13 replies »

  1. Been there, Norm. I know what you're going through. In my case I was seriously considering a special alteration to the original plans that would effectively conceal the body of a certain municipal building inspector…


  2. Norm, I have built a couple of homes myself in the past and I have done many renovations.

    I have often exclaimed that I would prefer to build a brand new home than do a reno.

    Oh, and just to be even more helpful, I firmly believe than when doing a reno, take the guesstimate/estimate and multiply by 5!

    Sorry Norm, I just had to………….

    Onward and upward!

    Gary L.


  3. Does that increased budget allow for space to conceal the municipal inspector's body?

    Actually, I've can only applaud the people I've dealt with at North Vancouver District. That's one local government that has worked to improve its service to citizens in the last few years. After an unfortunate and fatal landslide, NVD had to improve. They had worried about liability issues when they should have been worrying about public safety. Realization of that led to change.


  4. whoa, man! You got guts. Been through enough renos to have a lot of respect for anyone who takes on such a project.
    Some of my clients are curios to know why nobody (nobody worth their salt) wants to give them a quote on a reno. Even if everything goes swimmingly and there are no unpleasant surprises, there is an element to renovation that defies accurate cost-estimate. As noted above, there seems to be a Murphy-like law required to account for seemingly unavoidable cost overruns. I can only attribute it to some kind of geomantic phenomenon; living on a gulf island where there is no building inspector, and long enough to have renovated renovations, I've come to think of it as “funk shui,” a kind of modification of the ancient Chinese art of geomancy. You'd have to be crazy to be superstitious but, with renovation, you'd have to be crazy not to subscribe to a little bit of builder's voodoo, some kind of talisman secretly stashed in the framing like a prayer, some kind of prudent recognition of ghostly vibes contained in the walls coming down, some kind of garlic necklace for the problems waiting to happen being unwittingly re-concealed.

    So make a place for the little household spirits to hide out (they are reputed by those silly superstitious people to get very cranky and irritated by all that banging) and provide egress for beneficial new ones to move in. As for warding off malevolent ones, there's only one word I can recommend: flashing.

    Good luck to you. Here's hoping you will avoid the sure sign of trouble ahead: a dumpster in front of your reno overflowing with empty tubes of caulking.


  5. Man. I failed to budget for amulets, charms and talismans. Nor did I allow for hidden crypts and grottos to hide building, gas and electrical inspectors.

    One thing I have discovered is that windows can, in relative terms, cost a little or cost a lot. A five hundred percent difference between the most and least frugal options is not exceptional.


  6. Like Lew, I almost “went postal” with my reno! In our neck of the woods, a plain envelope with a lot $20's was the expected inspector fee. I remember this quote well: “Your plumber doesn't know how to do business in………”.

    For added insult, the inspector stole the plans and documentation when no money was forthcoming and when I went ballistic at city hall and in a very loud voice said; ” To hell with the lot of you, I am going to the police and get them to investigate both fraud and theft charges.” A stray councilor over heard me and I pointed a finger at him and said; “You will all be in jail soon.” Before I got into my car, a rather red faced secretary came out and handed me the documents I needed, documents that I had been told not 5 minutes earlier “did not exist”!

    Since then the engineering department has regularly screwed me with trivial inspections etc.

    And now you know why I am such a cynic.

    Footnote: Things were so bad that I complained to the Minister of Municipal affairs (this was 1994) and her secretary told me in person the municipality I lived in was well know for “shakedowns” by building inspectors!


  7. Renovations are a problem. My suggestion is always the same, paint everything in a new colour, buy a new throw rug & be done with it. My solution for walls is, hang lots of paintings. For the kitchen, one expensive lovely tap will take your attention off of all the rest of the stuff. Then go read. I find keeping my nose in a book keeps me from looking at the house & has kept me very happy.

    Good luck with the renos. Be careful with the inspectors, with all that DNA stuff, they can be tracked, if by nothing else their former spouses looking for their child support.


  8. My kitchen/dining room reno took 6 months.
    Sure, they had to remove one wall to make a “great room”.

    I was “greatly” pissed off.

    And the electrician was the biggest guy I've ever seen–had to weigh 300 pounds–he had 12 pot lights to install. Climbed up into the attic through the hall crawl port…each day I kept thinking he'd crash through to the living room at any moment.

    The reno cost as much as building my house 35 years ago!


  9. no kegerator. I mean a real kitchen tap, just an amazing looking one from Italy! You won't notice anything else. well I don't cook so who cares.

    A kegerator, not in my kitchen. They take up space. Anyhow when there are kegerators you can not keep track of how many beer the other one is drinking. With regular cans of beer you can hear each one open. Continued good luck with the renos.


  10. Norm, hope all is going well. I'll never forget punching a wall in frustration while doing my first reno 28 years ago now. My ambitions were only matched by my ignorance. My motto now: always check to see if its plaster or gyproc.


  11. It's going surprisingly well. That's because we're fortunate with tradespeople.

    I'm shocked at the amount of work needed to bring the kitchen up to codes after 36 years since the house was constructed. One son, a journeyman plumber and gas fitter, has been invaluable, spending evenings working on supply and waste lines and doing all that plumbing codes now demand. At times, I'm frustrated that so much work must be done but this renovation will last another few generations and perform properly.

    The hardest choice has been selection of windows. Everyone wants to sell vinyl windows but that's probably because they are easiest and most profitable for the installers. I'm troubled by the real environmental costs of vinyl plastics and quite worried about imported products. A few years ago, millions of plastic toys manufactured overseas were being recalled because of lead and other toxic components. The more I've learned about vinyl, the more attracted I become to wood and aluminum.

    Overall, I've enjoyed learning about many new (to me) subjects so that we can make (I hope) informed choices as we proceed. The kitchen and family room will be finished fairly soon but next comes an 800 sq. ft. addition to house our growing family (that's another story).


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