Ready... Set... GONE!

Ten years ago we bought our property because it was perfect. The small acreage was close to town and at the edge of the small business district. It was on a busy road (desired) and best of all it had an adequate house on the property that was livable for the short term. The house wasn't so nice that we wanted to keep it for the long term. We painted the inside, put some carpet in areas that needed it, upgraded the wiring as required by code, and made lots of small repairs (including half of a new roof) to keep the house habitable.

I being the eternal optimist promised Janis that I would build her our dream house in two - five years. Janis, the realist, figured five - seven years was a little more realistic. As usual she was right. 

It was eight and a half years before I finally applied for a building permit for the new house. The city officials wouldn't give me one unless I took out a demolition permit for the old one at the same time. I choked a bit on the fee but was happy to oblige.

Three days ago everything was finally out of the old house. We and all of our family, neighbors and friends had salvaged everything we could. A lot of other things went out to the road with a giant free sign. It all disappeared - including the free sign. We moved fences to allow room to get at the large piles of soil that would fill the hole afterwards. Our friend Len, brought his giant excavator to the property and the long awaited destruction of the house was set to begin. On Tuesday mornng neighbors, family and crew gathered to watch at a safe distance.

With the new house so close (the roofs actually overlapped) it called for destruction with a plan. Len peeled layer after layer off the back of the house and then toppled the last remaining walls and roof into the pile. The old house was down without even a scratch to the new one.

In less than an hour nothing of the old house was left standing. It was just a huge pile of rubble. The bits were then loaded into a series of large bins and hauled away to a sorting yard for salvage, recycling and chipping. The foundation was next. Because there was no rebar in the old house foundation, the concrete was taken to a gravel pit for grinding and recycling as well. Seven hours after we started nothing was left of the old house except the hole which had to stay empty until the inspection by the city officials the next day. For the first time since the building project was begun we could see the new house from the rear.

Yesterday it was time to begin the backfill and shaping of the yard. Aother twenty truckloads were hauled in to make sure there was enough fill to get the contours we wanted. The new house was four feet higher than the original grade. Our plan was to literally build a giant hill around the new house so it looked like it grew there instead of poking way out of the ground. Once the grading was done it was obvious our plan had worked our pretty well. 

Were we sad to see the old house go? NOT A BIT! In a few days it will be hard to remember it was ever there and we are OK with that!

-grampa dan

Peter on the roof.

It was Peter's first day back on the job and we've been saving lots of work - just for him. Today he was to begin finishing off the dormer window trim which we had prepainted. I had also carefully measured and cut it to fit so it was just a matter of fitting it into place. In the next days he'll staple the lath into place around the windows and then we'll plaster and carve in the final 'wood' trim. A few days later, after the concrete has finished curing we can finish off the paint. The first dormer window looks fabulous already.

One dormer down - three to go!

Good to have you back and close to home Peter!

-grampa dan

Trim and more trim.

This week we have made the transsition from working on the inside to finishing the outside of the house. Much of the fancy trim was cut last fall, but tucked away as the colder weather set in. Now we are again working on the base coats and three layers of glaze each piece will get.

The outside of the house has a hearts theme and the trim has thousands of tiny hearts routed into the center panels in four layers. The painting and glazing is designed to highlight them. In this picture Sarah is putting on the second of three glazes on one of the scores of boards.

One more done with a hundred to go. :)

-grampa dan

Final strokes

It is always a delightful thing when we can finally call another room in the new house totally done. Today Janis' office got the nod, making it ready for the move in. The living room is also getting very close. Everyone has been busy applying the multiple coats of glaze and carefully cutting in the trim. One side of the bridge is now complete with the second side due tomorrow. The butterfly trim looks spectacular.

Janis painted the plain middle sections of the wall this evening.

Tomorrow we'll cut the last of the wainscotting making the room ready for furniture at last. I can hardly wait to sit in the love seats and just enjoy the space. It seems like a lifetime ago Janis & I sat in our old house and sketched out our ideas, dreaming of the day we would get to live here. Now after a tremendous amount of work by many fine people that dream comes true.

