There’s Compensation, and Then There’s Appreciation.

We have progress people! It’s been a busy month. The morning that the men and equipment rolled in to dig the hole was certainly an exciting one.

I couldn’t help but think it marked the beginning of a relationship; I got up early, made sure I was dressed and had a full face of makeup, not to mention an enormous smile when they came to the door.

Some of us, weren’t as enthusiastic.

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This is Second Born Son inside the house, while THIS…

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Was going on outside. While I was dancing around greeting every trade who stepped on the property, SBS was ready to pack his Chicken Little suitcase and head out for the duration of the reno. We have convinced him to stick around under the condition that he doesn’t have to talk to anyone in the mornings.

Things are progressing nicely. We’ve removed the kitchen cupboards and the flooring.

<PAUSE> Don’t you think we should have a moment of silence for the flooring?

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Me neither. <PLAY>

We gave relocated the kitchen to the laundry room and the upstairs fridge is now in the living room. What this lacks in aesthetic, more than makes up for in convenience. I’ve grabbed two fudgesicles since I started writing this post.

The Big Guy has become quite fond of the new dining arrangement. He feels the convenience of having a laundry room, office and kitchen all in one space is worth considering. I suggested that he can continue to have his meals in this room, but I will be moving into the new and improved kitchen when it is complete.

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I gotta say, it’s nice to stand in the middle of the room and plan entire meal without cumbersome cupboards getting in the way.

During our first meal at our new “dining room table”, we remarked at how agreeable and helpful all of the trades have been, especially our general contractor. This man is a Craftsman. His work site is clean every day. He is a top notch communicator – texting and calling on a regular basis so there are no surprises. He uses common sense, which, I think we can all agree, isn’t so common any more. He thinks outside of the box and comes up with some pretty great ideas, and doesn’t flinch at my nutty suggestions. I make impossible requests and he goes above and beyond.

In the weeks leading up to the project, I stock piled baking because I knew my kitchen would be out of commission for a while. Also, I wanted to have some snacks here for the crew. Last week, thanks to the heat, I switched it up from cookies and muffins to freezies, ice cubes and fudgesicles.

Our Craftsman expressed thanks, pointing out these gestures were not necessary. After all, we did sign a contract agreeing to pay for his services, he pointed out.

“Hey, there’s compensation, and then there’s appreciation,” I replied. He’s making our house into the home we have been waiting for, for a very long time.

I’m keeping in all the freezies he needs!

 

 

 

 

The Magic Number

Some clever bloke said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The same could be said about this renovation. While the concept of the addition/reno has been kicking around pretty much since we moved in eight years ago, the first step was last fall when I put pencil to paper and drafted the very rough sketch of what we/I envisioned; a larger space that would allow us to accurate our growing family and give us the sight lines to the back of the property that we desired.

The rudimentary drawing was then taken to a professional who made accurate renderings. The tweaked the aspects of my drawing that were impossible (a window underground anyone?) and ensured the dream we dreamed was possible within the building code.

Once we had the blueprints, it was time to get prices to see if it was even financially feasible. Off to find general contractors to quote on the project. We held off until January because, you know, Christmas.

With a sense of anticipate that can only come with a New Year and a completely unrealistic expectation of what is possible, we started booking appointments with contractors.

The Good News: We had interest from general contractors.

The Bad News: They promised to get us pricing, AFTER they took off the month of February.

Yes, February is not a good month to pin down quotes. We are learning many things with this process, but the first, and biggest lesson so far has been this…

  1. THOU SHALL NOT EXPECT ANYTHING FROM A CONTRACTOR IN THE SECOND MONTH OF THE YEAR. FEBRUARY IS SACRED AND CUSTOMERS SHALL NOT BUT KEEP IT HOLY.

Finally we heard back from the contractors and they were asking bizarre questions like; “How much do you want us to allot for the kitchen?”

Whoa! This is a chicken-egg situation here. Do you set a budget when you don’t know how much you can afford? Or do you figure out what you can afford then set the budget?

