Lakeshore Cottage

A reno blog for a cottage just outside of Toronto
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Green room destruction

Monday, November 28th, 2011

I went up alone on Saturday and decided that the downstairs mud room/laundry room/scary room aka “the green room” needed to die. The space was added onto the rest of the house at some point and they created a laundry area and this mud room that they painted bright green. Both rooms are separated by a door. The laundry room is more like a utility area and has the broken water filtration system, a pressure tank, hot water heater, laundry tub (Molly’s favourite), washer/dryer, the furnace and is completely open to the disgusting crawlspace that is under the rest of the entire house. The green room is currently empty, has a concrete floor and a door that opens out to underneath the deck. When I first walked through the place when I was viewing it, I remember feeling pretty scared/disgusted with the green room. Overall it just screamed disaster and I think the 5 dogs that lived there may have used it as their latrine. It was covered in dog hair and… mud? crap? who knows? all of the above?

So inviting.

With the upstairs (minus the bathroom) being fairly clean-ish, I decided I might as well tear into the green room. Saturday was spent ripping everything to the studs. Very thin wood paneling was used on all the walls and the ceiling, insulation mostly existed but was old and torn up by mice. It was actually in better shape than I expected since there was mud from the crawlspace on the walls and the floor and other obvious signs of water damage. One of the neighbours had previously mentioned that there was water “running through the place” at one point but I have no idea if that was from a burst pipe or nature or what. I’m always surprised by how much waste even a room demo produces.

An old exterior wall with faux brick siding still attached to the wood.

The wood paneling on this wall was completely open to the damp/musty crawlspace. The other side of the room with the wall that has the brick siding was at least blocked off by the old wood exterior. Not the most ideal situation here for replacing this wall with drywall!

Sunday I came up with my brother who is able to help out about every couple weeks. After a bit of a slow start and a trip to Home Depot, he went deep into the crawlspace to fix a few burst plumbing pipes under the bathroom (I love having access to everything under the house) while I started in on replacing the old insulation with newer Roxul. I’m hoping to pretty much find everything on the cheap through craigslist/kijiji and the Roxul was one of those scores. From there we finished up with some plywood to cover the crawlspace access wall and rigid insulation on the rest of the cinderblock walls. Long day that couldn’t have been done without my neighbour’s generous hydro offering.

The plan for this coming weekend includes finishing off with more Roxul and poly overtop the walls, spray foam and rigid for the headers, and depending whether I have help, drywall. If I don’t have help, I’ll be laying laminate in the boathouse.

The overall plan for this area is to determine whether I need to add some self leveling cement to the floors to create a nicer floorspace for tile overtop, and then move the washer/dryer and laundry tub into here. I basically want to close off the crawlspace as much as possible from the rest of the house and never go in the utility room. When it comes to the crawlspace though, the work plan is to cover the dirt ground with poly, vacuum the joists to get rid of the mummified spiders and their webs, fix a hole in the wall (need a few cinder blocks) and then figure out how to properly insulate the walls and/or joists. I know there’s a specific way of doing it (poly 12″ up the walls, rigid on the cement sides, but do I rigid insulate the joists/ceiling? can’t remember) and I just need to do some more research first.

Also – pulled the trigger on the water filtration system Saturday morning. Trojan UV light with a combo of a sediment and carbon filter system.

Water purification

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

While I’m unsure as to the state of the furnace, I know that the water filtration system in the house is definitely not in a functioning state. There’s an old Trojan UV light system currently laying disconnected on the ground in the “laundry room” closet area with various wires pulled out of it. I’ve never had to think about ensuring my drinking water was good enough for drinking/showering before. Turns out doing research and getting quotes/responses back from various water supply places, online or brick and mortar, is easier than finding an electrician. After a dozen or so emails, I think I’m going to settle on a cottage carbon/sediment filtration system with a UV light from aQuatell. I want to take a second look at the small, gross room to see what exactly I do have down there this weekend and then will probably pull the trigger on the $800-ish purchase.

The other part of this is the submersible pump that is currently sitting in the lake. I have no idea on its condition and really need hydro working again to figure that out. The electrician dude said if it trips a breaker then the motor is pretty much seized. Really. Need. Hydro.

Slow (if any) progress

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Hydro service was cut off at the pole on Friday so things are ready for my electrician to start working. If he can start working. I called him this morning and he told me he was involved in a car accident where his car rolled over. Also, now that he’s realized service has been cut off and the hydro company is treating this like a new service (whatever that means) he says the quote will double because of what is needed. Apparently even though I want to keep my 100A service, the meter base needs to be upgraded to a minimum of 200A which wasn’t in his original quote. Fun. He offered to talk to the hydro contact directly which helps me because I don’t know wtf I’m talking about here and being the middleman is wasting time, but also means it’s up to him to call them… which I hope he does sooner rather than later. I find it pretty hard to be motivated to do much work for very long out there without heat or hydro. Not to mention I don’t know what other systems need to be replaced yet until that all gets done and I can see what works and what doesn’t.

