home is where the couch is

our first house. her big plans. his hard work.

7:58 PM

Heat and Humidity

Posted by Terri |

What a day. Summer heat hit us with a vengeance. Yesterday it was a beautiful spring day, today - 40 degrees with humidity. And here we are working in a room that currently has stacks of insulation in front of it. Not a whole lot of air flow. We were dripping sweat not even moving. But we were moving. A ton.

The rot right at the end of the floor joists.
We found a little bit more rot. In a fairly important place. I think it's called the sill and it's where the floor joists meet a piece of wood. That piece of wood was all rotten. So. What to do. The outside jacks holding the roof up got removed and a new wall was built and placed on the inside, so that the a new sill can be put in. But, a floor needs to be put in, electrical needs to be put in before the floor, along with plumbing. And we're not ready for any of that. So in the meantime, we're sleeping with our back room wide open to anyone that wants to come in. The girl and I are sleeping very lightly. The man and boy haven't noticed any difference in their sleep. Lucky.

Jacks supporting the wall on the outside before we found more rot.
New wall on the inside so that the rot can be taken out.

We got to see what the insulation board that is going under the floor will look like. It's pretty cool. Some of that along with some fiberglass insulation on top of it will help keep this back room cozy and warm during our 8 months of winter.

Insulation board
We also had the fireplace guy come and check out the space that the fireplace is going and give us some suggestions on how to design the space. I had been thinking of windows all along the top, but we're putting in a direct vent with a bent elbow and that leaves not a whole lot of clearance above the fireplace to put in a window. And you shouldn't put in a window that opens directly above the vent anyway, unless you enjoy carbon monoxide poisoning. Which I kinda don't.
This is the fireplace we chose. Enviro DV36, Cape Cod Style Doors
We had gone in a few days ago to try and find a different fireplace, maybe a bit cheaper. We ended up coming out of there ordering one for 40 bucks more. But it has a bigger 'engine' (fireplace guy speak) and that will help heat our back room more efficiently. It's been pretty cold in there for the last 10 years, I am so looking forward to sitting back there toasty and warm with a hot mug of tea. Well, not right now, I'm already toasty and warm and I have barely anything on, it's so hot. Not that I'm complaining, I do love this heat and humidity. Feels like home.

3:20 PM

Wish I had a hot tub

Posted by Terri |

This weekend was crazy. I am so sore and achy and tired. Right now, I'm listening to someone else bang around in the back room and I am extremely excited that it's not me.

We had our contractor come on Friday and he gave us a ton of homework. Take out the flooring, take off the exterior siding, take out all the electrical and the rest of the bathroom walls - which we weren't quite done yet. We got almost all of it done, working 9 hours day. It was intense.

The bathroom walls are now gone.
We had mysterious helper #1 come, due to my facebook status, "if anyone has an urge to 'pop in and visit' me this weekend, bring a crowbar, you will be put to work." He was able to help take some walls and electrical down. Mysterious helper #2 came to bug us, but then he ended up peeling the linoleum off the office floor. That was a massive help because the way we took the plywood up was to take all the nails out first, so that it could come out in one piece, and scraping linoleum up would have taken us all night so that we could find the nails. Instead, at 9:00 pm, I was digging out nails, rather than digging up linoleum. Thanks to both our mysterious helpers.

Plywood up in the fireplace room
What was underneath the plywood in the fireplace room. It looks wonky, but it's really straight.
There was no dead animal under the fireplace room flooring like I thought there might be. It was actually made pretty well. The joists are super bouncy due to zero cross beams, but that will be fixed.

The office area on the other hand is a piece of work. We knew that the two rooms had been built or rebuilt differently, but it's amazing how different they are. We figure that the office was actually the old shed, especially after seeing the hidden outside door behind a wall.

We took out the insulation to discover there was 2 layers of insulation and wall and that the other wall was the old wall with door. You can't tell from the outside, it's covered in siding.
This double wall thing may actually be great. We'll see after we talk to a plumber. I really wanted all the plumbing on the outside wall which I know is a big no-no, but it can be done if there's a double wall built. And there is already a double wall, so...I may get what I wanted!!

What was behind the bathroom and office walls.
I'm of two minds when it comes to what was behind the bathroom and office walls. I'm super excited that there was brick and it's not too ruined. Not so excited that they painted it. It just means that I have to get rid of the paint. After doing research, I've discovered that soda blasting (instead of sand blasting, you use baking soda) is the best thing to do with brick because it doesn't ruin the brick. I haven't checked yet if Home Depot rents soda blasters. I'm the one that's going to have to do it since I want the brick. The man has washed his hands with this one.