We headed out on a Saturday with kitchen manufacturers. We were beginning to notice a disturbing pattern.

Admiring a granite countertop that we were interested in: $5,000.

Upgrades from the “standard” kitchen display: $5,000.

Sinks and taps combos: $5,000.

Appliances: $5,000.

Whaaaaaat? DA HECK?! We are tossing around 5K like it’s $20 bills! Yikes.

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Now, I realize that we are used to cupboards of cardboard construction, however, we don’t want to go economy on this project. That being said, we don’t want to have to sell a kidney to afford this either.

We’re not sure either of us has a kidney worth $5,000.

The quotes finally come in. Like the Three Bears, we had a price that was too high, a price that was too low (yes, it’s possible), and one that was just right! Fortunately, the “winner” is also a great guy. I think we’ll be able to work well with him and he’s already come through with some great ideas.

It’s the end of April at this point.

With this crucial part of the process locked in, we started looking around and realized, we have a TON of work to do before the first week of June target for the project to start. We have rooms to pack, a deck to remove, bricks to take off and plants to transplant.

This is when Mother Nature joins the party.

She shows up uninvited the second last weekend in April and brings with it a snow storm the likes of which none of us can remember happening in Spring.

Then there was the windstorm the first weekend of May.

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This brute brought winds up to 110 km/hr. The barbecue was tossed across the lawn, but, for some reason, the deck was unfazed – which is remarkable, because when we finally removed it last weekend, we learned that the deck wasn’t actually attached to the house. It was more or less sitting on a header which was supported from the ground by vertical posts that were rotten at ground level.

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See something off with this photo? I’m sure the perpendicular support REALLY helped the deck.

Yup – whether or not we did this project, that deck was a death trap.

So – here’s where we stand for those of you keeping score at home:

  1. no deck
  2. ripped apart dining room
  3. half packed kitchen
  4. no flooring in the living room.

Thank goodness we have a long weekend coming up, because the next item on the “to do” list is the brick removal. If you don’t hear from me in a week – send out the rescue team!

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Where to Start?

I realize it has been far too long. There’s been a lot of “stuff” going on. For a while, I wasn’t sure how things were going to shake out, therefore – radio silence.

When we bought this house, we knew it would need work. It was built in 1980 and had not had a lot of love or updating since.

The day we moved in, we stored all of our belongings in the garage and set up the boys’ rooms. We then set to work on ripping out all of the shag carpet and wall to wall curtains that were left behind by the previous owners. Flooring was replaced in the living room and dining room. We put new flooring in the boys’ rooms shortly thereafter.

Within the next few years, we replaced windows, blew in more insulation, updated the landscaping, replaced the pump in the well, put a new metal roof on it and painted every room except the laundry room. The only two spaces that were untouched was the Rec Room and the kitchen.

The Rec Room is a total throwback to the 80s: shag carpet, large stone fireplace, wood paneling for DAYS. Without a doubt, the highlight would be the disco lights.

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Yes, this is a DIY special. Tin foil and Christmas lights. Also, enough custom shelving to fit every cd, dvd and vhs we’ve ever owned. Yes, someone had A LOT of spare time.

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There’s enough stone here for the foundation of an entire house!

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We decided early on to leave the Rec Room as it was. To be truthful, it would be hard to start in this room and not stop. Do you rip out the carpet but leave the paneling? Paint the stone fireplace but tolerate the teeny tiny custom shelving??

We weren’t going to tackle the Rec Room any time soon.

The kitchen. Ah, the kitchen. When we viewed the property before we bought it, there were so many patterns going on, it was almost seizure inducing. It started with the floor.

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Would you believe me if I told you I tried to square up this photo but the room started spinning?

The cupboards were poor quality and the laminate countertops were a lovely shade of regurgitated butterscotch pudding. The only saving grace was the tiled backsplash which was SO old, that it was actually back in style again.

