Thursday, November 14, 2013

Reaching a milestone!

We finally got the garage to a point where we can park both cars inside. Yay!! Just in time for winter. We will slowly chip away at the remaining exterior finishing and electrical over the winter and then finish up the inside in the spring.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bobcat operator

I will fully admit that I was panicking about securing a bobcat operator and the gravel/sand delivery in the short time frame that we were looking at. It was Thursday and we wanted to get this work done that weekend. As usual, my Dad was nothing but calm and firmly believed that it would all work out (as he always does, and it always seems to). Anyway, I'd noticed a sign on my drive home from work the previous week advertising bobcat operator services. I had pulled over and taken a photo just in case.

I'm glad my Dad was willing to make all the phone calls and talk to the truck drivers and operators because it honestly sounded like sometimes they were speaking a different language. There is definitely a lingo and technical terminology that I did not know.

Well, Dale and his brother were willing to bump a larger job to come and help us out for a half day of work. Very kind of them. We arranged for Dale to show up with his bobcat for 8am on Saturday morning. He also had some contacts for sand & gravel and would arrange for delivery to be at the same time.

The house phone rang at 7am on Saturday morning. I'm still in a stupor, but the phone is closest to my side of the bed, so I answer. It's Dale and he is outside our house with his bobcat ready to get to work. Are you kidding me !?!?! I ask him if knows that he is an hour early and he says he wanted to get an early start so he can have an afternoon off. I wake up my Dad and Derek and we all stumble outside to get started. I also do a quick internet search to make sure we are not violating nay noise bylaws. Low and behold, 7am is the approved start time for a Saturday in Edmonton. At leas the neighbours can't call the city on us.

I think Dale just gets a perverse pleasure in waking people up. He seemed pretty happy with himself.

Anyway, he was a very experienced bobcat operator and made short work of the project. We needed some topsoil removed from the area since the new garage was going to be larger than the old garage. Dale scooped it out and transported it down the alley to a neighbour that needed some fill for his project. This worked well because we didn't have to pay to have the dirt hauled away and we were able to help out the neighbour that let us dump our concrete in his bin.

Supervising the bobcat operation.
Dale's brother showed up to see what was happening and lend a hand. I think he did more talking than working, but even in his dress loafers he had the rake and was helping to spread the sand around.

By noon the sand & gravel was spread around to my Dad's satisfaction and all that was left was to use the plate tamper we had rented from Home Depot to compact the area and do some shovel work on the sides of the area. By the end of the day the ground was all prepared for the concrete...or was it?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ground preparation

A lot of prep work goes into getting the ground ready for the concrete slab. I think it was something like five days of prep and then only half a day to pour and finish the concrete. Thankfully, my Dad was around to lead the project. His 10+ years of expertise from working in the concrete industry really paid off.  We never would have been able to accomplish this without his help. Although, he was shocked by the cost of gravel, sand, concrete and delivery in Alberta. I guess with less demand for building in B.C., and easier access to gravel pits, things are cheaper there.

In a nutshell, the work that went into preparing the ground for the concrete was as follows:
  • mark out the size of the slab (24' x 24') and ensure that it conforms to the Edmonton mature neighbourhoods building regulations
  • figure out how much we need to build up the area to have the correct final grade to the alley
  • find a bobcat operator 
  • order the required sand & gravel
  • coordinate the distribution of the sand & gravel with the bobcat operator
  • rake the sand smooth
  • compact the sand & gravel
  • check the grade and make any adjustments
  • build the concrete forms and secure them in place
  • lay & tie the rebar
  • prop the re-bar up so that it doesn't sag under the weight of the concrete
When that is all done, it will look like this:
Ready for the concrete (hat is optional).

I have some details to share about the above list of tasks, but for all our sakes, I am trying to keep the individual blog entries short and sweet.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Apologies for the lack of posts

I just wanted to apologize for the lack of posts. We have been working very hard on the garage and house for the last few months, so I do have lots of news to share. As the weather has now turned colder, I will make a serious effort to update the blog with our progress. Stay tuned. As a teaser, here is a before and after of the front of the house.


We are very happy with it.

Also,since I am so behind with the blog, it's possible that I may "Tarantino"it and write the posts in a non-linear chronology. You are fore-warned.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sneak peek

Here is a quick peek at what we chose for the exterior paint colours. The painting is going well. I will post many photos once it is complete.

Grey, white & red for house exterior.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

More garage demolition

This deserves its own post because the Mr. was so excited to be able to use the jackhammer to finish the garage demolition. There was a concrete curb that acted as a pseudo-foundation for the old garage. Using the jackhammer to break it up and then some elbow grease to haul it away, we got rid of the last of the garage.
So happy!
I was also very happy when a fellow we found on Kijiji came and hauled away all the scrap metal from the garage. It was satisfying to have everything cleared away from the site and be ready to move on to building.
Burning some of the final debris and relaxing after a long week of demolition.

