Wednesday, 10 August 2016

A place to lay our heads

We decided before we even took possession of the house that we were going to be demolishing pretty much everything. We intend to take every room back to the studs so that we can re-do the electrical, improve the insulation, and move some of the plumbing.

We also decided that this was going to be a monstrously large project and since we are not millionaires, we wouldn't bother finishing every single space before moving in.

The only room that we both agreed needed to be 100% completed was the master bedroom. We wanted at least one space that we could escape to, knowing that we would never, ever, ever, ever, EVER have to go back and re-do or "finish" something in it.

This gives us a pretty tall order to fill before moving in since we are not leaving our bedroom to look boring.

Here's where we started:

Back section of master bedroom.

Needing extra bedrooms, the previous owners had turned what originally was one long bedroom into two smaller rooms. Strangely enough, I don't seem to have any photos of the front section... my bad.

Seam between the much newer wall and the old ceiling.

Anyway, because the wall went up what I assume was a bit hastily, it was incredibly easy to tear down. I was working on removing plaster in the dining room when I heard a big crash and a whoop of delight that came from my brother-in-law (my brother and brother-in-law helped us out that day and boy, were they an amazingly huge help!).

Next thing I knew, chunks of drywall were flying through the air into the bin from the upstairs window.

My brother-in-law taking a selfie of us all ha ha ha!

With the wall down, suddenly the room felt huge and incredibly bright with a window on the front side of the house as well on the back side. 

My brother, who worked all day on the upstairs bathroom.
That's a drill he's holding between his legs... I swear it's not an inappropriate picture lol

I told Jake to smile. He didn't see the point since we were wearing masks.
I told him that Tyra Banks would be horrified by his lack of understanding of the importance of smiling with one's eyes.

The next step was to take all of the trim work off so we could start taking down the dreaded plaster. 

Again, I'm probably hurting a lot of old house purists here by saying that we didn't keep the original trim. I really wanted to keep it all and re-purpose it, but I have a few reasons why that didn't happen and they are as follows:
- The first piece took me FOREVER to get off and even with all of the care I took, I still managed to splinter one end. 
- After looking around the room (started in the dining room), I realised that there were only two pieces that I'd actually be able to use from that room since the others had either split already or had huge holes in them where the old electrical went
- Then I noticed that when the previous owners had done their renovations to the living room in the 70's they had removed the original trim. This meant that I would have to try and find matching trim to finish all of the rooms in the house

These were the suckers holding the trim in place.
It took SO much effort to take the trim off.

I will redeem myself a little bit here though by saying that we gave all of the trim that was still in good condition to our neighbours who are themselves old house purists. I expect they will be able to put it to better use than we would have. 

Let's get back on topic here...

Trim removed: check!

Next step was to remove all of the plaster. I will go into better detail on removing the plaster in a separate post, for now, let me just say that it took us a few days (evenings really) to complete the master bedroom, including Jake's closet. 

Sorry it's so small, I don't have a wide-angle lens camera so I had to take a panoramic view.
That is also why is looks so strange. Just know this: the window on the left is at the front of the house. The window on the right is directly across from it on the back of the house.

I was outside painting the mailbox post and Jake was inside working on removing the plaster in his closet when I heard a faint "Alison??" Coming from the bedroom.

I stepped in the front vestibule and yelled back "what?"

Jake popped his head out into the hallway and said "Can you look in the corner by this window outside and tell me if there's a swarm of bees there?"

I did as he asked and sure enough there was a bunch of bees angrily flying around that specific corner of the house.


"Do they look angry?"



Again, forgive the old blackberry camera.

Turns out, bees had decided to nest in that corner just under the cement siding and the did not like Jake's hammering on the plaster right beside them. 

He called it quits for the day (a few of the bees made it all the way inside and started harassing him) and made it his mission the next day to rid our house of any and all bees. 

He bought two different cans of bee/wasp/general-black-and-yellow-angry-thing repellent.
He sprayed them from the outside as well as tearing a hole in the hallway upstairs to soak them from within.
He was ruthless. But it was definitely necessary and just a little bit convenient that we were tearing into the walls and could solve the problem so quickly. 

That's where we stand in the master bedroom thus far. All plaster and trim has been removed (including on the ceiling). The next step is for us to start removing the lath and insulation while simultaneously adding 2x4 blocking in between the studs to ensure the walls are sturdy without the lath. 

We removed a few pieces of lath to see how difficult it will be and they came off pretty easily so that's a very good sign. Plus, our neighbour is going to take a bunch of the lath to give to an artist who uses it in their art so that won't go to waste. Neither will the nails, Jake loves the original nails and we're going to take the time to hammer them all out and keep them for future carpentry projects. We've got a few ideas for them already!!

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