The office under the plywood
Under the plywood in the office, it's a little sketchier. The joists are maybe 3 feet apart but the joists are unfinished 2x12's. They're covered with old wood that we'll be keeping, it's good and solid. Under that was grungy insulation and chicken wire. I've taken all of the insulation out and tonight's job is the chicken wire.

I'm waiting till tonight so that I don't want to get in the way of the contractors, who are hoisting up the roof so that they can replace the back wall. Plus I don't want the ceiling to fall on my head either.

Jacking up the roof
The back wall is coming out.
We've had to put all the insulation and wood and everything somewhere, so we put up our trailer trash garage on the deck and piled everything in there.


The contractor should be here for the week redoing the walls and floor insulation and the man and I will be doing other things at night. I think it's going to move pretty quickly. We should have a nice shell in a few weeks. But tonight, we'll be open to the outdoors.

2:04 PM

Got the Dumpster!

Posted by Terri |

Excitement galore!! I've never had a dumpster in my driveway before - it's so nice to be able to dump all this crap (literally) in there and get it out of my house. All the moldy drywall, all the mouse pooped-on insulation, all the previously wet molding. All gone.

This is what salvaged tongue and groove boards look like. All the nails out and neatly piled. That's the Mans OCD tendency. Good for the work site though.

Not a whole lot of photos today, the man is back to work for a few days and there's not much left to do except get rid of the bathroom walls and rip the floor up. And the linoleum on half of the floor. Glued to the floor. Really glued to the floor. That may take a while.

The boy pulling down the rest of the vapour barrier (he was terrified of all the falling mouse poo).
We've asked someone to come and look at the rotten wood in the addition. The man keeps saying 'I can do that. We don't have to hire someone.' I realize he could do it, trust me, I think he can do everything and sometimes he gets frustrated at me. "I can't do everything!!" he yells. (But he can.)

I know that he could fix all the rotten joists but I want someone that has had experience in doing that, someone who has time to fix it. Someone who doesn't need days to research how to do it. I want it done yesterday. So, there will be someone coming on Friday to look at it. We're hoping to get some of the floor up so that we can see how much rot spread underneath. Then the guy can get a full picture of what needs to be fixed.

My job today while the man is at work is to climb on the big ladder and go over the entire ceiling where the T&G boards were, pulling out any leftover nails. Yay. It's not as fun working by yourself. Better crank the music and get it done.

2:44 PM

Still Demolishing

Posted by Terri |

Almost all of the drywall is down, the tongue and groove ceiling is down and we're still chasing ants. We're using some new ant killer that seems to work really well, it's long lasting and must stay in their nifty little tunnels, ants keep falling down during the night all curled up dead. We're not sure if we've gotten the queen or if there's been many queens. We've had a lot of flying ants come down but by researching on line, we think they could be either the male stud ants or the queen.

One of the many possible pre-queen ants. Poor little guy.

We weren't sure if there was any sort of venting system for the cathedral ceiling. But we've found some, of a sort, on one side of the addition anyway. It's a little sketchy looking but hopefully it does the job because we'll probably keep it. We haven't taken all of the insulation down yet. Today is 'take the bathroom out' day and after that we'll take out the insulation. We want to make sure we have enough space to lay all the stuffing on top of each other and enough time to chase the ants when we find them hiding behind it all. Smart little guys, I feel so badly that they're in our house and that we have to kill them.

The office with some venting system in the ceiling.

Office: Inside Wall

Office: Side wall

I found this video, it's about 7 minutes long and will make you itchy but it just shows how carpenter ants are so resilient and hardworking. One thing the guy in the video said was that queen ants live for about 20 years..Oh. Em. Gee. I am sure the queen in our house is that old. You can watch it here.




One of the things that I will not miss, well, there's a lot, but one of the things is the bathroom. It was tiny but it did its duty. I don't know what they were thinking when they put on that door though. It never opened fully, it always banged into the toilet. When we first moved into the house, the whole room was wallpapered with this wild butterfly encyclopedia wallpaper. Very claustrophobic. One of the first things I did was rip it down and paint it this poo colour. It was free paint, what can I say, anything was better than that wallpaper.

View through the bathroom door with the door banging into the toilet. Good thing we're not fat.

The bathroom via Photosynth
Alternate view of the bathroom

Haven't done much in the fireplace room except finish taking down the ceiling. The man was so good and gentle at taking it down. I think only 2 boards ripped a little, but they can just be cut off and still be used. This is where the ants are hiding, I just know it. We're working our way up to it. The man is currently stalling by taking all the nails out of the tongue and groove boards. He's even roped the kids into helping.

