Renovations

It’s said that life is timing. No truer statement could be made about this massive renovation. I was on my way into Kelowna to pay the balance of my first month’s rent on a basement apartment I didn’t care much for, when, for some unknown reason I checked my email. There was an email from my Realtor telling me about a place in the Princess MHP that was about to go into default and he suggested, although it was a mess, I could probably just takeover the existing loan and renovate the place. I met him there and, well, there rest is history, none of it good.

When I first moved in I wish I had taken more pictures of what I found on closer inspection, but let’s just say I ended up pretty well gutting it, redesigning the layout and completely rebuilding it from the ground up. About the only thing I didn’t touch was much of the exterior cladding mostly because it was in good condition and fit in with my planned colour scheme.

They had two massive dogs who had basically destroyed whatever lawn there may have been at one time. What little work had been done was very shoddy. When I leaned against the railing on the deck they had it started to collapse and I nearly fell off. They only things that was done right were the two additions, one at the front right with what could be two bedrooms and one at the back with a bedroom and a bathroom.

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The reno of the kitchen was total with all new plumbing, electrical, walls, new appliances, flooring and cabinets.

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Originally there were two bathrooms, the “fish” bathroom which was the main bathroom in the original unit, and the bathroom in the add-on part at the back. Although I intended to demolish and replace the “fish” bathroom with a new bathroom location, I thought the bathroom in the add-on only required maybe a repaint and replacing the vanity. Boy was I wrong!

It looked like the taps had been leaking in the bathroom because the backboard had been cut out to make repairs. I intended to install a one-piece shower/bathtub unit so the cut-out around the taps wasn’t really a factor, but I just wasn”t comfortable just covering it up without making sure it didn’t still leak. It did, so we started pulling off the plywood to find the source of the leak. Soon we were down to the sub floor and there was evidence that it was wet. To our considerable shock, when we went outside after running the taps there was water dripping on the external wall. There was also some evidence that the studs had been wet because there was blackening on the bottom. It was becoming more obvious that this was not going to be a cosmetic fix and would require demolition and rebuild.

Once we had removed the vanity and the bathtub we went to remove the old vinyl flooring. Naturally I was hoping it would come up in one piece, so Chris and I got a hold of one side and gave it a tug and it did come up in one piece. To my horror the vinyl and the floor was covered in obvious black mold! I grabbed Chris and we ran outside. It was too late to worry that we should have had breathers on or, better yet, called the HazMat team in. The damage had been done.

With breathers on we removed the sub floor and bleached all the walls and floor joists where we had seen any mold. The plumbing all came out and was replaced with new. All together my minor cosmetic fix cost me several thousand dollars. Just proves you never know what will happen when you start a demo. There’s often secrets lurking in those walls.

The Exterior

It’s hard to describe just how bad the place was from the outside. It was either damaged or broken down everywhere. No question the place was an eyesore in the park. The first job was to demo pretty well everything. The shed, although in pretty rough shape and empty on the inside, was structurally sound. It had a door opening on the back which made no sense to me because it would only be perfect back there for break-ins. I knew from the start that I would need a place for all my tools and to work because there would be nowhere in the house for this, plus I was trying to live there through all of this. Although I seemed to always be working on a million things at once, I did find time to reclad the shed and build in some great shelving and a workbench. In no time at all it was full.

In general the exterior of the house wasn’t too bad, with most of the cladding in good shape. The one exception was at the entrance where they had put the BBQ too close to the vinyl siding and it had melted. I was most concerned about the first impression of the place so this is where I focused on making it look better. The first major job was to remove the old, broken patio door and replace it with the french doors, which made a huge first impression. Then we built the stairs and railings. Then we added a window to make the living room brighter. Then we reclad this part of the place with new board and the horizontal boards in the highlight colour. Some new eaves-trough and downspouts and some flowers and things looked pretty good.

I might mention that the concrete pad we added was the first time I had ever done this kind of work. I researched it on the internet plus I had help from a guy in the park who saw what I was trying to do and helped me out lending me some finishing tools. I was pretty proud of the job I’d done when it was finished.

I should also mention that there were a number of areas that it looked like it was going to be a problem growing grass. Some of the areas were also out of sight, like the side of the place along the road, so I wanted to make it as maintenance free as possible. I got the idea of creating what looked like a dry riverbed down the side and around the front. What I didn’t realize at design time was just how many rocks this was going to take. I think the first full dump truck load was something like 20 yards and that’s a whole lot of rocks. I figured that by the time I was finished doing the whole property I had moved and placed about fifteen thousand rocks in total. Yeah, grass might have been easier.

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4 Responses to Renovations

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