Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The joys of home ownership

We've been in this house since late 1984. When we moved in we didn't have much stuff. All of it got stuffed into an 83 Accord hatchback and driven over from the townhouse just down the street. I couldn't even get the car into third gear. I no longer remember how many trips it took but it wasn't many. The biggest thing was Linda's armoire, and looking at it today I'm wondering if we borrowed a friend with a truck or van for that. It looks a bit big for a hatchback, though we did get some amazing stuff into it.

By today's standards, we didn't pay that much for the house because we bought during a deep recession. The house builders were desperate for us to buy. By today's standards it's small, just over 1400 square feet but there's just two of us. The standard model is 3 bedrooms, but we merged the master and second bedroom during the build. When we built our friends asked why the heck we were building so far out of town. At the time, Woodbine was the edge of Calgary, with the First Nation to the west,  a golf course to the east, Fish Creek to the south, and nothing south of that. Now, while we still aren't inner city, we're considered the next ring out, and redevelopment issues are starting to come up. We see what's happening just north of the Glenmore reservoir, with old homes being torn down to be replaced by multi-unit condos. It's only a matter of time till it starts happening here. We're already seeing the old Husky gas station being replaced by commercial condos, and let's just say there's been lots of discussion about the proposals.

The idea was that we'd buy, take care of it, and we'd be here till someone dragged us out because we're either dead or unable to take care of ourselves. There's been a lot of changes over the years. Going through the old photos made that clear. One example, today there is a large painting of storm clouds over the fireplace. One of the photos below shows it on the wall that used to separate the kitchen from the dining room. Neither of us had any memory of it being on that wall. 

The wall itself disappeared about 20 years ago with major house renovations. There's been lots of those. Installing a skylight. Taking out the wall between bedroom and bathroom, then later changing the shower and tweaking the placement of fixtures. Removing the horrible textured ceilings everywhere. Completely redoing the guest bathroom. Converting the second bedroom to a media room with big screen TV, and later putting in a desk where lots of my camera equipment lives. Moving the kitchen cupboards around. We're on our third stove and fridge, washer and dryer. There's been several layers of paint.

Just the other day the furnace died, and so we're on our third one, and today they're doing some duct cleaning. (Yes, Celina is hiding.) I think this activity is over-rated, myself. After a renovation, of course, it's necessary. But I am dubious about the buildup of dust on the inside of the heat ducts can affect furnace performance. We're still getting used to the different fan noises this one makes.

Lots of changes outside as well. The back yard started as a bare patch of crappy grass. Then a fence installed complete with some adventures the installers had with the layer of pit run gravel a few inches below the surface. Then we put in a garden in a corner and changed the fence. I installed some stone steps and if I'd had my wits about me I'd have robbed a bank, since I had no fingerprints for a while. Then took everything out and installed a new garden in a different corner, changed the patio, installed the lodge and an art piece that had been languishing disassembled in the basement for years. Installing a metal roof and a stone tile exterior, to replace the blue siding (two versions of) and asphalt shingles. New garage door. I added 3 large flower boxes and a front patio.

The work never ends. We're thinking a couple windows need to be replaced since they are original to the house, and the vacuum is blown on another one. The complication is that the stone tile installers need to be involved. One of the kitchen drawers needs to have a screw tightened to support the drawer railing, but the problem is that the screw was installed, and then the countertop was installed on top of it. I know of no way to tighten that screw, short of removing the entire countertop, all 30 some square feet of it, in one giant slab of cultured stone. The front patio needs some work. I want to clean everything out of the garage and get this cool epoxy coating installed to cover the concrete. Some of the grouting on a tile floor I installed has cracked and bits are coming out. Some of the hardwood floors should probably be refinished and if we're going to do any of it we should do all of it. We've been gradually upgrading to LED lighting, and want to do the whole basement, and change around the lighting.

None of this is surprising. Our intent was to actually live in the house, not keep it as a showpiece of the era. That means things get worn, scratched, dented, used and it's going to happen no matter how much care is taken. 

In all of this, we didn't have to consult anyone but ourselves and our bank accounts. We've had great advice from interior designers (she saved us more than what she cost) and various trades people along the way. I'm pretty much in the space where if something needs to get done now, I'm going to hire someone to do it. I've painted, installed hardwood floors, drywalled, and lots of the other work, but enough is enough. Now, paint touchups are fine, but redoing the whole house is not something I want to do. Any plumbing or electrical work is obviously for the trades.  Refinishing the floors will need the right equipment and skills to not ruin the floor. 

Here's some historical house photos, in no particular order. And yes, some of my readers might remember back then.

1. The first incarnation, from late 1984.

2. Sebastian and Nefertitti. By now the blue rug has disappeared to be replaced by slate and hardwood. We're still using those chairs.

3. Second incarnation of the back yard, I think mid-1990's or so. The first fence had had enough time to peel and rot and look terrible. 

4. A serendipity from 2017.

5. More of fence construction.

6. Front flowerbox and patio construction. I like doing this kind of stuff.






12. The side flower box.


14. The astonishing thing about this was putting in the two vertical posts, by level and measurement based on the base 4x4's, and finding the top of the posts were exactly 8 feet apart, as planned. I mean exactly 8 feet, and square to each other.






20. Taking out the wall between the bedroom and bathroom. The jetted tub had cracked, and we wanted to open up the space.

21. That lino floor. Sheesh. I think the installer used an entire can of glue, and a million staples pounded in at random with a staple gun.



24. The obligatory butt shot.


26. Linda, dragging out the tub all by herself.

27. She had just flashed me, and the camera was slightly too slow.


29. After the first set of bedroom bathroom renovations.

30. The promised image of the painting in the old spot. That wall is no longer there, and the fridge now sits where that cabinet is on the left of the photo. Yes, that menace of a light fixture is gone.

Of the Day



Film (new)
Seeing how brilliant mid day sun and strong shadows on snow would show up on Acros II film.

Film (old, which most of the above shots are, but I wouldn't want you to feel deprived.) 
Linda, demonstrating her dominance in the old kitchen. Those cuboards to her left were taken out during the reno.

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