Code compliance requires new soffits to have built-in venting, to the tune of 25% of the area. The original soffits had no venting. Essentially, the attic pulled in its air through any cracks and holes that would have been in the attic, and then through the attic hatch, which was not insulated. I have no idea whether that was sufficient or not, but the whirlybird on the roof was always spinning, so I know there was air movement.

New soffits with venting make matching to my original soffits quite impossible. The Builder has done the best he can, I think. He’s installed a wood beadboard product that looks like tongue and groove, with a strip of venting.

Old meets new

The Builder says the venting strips have to go along the north and south of the house, and not along the west. The west would have been preferable, as then they would have been out of sight entirely. However, he says I did not have a choice.

Venting strip compared to no venting strip

I’ll be painting it in the summer and hopefully it will blend in a little better. As it is, it looks obvious and unsuitable and doesn’t match up at all, so I may have to replace the original soffit to match the new. Will assess in the summer.

I notice that the eavestrough corner looks pretty rough ….

Nearing Completion

I hope I’m not being stupidly optimistic in saying this, but the building seems to be nearing completion. In  December my friend Craig took over managing the project and dealing with the Builder for me. I was at wits end, ready to commit assault, and he very kindly stepped in and has been saving the day.

Craig reminds the  Builder that he also has to come to work everyday, stay for most of the day, and get some work done. Amazing that a so-called professional needs that babysitting, but he does. It hasn’t been 100% successful, in that some days the Builder still doesn’t come or do anything or stay for any meaningful length of time, but it has helped significantly as we’re nearing completion. I’m quite confident I would not be saying that if Craig hadn’t been babysitting.

Right now we have my beautiful windows installed, the insulation is almost complete, and poly on, with City inspection in a few days. If Craig hadn’t been on site, the Builder would have then disappeared for a month after he’d installed the windows. That’s his “m.o” But with Craig’s help, the Builder came back the next day to keep on working! Amazing!

One issue with the insulation is that some frost developed behind some temporarily installed pink insulation, where the Builder now has to put in foam insulation. Foam insulation can’t go onto frost, so we have to get rid of the frost. So, today, since the weather is supposed to be nice, I’m going to remove the pink insulation and set up a strong fan. It’s a small area. Hopefully by tomorrow the frost will be out and Builder can get sprayfoam done and final poly installed.

Then there is a chunk of concrete in the basement the Builder has to crack out. He’d installed it as a landing, but it is no longer needed. Then rim joist insulation down there and all small holes filled, widen the doorway area to the original basement, and clean up. The doorway area has to be widened because the plumber installed heating ducts through that door and now I can’t walk under it without ducking. So, new door location required.

Then sub-floor, and  upstairs: bathroom fan, poly, attic hatch, et voila! Builder should be off my property until the springtime, when he comes back to  clean up his work site, grade the elevation, and do a gravel driveway.

Oops, one more unresolved issue: the Builder did not put any heat into my upstairs bathroom. Yes, that’s how clever he is. It is wired for in-floor heat, but that is not sufficient in my climate So, either electrician comes back and installs electric wall-heat or plumber comes back and installs furnace duct.

Final electrical and plumbing inspections will be my responsibility, because I’m installing the drywall, flooring, and fixtures. With my friend Craig helping, I think I’ll be able to be motivated and educated on how to get that all done. It’s possible that by March I could be sitting in my addition, at least with sub-floor, drywall, and fixtures. Final painting, wood trims, and decorations might be longer.

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.




Some Action

After raising my voice a bit and shedding some tears for the Builder, this week produced some movement on the addition.

Right now I have a partially insulated basement (needs rim joist insulation), a partially insulated main floor (has a back door and pink insulation in walls, but no poly because electrician and plumber have not been through, and of course no windows yet), and an uninsulated upstairs. Shingles don’t arrive until next week, so still raining a bit through the underlayment. One morning we could have skated on the frozen water on the floor inside.

Icy floor

On the main floor there is a roughed in closet at the back door (I’m not intending it to have any doors, it will be shelving and hooks only) and a roughed in two piece bathroom. I had originally thought to have a pocket door, but a swing will be better.

