Thursday, December 12, 2013

More progress...

I've posted a bunch of pictures to the tumblr:

I've also posted a draft update I had been working on.  It's a little out of date.

Here's the latest progress update:

1. All windows and doors have been installed except our garage door which is going in this week.

2. We have heat in all the renovated spaces.  Our heated floors are in as is our gas fireplace in the back room.

3. Tiling is almost complete.  They have the rear bathroom and half the back took to finish.

4. Electrical and plumbing rough-in and boiler/heating mods have been completed.

5. Roofing has been completed except for a small alteration to the flat roof, which should be happenning this week.

6. The lower kitchen cabinets have been installed so that we will have the granite countertops for Christmas.

7. Stucco is being done this week under heated tarps.

I will update again later this week but with any luck, we'll have a kitchen by Christmas!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Progress update... A little delayed in posting

So, we're in week 7 of the renovation. I thought it would be good to summarize where we're at and what's coming up.

The first few weeks were almost exclusively devoted to demolition of the various impacted spaces, disconnecting electrical and plumbing, and preparing the site for further work.

The kitchen extension lower level was completely demolished and a new temporary structure was built in its place to support the upper level which we plan to retain.  The primary reasons for keeping the upper level was that there are 8 windows unaffected by the renovation which would need replacing if we completely rebuilt it.  Windows are by far one of the most expensive elements of any renovation, especially when replacing with wood windows with multiple lites.  The structure also has a nice original hard-wood floor and decent wood panelling which we plan to eventually paint out. Unfortunately, an overzealous member of the demo crew decided to remove and throw out four of the storm windows that were supposed to be retained.  Our contractor is now looking into options to replace them, and my guess is that the cost to reproduce 4 wooden storms windows with six true lites is going to come very close to replacing the four affected windows entirely.  They've committed to making whole on their mistake, so we await a solution.

The rear rec-room and garage was prepped for framing.  This included pouring a 30 ft long 6" high concrete curb between the two rooms.  This was required to prevent vapour (e.g. carbon monoxide) from moving between the garage area and the living space.  They then framed a 2x6 wall on top of this curb.  The outer wall was reframed and they salvaged the LVL beam that will go above the folding sliding door.  I wasn't satisfied with the framing for the two windows in that wall.  They didn't use proper 2x10 headers and instead just used two 2x6s lying flat.  They said this was okay because the wall isn't a supporting wall, but I've asked them to fix that framing.  They've agreed to do this.

The engineer had concerns with whether the back building foundation was sufficient to support the beams that will be tied into it to support the kitchen extension.  He requested a corner of the building to be excavated so that the foundation could be examined.  This thankfully revealed that the foundation consists of large concrete blocks (16"x16") resting on a properly poured footing 5.5 ft under grade.  A section of the south-west wall of the building needs some concrete block repair above grade and the mason will be fixing this up shortly.  The mason and framers coordinated on dropping the lower section of the summer kitchen chimney and installed a steel lintel to support the remaining portion of it.  They've also installed a lintel into the rest of the brick wall between the kitchen and kitchen extension in preparation for it being opened up.  Lastly, the mason carved sections out of our main house stone foundation in preparation for support beams for the rebuilt kitchen extension.

The framers had started to frame the bathroom in the back rec-room but stopped until the concrete block wall repair is complete.  They did complete the 2x6 framing at the back of the building which will be behind the fireplace built-in.  This is needed because the block wall isn't properly insulated for living space.

For the hydronic flooring, the specialist came on-site and approved our main house boiler.  He wanted to make sure it could support the number of additional zones required for the heated floors and also make sure it had enough BTUs.  We have an NTI-Trinity 200 (installed four years ago), which is a 96% efficient condensing, modulating boiler that can go up to 200,000 BTUs which is more than enough heating power for our new heated floors.  He did have concerns about our uninsulated concrete pad in the back building and has recommended that the pad be taken up and repoured so that a thermal break can be installed.  This has the added advantage in that we won't lose any height as the radiant flooring can be installed prior to the slab being poured.

