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1939 1.5 storey home renovation thread...

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[OP]
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Mar 23, 2008
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1939 1.5 storey home renovation thread...

Ok, time to start my renovation story on here.

My GF and I bought a 1939 home here in Edmonton. It's approximately 1300 square feet, 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms. Located in a highly cool neighborhood. It's a second or third home for each of us, but neither of us has done a renovation like this before. My GF used to be a professional interior decorator and is quite handy. She has some connections still in the business, which is nice. I've more been a maintenance guy and work with computers all day. Used to do wood working in my garage, and looking forward to that again.

Anyway... When we bought the house, we knew it needed the kitchen redone. The previous home owners had damaged a wall trying to fit a fridge where it wouldn't physically fit, and the countertops were held together with electrical tape. Cabinets were not much better. We based our offer on that assumption.

However, as it turned out, the home inspection was pretty good except for one thing... The knob and tube wiring. Ugh. Every wall was going to have to get hit. Our options were to cut a strip around every wall, and up to every ceiling fixture and light switch, or we could take out all the lath and plaster, re-do the wiring, re-insulate (there was wood-chip insulation on the main floor), vapor barrier (nothing there now) and then drywall everything back up. We ended up deciding on Option B, as we think it will make the house more resellable in the future, as well as giving us a more comfortable house to live in now.

We started off with the plans to do the demo ourselves, and then bring in an electrician to do the re-wire, a drywaller to do the wall re-build, and have the kitchen installed by the people we bought it from. As we've gone through the budgeting and planning process, we came to realize that this would involve compromises that we'd prefer not to make, so we decided to undertake the work ourselves. I'll pull a home-owners permit to do the electrical, do the drywall installation, and we'll do the kitchen cabinet installation ourselves. We'll get someone in to do the mudding/taping/sanding of the drywall, and the countertops will be done by professionals. It's not ideal (We both work full time), but hey, what are you going to do? :) I'm looking forward to the process, and to being able to say (when it's all done) that "I did this". I say this now, before a hammer has been swung, though... :)

To wrap up the original post... We get possession in two days, and destruction will commence soon after that. Maybe this thread can enlighten and entertain... :) I'll save a couple of posts after this for before/after pics.

C
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[OP]
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Before pics will go here

Front view
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Dining Room wall
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Living Room
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Kitchen
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Kitchen
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Kitchen
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Stairs
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Hall Closet
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Master Bedroom
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Master Bedroom
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Master Bedroom
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Spare Bedroom
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Bathroom
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Front Entrance
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Back yard
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Back view
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This took way too long, but demo has been in progress... :)

C
[OP]
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After pics will go here
Deal Addict
Dec 24, 2007
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Congratulations on your adventure and good luck.
Thread started in 2016 - 1927 fully gutted and renovated 2 storey detached home in the big T.O. - small projects still in progress.

RFD priceless!
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May 24, 2008
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Keep us updated. I love these kinds of threads!
[OP]
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Will do...

One thought/question... My dad (who used to be a general contractor, way back in his day) suggested taking the time to frame out the current 2x4 walls with steel 2x6 (equivalent) studs. He's concerned the existing walls will be horribly uneven, and the extra 2" of space will allow for better insulation. I can see his point, but while the extra space for insulation would be handy, I don't think I'd be a fan of having to rework all the windows and doors in particular. I'm also concerned about the steel stud in contact with the exterior wall and providing a "cold spot" on every steel stud. Or should that not be a concern?

Thoughts?

Budgets so far:
House: $420,000
Electrical materials: $2000
Lighting: $2500
Demo costs (safety equipment, dumpster, etc): $1500
Framing new door/window: $1500
Drywall material: $2000
Insulation and vapour barrier: $1000
Paint: $1000
Kitchen (cabinets, countertop, sinks, faucet): all the rest of our money (~20k)
Stove/Fridge: $5000 (bought already, delivery on Friday)

C
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Oct 26, 2003
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You plan only shows lights and plugs, missing electrical panel, telephone backboard, cat6/rg6 data & coaxial runs, smoke and co alarms (only 1 shown outside of bedroom, insufficient), audio/video connections, wifi AP locations, also plug type is not specified, as you need 20A for kitchen countertop, GFCI for plug near water source, etc.