We lost two of our very limited cupboards when we installed a dishwasher. The shelves were starting to submit to gravity. There were several days when I thought I’d come home to our food vessels shattered into pieces on the floor.

Well folks, the time has come. We are doing a renovation/addition that will see the kitchen expanded and the dining room more than doubled. We are putting an extra bedroom and bathroom in the basement, along with an office. It’s going to be big project and we were so excited about this that Second Born Son couldn’t wait to start Demo Day!

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Within minutes these two had pulled down all the railings, the skirting and one of the stairways!

At this rate of going, we’ll have this addition done in a week!

Note: thinking of posting a couple of videos to really show the progression. You can advise when you overdose!

 

 

Bathroom Part II

I believe that your relationship will survive anything, if it can survive a renovation.

I say this with ample experience. We had a massive renovation/addition at our previous home that involved our back entrance, master bedroom, kitchen and adding an ensuite. That was almost 15 years ago! Things are looking good for us!

While you “lived” through our emergency bathroom reno from last year, I’m thrilled to let you know that, yes gentle reader, we hate ourselves enough to subject our marriage and family to ANOTHER bathroom renovation. Thank Sweet Baby Jesus that there are only two bathrooms in this house.

Mercifully, there is no dire, structural emergency prompting this reno. Thanks also to the experience (also known as “character building”) of the first bathroom, we are far more prepared for the cost. This time, we are PREPARED!

So let’s start at the beginning…

SHOWER

This is the “shower”, which is only 3/4 of a standard shower, made more difficult to access by the dumbass door which only allows you a foot and a half to squeeze through. The Big Guy and First Born Son took to this bathroom when we moved in, which makes ZERO sense because neither of them can fit under the door frame never mind the shower head. Since the last reno made the upstairs bathroom too “nice”, Second Born Son has taken to showering down here too. Again, at 6’2 this is not logical. ANYWAYS!

TUB

To the right of the door is the Jacuzzi tub. Yes folks Jacuzzi – trademarked and everything. I’m pretty sure this was the first generation, if not the prototype. I tried using it once, and dared not to activate the jets as a quick pre-soak inspection told me everything I needed to know about the condition of the calcified tube work. We were also fairly suspect of the condition of the wiring for the motor after 30+ years.

I’m going to assume you judged me for my poor choice of wall color, but that’s ok, because now you can see there isn’t much you can do with calf-scour brown tiles. Yes, those ARE the same tiles from the upstairs reno. So observant you are! Gold star! 1-inch tile was all the rage in 1983.

You might think the tiles are my favorite feature of this area, and I would say “No, good sir, you are mistaken!” It’s the du-lux hand-held shower modification. It ALWAYS leaked and because a Jacuzzi is not designed to be “shower tub”, water that didn’t hit directly dead centre of the tub, and ended up on the top of the tub, and was instantly redirected around the walls of the enclosure to the floor. Basically, if you tried to bathe in this beast, you’d have a flood on your hands or a fire. Good times.

CLOSET

Here you get a much better angle of the aforementioned shower basterdization modification. You will also see the staining in the tub. Did I mention we have crappy water? Fear not, we spent a small fortune on that too. Nothing like investing in new bathrooms and having them look like century-farm indoor plumbing within a year!

Here you can appreciate how the owner/builders maximized the use of space. Not only did they have a shower installed that could only fit adolescent girls, but they also crammed the world’s smallest linen closet. As we were going to update our doors, TBG pulled this one off as well, only to find out YOU CAN’T ORDER DOORS THIS SMALL ANYMORE. Son of a Doorknob! Yes, I did suggest he go back to the repurpose area of the landfill to reclaim the old door. No, he did not do it. I’m hitting Pinterest hard for a solution. I’m open to suggestions y’all!