Our new windows, all 13 of them have been ordered.  We went with Marvin windows which are wood windows with aluminum cladding on the exterior.  We are also ordering a set of french doors for the second level opening onto the deck and the lower deck single door from Marvin.  The folding-sliding door has been ordered as well.  This is a five-panel door that folds (accordian style) to one side.  This allows us to have a large, almost 13x8 foot opening to the outdoors.  The advantage of having five panels is that the last panel can operate as a single entry door without opening the others which means we don't have to open the entire door to go in and out.  The doors and windows have a 4-5 week lead-time, which means they'll be arriving towards the end of October.

We changed our minds about the rear laundry/bathroom.  We had anticipated putting stacked laundry along with a two-piece powder room in the back rec-room.  When we had originally designed the space, we had thought of putting a shower in instead of the laundry, but opted for laundry instead because we weren't keen on putting the laundry in the basement (which is kinda scary and unfinished).  Well, now that we have our temporary laundry in the basement, we aren't really bothered by it.  So, now we're putting the shower back in.  The extra cost isn't as significant as you might imagine since we had planned to put a rough-in drain in for a shower anyway.  This allows us to use the space as a guest suite or potentially a nanny or in-law suite at some point in the future.

In the main house, the contractors have put in a temporary laundry sink with a section of our old countertop so we aren't completely without a sink on the main level.  They've also removed some radiators, disconnected lots of electrical, and removed/capped various bits of plumbing.  The framers have erected temporary support structures to support either side of the middle wall until they've installed the new support beams.  This is related to the opening between the dining room and kitchen.

Next steps...

There is still lots to come and at times we've been a bit frustrated with the velocity of the progress.  We've had a few people asking about which contracting firm we're using and I've decided to not mention them on this blog at this time.  I'm of the mind that it's not a wise idea to discuss a business relationship before the job is done.  I would say that overall the firm has been pretty decent.  We've had a few hiccups around coordination of the trades and some change orders that were higher than anticipated, but they've been receptive to our feedback and we've been working pretty well through the issues.  Probably the biggest problem has been getting the trades to make sure the site is secure, including closing holes into the house with plywood and locking up.  If this is the worst thing to experience during this renovation, then I'll be happy, especially if they finish the job within the anticipated timeframe.

On another topic...

A house three doors down from us was demolished a couple week ago.  It was a shame to see it go. It was a nice 2.5 story brick house.  Apparently, it was purchased by a realtor who wants to put up a larger house with a pool in the backyard.  I will reserve judgement to see what the house looks like.  I do appreciate that our neighbourhood has to support a mix of house types, including more modern homes and multi-unit residential properties.  I just feel dissappointed to see older historic homes demolished.  It also seems like a lot of money to spend to buy a house on a 50'x100' lot just to completely demolish it.  Here is a picture of the house as it was being demolished.  I'll see if I can find a picture of the house from earlier this year for comparison.

More to come in the coming weeks.  Hope you're enjoying following along.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Scope of our current project

We've had a few questions about the scope of work for the renovation, so I thought I'd provide some more detail beyond just posting a floor plan.

The old (very small) 2-piece washroom is being relocated to where the butler's pantry was. This 2-piece was actually added to the house sometime in the last 50 years and the space was originally a servant's staircase that went up to meet the landing between first and second floors of the house.  We're also moving a stair case in the kitchen extension to be in line with the entry into the back rec room rather than perpendicular to it.

The stairs to the basement in the corner of the kitchen are being relocated to under the stairs to the second level.  This removes one of the entry/exit points in the kitchen so we can maximize space.

This picture shows the various walls that are being opened up in the main house.  The wall between the kitchen and dining room will be framed in the same way as the pocket doors between the dining room and living room so that we keep with the style of the house.  The relocated 2-piece washroom will be removed, along with the stairs to the basement to provide an additional 30 square feet of space in the kitchen.  We are also combining the sunroom with the kitchen to form one large open kitchen/sunroom space so that we can have an eat-in area and bring more light into the kithen.  We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how much we wanted to open up the kitchen areas to adjacent rooms.  We live in a 100 year-old house where the original kitchen was quite small and segregated from the rest of the main floor.  We wanted to balance the desire of keeping to the old style of the house while giving us a larger, more modern kitchen, with eat-in space and lots of light.

