Update January 29, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Well, the unbelievable happened! The contractor actually contacted JT to get photos of the reno. The gall! We have a long memory and the bitterness of the experience is far from being gone (my heart races even as I type this). I will not participate in helping this lying contractor suck anyone else into his mire web of deception! In fact, we just noticed another unfortunate customer on Annette Ave. with his sign on the front lawn. Good luck to you all. Run, run run like the wind.

Caveat: the photos on this site are the sole property of this blog’s architect and may not be used by anyone else.

The Finished Renovation

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Well, the party is over and everyone has seen the reno so here are some photos.

Back of the house before:


After (since this photo was taken we’ve finished the interlocking path around the new addition) – note that the interlocking was existing and since it is strictly path, and will be mostly under a new deck which we’ll build in 2008, we decided to reuse the old brick.


Before: This is the view of the old kitchen from the dining room:




This didn’t exist before, view of the apron sink and new kitchen window from top of stairs to basement (the old sink used to be approximately where the small prep sink is in the island, which is approx. where the house used to end.).


New desk and window seat (new windows overlooking the backyard).


New tea cup cabinet for the tea cups I inherited from JT’s Mom. New entrance to basement is under the clock (old entrance – to the left of the light switches below the clock – was from the front hall which is now a closet)


Before, looking into the dining room:


After (no more hanging cabinets to obstruct the view and light and we made the peninsula counter height – yes you have to keep the kitchen tidy!):


Old staircase to basement:


New front hall closet and powder room with pocket door (on left):


Basement before (the wall with the built-ins is the back of the house, compare to the new wall below with the window!):


After (note that the house used to end approximately where the fireplace ends):


Well, that’s about it. We’re still furnishing the basement, but everything else is done! Would we do it again,? NO. The result is good, but frankly, I would have preferred never to come across our contractor, even though he did come through at the end mostly due to our perseverance. That kind of stress is never worth it (my heart races even now as I recall some of his tactics).

These are the trades I would recommend:

Kitchen cabinet maker: Team Wood

Master Electrician, Steven: Tairic Controls

Soapstone counters: Canadian Soapstone

Heating: World of Comfort

Rod the plumber: 416 434 8971

And of course, our lead carpenter, Todd U, who is apparently on Facebook and I am not, so you’ll have to search him out yourself. You will also catch glimpses of him in an upcoming HGTV show by Peter Falico.

The Reno Party

Monday, November 26, 2007


We had the bash. Lots of planning and getting things ready and by all accounts a success!

I did all of the food, of course, as JT would say! I asked Stacey to help me again because it allows me to enjoy my own party! I decided to keep the hot items to a minimum, since there will be a lot of action in the new kitchen and Stacey won’t be able to move freely within!


Chorizo sausage w. bread
Mediterranean meatballs (these flopped mainly because they were unseen!!)
Bacon wrapped dates
Warm onion confit and goat cheese w. creme fraiche pizza

Shrimp in an ice bowl
Mini smoked salmon, cream cheese bagels
Roasted red peppers and feta w. balsamic dressing
Tomato, bocconcini, basil skewers
Crudité w. blue cheese and onion confit dip
Cheese plate (St. André, Brie, Jarlsberg, Blue, Cheddar)
Sushi (was a bust, really bad rice!)


Bread sticks
French stick
Cheddar Shortbreads

No sugar peanut butter cookies
Butterscotch brownies
Peppermint bark
Two bite brownies

Hot apple cider



Contractor Hold Back

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We’re done, finished, but I thought this is important enough to reiterate with several more tags so when people search, they will read this.

NEVER PAY THE CONTRACTOR IN FULL BEFORE THE WORK IS DONE. The horror stories are endless (yes, one of our AH’s customer did just that!). In Canada, you legally have the right to hold back 10%. The contractor may try to finesse it differently, but 10% is the deal. Substantial finish is the wording, but you really need to be satisfied. So if your contractor has been lying and perhaps not finishing as quickly as he had indicated, your hold back is your ONLY leverage.

Before you pay out, wait 45 days after the last work has been done on your place and contact your lawyer to ensure there are no liens against your house. A lien can be put on by anyone the contractor owes money to on your behalf (yes, this is true even though you have paid the contractor). Excerpt from the Toronto Home Builders Association Renovation Guide: “The Construction Lien Act allows you to withhold 10 per cent of the cost for 45 days following substantial completion of the project. This protects you if the renovator fails to pay all the subcontractors and suppliers, and is not related to ensuring that the job is done right.” Ironically our contractor is also a member of both associations!

Here is another guide: Ontario Home Builders Association

Here is another link that may be helpful: Reno Blog Spot

Building Permit has been closed

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It’s November 8 and the building inspector has come by the house to inspect the things that JT and I were responsible for to close the permit. He hardly even looked at them, but then again, they are our own responsibility after all it is our home.

The building permit is closed. Finally. We can say we are truly done!

It’s party time!

And the fat lady has sung the final tune…

Friday, October 26, 2007

We’re done with it. Finished. Completed. The AH is finally out of our lives. He has finished everything and now I could forget about his ugly lying face.

This weekend the carpet goes in, and we can finally finish furnishing the basement. No more photos until the party…you’ll just have to wait and see (provided you’re invited!).

Stay tuned for other blogs…I may just have to start one about something else…too late. I’ve started a blog about my experiences in the kitchen….see the link to the right.


The Sign is GONE!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Yes, the sign is finally gone.

