Looking at drywall compound (again, sigh…)

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Looking at drywall compound (again, sigh…)

Well, it looked like almost everything was done and then this happened….

Ripping out the backsplash. It had to be done….

hmmm… drywall compound as a backsplash?

Its not like we didn’t know, and I know its only a small setback but it has slowed us down somewhat in getting things back to a somewhat normal state around here. Luckily it wasn’t too messy today…

I think the electician will be back to hook up the dining room pendant and exterior light and finish off the rest of his work next week (when he gets back from Disneyworld). And I am getting some wood delivered so I can put up a pergola over the deck just outside the door, where it gets really hot in the sun. I figured, I had pretty much taken out the railing anyway, so I might as well extend the posts up and put in a sun shade. We shall see how that goes!

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It could get messy – again

Well I was right: the second coat of stucco was pretty messy as shown in these photos, but in all honesty, they did come back to put a third base coat down to make sure that they had it all covered properly before they sprayed it.

Basecoat meet house. House meet basecoat

I think all stucco jobs are messy.

Today they sprayed it and it looks really good! Its not quite the stark white that we had originally; its warmer which I like. The coat is nice and even so that part is great. The part which is not so great is that they oversprayed the area a bit so that my hose, and gate are now a slightly stucco’d. Not sure if it comes off but we’ll see.

Nice clean look; makes me want to repaint entire house? Nahhhh.

Speaking of messy the contractor was in on Monday to pickup the rest of the trim pieces and assorted garbage that has built up since the bin was taken away about two weeks ago. What we also looked at was the backsplash. He agreed that its not the tiler’s best work and asked me what should be done? I said that given the really stellar quality of everything else in the kitchen it stuck out like a sore thumb and he agreed. So what does that mean? It means that the backsplash on the kitchen side will be ripped out (ugh) and re-drywalled and re-tiled. What does that mean? It really means more mess, just as we were starting to get all cleaned up!

So I am waiting to hear when all this will start. I am hoping that it will only take a few days to demo and patch. Then waiting for the tiler to come back and re-install the tile and re-grout. I hope that the finished product will be worth the impending mess!

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A few things to wait on to finish the reno

The stucco guys were here today to patch the area where the bricklayer filled in the windows. Tomorrow (I hope) they’ll be back to scratch coat the entire wall to even it out. Judging by the mess today just from the patch, the next coat will be messy…. Very messy.

But we are still waiting on a few things. The tile contractor has to take a look at the backsplash to give us an opinion on the job and the electrician has to come and put in the trims for the potlights and all the plates on the switches. And in the kitchen we couldn’t push the stove all the way back- it is just about ¾” out too far and it interferes slightly with the door mounted spice rack beside the stove. Maybe we can figure it out later.

Slide in stoves don’t always slide all the way.

We still are putting things back in the cupboards and deciding if they are in the right place. We never really thought of it before as we were so short of space that organization was an afterthought. In this case we can hopefully think of what makes sense in the way we work and organize accordingly. But I think we will just run out of patience and put stuff back and worry about it later. Anything to get rid of those boxes!

But the floor looks good.

On the weekend I finished painting the ceiling and the one area on the wall that’d been holding us up and we ripped off some of the kraft paper that was protecting the floor. I’d forgotten how good the floor looked! But it reminded me that we still have to get some carpet or runners done for the front hall and near the back door. So with that in mind, we went to a store to select a carpet sample and lo and behold within five minutes we found one we both agreed on.

Got the drapes up-finally.

So now it’s a case of finding someone that can do the custom work to cut around all the vents etc that are in the front hall.

I just finished painting the walls in the kitchen and just have the second coat to do near the stairs – almost done! When I said I would do the painting, I seem to have forgotten how much time it takes. At least the paint I’m using is good (Aura by Benjamin Moore) so it makes it a bit easier to cover the last of the yellow.

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Are we close to finishing the reno? Not sure but I am hoping!

After a great week of work last week (and frantic efforts to get us up and running for the long weekend) not too much happened this week. As it was a short week, the contractor was only here a few times to do some minor things. That’s usually the way it is when getting close to the finish: there are many small things to do and often they don’t make as big an impact as putting in the countertop.

