A Change of Plans

So the demolition is underway on the back addition.  Initially, we thought we would simply remove and dispose of the structure altogether.

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What we didn’t know at the time was that the addition was near-original to the house.  A covered walkway/wood shed leading from the back door to an “indoor outhouse” was it’s original intent.  Past owners insulated and finished the space, and it’s current condition and use is not practical for our needs.

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So once we removed the interior finishes, we both had a change of heart.  We’ve decided to carefully dismantle the roof and walls to relocate and reassemble it near the rear of the property.

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I think I’ve settled on nesting it under the trees and use it as it as a woodshed/garden tool storage.  We do need (and planned on building) some garden/outdoor storage – and in using the original structure, we get to maintain it’s character and save some serious moolah since the material for the structure is already here.

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I will have to build new footings and floor, but the majority of the walls, roofing – and even sheathing – is reusable.

We’ve never wanted to just ignore the historic significance of this old home we bought.  But in the same breath, we also recognize that it’s current condition necessitates a full gut and renovation.  It will be our dream-home after all, so it still needs to meet our needs.  In relocating this structure and repurposing it for our needs, we can keep its historical ties and fill a need we have by reimagining it for another purpose.

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As part of our desire to be more self sufficient, we will eventually have laying hens for our egg needs and the new shed will be modified to incorporate a coop.  All in all, it seems like a win-win scenario for us.

Another week and another disposal bin in our driveway – although this will be the last one for a while, at least.  We spent a good part of today cleaning up around the back of the barn.  I just don’t understand how people can use their backyard as a dump.  Earlier this year (before the winter really settled in) we cleaned up as much as we could at the time.  Windows, flooring material, mattresses, a piano, wire, tarps, cans and bottles, Styrofoam and countless pieces of wood were left there over the years.  And now with the warmer weather and the grass having died back, we’re able to finally get rid of the last of the junk.  And wow – that feels good.  The only things left there is the oil-drum fire pit and the remains of an old tree trunk – now hollowed out and housing little critters for Murdoch’s enjoyment.

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In fact, while we were cleaning up, he flushed out a vole and quickly dispatched the little guy.  No, no sympathy here.

We also burnt away some of the tall, dead grass around the back yard.  The house has been though two summers without much garden care, so when we arrived in the fall, the grass was waist-high in places.

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Burning off the dead stuff seems to be the most practical option.  Either that or rent some sort of brush cutter before we put the lawnmower to it.

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We also uncovered our driveway.  We had “patches” of asphalt showing through our dirt driveway.  Turns out, our driveway is paved – just buried under years of grass, dirt and pine needles.

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Now cleared away, we have a nice, clean parking pad.  Raking up the old tall grass, we’ve also discovered a few spots of garden plants poking up.

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Looks like we’ll have at least a few beds of lilies around the house in a short while.

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And finally, fishing season opened here on Tuesday.  And yes, I did wet my line.  No, I didn’t catch any fish.  On the weekend, our temperatures soared to nearly 20 degrees and severe runoff from the snow pack thawing, combined with rain on Monday, caused quite a lot of flooding around the rivers.  All of the watersheds around our home had gone from babbling brooks to raging white-water rivers.  Needless to say it was difficult fishing.

It wasn’t all for loss though – Vanessa saw and took this beautiful picture of a heron in the river behind our house.

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We’ll give it a try again soon as things settle down in the rivers.  But I like the way my wife thinks.  She says the sooner we get the demo done, the more time we’ll have to go fishing.

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OK.  Where’s my hammer?

‘Weather’ or not – it’s time to start outdoors

It’s been one of those weeks.  You know the ones: you start with great intentions to get lots done, then something happens out of your control, derailing your plans –  and before you know it, you did half of what you planned and some things you didn’t plan.

For example....

For example….

Between my last post and this one, we had some more severe winter-weather: an ice storm, to be exact.  Close to an inch of ice accumulated on everything:  the cars, trees, the house – everything.  Well, the east side of everything anyhow.

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I have to say it was pretty spectacular to look at.  It reminded me of the prehistoric insects that got entombed in amber – only there were no insects.  Or amber.  Well, you get my drift.