-grampa dan

Cut, cut, cut, glue

Today I spent at the tile saw measuring and cutting what seemed like endless stacks of tile for the living room floor. Once I was around the entire edge it was time to mix up some morter and glue them into place. After supper, at last, the final tile was in place. 

Tomorrow it will be time for the grout. Final paint will also happen this week and pretty soon it will be time to move in the furniture!

-grampa dan

Todays job sucks

It was our goal to completely finish the house, or at least the inside before we moved in. That was a great idea but the realities f life and the failing systems in the old house requred us to modify that plan. Instead we are finishing each room and then moving in. Even so some things inevitably get left unfinished as we move through the house. I have made it my goal to take one item off this list each day. Its a good thing there are many small things unfinished for on some busy days it's all I can manage but as often as I can find the time I also work at the larger things.

Today's task was to finish of installing the built in vacuum. We wanted to wait until the last of the construction dust was gone and the painting of the walls was complete before we started the job. The task required I break out lots of tools that I haven't used in a while. I cut and glued pipe, made plenty of electrical connections and screwed on faceplates. I had to climb up in the attic space to find the ends of pipes and coiled wires long fogotten. Eventually I figured it all out. It's been twenty years since I hooked up the last vacuum but it like riding a bike I suppose - only I remember it being a whole lot easier the last time. :)

It is FINALLY time to retire our NOISY, heavy and DESPISED upright vacuum. It's a good day and one that is well worth the effort!

-grampa dan

The shortest way to the new house

With the tile finished in the kitchen and dining room today was moving day for the kitchen - at long last. We considered all options for the move but the thing was the doors in the old house were very narrow. To get the stove and fridge out we had to remove all of the handles and do some pretty heavy lifting, over counters, down stairways and then up a gravel driveway to the new house. Thankfully we also had a second option - a much shorter path to the new house. 

I loaded up the tools in the shop and then set to work. By removing one window in the old dining room and then cutting a door into the wall it was an easy twenty-five foot level push to the new house. It didn't take long with the right tools...

After suffering through many cold winters in the old house we discovered what we had long suspected. The old house had single pane windows and no insulation or vapor barrier. There were three layers of siding however as the house had been renovated at least that many times in the eighty years it had been there.

With the large new door in the side of the old house the move of the kitchen appliances, fixtures and supplies went smoothly.

-grampa dan

Over the hump

Back in the days I did very large historical murals there was a point on every wall where I wondered if I would ever get done. It generally happened about four or five days into a project. I called it hitting the wall. But if I continued to push hard and just trusted myself I would get through those nagging doubts and each time the mural tuned out fine. I know many other talented folks I painted with ran into that same crazy wall.

When I started doing large theme projects I found that very same wall - the point at which I began to doubt myself, wonder what I got myself into and also wondered how I would get out. But like in the mural days if I kept pushing and believing it always worked out in the end.

The house is no different or rather each stage of the house project is like that. We determined we would lay the tile ourselves in the new house. That translates to me being down on my knees for what seemed like forever, laying out, measuring, cutting, gluing and grouting. I've had some great help along the way from time to time but it has gone on for quite some time - which is to be expected for we took delivery of 2,700 tiles for the task.

Some areas go very quick, big areas with no pattern and little cutting. Small areas like closts and hallways are a different story. In the main living area, dining, living room, kitchen and hallways it is all laid diagonally and much of it has a diamond added in for good measure. I quickly found out why tile setters charge more for the complicated and fancy stuff. It simply takes a lot longer!

In the last week as I worked through these more complicated areas I hiot that proverbial wall once more. Doubts snuck in and I wondered if this crazy floor would ever get done. But I've been down that road hundreds of times. I knew exactly what to do... simply press on.

Yesterday I managed to finish cutting and laying the bulk of the tile in the pantry, dining room, and the longest hallway. Today I spent on my knees again trowelling and sponging the grout into all those many joints. When the tools were washed up I went back into the house to look things over. It felt good - REAL GOOD. The stack of unlaid tile is now downright small.

