15 Sep Hiccups
Anyone that has done a major renovation will tell you that it always takes longer and costs more than expected. So you expect that it will take longer and cost more, and it still takes longer, and costs more…
Anyway, we knew it wouldn’t be perfect, but COVID definitely threw a few extra curves at us. No two experiences are the same, but hopefully, this will give you a bit of an idea of what types of things can crop up.
There are a lot of little things that you uncover once you rip the walls out of a house. Sometimes it’s old newspapers or a time capsule. The first item we found was UFFI, a spray insulation used in the 50s & 60s which gives off formaldehyde gas when disturbed and needs special treatment when removed…yaaay.
The joists in the floor on the main level were also an issue as they changed directions more than once. This complicated the HVAC plan, and the most economical solution was to bump in the walls out in the main level a few inches to allow the HVAC to make its way to the top floor.
We also found that the existing drainage is cut off from the additional plumbing required, so we had to cut an additional line into the floor in the basement. In digging out that line, we had to rip up the old linoleum floor which was laden with asbestos (neat!) which requires a trained crew to dispose of properly. It’s a small footprint, thankfully.
When we did the 3D analysis inside the walls at the front looked a bit off, but we chalked it up to a miscue. Turns out, they are actually off. The Northside of the house is about 2.5 inches shorter than the South, which makes the front wall angled. “They don’t build them like they used too” because they didn’t have laser measurements. Anyway, the team has had to do a lot of creative engineering to build up securely and still make it look like everything is symmetrical.
Probably wasn’t the best year to build a house in 2021. We obviously weren’t the only ones with the idea to renovate after spending so much time at home so demand on materials is abnormally high. But probably the bigger issue is the effect Covid has had on the global supply chain.
Everything from furniture, to appliances, to lumber, to labour, to nails. Everything is more expensive. Nearly every cost of the project has been higher (affecting both our bottom line and the contractor’s). In addition, some items that we wanted, just aren’t there anymore, like the tub and toilets, so we had to pay up for the next in line. In June, our contractor was able to scramble and come up with what seemed like the last available LVLs in the GTA before August, which would have had a major impact on timing. Finally, lumber has been on a rollercoaster. We’ve bought at different times throughout the build, and we definitely haven’t bought low. The change in the lumber has been the largest line-item cost increase.
During Covid, the region also hired an additional workforce to go out and patrol the streets of Peel, enforcing workplace safety – surely in the spirit of protecting workers from Covid, but our particular inspector took it upon himself to highlight every citation in the book while visiting during the demolition. Nothing wrong with ensuring workplace safety, but the citations were unprecedently detailed for a demo, and some based conjecture on tasks yet to be completed. Needless to say, we were shut down for about ten days, had to get new engineering drawings for things like scaffolding, and incur additional costs. But at least our temporary scaffolding can withstand a hurricane.
It has been a wet summer. With no roof and a call for rain on a frequent basis, the team working on the house has to constantly take the tarp off and then re-secure it, either that or work around the tarp. On the days it hasn’t rained in July and August this year, it’s also been pretty hot, which is not easy to do under a tarp for 8 hours. We’ve had a few leaks, but nothing major and thankfully the roof is now on and shingled so we are past that milestone.
By its very nature, this post is a negative one. So I apologize for the tone, but it’s the reality of a big project like this. Like the weather, and lumber prices, the mood throughout the project is a bit of a rollercoaster. Still a long ride left, hopefully it’s a smooth ride on the way to the end.