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Demo Day 5 – Oil Tank Removed

October 21st, 2012

When you think about heating a house, yes occasionally people think about these things, there are a few things that come to mind (at least for me).  First off it comes to how the place is heated (where is the heat coming from) the next is its not just about heating.The typical methods are Radiators or Central Heating. Radiators are good for people with allergies, but central air means you can also have AC!

Not very exciting in the grand scheme of things but in our case it’s pretty important. Our new house has radiators and we’re ripping it out and installing a full HVAC (central heating) system, mostly so we can have AC in the summer. The problem is that when you have radiators they are typically fed by a boiler heating system and run on water and take up a large amount of space in the basement.  The radiators themselves take up a couple square feet of space in nearly every room as well.  If you want to maximize space, definitely not the best option.

Our house is about 50 years old and has a 50 year old boiler – which needs to be removed along with the rads to make space for HVAC.

Day 5 was the day that this boiler was to be removed along with the oil tank that fuels it. To give you a bit of perspective the boiler is solid cast iron and the tank holds about 900 litres of oil. Also made of iron. That shit is heavy. And in this particular case, completely covered in rust!

The two guys that were contracted came in and started to remove it  – fast forward  about 5 hours later and its gone!  In pieces to be sure, but gone nonetheless.  Left a bit of a mess though.

Post demolition of boiler and tank there was a bit of a oil spill on the basement floor.  Who knew but Tide totally cleans that crap up.  Awesome!

Additionally had to call a plumber in to take care of the the galvanized piping in the upstairs bathroom. The guy came in and was totally professional and quick about it. This let me get back to destroying… i mean demo’ing the bathroom. Almost done.

The day was long and lots of progress was made, here are a few pictures:

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Demo Day 4 – The Plumbing Problem

October 18th, 2012

The fourth day was the the first day of the demo where we both went back to work, you know the day jobs that are needed to help pay for everything. Did that stop me from Demoing? Nope! I was so far behind with getting the house ready for the contractors to begin work that when the work day ended it was time to run to Home Depot and then back to the house.

If you remember back to Day 1 of the demo we stopped work in the bathroom stopped because we had a vanity that had no shut off valves, which meant I couldn’t take it out. That is the whole purpose behind day 4 – remove that vanity. I was able to get everything I needed and got down to it… off goes the main water.

Unfortunately after about an hour into the demo a few problems were becoming apparent; I was able to get the vanity off but it looked like there was something weird about the pipes coming out of the wall.

The first thought I had was: what the hell is this? Well after a few texts and pictures There were galvanized pipes that were coming out of the wall and the reality is that a Plumber needed to take it out.

Definitely not good!

Now to top this off the main water shut off valve to the city was dripping – again not good!

Day 4 was thwarted by plumbing and now a plumber needs to come in.


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Demo Day 2 and 3 – Kitchen Gut

October 16th, 2012

Matt attacked the bathroom on day 1, but had to stop due to the lack of water shut off valves and car to go to the store (I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it at some point). So, the bathroom had to be left for another day since the car was still in the shop. Time to go to plan B and gut the kitchen.

Yellow cabinets and nasty countertop meet sledge hammer, crowbar plus sawsall. I was up a ladder finishing up cleaning the crown moulding in the living/dining room by hand when Matt let loose with the sledge hammer. There was some enthusiasm in that swing let me tell you (he was still pissed about the car) and the BANG was sooo loud I jumped and nearly fell off the ladder.

Six hours and a lot of debris later, no more kitchen. Wow, it’s looking way better already! Now I can really envision the new design in this space. It’s going to be pretty awesome when it’s all put back together…

Here are some pics:


Starting Kitchen Photo
Starting Kitchen


Matt Destroying the Kitchen
Matt Destroying the Kitchen

No Cabinets
No Cabinets

Demo'd Kitchen
Demo’d Kitchen


Kitchen Drawing
Future Kitchen Drawing

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Day 1 – Demo and Cleaning – Part 2 (Demo)

October 14th, 2012

Our first day of actual work in the house started off a little daunting mostly because of how much work needed to be done. The goal was to start off the demo upstairs so that our contractor could go in and start rebuilding the bathroom (the kitchen was next). Must have place to pee… have been told the tree outside is off limits!

Knowing the amount of work I geared up in the suit (industrial dust mask and goggles) and began taking the bathroom apart. By taking apart, I mean rip out everything down to the studs to get a clean slate.

To give you a bit of an idea of what was involved, there was a layer of tile that went about chest high all around the room (which is maybe 5 by 7 which is small). The tile was about normal sized which is maybe 6 inches by 6 inches which is again fairly normal.

So with all this said I started at the edge of the tub hammer and crowbar in hand – about 30 minutes later I had all of a handful of tiles off, progress was not going as planned. Fast forward about an hour or so and I’ve managed to take off a few chunks of the backing behind the tile and to my own chagrin I discovered there was going to be a problem. The mounting behind the tile was about 1.5 inches thick – IN CONCRETE!

Needless to say after about 5 hours some progress has been made, most of the tub has been cleared from tiles but it was tough work. Hammer and crowbar went head to head with concrete and it was a battle! A dusty, dirty, arm exhausting battle.