SINK TOILET

This is the image that gives me nightmares. We have removed the toilet already, to protect the more sensitive readers amongst you. What remains is what a raw plaster wall looks like when you don’t paint before the plumber comes…30 years later, that is. The shower is to the right of the sink. Not a big room, but a main one as this is the one our guests tend to use. That’s right, we allowed friends and extended family to use this space looking the way it did. Hey, we don’t discriminate!

It was right about this time when I came with an idea! “I’ve got an idea” no longer fills TBG’s heart full of fear, but rather a knowing dread that this “idea” is going to involve him. And perhaps some money.

Originally we were going to close in the dinky shower and use it for a closet, but then I thought, “Why waste the storage space in the bathroom?” While the shower was tiny in its current form, it would make a great pantry for the kitchen which is across from the outer wall!!

Thankfully TBG agreed and made it so.

SIDE BY SIDE

Apparently I like plaster dust throughout my house, because let me tell you, this did it! The attempt at tarping you see in the image on the right was noble, but not as effective as one would hope. Therefore, I’ve suspended any house cleaning until this project is complete. It’s been a month with no end in sight. Don’t drop by, we are days away from being condemned for being a public safety hazard.

DOORWAY

Here he is. The Creator of the dreams I come up with. He spends all his spare time, such as it is, working on this. No comments on the kitchen floor – he doesn’t have time for a kitchen reno right now.

Next year darling???

 

Aren’t You Afraid You Asked?

Welcome to October. You may be saying, “It’s about bloody time! Where have you been?!”

I am fully aware that my last blog post was in August, but folks, there weren’t no way in Tarnation that this girl was going to have the time or brain cells to publish anything cohesive in September.

To be clear, I’m not a huge fan of September. It’s always a rush to get the kids back to school, and although it’s nice to have a change of routine, its usually to a much more hectic routine. Then there’s the weather. Although this September might have been an exception to the rule depending on where you live, it always rains on September 22 where I live. Always. I know this because that is my birthday.  Again, not a fan.

But this particular September was especially chaotic.

First Born Son started his second (and final) year of college.

<PAUSE> Can I just take a moment to say, WHAT THE HOLY HELL HAS HAPPENED HERE? FBS is a CHILD! It’s impossible to think that he’s ready for the “real world” in less than a year. Who determined this? I’d like a review on this decision. I call foul on the play! I APPEAL!! If you are looking at your child right now and he/she is under the age of 10 BE PREPARED. You are going to go to bed one night and wake up with them driving, drinking (not at the same time – he was born with a brain) and ready to cash their first full-time pay cheque! I understand the going to college thing, but the GRADUATING from college? NOT. COOL.

 

PRETTY BOY POUT 1

Yup, I’m going to trot this picture out any time I have a chance!!!

Truly people THIS is what he looked like last week! It’s ok….I’m better now…. <PLAY>

So this kid moved in with three other friends into a brand new apartment complex. It’s nicer than anything he’s ever lived in before. Hell, it’s nicer than anything I’VE ever lived in before, which should set him up nicely for a lifetime of disappointment, frustration and failure knowing his living arrangements peaked at 19 years of age.

Second Born Son is away from home more often than not! A number of school trips for various educational and extra-curricular commitments means that he’s constantly bringing home permission forms and asking for signed cheques! When he’s not broadening his horizons, he’s at work, heading to work, or just coming home from work. No worries here with his work ethic!

At least he’s home on weekends. My niece, MM, moved OUT, as in “has a different permanent address” at the beginning of September. How did Little Sister take this development? Well, that’s a good question. I believe she thinks she packed up her eldest daughter, who is also her co-worker, in a box when she relocated her salon. Yes, moving a business is a huge undertaking, and one that LS knows well. She’s done it twice now. You would think she would have remembered how much it sucked the first time!