So this week more handles got installed on the cabinet doors and some adjustments got made so the panel on the dishwasher can fit properly within the cabinet. Just a quick word for those intrepid souls who try to install their Miele dishwasher – when you cut the hole for the hoses to hook up to the supply and drain, make sure you get them as far back towards the wall as you can or, better yet, cut the hole close to the floor and bring them up through the bottom of the sink base. Reason? There is a cut-out on the bottom of the dishwasher that goes up about 6” that lets the hoses fit between the wall and the dishwasher and if the hole through the cabinet is too high, when the unit is pushed back, it will pinch the hoses. We did a lot of measuring before we pushed this one back so we knew where to cut the hole, but if you didn’t, you might be met with a nasty mess one morning.

Oh yeah, and the tile behind the sink is a bit rough. We are waiting to see what can be done (if anything) about it.

With the dishwasher panel in, the look is more seamless.

So next week I have to sand the patch in the ceiling, prime and paint it as well as the kitchen ceiling, paint the rest of the walls and put in all the baseboards. Oh yeah and paint the patches upstairs that the electrician drilled to run the track and rewire a few outlets. And still no word on a stucco contractor to patch the back of the house. I hope this doesn’t take weeks to get done, but really as long as we can get the stuff into the kitchen (and our furniture up from the basement) I will be extremely happy.

We can use the stove again!

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Counter is in – but back to the basement

I didn’t think anything was going to be happening at the house this week because we were waiting for the countertop to be installed.  We were told that it would take 10 business days for the counter to be fabricated so understanding human nature I thought it would be fortunate if it did arrive on the 10th day.  Well as good luck would have it I was wrong!

Early this morning the contractor was at our house and I asked him why he was here.  He said that the countertop with showing up at any minute.  I was pretty surprised that it was showing up early and I helped him cleanup a bit of the kitchen in preparation for the installation.  I brought up the sink and they brought in the counter and it was a way to the races.

The countertop was fabricated with strips of plywood attached to the underside.  This is so that if the countertop ever has to be removed you can unscrew it from the cabinets without having to rip it right off.  It also helps to attach the dishwasher when that’s installed.

The installation went pretty smoothly was finished in about 45 minutes.  The only area where the installer had some problems was that the back corner under the window.  He had to take out a bit of drywall [only about ¼ inch] push the counter back enough to make it fit.

He then siliconed the under mount sink and pushed it into place against the underside of the countertop.  He just cut two pieces of wood to hold it in place underneath while it dried.  And then he applied a little bit of silicone to the joint between the countertop and the wall and that was it.  Off to the next job.

Sink finally out of basement in its proper place.

So now we have to wait hopefully only a day or two until the plumber can hook up the faucet and the drain on the sink.  He will also do the dishwasher at that time.  So that is why we’re back in the basement.  With no running water in the kitchen we have to go back downstairs to get water for cooking.

But with the counter and sink installed its really starting to look finished and the material looks fantastic with the cabinet color and the flooring.  It’s a quartz countertop from Hanstone and with the bits of quartz which reflect the light and the other subtle colors it picks up the browns and reds from the floor.

Countertop and doors make it look like a real kitchen!

Can’t wait for the appliances to go back in.

So now we’re getting to the part of the job where we have to make note of all the items that have to be completed [and a lot of them are mine].  Things that I have to do include  priming and painting the living room ceiling, installing new trim around the dining room window, priming and painting all the window trim and even repainting the stairs as they got a bit banged up over the past couple months.  I have to say it’s looking really good and I can’t wait for it to be done so we can enjoy having friends and family over again without having to wonder where the spatula is!

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Sink + cabinets = progress

Last Friday the contractor put in a temporary sink just as we were leaving to go away for the weekend. Which was a great thing as we haven’t had water on the main floor for about 6 weeks. But as we were going out the door, I heard them say, “Wait its leaking!” This is not what you want to hear as you leave the house for two nights and you have newly installed hardwood floors. Hardwood and water; not a good mix.

But they of course found out where the leak was and replaced that connection so when we got home everything was dry!

Water in the kitchen- what a concept!

Its been really great to be able to use the kitchen to do basic stuff like wash and chop veggies without going up and down the stairs. Now that we are using the kitchen, we are really looking forward to when the countertop arrives and all the rest of the tasks can be done. Seems a bit strange that the countertop holds up most of the stuff required to complete the job, but when I saw the fabricator template using the cardboard, I understood that since the walls are not perfectly square there would be no sense to fabricating it then having to re-cut and fit it on site. Better to do as much as possible at the factory and do small (again, cross fingers) customizations on site.

