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.

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