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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It’s all Downhill from Here

I’ve gotta tell you, it’s awesome to hear from people who read The Bowery Girl and ask “So, how’s the reno going?” I can’t say that I thought my mother was the only person reading the blog, as she has yet to succumb to an internet connection, so it’s rewarding to hear from you. Thank you.

Writing about the renovation means I can refrain from losing my MIND over the Jian Gomeshi trail. I am literally taking notes on stuff I want to rant about following the verdict in March. So there you go – mark that on your calendar. Something to look forward to.

As far as answering that reno question, well, it’s going. The Big Guy is an absolute workhorse on this project; after long days at work, he’s putting in late nights on the dry walling in the bathroom and the hallway.

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**Editor’s Note** TBG says he hates it when I post photos of him while he’s working, because he doesn’t like what he’s wearing. I advised him that when I change The Bowery Girl’s direction to a more fashion-forward theme, I’ll let him know. Until then, I’ll continue posting working man shots. Keeping it real here!

I am excited about an unexpected detail – we (I) decided to install transoms above the bathroom and the Master Bedroom doorways. Since the house was built in the early 80s, the only item of architectural interest is seizure inducing flooring. No, I’m not showing you that. You’d have to sign a waiver first.

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I found a local glass installer who had some remnants from his stained glass days and for a sweet price, we were able to get two panels of “Hammered Flemmish” glass. I’m sorry, every time I say that I think of an intoxicated Belgian and it makes me laugh. Originally he had two other samples for me to look at. I had picked one, and was on my way out when I saw this pattern on a larger piece of glass and hit the brakes. He would sell it to me, he said, but cautioned that it was his last piece and if it shattered when he cut, or when TBG installed it, we’d have to look at a new pattern. He’s not getting any more Hammered Flemmish. (Sorry, giggling.)

<PAUSE> If you really want to go down a rabbit hole, look up glass patterns. It will truly devour and afternoon for you. Start with “Pinhead Glass” and we’ll see you sometime next week. You are welcome. <PLAY>

No pressure on TBG when he received the finished pieces. No anxiety when the glass installer cautioned him AGAIN when TBG asked for advice on how to build a custom frame.

But the results are terrific. I knew he could do it!!

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I love how the light throws a pattern onto the ceiling. TBG does his own drywall work, and because we hate ourselves, we’ve incorporated odd angles all over the place. I’d like you to take a moment to appreciate the corners. They are awesome. That is all.

You might say, “Sarah, what are YOU doing to help with this project?” and I would reply, “Gentle Reader, I am FEEDING the man who is doing the work AND keeping his work clothes clean and at the ready.” Then I would add, “I am also the designer/visionist who brings exciting, yet time-consuming and stressful design elements for TBG to execute! I am also the head cheerleader and task master! That’s not NOTHING you know!”

The truth is, TBG is anal-retentive a perfectionist. The only thing I’m allowed to consider helping with is the painting. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to successfully complete a practical exam before I’m allowed to pick up brush on this project.

So, that’s all for now. Drywall is primed and we are looking to paint this week. Then flooring. Then vanity. Then toilet. Then I’m going to have the world’s longest spa day in this bathroom.

After The Big Guy of course!