Right down to the hardware.

In our diligent pursuit of recreating the authentic heritage renovation we even went right back to refurbishing the door hardware. Unfortunately I didn’t quite have the presence of mind (my boss is going to kill me) to take a before pic but I’ve got a couple of great after ones coming up (how exciting can a door handle really be?). Suffice to say the handles look rubbish – dirty, wonky and covered in paint. This is now what we have:

Look at those things – great eh? They were first dipped in a caustic acid tank for 2 hours, then put in’The Jiggler’, a machine that runs your item through a vat of metal pellets that are shaped like flying saucers. We then lubricated the locks with a dry graphite lube and sprayed the hinges a ‘bronze russet’ colour. Russet bronze is all the craze in the UK apparently. That’s our little spray booth in the last pic. We even sprayed the 80 yr old slot head screws.

I want to make a really big space part III

In part II, I explained and illustrated in photographs how we had opened up the kitchen to the family room with a clear sight line through to the living room in a structurally sound manner.

Moving on from the construction phase we are now dry walled and installing oak strip flooring which marry’s into the existing oak floors on the ground level. This is a 3/8 solid naildown floor.

You can also see final wall paint on, crown mouldings and most of the casings.

Why is the plaster peeling off my walls?

When we first looked at this project it was because the customer had the above question. The thin layer of plaster on the shiplap wall was starting to fall off. Nothing was immediately obvious (apart from some windows that had been replaced about 4 yrs ago – or is that obvious?) –  so we had to investigate. There was nothing else for it but to get stuck into that wall…..and thus ensues a Mike Holmes-esque situation.

There were three main contributing factors to the plaster peeling. We found the 4 yr old windows had been installed improperly. What was missing was the caulking – a slight oversight (and that’s sarcasm). In years gone by there had been stucco repairs and we also found evidence that there had also been a porch in this area that had been walled in. The stucco repairs had cracked allowing water ingress. These two factors were exacerbated by the fact that the wall and windows were east facing taking the full brunt of the winter weather. Finally factor number 3. We are still bemused by this. Under one window (the closest to the corner of the house) was a piece of plastic attached to the studs. This made sure that water coming in was trapped and worked full time on the framing and also that area sweated.

The pics below show the extent of the rot which took about 4 yrs. The double bottom plate (2 – 2×4’s) were completely rotten through, and as we know water only goes one way – down – to the basement suite.

The Nerve Centre

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The space you can see in the above picture once incorporated the stacker washer/dryer. This area is at the end of the kitchen off to one side – yes your dirty laundry for all to see. We recommended that we move the laundry down into the garage and convert this space into an office. Plumbing wise this was quite easy as the location in the garage would be right behind the wall you can see above. Off to the left is the powder room – fortunately we were also renovating that so it made access to the plumbing to flip it around fairly easy. Apart from the practicalities and the aesthetics of moving the laundry into the garage, a great benefit is if the washing machine were to flood there would be minimal damage. As it happened the old washer was leaking (albeit slowly) and this was finding its way into the basement suite. Fortuitous timing!

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Then the space became the temporary site office (i.e where the tea is made).

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and above the dry wall is in place.

Prior to dry walling the area we planned the office cables so that as many as possible were hidden.

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It means plenty of power points, and planning the cable outlets in conjunction with where the pc is going. We provided cables for both cable internet and ADSL. There is also telephone and electrical outlets at desk level, and we had hole drilled in the Caesar stone to take the monitor cables down below the desk and to the pc. We also embedded a 3 inch pvc pipe in the wall as a conduit from the modem area down to the pc so all cables actually ran in the wall.

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I want to make a really big ‘space’ part II

In part one I showed you some pics of the ‘space’ we were creating after a handy man had previously helped us take the wall out and leave minimal structural support. You can see in the pics below we have removed the 2-2×4’s that were the only support under the floor joists and also removed the upstairs toilets waste pipe. During the whole process we supported the joists in various places and relieved the pressure uniformly with a variety of 4×4 posts on 2×10’s and 2/8 tonne jacks. We then in one location put in a double 2×10 beam and in our problem spot put in a triple 2×12 beam. All seems to have gone pretty well so far and we were able to take alot of the belly in the joists out of the ceiling without incurring any damage to the walls up stairs.

The beam also has a dual function, one is obviously support, the other is to carry the new plumbing and ducting (the ducting previously terminated and thus rendering a bedroom without heat). The plumbing and ducting will run alongside the beam and then down the wall  – this is all then encased within the trim.


As you can see from the above picture things have changed quite drastically – yes, the kitchen has gone. In part I the vertical plumbing and electrical was still in place. Now, obviously it has gone and our load bearing beam is in place. Within the plywood (which is giving our final dimensions) is the heating ducting and toilet waste pipe.

Looking in reverse in the picture below you can see another beam. This is a load bearing steel I beam. We also wanted to remove this so we have a continuous ceiling with no visual breaks. The only way to do this was to remove the beam (keeping everything supported of course) cut the joists so as to accomodate a laminate beam and give a flush ceiling. The final result is below.


The New Furnace Part II

Just a quick update on the furnace project. We found (after quite an intrusive investigation) a complete lack of logic in the way the existing ducting was run. Some obvious ones were dampers completely closed (and no way to open them  – they were drywalled in) and some supply ducts terminated because of alterations upstairs leaving some rooms without heating completely. There’s no easy way to do it – so we pulled the basement apart to accomodate a new ducting plan. Whilst we were at it we decided to do some layout alterations to the basement suite – but that’s another story.

The basement before

basement kitchen before

basement kitchen before

and now the fun begins

basement kitchen during

basement kitchen during

basement kitchen during

there is no avoiding it, if you want to do it right just like Mike says ‘bring it all down’! This also allows us to eliminate all asbestos taping and insulation. We found that the basement was inadequately heated aswell and we found alot of supply vents located at ceiling level contradicting the basic rule of heating – hot air rises! During the assessment we were (well the funace/ducting subcontractors) vigilante to incorporate adequate return air.

I’ll update you when all the ducting is in place.

Time for a new furnace? Ya think?

We called in our plumbing/heating/gas fitting self proclaimed god for our present renovation. Upon his expert inspection it came apparent that the furnace was original – 1941 vintage, and apparently back in those days the home owner could fit them. The furnace was probably running at 40% efficiency. Couple that with 3mm single pane windows and some poor insulation you’ve got yourself a hell of a hydro bill. We also brought in a ducting subcontractor and well to put it mildly he’s mystified. He’s going to have to spend some time figuring it all out, what is supply and what is cold air return by playing a radio at one end and hopefully hearing it at the other end. There could be a chance that in the present set up there isn’t enough cold air return points in the system. We’ll come back  to this post when we know more.


She’s a big un eh?