Not pictured: insect in amber

Not pictured: insect in amber

Anyhow, regardless of the weather now, we’re under the gun to get several things done before the new foundation is installed.  The rear addition (that we’ve used as a temporary storage area) has to be removed – which means we’ve been moving all of our unpacked boxes and items into the barn or the upper level of the house.

The chimney has to be taken down.  I’m just waiting on a nice, warm, ice-free day to venture onto the roof to get the upper portion removed – the rest can be done from inside the house.  I’ll have to patch-in the opening somewhat – but nothing too fancy right now.

And lastly, the front porch needs to come off.  I’ve already stripped the trim, soffit and fascia from the roof structure and removed the deck railing.  I figure the roof can stay on until we’re ready to start the foundation since it’s providing some protection from the weather as we come and go from the house.

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The weather has taken a turn this week: it’s been quite mild the past few days – and the long term forecast remains the same.  The snow is quickly melting which is good for us in hopes of getting the excavation underway for the foundation – but it’s making for a terrible muddy mess around the house.  Not unexpected – just another source of aggravation.

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The plan is to have the rear addition mostly removed this week.  A pretty ambitious plan I admit, but hey, even if it takes twice that long, we’ll still be ahead of schedule.  And I really want the garbage dumpster gone before the ground softens too much.  At least the weather looks to be on our side for a change.

 

Spring is in the air….man, I hope so

Well, we’ve completely finished the demolition on the second floor.

Awesome

Awesome

That is other than the stairwell.  I’m debating whether or not to gut this area – as it’s adjacent to our living space on the main floor.  It would be easy enough to demo this little area when we tackle the entry/hall on the main floor when the time comes.

Master Bedroom: before

Master Bedroom: before

The Master Bedroom was previously gutted as part of an older renovation so when the first swing of the hammer revealed drywall instead of lath and plaster, I knew this room would be quickly gutted.   And it was.

Master Bedroom: after

Master Bedroom: after

In one day, we had this room stripped and cleaned up – whereas the rest of the second floor took about three weeks!  It was just nice to wind up the demo with a relatively easy job.

When we took up the laminate floor to uncover the original plank floors, we discovered an area that appears to have been a secondary stairwell.  Lath and plaster runs continuously down the exterior wall and a section of the floor has been patched-in.

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Right under the window….

When we gut the kitchen ceiling below, it will undoubtedly show us what was originally there.

For now, it’s just really nice to have the demolition phase done inside the house – at least until the new foundation is in place.

We’ll be meeting with our foundation guy next week. I want to show him what we’ve done to date and see what his timeframe is like to getting things underway.   At this point, I just want to get this house in the air and start excavating for the new basement.  Our repairs will be on-hold until the house is back on a firm foundation.

Vanessa and I went to the PEI Provincial Home Show last weekend.  It’s funny that we already knew a couple of the vendors there.   We also made contact with a spray-foam insulation guy.  Without a doubt, I’d like to foam the house: there’s no need for vapour barrier, it will plug up any holes, it maintains continuity of the insulation/vapour barrier around the balloon framing and it will essentially “glue” the frame together giving some rigidity.

I also had a chance to chat with the owner of the local Winmar in Charlottetown.  Winmar would have been the competition to the company I worked for in Ontario – CRCS Disaster Kleenup.  With my certification and experience, I’m sure I wouldn’t have any issue picking up some work with any of the local restoration contractors on the island.  Ultimately though, I’d want to pursue my own renovation company – or perhaps “freelance” my restoration experience.  Although for now, all I can think about is the house.

So with the demo finished upstairs, where do we go from here?  Well, to lift the house, we’ll also have to remove the front porch – so we’ll start there.

Got to go....

Got to go….

The small addition and deck on the back of the house will also have to come off, and we’ll carry on with that.

This too.

This too.

That will bring us very close to the time to start the foundation, I imagine.  I’m just hoping and praying for decent spring weather until then.

We took a bit of a mental break last week too and went ice fishing.  I promised pictures if we caught anything, so….

ice fishing

Nothing spectacular.  Half a dozen smelt – which we kept, cleaned and fried up.  Vanessa (who is not much of a fish-eater) tried them and liked them.  We’ll give it another go in the next week or two, but really, it’s only a month until trout and salmon season opens, so given the option, smelt will soon be off my radar.

We got our last load of firewood this week – and I’m counting that it will be the last for the year.

I have no idea where it's all going....

I have no idea where it’s all going….

