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!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Building Plans/Permit Approved

It’s been a long process, but we’ve finally got a set of finished drawings, engineering specs, and a building permit from the city for our plans to the back outbuildings.  The demolition of the original coach house will likely start this week, and parts of the framing/structural work will begin after that, then a new flat roof will be put on the remaining structure.

Here’s a summary of our plans…

If you remember (from older posts), we have two buildings at the rear of our property that take up our entire backyard.  The first is a two-level coach house that is (mostly) original to the house.  It measures 30’x24’.  The other, newer structure (1940’s) was built by Carleton College when they owned our house and used it as the Student Union building and it is a double-concrete block walled, single level, flat-roof building that measures 30’x26’.  That structure abuts the coach house and its two rooms and the one on the lower level of the coach house were used as classrooms and as a recreation hall by students.

We are removing the coach house in its entirety and leaving the flat single level structure.  The remaining structure has two large rooms, a bathroom, and two small closets (one for a furnace and one for an industrial electrical panel).  The two large rooms will mostly remain the same, but the one in line with our driveway will become a single-car garage with workshop at the rear, and the other one (inline with our current laundry/mud-room) will become a recreation room with 3-piece bathroom.  One wall of this recreation room will have an 8’ tall x 15’ wide folding sliding door that will open to the new backyard where the coach house was standing.  We will be putting a new flat roof on, and a big roof-top deck as well with stairs leading down to a small deck at ground level.

In addition to these changes, we are moving our laundry to the basement, relocating our mudroom into the front part of the recreation room, and opening our current laundry/mudroom full to our existing kitchen.  We are also opening an 8’ section of wall between the kitchen and dining room to create a more open feel (keeping the look/feel of the traditional trim for that opening), and rebuilding part of the laundry area to accommodate some new windows, a door opening to the backyard area, and a more solid floor.

The project is quite large in scope, but we’re breaking it up into phases that are manageable in scope and cost.  After demolishing the coach house, we will have the wall that used to be between the coach house and remaining building rebuilt to be an external wall and closed up with plywood until next year.  The new roof will be put on this fall with a new roof drain.  The interior of the remaining building will be gutted and if we have the time and budget, we will likely try to get the garage door put on.  That will be it for this year.

Next year, we will do some more work on the garage and recreation room, and start rebuilding the structure for the laundry room.  If there is time and budget available, we will then proceed with opening up the kitchen/laundry area, and kitchen/dining room area.  Decking (both on top of the recreation room and at ground-level) will be done last, likely the following year.

I am in the process of scanning some of the design drawings and as soon as they are done I will be post them up here.  We have decided not to give the project to one large design/build firm as the costs are just too high.  We will be acting as the GC on the project with assistance from our architect when needed.  We will hire people to do most of the demolition work, the roof, electrical and plumbing, and framing/structural work, and we will handle everything else (insulating, drywall, flooring, and finishing touches).

Stay tuned for more updates as this next exciting phase of our house project begins!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bathroom Teasers


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A couple weeks ago (misc. stages of completion):

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We now have the glass tub shield in, the end of the tub tiled, and various other features completed.  I will post more shortly showing the entire room and in better lighting.

The tiles are all marble, the black inlay is granite (12x12 tiles that were taken to a water jet cutting place to be made into 0.5” strips).

Miscellaneous Pictures

The sun was shining into our main floor the other day and I took a few pictures…

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Butler’s Pantry

Catching up on some old posts.  Sorry, there will be a few posted in a row.  I’ll try not to post in bursts in the future, but it is the prime season to be out actually doing renovations and not blogging about them…

Here are the before and after for our butler’s pantry:

Before (even before we moved in):

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We kept the old cabinets and sink.  We are undecided as to whether this room will become a main floor powder room to so that the current powder room next to the kitchen (the one that was never put back together after the plumbers demolished it to update the plumbing) can be turned into a staircase to the basement, thus providing more room in our kitchen.  But for now, we find this room very useful with the second sink and extra storage.  We still have to put back up the crown moulding trim (when I get the chance).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Various Updates and Coming Soon…

I haven’t posted in a while.  Things get busy and with the nice weather, they got even busier.

A few updates:

Outbuildings - The architect is finalizing plans for our rear outbuildings.  There were some questions regarding whether the existing buildings have a 4’ frost wall foundation or were just on on-grade footings.  It looks like we’ve got 4’ frost walls, which is good news.  He also has to visit the city to see if there are existing plans for them, and finalize some issues with the engineer.  I hope to have final plans, including approved demolition and building permits in the next few weeks.  I’ll post the plans once they’re approved.

Bathroom - Second floor bathroom is pretty much done.  We finally finished all the tiling (most of it in 3”x6” marble subways).  Just waiting on the glass tub screen, which should be installed early next week.  Pictures coming…

House History – I posted an ad in the local community newspaper asking for alumni and former staff of Carleton College (now Carleton University) to contact me to help with my personal research project.  Our house was owned by Carleton and used as their student union building from 1949 – 1958.  I’m trying to gather more information on how it was used and when the rear outbuilding classrooms were built.  I’ve spoken to two former staff (a librarian and a professor) and five former students.  I know which rooms were used for council meetings and which room housed the student newspaper (my son’s current bedroom).  I also know that the most popular activity was Bridge playing on the main floor, and that the basement was used for gambling (mostly poker)!  I also have leads on a number of photos that depict our house during that time.  More to come…

Sorry for the lack of photos.  This post if more of a stub so I can fill in the details in future post.  I hope to be back posting on a more regular basis.  I have noticed that a lot of my favourite house blogs have been pretty slow lately too.  I wonder if people are just too busy to blog, or are getting bored of it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New fireplace is in

What a busy winter this has been so far.  Here are a few pictures of the before and after of our main floor fireplace.  You can read previous posts for the background…



After the new hearth tile was put in (not grouted yet):


After (the flash doesn’t show the flames very well so I included a blurry one without the flash):

IMG_1594 IMG_1596   The pictures above show the fireplace with the gas logs installed.  We had ordered coals instead of logs, but they were out of stock.  They have since come back and switched them, but I haven’t taken any photos.  Maybe later…