was expecting. Anything more would have been surprising, but I still wanted more! (It seems I'm a rather demanding woman, but I won't poll for thoughts on this matter.)

Unfortunately we missed the SIDIM Expo this year, which I would have liked to attend and get some interior design ideas, but Saturday (yesterday) was the last day and we didn't have a chance to get there (plus finishing the basement seems a mere pipe-dream at the moment). Instead, we went to SkyVenture to watch the younger family members skydive in a tube. Forget about the kids! We definitely need to give that a try.

Since Marc and I have spent the last few weeks eating out for every single freakin' meal (I ate waaaaay too much deep fried goodness in Texas) it's been really relaxing to cook at home today. But the diet starts Tuesday (I have fun dinner plans for tomorrow).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Slowly but surely

Yesterday I came back from my road trip for work across the province. I was anxious to see how much work was accomplished. I tried to keep my expectations low but, has the money meter is turning, I was wishing they could accomplish a lot and the digging was easier than expected. When I got home I passed by the back alley with the car. The work site was almost the same as before except for the little pile of rocks. Joanna is still in Texas for her work and she is coming back end of next week. We chatted yesterday on Skype. It reminded me when she was living on the West coast and me in the East. I am looking forward of her return home. Also our doggy is still at my brother. I know he likes to be there and he has a lot of people looking after him but we miss him. Also since the work takes longer than expected (Just two weeks lol) I feel that I am abusing of my brother’s family hospitality.
After parking the car I came home and went directly to the basement. Going down the stairs I could not see much work done. I turn on the light and I saw all those lines on the ground.
They used a concrete saw to cut thru the rock and to make it easier to break the hard ground with the jackhammer.As I walked further I saw that I was able the stand up with about 6 inches free above my head. So most of the right side of the house has now at least a 6.5 feet clearance. Woohoo! I’m happy that they made some progress but I hope they did not work the whole week to get to that result because there are still lots to do. I will call the contractor Tuesday to get his feedback. We have to be patient I guess! This is a long weekend with a holiday on Monday. So I will go get the kids today and try to get some rest because I am travelling again the whole week next week.
Now it is hockey time in Montreal, Cheers!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rock digging. Our fears are confirmed

It is with mixed feelings that the work has resume. The costs were reevaluated in light of the past digging. The main problem is the 3 feet of rock. The new method chosen to get thru this hard material is to cut it with a big and heavy (and expensive) concrete cutter. This machine needs a hard surface to maneuver so that is why last Friday they made a ramp and a thin concrete floor in the basement. I so wish the ceiling was the right height :-( but we are happy that the “Just two weeks project” is back on track. The down side is the cost. We come to the point where we are starting to have doubts about the ROI (return on investment). So the rock issue will increase the price tag by 35 % worst-case scenario. On the other hand, this will give us 2600 square feet of living space in a premium location in the hearth of the city which worth almost the price we paid for the whole house. Years ago in London they use that method to enlarge living space by the bottom and English courtyard were born. The house structure is the place we cannot cut too much on cost; this needs to be taken care by professional. We will try to squeeze costs on other items and do more ourselves on certain area. Also we have potential of increasing revenues with the 2 rental apartments but this is another subject.
The next time we will have a post on the blog a lot of digging will have been done. Joanna and me are leaving the city for the next week, each on our side for work. My lovely neighbors will take care of looking after the project and the house. So I am looking forward to see the progress next Friday.

PS Sorry for my English but my British partner is not here to correct me

Friday, May 14, 2010

Back in Action!

While I always like to get a bit more sleep, I much prefer to see this project move forward and the good news is that as of 6:58am this morning, the boys are back in action! I expect to have more details tonight.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Contract

I don't have all the details (Marc is in the depths of Quebec right now and I only had a quick chat with him today), but after talking with the engineer and Benoit (the beam guy), JF has come up with a new proposal to take into consideration all the extra work. Time, cost, scope all increased, but the goal and quality of the project have not been compromised and there will be an even bigger rock cutting machine involved! So we're still ploughing ahead, but have to reevaluate what this does to the budget for the less critical areas.