Finally, we’re getting the odd spring-like day and it feels like winter is slowly departing.  I’m not too optimistic that yesterday was the last winter storm we’ve seen, but it is nice to see the days lengthening   We had another beautiful day here in the valley – so with that, here’s how our day ended.

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View from our Bedroom

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Spring-wreath and the new Lee Valley catalogue

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The moon rising over Pleasant Valley

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Almost full

Small victories (and sore backs)

Whew!

I mentioned briefly in my last post that we’ve finished gutting the second floor of the main cape.  I can’t tell you how good it feels to get that completed.

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At times it felt like the demo-that-wouldn’t-end (much like our winter) and frankly, it’s been very tiring – and extremely rewarding at the same time.

We started in the Spare Bedroom.  The ceilings were already falling down, so it seemed like the obvious place to start.

bedroom 2a Collage bedroom 2b Collage

From there we went into the Bathroom….

bathroom Collage

Then the Den/Office/Bedroom….

bedroom 1 Collage

And finally the Hallway.

hallway2 Collage

I figure we removed approximately 18000-20000 pounds of drywall, lath and plaster from the second floor in the last few weeks.  That’s if you believe Google’s opinion that lath and plaster weighs about 8-10 pounds per square foot.  My back is telling me that sounds about right.

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And that doesn’t count the lumber and framing materials removed – nor the trim, doors, hardware, nails and 64 contractor-sized garbage bags of loose-fill insulation either.  All in all, we filled three 20 yard dumpsters to date – although to be fair, the first dumpster was mostly filled with junk left behind from the previous owner.

With the main cape now complete, we’ll move into the Master Bedroom to start removing the wall finishes.

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A previous owner at some point in the past had attempted some renovations/repairs.  From what I can tell, the Master Bedroom was previously gutted, insulated with fibreglass batts and drywalled.  That’s going to make our job of demolition exceedingly easier in this room.  We should have that done by next week, easy.

Once the bedroom is done, I’ll frame in a temporary platform and remove the last of the lath and plaster in the stairwell.  That will complete the demolition of the second floor.

I also mentioned previously that the partitions on the second floor were built under the original lath and plaster.

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Once the finishes were removed, the stud wall had no top support since the plate sat almost 1-1/2″ below the ceiling joists.

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Simple enough to reframe the partitions, so we removed the walls, too.  That affords us an opportunity to tweak that layout slightly, too (add a closet here, move the wall there, etc).

Unfortunately with the floors out of level and some sagging here and there, we won’t be starting any reconstruction or repairs until the house is raised and on it’s new foundation in the spring.  Not that we’ll be short of things to do.  We’ll finish gutting upstairs then move outside:  I have to remove the front porch and small rear addition before the house can be lifted.  That will be our next big step.

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For now, I’m happy with what we’ve accomplished.  Vanessa’s been solid help with the demolition.  Aside from a few aches and pains, we’re still smiling and having a good time.  Although the winter is wearing on our nerves, we realize spring will be on us in no time, so we keep pressing on.

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I think we earned a day-off, so the plan is to go ice fishing on Friday.  That’s part of the reason in making the move we did – having time to spend together and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.  We’ve talked about going fishing for a while now, but with the windchill in the -20 to -30 degree range for the past few weeks, we kindly postponed those plans.  It’s supposed to warm up (to near-zero) on Friday, so that looks like the day.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

The view from our Bathroom window

The view from our Bathroom window

For those of you who have “Liked” our Facebook page, you’ve seen some of the posts Vanessa has shared from Reclaimed Wood Blog and other design sites.  RWB has a great website with lots of design and project ideas using old wood reclaimed from different locales.  I’ve got quite a collection now of old reclaimed wood from our demolition and lots of ideas.

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For now though it will go into the barn for storage.

Once again, I just want to thank everyone for the great feedback and comments.  I really do enjoy reading each of them.  We’re also approaching 1500 page views on our little blog.  That’s exciting!  And from all over the world: Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and throughout Canada and the US.  Amazing!

Hope you all have a good remainder of the week and a fantastic weekend.

Dark windows, Snow-chi olympics and moving walls

I’ll apologize in advance for some of the pictures in today’s post.  Until today, the pictures of our renovation were taken in the daytime so we had the benefit of natural daylight.  Today’s pictures were taken tonight, so the lighting is a bit….shall we say….creepy.

