Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29: Tile, decks, trim, a new freezer, and a tree!

The tile is in and will be grouted tomorrow. Mudroom tile looks like this:

Laundry room tile is here:

Kids bathroom tile is here (same as laundry room):

Powder room floor looks like pebbles... (we'll also have this one in the master bathroom shower). This is my favourite!

And we also have a new tree ... a maple. Imagine it with some nice leaves.

This will help provide privacy in the backyard. Our landscaping material has arrived as well, so that will start shortly. We first have to finish the exterior siding. We've had some delays this week - not much work was done, but the team will be there tomorrow to hopefully finish up the South wall, then move the the front, then the back. When the front is done we can pave the driveway, and do the front landscaping.

Time is short on this. We need to pave the driveway before it gets really cold. We have likely til the end of November, but would like it done sooner if possible.

We also have the back deck finished. Too bad it's getting so late in the year - we'll have to wait a bit to use it.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 20: Dribs and Drabs

Lots done yesterday and today.

Update on hardwood flooring: we fired the original crew and now have amazing, hardworking crew, who have already put the first guys to shame. We asked them to leave and take their tools and garbage with them.

Good progress today, as a result.

We now have a crew on each floor. Should be done by week's end. Of course, either the husband or the foreman is there every minute, watching over them.

Here is final North Wall of siding etc. We used corrugated metal in two colours in two directions, and hardie board (the cement board which forms the panels). Our installers were excellent. The site looks more immaculate now than it did before they started.

Here is the back section and the side window wells:

And here is the cedar that will be many places, the stain we decided on had a brownish-tone. Another coat will go on shortly, then it goes on the house, the wall, the canopies. Stay tuned.

And, finally. Look! The hot tub. It's here. (And it's apparently awfully .... pink.)

The husband says it is quite pink in person, which neither of us remember when we bought it. No fear, dear readers. Our master painter has already informed us it is easily painted with an acrylic exterior paint. We're on it. That pink will be beige, my friends. Oh yes. It will.

It's quite big, apparently, as well. We also don't remember this. I think we bought it in April, so I a not surprised we can't remember.

The guys got it there. Our hot tub mover retains his world record of meeting every hot tub challenge he's ever met.

Looking forward very much to our first soak.


Monday, October 19, 2009

October 19: Staining Away ...

Floors update: A bit better today. Almost done the entire first floor. My anger is at bay. First floor should be done by morning tomorrow, and the main floor is ready and waiting for them to begin down there. I believe we are getting an extra installer, as well. I think they will make good progress tomorrow.

Siding update: The painted hardy board on the north side is pretty much done. Looks very good. Colour is good and the panels are huge! Scaffolding moving to the South side for a week or so of that installation. We have had to ask our ever-patient neighbours if we can set up part of the scaffolding in their yard. Our lot is SO narrow we literally don't have room for one pair of scaffolding legs. Our neighbours are renters, so we have to ask them, and their landlord. Fingers crossed this won't be an issue. These are the kinds of things that can sink you.

Cedar Siding Update: Meanwhile we have chosen the stain for our cedar. I think we have. The cedar is going under each of the window canopies, on the ceiling of both porches, and along one entire main wall of our outdoor room space. It will be prominent. It also goes in two places on the front of the house. By the porch and over the garage. It's supposed to be a feature.
I wasn't sure of the stain. I only knew I did not want that awful orange-y brassy looking cedar found from the 80's - the one everyone slapped on their decks back in the days of big hair and shoulder pads. Blech. Wanted something warmer.
(In fact had quite a chuckle today when I was describing what I was trying to avoid ... I compared the yucky cedar stain colour to those awful knotty pine panels in the Wayne's World (and everyone else in the 70's and 80's) basements.

So, apparently it's going to rain Wednesday.
What does this have to do with stain?
Well, if it rains, they will work on the underneath areas of the decks, away from the rain. These guys are always thinking. (And my wandering mind is now thinking about some strange rhyme with stain and rain ... )
So, we had to get on with it. Pick it, let them stain it so it's ready for first rainy day. The cedar only arrived a few days ago, so off to the world's best paint and stain store. to figure it out.

We got a test strip with four stains to test it out. Think we are going with a brown-y one.

Hot tub update: (Again all pure promise and speculation ) Arriving Wednesday. They will put down the wood decking tomorrow so it can rest on it. It will be built in a few hours. I will be floored it the hot tub ever actually shows up. Wednesday. This is what they tell me. I no longer believe we actually have a hot tub. It's been in storage since we bought it in May.