Two more rows of tile in the dining room will polish things off here as well.

Of that giant original stack of 2,700 tiles there remain less than 600 to go. We are now over the hump at last!

-grampa dan

Measure twice - cut once.

Laying tile is fun work for me and I enjoy it, although I would not want to do it for a living. In our house we decided to get a little fancy, which means the tile saw is getting a real workout - as is my tape measure. In some areas there are up to seven cut tiles for every whole one. Yesterday I did the main tiling down the center of the hallway and the bulk of the area in the dining room. The key here was to get the lines and diamond pattern to be perfectly straight.

In the next few days I'll be carefully measuring and cutting each edge tile and then carefulluy gluing them into place. I'm looking forward to the challenge!

-grampa dan

Details take the time but look great!

I decided to lay our own ceramic tile in the house because we desire lots of small details that would simply cost a fortune if we were to hire a professional to do them. Every doorway has a transitional strip of small tiles. Through the main living areas, living room, dining room, kitchen and hallways the tile is laid on the diagonal, with small square inserts to make things interesting. It all takes time nnd as usual in this kind of situation (a common occurance in my life) I sometimes wonder what I got myself into about 3/4 way through the job. But at the end of each day I stand back and look at the day's acomplishments and it makes me smile. When the house is finally finished there will be few regrets for we made few compromises along the way.

Tonight I laid the bulk of the tile in the pantry area, which is adjacent to the kitchen on the west end of the house. The diagonal tiles meant plenty of careful cuts to make things fit around the cupboards. We did the tile after the cupboards (not usual we know) so that the baseboards fit perfectly. 

Each area of the house was carefully planned and then executed so everything works together as it should. The double door fridge we purchased for the house was a large one and deeper than normal. To accomodate this we set the wall behind it back six inches so the fridge did not stick out into the kitchen. Its one more small detail that makes a big difference to the finished house. In this area, like under the dish washer, range and upright freezer we put in a transition strip with small cut tiles and then laid the tile in square behind the cupboard line. Each closet got the same treatment as well.

This is the transition strip between the front entry and the pantry. I have a eleven more tiles to cut and lay tomorrow in order to finish off the pantry area.

There are now far more tile laid than still in the stack in the living room and it feels great to be that far! Everyone else is putting the pressure on to be finally done. I don't need much encouragement to get this thing done!

-grampa dan

One square foot at a time

We continue working our way through the house with final paint and tile work. Kendra was busy today painting the doors while Sarah was up on the scaffold painting the bridge.

I managed to get the tile laid and grouted through the kitchen area, bringing final move in one step closer.

It feels more like home every day.

-grampa dan

Plumber's final touches

Richard and Shawn from Richard's Plumbing and Heating were back in the house today for the final bits and pieces. We really appreciate their careful attention to every detail. Today's projects included the third showerhead in the big ensuite shower. This one is a wand on a hose and is adjustable in height.

While Shawn did that task Richard was under the mud room sink hooking up the connecions to the ouside tap. We will have both hot and old water in the carport - perfect for washing the car on cool days.

Now, save for one toilet in the mud room bathroom the plumbing is done in the new house. That will have to wait until I finish the tile work. Each day one or two more items get crossed off the ever dwindling list of things to finish the house. We are looking forward to the day it is all done!

-grampa dan

MOVING DAY in Yarrow!

Today was the official start of the move into the new house. It won't be an instant process but instead we'll move in a bit at a time, sorting through everything as we find a permanent home for each item. I suspect many things won't make the journey as we decide what we keep or not. After ten years of living in the same place there is lots to sort through and move. Tonight will be our first night to sleep in the new house.

To get ready for the big day the electrician put in the last switches, lights and plugs, making sure every plate and cover was in place to make it safe for everyone. The plumber also arrived today to install the upstairs toilet and most importantly of all hook up the waste water system. At long last the plumbing was ready to go. Janis was dancing her dance of joy and insisted on moving the first of countless loads of things into the new house. Being the practical person she is she knew just what to bring...

