Category Archives: Uncategorised

Whether Weather or Not

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.

…And yes, I did wash my foot post dog walk 🙂

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Rolling Forward to a Finish Line

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.



I wonder if I should keep the blue outhouse ?




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Bathroom / Shower coming along as well
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Paint and Flooring

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.

Trim and painting to come later this week!

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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!


Keeping Warm, Keeping Cool

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.
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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.

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My giant tub! – aka Mike-in-a-box

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Building a Home

I grew up in a tar paper war time four in Toronto.  It had one bathroom, an unfinished damp basement and two tiny rooms for our family of four.  It was a ‘modest’ house by the standards back then. But it was the best home I could imagine to grow up in.  To my father, it was always his castle.

He was really excited about the prospect of seeing my new house. When I would visit him at the nursing home, he would ask most days about it.  “did I start yet?–yes”, “Is it finished?– no”  It would have been nice for him to be around long enough to see it done, but it was not meant to be.  There was a bit of a sombre congruence this week as the foundation quickly came to be, he began to rapidly decline.

Kitchen islands, tall basements and beautiful fixtures are wonderful things– things which I will enjoy.  But with the passing of my father I am reminded about what is important to me– truly important, that those are not (for me anyways) the necessarily parts of a happy life.  Love, kindness, health, family and friends.  Its the home, not the house.

Thanks Pop you were a wonderful father who gave Judy and I so much. As I run next Sunday in my seventh marathon, in the city where your castle was, where our home was,I will think of that incredible stamina you had, and honor that tradition you showed us.

Mihaly Tancsa Feb 18th, 1929 to April 24th, 2016




Forms and Cooking

A few steps done this week on the build.  The footings were first which cured for a day. Then a load of gravel.  Then they were inspected and re-surveyed. The forms were delivered yesterday and started to get setup. The plan is for the concrete to get poured tomorrow afternoon.

In the meantime, I have been looking at Ovens and Dishwashers. Also an eye opening experience. Its been many, many years since I looked at a new oven and it too can pull you into the world of expectation inflation. Given that I tend to spend a bit of time in the Kitchen cooking and eating, I figured getting something that works well, and is easy to maintain would be worth a few extra bucks. But its shocking what you can spend on it. I also find myself having to repeat this question in my mind, “Sure, that feature sounds nice, but is it really going to make me a happier person in life in the short/medium/long run” ? When it came to the bathtub, spending double totally made sense to me. Why spend $500 on a tub I cant fit into and hence, will not use. That was an easy choice. It wasnt cheap– $1800, but I see it as worth it as I will enjoy it in a tangible sense. But the Kitchen I find a little harder. For $800 I get a functional stove. Traditional coil. Bare bones. But for $1400, I get one that does work a little better for baking (I do like to bake the odd fish and chips) and… well it looks so much better. I find the price difference purely an aesthetic choice. Is it worth it ? Will I be a happier person in life ? Still thinking….. As for the dishwasher, fuck yes! I have been dreaming about having one for ages! never had any space for it nor the plumbing in the old place. Now ? Damn straight! Whooo hoooo!!!!

End of Week 1

End of Week 1

The footings didn’t get poured today as the building permit didn’t get released until yesterday afternoon.  No biggie.  Monday it will happen.  The weather is cooperating so it will be fine.  The builder and my engineering neighbours are excited about the sandy bottom where the house will be which is great for drainage.  The one spot on the south west corner where the soil was a little different might have been a well from long ago.  No matter, its filled with gravel now so its load bearing will be fine.

I walked around and in the site and was amazed at how fast it had all dried out from the heavy rains earlier this week.  I am still blown away at how pretty well everything was hauled away to the dump in one afternoon.  That black&white, cold rainy day seems long ago now.  I did find something that was left over from the recycle bin I guess as well as a bit of trellis that formed the border of my old front steps.  Kath and I did that as a project many years ago— fixing the front porch and steps.

I am dropping by each day en route home from work to see it, even though little is happening right now.  Its neat to stand and talk to random strangers who walk by.  My neighbours of course all know me, but we have a lot of foot traffic come through.  Its fun to go troll some of the cranky older folks who don’t like my neighbour’s house across the street. Its a very modern style that I personally love!  However, some people don’t like ‘different’…. I really want to troll some of them and say my home will be done in the style of a giant black obelisk like the one from 2001, A Space Odyssey.  But the picture will go up soon 🙂 


You can see where the old well probably was where the gravel is


Stuff found in the dirt