The next question is, when does the work all start back up? We've been told either Friday or Monday.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

No News

We've no furnace and it's a high of 4°C today. Fortunately we have a small electric heater so we don't turn into blocks of ice. However don't try running anything else in the house at the same time; the fabulous wiring in this place keeps causing the breaker to blow.

We expect to have work resume early next week. But I feel quite out of the loop and have concerns ranging from the work crew having been reassigned, to of course... money.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Subsidy: Approved!

While no work may be going on at the building site (formerly known as our home), we did receive some good news today...

We have been approved for the City of Montreal subsidy for the restoration of the front brickwork of our home. It amounts to one third of the cost of the repairs (approx $10k). As we've discovered during the process, it's not just about renovation, it's about restoration to the former glory and original look of the triplex. Currently the top of our home has a straight edge with no defining features, but we'll be adding back a "cornice" (or "parapet") to the top of the house, which will crown the façade.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Highs and Lows

The sleep inducing machines of yesterday are gone, replaced by serious digging machines! Despite the rude awakening, this is good news. Or at least it was, until the engineer arrived and it seemed like one piece of bad news after another...
  • The beam is not accurately placed on the plans, which means the window needs to be moved. Budget scale: 2/10
  • The sous-oeuvres (no idea of the English word - it's the cement wall around the basement) will be needed, despite the rock. We'd basically expected this, so budget scale: 4/10
  • The front wall is damaged (not sure why this wasn't spotted earlier... anyways). This is almost funny, because part of the reason for starting this project was that the home inspection (from before we bought the house) had noticed issues with the back wall, which have turned out to not be serious. Budget scale: 8/10

So, work is on hold for the next 2 days while JF is sharpening his pencil to see what this does to our budget. It's going to take a lot to dissuade Marc and I from pursing our renovations. Perhaps we'll  have to slow down the project time-line (just two weeks!) so our cash flow can handle it. Maybe there are some areas we can cut costs. Not sure of the options right now, so let's see what JF comes back with...

In the meantime, the digging team did make great progress today on the right (north) side of the basement which had been a big pile of earth yesterday.



Monday, May 3, 2010

Brown Stuff

It was a strange morning. Not only was I not rudely awakened by the digging machinery, I actually found that the deep growling sound of the machinery was lulling me back to sleep. However, this lie in was to be short-lived; the doorbell rang, and in my half-awake, barely comprehending French state, I think the man said something about being here to remove the furnace today. This means progress!

Of course, I was to miss it all while at work today. I came home, turned on the light, but no cigar... breaker blown. Turned on the tap for a glass of water... and it gurgled out brown. Fortunately, it was easy to reset the breaker and after a minute of running the tap, clean water prevailed. I ventured downstairs to take photos and ran directly into a new pipe crossing my path. One big achievement for today, the large sewage pipe that had been running directly through the middle of the basement (impeding the digging on the northern side of the house) had been moved to the side. It also looked like all the pipes had been cut from the oil tank and furnace.

If you happen to like looking at photos of dank, dark places with pipes, you might enjoy the following slideshow from today:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rock 'n' Roll

In case you were wondering how JF's team was going to remove the rock (after cutting it), watch today's episode...

As for how much more this is going to cost us, well, it all depends on how long it's going to take. We'd had a fixed cost quote, but after Marc spoke with JF on Friday, we're going to time and materials (T&M). So part of the digging has been removed from the quote and replaced with T&M rates, and as long as the digging/rock removal can be completed within ~3 weeks, we're still on track. Currently, this looks doable, but until JF gets a little further with the rock, it's hard to tell the velocity of the work and get a better idea of how long it's really going to take. It's early days, but we'll be watching the budget burndown carefully.

Roll on Monday!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Day 6 - Quiet day

Quiet day on the working site this morning, like a regular Saturday, except the back garden looks like a missile test site. It was haircut day down the street for me and Joanna and also I took a Bixi to go to the bank and the post office. Today was the first time I heard from my tenant and my other neighbor. My top floor tenant is complaining about the smell of gas in the house. I have that problem too so that is why I am bringing Hiram (the doggy) to my brother. For my other neighbor, he is concerned about potential damage to his house since we share a wall. I will talk to JF from Mini Excavation Beloeil about it Monday so we can find a satisfactory solution for all those issues. Like I say “On ne fait pas d’omelette sans casser des œufs” or You don’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.