I’m also thankful that November has been pretty mild so far so I’ve had chances to go up there. Just really wish there was some tangible progress at this point without needing to rely on other people to get stuff done.

Weekend recap

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Between all the driving and work I was doing last week and my girlfriend coming down with the flu, I was knocked on my ass for the past couple days with the flu myself, unable to do anything requiring more effort than moving from my bed or couch. I’m back at work today and feeling much more human, finally.

So to recap since the last post…

M (girlfriend) and I went up Saturday at a much less obscene hour than I had been keeping all week. I borrowed power from a neighbour who had offered it the first day we went up and I spent the time cutting and laying down the teaser subfloor/underlayment overtop of the existing 3/4″ plywood that my friend V and I discovered Friday. M was amazing and set out with cleaning the entire kitchen, something she had been looking forward to doing for a while. We lost too much light in the sky to continue, but basically the floor was left in a state of needing more screws and the kitchen is probably more than half done. This was also the first that the flu hit me and I was pretty much dead by the time we got back to Toronto.

Sunday – I had already arranged for my beefcake brother Steve to help out and not wanting to put his muscles to waste, I drugged myself and went up with him the next morning. This was the first he had seen it too. I was worried that my lack of energy/excitement meant the trip was for nothing but two electricians I hadn’t heard from in days ended up coming by to see the place before prepping quotes.

One of them walked through the place and pointed out every single issue that an inspector would apparently see and not pass because of. Steve and I caught each other with matching eye-rolls more than once. The second guy seemed more reasonable and down to earth. His approach was not to fix every single thing that might be wrong (like an excess of wiring that was hanging, or faceplates missing, etc.) but to do only the basic work necessary to restore power to the furnace, water pump, replace the currently old/messy electrical panel (primary need), and give us one electrical outlet at the panel. His reasoning was that this would be much easier in terms of passing the inspection but also, we have no idea what other systems may or may not work, which walls we want to re-insulate or tear down, what the condition of the wiring behind the light fixtures is, etc. It also helps that his quote came in at the most affordable.

I was feeling a bit lost with what to do next because I hadn’t heard from Hydro One but about 45 minutes after placing a call to them to ask what was happening (which got nowhere) I received a personalized email from an actual human (!) from Hydro One that basically gave me everything I needed to know in order to proceed. They’re sending a crew out Friday the 18th to disconnect the service lines to my house so Brian the electrician can upgrade the meter base and take it from there. I’m really hoping it means I’ll have power by next weekend… and hopefully some heat!

Out with the old

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Holy fuck, I’m exhausted. I had an unexpected extra set of hands today and we ripped out the flooring in one of the bedrooms. At first I was hesitant about whether there would be enough to do with my friend who came to help out, and when we easily pulled up the initial layer of cheap laminate flooring in like 5 minutes I almost felt bad that she came to help me… fast forward hours later and we’re still on our hands and knees trying to rip up the crappy particle board that was underneath the shitty laminate. What a painstaking, horrible thing to do to a friend. It took hours because of all the nails. All I can say is, if you’re ever stuck with this horrible task, use one of those Wonderbar super bar things (there’s a reason they’re called wonderbars) and shove them in as close to the nails as possible and then pop the particle board up so the nail stays in the floor. And repeat. forever. and ever. We did survive though, and discovered half-way decent 3/4″ of plywood underneath which is more than enough for whatever less shitty sort of hardwood/laminate flooring I’ll put overtop it. Although we did buy some 1/4″ OSB that I’ll screw on tomorrow (with my amazing girlfriend) just so the flooring has something new to touch (and to even out the floor height).

An interesting find was realizing that the particle board/tile mix went underneath the wall that separates the two bedrooms, which means this place was originally built as a one bedroom. This is interesting because one of my first plans was to tear down the wall to make it a one bedroom until the whole “think of its resale value” took over and I decided that the point of a cottage wasn’t to have one huge bedroom, but probably to have people over enjoying it with you, and decided to leave the wall intact.

Another realization was that tearing up particle board, which seems to run throughout the entire place, is a completely horrible task and there is no way that I want to tear up the floor in the main room. I had originally planned on making the main room + 1 bedroom the same flooring but I am not so sure now. It was way too much work to tear up the one in the bedroom that I can’t imagine doing it in the main room when the floor is not that horrible. I might as well lay whatever flooring on top of it and try to match the height level to the bedroom. If not, too bad… it’s a cottage.

On the electrical front – today was also fucking cold without heat. My contractor friend from Toronto came late in the afternoon and checked it out and will send me a quote on Monday to do the work. Even more exciting is realizing that the boyfriend of a fellow rugby teammate is an electrician, so hopefully I’ll have another quote in the mix. Still waiting on the local guy who came out to the place, and the other 3 guys I called still haven’t called me back when they said they would. Fun times.

Oh yeah – it didn’t take much for our fingers to go through two parts of the main exterior facing wall. So there’s some drywall to repair. It’s missing insulation and a vapour barrier and I had to think for a few minutes about whether I wanted to rip down the entire wall to sort that out. I checked myself again with the cottage mentality and decided I’d survive with the crappy R7. Drywall repairs are needed.

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