Friday, March 3, 2017

Dust is Us

We are living in the land of dust. Dust in the air, dust settled on every flat surface -- kitchen counters, appliances, window sills. Dust in the nose; dust in the mouth. We try to wipe it up, and there it is again the next day.

We are having the main bathroom in our house renovated. We have hired a contractor who did some work for the neighbour next door. It turns out that he is also the brother of the neighbour across the street. We are surrounded by neighbours in our own age demographic who grew up on this street, and now have moved back into their childhood homes, either with their aged parents, or after their parents have passed away.

The previous owners of our house had done some significant renovations before we bought the place: in particular, the kitchen and the ensuite bathroom, and repainting throughout. The house has a huge  contemporary kitchen with stainless steel appliances, island, and breakfast bar. It is a joy to work in, and certainly caught our eye when we were house hunting. The four-piece ensuite also is very attractive, with a huge shower, and also a soaker tub (great for apr├Ęs ski).

But the main bathroom was very dated and rather grotty. The shower tile was chipped and cracked, and looked like it was from the 1970's. The bathtub and faucets might have been an original installation from when the house was built in 1959.
A Very Dated Bathroom

So we took the plunge a couple of weeks ago. Our timing was perfect, as this is a slow time for trades in our area. We have had a steady parade of tradesmen traipsing through the house, knocking out the walls and removing the fixtures from the old bathroom, and doing electrical work and plumbing.

Whenever you do reno's on an older house, you can expect some surprises. It turned out that the walls in our bathroom were lath and plaster -- much harder to remove than the gyp-rock of today's houses. The plumber replaced a sink drain pipe of galvanized steel that was 80% plugged (which involved some reconstruction in the basement). And the bathtub faucet had been leaking into a pony wall, which required replacement of a two-by-four. We decided to put in a second light above the tub. Today the drywallers are here, putting in the walls.
Demolition Underway

Everything has gone along very well. While we are having this work done, we decided to have top end dual flush toilets installed in all the bathrooms. As well, we asked the painter to do some repainting of some of the other rooms. So we now have a freshly painted master bedroom, my son's bedroom, and kitchen. I have never hired a painter before, but rather have always taken the do it yourself route. He is so fast and proficient! He completes in two or three hours what would have taken me two or three days. And it's all done with far less angst and no splatters.
A Pile of Construction Garbage in the Carport

Yesterday, we went and chose the tile for the new bathroom. That was a fun part. So far, I am very happy with this renovation experience. Although I had forgotten about renovation dust, at least it is going to be for just a short period. I think sometimes it is worth spending the money to get skilled tradespeople to do the work.

14 comments:

  1. Such a lot of work, even if done by professionals, and well worth all the upheaval. I wish I could bring myself to face it.

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  2. It is hard to believe that a small bathroom reno requires such a lot of work! I just keeping telling myself that the new bathroom is going to look so good!

    Jude

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  3. Home renovations can be so stressful! The unexpected surprises can really throw things off track! The dust and the paint fumes are so annoying. I often wonder how trades people put up with it every day. You were wise to choose a slow time for the workers. Much more likely to get everything done in a timely fashion.

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  4. Ten years ago, a friend gave me some of the best advice I've ever received and it was advice about home renovations. I had written a booklet for my province's Ministry of Education, and then turned my attention to painting a room. My friend, who worked for the Ministry, called and asked me to write another piece. When I told her that I'd do it just as soon as I finished painting the room she uttered these immortal words - "Karen, you are very good at writing and you get paid to do that. I imagine that you are okay at painting but I suggest that you hire someone who is very good at painting. You'll both win, each of doing what you are very good at doing and each of you getting paid for your efforts."
    Since that time I've done a major renovation of my home - using skilled tradespeople. Now that I'm retired, I have to pause a while longer before spending the money and it's slightly tougher to justify spending since I'm not currently doing any writing for payment. Still, skilled tradespeople, including painters, do the work that takes me many times longer, if I can do it at all. I won't ever go back to doing it myself.
    Enjoy your renovation project. It's so much fun making decisions and seeing the transformation, without having to do the hard work yourself. Consider it simply the fruits of you being so good at what you do!

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  5. Carole, so far this renovation has been surprisingly unstressful (aside from the dust). Of course, most days I just go off to my office at work to work on my current project, and leave Rob here to cope with the tradespeople. He doesn't find it stressful at all. In fact, I think he is enjoying having a steady stream of guys coming by that he can chat with and tell stories to.

