It’s still winter, but a flurry is upon us.

Hello house, you’ve been mostly good to us this winter, but sadly winter is still here. Lets take some time to update some of your quirks from the winter. But before we do here a video of us having fun:

END PREMATURE INTERMISSION

One cold winter day in December, we tried to open one of your windows and you decided, “NO, I’M COLD AND I WON’T OPEN”. We had a fight, then you decided to fight back. You won.

There's your problem.

There’s your problem.

Then a few days later you decided to unleash an attack! Holy hell, what have you released on us? We thought it was some sort of Trilobite, and I suppose we weren’t too far off but they are actually Armadillidiidae or Pillbugs. Harmless, but girls don’t seem to like you. Apparently they are due to moisture. Greeeeat. Thanks house, you win again.

pillbugs

We’re under attack! Trilobite? No, Pillbug.

Two hard hit points against us, so we decided to fight back with an old errand. PAINT! We finally tackled the living room and boot room / bedroom numero three. It’s all fresh up in there now. Point home owners.

Painted

Take that living room!

 

We don’t know what you did to the neighbour, but apparently you won some sort of war with them. POOF!  It seems like you managed to destroy an old foe. House gone, and a few weeks later, new one under construction.  Hopefully it’s nicer and you two can be friends. We both won on this round. Points for everyone!

next-door

Oh, hello neighbour.

What’s this, moisture?! Hells yes, found you. I don’t know how we didn’t notice this earlier, but in the basement where the old stairwell was we found some old wood embedded in the concrete. It was disgusting, and there were lots of Pillbugs loving it up. Goodbye! Oh wait, crap there’s mould around here too. Well then, say hello to our friend Mr.Bleach. Hrm, say hello again! There we go, wood, moisture, and mould all gone. Thank you.

rotting-wood

YUM! Rotting wood tasty delicious.

holes

Three holes – all cleaned up.

Just to make sure Mr.Moisture doesn’t come back to haunt us, we decided to take on the task of cleaning you up, and plugging the problem. For some reason you had some bizarre plaster on the floor which took quite the hammering to remove. We then mixed up some Bonded Topping Mix and applied. We thought we would have lots of concrete left to do the entire section, but we weren’t even close after filling up the holes – we’d need two to three more bags at least (18kg each). We’ll see how this settles out and potentially get some more. For now, problem solved! Home owners score another point. Three all?

Floor

Scraped, cleaned and plugged.

We bought a new couch for the living room to match our new paint job. House, you are now more comfortable. The couch is built in Montreal and fairly modern. We struggled with potentially going leather but ended up with cloth.

Couch

Comfy couch mark II.

 So there you have it, a flurry of updates. The house fought with us a few times, but we managed to rise against. The one thing you’ll have noticed is that we haven’t fixed the window. We’re renovating the upstairs bathroom next, and during that process we’ll be replacing two windows. We’re super stoked to get that done, and look forward to updating you on the new upstairs wonder.

…bonus video of what it’s like to commute to bike to work in winter:

Update the outdoors

Over the past month it’s been a slow and steady attack on our outdoor space. We have weeds with trees for root systems, and ants have set up major camp in 3 select zones. Here are some photos from the past month….

The fire-pit, eg: ant hill

We decided to take this old fire pit out. Not only was it a breading ground for ants, but it was located right underneath a tree. Um. No. BYE! Three out of the four concrete slabs were busted and throw away. Anyone want some old firepit blocks?

Ants, lots and lots of ants.

This was back in April. We then added a bunch of compost, mulch, and a crap-load of grass seed. I’ve been watering this almost daily since. Check it out:

April 29 - Filled, water, water, water

May 19th - I was losing hope the first few weeks

May 27th - whoa, grass?

During this time we also de-thatched the front and back yard. This was painful and took a long time. We could not believe how much stuff came out of the grass. After we were done, we over seeded and have been de-weeding almost every day for the past month. ZOMGs.

Thatch it up.

Most recently we edged the entire front of the house. This was amazing. There was at least 3 inches of overgrowth on each side of the walk way and sidewalks. The grass and earth was a good few inches deep ON CONCRETE! I’m amazed by the simplest of things lately. Good times.

After completing this, we realized that the front beds of our home were covered in overgrowth and crab grass. OUT! We tore it all up, cleaned it, and relined it landscaping fabric. Bonus, mulch at the depot was on sale (2 for 1). We bought a few wagon loads.

Cleanup

Halfway done.

Done and done. Bee-right!

