August 31st was the Wrap party. The house is essentially complete, all inspections done and signed off on. The GC and I did the pre delivery inspection which is really just a few minor paint touch ups. Really trivial stuff.
Had many neighbours come through to check things out and I realized how much I missed my community. I am fortunate to live in a really great neighbourhood which I miss and look forward to being in again.
On the outside is a lot to clean up still. The yard has some grass seed down, but unfortunately, the heavy rain washed a lot away before it had time to germinate. So the property still looks a bit rough that way. But it wont be long before the lawn comes back, and then I can start the landscaping in earnest.
A few people asked if I felt odd having so many people come through my house. As its all new to me, it didnt feel like my house… yet. It was ‘just’ this lovely structure that I yet to make memories in. It truly is a blank slate for me. Moving in will slowly start on the weekend.
Thoughts on the process…. A number of folks asked if there were any surprises, or any things that went wrong. Really, nothing major or even notable. I had to pause and think and come up with stuff. There was a bit of delay due to a drywallers strike in Toronto that caused the trimmers to back up a bit, but it could have easily been bad weather to cause a delay. The quality of everything seemed to me to be just fine and I had great confidence in the GC who oversaw everything to make sure it was excellent. Third party inspections along the way (soil, footings, framing etc) also make sure from a professional POV that all is good. Its funny, in retrospect, it all seems so logical and “easy”, but having competent, decent and experienced professionals I delegate to, make it look so. The prep work that started way back in October was the hard part (for me anyways). After that, it really was watching things set in motion carried forward by the energy and skill of others.
Now all the interior things to do…. Furniture… area carpets…. blinds and curtains etc…. It will take time and it doesnt have to be rushed. For now, it will be yoga matts for all 🙂
One more post after this I think. I have lots of pictures of the build process I want to try and put into some sort of time lapse series. Not sure when I will get to it. A fall rainy day project…. Funny, “rainy day” used to fill me with dread as I would worry would about the roof leaking if the storm was from the south…. Warm and dry now. How nice and luxurious is that!
Its been a very hot and dry summer so far, but the sky finally opened up with a heavy thundershower last night. A real soaker. In the past, this would have caused me any amount of stress and worry with the porous basement and leaky roof. I knew 2 yrs ago I would have to rebuild or move, so I could not bring myself to put $10k into a new roof. …. Yes, patch jobs…. But if the rain was from a particular direction, I would often get it leaking into my bedroom. The final few months were particularly demoralizing. Dropping by this morning was particularly satisfying. Trudging through the muddy yard and into the basement, it was so satisfying to to see a dry and comfortable basement. Mind you, I was running the dehumidifier since its crazy humid in general, but you get the drift. The walls were not sweating water, nor were there any puddles. Nice.
Work on the stairs continues, as does prep for the walkway.
The house is getting close to the finish line. The reconnections are almost all done. Gas, Internet, water etc are all connected now or soon will be. The outside of the house is essentially in its final stage and the ground has been graded. The concrete steps from Menno St are boarded out and will be poured soon. On the inside, the trim is now done and the final insulation (attic and basement) are complete. Its coming together. Railings and painting today and then Kitchen next week along with grass seeding.
Its all very exciting and a bit scary too. I cant help but feel a sense of starting from scratch. In a few weeks I will have a new house and then starts the process of building a new home. That will take a lot longer. But to have a house with insulation… a roof that doesnt leak, a shower I can actually stand in, a bath tub I can fit in and stairs that are safe to use….. That will be a bit of luxury I look forward to.
Its getting closer. The drywall is up, a coat of primer is on and the flooring is in. Its almost like a different space in there now as the color contrasts give it a very different feel than the plywood and green foam insulation. As Judy’s family is visiting, it was the first time I had a number of people in the house at once to show it off and I took the obligatory family photo outside. Inside, it almost had an art gallery feel to it as its devoid of furniture. It was like the paintings and exhibits were about to be hung.
The first reconnect happened this week. I remember way back to April when power was cut to the house and how symbolic that was. It really felt like the life blood was cut off from the old place and I found it quite affecting– more so than the demolition. By demo day, it felt that the important emotional connections were already gone when the symbolically appropriate hollow walls came down. But when the power got connected back this week, there was no corresponding feeling. It was all quite anodyne– a heart beat, but no heart I guess… It was a nice little reminder of the difference between house and home that I dont want to lose site of.
But, Home Building will start! In the mean time drywall is going in and close to 80% of the siding is done! Also, with the construction fence gone, the place is decidedly looking less like a compound ! With the walls and ceilings being screwed in, it feels more cozy on the main floor and less overly open. The upstairs never really had that feel to it since the walls were sort of there from the insulation. Its still all quite exciting, and more so as I get close to the finishline!
Massing: a term in architecture which refers to the perception of the general shape and form as well as size of a building.