Material pricing is fine for contractor grade stuff, but you can get cheaper stuff from homedepot and canada tire, but I won’t bother bringing that up since material cost is really not an issue here. Although if you going to do the work yourself, you could get the parts from retail stores.

I’m kinda surprised they only charging you $85/hr for labour, are you sure you getting licensed journeyman contractors? Things must be really desperate these days in Alberta, when I was there 8 years ago the rates were to the moon.

Anyway, you need to wire all the lights together and plug separately as the plugs needs to be on arc-fault circuit breaker and lights can’t be on arc-fault circuit breaker due to smoke/co alarm requirements.

what's up with half million dollar house require this much work? is RE out there as bad as GTA and GVA?

also you can check with FirstGear, he is in town, maybe he can give you a better quote and hopefully he will pick up on all the code errors in your current plan.

also, while it is open, rough-in EV charger
[OP]
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Thanks for that, divx!

I'll take a look at modifying the plan based on the feedback.

As far as a 500k house requiring all this work, a lot has to do with the k&t wiring needing to get replaced. There's still lots of homes out here in that state. And this house is sitting on an 8500 sq ft lot, about 10 minutes from downtown, in on of Edmonton's more historic neighbourhoods. So yeah, it's a fair amount of work, but we think it will be worth it in the end. Sure hope so, anyway!

As far as the garage goes, the service actually comes in to the garage (at the back of the lot) to a 100A panel. That panel has a couple of circuits for the garage, and then a big breaker for the house. The house is fed through an underground cable. So adding a 240 circuit to the garage for a table saw or EV should be relatively easy.

With regards to the coax/cat6/telephone/panel, that comes in downstairs, which isn't on the plan I sent you. I'm working at getting the boss to lay out the rooms with her templates, so I know where the plugs and jacks need to go.

As far as rates... Dunno about that. The guy was referred by my cousin, who is a master electrician in another town. So he was told to cut me a deal. As it turns out, he's headed up north, so he's not available anyway. Good thing I didn't count on him!

C
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Trying to get some pics posted...

Progress has been slower than hoped for. 10 days in, and I was hoping to be started electrical work. Instead, we're still doing demo. One dumpster mostly full. Still have one wall and one ceiling to do on the main floor, and a couple walls to do in the second floor.

We ended up finding some heating ducts in places that we didn't want to find them, and they're going to have to be moved. And we suspect they're asbestos wrapped, to make it even more fun. We'll have to get them remediated. :(

I think we've made a new decision about the second floor. Nothing's been changed irrevocably yet, but I think we'll be converting the second floor to a "master suite", instead of two bedrooms. It will involve taking out some walls and reconfiguring the closets, but it's not a huge stretch.

C
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Living Room/Dining Room
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Dining Room/Kitchen
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Master Bedroom closet area
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Second bedroom closet areaImage

C
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Mar 1, 2016
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Thanks for the posts...these threads are great to watch unfold. Does the floor in the master bow as badly as it looks in the photo? Not sure if you have the ceiling down directly underneath, but maybe worth looking whether it is feasible to straighten. I think it would bug me to leave it if it were mine. Good luck!
[OP]
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Quick update...

House is mostly gutted now. Ended up taking out the ceiling of the basement as well for HVAC/plumbing access. Decided I'd rather do 10 drywalled houses than one lathe and plaster house in the future. After all this is done, may end up gutting the house one more time just for fun, since it will be all drywall. Just the front and back entrances left. 2 x 30 yard dumpsters filled with plaster and lathe mostly were removed, almost entirely loaded by yours truly. GF isn't much on lifting garbage cans up to head height and dumping them. :) Haven't seen the tonnage yet, but I suspect it will be "a lot".

Made some design decisions... Converting the upper floor from 2 bedrooms (with two small closets) to a "master suite", with bedroom on one side, closets and dressing area on the other. Expanding the bathroom as well, as there was a small corner vanity (30" x 30") in it, and you had to squeeze around things to get in and close the door. New setup will have room for a 5' vanity, and much better access. We're considering moving laundry up to the second floor as well, since that will be where we have all our clothes. Not much sense (to me) in hauling clothes down two flights of stairs to wash them, and then back up 2 flights. Plus there's spiders down there, which means the GF is having none of that...

