Build It And They Will Come: Part 1 – The Project

I’ve always had an interest in Do-it-Yourself projects. Part of me loves seeing my efforts lead to something concrete. I helped renovate a house with Habitat for Humanity a couple of years ago. I was so excited to be taught how to work the power tools! My ex built me a deck and months later, after having moved back to Montreal, I asked a friend to help me build one here. It’s still holding 😉 I’ll watch once and then try – give me a little guidance and I can go a long way! So, even though people keep saying that renovations are hard, I feel like I got this!

“Build it and they will come…” that saying is what started this whole adventure! An adventure to my adventure. A side road to my baby journey. A parallel universe that will somehow make it all happen! Build it and they will come!

After 16 months of telling myself that I’d buy a new place after a baby was born or after he/she/they started walking, I got tired of seeing amazing houses sell and no baby come. I chose to change strategy. Someone once told me that if you empty your closet and make room for a man’s stuff, the boyfriend will come… well, I have way too many clothes for that but I thought that maybe this theory could be applied to babies. Make room in your house for them and they will come. I couldn’t do that in a tiny 650 square feet condo… so when a fixer upper popped up in a nice family neighbourhood, at a price I could afford, I jumped on it!

DESCRIBE FIXER UPPER, KIM!

Well, I definitely didn’t realize it was more of a fixer than a upper!

The inspection before sale found quite a few problems but a contractor confirmed that we could fit what needed to be done in my budget – the amount of money that I would get from selling my condo. So I bought the place and started the plans for my project.

What needed fixing? Well, my now new house was owned by a contractor who decided to do the work himself. There’s an expression that says “the cobbler’s children go barefoot” – it definitely applies here… this guy did so many wrongs!

  • The original/beautiful 1900s’ wood floor – nailed by hand – is covered with uneven floating floors. The uneven floor is due to beams having to be changed and the fact that he took down a load bearing wall without calculating the load;
  • A powder room, built under the staircase, has a 5′ access “door” and the toilet is not only loose, it’s also so close to the wall that a girl can’t sit on it! A new powder room would have to be built;
  • Brick walls (the original back wall of the house, now interior walls of an addition on both floors) have to come down in order to rearrange the second floor and I was told “why not do downstairs too” (why nots are an everyday thing during renos);
  • The second floor is horribly done! An additional bedroom was added to the back, but you have to go through the second bedroom to get there (see green arrow — that bedroom is now windowless and not legal). The original back window that was once in the bathroom, is still there but boarded up and looking into the wall of that addition! The heater for the bathroom is at head level if you sit on the toilet, the shower looks like a coffin and the jets to the bathtub have to be turned on in the next room! So, obviously, the bathroom has to be gutted, moved and redone in order to create a true 3 bedroom house;
  • The roof has no gutters or soffits, so water accumulates in a corner and puddles before coming down the canexel on the wall – which was installed without joints… this means: the actual exterior back wall of the house is rotten and needs to be redone;
  • The addition was done in two steps. The second floor addition was built on the roof of the first. So on the first floor, you have skylights to a now-floor and on the second floor, a floor that is a step above any other flooring. You’d think he would have put a step, but no, he made a mini ramp… so slippery that my puppies have trouble making it into the room!
  • The crawl space is uncrawlable!! The earth at some points is so high up, it touches the beams. It will have to be dug up;
  • The hot water tank is down a 7′ hole in the kitchen floor. Above the water table, but barely. So not only inaccessible, but fully rusted;
  • The kitchen ceramic, beautiful ceramic I might add, is so crooked that you can put three marbles at different corners and not one will meet… BUT the kitchen cabinets are nice! There has to be a nice, no?!
  • My neighbours offered to pay half in order to soundproof our connecting wall, as they said they could almost hear the previous owner smoke! Once opened, I found out that the only soundproofing in between our walls were doors! Yep! Twelve side-by-side doors within two pieces of gyprock!

I think that’s about it… oh and there is a squirrel named Ralph who lives in the kitchen ceiling!

Fixer! Upper! Fixer! Upper! Let’s all sing together!!

However, it’s beautiful and has potential and it’s mine… it’s my 3 bedroom house with a yard where the kids – fur and human – will run around and grow old! It’s definitely a project, but they said “build it and they will come”… in this case, “they” also includes the laughs, the tears and the sweat. The dollar signs and the stress. The story and the glory of having made something my own. It’s all going to come. And it’s all so darn exciting!!

(TO BE CONTINUED)

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