I enjoy learning new jargon in other fields. Its a way to feel a little more connected to that specialty and perhaps better understand the nuances that those specific idioms can have. Back, (way back it feels), in December I remember meeting with the architect to talk about the massing of my house. I forget if I had to ask, or waited to figure out from context the term. For whatever reason, the term stuck with me as I like it. Its certainly a more interesting word that “siding” or “walls”…
This week, the outside form and general shape of my house really started to resolve. Every day, with yet another few planks added, I could get a sense of it, but on Thursday, an entire side had been completed. The afternoon had one of those perfect blue sky / vibrant early summer lighting feels to it. After taking a few pictures, I realized I caught a pretty cool effect of the windows reflecting the sky like one of those Magritte Paintings where the sky and clouds are embedded into the objects he paints.
I always liked his vibrant colors. White clouds, blue blue sky, black clothing, rich green. I love this time of year for those amazing color contrasts. The house, especially under the giant ash tree looked fantastic. (click on the image for the full resolution. And yes, I admit, I twiddled with the saturation, but just a bit!). Inside, progress seems slow, but things like wiring, and insulation touchups take time, and dont have those visually big progressions.
I am biased of course, but I feel the house nicely fits into the lot and to the neighbourhood. Its not one of those giant alien monster homes wedged in. Yes, its a bigger house than before, but its not too big I dont think. And how it fits onto the land and in the trees, I think makes it feel more like my future home than some alien structure I will be sleeping in. Oh, and for the record, I LOVE my neighbour’s house design across the street. Its more modern in design compared to my house, but it too I think does a great job of fitting in on the property and neighbourhood in its own way.
It still feels a bit surreal (yes, Magritte) to think this is going to be my new home soon. The target date is still some time in August which really is not that far away. But this week drywall starts and siding continues on. More electrical, plumbing, painting and lighting!. A lot to do, but a lot done!
A lot has been done, but still a lot to go. I find myself thinking ahead more and more to the finish line. I am having fun imagining the large two story living room coming together. Tall plants…. Some interesting lighting both natural and crafted. Some furniture arranged to sit and read or relax in quiet or conversation. Windows to watch winter storms and windows to open to sleep in a summer breeze…. Orville’s window in study / former living room. Taking a bath in December and looking up at the crisp evening sky, a nice cold shower actually standing up straight, after a long hot 30k run. Some simple and deluxe pleasures.
On the building side of things, the insulation has been blown in. A green colored foam that is reasonably green in material, but super high in R-value. A little offgassing initially, but zero emissions over time. Batting to come still in the attic. Furnace is installed and electrical roughed in. Drywalling to start in a week. Siding another week. I am quite pleased with the siding. I love the contrasts of color– blue sky, green leaves, black roof, chalk skin.
Each time I go to the site, it starts to feel more and more like a house as the physical elements come together. But today, as the architect and I were walking and talking through the house about lighting and switching, I could really start to visualize my home and living there.
Today’s meeting was about lighting. and the switches that go along with it. Another reinforcement as to why I am glad I paid the extra to work with someone who knows what they are doing. After the fact, it all seems logical, and “sure, of course”, but its a lot of time and experience to get to that point.
The form is really starting to come together now. The trusses are done, the roof sheets are up and the house is going to be wrapped in typar soon. Windows are almost half installed. With the flooring sorted out, and now lighting and electrical, the next major decisions will be around furniture. I suspect for the first bit, there will be a lot of guest Yoga mats to sit on as it will take time to figure out what to buy. But for now, its looking and feeling really, really cool.
Its really exciting to come by every day and see what is new. Monday was a bit of a slowdown I am guessing due to the rain and high winds so not much progress. Tuesday however, had the stairs finished and the top floor coming along. It was quite a perspective up there. The second floor is higher than the previous house. But I also have windows / views that I did not have before. From the front guest bedroom, was a beautiful evening sunset.
The black and white day last April when the house came down seems so distant now. We have had almost all bright sunny days during the framing so it really is a different perspective on things in so many ways. With May being such an eventful and busy month (physically, mentally, emotionally), stopping at the house by myself and imagining a more manageable pace and a more rooted existence to life, was very timely. It was a needed reminder of what can be sooner than later.
As I was leaving, I also had a good chuckle with an elderly Asian couple who live up the street from me. We nod hello to each other on the dog walk. They congratulated me on the new house and design of which they approved. They also asked if its for sale (no!) and how much it cost and how much I might sell it for! Haha! They were also quite gleeful at pointing out the tall house for the tall man and his tall dog.
Its pretty freaky to see how fast its coming up and taking shape each day this past week. The ground floor walls are complete. Late Monday afternoon, I took my first walk “inside” the structure and it really hit me that this was my new house/home resolving in front of me.
I love the flow of it all, especially to and from the front door. This is the architect, Laird’s handy work. I can remember very well him describing some of the design changes he made and the reasons behind them. Walking through there were many, “Yes, I see very clearly what he meant” moments and am so glad for his craft! Cant wait to see the second floor come together which hopefully will be in just a week from now.
On the decision front, a little break for me. The kitchen is done. Materials, layout, colors etc picked. The next step is flooring. How much hardwood (the engineered stuff), how much vinyl, how much broadloom…. Then colors. Oh and bathroom tile. Yikes! But happy and fun decisions to make.