March 10, 2010


I gave a presentation at work recently where I drew an analogy between the type of work my group does and the background work that goes into getting a fire truck where it has to be. Same thing can be said for house renovations: the background work is sorely under appreciated. Lots of times I hear from people (the ones that are too scared to actually come over and visit...) asking if we're done yet. Excuse me? Budgetary considerations aside, let's not forget to factor in that Norm and I are doing this work ourselves, after putting in a full day of the kind of work that helps actually pay the bills. What else? Well, it's a fairly big house. Things take time to decide. Then there's the inevitable mind changing (mine) and eureka discoveries of even better ways to do things (Norm's). But the main thing is that quite a bit of what we're doing isn't visible even if people did come to visit. Unless of course they're interested in the inner workings of home theatre wiring, satellite and network cable pulling. Or our boiler room...

A real-honest-to-goodness boiler. If you ignore the dust, it is a marvelous place to let bread dough rise. Perfect temperature. The boiler itself is original to the house which puts it at about 50 years old and still chugging away. Surely there are newer, more energy efficient models I could replace it with but the quote I was given has scared the thought right out of me. It would take another 50 years to pay itself off in potential energy savings. And it won’t proof the bread dough. I’m also helping keep up the demand for natural gas. Some companies are banking on this.

So we’ll keep it. The house was toasty warm all winter long despite some real cold snaps. And the monthly gas bill wasn’t any more than at the last house where we had a 30 year old gas fired forced air furnace. We have made some concessions to modernity though. A new hot water tank to replace the circa 1980s one. Besides, insurance won’t cover any damage if the old tank leaks. You can see the new one – not installed yet – standing next to the boiler in this photo.

Here’s the old one:

I think copper is pretty. New copper doesn’t match old copper though so I’ll have to learn to live with the variance. The red thing? Yet another invisible improvement - central vacuum. Not just a new canister, but an entire install including running the hose/pipe through the walls and creating outlets. Or would those be inlets?

The new copper pipes are for the new water conditioner. The one the house came with wasn't hooked up and looked like it could have doubled for a cruise missile. One complaint I have about this part of the city is the hardness of the water. You can actually see the buildup in Rory’s water bowl, and it’s not like I don’t wash it frequently. Also, the window on the front load washer is getting hazy. And I’m going through buckets of skin lotion. Here’s the new gizmo, plumbed in courtesy of Norm, but not turned on just yet:


I understand that there are servers humming away in the dwarf-space under the stairs – Norm showed them to me, but as long as they work, I don’t visit them. Heck, even if they didn’t work I wouldn’t go see them. And what old house reno would be complete without routers and the other bits of wizardry that enable me to spew forth blog postings to the masses?

Sure, we’re almost done. Not. But I have a lot to be grateful for. I see it even if you don’t. On that note, I’m going to go take my plumber, cable puller, network installer, researcher, electrician, and general handyman out for supper. Just the two of us. It's the least I can do for the man who has yet to send me an invoice for any of this work. Maybe I chose the wrong title for this post. It should be more along the lines of "The Heart of it". Right, Norm?

March 9, 2010

Choice and Compromise

Before we moved, I got rid of six boxes of books. It was hard, but I had comfortably adapted to the Sony e-Reader that Norm bought for me the Christmas before last and wasn't in the mood to buy new bookcases to accommodate the book overflow syndrome in my living room. This time around, it was easier. A bit. We don't have as much wall real estate so I have four more boxes of books to donate somewhere - they never even made it to the shelves.

Other than installing the A/V equipment and new French doors and casing and a window, the hub room is done (really, sounds like a lot but in comparison to what we've done already these should be easy). So here's the last of it until everything is finished and then I'll post a few before and after shots. Thanks for sticking with us through this one. The kitchen will be even more fun!
Here's the hub room (see previous post for the new floor) with the book cases installed and the book sorting well under way.


All cleaned up.

 Don't let the regal pose fool you. He's a dork.

And now for something completely different

I finished the hub room floor on Friday!

Here's Keelan having a 'ta-da' moment. Okay, here's his bottom half having a moment, decked out in what can only be described as a bizarre jammie getup.

And here's Rory checking out Keelan and demonstrating how to actually blend into the floor - purple and plaid aren't the way to go. My mother says Rory is my colour inspiration. I'm a red-head, what can I say?

And just the floor, before I began moving the bookcases in.



...go in here...

and then the whole thing goes in the hole in the ceiling...

That is, of course, assuming that the initial painting of the speaker screens was as easy as I thought it would be. Truthfully, I painted that entire ceiling without as much slop and mess as I made painting just three screens and frames for the built-in speakers so they'd blend in with the ceiling. And don't even get me going about having to use almost an entire can of air (or "can of hair" as French speaking people might call it, not to be confused at all with the late night infomercials pedalling something that that probably wouldn't work to blow out screen holes). No matter the thickness of the paint (and I tried different consistencies, believe me) the screens kept goobering up. I don't know what kinds of interesting things you notice kicking around your house, but when you live with a techie/geek, cans of air can be found everywhere. They're about as common as shoes around here. So that's what I used. Besides, the combination of hyperventilating and breathing in paint fumes when I tried to just blow the holes out wasn't really working for me.