Build It And They Will Come: Part 3 – Rebuild

It’s been a while! Thanks for still being here.

We are now April, so you are probably all assuming that I am settling into my new home with a big smile on my face! Well… you are mistaken! However, I can still be found with a smile on my face. Some days, it’s just for show. Some days, I smile until I get to the house… Some days, I break down in tears behind the smile (like at this moment). And some days, when I can imagine how happy I will be in that house, I do authentically smile.

Those of you who have done renovations in the past all understand when I say: “I just need it to be done”! Please! I guess I am now writing this blog, as I actually do see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel and it gives me hope.

We’ve all heard it : renovations always go over time and over budget. That is certainly the case here. The house was supposed to be ready at Christmas… then January 15th… February 15th… March 15th… I have now stopped asking for a date… I knew when I bought the property that I would have to tackle some structural issues, as they were apparent. I also knew that when opening up the walls of a century old building, I’d find hidden defects. I just didn’t expect as many…

Ten. Ten hidden defects. I talked about some of them in my last blog. Some that I chose to tackle and fix, as I am not one who wants to have the bad karma that comes with suing someone. Others though, too serious. As my budget exploded due to these defects, I had to remember that I did buy the house with legal guaranty after all. There was a limit to being nice! Of course, I cannot go into all the details (as I am suing the previous owner), but I can certainly give you some of the crazy highlights of this past winter (I cannot believe a whole season went by and I am still renovating!).

  • You know about the doors in my wall as soundproofing, the three back walls that did not support the upper level, the upper addition sitting on three gyps, the electrical eaten to pieces by Ralph the squirrel, support beams being cut through for plumbing,…
  • I found out, when trying to save my gorgeous beginning-of-the-century wood floors, that my floors did not stop at my walls. Nope. My floors are actually the sub-floors of my neighbors! That was a shock we would have never anticipated.
  • The shared wall with the neighbors was also not a firewall. So this brought to light the historical fact that our two homes were probably one at some point in time. The fact that our floors and roof are connected meant that we would never have full fire protection from each other.
  • Abnormally cold January brought a frozen and burst water pipe (argh! The ONLY one of my pipes left in the house and it had to freeze). Unfortunately, said main water pipe is also shared with my neighbors. Plus, their sewage goes through a pipe in my basement before connecting to my main and heading out to the city system! Again, something I would have liked to know when I bought the house!
  • I had to dig out the crawlspace and found surprises there, so while I had the machines in the house and listened to all tell me that I MUST dig out a true basement, I chose to do just that. I was still within budget (at the time), so why not. I wanted to put the staircase under the other staircase (the one going upstairs), but discovered an old, stoned fireplace right where the stairs would be. So that nixed those plans! Finding another location for that staircase was a huge puzzle. A trap door it will be! I found a little medication bottle from the early days and I didn’t find any bones, so I was quite happy!

Demolition happened so fast that I am still dumbstruck by the fact that 5 months after buying the house, we are still rebuilding. The work that had to be done was a lot more complex than imagined. Five and a half weeks were spent digging the basement, whole walls and floors had to be rebuilt, beams jacked up, plumbing redone, electrical redone, a whole new bathroom and kitchen… basically the whole house ended up being worked on, except for the front door and staircase! Well, the staircase will need to be touched up so that leaves the front door! I didn’t touch the mailbox either! Haha I have to laugh about it, right?!

So I get it – it was a huge reno – but can it just be finished, please?!

And not only that, but I’ve been homeless since February 1!  When the February 15th move-in date seemed reasonable, I moved out of my old place on February 1st. The new owners were coming in March 1st and wanted to renovate as well. I thought that I could sleep at my boyfriend’s or mom’s for those two weeks (despite them living 1 hour away which made my drive into work at 3am significantly longer), but when the renos extended, I started begging friends for sofas and extra beds! I needed my sleep! Work 4-11am, then renos (to try to help with the little things like Ecocentre trips, putting wool in


the walls, cleaning, taking down wood,…) from 11-4pm and then to a “somewhere” for a quick dinner in order to be in bed by 8pm. The long days were taking a toll & the work was bruising my body (see post-ecocentre photo). Friends were generous and I am still boarding at one as we speak, but at least we are nearing the end… or I hope! Walls are up, floors are down, rough electrical and plumbing in, the gyps, plaster and sanding are being done this week. That means that I can start painting too and with my budget being a bust, I’ve enlisted friends to help by promising fun paint parties with pizza and wine! Hahaha

I have to say that friends have been incredible throughout the project. My boyfriend has been my rock. They say renos make or break a couple. He met me as I was buying the house, so these renovations have been at the centre of our relationship. When I just can’t take it any more and break down in tears, he reminds me of how strong I am and to look for that tiny light at the end of the tunnel! With that light, a smile comes to my face. With that smile, I stay sane!


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