Nah - nothing creepy here.

Nah – nothing creepy here.

The truth is, something spooked me so I took the pictures and got out of there as quick as I could (I’ll show you later).  So, on that note:

Production has been a bit slow on the home-front this week.  Although we want to spend as much time as possible as we can with demolition while we await spring’s thaw, we’ve been pulled away from the house a couple of times this week.

As you read in our last post, Sunday was a snow day.  The snow didn’t stop until late in the evening so Monday became our day to dig out.  And dig we did.  I’d say if snow shovelling were an Olympic event, I’d be a contender this year.  Forty centimeters of the white stuff fell, but drifted to almost three feet in our driveway.

There was grass here last week

There was grass here last week

I thank the good Lord for our neighbor….and his tractor-mounted snowblower.  In three quick passes, he cleared the snow from our driveway and we only had the side-yard and back-yard deal with.

Seriously - gold medal contender

Seriously – gold medal contender

Mind you, Monday was also a holiday here in Prince Edward Island.  I expected to be shovelling for the better part of the day, but with Orville’s help, that was cut down to less than three hours.

I call it "Mount Russmore"

I call it “Mount Russmore”

And since it was a holiday, we just enjoyed the rest day off and watched some of the Olympic coverage (go, Canada!).  Then there was the bird.

A starling, in an attempt to escape Sunday’s storm, made it’s way into our attic – only to get trapped there.  I was tempted to lock our two cats up there with it and let nature take it’s course, but Vanessa wasn’t agreeable to that.   So, garbage bags in hand, we headed upstairs.  No, we weren’t going to try to catch the bird – the bags were to blackout the windows – except one, which was opened to the outside.  Within minutes, the bird was out, and I’m presuming warning it’s friends and family about the old white house with bird carcasses in the attic.

Tuesday on the other hand was a typical demolition-day.  The main cape of the house is almost completely gutted now – just a little lath and insulation to remove from the front bedroom and we’ll move into the hallway and Master Bedroom.

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Curiously enough, I was surprised with the order of the construction of the house.  In today’s construction, the house would be framed completely and the wall finishes (typically drywall) applied.  Here’s the order I see in our house:

  1. Exterior walls and roof framed complete
  2. Lath applied to the exterior walls and ceiling
  3. Frame the interior walls
  4. Apply lath to the interior walls
  5. Plaster complete

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Not a big deal, right?  Right.  Except the top plate of the interior walls were only fastened to the ceiling lath – so, as we remove the lath, the tops of our interior partitions have no connection to the ceiling joists -and with the lath and strapping removed, the stud wall is about 1-1/4″ shorter than height of the ceiling joists.

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What does that mean for us?  The easiest thing to do is simply re-frame the interior walls.  We were going to make some small changes to the spare bedroom closet and introduce a linen closet anyhow – so replacing the remaining walls will be actually be easier than working around the existing framing.

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The beauty of it is this – there are no interior load-bearing walls in the main cape, so we have the freedom to move or relocate the walls as we see fit.  We likely wouldn’t change the layout much from what’s currently there – although adding an additional 12″ to the width of the bathroom would make a huge difference.

It’s not surprising to find some remnants of the previous owner’s life here in the house.  Removing the ceiling and insulation from the attic has left a small pile of someone’s history.  No, nothing exceptional, and no buried treasure map either – but it’s still pretty neat to look at.

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The funny one was a Radio Shack flyer from the ’80s.  A mobile cellular phone for $1000, a 40MB hard drive, and a $800 VCR.

Technology.

Technology.

So, there you have it.  Aside from the snow – and another 20 centimeters of snow forecasted for tonight, it’s been a good week.  Oh yes, you’re wondering what spooked me upstairs tonight, correct?  Remember, the light was dim – and it is a bit creepy up there at night – when something caught my eye in the window:

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Seriously!  Wouldn’t this guy staring at you from outside your window frighten you, too?

BOO!

BOO!

Now something to cleanse your palate: Monday was Islander’s Day here in PEI – Family Day in Ontario.  So with the snow, holiday, demolition, freeing trapped birds and old discoveries in the attic, what was the highlight of our week so far?

