There’s a big wide world of renovations out there

What’s beyond the bridge? I don’t know, is it a mystical land? No it’s Surrey.
That time has finally come for us, the time where we would venture out of Vancouver. Is it exciting? No it’s a pain in the ass, having to do the commute everyday and not be able to park the work vehicle at the job site and bike in to work. However we will adapt and embrace and waiver from the quality we assign to our jobs. To kick us off we’re increasing the upper floor area, replacing 3 bathrooms, 1 kitchen and 1 roof. However to kick us off we have to stabilize this house and stop the floors from drooping.

The Jetsons

Check this out. If you’re wondering, its a bath tub. Don’t make ’em like they used to. We nick named it the Jetson’s Tub for obvious reasons. No? Well its like something that you would see in the bathroom of the Jetson’s home. Right?

Well anyhow there was no room for sentimentality, we had to get that thing out the bathroom, and only one way to do it – cut it into manageable pieces. There were a few tears but the fibre glass soon distracted us with the itching and scratchingIMG_0820



What to do….what to do????

Hmmmm, let me think. I just don’t want to do it. Not because I can’t be bothered. I’m not lazy. Well really, I guess you could leave it up – maybe it’ll be alright in the end, and I’m sure even though I don’t have x-ray vision and can’t see what’s behind that wall it’ll be alright. Can it be wrong? Well he got the other stuff wrong, but surely he checked everything before he put the dry wall on and then was going to tile it. Surely he can’t have done that half cocked – you know, all the plumbing back there, it could be right I guess? What about if we cross our fingers and then it will be ok? What about that?

The real reason I don’t want to do it is because I don’t want to see the look on their faces. The look of disappointment.  I can see it in their eyes – the “You mean we’ve lived through this dust for nothing”? “You mean the $5000 we paid him has literally gone down the drain?” the “We have to start again?”

Yes that look. When a ‘contractor’ comes along and tells you he can do it within your budget (you actually don’t have to tell him your budget – whatever it is, he can do it, as long as he just gets in there and gets started then he’s in and all bets are off). That look as the drywall gets peeled off the wall and we start again.

If what I can see is bad then probably what I can’t see is bad too – well, unless you like to gamble, just make sure your insurance is up to date and comprehensive.

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.

The Heritage Classic

Back in the heart of Point Grey and loving it! This is our present project – of course I’m a little tardy, so things are nearly finished. I’m not sure if its because our customers really like us (which I certainly don’t understand) or they just can’t get enough of living in dust and having the stress of a renovation encroach on their lives, but here we are again, a project multiplying in size. What started as a kitchen renovation and maybe 10 weeks work has had us on all three levels of the house and to date we’re at five months. Obviously we’re not complaining (our next customer might be, but we never leave a customer stranded). Fair enough, the removal of a chimney put us on all three floors but we stayed on them longer than intended. Previous renovation work had us doing things again – when will they listen to Mike Holmes – “Do it once and do it right.”

Now how do I say this? Fortunately we have a great relationship with our customer, a lovely woman, but we do have to say we told you so. We get no pleasure out of it honestly. The old powder room looked even worse next to the new kitchen so we had to do a little back tracking and demolish the bathroom. Then the same happened with the entry and staircase. I’m not sure what the previous renovators were thinking but they put in a god awful 1980’s style drywall/concrete stairway – in a heritage home. I mean really, come on guys. Pictures are on the way.

Its been alot of fun working on this one. We really love the heritage work – even down to refurbing the door hardware and we’ve had a fun convivial relationship with our customer – did I say she’s a lovely woman?

More stories and pictures to come, I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat.

Back into North Vancouver

Is North Vancouver a hot spot for renovations? We seem to be spending an awful lot of time there (damn those bridges). This project – like many – but particularly this project started at a moderate size (for us) and then tripled. If the customers budget can withstand it, then its obviously cost effective to tick off your wish list while we are there. You eliminate a chunk of start up and finish up time, streamline the schedule and of course get it all done at once so we don’t invade your home again and make your life a misery! We have heard many times “I wish we had……….”. Remember,  when you are putting the new next to old, it makes the old look really old. Remember its all about a good plan – and that plan can only be made by a contractor if he really knows what the customers wish list is and what the realistic budget is. There are so many consequences in a renovation its very important to know what the customer really wants. Now to our latest North Vancouver foray.

Our customer had just sold in Yaletown and exchanged their down town life for North Vancouver surburbia and family life (an impending baby always keeps us on schedule). Initially the outline was to open up the kitchen walls, put a new kitchen in and create a laundry – somewhere.

See under ‘major projects’ for the befores, during and after.