It is the time we have looked forward to for so very long! MOVING DAY ONE!

-grampa dan

Closets with style!

Janis has worked hard to squeeze in every possible square inch of storage into the new house. It's one of the important things that make the new house work so well. We selected the good folks from Turner Closets in Abbotsford, B.C. to build and install the organizing systems into the closets.

The master bedroom is the main event of course. We have plenty of room for hanging clothes, shelves and drawers for everything else.

Other closets in the house are getting the treatment as well. They are looking looking pretty spiffy!

The count down is on to move into the new house...

-grampa dan

The writing is on the wall

We've decided we can't put off moving into the new house any longer. The old house is failing badly and each day more things seem to go wrong. It is telling us the time has come. Not every area of the house is tiled but the work will continue as we are able.

For eighty-five years the old house has provided a roof (most of the time) over a number of families. Lots of kids grew up in those tiny rooms and as the families grew, so did the house with four additions through the years.

In the last few months Phoebe and her friends have been allowed to write on the walls... not a normal occurance but perfectly OK with grandma - just this once. It started over Phoebe's bed.

Today I noticed a message by the lightswitch out in the hall. It summed things up nicely...

We begin moving in on Saturday. Three more sleeps! Bye bye house!

-grampa dan

Grouted times two.

Today I spent a few hours on my knees grouting the sewing and guest room floors. This means once they recieve the sealer and the door hardware the two rooms are ready for moving in. Good news!

Next up is the master bedroom.

-grampa dan

Another room off the list.

Today was busy from start to finish. The edge tiles in the sewiing room were finished and the full size tile were laid in the guest room. This is the last room to recieve the light colored tile.

Tomorrow I'll lay the last of the edge tiles in the guest room and then it is on to the master bedroom. My knees are beginning to feel like I've been on them for a little too long... but it will all be worth it when the job is done.

-grampa dan

 

It's coming together at last!

The house was a whirlwind of activity today. The finish carpenters are busy wrapping up many parts of the house. Upstairs only a few pieces of baseboard remain to be done. The mud room now only lacks a couple of baseboards to finish the carpenters work in there. The bench and coat rack look fabulous and now are ready for paint after a teeny bit more sanding.

The laundry needs only paint touchup and final cleaning to be ready for service. The new washer and dryer are unwrapped and ready for hookup.

The stairs are now almost all tiled save for the small bits of tile in the nosings.

The guest room is also now ready for tile.

There is still an enourmous amount to do but the list gets a teeny bit shorter every day.

-grampa dan

Detail with an important function

I was doing a delivery to the WhistlePunk Hollow project for most of the day but while I was gone lots of people were busy in the house. Sarah, Becke and big Matt were busy painting various places. The exciting news was that today the first of the doors got their first coats of paint. Janis is in charge of this part of the project as she gives them the detailed attention they deserve.

Downstairs the finish carpenters were busy. Jesse worked on baseboard trim while Brent worked on a new project - the mudroom bench and coatrack. It is going to be a spectacular feature that will serve our family well for years to come. It will feature a ten foot long bench with a built in coatrack on the wall behind. A sturdy shelf above will hold all the accessories. 

Underneath the bench there is plenty of room under the bench for our shoes and boots.

The sturdy brackets for the shelf feature Janis' beloved butterflies of course.

By tomorrow night the bench area should be almost complete. I can hardly wait to see it done!

-grampa dan

Sew?

The work continued late into the evening hours today. Houses don't build themselves. I did the fidly work first, tiling about half the stairs. Then it was on to Janis' large sewing room. I've learned the easiest way for me to tile is to do the big area first, then come back the next day and first cut then lay the edges to fit perfectly. There were 150 full size tiles on this floor. There will be plenty of room for Janis to do her quilting in this room.

 

Tile by tile we get closer each day to moving in. No firm date yet but it will be soon!

-grampa dan