This weekend has been great, a 3 day weekend - thanks Queen Victoria! - and we've gotten lots done. We have this huge pile of drywall and insulation outside covered with vapour barrier because it keeps threatening to rain off and on. We get the dumpster tomorrow and we've already forewarned the kids that they'll be helping us load it up.

Fireplace Room: Inner Wall
Fireplace Room: Side Wall - ceiling is almost down

Fireplace Room: Outside wall
The man has a 3 day work week this week and then another 3 day weekend - thanks Canadian Government! - so we have plans. Plans to work his butt off. I'm dreading what exactly is under the floor. I know that the addition isn't held up very properly and I know that one half of the addition has chicken wire holding up the insulation, but I've already bet the man that there is dead animal skeletons underneath that.

About a year after we moved in, the wood in front of the patio door (which at that time was a wood patio door, rotten and wet even then) cracked and this stink came up from the crack. Smelt like dead.

For a while we had some raccoons living under the addition. You could always hear them scrabbling and screaming. I don't want to know what they were doing or ruining. We would bang on the floor for them to shut up. It was like living in an apartment with noisy downstairs neighbours.

Maybe I`ll be wrong and there will just be stuff from our raccoon neighbours there, poo and garbage. Or there will be a skeleton. Dead.

12:51 PM

Taking Down the Drywall

Posted by Terri |

We've now started ripping down walls at a better pace. I think we've found our groove. Instead of randomly smashing the drywall apart into little pieces, we look for the screws or spots where the screws should be and gently bang the hammer around until we find the screws. Then we unscrew everything and bam, the drywall is down in one piece. I'm sure you knew to do that - we didn't, but we've figured it out.

We have mostly been focusing on the outside bathroom walls. The bathroom walls are insulated so we assume that the fireplace room and bathroom were done first and then the freezing cold office was kind of done. Kind of because it has 2x6 walls but 2x4 insulation in them. It has chicken wire holding up the floor insulation, but when we peeked underneath, half of it was hanging down. The fireplace room has wood holding the insulation up. Things were done a little better on the one side. Except for all the open junction boxes randomly in the walls...Haven't found any ants in the bathroom walls. We have found mouse turds in the bathroom ceiling and a whole lot of dead potato bugs in one part of the insulation. And maybe a teensy baby dead mouse. Or a turd. I can't tell, what do you think?

Dead Mouse? Turd? Tons of baby potato bugs for sure.
We are making progress. It's always nice to see. We've been only doing this for a few day. Our goal is to be done by the fall. This room will be used as a rec room with a fireplace and it will be an awesome room to hibernate in. This past winter and spring were sooo long.

We plan on hiring someone to do some of the things that we know we don't like to do or that we're unable to do, so hopefully this reno will move along at a steady pace. I just called to order a dumpster (we've never done that before!!) but didn't realize that you should probably pre-order one...it may come tomorrow if one comes back early or it will come Tuesday. This weekend is the long May 24 weekend and we were hoping to have a lot of it taken out by the end of it. We're even going to rope the kids into helping whether they like it or not!

Before we started
Took down the walls and insulation

10:41 AM

The Ants

Posted by Terri |

We're onto the second room now, the one we used as an office and junk room. It leaked in this room too, but we were still hoping there would be no carpenter ants. Alas, there is. So far we see them above the door just like in the other room, but we think they'll be further up in the ceiling too.

This is the back wall of the addition. The fish eye look is because I'm using Photosynth, a free app that allows you to stitch together photos. So if they suck, sorry.
The view from the fireplace room. (There is no jut out of that wall, it stitched together oddly)
The view from the patio door. The cardboard box is covering up a door to the kitchen. It's going to be closed up in this renovation.

The little hallway that separates the fireplace room from the office.
At first, we were going to leave the side walls covered with drywall, but I think we're going to end up gutting the whole thing and try to salvage what we can. You can salvage insulation, right? There's a bunch that looks good. Part of me wishes we already had a garage so we could store all of this stuff that we're taking apart, but that's number 2 on the list; after this is all done.

Oh gee, what's under the plastic?? Besides mold...

Little ant tunnels, with the few dark spots being carpenter ants. Great.
I feel kind of bad, I started playing Roller Derby and they warned us that it takes over your life. The man is getting stuck doing a lot of the work, he complains, but I think he likes it. And hey, isn't coming up with the ideas/plans/design just as much work? That's how I've fallen asleep for the past year, thinking of what needs to be done and how we're going to accomplish it.