Drummer, #1 Mom, Model, Best Brother, (soon-to-be) Sis-in-law

Family

There’s a mummy in our attic

Dear reader:  At the risk of me causing you feelings of general icky-ness, I’ll let you know now – if you continue to read today’s post you will shortly see pictures of a few dead animals.

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but not here

I’m not talking anything overly gross or graphic – just a few critters that made our attic their final resting place.  If you follow us on Facebook, you’ve already seen the picture of a starling that met it’s maker in our roof – so it’s nothing worse than that.

It certainly not unexpected, either.  We bought our previous house directly from the builder and I can’t begin to tell you how many mice and voles we caught in the ten years we lived there.  Even the brand new, shiny, modern construction practices and materials were no match for those determined rodents – so obviously over the past 100-plus years, a few varmints would find their way into our old island home.

not here, either

not here, either

So with that being said, we’ve obviously gotten through the layers of drywall, plaster and lath and are now exposing the insulation and framing.  That’s when we uncover this….

"I'm not putting my hand in there!  YOU put your hand in there!"

“I’m not putting my hand in there! YOU put your hand in there!”

and this….

A-maze-ing.  Get it?

A-maze-ing. Get it?

There are innumerable tunnels, burrows and nests in the insulation.   What more could a little critter want than to be cozily nestled in a pocket of warm insulation?

We found birds.  Lots of birds.  Big ones, little ones, whole ones and partial ones – but they were all old, dry and dusty.   Each kind of like a little avian Tutankhamen – if you can imagine our insulation was the desert sand and our attic a pyramid.

Here.  Here they are.

Here. Here they are.

Then there was the squirrel.   Yep.  Vanessa didn’t know exactly what she was holding in her hand.  A big clump of “hair.”  A wad of chewed up newspaper.  And then the revelation: teeth, nose, eyes….OHMYGAW-

sorry you had to see that

sorry you had to see that

I almost felt sorry for the little guy.  Almost.  Then I saw this.

What a dirty....

What a dirty….

And this.

little....

little….

And this.

RAT!

RAT!

That little bugger could have destroyed the house before we even got to buy it.  Wires stripped of their casing all over the attic.  Not a big problem in the broader scope of our repairs – we were going to rewire the majority – if not all – of the house anyhow.

But I digress.  So, demolition continues.  Soon, we’ll have the majority of the second level exposed and ready for repairs.  I’m so looking forward to getting to build something rather than tear down.  But there’s still quite a ways to go.

As soon as the weather warms a bit and the ground thaws, we start on the foundation.  Really, it’s the first thing we need to do in the reconstruction of the house.  After we raise the house and jack the floors level again, we can start the framing and drywall repairs.  And I can have something else to write about.

I hope you can bear with us through the demolition.  Perhaps not the most exciting or interesting stage of a renovation, but just as necessary as any other step.  I’m already planning the next few posts and I’ve got a few interesting things in mind.

In the meantime, I just finished setting up our Facebook page.  Please look for Our Old Island Home on Facebook and “Like” it.

"Like" it

“Like” it

I’ll be using our Facebook page to fill in some of the gaps between these blog posts – daily updates, photos and some of my favorite renovation ideas we find around the interweb.  We’ll also be having an occasional contest or giveaway – so remember:

FacebookOur Old Island Home“Like” it…..or else, ol’ mister bird-mummy will haunt your dreams!

"Don't close your eyes"

“Don’t close your eyes”

It’s a dirty job

Say it with me….

Smash.  Toss.  Cleanup.  Repeat.

And so it goes.  Gutting still continues on the second floor.  We’ve pretty much finished the interior walls and started dropping ceilings now.  That’s tough.  I mean ripping off drywall is one thing – but we have the original lath and plaster buried behind a layer of drywall that was also plastered over.  It’s all heavy and it’s all overhead.

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It may seem tedious, but I rather remove a layer at a time, cleanup and dispose as we go, rather than rip it all down and try to clean up the “wreckage”.  It keeps the work area clean, and makes disposal much easier.

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The drywall comes down in 2′ x 4′ sections – which we fire out the window into the front of the disposal bin.  The plaster comes down in pieces not much bigger than the palm of your hand – shovel that into buckets and send it down the chute.