I’ve spent a bit of time patching the damage from the electricians doing a bit of re-wiring in the upstairs hall. It made sense to do this extra now because they ran a feed up to the hall for the track lighting and we could then use that to put in an additional outlet in the office and replace an old one in the middle bedroom. I just hope I have enough paint (and that it hasn’t dried out) to paint over the drywall compound.

Today they are installing the range hood which is great because not only does that finish off one more task, but it gets that big box out of my basement where I’ve stored it for the past 3 months!

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Great find for antiques and more!

While out of the city last weekend, we unexpectedly came across a solution to some of our furniture problems.

As some of you know we had an old couch which we Freecycled before we started all this work on the house. The expectation was that we’d find something that we could have delivered just as the job was finishing up. It so far hasn’t quite worked out and we’ve been looking for some furniture to match our existing Danish teak sideboard and dining room table.

So as we were driving down a county road, out of the corner of my eye saw not only an old barn (which is nothing really out of the ordinary in Prince Edward County) but an old barn with teak furniture out front! So after a quick u-turn we pulled up to MacCool’s Re-use, which has a fantastic collection of furniture with prices to match.

So after some thought, we picked up two chairs and a small table and stuffed them into the car. Now that they are here they look great (well they will look great once the kraft paper is off the floor and things are back to “normal.”)

Would you believe these chairs came from a barn?

A big decision we are looking at now is that we don’t have a couch, but would it make sense to move the dining area to the front of the house and the “living room” to the back? Any thoughts?

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Looking like a kitchen- cabinets are up

After a few really long days, the installer got the boxes up and the soffit trim installed around the top. Today the electrician was here for about ¾ of the day to put in the rest of the dimmer switches and undercabinet pucks.
As far as the dimmers go, I told him I want everything that comes from the ceiling (and undercabinet lights) to be dimmable. He looked at me like I had a hole in my head but its important to me to be able to control the light levels whether its task lighting or the potlights.

Undercabinet lights are in.

My rationale is that you might want different light for a party than for food prep or even at different times of the year. Since the kitchen pots are on a 3-way switch, we had to go with a 3-way dimmer, which is more expensive. Go figure.
I also went with pucks over the strip lights because it seems like they were more flexible to go under the different sized cabinets. We got Xenon ones and they are much cooler than halogens and should (I’m told) last much longer too.

The lights will look different once the backsplash and counter are in

So hopefully tomorrow the countertop will be templated then a few more small things to touch up. Then we wait- for about 2 weeks while the quartz is fabricated. I hope to have at least a temporary sink installed so we can have running water in the kitchen. Is that too much to ask?

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Kitchen cabinet installation – proceeding along

When you have some work done on your house, in my opinion you have to be an optimist. When things go wrong, you have to be able to see the big picture otherwise with the number of moving parts you’d pull your hair out with all the changes.
That being said, I was watching the installer put up the cabinets and didn’t really want to ask him how it was going for fear of jinxing the installation. So I will just shut up and show the pictures and let you see for yourself.

Cabinets going up

Fridge isn’t going to stay there…really.

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The kitchen cabinets arrived and I can’t wait for the install

Well not sure why it takes 6 days from Quebec to my house here, but after being shipped out last Tuesday the cabinets were delivered today to the house. As you can see, a kitchen takes up a lot of space before it’s installed!

All 17 pieces! Hope thats everything.

The cabinets look really good and strong – 3/4″ birch plywood, even for the parts that won’t be seen, like under the countertop! You can really feel how rigid they are (in contrast to the old cabinets.)

Nicely finished plywood

The contractor is coming tomorrow to start the install and we’ll see what tricks he has to use to get everything to fit.

I finished painting the trim and baseboard. I decided to use the paint sprayer just for the primer- it went on fairly well, but brushed and rolled the final coat of Benjamin Moore Palace White. It made more sense to pre-paint everything before I put it up and then I just have to touch up when it is installed.

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All quiet for the time being

Its been a few days since we’ve had work on the house here. Last week Wednesday the flooring was finished and after some cleanup, the contractor came by Friday to put down some paper and masonite to protect the flooring.

