Sunday, May 31, 2009


We got our final plans from the designer (Brendon Eatley, Eatley Drafting & Design) last week. This meant that we could go ahead and get our building permits. Dave went to the City of Toronto permit office on Friday and waited for a couple of hours. They call this the "Fast Track" service!

Finally, he came away with our structural, drainage and plumbing permits. Now we're all ready to go!

On to the Backyard

Our plans to plant cedars along the back fenceline meant that we needed to clear some room for them. On closer inspection of the existing back garden, we found a bunch of stumps left behind from some bushes that must have been cut down before we bought the house.

Marilyn and Marty came over this weekend to help clear everything out. Between the stumps and the weeds it was quite a big job so we really appreciated their help!

Once we got everything out, we dug a big trench to prepare for planting the cedars.

Here's what the back looks like now, with everything removed. The cedars will definitely help give us some privacy from the rear neighbours.

We also cleared all the weeds from the side of the yard, behind the garage. We know our neighbour plans to do some yard work this summer, so we'll wait and see what he wants to do before we do any more work on this side.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yard Work!

This was such a beautiful weekend, so we decided to do some work outdoors. With the help of Steph and Lindsay (thanks girls!) we pulled out some of the bushes in the front garden to clear the way for the gas meter.

It looks a little bare right now, but once the gas meter is installed, we will plant some flowers to give the front some colour.

While the girls were working in the front yard, Dave spent some time in the back, removing the fence. Our neighbours also spent the weekend clearing out they're backyard .

Lots of people have been asking about what we've decided to do to the rooms upstairs. We're making a final decision this week and will post about it soon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

8 Firefighters, 1 Day

Today was a big day. A bunch of Dave's colleagues pitched in to help with the majority of the demolition. In just one day, they managed to completely gut the main floor and basement. Thanks to Stu, Phil, Rob, Colin, Ron, Mark and Shawn!

Here are some shots from today:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Landscaping Plans

Since there's so much work to do inside, we likely won't get much landscaping done until next summer. But, since Jen's parents are so great at gardening (they have a beautiful yard!) we had them over to take a look and give us some ideas.

The plan for the backyard is to put in some cedars along the back fence line. We're going to do that this spring because they take some time to fill in.

Our next door neighbours want to replace the fence (thank goodness - it's quite an eyesore!) but we're probably going to wait until next spring to put in a new one. In the meantime, we're going to pull out the old one and leave it open. Once a new fence is up, we can decide on the rest of the backyard landscaping.

As for the front yard, we're going to have to place the gas metre (and eventually the air conditioner) in the front garden. We've decided to get the gas metre installed on the left side and we'll try and tuck the a/c unit in beside the stairs. Once we get those in, we'll do our best to hide them with bushes, etc. For the most part, though, this summer's landscaping work will consist of mowing the lawn - thanks to the wonderful lawnmower we inherited from the Wilsons!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Preparing for Major Demolition

Major demolition work is starting on Monday. We're going to start pulling down the walls and ceilings on the main floor and in the hallway/stairwell on the second floor. We put down some paper to try and protect the stairs and the upstairs floors.

We also got the bin this week. We bought a tarp to try and keep people out of it (we don't want to pay to dispose of other people's trash!) but the heavy rain has been a bit of a pain. When the sun came out for a while, we did our best to get rid of some of the water.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Energy Audit

Today we had our Home Energy Audit. The audit looks at things like the furnace, hot water heater, insulation, toilets, and windows and doors. The whole thing took a couple of hours. The most interesting part is the test for air-tightness. A powerful negative-pressure fan is placed at your front door to find where there are air leaks in your home.

We have lots of leaks! There are also some other areas where we can improve our energy efficiency. The government program allows you to qualify for up to $10,000 in federal and provincial rebates for energy upgrades. We won't qualify for all of it, but we should get a fair amount back for things like new windows, furnace, hot water heater and insulation.

Mike Thomson, a friend of Dave's, was our licensed energy advisor. His email address is

Monday, May 4, 2009


Dave spent today getting quotes for windows, electrical work and insulation. He also talked to the City of Toronto to try and figure out whether or not the water service has been updated. And, he's been dealing with Enbridge about bringing in gas to the house. It might sound simple, but trying to pick an aesthetically pleasing location for the gas meter isn't fun!

We spent some time measuring the front yard to see if there's any chance we could get approval from the city for a parking pad. Given that we have a very narrow mutual drive, this would be the best option for us. Some people on our street have parking pads but others have been denied by the city, so we're trying to figure out the options.

The home energy audit is being done tomorrow. We should have something more interesting to post after that!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Demolition Begins!

We began the demolition this weekend. We ripped out a few key areas of walls and ceilings so that our designer/architect could get a good look. We also started removing the kitchen cabinets.

Everything seems to be as expected, with the exception of the exterior walls. We expected to find wood framing behind the plaster, but discovered instead that the walls are strapped with only a one-inch cavity between the brick and the plaster. This won't affect our plans on the main floor, but adds an interesting factor to our decision about what to do on the second floor.

If we choose to gut the second floor, we will need to add framing to the walls to allow for insulation and additional electrical outlets. Adding framing to the walls on the second floor means we would lose some key space in each of the (already small!) bedrooms.

If we choose to leave the second floor as is, one of our new neighbours had a good suggestion. There are insulation products that can be blown into the one-inch cavity between the existing plaster and brick. This could be our solution - allowing us to increase our energy efficiency without having to wreck the nice hardwood floors!

Here are some pictures of the demolition:

The Tools

We wanted to ensure we had all the right tools for the job.
These are Dave's tools:

These are Jen's tools:

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Plans!

Lot's of people have been asking, so we thought we'd share our initial thoughts about what we plan to do to the house. This weekend we'll be meeting with a designer who will do up some drawings and we're having a home energy audit, so plans may change a bit after that. But, here's what we're thinking right now...

  • Bring in gas service
  • Remove radiators and replace the oil boiler with a forced air gas furnace
  • Add a tankless water heater
  • Remove knob and tube wiring and update electrical panel
  • Replace existing plumbing with pex manifold system
  • Upgrade water service


  • Add a three-piece bathroom
  • Create laundry and storage areas
  • Use remaining space for a finished rec room

Main Floor:

  • Gut entire main floor, insulate and replace plaster walls with drywall
  • Open up the wall between the kitchen and the dining room
  • Install a new kitchen, including an island
  • Add a sliding door from the dining room out to the backyard

Second Floor:

  • Completely replace bathroom
  • Remove plaster in stairwell/hallway and replace with drywall

We still haven't decided what to do with the second floor bedrooms. We're back and forth on whether we should gut these rooms. We've come up with the pros and cons of gutting the bedrooms but haven't landed on a decision. Let us know what you think by voting in our poll!

Ease of installing new electrical
Insulate for sound from attached neighbours
Insulate exterior walls for energy rebates

Extra cost and time
Potential damage to (and replacement of) existing hardwood floors

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