Landscaping Update: Our landscaper is going to get started with the slabs, walkways and retaining walls in about a week. We picked a lovely maple tree for the backyard on Saturday. It goes in soon, because we will lose access to the side of our yard soon. We also need to pave both ours and our neighbours driveways(we promised them a new driveway in exchange for easy side access and we DESTROYED their old driveway when we dug our foundation.) before the ground freezes. We've picked everything, we just need sometime for our landscaper to install it all. The plants etc. (except the tree at the back and some boxwoods) won't go in until the Spring.

Tile Update: I think Tony the Tile Guy comes to prep tomorrow, starts Wednesday with some of the installation.

Solar Panel Update: They are in. Connected and ready to heat our hot water. The husband gave me the full tour this evening, and I tried to be interested, really I did. I really believe in this stuff. I am glad we did it. I am supportive. There is just something about heating and cooling in general that makes my eyes glaze over. I can tell you this: there are a number of tanks and tubes and the water will heat in one place, move to another, and we will never have to use any energy every again to heat our water. Even the hot water that drains from our showers will be re-used to heat something. Or something.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18 - It's all Coming Together

Am. So. Excited.

The paint is on, the floors are er, well .... started? (More on this later, brutal, brutal flooring installation.) But the house is now looking like it might look - one day, very soon, when it's DONE! I think for the first time, I could see it, for real today.

Amazing painters have put one coat almost everywhere. Love, love, love the paint colours. Look even better than in my mind. I am convinced that Maureen, Tanner and I are colour geniuses.

Here is the evidence (although the pictures don't really do it justice) on the left is the wall behind the stove and hood fan and on the right is the wall which will be behind the bookshelves. This stroke of genius was Maureen's - who suggested it as a way to inject a bit more colour in an otherwise neutral space.

We also picked the dining table chairs (no pics of these, sorry) just nice white leather comfy chairs with steel legs. But we got these two accent chairs, which we will pull up to the table at each end, when required, but which will actually live in the corner near the garage door/bar area. They look like this:

And this cutest little table for between them. I can just picture us sitting there, in our chairs, calmly sipping our wine some crudites on the cute little table ...... Ha! More like, the four year old using the table for his Lincoln Logs. Ah, but I can dream.

So, the hardwood flooring. Here is the one long strip in the hall. Despite the installation, I really like the floor itself. Turned out lovely. It's a lot more variated than I thought, colour differentiaton is more pronounced than I expected.

Looks good. Would look much better is there was more of it. Here is our bedroom, about 80% done, as of later Saturday.

Only 3/4 of one room is complete after one week. Ok, it was a short week due to the Thanskgiving holiday, but still. These guys are so lazy, unmotivated, complaining and brutal that I almost can't believe it. Compared to the other trades, and professional craftsmen we have had the pleasure of dealing with, these guys are an abomination. Truly awful.
Didn't show on Tuesday, came for 10 minutes on Wednesday to "see if the floors were level". The foreman has been to the house maybe five times and our floor (which he has seen and stood on) is comprised of SELF LEVELLING material. But I digress .... Thursday the "crew" showed up, made a mess, lugged some boxes around and installed three rows of flooring in our master bedroom. They were there around one hour, maybe two including all the smoke breaks.

Calls to installation company by the husband (there were three by that point that week) which resulted in many promises that the lads would work the weekend and all day Friday.

Friday. The husband and I are on site for much of the morning. The "lads" work. Well, between smoke breaks, they do. Sort of. I guess. 3/4 of one room gets laid. That's it. They leave.

While I was there for a little more than an hour, they literally took a half hour lunch break and I witnessed them take 2 more smoke breaks. I think they were there from 9 ish to just before lunch.

Saturday. Our trusty and hard working exterior siding installers were there. We asked them to call us when the flooring guys arrived, so we could get a sense of timing. (We were on our way to Halloween haunted farm with the kidlets) They arrived around 10 am. At the end of the day (around 3 pm) we stopped in to check progress. The ONE ROOM was now around 80% complete. That's it. They left. Their tools were strewn about, so they were still technically there, but no sign of them. They did maybe two hours. Maybe. They left huge glue pots open, and actually left harwood pieces lying around on end with the glue stuck on. Just not put in place.

Unbelieveable. I opt to fire them, but the husband is worried about the schedule. He is going to insist on another crew, one that is constantly supervised by the flooring foreman. The floors have to be completed by Thursday end of day to keep the rest of our schedule.

Fun times. Still excited, but sigh .... why so lazy??