Here's the finished floor plan again:

There are a few things that I think are worth mentioning:

The old swinging door between pantry and dining room is being closed to make the space between the kitchen and new bathroom into a floor to ceiling pantry.

The window in the corner of the kitchen is being changed to be 10" shorter, but shifted upwards in the existing window opening, so that it will be above the kitchen counter top.

The back rec room which has been in a mostly demolished state for the past 2.5 years will be rebuilt.  The grandfathered plumbing for the old bathroom that was in the building will be upgraded to provide a laundry room and two piece bathroom. We had originally planned for a shower in this bathroom as well, but opted for laundry.  We will be retaining a drain under the stacked laundry to allow us to convert that space to a 3-piece bathroom at some point in the future if we want.

The back rec room will have a wet-bar/kitchenette area, and a large built-in unit around a gas fireplace on the back wall.  The door to the back yard will be a 13' wide, 8' tall folding sliding door that will allow us to open the entire space to the outdoors.  The rec room will be tiled to make the space amenable to people entering with shoes on without damaging the floor.

The entire lower level of the old sunroom is being rebuilt from the ground up.  The old sunroom was sitting on stacked wood and brick without any real foundation and was in very bad shape.

We will be retaining the upper level sunroom structure as it has way too many windows to replace and already has a nice hardwood floor and isn't in horrible shape.  It will be reinforced so that it is structurally sound, and we will be adding a pair of french doors out to the upper level deck (see next item).  The outside cedar shake skirting will be replaced with new and the roof on top of the sunroom will be replaced (with gutters and downspouts added).

New decks will be added.  One off the sunroom, and one on top of the back rec room/garage building.  They will be connected by stairs.  This will allow us to maximize our outdoor space.  The deck and stair case concrete piers were put in last year when we did some landscaping and are 6' deep with true footings and rebar throughout.

All of the renovated spaces will be upgraded with new insulation, modern electrical and plumbing, and be outfitted with in-floor hydronic heating tied into zones on our high-efficiency boiler (purchased back in 2009).

We are also replacing our side door and landing (not shown in the plans) which exits the house from a landing on the way to the basement.  The door and landing area were in pretty bad shape so we opted to include this in the scope of the work.

The new kitchen will have custom cabinetry up to the ceilng with crown.  We opted for granite countertops.  The range is a new Thermador 48" professional all-gas range with matching 48" hood.  The fridge and freezer are also Thermador and are counter-depth built-ins that are 84" in height.  The dishwasher is a stainless model by Thermador.

Windows throughout the renovated space will be replaced with new Marvin wooden windows with aluminum clad exteriors.  If you've been following the blog for a while, you'll probably remember my efforts to restore the old wood windows.  We decided to abandon our efforts to rebuild the original windows to go for new after realizing the time and effort necessary.  With work, family, and all the other commitments in life, I just don't have the time to take that task on.  The quality of the Marvin windows is excellent and we chose a style that is in keeping with the original windows in our house.

For trim, door and window casings, sills, and architraves, we opted to match the original trim in the house.  During demolition, we managed to salvage some of the original trim which will be re-used.  The remaining will be reproduced with matching knives from a wood mill just south of Ottawa.  We were lucky that most of the knives were available and only had to get one new knife made for the side window and door casing.  The trim isn't cheap to get reproduced but we felt it was important to keep with the original style of the house.

The garage will be turned into an actual garage, with a proper insulated garage door, an adjacent entry door, updated electrical for a workshop area and lots of storage space.

If you're still reading this blog post, then you likely realize that this project has a large scope of work, involves building permits, lots of structural work, electrical, plumbing, and insulating.  This is partly the reason we waited so long to get going on this part of our house renovation, to save the necessary funds and really try to get the design right.  We did use an architect who had some great input on elements of the design, but the overall layout and design is largely ours.