Exterior paint colours

One of the projects that we know we want to complete in the first year of home ownership is to repaint the exterior of the house. The previous owners didn't paint the outside during their tenure, so we are not sure how long it has been since the house was painted. There is a lot of peeling paint on the sides of the house and the white with cream trim colour scheme is not very welcoming.

The current exterior paint is in rough shape and very bland.
So, we need to decide what colour of house we want. This is a HUGE decision. We have spent many hours walking around the neighbourhood and trolling the internet looking at various houses and their colour schemes. We know we want to use multiple colours to highlight some of the architectural features, but we still want it to look modern.
Using Pinterest to keep track of ideas
After much discussion, we decided on two tones of gray for the main body of the house, white trim, and a bold accent colour for the windows and doors. Sounds simple, right. Nope! There are a million shades of gray: purple gray, blue gray, silver gray, green gray, beige gray (also referred to as greige), brown get the idea. The same goes for white. We tested some colours out on the house and finally made a decision, which we will reveal in an upcoming post.
Purple or red for the accent colour?
Testing shades of gray on the garage before we tore it down.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Old garage demolition

I'm a little behind on the posts, but it has been a busy summer. We have started the building of a new garage. One that we can park both cars in and have room for storage. Yay!

In order to do this, we first had to get rid of the old garage. You might be thinking "How bad could the old garage be?" Well, it was not very functional. Only one door opened, as the other was blocked by support beams holding up the main part of the garage. Also, the floor was just wooden boards placed right on the dirt and the entire structure leaned a little to the left. It was time for it to go.
The old garage - only the larger door opened

The inside of the lean-to section. Braces supporting the main garage
prevent this side from being useful for anything but storage.

Almost done! A final push (literally) and clean-up is all that is needed.

The Mr. (with some help from me and his parents) did a great job of getting the interior stripped. My Dad made the trip to Edmonton to help with the rest of the demolition and start on the new construction. With a some elbow grease and a final push we got the garage down. It took a few days to dispose of all the waste and shovel up all the sawdust insulation that was in the walls, but we did it. Now onto the site preparation for the new and improved garage!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Exterior painting has commenced!

The scraping, sanding, power-washing and other prep has started on the exterior of our house. After almost an entire summer of discussing possible colours, we made a decision and booked some painters (I will post more about that whole process later). We are very excited/nervous to see the colours start to go up on the house. This was one of the projects we really wanted to accomplish this summer, so I am very happy it is going ahead. I promise to post more as the painting progresses. I also have lots of other things to post about. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Armoire - a piece of furniture older than the house

We've been looking for a piece of furniture to go in the front entrance since before we even took possession of the house. There is no closet on the main floor, which means no place to hang coats and put scarves, gloves, hats etc. We considered making some sort of built in unit, but decided we would like something that could be moved in the future and that would be a better fit with the feel of the house.

At Christmastime last year we visited two stores in Vancouver. The Antique Warehouse and The Antique Market. Both have great stuff, but we were unsure of the dimensions of the space in the new house and also our price point, so we didn't make a purchase.

After 7 months in the house and a lot of looking on Kijiji and in antique stores around Edmonton with no luck, we knew that The Antique Warehouse had what we were looking for. We just needed to find a piece in a price range that we were comfortable with. Thankfully they were having a summer sale! After a lot of back and forth via email, we chose an armoire, made the purchase, and arranged delivery. (Actually, my Mom made the purchase. Thanks for the wedding gift Mom! Sorry it took us so long to decide.) The armoire arrived with no issues and is a perfect fit. It is in great condition and was likely made in the early part of the 19th century somewhere in France.

I'd like to take the time to acknowledge how helpful and professional that staff were at The Antique Warehouse. We highly recommend them if you are looking for antique furniture.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Whose responsibility?

If you've been in touch with the news in Alberta at all you will know that we have been getting lots of rain. Thankfully, there has been minimal impact in Edmonton and our basement is staying dry(ish). Our front yard is a different story. Our neighbours had told us that there was a low spot in the front yard and that the previous owners used to pump water out to the street on days of heavy rain. We have had a few really heavy thundershowers and hadn't noticed any standing water, so we weren't too worried about it. Well, after a solid day of rain earlier this week, this is what the front lawn looked like.

Not really a big deal in our opinion, since it is well away from the house and only on our grass. Our neighbour seems to feel otherwise, as she was out there using a juice pitcher and a bucket to move the water onto the street. I understand that her plants could drown if the water stays there for a while, but things usually dry up pretty fast around here.