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 12 - More on the Green Roof

Over the Thanksgiving weekend - as the turkey was digesting - we were talking a lot about the green roof - and we answered many questions from friends and family about it. So, here, in no particular order are a few fun facts:

There are many benefits of a green roof, including:

  • Reduced energy costs. A traditional shingle roof can reach temperatures of 65 - 80 degrees C in the middle of the day, when the sun is hottest. The same roof covered with plants maintains a steady 15-20 degrees C . This is one of the biggest reasons green roofs drastically reduce air conditioning costs.
  • Green roofs last longer. Plant cover increases a roof's lifespan 30-40 years compred with a shingle roof which typically lasts 15-20 years. That's double. The soil used in a green roof acts as a screen against UV rays which account for 5% of a roof's aging. It also protects against thermal shocks (like when cold rain falls on hot shingles - and acts as a buffer against heat which disintegrates the oils in a typical shingle roof, making them brittle.
  • Better sound proofing: Studies show that a 15 cm layer of soil is enough to reduce sound polution by more than 45 decibles.
  • Improved air quality - the roof will help purify the air by neutralizing carbon dioxide and other gaseous pollutants converting them into oxygen - photosynthesis, like we learned in school! It also absorbs dirt, dust, pollen and other airborne particles.
  • Reduced water treatment costs. Not as much water rolls off a green roof, so there's less going down the drains. The water that does end up draining off the roof is filtered and much cleaner after draining from the plants.
  • Our installer said we might have the largest residential green roof in Ottawa (1450 square feet). There are many much larger commercial ones. The City of Toronto has mandated green roofs on all newly built city properties.
  • One more tidbit - an Environment Canada study showed that the presence of green roofs on just 6% or Canadian buildings would lower temperatures by 1.5 degrees, saving 5 to 6 % of energy costs (mainly through the need for less air conditioning).
  • Ok, the costs. We estimated that the green roof costs slightly less than double a typical shingle roof. There are also costs associated with yearly maintainence, if you choose to do it that way (we did, the husband isn't a massive fan of heights. Sorry, I stand corrected -he is ok with heights, it's falling he doesn't like.) Even so, the extra cost is worth it given the longevity and benefits.

If you want to find out more, give the topic a Google or check on Environment Canada's site. When the husband looked into it, he said there was a ton out there.

Oh, and as you can see from the photos in the previous post, we also have some solar panels. These will only heat our hot water for now, but we can expand the capacity in later days and plan to do so.

And that's the end of the educational side of our program ...


Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 7 - The Roof- it's "Green"

So, the husband wanted a green roof. It means more efficient heating and cooling so he researched it and today - it arrived. It came on one huge truck. They lowered the "green" on the roof and some technicians installed it over the course of the morning. Check out how things unfolded.
It's sedum. Rolls and rolls of sedum. They unrolled it - like sod - until it covered the whole roof.
I will get details on what happens next .... we get it maintained throughout the year. It won't be too obvious from the front - just a little green fuzzy top.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 6th:

And now it's time for paint colours. I love picking paint colours. In a previous life, when I had a home staging and decor buisness, I loved doing this for other people. As far as I know, I was usually bang on. Probably my one talent is the ability to memorize colour. I can see it somewhere and re-create it or match it in my head. I took a colour course when I did my decor program and learned a lot about colour. I find it fun.

However, like many things in life, it's always easier to help others than it is to help yourself.

I have to pick all the colours for our new home. I have the colour scheme all decided in my head, just now have to pick actual colours and what goes where. It's an additional challenge for an open plan home. And I hate white walls. Always have.

So my main colour is a blue-ish, green-ish grey. Quite neutral and I love it with chocolate brown. Very water and earth. Or something. Anyway, if you want to check out a cool tool, here is the virtual colour wheel from Benjamin Moore.

So with the primer on the walls, the paint colours need to be finalized. Early this am, I stopped by the house to throw some sample colour up on the walls. The colour I thought I wanted is waaayyy too dark. The lighter shade is great, though. Tanner was also there with the installer (more on that later) so we had a brain wave and now I am all sorted out. Am using the colourful colour in a few places and going neutral elesewhere. I'm not typically one for white walls, beige are even worse, so this was hard for me. But there is a whole lot going on in our main room - with the stone wall, garage door, stainless steel, three different types of counters, dark floors, wood paneling and more ..... so I began to see the light. I must go far more neutral on the walls, with a few select spots for the colour. Am relieved. But now need the perfect greyish beige without any pink undertones. Must head back to BM for more samples.