Next week we’ll finish the east side of the house, until then here’s a photo of our bunny – Stew.

Stew - The rabbit

Spring means renovate

Whoa. Been dead around here. It seems that since the end of October not much has happened – well at least not a tonne worth writing about. I suppose you could say we went into renovation blogging hibernation.

The past couple of months we’ve finished up a few things around the house, including painting the five doors that we hung ages ago, stripping and repainting the basement bathroom, framing two windows, installed two new outdoor lights, new mailbox, new house numbers, new blinds and got a decorative outdoor plant. Pam also managed to dispose of around 58 litres of paint at the firehall (leftovers from the previous owners), and another 5 bags of pinecones (which is turning out to be a monthly task).

The bathroom touchup started innocently enough. The way the shower is currently installed is um, not right. The water hits the paint on the concrete wall, and then pools on the ridge between the wall and the tile. Guess what happens? Mould. Thus, one day Pam got fed up pulled up the caulk that was mouldy, along with half the walls paint (which had mould underneath). Mmmmm. Lots of stripping, bleaching, sanding, and more bleaching later, we could reapply a new water tight coat of paint. We applied an oil based paint (goddamn that stuff stinks) for the areas that are in contact with water, and latex everywhere else. We painted the steel frame that holds the shower curtain with some white Tremclad (metal paint). Lastly, we removed all the old fixtures, including the mirrors (they were all rusting).

Bathroom before

This renovation is “temporary” as we plan on gutting this bathroom and doing things properly. Having water touch a wall seems kinda wrong. Also, see that far wall in the photograph above – there’s a FREAKING WINDOW behind there. WOOT! That was a wicked surprise. Can’t wait to knock down this facade  and open a window.

Bathroom after - Operation peel the banana part 2?

Moving onto the windows. Back when we moved in and decided to start painting (2 days after taking possession), we ripped off the baseboards around the floors and windows. Somehow we’ve managed to leave the windows frameless for 9 months – quite the eyesore. Having found a sale on 10 x 8′ baseboards at HomeDepot, and purchasing a 12″ finishing blade for the mitre saw we got the job done. Lots of measuring, 45s, measuring some more, and nail gunning.

We also got seven sets of blinds which puts a nice finished look the house – not to mention privacy from some of our neighbours.

Frameless to Framed with blinds

 

Bedroom window

We replaced the old outdoor lights with motion sensitive energy efficient ones. We tested these right after earth hour (which apparently Calgary didn’t bother partaking in), and noticed how much brighter our walk way is now. Win.

New outdoor lights

This weekend we did some cosmetic changes to the front of the house. We removed the mailbox – which was nailed to one of our trees, and installed a new one (found on sale for $15 @ Urbanbarn) directly to the house. Pam found new nickle house numbers (Amazon), and a planter from Sunnyside. The hardest part about this project was using the hammer drill through the rock & glass stucco. Marking where to drill was easy, but making the drill go there was uber challenging since there are no flat surfaces. I’d say the numbers are “mostly” straight.

Front entrance upgrades

 

Nuthatch in the bird feeder

Oh, and we got a bird feeder, which has been surprisingly entertaining. We’ve had a mix of Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Sparrows come by. There are also a few woodpeckers floating around which is pretty awesome as we didn’t realize Calgary had any. We also have a bunny which has taken up residence under our deck all winter, and is currently hanging out in our back yard.

There is a lot of nature in our new neighbourhood and we love it.

 

Garbage out, new doors in.

A fair bit has happened since we last posted, however this weekend we returned to renos and went full force. Twitter has been great for filling in the gaps, so if you’re curious feel free to follow us there.

Firstly, we had a craptacular amount of refuse sitting in our backlane. Most of this was due to our four week escapade on our deck. We also had a bunch of left over “treats” from the previous owner that was crowding the garage. We rented a bin, bought a sledge hammer (for the leftovers) and went on a destruction/cleanup rampage. All told this took us about 3 hours on Saturday morning.

Pre & Post refuse pile

Pre & Post refuse pile

As a side note, wielding a sledge hammer and smashing things to bits is sincerely one of the most gratifying things I’ve done since we moved in.

Just after we finished up, we got a call from the furniture store to let us know that our chairs arrived. Cleaned up, drove down and picked them up. Sweet.