It’s actually been a good break for us- a chance to catch our breath while we wait for the cabinets to arrive. I haven’t heard confirmation if they are on the truck, but I am crossing my fingers that they arrive towards the end of this week and they can start the work of installation.

I have a feeling that it may be a tricky install because in my last conversation with the contractor about the reframing of the back wall, he mentioned that the wall is about an inch out which will affect how the cabinets (especially the lowers) go in.

But we are really hoping that once the lowers go in we can get a temporary sink and faucet hookup and some plywood counters so at least we can start inhabiting the main floor of the house again. Its been a bit trying to prep food (well I haven’t really been too ambitious, mostly microwave reheating and toaster). It will be such a relief to get some things back into the cabinets and drawers. Here is what it looks like currently:

Wow! Where’d all this stuff come from? I’m so embarassed.

Compare that to how it looks when our stuff from the main floor isn’t all piled together.


And the baseboard arrived today from Central-Fairbank Lumber! I am installing it myself and the trim around the new window to save a bit of money. My neighbor told me that the profile of the original deep baseboard was still being produced and this saves me from having to get it custom milled. He even has a paint sprayer, so instead of priming and painting  with a brush, I will see if its possible to spray it on (outside) and save a ton of time. At least that’s the theory.

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The hardwood flooring installation is done – now to cleanup!

I got a call from the flooring installer that they finished yesterday at about 3 PM, just like they promised. We used hickory, because it is arguably the hardest domestic wood (not tropical) and liked the product and the color looked good on the sample. Rich and dark, but a shade lighter than what was existing.

Well now that it’s all in, it looks fantastic!

New hickory hardwood really brings richness to room.

I can’t believe what a difference it makes to the room. Before we had to worry about nails popping constantly and the incessant squeaking as you walked across it. I can understand why as the floor was about 80 years old so there was bound to be some soft spots. But what really bothered me were the badly patched areas from the former reno. They just used pieces of plywood and random bits of hardwood to fill in the gaps where the walls had been and the patches were not holding up well to daily wear and tear.

Now with the 5/8” tongue and groove subfloor they glued and screwed down to the joists (and of course the repair work I did a few years ago on the joists before I finished the basement the floor is really solid. Like new house solid! I am pretty happy with how it turned out and the flush mount registers look totally sharp.

Flush mount registers- contractor mixed 4 batches of stain to get them to match the rest of the floor

When the contractor was showing me the final product he described it like a person. He said, “You have nice flooring here- Beautiful but sensitive.”

“Beautiful, but sensitive”

He went on to talk about how to clean it so as not to mar the finish and treat it nicely. We have about a box and a half left over. I am bringing the full one back to Brampton Hardwood so we’ll have some replacement boards in case something does happen. I am hoping that the finish will hold up to a pre-schooler, little white dog and other daily events.

So now the task is to clean up all the dust from the sanding upstairs and the cutting. Pretty much every surface has to be cleaned so I think the best way will be to work from room to room to tackle it all. At least the smell is going away so I think we will be able to be back in the house for the first time in 3 days.

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No break on weekend for me

Even though the contractors were not here on the weekend, I was still here working to take advantage of the fact that the finished floor had yet to be installed.

Just to back up a bit, last week the mason and the installer were here on Thursday ripping out the old window to make a new opening for the new one I just picked up on Wednesday morning from Brock. I felt good that the old one is not going to the landfill but the contractor is taking it away for a shed he is building.

I am glad I was here to help with the questions as they sized the new opening and cut the brick. Man oh man what a mess! Since our house is double walled brick construction, they had to cut the exterior and interior brick with the quick cut saw. There was dust everywhere! So instead of going down to my mother-in-laws on Friday like we were going to, we just hightailed it out of here Thursday night instead after a short cleanup.

Even though they were here till about 8:30 they weren’t able to get the new window into the frame so they nailed up some plywood over the opening.

Plywood for a window? Seems hard to see through

The weather held out and we didn’t get any rain so things are looking good today for them to get the duct run above the window and the window installed.

New window opening with new brick.

The plumber put in the new copper on Thursday and the water pressure is fantastic in the bathroom. It improved in the rest of the house when we updated the water main from lead (ugh) to copper about 4 years ago, but because of the last bit of galvanized, we weren’t getting the benefit in the bathroom. Now just the ceiling needs to be patched.