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Then pop off the wood lath.  We’ve thrown out a lot of the lath – most of it is damaged/rotten/broken.  Anything around 12″ makes great kindling for the woodstove – but we have saved the whole pieces.  I’ve got a few ideas to repurpose this reclaimed wood in our home.  I’ll keep those ideas close for now – but it’s safe to say it won’t be the last time you’ll see this lath in our house.

The plans I have for you....

The plans I have for you….

Once we have the remainder of the ceilings down, the attic will be exposed in all it’s glory.

Magnificent, isn't it?

Magnificent, isn’t it?

It’s actually not a bad space.  Although previously never used for anything but storage, I’m sure we can come up with a few ideas.  The brick chimney will be removed as part of the renovations.  It’s old, cracking and likely won’t respond well to being lifted off it’s foundation when we raise the house in the spring.  Besides, we’ve already relocated our woodstove to an exterior wall with a new insulated steel chimney/flue.  A bedroom is not an option in the attic as we won’t have room for a staircase (making emergency egress a problem) – but another use wouldn’t be an issue.  There’s plenty of room to walk around in there.  Perhaps a music room for me to practice without disturbing Murdoch.

"He calls that music?"

“He calls that music?”

Needless to say, we’ve chosen a difficult path.  And it’s certainly not for everyone.  Demolition is dirty, heavy, hard work – but for us, this is a source of tremendous satisfaction.

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And of course, the full-home renovation is almost like building from scratch – you get to make the house exactly what you want.

I like what a friend of mine said recently: “you can judge a day by what it looks like when you blow your nose.”  Or in our case, “what you shake out of your respirator.”  It’s a dirty job – but I’m glad to do it.  Soon we’ll be up to our knees in insulation – I guess that’s better than all the horse hair they used to add to the plaster.

WHOA, Nelly!

WHOA, Nelly!

Links to the past

So at the risk of sounding redundant, demolition continues on the second floor.  For the next short while, our life will consist of: smash, toss, cleanup, repeat.

Looking better already

Looking better already

But I have to say, demolition is fun.  There’s something therapeutic about putting a crowbar through a wall.

Hulk smash!

Hulk smash!

Still, there’s a part of me that is somewhat apologetic about destroying a previous generation’s hard work.  I’m not overly nostalgic, mind you, but now that the “tarnish” is slowly being removed, the craftsmanship of the homebuilder is rising to the surface.  Behind those seven layers of wallpaper and who-knows-how-many coats of paint, the original lath and plaster is still present, albeit deteriorating.  And as we tear through each layer, I imagine the builder – cutting and fastening the lumber framing, installing the thousands of lath boards and applying the coats of plaster – all by hand, no less.

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To be honest, I think we saved this house from the brink of destruction.  After a couple years of sitting vacant, a house can quickly fall into disrepair.  Our old stone foundation will be replaced this spring – which will likely be our single-most expensive repair in this whole process.  With the sagging foundation, the old plaster walls and ceilings are cracking and loosening.  That, along with some water intrusion from the roof, makes localized plaster repair impractical.  While it would be nice to save the old finishes, a complete gut now affords us opportunity to address some insulation issues and upgrade the wiring.  And that’s the direction we’re taking.

Vanessa getting plastered

Starting with the spare bedroom and bathroom, we detach the trim, strip away the old plaster and remove the underlying lath.  No rocket-science here – just grip and rip.

Removing the lath

We’ve completed the interior partition walls.  The ceilings and exterior walls are next.  I’ll have to get into the attic to remove a few things left behind from the previous owner before we drop the ceilings, however.

What have we here?

What have we here?

During the demolition of the bathroom, we also removed the knee-wall installed in a previous 1970’s renovation.  How do I know the bathroom was renovated in the 70’s, you ask?  Because this was behind the wall.

1974 to be exact

1974 to be exact

I’m still not sure if this room was always a bathroom or if the room had another use previously.  Either way, the space hidden behind the knee-wall was part of the room previously and by opening it up, we gain almost twenty additional square feet in the bathroom.  I’ll take that.

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While we could date the bathroom renovation, we haven’t been able to accurately date our house yet.  We know that the house once served as the manse to the local Methodist church, which was built around 1878.  A local historian also provided a picture from 1920 of Pleasant Valley in which you can see our house in the distance.

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So, for now, it’s safe to say our home is somewhere around 100-135 years old.  I’m still waiting to find that special “something” left behind from the original homebuilder, giving us a link to the past showing the true age of this old island home.

