Sliding into Home

As mentioned at the end of the last post, concerns with our builder left us in limbo at the beginning of November. We “moved into” an unfinished home – essentially our things from our apartment were moved into the ground floor – while we spent our days working in the house and our nights either sleeping in the van, with family, or on a mattress on the floor.

We cooked with a microwave, a kettle, and a toaster (& some take-aways) until most of our appliances were installed.

An extensive delay in the countertop meant we had to wait for the installation of sinks and cooktop. We set up a temporary utility sink in the bathroom (which will be moved to the garage) until the happy day that the countertop finally arrived.

Flooring was installed in 2 stages. Cork flooring on the second floor was completed first as the application process involved three rounds of sealing.  

After this stage, we were able to move things upstairs. Our son came out from Vancouver one day to help us empty most of our storage locker. That’s a family vintage chest being lifted upstairs (bottom right pic). We also received our new beds and washer/dryer at that time.

M was busy painting interior doors until the installer could put them in. The painting part was easy but being 8-foot solid core doors, the installation was heavy lifting by S and Ivor, our carpenter. We also had Frank do some of the painting.

Then the main floor’s hardwood was installed at the end of the month. This was delayed by a week because the wood needed to acclimatize, the foundation still had a tad too much moisture, and we needed to increase the ambient humidity at the very time it was dropping along with colder weather.

On the exterior of the house, lots was happening as well:

The solar panels were installed.

The rear door roof support and steel frame sides of the front canopy were installed. The rear door roof support was a requirement for the occupancy permit and was also supposed to happen 2 months ago…

The siding continues (with some delays due to waiting for additional materials). Even during the recent -5C days, these guys are out there.

A final and urgent task, damp-proofing, is still left undone. Our builder essentially quit working and left it for us to do. S diligently researched, got advice from the designer and the geotechnical engineer, then got busy sourcing materials. To prevent potential frost heaving, we have to protect the exposed foundation by laying down permeable fabric, sand, and foam slabs around the perimeter, followed by some backfill to hold it all in place until spring when final backfill and concrete can be poured for walkways/patios. Another one of those tasks that was promised months ago. This is a mock-up of what needs to happen but we’re struggling to find anyone to deliver the required sand.

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Occupancy Permit (partial): on our own efforts, despite our general contractor working against us, we finally got a partial occupancy permit near the end of the month. A partial occupancy permit simply means the house is safe to live in but there are still things that need to be done before the final occupancy permit is granted. Feeling relieved, we were able to close out our storage unit and finally bring everything under one roof for the first time in 7 years.

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Waste!  S continues to make regular trips to the dump and to the recycling centre. Construction waste must be handled in specific ways. And one of the saddest part about building a house (at least for us) is the sheer amount of waste. Materials are ordered in excess and treated in a manner that is easiest for the workers. Everything is wrapped and over wrapped and packaging materials swamp us. For example, each plank of siding is individually wrapped in plastic. Wood cuts are simply disposed of. And boxes – piles and piles of boxes both from new products coming in (e.g. appliances, fixtures) and as we finally unpack our own boxes.

As the last month of the year starts, our work continues. From morning to night, we combine spending time on our paid work, sourcing and ordering materials, finding workers, lining up jobs to be done, and coordinating the work on site. In the next week, we expect the cabinets to be finished, the electrical work to be finalized (fully electrified), the heat pump to be installed, the remaining canopy frame to be installed, another bathroom to be tiled, drywall deficiencies to be addressed, door handles to arrive, and our front door to be re-clad and functional with a handle. There is also more work to be done in the garage and the suite but we suspect much of this might wait until after the holidays.

However, we are HOME!

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