Nice copper!

So why then was I here on the weekend? Well since the flooring is going down this week, I took the opportunity to finish patching some access holes the electrician put in so I could put a coat of paint on the ceiling. I know, I know, I will just  have to paint again after that hole gets repaired but it wont be as much work and I will only have to tarp a smaller area rather than the whole floor. I also painted (Aura by Benjamin Moore) the first coat on the walls and the new color (Feather Grey) looks great. I have to say that this is the best paint I’ve ever used. Goes on really quickly because it covers really well. So now have to do a second coat for the walls when I get a chance.

So today it seems like everyone showed up! The plumber was here to move the drain line in the basement so the HVAC guy could re route the duct into the main plenum. The installer is here to put in the window and frame and drywall the south wall. The electrician is re-wiring something (I don’t even know what exactly…) And on top of that the flooring guys showed up to repair and sand the upstairs hall, and start the finished flooring on the main floor. It’s quite a challenge to move around in here today and even work as the power is on and off. Good thing I’m using a laptop!

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New duct plan

The installer working with the duct situation came up with a great plan.

New location for the duct.

The duct would run up the wall behind the fridge, along the top of the cabinets, between the joists and into the existing hole. This would eliminate cutting the joists, losing headroom in the basement and having the duct in a cold space.  The box on the wall would be eliminated and placement of the window does not have to be exact and providing more room for the casing.

Only one outlet would have to be relocated, so I think that this looks like a pretty good option. We will see once I pick up the window tomorrow.

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Duct tape is not really for ducts

One of the key things in this reno that I’ve talked about before is moving (actually replacing) the existing window with a new one in a location that allows us to get the upper cabinets right to the south wall. Thats becasue the existing one is too tight to the corner and too low to get a countertop in. But whats required is not only work on cutting a new rough opening (hope to pickup the window today or tomorrow so contractor can measure off it for the opening) but moving a duct that runs from the basement to the second floor office.

The original plan was to extend the duct run along the joist space in the basement, notch out the joist closest to the south wall and run the duct up about 14″ closer to the door. When the contractor thought about this, he decided that wasn’t a good idea as the joist was already notched for the existing duct and had been structurally compromised.

They have cut the floor to prep for putting in the headers.

So what they are going to do today is put in a header of 2 x 2×8’s back to the next joist over and sit them into the brick exterior of the house. That will allow them to cut the joist and join it to the header giving them room to move the duct.

Also, the are running the duct in a straighter run in the basement eliminating some of the 5 or 6 bends which are currently there. No wonder that original duct doesn’t really do much to supply the office! Hardly any air is getting by all those bends! I am hoping that the new supply line will be much more efficient.

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Reno – Work and its not even my fulltime job

How long till I had a chance to sit down and write a post? I thought it would only be a day or so and I could keep posting on a day by day basis to update the progress of the reno, but so far no luck… it seems to be really taking up a lot of my time to keep the trades going and get things sorted out.

Lets go back to the beginning. We decided that it would be cheaper for us (that’s me) to take out the existing kitchen and the vinyl tile flooring. So my good friend Tim and I made pretty short work of the kitchen and actually had someone from Freecycle take the whole thing off my hands! Including the sink and dishwasher too. I felt pretty good about not having to put the whole thing in the bin and they were very appreciative of it as well.

So the flooring… not a big deal, but it did take somewhat longer than I had thought originally…. The problem was that there were 3 types of tiles. One looked pretty old and hardly stuck down. The other was ugly and I covered it up a while back and thought that they also would come right up. Little did I know that there was some sort of trowel on adhesive put down before the peel and stick tiles went down?  I know! So it took a bit longer but really once I got a system they came up in about 4 hours.

So the packing took a long time too and we are pretty cramped in the basement, but making ends meet using the bathroom sink and the microwave setup we have on the bookcase under the fuse panel. I just keep thinking “it’s like camping, but without the mosquitoes.”

After the first day, they had about ½ of the floor ripped up and the electricians had roughed in a lot of the pot lights in the living and dining room.

Flooring coming up. Right Winston?

After some work on the next day they turned them up and they look fantastic! It is great to get good quality light in the room and finally be able to see what the room is going to look like.

The subfloor was kinda rough. But it is about 80 years old.