Because we Bowery Girl sisters believe in drawing all the B.S. the Universe has to offer, LS also sold her house late this summer. This resulted in a closing date of late September. Great news for her, but it launched a chain reaction of events, as she had an offer in on our parents’ home. This meant my Mom was going to be moving in September too. Sweet Baby Jesus what have we gotten ourselves into here?!? LS was packing her house, packing her work, renovating her new work location, moving her work and then moving her home. Yes, I agree, she DOES hate herself. While we tried to help as much as we could, she still had to live with the day to day of upheaval everywhere she looked in her personal and professional lives. She’s amazing. Or crazy. Or amazingly crazy.

Now moving can be a very emotional experience. Personally, I didn’t find it so hard when I moved from our first house to our current house, but I know my Mother had a lot invested in her home. She helped design it, was the general contractor when it was built, provided countless hours of personal sweat equity and lived there longer than any other home she has resided in. This was going to be tough for her. A saving grace was the fact that LS and her hubby Thing 2 were going to be there so it would be loved and maintained, but I’m sure the first time she walks in and sees painted wood, my mother will have a stroke.

As with any challenge, a job half planned is a job half-assed. No. A job well planned is a job nearly done. No. Well, anyway, we had a strategy which was that we would treat it like a Band-Aid; just rip that puppy off and get it over with all at once. That is, get a truck once, move twice. Yup, we were going to try to move two households in one weekend. I must say I am somewhat disappointed in my circle of friends, none of whom had the nerve to say, “Hey Sarah, you are bat-shit crazy to be part of this.” Nope, they did the equivalent of smile and wave as I marched off into battle.

It didn’t help that I went into the weekend very tired, since my work required that I attend a week-long exhibition that involved standing outdoors in a tent with various lighting and temperature conditions. By the time Friday came, I was most definitely punch-drunk. See what I indicated above about the Universe. Not. Kidding.

As we all know, there are some do’s and don’ts for moving, and while I would think they are universal, apparently some people didn’t get the memo. While most of the moving went smoothly, there are always one or two people that you wish you could choke with their coffee cup or at least ask them to secure child care for their pre-school aged children. It’s never a good thing to roll a piano on a toddler! No, not referring to my nieces and nephew, who works like soldiers the entire weekend.

But I digress.

At the end of the day…er weekend, we had two households in two different households. Mom was fairly settled, while LS has pretty much the next 6 months worth of weekends planned out for her. If she and her hubby aren’t building shelving, they are going to be in the garage sorting the possessions that preceded them in the multiple trips that were made with non-essential items. That’s when she gets over her version of the wicked cold we all developed the day after the move. If the Universe had an arse, I’d be kicking it right about now….

So “in a nutshell”, “alls well that ends well”, or “at the end of the day”, or “we can all look back and laugh” or some other such tie-a-bow-on-it statement we survived, barely.

I jokingly told The Big Guy that since Mom and LS had new homes, it kinda gave me the “new home” real estate itch!

He just started talking to me again yesterday….

 

 

 

Musical Chairs

There’s been a lot of furniture shuffling going on at Boweryville. It started with the fact that Little Sister bought our parents’ home, and our Mother is moving to a new, smaller, lower maintenance abode. This means she has too much furniture.

At the same time, The Big Guy’s aunt is revamping her home, and wanted to move some older family pieces. It’s times like this that I’m glad we have a big house.

Now, some people like buying new, and we do have some newer pieces in our home, but there’s nothing like a well-made piece of furniture that has been used and loved by your ancestors. This first one has a special place in my heart.

Yes, I have two external drives. I'm a pessimist when it comes to technology.

Yes, I have two external drives. I’m a pessimist when it comes to technology.

This desk was where my paternal grandfather conducted his business when he ran a mechanic shop. After that, my father used it. It became the place where I did my homework as a teen and then my father took it back for his office once I was in college. Having it back not only means I get to hold on a piece of history (mine, and my patriarchs) but I also have a decent spot to work on my laptop. It should be noted that most Bowery Girl entries are crafted in the semi-prone position of the couch with my feet elevated. It’s all about blood flow to keep the creativity going folks!

Next were the matched set of wooden plant stands.

Spider plant is VERY happy!

Spider plant is VERY happy!