With the previous owner of our house setting the precedent on pumping out the water, we got the feeling that maybe we were expected to keep doing it. Is this really our responsibility? The low spot is on both of our properties and it's the uneven sidewalk that is really holding the water in. Should we take steps to fix it? Let the neighbour deal with it? Or can we call the city to fix the sidewalk? For now, I think we are just going to hope that the precipitation stays to a minimum.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Plaster repair

As I mentioned previously, we did some damage to the plaster ceiling in the stairwell on moving day.
One of our friends was kind enough to source the plaster we would need for the repair (Thanks Nutty!). Magically, a 5 gallon pail of restoration plaster and a box of finishing plaster appeared at our door one day. We also need some gypsum for the repair.

just needs a final coat of paint
The Mr. took the lead on the repair. This was a very good thing as the repair was not a one day process and required a fair amount of patience. Anyone who knows me will understand why this was not the job for me. After carefully building up the damaged areas with layers of gypsum, the restoration plaster was used to match up to the rest of the wall/ceiling. The finishing plaster was then applied to create the final layer and texture. The Mr. experimented a bit to find a technique that would create a pattern similar to what was currently on the ceiling. He had good success. A couple coats of paint and it is as good as new old.

The door to nowhere

This is an interesting feature of our new, old house. This door on the stairway landing doesn't go anywhere. There is just nicely painted drywall behind it. The previous owners thought that the original floor plan might had had a double stairway and that the door would have led to stairs to the kitchen. Who knows. That's as good a guess as any. It is curious that the door was left in place, rather than just making it a plain wall.

Anyway, we have had many discussions about what we could put behind the door to nowhere. A skeleton? Seasonal decorations? Paint a mural? So many options...

The Mr. working hard to remove the drywall from behind the door.

Finally, we came up with the idea of trying to turn the space behind the door into a bookcase. There was minimal clearance behind the door and we couldn't make it any deeper due to it backing directly onto our kitchen cabinets. We measured and figured that the shelves will just fit paperbacks if we maximize the space we have. The Mr. did a wonderful job turning a not-quite-square doorway into a bookcase with level shelves. He even figured out how to make the base part match the existing trim. A fine job all around. We both feel that it turned out great and is a wonderful use of the space. It was also nice to be able to empty a few more boxes from the basement :-)
The finished project!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Moving Day!

OK, I know it's taken me a while to post about this. My apologies. Moving day went really smoothly, but it has taken a long time to get the house in some sort of order, while carrying on with normal life. I am finally taking some time to sit down at the computer and catch up.

We had an excellent team of friends help us move. We can't thank them enough!!! Despite the large amount of stuff we had to move (who knew we could fit that much in the condo) and the fear that the truck we rented might be too small, there were minimal complaints and everyone worked very hard.
Boxes everywhere! 
Moving day also coincided with my cousin's birthday, so his family brought over a birthday cake and a housewarming cake. Pizza, beer and cake...who could ask for more?
Yummy birthday cake!
We only had one moving day casualty. The queen size box spring was just a couple of inches too big to squeeze around the stair landing. A small amount of ceiling plaster and window trim paint was sacrificed. oops! I guess this will be our first home repair project.
In need of repair

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Interior painting

Not loving these colours
We were really happy with most of the interior paint colours in the house. As mentioned previously, there was only one room that we really wanted to re-paint. It had been a little girl's room, but the bright green and purple just wasn't working for us. We picked out a nice blue and decide to do 2 walls in that colour and 2 walls the same colour as the hallway.

Thankfully the Mr. had a the week off before the move, so he volunteered (was volun-told) that he would start the painting and I would help finish when I had time. I gave him a call near the end of the first painting day to see how it had gone and he told me that he had almost finished priming all 6 walls. There was a long pause on my end of the phone and I asked what he meant by all 6 walls? We only planned on repainting 4 walls. I guess we had a bit of a mis-communication, because he thought we were repainting all the walls that were not already the neutral hallway colour. oops! Oh well, for a little more work, it turned out alright. Off we went to Home Depot to pick another paint colour for the new walls on our re-painting list.

Oops! I guess we are repainting these walls now.
The blue turned out nicely. Two more walls didn't take that much time.
The Mr. hard at work.

The end result being that the blue colour went in the room we weren't originally going to repaint (now the guest room), and the Mr. chose a soft green that looks nice in what will be our office/craft room.

Next item on the list is to replace the crystal chandeliers with the light fixtures that match the rest of the house. Thankfully the previous owners left the original light fixtures behind. We just need to get up on the ladder and change them.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Keys please!

Woot! Woot! We have the keys and are officially home owners!

Now the real work begins. We are very happy to have the house for a few days before we move all our stuff in. We need to make a plan for basement storage, repaint the bright coloured room, and figure out where everything is going to go.

I'd like to give a huge thank-you to the previous home owners. They left the house immaculately clean and provided us with some welcome to your new home libations. What wonderful people. We hope that they are as happy in their new home.