We're excited about the progress so far and we hope you continue to check in to this blog for updates!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

More demo

Our back extension is supported by a vertical 2x4 in each corner.  That's it.  Contractor isn't sure why it hasn't fallen down yet...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Here are some floor plan drawings to show the before and after (and the scope):

Before floor plan:

After floor plan:

And some elevation views of the outside:

And some elevation views of our kitchen:

And some elevation views of our fireplace surround at the back of the new rec room:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Posting a lot of pictures on blogger is a bit of a pain. I've posted some of our photos on tumblr.

See here:

Before shots
More before pictures
After plaster demolition
Partial demo in the garage
An old sink of ours

Stay tuned for more. The contractors are busy with the remaining demolition tasks which I'm hoping wrap up soon. The engineer came by to confirm all the specs for opening walls and rebuilding the kitchen extension. With any luck, by early December we'll have our kitchen back.

Friday, September 6, 2013

And we're back...

This blog has been very quiet over the last two years.  But we've recently embarked on some major renovation changes and I plan to update the blog with our progress.

We've decided to move ahead on the remaining changes to our main floor including expanding and renovating the kitchen, opening the kitchen to both the dining room and kitchen extension, moving the main floor powder room, finishing the back building into part garage and part rec room, some outdoor work including a new roof over the kitchen extension, two decks and replacement of 10 windows and 5 external doors.

I'll post a set of before pictures shortly and then what it looks like now (we've started demolition).  We're very excited to say the least.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Status, wow how time flies

I haven't posted for a while. Life gets busy. I travel for work, have a family I want to spend quality time with, and we've been trying to be more prudent with funds, so the renovations have slowed down.

A very quick status report:
- we still have a large pit in the backyard
- we still have an unfinished back building although it is progressing, just slowly
- we have a new flat roof on the back building (modified bitumen, new roof drains, etc...)
- I've been slowly restoring our wood windows and storms
- we have a neighbour that corners our lot who's trying to develop a 19-unit condo building on a 100 x 130 lot
- we have a new neighbour beside us who is renovating their house (and making much more progress than us it seems)
- we still might have squirrels in our attic
- my post on making wood windows has had 19,000 hits

I've started a tumblr blog so I can at the very least post some photos that I don't have time to blog about here. You can check it out here:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Demolition Complete (for now)

The demolition crew finished the last part of their work for this portion of the project.  We had a concrete demolition company come in to break up the slab under the old coach house.  Here is a picture that gives you an idea of how thick the slab was:


They had a large bobcat with a air pressure jack hammer on it and an additional bulldozer to take away all the chunks of concrete.  My son was very happy with all the ‘diggers’ that came to visit our house:


Here are a couple more pictures of the end result.  You can see the open web steel joists supporting the flat roof.  The plan is to pour a concrete footing along the length of the open wall and then reframe it as an external wall.  In the second picture you can see the bathroom area that they jack hammered out while they were here.  The bathroom will be roughed-in at the same time so we can pour a new floor when the footing is poured.



We had a first inspection with the city today.  The inspector was very friendly and liked everything he saw today.  He raised a couple small points relating to future parts of our project, but gave us the go-ahead to prepare to pour the footing.  The footing has to have rebar in it that is drilled into the left-over foundation from the coach house.  The inspector will return just prior to pouring, and then again before we backfill our new backyard ‘pit’ to examine frost-proofing that has to be in place around the footing.

More next week once our contractor has prepped the footing and had the plumbing roughed-in for the updated bathroom.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Demolition Progress!

The demolition of the coach house started about a week ago.  Here’s a picture of our first floor showing where the coach house was (red box).  The entire building (2 storeys) was removed and all that remains is the concrete pad it was sitting on.  The orange box in the picture was where our fire escape was.  That was removed also.


In the pictures that follow you can see the various stages of demolition.

In this first picture, taken from my third floor office, you can see the roof of the building.  They’ve just started to take off the roof covering.