While one of the planters is rather water damaged, I’m hoping it can be salvaged. These belonged to my maternal grandfather. I don’t have much from that side of the family, so it’s nice to have such a nice pair of pieces.

Then came the pieces from The Big Guy’s aunt.

Table and Buffet

Table and Buffet

This table, matching buffet and four chairs (not shown) were purchased by TBG’s grandparents after they married in the early 1930s. Two of the chairs are gone, but the remaining seats need some TLC and will be as good as new.

2016-08-18 19.28.37Ignore the flooring! The buffet is the perfect height for out TV, has storage for our clutter and fits beautifully with our decor…flooring notwithstanding.  I love the mirrored back.

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I am fascinated by the grain of the table. Although it’s not a collector piece, knowing that TBG’s family had this table for formal events in their dining room, just makes it priceless.

We have been fortunate to have another family piece from TBG’s clan. A small 2x3x4 ft wooden trunk, one of two his ancestors used when relocating their family from Scotland to North America, is being used as our coffee table in our living room. I cannot imagine anyone from this era being able to whittle down their belongings to share one trunk with their kin, so this is truly a conversation piece!

While it may seem sappy, I do feel that we each have a valuable family story. A lot of these stories are lost over time. These pieces are built better than most furniture being sold today, so I have no problem collecting “old” stuff. It will outlast any of my “new” stuff.

Murphy’s Law in Full Effect!

I’m not a tease. I promise.

I will post a photo of the bathroom, once we get it pulled together. In fairness, it was “together” for about 24 hours: everything installed and cleaned. The next morning, I was putting on my war paint, and stepped away from the mirror for a moment when one of the lights above the vanity exploded. As in, I was about 5 seconds from my face – specifically my eye – catching shards of glass shade.

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So after taking the light down, returning it to Home Depot (shout out to Home Depot who handled this promptly with professionalism), getting a new light and just installing it after the ceiling was touched up, we may have it finessed sometime THIS weekend.

But in case you thought we were just loafing about, you should know that we were on to the next project…the roof. This is allegedly where the water issue that surfaced in the bathroom, originated.

The Big Guy and I looked at every option, from asphalt to shakes to metal roofing. We had numerous quotes, and finally decided on a hybrid metal roof (steel, zinc & aluminum). While the investment in the house played a large role, one of the deciding factors in which company to go with, was professionalism. One company’s reps spent more than an hour in our kitchen trashing the competition; even showing us a binder full of photos depicting faulty roofs. The stories were endless. I’m sure he was shocked when we advised him that we would get back in touch; his binder alone should have been a slam-dunk.

The second supplier was much more gentile. He explained how his product worked, why he thought it was the best and how solid their track record was. When I asked him what would happen when/if we had an issue with his product, he gave us a detailed, straightforward answer. We signed with him, after advising him part of the decision was based on his lack of competition bashing. After all, if the only way you can promote your product is to trash someone else’s, you have a problem!

Thankfully, the rep advised that we could have the roof installed within a month. The Big Guy used the fabulous weather last weekend to remove the problematic chimney that was slowly succumbing to gravity.

It was always a contest to see how many brick chips were on the back deck.

It was always a contest to see how many brick chips were on the back deck.

TBG enjoyed this job a little too much, and was impressed to see how the chimney was still standing, given how easy the bricks were chunking off!

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Honestly, with the wind we get up here, it’s a miracle that thing was still standing.

This chimney was for our old oil furnace, which has been updated. Then the conversation turned to the second chimney…

That that one on the left...

That thar one on the left…

It’s connected to the wood fireplace in the basement. During the Furnace Incident of 2012, this was the only way to heat our house. It also proved to be the last time we would use it. Let’s leave it at the entire house was nicely smoked after an hour.

Eventually, we’d like to convert to a gas insert. But, since we’ve already had our visit to Santa Claus the loan officer for this year, the insert will have to wait.

Murphy needs to stay away from this place!