Thursday, June 24, 2010

The New Porch

We have a front porch again!  Once the porch was rebuilt with cinder blocks, it was finally time start making it look nice.

Inside the cold storage room, the walls were parged to leave a smooth surface.  Now it looks much cleaner and there isn’t anywhere for ants to live!  We also decided to get a window installed in the cold storage room, which will bring in some light and help us control the humidity during the summer.


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Outside, we selected a faux stone to face the porch with.  We chose a greyish colour stone.


Once the stone was applied to the porch, the guys built the formwork for the concrete slab and stairs.  We decided to go with a bullnose on the stairs to dress it up a bit.

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Now all that’s left to do to finish the new porch is to choose and install a railing!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Porch Progress

Once the waterproofing was done and the trench was backfilled, the guys got to work replacing our old front porch.  You can see from the picture below how badly the brick was crumbling behind the stairs.


They tore down the old porch, leaving us with a nice big hole leading directing into our basement.




Finally, they rebuilt the porch with new cinder blocks, including a space for the new window.


The next step is parging the inside of the cold storage room and facing the new porch with faux stone.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Not in the Plans

We’ve learned that it’s almost impossible to get through any major renovation without running into some unplanned, unexpected problems.  You may recall that our problems came in the form of ants in our cold storage room.

Our cold storage room is located in our basement, directly under the front porch.  We didn’t plan to do any work to it, since we intended to use it for storage.


When we discovered an infestation of carpenter ants last summer, we decided to tear down the walls and ceiling to see how bad it was.  It was bad.

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While tearing everything down to get rid of the ants that were living there, we could see that there was a moisture problem.   After getting the house sprayed for insects, we decided to leave the cold storage room unfinished for the winter and spring so that we could see if/how water was getting in.  When spring came, there were definitely signs of moisture and mould forming in that room. 

The exterior of the cold storage room (the front porch) showed signs of major deterioration when we bought the house.  We did some tuck pointing last summer to try and correct the problem, but moisture was still getting in.

Another issue was that the porch stairs were built without a footing, so over the years they had shifted and were falling away from the house.

The only real solution to all of these problems was to deal with our crumbling front porch.

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We called some experts to get some ideas and quotes.  Ultimately, we settled on the following plan:

  • dig up along the whole front of the house, including around the front porch, to waterproof below ground level from the outside.
  • tear down the porch to ground level and rebuild it completely.
  • add a window to the side of the porch, to allow for some ventilation in the cold storage room during humid summers.
  • build new concrete stairs with proper footing.
  • face the porch and stairs with faux stone.
  • parge the inside of the cold storage room.

It is a big project and not something that we had budgeted for.  But, in the end, we would rather have it done properly the first time.

New parging of exterior foundation walls:


Sealant applied to foundation walls:


Waterproofing membrane wrapping front of house:

Old clay weeping tile removed:


Now that the weeping tile has been replaced and the waterproofing is done, work is underway to rebuild the porch.  Hopefully we’ll finally have a functioning cold storage room this summer!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Living and Dining Room: Before and After

The one thing that kept our main floor from feeling complete for the last few months was the lack of a dining room table.  Once we found our table, the space was pretty much done.

The main design changes to the living and dining rooms include:

  • removing the archway
  • installing pot lights
  • adding the sliding door walkout to the backyard
  • installing new hardwood floor throughout the main floor
  • adding shutters to the living room windows.


 Looking towards the front hall from the living room:20090329_0998

 Looking at the living room from the dining room:20090329_0995

Looking into the dining room from the living room:20090329_0994 


We spent a lot of time looking for a dining room table that would be narrow enough to fit our space, but extendable so that we could seat a larger number of people.  The table search was harder than we expected.  After a couple of months of searching, a neighbour suggested we try Decorium, where we found a table that we were able to customize to fit our space and our style.

In the living room, we chose to get our old couch reupholstered and we were able to use most of our other living room furniture.  We painted the entire main floor, including the living room and dining room, Benjamin Moore’s Ballet White.  We’re still looking for some art for above the couch, which we hope will bring some colour into the space.

One of the biggest changes to the dining room was the fact that we removed the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, opening up the space.  We’ll share the final kitchen photos in a separate post.

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