Had a contractor come in a couple days ago to go over some stuff that I don't have time to do, or the experience. He's taken out the load bearing wall between the kitchen and dining room, the funky angled window and the patio door, and framed in a 36" door and window beside it, as per our kitchen plans. Pretty darn happy with that. Today he'll be framing in the closet space upstairs and the new bathroom wall.

We also had a HVAC guy in. Asbestos wrapped heating ducts have been removed. Unfortunately, to get the heat done right, it will either mean a big ugly bulkhead over our peninsula, or we put in a powered vent hot water tank (or go tankless) and take out the chimney stack to run HVAC ductwork up the stack. My GF/designer is toeing the line on this, so the chimney stack is coming out. The contractor is taking it down to the second floor (and repairing the roof) as I'm not a fan of climbing up and down such a steep pitched roof. We'll take it down from there, brick by fricking brick. Not looking forward to that. But what are you going to do?

Plumbing... Removing the old cast-iron stack is the big thing. Getting quotes on that now. Should have that done shortly, like next week.

Need to do some shopping for a door and window now, as well as a vanity. Looking to modify an old dresser or chest into a vanity.

Oh, and BigDurian, there's no bow in the floor of the master that I (or anyone else) has noticed. Must be the pic.

C
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Jan 1, 2007
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Hey CNewfeld, any recent updates on your project? I am particularly interested in the HVAC updates.
[OP]
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engmsf wrote: Hey CNewfeld, any recent updates on your project? I am particularly interested in the HVAC updates.
What do you want to know about the HVAC stuff?

We're currently in the drywall stage. Should have it all up by Tuesday, and taping/mudding will commence. Don't plan on firing up the furnace/AC till the dust settles, though.

We hauled over 20k pounds out of the house in two large dumpsters (bill was $1200 so far, one more smaller dumpster sitting in front our place still). Every step has taken longer and been more expensive than we thought. SOP for construction projects, I'm guessing. But we're hoping to be residing in the house by mid September, with no kitchen and primed walls. Need to move in before the insurance company cancels our contents insurance because we haven't lived in the house for the past 2 months.

I'll see if I can post some pics this weekend. We've been going full bore for the last two weeks, trying to keep our slot with our drywall crew. 8am to midnight on the weekends, 4pm to midnight or 1am on weeknights (plus working full time jobs). But we're telling ourselves that once the mudding and taping starts, our panic is off and we'll be able to cut back. Won't know what to do with ourselves! :)

Oh, yes I do... We decided to rip up the flooring in the upstairs bathroom, and redo that space too. Plus I've got a vanity to make, and I'm trying to convince my GF that I can do the kitchen cabinets too. So far, I think we've saved close to 20k by DIY. The cabinets would save another 6+.

C
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You had mentioned that your home had asbestos wrapped ducts and had to remove all of that. Since our home has ducts with just metal visible, I was wondering what you are wrapping your ducts with now. I am wondering if it is worth it to do the fiberglass wrap - I started another thread on a different issue, but asked a similar question.
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how much more expensive and isn't DIY usually cheaper?
[OP]
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engmsf wrote: You had mentioned that your home had asbestos wrapped ducts and had to remove all of that. Since our home has ducts with just metal visible, I was wondering what you are wrapping your ducts with now. I am wondering if it is worth it to do the fiberglass wrap - I started another thread on a different issue, but asked a similar question.
HVAC and plumbing were the two things we farmed out. The HVAC ducts didn't get wrapped with any insulation. I guess I could wrap the lower sections still; hadn't really considered it and the HVAC guy didn't mention it. But I guess I'd wonder how much difference is it going to make? None of our ducts go along outside walls or uninsulated spaces so we're not losing heat that way. So any heat or cold lost will be in the house...

C
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nomdesplumes wrote: how much more expensive and isn't DIY usually cheaper?
Yes, DIY is usually cheaper (paying for cost of materials, rather than materials and labour). But that comes at a cost (for us at least). It's taken considerably longer when it's a team of two who have full time jobs. And who have never done most of the tasks before.

C

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