About 15 industrial garbage bags of debris later we stopped, mostly because there was a trip to Home Depot required. It was about time to rip out the ugly old sink and vanity but guess what – no shut off valves for the water under the sink!

Now this posed a bit of a problem, a big problem.

The car broke down just as we were driving over to the house to the start the demo; specifically the keys were stuck in the ignition and getting the car into drive was… lets just say difficult. Before any demo began it was dropped off at the dealership in order to be addressed.

So again, problem – there was no way to get to Home Depot to get parts. Demo day 1 has come to a halt while we try and figure out how to get to the store without a car…

By the way the new dust mask is AWESOME, the safety glasses not so much. The bathroom is going to take a lot longer than planned.

This was all done while Tara cleaned the disgusting walls – check it out to see how scary it is.


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Day 1 – Demo and Cleaning – Part 1 (cleaning)

October 13th, 2012

Being on a tight budget for this rather large project, we plan to do as much as we can ourselves. Two major components of the DIY part are demo, and clean up. I mean, if you’re tearing things out and demolishing stuff it’s a lot easier (and less professional skill requiring) than building things back up. That’s what the pros are for! And cleaning? Remember the peeling paint and nicotine stained walls? Anyone can do that it just takes a little bit of elbow grease!

So, I’ll leave the bathroom demo tale to Matt, but I have a few choice words to say about cleaning the living and dining room… The plan to start was to wipe down the walls and ceiling with water & TSP to start getting the nicotine and other stains off the walls so the place could start to air out. When I refer to ‘other stains’, to be honest I’m not sure exactly what they were. Sort of looked like someone threw coffee at the walls in random places. If it wasn’t coffee, I don’t want to know what it was!

To be able to reach the top of the walls and the ceiling (ceiling height is pretty high which is nice) I decided to use a mop. Filled up my bucket of TSP and water dipped the mop and ready to go! Yes, I did mop walls and ceilings.

OMG!!!! The walls and ceiling looked to be a dark mustard yellow type color but were in fact a pale cream or off white color. So gross! How much chain smoking and non cleaning does it take to get to that level of build up?? It took me 6 hours and two large size containers of TSP to do a once over of the living/dining room area. It’s going to need at least two more cleanings for sure!

I am by no means a neat freak but still sometimes I think my house is dire need of cleaning… It so does not even compare.


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Let there be Locks!

October 13th, 2012

Now that we’ve gotten possession of the house there is a burning issue that need to be addressed! We need to change the locks!

With a house that effectively had a revolving front door you never know who might just show up with a key or two and try letting themselves in. Yes there might be nothing of any value in the house but over the years the ‘ole frat boys’ really kept the party going even providing a place to live for people down on their luck.

Now the reason I’m mentioning this is because while its been alluded to a few times with the ‘frat boys’ comments there were more than a couple unsavory characters passing through this house over the years. Our new neighbours seem very friendly but do love to gossip! While I’m fairly sure that none of them will come by the house and try to let themselves in… you never can tell.

The locks have been changed!


The first door presented only a mild challenge in that the screws on the new deadbolt didn’t quite line up making the whole thing hard to screw in. But its in.

Now the second door, taking off the old lock I discovered something interesting. The hole that was in place to hold the lock was considerably smaller than what is a normal size. This didn’t surprise me – the lock looked older than me and over times standard sizes of things change.

The problem is the deadbolt I purchased was new and thus needed the opening in the door to fit what is currently a ‘standard size’ – too bad I didn’t have anything to make said opening.

The front door lock has temporarily thwarted me!!


A couple hours later I returned to the house because the HVAC guy was coming by for an estimate and this time I brought the big guns! The drill and the circular hole implement (yes I don’t know what its called but I do know how to punch round circular holes with it).

This time I won! Hole was punched and the lock installed.

Now no one without a new key can make it in!

The empty house is safe once again!

As an aside: while tackling the demanding task of replacing the locks on the doors I also met with the architect/engineer who we’re getting to plan out the drawings and the HVAC guy to go over the installation of the Furnace and AC.

Things are progressing!

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The Purell Story

October 12th, 2012

So we impulse bought a house. Yes, I did say we and no it is not the royal We it was an actual joint craziness. Having been through a round of renos once, we saw the potential in this disgusting old house and were all full of plots and plans on how to fix it up and make it our own. Full to bursting with ideas, we immediately engaged our kitchen guy (who did the custom cabinets in our current house) and roped in a general contractor who happened to be an old work colleague of my husband’s (who gave up the headaches of the corporate world to be his own boss in the reno business a number of years ago). We psyched them up and brought them to the new house for a walk through pre-closing so we could get moving with our lofty reno plans and be ready set go when the time came for possession.