New dinning room chairs

Later that day we ended up at Tims Reusables in the search of new interior doors (since Pam had ripped down the existing doors in the first week of ownership). Luckily we found 4 doors that fit the bill. They were brand new and still in cellophane – total cost $180. Two problems though: 1 they didn’t quite fit in the wagon, and 2 they are about 3-4 inches too tall (apparently this is normal). Solution 1: tie down the tailgate. Solution 2: buy new tools!

I love buying new tools.

I had to get a newer circular saw (got a Makita), since our garage sale special didn’t exactly cut straight lines (good for the deck, not so much for doors). I also got a 60 tooth finishing blade to make sure the cuts would be smooth. Also got some door hardware (hinges, screws, template kit), as well as some wood chisels and some work horses. This was all post watching this helpful video from Lowes:

I managed to test this out on a scrap door that Tim gave me for free so I could practice. While doing this I realized that my 10 year old cordless drill was um… not good enough to cut door handle holes. Sooo… NEW DRILL FOR DAVID! Woooooo. Yeah, I splurged and got a cordless Milwaukee that doubles up as a hammer drill (figured since we bought a concrete bunker this might come in handy). The new drill cut in the holes like it was butter.

Husky clamp cutting guide

Also, I need to reference the single most wicked tool that helped me cut a dead straight door. The Husky clamp cutting guide. I don’t care what the reviews on home depot say – this thing is pimp. Adjust it for the width of the circular saw, make sure it’s straight, clamp it down, cut door, celebrate.

Three hours later this happened:

New door!

New hinges, new striker, new handles, and yes, a new door. To be honest I was a little surprised that it fit, but it does! Heck, it even locks – ooooh the luxury. The only thing it needs now is a lick of paint (it’s currently only primed). Next weekend perhaps. Crap, we still have three more of these to do.

The hardest thing about this project was all the measuring, remeasuring and then chiselling out the wood for the hinges. That’s kinda nerve wracking. Otherwise this is fairly straight forward, you just really need to take your time.

Well that’s about it for this weekend. Obviously there’s more to do next!

Oh, and our new roof got installed a few weeks ago. YAY!

New roof!

…There’s something weird yet incredibly awesome about being on your own roof. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

 

Quality over quantity

Ok, so it’s been a month since the last home update. We kinda burnt out from renos, sue us.

Well not entirely, we’ve been doing a bunch of little things, but decided to try and focus a bit on enjoying what has been left of summer. So what did we do? We took up Golf! Kinda weird if you know us well enough, but there’s a golf course (the one in North Glenmore Park is called – Lakeview) within walking distance from our new house so we figured we should give it a shot.  We’re now hooked.

Pam at the range

As for actual house stuff, we’ve finished up a few things, and queued up a bunch more. Firstly the stairs on the deck are done, and installed. Sounds easy, but HEY try installing stairs at 45 degrees! It’s trickier than you’d think at first glance, since as you move each board across you start loosing length on one side. Thus at the top of the stairs you have lots of excess vs directly below you are right at the limit of screwing in a board. Rocket science at it’s finest.

Stair it up

Installed!

Otherwise we’ve poked around at our electrical situation, and had some quotes come in for that work. We’ve also recently discovered a plumbing surprise behind the hutch in our kitchen.

Cabinet surprise...

This is far from cool, and let me explain why. On the left you see is the sewer exhaust connection, and it takes a sharp turn right into the wall (which is concrete). Also on that same pipe there was an old pipe just open (now filled with a rag – for now). The second I pulled off the cabinet door it stunk something fierce. This alone is sucky, but not the end of the world. Now moving right you’ll see the black pipe which is the sink drain and has FIVE 45 degree bends in it. No wonder the water drains so slowly. Also you’ll notice on the right two small pipes for hot and cold water. Again, all this is bored through the concrete wall to the bathroom. What’s even more upsetting here is that the emergency water shut off valves are behind this screwed in (ie: you need a screwdriver) panel. Lastly, there is a random outlet just sitting on the floor in behind here as well.

Let me sum up our feelings about this.

@!@)(!$&%.

Oh well. We’ll get around to fixing this at some point, just toss another job on the fire.

Speaking of fire! While we were traveling through BC we saw the biggest fire (controlled thankfully) that we’ve ever seen.

Fire in Yoho National Park

That’s all for now since it’s suppose to be in the high 20’s this weekend. I think we’ll go Golfing. 🙂 Oh and Wednesday we get a new roof.

This goddamn deck

Ok, this has officially taken way longer than planned.

Another weekend almost entirely dedicated to refinishing this bad boy, and I think I can finally say we’re close. CLOSE!