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  6. Karen, those are wise words. Certainly there were many times when I was younger, raising my children as a single parent and pinching pennies, that I went the DIY route. I remember one time I was attempting to put in a parquet floor, and my brother came to town for a meeting and ended up spending every spare moment of his visit helping me put in the floor (actually, he totally took over the job and I served as his assistant). However, since I have been financially able to pay for the work, I have gladly hired skilled people to do the work, and have been happy with the results. As I have not had the time nor the skills, it makes perfect sense to hire people who do have the skills to do the work.

    Also, I have had the unhappy experience of buying houses where the owners did DIY reno's. On the surface, it looked fine, but then once I lived in the house, I discovered some terrible mistakes. For example, in one house, in their DIY reno, they had not sealed the shower tiles properly and it was going mouldy. When we renovated that bathroom, we also discovered that when they had added a second light above the mirror, they had not brought in an electrician to wire it properly, but had simply used an extension cord to the junction and had sealed it in behind the wallboard! A dangerous shortcut!

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  7. My husband and I have done quite a bit of remodeling. He is very skilled and we have several other men in the neighborhood who are also skilled in construction. Although doing the work ourselves has saved us a ton of money, the time and stress involved hardly seems worth it. I'd much rather pay a professional to do the work but it's hard to find anyone who will do the job to my husband's standards. Fortunately, I think he is starting to come to the realization that sometimes it's better to let someone else do the work so we can get it done faster and then we can get on with our lives. I feel for you dealing with all the dust. No matter how much you try to circumvent it, it finds its way into all the nooks and crevices.

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  8. Janis, you are lucky that your husband has the skills to do the work in your house. When we lived in our previous community, one of our close friends had a construction company, and he did all the renovation work on our place, for which we paid, of course. However, Rob served as his assistant, which saved us some money. Our friend, an art school grad, also has a great sense of aesthetics, so we were always extremely pleased with the work he did in our unique log house. The challenge was that his services were in high demand, so the projects sometimes did not go along very quickly.

    Jude

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  9. I definitely feel for you, Jude! We are going to have to do similar work on 2 bathrooms (one tub/surround replacement and one shower surround replacement) in the next few months. I can already see the dust in my dreams... My husband will do some of the work, but we are bringing a professional in for most of the project. We have to do this to get ready to sell! I wish we didn't have to - but it is a necessity.

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  10. Vicki, I had completely forgotten about the dust! So, it sounds like you are going ahead with your plan to sell your house and downsize. We are also doing this work as part of our preparation for putting the house on the market. It is sad that we won't really get to enjoy the lovely new bathroom for long. Last time we moved, we renovated a bathroom just beforehand too.

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  11. Big projects and changes. I agree with hiring professionals, as long as they are, indeed, professionals that know what they are doing and produce a satisfying result. :-) It is helpful that you are there to guide them and I'm glad you hired recommended folks who seem to know their trade. I hope you will be able to breathe clean air again soon! Then, it is time to declutter and get rid of stuff. I love that part!

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  12. Liesbet, I have to admit that it is Rob doing most of the guiding, while I just participate in the enjoyable parts, like choosing the paint colours and tile.

    I am also working on decluttering simultaneously, but finding it really hard. One problem is that we have waaaaay too much stuff. Another is that I stop to read everything that I come across, or to handle the item and remember who gave it to me and that period of my life. Plus we have all kinds of stuff from my kids' childhoods, but they are not here to go through their items and I find it hard to throw away anything of theirs without consulting them. And then there's the 25 boxes in the basement of teaching materials etc., from my career, not to mention an office full of books and files at work...

    Jude

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  13. It was the same on our boat, Jude. Mark would battle all the projects and I would be his helpful assistant where needed, or wanted. :-)

    De-cluttering can be liberating and rewarding, but some parts of the process are really hard. I hope you get to hold onto some of the memorabilia and items that mean a lot to you. I totally get what you are saying... Every year I go back to visit my parents, I spend hours on the attic, where I still have a few boxes of things like that... letters, diaries, travel reports, postcards, photo albums. It is so easy to get sucked into memory lane. And, up until now, I did not have to get rid of closets full of teaching materials yet. Alas, when I go back in May, it all has to go... All that work and creativity. But, it is more than ten years old and even if - if - I would teach again in Belgium (which is very unlikely), the stuff is old and outdated. At least I will have Mark with me, so I can say "Look at all the work and lesson plans I have created in the past!" before tossing it all in the recycle bin. :-)

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  14. Ah, Liesbet, I think you are reading my mind! I have just written a new post on decluttering and why it is so hard. I hope when you go back to that attic in Belgium that you find a way to keep some of the most important mementos from your childhood and your teacher experience. It is not the objects themselves that are so valuable, but rather the memories that they evoke.

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