So, 3 elderly gentlemen and one old lady were living in this place and they spent their days drinking beer and chain-smoking inside (hence the frat house nickname). One of them had a dog who would occasionally pee on the floors. Do you think anyone ever did any cleaning? Definitely not! When we went for the visit, we spent about an hour in the house, with one of the good ole frat boys floating around along with the cute but pee making dog, talking through plans and taking measurements. Isn’t the place supposed to be empty when you book a visit?? Anyways…. Cobwebs, nicotine stains on the walls, peeling paint, leaking kitchen sink and scary ass basement, we combed through the whole place. I still can’t believe people actually lived there it was so gross?!! Experienced guys both, the kitchen guy and our GC maintained their business professional hats throughout the visit. Then we exited the building.

Once outside in the fresh air, our kitchen guy made a beeline for his truck and pulled out a bottle of Purell. A generous squirt in hand, he considerately then offered the sanitizer to our GC who said, “While I don’t normally use this stuff, I’m feeling the need today,” and he promptly squirted double the amount into his own hands. By this time, my husband and I were laughing but let me tell you, we took some too.

If the contractors are grossed out by the place, do you think that should be cause for worry? Nah….

A couple of weeks post Purell incident, we finally took possession of our new house. An exciting moment in anyone’s life, full of possibilities for the future and inevitably a bit of sadness for the home that you’ll be leaving behind. Of course on closing day, we did what any couple would do when given keys to your new home; we drove over to see it. Full of excitement for the reno plans that were taking shape via phone, email and drawings, we eagerly walked up to the front door. After trying every key multiple times, we finally managed to get the door open. Did I mention that the doors and locks also need to be replaced? Anyhow, we walked into the front hallway and stopped to breathe in and absorb that exciting new house feeling… And then I promptly gagged from the stench (Remember nicotine stained walls and dog pee smell? Doesn’t smell any better post removal of the cause of said smells!) and I had to step over to the window for an actual breath. That unfortunately put me face to face with a water damaged window and a nice fat spider. Back away slowly… Now while not one of those ladies who shrieks at the sight of a bug, let’s just say I’m not overly fond of spiders. So, welcome to the house!

We did our walk through, checking to see that cupboards and closets had been emptied and talking about next steps. Here we go, the planning is about to imminently become reality. Reno rollercoaster and unexpected surprises here we come!
Oh, and once we left I promptly went to the grocery store and bought some Purell.










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Can you impulse buy a house?

October 10th, 2012

A little bit of history before I begin… We finally finished all our major renos in our current house, from removing knob and tube to gutting and redoing a kitchen and two bathrooms, and we were well satisfied with the results. Pretty proud of ourselves in fact thinking about how handy we’ve become with the whole reno thing post condo. So there I was a couple of months ago, with no new projects in sight, enjoying a cup of coffee on a lazy Saturday morning, when I had the brilliant idea to go poking around on MLS to see what the poop on the scoop was in the area. Within minutes I found an interesting looking property not far from our current location. The price was looking good for the neighborhood so of course I just had to say, “honey, come take a look at this!” Needless to say, the house was purchased within days (yes we did impulse buy a house!) and panicked craziness ensued getting our house sold in record time and now here we are.

Where exactly are we you ask? Well remember that interesting property at a good price close to where we are now? Well it was a reasonable price for a reason…. Ok, let’s make that a few reasons… Think old man frat house, and forget about outdated think disgusting. Oh yes, and let’s not forget to mention radiators and the dog who peed on the once lovely original hardwood floors. Yup, we have ourselves a project folks. A project big enough to be worthy to write about.

And now we are ready to begin….


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A New Chapter – A New House

October 9th, 2012

This blog was started a little over 4 years ago and in reality it never became anything because I got too busy and just didn’t have time to write. I managed to write a whole 19 posts with less than any real consistency. The idea behind the blog was pretty simple my wife and I just purchased a house that was going to need a lot of work and I was going to use this site to document it so that others could learn from our adventures.

As of my writing this post that chapter of events has completed, the house has been sold and we have purchased a new house. Rather than close down this site we have decided to document some new adventures and those are with the new house. The new house is an even bigger mess that is even worthy of a flip. We’re going to document what we do to bring it up to livability and to being our new simple house.

With that said there will be some changes around this site, first off there will be more than one writer (maybe we’ll average more than 1 post every 6 months this way) and we’ve got a lot of work to do in a very short time. The other changes will probably evolve as we move forward but I am going to keep the few old posts that are already here because there is no point in deleting them.

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Simplifying Cleaning with a Roomba

April 3rd, 2011

One of the things I dislike doing and procrastinated most about is cleaning and most specifically vacuuming. I’m not entirely certain what it is about the activity that puts me off so much but it does.

This past Christmas my wife and I were asked what we wanted for the holiday and I instantly said: “I want a Roomba”. Lo and behold Santa was kind and we got one. Ever since then I believe I have picked up the devil machine, I mean vacuum, once to vacuum the stairs.

It’s a great device for our needs though I will admit it’s not perfect but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks 100 to 1 if not more!

The benefits

  • It cleans without my input or effort
  • It cleans well, as good if not better than my regular vacuum
  • It cleans Under furniture

The drawbacks

  • It sometimes gets stuck underneath the couch
  • The brushes don’t seem to last extremely long.

Overall this little device is a godsend; I dislike cleaning and vacuuming and it frees up my time for more important things like spending time with my family. I recommend this little robot to everyone!

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