Before - facing east

Before - facing west

Staining - stairs

Almost @#*()$@ done

Done? Facing east

So yeah. Holy shiz. This project has tested our patience. Before staining I measured this beast, and it clocked in just shy of 600sqf. So awesome, but goddamn, so much work. Three weekends in, and we’re almost done.

What’s left?

  • Railings
  • Stairs (started, not finished)
  • Touching up the staining
  • Touching up the opaque staining
  • Deck / house warming party (shit yes)

How to fix a deck

Step 1. Buy lots of saws.

Step 2. Buy lots of wood.

Step 3. Look around in confusion on how you’re going to bring this stuff home.

Step 4. PROFIT! No wait… Get to work.

Regarding Step 3, we ended up renting a van from Home Depot ($19.99 for 1.5 hours). This was after serious contemplation of strong-arming-mattress-transport-style on the roof of our wagon. Less drama this way. Hope we bought enough wood!

Got wood.

A few other supplies were required for this adventure – some we had already and some we needed to buy.

Dewalt 12" Compound miter saw - Pam found via Kijiji

After cleaning up from last weekend, we managed to get everything ready to replace some of the boards. I think we had about 15 or so sections that needed replacing. But then we discovered carpenter ants, and realized we actually needed to change more. Fun.

Home mark II - Carpenter Ants

Mmmm...wood?

Bye bye stairs

Replacement blitz

 

Overall this process went pretty fast. 45 degree cut here, -45 degree cut there, a bit of screaming and done. The only though bits were taking out pieces in the middle of sections. Of which I figured I’d share a small video of the process.

 

For those that hate video, here’s a list:

  1. Mark the section you want to remove – I like to cut after a joist vs in the middle.
  2. Make a first cut with a circular saw or jig saw (I tried jig,then discovered circular was faster and straighter)
  3. Finish the cut with a sawzall – screaming might work here but is untested.
  4. Make sure your cut is as close to the joist as possible – sanding or jigging imperfections worked for me.
  5. Add a under piece of wood attached to the joist, pre-screw the wood for easier installation.
  6. and finally add in your replacement board. DONE!
Speaking of which. We’re almost done. Next up, staining, maybe some railings and or seating. 🙂

 

No more holes!

 

 

Weekend update…funny how all updates are on weekends…

Since moving into the house we’ve had an unprecedented amount of friends/family come by. This weekend was no exception. So outside of hosting a few dinner parties, and lighting up the fire pit for the first time, we managed a few more renos.

In no particular order:

 

TOTO - Drake

  • Purchased two new TOTO toilets (thanks to Pam’s sister (Andrea) for the hookup). Apparently these can flush 2lbs of operation brown at a time. Might install these bad boys next weekend.
  • Moved two new offices chairs from my new office to our home office (yay for seating!)
  • Moved a bunch of our boxes and clutter from the front entry way to more suitable locations in the house.
  • NEW TOOL! A Ridged Belt Sander. Whee. It was on sale at Home Depot for $99.
  • Took down the old kitchen on the deck
  • Kicked down all the outdoor seating on the deck (I had to unscrew first, but the wood was rotting)
  • Used Steve’s sawzall to take down the deck fencing. Both metal and wood blades were used in full effect.
  • Chemically treated and sanded the entire deck.
  • Borrowed a pressure washer (Thanks Keith!)
Regarding the deck. OMG. This is proving to be an epic task. Most of the wood is in decent shape, however there are large sections that have multiple layers of blue paint, and the majority has grayed as well.

 

Friends (Joan & Lawrence) suggested using some chemical cleaner / bleacher to treat and restore the decking. A few hours later a few gallons of crazy chemicals from Benjamin Moore were purchased and the deck was under restoration.

It um... went late.

Chemicals kinda worked. To be honest, we didn’t feel all that great about using chemicals, but they did help. We did decide to finish the job the old fashion way and “sand the shit” out of this thing. We ended up renting a 16″ industrial deck sander from the despot. It also kinda worked. Pam went to town with the behemoth, I manned the new belt sander with some 40 grit. We um, made progress.

What I’m getting at here is that, refinishing this deck is proving to be a LOT harder than we thought. If you’ve had experience refinishing a deck we’d love to hear from you. There’s still a fair bit of paint, and the boards are uneven, so sanding is taking a while. Getting there.

MORE PICTURES PLEASE!

Pre chemicals - post belt grinding

Chemicals burn - the excess drips really pop

Post Karate kid

 

Sanding mostly complete, rinsing time...