My sore elbows are telling their true age

My elbows are telling their true age

Where we’re going

So with demolition now underway on the second floor, I thought I’d show you where we want to take our renovations to our old island home.  Last week I posted the floorplans and a couple of elevations of our house as it currently stands – you can see it here: https://ouroldislandhome.com/2014/01/20/best-laid-plans/ .   This week, I’m going to post the new plans showing some of the changes we want to make – more on that shortly.

Yesterday, I had some lumber and plywood delivered from Castle Building Supply just outside Kensington.  Since we’re just gutting the second floor for now, I had the disposal bin dropped under the Master Bedroom window and I built a garbage chute with some of that lumber – from the window right into the bin.

Ignore that sofa - it's left from the previous owner

Ignore that sofa – it’s left from the previous owner

We’ve been pulling off all the old doors and trim before we get to the dirty stuff – lath and plaster.

....and bathroom fixtures

….and bathroom fixtures

Vanessa’s also been saving all of the old cut-nails from the trim.  She already has plans to incorporate them into her jewellery making.

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We’ve been looking at a lot of island homes like ours.  The truth is, the “island-ell” style of our farmhouse was obviously very popular back in the day.  It’s hard to drive anywhere without spotting a house like ours.  Unfortunately however, a lot of them have been renovated beyond their original design and charm.  You could say they’ve been “ruinovated.”  Some others have been abandoned and left to decay.  Still, there are those old homes which have been maintained over the years or restored out of their ruinovation or neglect and brought back to their original glory.

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Like these gems

Fortunately, our house has not been overly renovated – although it has suffered from years of neglect and some poor design choices.  The exterior is close to what was original (as far as I can see) with a couple small changes inside and out.

Main Floor

Main Floor

Main Floor:  The functionality of each room will remain essentially the same.  The Front Hall/Entry remains as-is although we’ll likely build a closet into the nook under the stairs.  The previous owner had laundry hook-ups in this space – and I’m now using the nook for my drafting table.  We’ll change the front door system and add a transom window over it.  A number of the older homes like ours also have a portico (porch roof) over the entrance – we’ll do the same.  The Parlor/Living Room to the left will get a new bay-window (very typical of this style of house, although missing in ours) and the triple casement window on the side (previously added and now in desperate need of replacement) will be changed to two double-hung windows.  The French Doors from the entry Hall to the Living Room were also a previous owner’s addition and will be removed and a more open-concept at the Hall/Parlor/Dining Room junction provided.  A new set of Garden doors will open from the Dining Room onto a new covered rear-yard deck.  Vanessa’s Craft Room opens to the left of the Dining Room.  The Kitchen excites me – new cabinets, fridge, wall oven, cooktop, apron sink and an island fills the space.  We have a small banquette in the corner with round table for in-kitchen eating and a coffee bar between the two new front windows.  The front porch now extends to wrap around the side of the kitchen providing a secondary entrance into our new addition.  This multi-purpose space serves as a combination of Mudroom, Laundry, Pantry, Washroom and Summer Kitchen.  We love to cook and entertain and this layout will serve us well.

Second Floor

Second Floor

Second Floor:  The big change up here is the Master Bedroom to the right of the upper hall.  This big bedroom currently has no closets or storage of any sort.  We’ll add closets and dressers built directly into the knee walls under the sloped ceilings.  The addition of a large dormer at the back will greatly improve our view and add lots of natural light to the room.  The front dormer looks onto the street and the side window over our driveway – but the new large window dormer at the back (complete with window seat) will open up our view to the valley.  The Bathroom gets a full overhaul with freestanding tub and toilet moved under the sloped ceiling.  A shower with glass enclosure and vanity are added to the other side.  I see white mosaic tiles on the floor and subway tiles on the wall for a bright, crisp classic look.  The huge closet in the spare bedroom was mostly removed along with the chimney flue.  This opens up the room nicely while keeping a portion of the closet (accessed from the hall) for linens.  The front bedroom will now serve as an Office/Den and the storage closet remains at the front of the Upper Hall.

Front Elevation

Front Elevation

Front Elevation:  The addition of the bay window and a portico at the front door give some “heft” to the main cape at the left side of the house.  This provides some balance to the ell with the front porch extending around the side of the Kitchen.  Oversized window casings and corner/frieze boards will add some depth from the fairly bland trim and “shutters” of the original.