The upstairs bedroom is really big. Much bigger than I need and it feels conspicuous. The original ‘designer’ on the project advised that for resale value people want huge bedrooms, ensuites, and walk in closets. I should have said I’m not most people, but I couldn’t see any other way of practically dividing up the space. So big it is.

Part of the big bedroom

Here are the roughed in ensuite and closet. The closet is smaller than originally planned, as we’ve changed the plan for the stairs.

Bedroom closet and bathroom roughly framed

Assuming approval from the engineer and the City, the new stairs will make it possible for me to have a one level, medium-sized entry foyer, which was one of my three stated goals of this renovation (the other two being a main floor powder room and a level exterior grade to the yard).

The existing stair case will be pushed back a foot or more and we will take out the mid landing and turn, and instead continue the stairs directly upwards and through the existing wall, resulting in a landing in what is now my son’s bedroom. That whole wall of his bedroom will come out and the space will simply be open. I’ll use it as a home gym and he’ll move into my current bedroom. This change in the staircase is what reduced the size of my planned bedroom closet, because the new entry to that bedroom will be where part of the closet was to sit. I’m fine with that change because it gives me the 2 or so feet extra at the front door. Of course, this is all assuming the City allows for it.

I am absolutely delighted to be able to use my grandmother’s doors for both bathrooms and my bedroom closet. I’ll have those, her windows, and all the trim – baseboards and plinths, plate rail, window and door casings and cornices, etc. I think I would be most pleased if someone entering the house could not tell there was a new addition on the house.

The window re-finishing is coming along. I am now painting the exterior on some of the sashes, although a couple of the sashes had broken glass and I’m waiting for replacement glass to come in. So once that glass is in, I will have to glaze those sashes, prime, and paint. The glazing putty takes several days to skim over, so should the glass come in on Monday, I will not have the windows finished for installation until at least the following Monday. And I picked up two additional windows from my grandmother’s last weekend, which need to be completely refinished, including sanding. I’m not a fan of the sanding. So my end of the window bargain has lots of work left in it.

Here’s a photo of the exterior – it looks big and manor-like. One of those things that a drawing can’t really convey – you have to see it to get a sense of its impact. And the roof looks really good.

Starting to see how big it will look

Anyway, cross fingers for another progressive week coming up!

Pain and Torment

I am feeling the deep pain and torment of renovation gone wrong, and there is no practical way out. It’s fall, it’s cool and wet, and snow will be here in no time. I have a shell of an addition with no insulation, holes in the shared wall – from the addition to my basement, on the main floor where the cold air return opened into the wall, and the same on the upstairs in two locations. The cold air makes it way easily into my house and my furnace is running nonstop.

It’s raining inside my addition, with the water dripping down the shared wall and into my basement, onto my upstairs landing, and probably into my attic. I’m afraid to look.

The roof has only a sheathing on it, as the Builder failed to order the shingles I asked him to order in June, with a reminder in July and another reminder in August. There’s a two week wait while they get shipped in (he also ordered the wrong colour, but instead of making him change the order and wait a further two weeks, I’ll go with what he ordered).

I raised my voice, stomped my feet, and even shed a tear when I met with the Builder this week. I asked whether he was intentionally trying to get me to fire him and he denied it. But I think he does want that. I’m prepared to do it, but in the end all I asked for was that he keep me posted daily as to what the plan is in the morning and what was accomplished by the evening. Three days went by before he updated me.  He is incredibly aggravating. Such an incredibly small thing I asked of him.

I’ve decided that if he is not working by next Tuesday, I will start calling around to get another company to take over, get them to assess the value of the work currently completed, and then fire this aggravating Builder. I’d call him worse but this is a public site.


Kitchen Mostly Reassembled

Last kitchen update for some time: I got the ABS plumbing figured out and the dishwasher reassembled, and my brother came by today and finished the heating duct in the crawlspace and fitted a plywood floor. So, it appears I have a fully insulated crawlspace and the kitchen is again a kitchen for cooking.
I still have some cleaning and dusting to do but it is a much more manageable space again. Thanks Bro!