Since we’ve run out of time THIS weekend, we’ll have to save part 2+ for next weekend. Pam is currently investigating tempered glass railing, along with some deck seating framing thingers. Will that get done? Dunno, there’s still some paint to tackle.

…and we need some new 2×6’s for some of the rotten wood pieces (Keith managed to partly fall through a board, and then that section later swallowed up Pam’s leg!). Hmm… I guess I better hurry up and get that Miter saw. 😉

Operation peel the banana

A small myriad of events have gone down since the last post. For starters we’re finally all moved in and living in one location exclusively – a massive stress relief. Also the sewer line has been fixed, but that post needs to wait for another day as I’m still tabulating the facts and editing some video. But if you are dying to know, you can see this twitpic. Oh! I finally got around to installing the washer and dryer and ClearView came back to install a PRV to tone down the insane water pressure. Phew.

New washer and dryer are finally installed

In other news, we’ve also started our own twitter account (@NorthGlenmore) for more frequent updates. Follow away. 🙂

The long weekend has proven fruitful in getting a jump on things around the house again. As and added bonus our good friends Jaymi & Jason came all the way out from Kamloops (BC) to help us. Upon their arrival they noticed how long our grass was, and decided we needed to buy a lawn mower (um, yes). We got a Honda. We also got a weedwacker. Getting lost in the waist height grass is finito!

Take that grass!

Cutting to the chase we painted almost the entire basement. Goddamn these guys are troopers. Downstairs bedroom plus the ceiling, downstairs hallway, concrete wall, and the entire open lounge area. Total time with four people? Seven hours. Not including two meals, beers, and wine.

Jaymi and Jason givin'r

 

Smile! You've been puttied.

Smile! You've been puttied.

Speaking of paint, we went with Benjamin Moore for the entire house. I’m sharing this since it has been a massive time saver and looks great. The paint we chose has primer IN the paint formula, thus most walls only needed two coats. A bit more expensive, but if you’re savvy you can save a few bucks when buying in bulk (we prepaid for 10 gallons).

Bedroom complete

Late night living space

Banana = peeled. HUGE thanks to Jaymi and Jason. You guys are awesome.

The next day we took care of some more yard work. Pam mowed, I killed the excessive growth. Using small engines to tame overgrowth is surprisingly satisfying. Taking down the entire back lane plus the entrance to our garage blew through half a tank of gas. I also took down an anthill. Those suckers are everywhere!

…While doing this post Pam just took down painting the rest of the upstairs hallway, I better go help!

HVAC – Hot water & Hot Air

When we bought this bungalow we knew that the heart of the home had some issues. This is the first of three major updates/upgrades (can you call changing the HVAC a renovation? Maybe.). We put out three quotes to get work done, and we finally settled in using ClearView.

Brenda (from ClearView) came and did an in-depth inspection of our home the second day we had the keys (along with everyone else really). She spent well over an hour planning out the renovation (I’m gonna call it that, and I’m fine with it). Friendly, informative and put together a compelling quote for all the work we needed done. New furnace, hot water tank, new ducting…who am I kidding, here’s the list:

  • Furnace: York (98% efficient – apparently our 50 year old furnace would have been around 50% efficient)
  • Rheem 40 Gallon Hot water tank
  • Eco Airflow dynamo filtration system (great for allergens, dust, and gross stuff)
  • New thermostat
  • Two carbon monoxide alarms
  • Re-duct and add airflows (more on this later)
  • 4 new holes in the concrete to vent and bring systems up to code
  • Vent outside the deck vs right under it
  • Re-vent the stove outside (versus to just the basement – whaaa?)
  • Chimney liner
  • Permits, licenses, inspections
  • New water pressure regular valve (our pressure here is 110psi – normal should be 65-75 apparently)
  • General basement plumbing fixes (a few things seep and leak)

I think that’s it. It took two guys two days to complete.

(Old vs New)

 

(Four new holes in the foundation – courtesy of ABC Coring)

(Installed!)

(Insulated under the deck & new exhausts)

(Peaking out from the deck)

Overall I’m very pleased at how things turned out. The guys from ClearView seemingly did a great job getting everything as they said it would and got it all done when they said they’d do it. Hurray! The only downside to this recent venture was that we discovered a bit more concrete than expected. Thus we couldn’t add as many hot & cold air returns.

ClearView is coming back on Saturday to reline our sewer main. That um… should be interesting.

In the meantime I’m going to go cross off a bunch of Todo list items. 🙂