Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Four Month Mark

Yesterday marked four months since we took possession of our house.  In some ways it feels like yesterday and in other ways it feels like we’ve been working on it for years!  We were so excited on closing day.  Not sure we realized how exhausting the whole renovation process would be!

Although there are times that it feels like things are moving really slowly, we’ve definitely had some major accomplishments in the past couple of weeks. The furnace and ductwork were installed…




…and the electricians have been busy rewiring our house and installing the new electrical panel.  We’ve wired for an alarm system and Dave has started running wires for cable, phone and internet.




What’s next?  We have some small things to finish up before the building inspections.  Then on to the insulation and drywall stage.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Plumbing with PEX

We've made a lot of progress in the last couple of weeks on the plumbing, electrical and HVAC installation. The plumbing rough-in is just about finished.

We decided to to replace the existing plumbing and install new PEX piping. PEX is becoming more and more common because it has a number of advantages over copper.

Below is a picture of our hot and cold PEX manifold water distribution system. This system will help keep water pressure consistent, even when we're using multiple fixtures.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bathroom Faucets

We took a little break from working on the house this weekend to attend a couple of weddings. Congratulations Liane & Jesse and Sharon & Dave!

However, since the plumber is coming this week to install the shower valves, we had to choose our faucets. We decided to go with chrome for the upstairs bathroom, since we think it will look best with our planned white and gray colour scheme. For the downstairs bathroom, we've selected brushed nickel.

Upstairs Bathroom: Delta
We chose a single lever Delta sink faucet that will fit well in the small vanity that we need for our tiny bathroom. We went with a matching tub and shower faucet.

Downstairs Bathroom: Kohler
We really like the look of Kohler's Archer Suite. We bought the bath and shower faucet, but will wait until we've chosen a vanity before we decide whether we can get the 4" or 8" centre sink faucet.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Kitchen Verdict

Now, some of you may think we're a bit crazy, but this is the story of how we chose our kitchen (or how our kitchen chose us!)

One day, shortly after we took possession of the house, we arrived at the house to find a CD on our doorstep. On it was a name and phone number. We took it home to check it out on our computer and discovered that it was filled with pictures of kitchens. Since we were just in the early days of our renovation, we didn't really pay much attention to it.

A couple of weeks later, a guy named Robin stopped by the house and introduced himself to Dave. He is a kitchen designer and was the person who had dropped off the CD.

Then we hit July and it was time to look more seriously at kitchens. After looking at a number of kitchen options, including Ikea, Lowes and custom, we decided to call Robin to get a quote.

Robin produced very detailed drawings and measurements. He came up with great ideas and suggestions and delivered a very reasonable quote for a fully custom kitchen. The difference between his quote and other fully custom kitchens was significant and seemed to be too good to be true.

We were a little skeptical at this point and asked a lot of questions. Robin was very upfront and explained that all the cabinets are custom built in China and shipped here, which is how he keeps his costs low. We realized that many of the other large manufacturers also produce their kitchens in China. Robin showed us pictures of the factory and he had lots of samples of the products. We checked his references and he had really good recommendations.

So, we decided to go for it.

Here's the breakdown:
  • The layout will be similar to what we designed through the Ikea planner, but the cabinet sizes are customized to fit our space.

  • The island will house the sink and dishwasher, as well as a pull out drawer with built-in bins for garbage and recycling.

  • The back and side of the island will have decorative paneling that will match the cabinet doors.

  • A wall cabinet above the island will have glass doors so we can display our glassware.

  • The doors will be painted MDF in an antique white colour.

  • The drawers will be solid wood with dovetailed joints.

  • The cupboards will have Blum hinges and the drawers will be soft-close.

Here's the door style we selected:

We realize that we may be taking a bit of risk by not selecting one of the large, well-known kitchen companies, but after a lot of contemplation, we decided that the potential reward outweighs the risks.

Our new kitchen should arrive and be ready for installation in late October!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Moving on from the Ants

Cain Pest Control came by this weekend to spray our house to get rid of the ants. The guy sprayed throughout the inside, as well as around the perimeter of the outside. We thought we had done a pretty good job of getting them with our vacuuming technique the other night, but as soon as he started spraying the cold storage room, hundreds more ants came out of the cracks.

We had to be out of the house for three hours after the spraying, but when we returned this morning, there didn't seem to be any live ants left. Thank goodness! Cain offers a 1-year guarantee, so we can call them if we see any more.

Once the ants were dealt with, we were able to move on to the more important things - like cleaning up and getting ready for the electricians to start their work. The house was a bit of a disaster, so we bought some storage bins to help us organize things.