So, there you have it –  the “bones” of it, anyhow.  You can see our direction.  In the near future we’ll be posting some of our design choices – the trim style, doors, cabinetry, flooring and tiles, etc.

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For now, the gutting continues and we’ve got a lot of the thankless jobs still ahead (cleaning, insulation, plumbing and electrical rough-ins, framing repairs) before the beautification happens.

Until then, I will continue to resist the urge to use our garbage chute as a slide.

....or perhaps a fireman's pole from the bedroom to the kitchen?

….or perhaps a fireman’s pole from the bedroom to the kitchen?

Best laid plans

It’s been a very long time.  I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I actually drew anything on my drafting table – let alone actual plans.  Needless to say, that’s changed this past week.

I've missed this

I’ve missed this

I’ve drawn the floorplans and elevations as the house currently exists.  I’ll take you on a little tour in a moment, but first let me tell you a bit of history.  I don’t actually remember a time when my drafting table wasn’t in our household – and I don’t mean in the time Vanessa and I have been together – I mean EVER.  The drafting table was my fathers and I guess it’s something that’s just been passed along to me.  My Dad was a homebuilder/general contractor when I was growing up and I remember “playing” with all his drafting tools as a kid.

Later, I spent many late nights working on drafting projects during my post-secondary Architectural Technologist program – although my actual career choices didn’t require much of my “hands-on” drafting skills.  I was an estimator at a large timber-frame construction company, worked in the building departments at both the Town of Richmond Hill and Town of Ajax in Ontario and was an Associate Project Manager for a restoration contractor in Durham Region (alongside my brother) when we left Ontario for PEI.

So, last week, I set up my drafting table and started with the current layout of our house:

Main Floor

Main Floor

Main Floor:  closest to you is the front of our house.  The front door opens into the main hall with the stairs to the second floor on your right.  To the left is a set of double French doors leading into the Living Room (which we’re currently using as our bedroom while we demo and renovate the upper level).  The hall leads to the Dining Room (currently our Living Room) and the small room to the left is where we built the temporary washroom.  I’m guessing that previous owners probably used this room as a den or office.  We’ll likely turn it into Vanessa’s Craft Room where she can finally have a dedicated space for knitting, sewing and jewellery making.  To the right of the Dining Room is the Kitchen.  Probably the most important room to Vanessa and I, it currently has sparse cabinetry and minimal storage.  We’ve also had to use this space to install the hot water tank and laundry facilities until the renovations allow these items to be relocated elsewhere.  Off the back of the Kitchen is a small Foyer with a Powder Room that we’ve taken apart and is currently being used for storage.  The long room off the back Kitchen hallway is….well….I’m not sure.  Some previous owner of the house built this addition for some purpose – storage, most likely – and it’s not in the best shape.  No foundation, no heat, un-insulated, sinking on one side and a leaking roof makes this addition not useable for anything other than we what have been using it for – a glorified mudroom/entrance/storage area.  This addition, back hall and Powder Room will be removed as part of our main floor renovations and replaced with a more appropriate rear-entrance/mudroom/laundry room.

Second Floor

Second Floor

Second Floor:  to the right at the top of the stairs is (what will eventually be) our Master Bedroom.  One window in a dormer looks out the front of the house and a window in the side gable looks over the driveway.  The washroom is at the top of the stairs, with a small vanity, tub and toilet.  The second bedroom is on the back corner of the house with a big closet and the chimney coming up through the room.  The front room is the third bedroom, although we’ll use it as an office/den.  There is a small walk-in closet in the upper hall towards the front of the house.

Front Elevation

Front Elevation

Front Elevation:  very typical styling of a PEI “island-ell” farmhouse with the front dormer and round-top window and has some decorative gingerbread trim around the front porch.  The shutters are not original, nor functional, nor real shutters – just some boards fastened and painted for a decorative treatment added some-time in the past.

Rear Elevation

Rear Elevation

Rear Elevation: nothing special here.  The back addition makes for a poor view and will be much better once it is removed.

In addition to documenting the current use and layout of the house, I’ve been sketching the changes were going to make as things progress the next few months.  I hope to have these plans posted in the near future.

I’d love to hear some of your feedback and suggestions or answer any questions you have (at least to the best of my ability).