Now they’ve removed most of the roof.


The inside first floor of the coach house.  The light streaming through the roof rafters above. 


Roof/second level gone!


Here you can see the bathroom that was built on the side of our current laundry room.  It was very poorly built to accommodate the school’s first female student, probably in the 1970’s when the back buildings were used as an electronics college.


In this picture, you can see the crew’s first big surprise.  You are looking head-on towards a 2 foot tall, 28 foot long steel I-beam!  The crew said that it was likely put in place by a crane.  This was done in the 1940’s when the original coach house was expanded to twice it’s size and this beam supported the entire centre of the building.


Here’s another picture of the beam running through the top of the first floor.


The demo crew cut all the ceiling joists on either side of the beam, as they were preparing to drop it to the ground.


They cut a small notch out of the supporting wood studs under the beam, then tied a chain around the base of the studs and their large truck, then dropped the beam down.  When it dropped, all the car alarms in the neighbourhood went off!


The beam down on one side from above.


In this picture, taken from the farthest corner of where the coach house was standing looking back towards our house, you can see the fire escape that was remove, the remaining interior stud wall that connected the coach house to the other outbuildings, our two level enclosed sunroom/laundry room, and the steel I-beam lying on the ground waiting to be removed.


Here’s a similar picture after the outside walls were removed and the first escape was (mostly) taken down.  My son has decided he wants a career in demolition.  (Don’t worry, he was very well supervised).


In this picture, you can see the internal stud wall removed.  You might wonder how we can have a 28' long opening with no support (or maybe you don’t care, but I’ll tell you about it anyway).  The ceiling joists in the remaining structure run back to front and are open steel-web joists 16” high.  The architect and structural engineer were very pleased to see this as they will allow us to have large open spaces in the interior, and an upper level deck with no additional support. Yey!


A picture of the back part of the open space, where the old furnace closet was.  This is now gone too.  You can see a bit more detail of the steel joists here with the dismal old fibreglass insulation.  You can also see how the outer walls of the remaining structure were built.  They consist of an 8” concrete block, an air space (filled in some places by newspaper), and then an inner 4” concrete block.


The latest surprise came on Friday when the concrete demo crew started breaking up the old pad.  Most concrete pads are 4” thick, sometimes 6”.  I had previously sledge-hammered a small hole to around 6” thick so we knew ours was on the thick side.  Imagine their surprise when they broke up a section to find it is 14-16” thick!!  It appears to be two pads, one poured on top of the other with a tar impregnated membrane between the two.  My guess is that the original coach house had the first pad poured sometime in the 1920-1930’s.  When the coach house was expanded and the the other flat-roof structure was built, the second pad was poured.  The concrete demo guys said they needed a better bobcat to break up the pad as the one they started with wasn’t going to do the job right.  So they left and dropped another one off this weekend and will be returning on Monday.

In case you were wondering, in place of the coach house, we will eventually have a yard with gardens and a patio.  I still haven’t scanned our set of plans (they are on large format paper that it not easy to scan) to show you the rest of the planned renovation.  That will come soon!  If you look at the picture at the very top of this post, the basic plan is to have the remaining two rooms become a garage (the one in line with the side of the house), and a recreation room / in-law suite (the one in line with the current laundry room).  We’ll be adding a roof top deck on part of the rear building with French door access from our upper sunroom and stairs down to a lower deck on the side of our current laundry room.  Current laundry room will be restructured and opened to existing kitchen and will become part of the kitchen (an eating area).  Doorway into old attached bathroom will become a door out to the lower level deck.  The side of the rear recreation room now facing our backyard will have a 13.5’ long, 8’ tall,  folding-sliding door to the backyard, allowing us to have an indoor/outdoor space with tons of light.

The city inspector will be coming by early this week to check on demo progress, while the crew removes the rest of the pad and our contractor starts to put a new external wall (with frost-protected footing beneath) on the remaining building.  Then we’ll get going with the gutting of the interior of the remaining buildings.  Fun times!