When we were there this morning, the exterior siding guys were doing the metal and hardy board siding on the North wall. Here they are, hard at work:

Also today, the solar panel guy turned up. Yep, we're having solar panels installed, The husband is all over it, always has been. Here is the solar panel installer:

Also an update on the heat situation: The new heating guy showed up yesterday and re-did some of the existing work, fixed it and completed it. All done now. Heat is on. And may I say the house is very, very warm. Too warm. The drywallers doing the prime check today had to open garage door and windows - it's an oven in there. It's quite a nice day, kind of humid. They must be roasting. Now there has been another change of plan. Heat will stay on through to the weekend. Then, the hardwood installers start on Tuesday, right after the long weekend. We had to switch back because once the tile is installed, the heat needs to stay OFF for three weeks. So, the hardwood guys had to go first.

This, however, puts all the flooring in, ready for Nov. 10th, when the first of our cabinetry gets intalled. Yes, we got a date and a schedule today. That's why Tanner and the installer were meeting, to discuss schedule. Cabinets get installed for two weeks from the 10th to the 28th, putting our move in date to the last weekend in November. There is still counters to template, order and install, glass backsplash to install, and appliances to have delivered. But at least we have a schedule.

This is a significant milestone. And the first time we've had a date. If we, in fact, get in by Nov. 28th the house will have been built in six months. We wanted in by mid-November, but this is fine, too. We are in no real hurry to leave our rental and this way we have even more room for contingencies.

Now, to make it all lhappen,


Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 3-5: Aarrrggghhhhh!

Just when things were swimming along - we're had a big glitch day on Friday.

First, the heat. We have to hook it up (radiant heat floors, remember?) to the boiler so it can run for five full days before the floors can go in. Heating guy was no show again Thursday(but he had a good reason. Apparently.) So then, he was supposed to come on Friday, so we could turn them on from Friday to Tuesday, and the floors could get started on Wednesday. The flooring guys were all ready for Monday.

He didn't show. Again. He said he'd come on the week-end. He didn't show. Again.

So, the husband found another company - this guy has always been a close second for this job -- and he said he would come Tuesday. (Update: He came a day EARLY. Just got word he and his team is there as we speak .... Yay for new heating guy! (whose name I don't know, but will get.)

All was not lost. We decided to flip the hardwood and tile installations. Tile needs heat OFF, so since it would be off awaiting the heating guy - we could lay the tile in our bathrooms and the mudroom.

However, the tile wasn't all in yet. And one of our favourite selections was not available in the size we wanted. So we required a quick trip to Emerald Tile (LOVE them ... dealt with Trista, who was lovely with us ... delayed leaving early for the day to help us out.) to sort it all out.

Picking the alternative tile meant we could pick it up on Saturday and the tilers could begin Monday. So this is what we did. We picked. Quickly. Then on Saturday, we lugged (ok, not so much a "we" as I was not as involved in the lugging as, say, others .. but I did help unload at some point). We had to take the trailer because the tile was very heavy. We got it all there, stacked neatly in the garage so they can proceed today. I believe they are doing so.

Also this weekend our painters put all the primer on - this is for the prime check. A prime check is a review of the drywall to make sure it's as good as it can be before paint. Place looks really great all painted up. Quite white as this point but so clean ...

Apparently, we have it on good authority that our drywallers were amazing. We agree. They were fast and very good. Dario and Robert Borsato Drywall. Great guys, too.

The third issue is our stupid hot tub. We bought it in May and it'be been with a storage/delivery company since. They can't figure out how to get it on our balcony. They guy has been to the house 3 or 4 times over the past few months, with various schemes. He says he has never had a situation where he couldn't get a hot tub to its rightful location. Ours is proving a challenge. On Friday he said he wanted us to take the doors off the upstairs and roll it in. This was his original plan - two months ago - when we didn't have doors, much less drywall. Needless to say, he is a little late for this plan. The husband wants him to use his crane to get it on the roof, and then the husband figures we"ll lower it from the roof to the upper balcony, manually. Yes, manually. He figures he'll "get a couple guys" and they'll move it down. Note to all friends of my husband: don't answer his calls over the next few weeks. He wants you to try to kill yourselves.

Obviously, I am not 100 per cent supportive of this idea. I think it's crazy. I am very worried about the hot tub taking people down. The hot tub weights 1,000 pounds. He calculates that he needs six guys to move it - approx. 200 pounds per grown man. God knows if they do help him, we'll need to fill it up immediately, to deal with those aching muscles.