Our unwelcome houseguests also distracted us from the exciting new additions that arrived this week. Our new octagon window was installed in the bathroom and our washer and dryer were delivered!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Winner

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, Dave's colleague Jason competed on this year's Handyman Superstar Challenge on HGTV. Last night was the finale and Jason was the winner. Congratulations Jason! It was fun to watch.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ants In Our Pant(ry)

Today we learned that you can't go through a major renovation without finding something unexpected behind the walls. And we're not talking about horseshoes this time.

In our basement, underneath the front porch, is a cold storage room. It was one room that we had decided not to demolish since it looked pretty clean and could be used as is. But, throughout the last couple of weeks, Dave started noticing a weird sound coming from that room. It sort of sounded like a dripping or ticking sound. We checked to see if there were any signs of water, but it seemed dry.

This afternoon Dave decided to take a crow bar to one of the walls to see what was behind it. He was greeted with ants. Since we already had a bin in the driveway, we decided that it would be best to pull down the walls and ceiling to see what we were dealing with.

So, we armed ourselves with our heavy duty vacuum and started pulling down the walls. It's hard to describe what we encountered. We're not talking about a couple of ants. We're not even talking about hundreds of ants. There were thousands of ants.

The wood behind the walls was totally chewed up and covered with ants. As the little critters tried to escape from the room, we vacuumed them up. Our pictures don't show the worst of it because we were too busy chasing the ants to take photos! After about three hours, they finally started to slow down. Here's what the inside of our vacuum looked like when we were done:

We sealed off the room with a sheet of plastic and will call a pest control company tomorrow to come take a look. Luckily, the problem seems to be isolated to this one room. We had gutted the rest of the basement already and didn't see any signs of ants.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bye Bye Bathroom

Today we said goodbye to the upstairs bathroom. It was quite the challenge because all the old wall tiles were set in thick mortar with wire mesh. After a couple of swings with the sledge hammer, Dave decided that renting a demolition hammer was the only way to get the job done. Sadly, our bathroom is just as small without the tiles as it was before!

Good thing we have our shiny new basement bathroom, equipped with the Champion!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Nothing to Hear Here!

Today we installed our sound barrier solution in the master bedroom. Since we don't want to lose too much space from the already tiny room, we decided to add some 2" sheets of polystyrene insulation to the wall that separates us from our neighbours. This product is meant for insulating basements, but we figured it would help provide some sound insulation.

The existing wall was plaster directly on cinder block, allowing no room for electrical boxes. By using the rigid insulation, we can now add electrical boxes to this wall. The drywall can be placed directly on top of it, which means we'll only lose about 2 1/2" of space from our room.

We plan to put this in the second bedroom as well, since it also shares a long wall with the neighbours. It's hard to judge how well it will work because the house is empty and echo-y, but hopefully it will provide a bit of a sound barrier when it's all done.

Kitchen Design: Take Two

After looking at Ikea kitchens last weekend, we decided to do some comparison shopping. When we were at Lowes last week to check out the toilets, we saw some of the sample kitchens and really liked some of the off-white cabinet doors. We hit up Lowe's this weekend to check out their kitchen options. A sunny Sunday on a long weekend seemed to be a better time to shop for kitchens and we didn't have to wait to speak with a kitchen planner!

We really liked the KraftMaid line. While it was more expensive than Ikea, there were more options for cabinet sizes, making it seem more like a custom kitchen. We loved the painted maple doors (in Canvas, a creamy white colour), but unfortunately they are a bit out of our price range. A good alternative is the thermofoil door (MDF with a laminate coating), which is less expensive, but still available in a nice cream colour. The KraftMaid cabinets also come with the soft close hinges and full -extension drawers, which are things we really want.

The biggest downside of the Lowes kitchens? The timelines. With the Ikea kitchens, they have everything in stock so they will be ready whenever we are. With Lowes, the kitchen installer won't come to measure the space until after the drywall is up. Then, it will take 4-6 weeks for the cabinets to arrive. After that, we'll still need to get a countertop installed. Given that we aren't sure when we'll be ready to drywall, it's really hard to estimate when the kitchen could be complete.

We're going to check out a few more options before we make our final choice.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Champion

Before we begin ripping out the old bathroom upstairs, we wanted to install a toilet in the new basement bathroom. Once the basement plumbing was ready, we went toilet shopping.

One would assume that choosing a toilet would be a fairly simple task. A toilet is a toilet, right? Well, as it turns out, men and women have very different preferences.

Lucky for us, we need two. So, we decided that Dave gets to pick the basement toilet and Jen gets to pick the upstairs toilet.

This week we installed Dave's choice - the Champion 4 by American Standard. According to a press release, it's "a tower of power" and the box says it can flush a bucket of golf balls. It is pretty obvious why this toilet appeals to men!

Stay tuned for Jen's choice...
Blog Widget by LinkWithin