After the rest of the old flooring was ripped up they screwed and glued down 5/8” tongue and groove ply and the floor feels really tight and strong. Its nice to know that when I did the work to the joists before finishing up the basement that it went to good use.

And the kitchen is moving along. The plumber roughed in the supply and drain lines in a couple of hours and put the vent down the drain run, about 8 feet from the fixture. He says it will be fine and actually is much cleaner than taking the vent up the wall across the joist space and drilling through a few ceiling joists to get it to tie into the existing vent stack. So we will see!

Lots of patching was done on the kitchen to fix all these holes.

The last few days have seen a lot of patching in the kitchen where the electricians fished wire, but my latest efforts are in the living room where I thought it would be a straight forward task to take out the last remaining galvanized piping supplying the upstairs bathroom… but as you can see it has expanded as the original reno in the 70s never took it out.

I think we’ll have some ceiling left at the end of this…

They just tied the copper into it, can you believe it?

Ugh. Thats all I can say

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Breaking news- circa 1990

I was pulling up some baseboard today in preparation for the new floor installation and tucked behind the baseboard near the front door was a Financial Post newspaper page from January 9, 1990. It was a Tuesday and some of the headlines include:

  • “French advertiser Eurocom seeks international market;”
  • “Japanese bring life to deteriorating British tire factory;”
  • “Economist Wendy Dobson has international outlook.”

And my favorite: “Videonet arrives” – a story about how this Canadian offshoot of the American company Videonet will spend $2M in 1990 to introduce a range of services including banking, information, education and entertainment services using Bell Canada’s Alex network. Interesting to see how this proprietary network never really got off the ground and was absolutely rendered inconsequential by the commericalization of the Internet.

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Contractor visit

I met the contractor this week and we discussed not only the construction work that has to get done, but also ways to cut back to reduce the cost of the boxes and doors. He had a few suggestions which were interesting and make some sense. Now he just has to go back, sharpen his pencil and see if we can get down to a figure that fits our budget.

As far as the flooring goes, we are going to take up the old (original!) hardwood in the main floor as it was crudely patched during another owners bad 70s reno. I was out last week to a hardwood retailer to look at a selection of solid hardwood products and selected one that I think will look really good throughout the whole floor and into the kitchen. Since it will be in the kitchen I selected hickory, which is arguably the hardest North American species according to this chart. We are interested in avoiding if possible exotic woods that have to get shipped from far away.

Then we have to get coordinated with an installer to come in after the cabinets are gone and any rough construction is complete to take up the old floor, put down 3/8” plywood over the existing fir sub floor and then lay the new hardwood. Its going to look really good as I will rip out the existing cheap baseboards which again went in during the 70s and replace with the original-style deep baseboards.

Speaking of new, the windows for the front of the house are being installed this coming Monday and it will be a relief not only because they will look way better (and suit the house), but we won’t have a draft blowing over the bed during the night!

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Money, money, money

Yes, we got the news…
The preliminary pricing came in higher than we were forecasting so now we have to look into what we can do to shave down some costs… I was expecting this as in my experience, the costs rarely come in at what you’ve budgeted; must be a universal law or something.
I am meeting with the contractor tomorrow to find out about his part of the work and figure out areas for savings, so hopefully we can maintain the basic layout and concept.
Stay tuned for more!

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Lets hope the price is right

Late last week we had a meeting with our designer on the kitchen reno and formalized the plan. She brought in a Richlieu catalog with all sorts of organization devices so we could go through it and pick the things that we thought would be useful. Its pretty seductive to look at all the “labour-saving” products, but as we are sure to find out, they really can inflate the price of the job!
After the meeting we ran out to get a sense of what fixtures would be (sink, faucet). I had no idea that these things were pricier than rhinestones at an Elvis convention. (And just as flashy too!) We took a look at some tiles for the backsplash and got some pictures so we could get some direction from Carol. So far, the elevations show a recessed niche in the wall which would be highlighted with feature tiles and would be for oils, pepper grinder etc. The field tile would be simple and not too busy as the space is too small for a lot of detail.

Backsplash tile v1.0.

or maybe this one? Backsplash tile v1.1.

The next step is to get high level pricing on the boxes and doors so we can see if we are in the ballpark. Then we can estimate on the cost for the construction elements (electrical, structural, HVAC etc.). I am crossing my fingers!