1:17 PM

The Beginning of the Back Room Addition

Posted by Terri |

I was so excited. All I wanted for Mother's Day was to start ripping apart the inside of our addition. We recently had the roof done. There were 2 skylights and a fireplace vent sticking out of the roof and I recently got them all removed and roofed over. The skylights had been leaking for years. I'm not even joking. We've owned the house for 10 years and its leaked all that time, and I know that it leaked a ton before because the flooring underneath was ruined before we temporarily (7 years temporarily) replaced it.

So, the roof was redone and they didn't do that great of a job; you can see an indent where the skylights were and some of the shingles are lifted. It's not leaking though and there may be a chance we have to take up some of it anyway because of what we found when we pulled away the drywall.

Now, I know that letting things continue to leak can create horrible issues in any house and, yes, we should have dealt with this years ago - but I was rooting for ripping the whole thing down and rebuilding it. This might actually be the cheaper option in the long run, but right now we're here, I've given into not ripping it down and just fixing as we go. Because "everything can be fixed" as the man likes to say.

Outside the addition at the back of the house

Fireplace Room: The view from inside the house looking out

Fireplace Room: The view from the fireplace outward
The addition is one long building, about 11 feet deep and 20-something feet long, divided in the middle with a 2 piece bathroom. We used one room as the 'fireplace room'. It had a gas fireplace, futon and books in it. The other room was the 'office' with all of our computers and rubble that goes along with computers - desks, printers, scanners, parts in general...and anything else that we could shove in the room.

The plan is to gut the whole addition, take out the bathroom and everything and move the bathroom to a far wall so that we then have one big room; a rec room and a bathroom with a shower, instead of two random rooms and a piddly bathroom.

The other day, we had emptied the fireplace room of all our stuff and it was now time to take it apart. Now, remember it had been leaking for years, and the skylight in the fireplace room was the worst.

This is what it looked like before
And here is what was hidden underneath.

I had gone out for a few hours while he was taking the drywall out, so I missed the roiling, seething mass of carpenter ants that I'm told were nesting underneath. Supposedly there were thousands.

The carpenter ants chewed through the header
A little closer look...
It's a little bigger than just ants and rot. Mice lived in the corner above the fireplace (I always said I heard rustling, but I thought it was bats.) and they've shit and peed in there. We're pretty sure some of the wet looking wood in the corner is from their pee. Yuck.

The rot continues.
You can see how the roofers filled in the skylight
We wanted to try and salvage the ceiling. The man is now taking down some of the tongue and groove ceiling and it's coming down quite nicely - he is a perfectionist and does things well like that, even though we had lots of guys telling us it would just crack and splinter. We were planning on only removing the boards just past the skylights, but he's been chasing ants. They keep crawling further up and he keeps taking down boards...Poor guy. I can't even begin to help, I'm so grossed out.

The corner where the fireplace sat

The fireplace and base are now gone and the previous parquet flooring is visible.
Other fun surprises that we've discovered is that the whole addition has about 6-8 inches clearance from the ground, that it's being held up by bricks, blocks and rocks and that the insulation that is under the floor either has wood or chicken wire holding it up and that the chicken wire section is saggy. No wonder it was so cold back there. We're leaving the rocks/bricks/blocks - it's been that way for probably 30 or more years and it's settled. Plus we don't really have money for the foundation.

It's been a mixed bag of feelings - excitement that it's getting started, grossed out by ants and mice in the house, disappointment at how much it will cost/time it will take to fix the rot, but happiness that the tongue and groove is coming down so easily.

Well, it's just the start and I'm sure we'll find more pleasant surprises. Wish us luck.

7:28 PM

Crazy Lamppu (that's Finnish)

Posted by Terri |

I have a thing for lamps. Drives the man nuts. The crazier they are, the more I love them. I like their curves and different looks. I like how they're unique, you can't just go to the store and pick one up. Well, you can when it's St.Vinnies or Value Village.

Here's one lamp that I found last year.


I took it apart and spray painted the gold accents black. I added a white shade and added a white drum lampshade. When I get old lamps, I like to redo the electrical. Don't feel like having a fire in my house because of some old lamp.

So here's the new lamp that I found:


It needs a good scrubbing, I think it was in a smokers house. It looks white in the photos, but it definitely has a yellow tinge in real life. I bought a lampshade for it, Peterborough has no good place to buy shades, so I bought it at Walmart, but I think it doesn't really go well. I'm going to return the shade and I've ordered this shade instead:

White Cotton Drum Cylinder Shade

It's 8x8x11 and I just think that little bit taller and skinnier will look better. I may go to a fabric store and redo the shade, we'll see. The girl doesn't want me to paint the lamp and I kind of wanted to. I really liked what this blogger did to her lamp: Navy Bean Lamp Makeover. I'm kind of torn.

But, the man hates it and that's all that matters ;-)

Subscribe