Update – or lack thereof

I know a blog with no posts is worth little. There isn’t a lot to talk about, however.

I have a builder who is treating my project like his hobby and dabbles at it a few hours a day for a couple of days a week. He does not have a full crew and brings ’round whomever he is able to rustle up that day. Many days nobody shows up at all.

When I talk to him about moving this project along, he sounds reasonable as to why things can only happen in a certain order and what the hang ups beyond his control are. He really does sound reasonable. But when I step back and see that this is a build that he started in JUNE, then the fact that he’s still puttering at it in DECEMBER is unbelievable.

I’m shocked at myself for allowing it to go on.

But, the updates for the last month: Most of the shingles have been installed. Not completely, of course. That would be too straightforward for this builder. But day by day someone comes and does a bit of work and the so far the shingles have taken 3 weeks. Apparently he has ordered a special material to cover the flat spot on the roof, which of course he couldn’t have ordered any time in the previous 6 months. But now he’s waiting on it.

The shingles themselves are beautiful. I’m glad I ordered them.

Carriage House




Now the builder is working on flashings, fascia, soffits, eavestroughs etc.

The HVAC appears to be done. I elected to go with 5 vents off my current furnace (3 on main, 2 upstairs), with in-floor heat in basement and in upstairs bathroom, as well as wall-mounted electrical heat. Had I been offered choices a few months ago, I probably would have chosen a high velocity furnace for the addition.

My main concern was having air conditioning on all floors.

The plumbing is roughed in. I had to take the advice of the plumber on where the toilet and sink HAD to go for the powder room, so we’ll see how that looks in the end. (I’m afraid I might be so renovation-weary that I make those “I don’t care – just do what you want” decisions).

The electrician is scheduled for next week. Then after that will be complete insulating and sealing up.

Very funny is that my end of the bargain – refinished windows – is not completed. When reglazing, the putty takes weeks to set, and I can’t paint the sashes until the putty is set.

Further, I have to build the window jambs, and I’ve been balking on that. I went to the hardware store and saw that fir for this project (8 windows) would cost $600 or so. It’s hard for me to just go and buy that. On the other hand, new wood windows would have cost $12,000, so I should just go and do it. I think another thing slowing me down is that I’m not a carpenter, so I’m not sure I’m making the right decisions on the wood or building the jambs correctly. Obviously they have to fit the actual sashes, so there is some customizing of the jambs as well. Plus, the sill has a downward bevel to it, in order to allow water to pour away from the window. Don’t know how to do that.

The stairs are still in the planning stage. Builder says he does not want to start those until after the building inspector has been by on the other parts. I’ve reiterated that I want the builder done before Christmas, so I expect we’ll come to blows shortly because there’s no way he can do all of what is left in the next three weeks.

Being a customer of a useless builder is no fun.




Refinishing Windows

In the meantime, while waiting for the roof trusses and building to resume, I’ve been refinishing windows I took from my grandmother’s abandoned farmhouse. After being told I couldn’t use old windows in a new build, I discovered I could and have pushed for them. The builder is now happy to use them, and I’m happy to be using something of real value and to save myself the $12,000 new Loewen windows would have cost.

Five sets of double hung windows, two storm window frames, one bay window set, and two smaller ‘bathroom’ windows.

So, now the job of refinishing them. They’re in quite good condition – only the outside sills are greyed and need sanding. Otherwise, with a good wash, replacement of putty, and cleaned glass they could be installed right away. But, they are painted white on the inside and I want natural wood. So, I have to also strip the paint. Turns out it is likely milk paint and is proving difficult to remove.

Beautiful upper sash with intact glass.

I’m following John Leeke’s method and have ordered his book “Save America’s Windows”. I can’t get some of the materials he recommended

in Canada, so I’ve ordered Allback linseed putty and will use boiled linseed oil and turpentine to ‘condition’ the more exposed parts of the frames.

I’m removing the old, concrete-like putty with a Speedheater.

I can see this is going to take many hours of work. But I’ll enjoy it, knowing I saved these windows and will have them to add true character to my modern addition.