What’s been happening? It’s safe to assume that since the entries are few and far between, that not much has been going on. Oct 12 George finally sent Todd in to finish off the items that the building inspector required to close the permits. And, after several conversations with the structural engineer and several messages to the welding guys, we finally got our reports. Why is it so painful? If the AH would have done things correctly, these little things would have been checked off as we went along (for example, have structural engineer actually LOOK at the weld and sign off BEFORE it’s closed in? Oh, but that might have meant some planning…and we all know about THAT!)

The building code is an odd duck. There are things that make no sense what so ever (for example, you must have a privacy lock on a washroom…what the heck does THAT have to do with building code?) Our stove exhaust vent and powder room vent run through the garage, so building code dictates that these pipes must be insulated and drywalled and the inspector has to see it (it is to prevent co2 from leaking back into the house if a car is left running in the garage). George, of course, didn’t think this was necessary…it’s building code? OH. There were some words. So finally, Todd came by Oct 12 to finish off. It took he and Brett (nice to see him again!) all day to do the last details outside. Todd took photos and we’re done! Well, it’s Oct 23 and I’m just writing about it now…so there were some issues – believe it or not!

As usual, there were communication issues and the photos didn’t surface. So George had to bring a drywall guy in on the 19th and open the garage so he could take photos of the insulation. All is well…NOT. The photos didn’t turn out. Can you believe it? Perhaps the universe is telling George something. So on Monday (yesterday) he had to come back and open the garage AGAIN for the inspector. In the meantime, Todd kindly emailed the inspector the photos which clearly show the insulation.

By the way, Todd no longer works for George.

Thanksgiving weekend at my brother’s cottage…

Friday, October 12, 2007

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at my brother’s cottage. Weather was unseasonably warm and humid, but it made it easy to go for walks and enjoy the outdoors without cumbersome sweaters and such.

We did an interesting activity with the kids called ‘geocaching‘. Geocaching is a on-line club you join that has registered treasure hunts to do using your GPS. There are thousands of hunts on line, each defined as easy or difficult. You entre the coordinates of the hunt on your GPS (your regular Garman doesn’t do this) and start driving. Once you reach the destination, your GPS will take you within 10 yards of the treasure. This is great fun for kids. The treasure is generally in a sealed weatherproof box that you record your visit in, take a small toy and leave a small toy. We did two of these, found only one of the treasures! But we were outdoors for 2 hours and had a great time with the children (Jack and Annie too!)

Along the way, we saw a coyote (or fox) and a cute little deer – the deer was alarmingly docile. She actually turned around and posed when I clicked my tonge from the car with the window open!


Apparently, my brother and his wife have seen bears on two occasions while jogging on their road. The weird thing is that my brother’s cottage is extremely populated and these wild animals seem to be everywhere. We’ve been going up to JT’s cottage for 30 years (JT has been for 50 years) and we’ve never seen a deer let alone a bear on our property (we saw 3 deer along Hwy 28 last year).

By the way, today we’re supposed to finish the reno. Wait for the next blog entry…

The Drama Continues and continues and continues and continues

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


This nightmare is still going on. One would think that the contractor would have wanted to be finished by now (how many times have I said that?) – the only redeeming thing is that it’s probably because his other customers are yelling louder!!!! He actually had the gall to write an email saying that if I will it not to be finished, it won’t be (re: the secret). Wake-up call…the contractor has control over when the job gets done, not the damn universe (or maybe that’s his management style and that’s why things take forever to get done, damn universe is just so busy!). Just get the damn job done already – he’s had 105 days (and that doesn’t include the 85 days from day 1). JUST GET IT DONE.

And there is the [minor, ha] outstanding issue of the reports for the building permits…damn guy hired a welder without updated certifications – sound familiar, non certified electrician? Apparently this welder is a long time welder (yes, he makes iron fences, good grief,  I do hope those fences were made with welds strong enough to hold up an entire wall of a house…otherwise good lord) WHAT the HELL did we get ourselves into?  The universe must have paired us with this guy to test our strength and boy is she testing.

Incidentally, things started moving again only when I started ‘the drama’ (coincidence? I think not). GET IT DONE ALREADY.


We got our teacup cabinet door from our kitchen guy (who incidentally turned out to be a fabulous person, really accommodating and always kept to his word, and most of the time to the timelines!). It looks lovely – really will finish off that wall. JT and I had to attach the glass, and that was easy, we just had to wait for the adhesive to cure and we’re hanging her up today. That should finish the kitchen.  The end of October we’re having our new carpets installed (I wonder if everything with the contractor will be done by then?)

And then it’s just primping for the party.

What the heck are we waiting for NOW?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Well, it seems that we are waiting for a certificate from the welder. Why, you may ask? It seems that he has to renew it….WTF? Does that mean the welder was not licensed when he welded the support beam in our house? Although I am holding George ultimately responsible, it really is the government’s fault that these so called ‘rules’ are not stringently enforced. And that B seems to get these types. I should check to see if the plumber had a license.

Let’s back track a bit. We needed a report from the soils engineer to show that we don’t need weeping tile as our soil provides good enough drainage to suit the government. But what was it that George said? Something like, ‘it’s not often the government requires this report” so he hedged his bets, against, which I must say, has not been the winning side! Then we need another report to show how the existing beam is welded to the new beam. Now, this welder has done this before (I hope) and it seems that this is simply a piece of paper that needs to get renewed…but WTF? Is this entire government a fraud? (we already know you-know-who is) I really don’t understand rules if you aren’t going to enforce them.

The electrical inspection is tomorrow morning. THIS should be good. I can hardly wait. JT should be back from Pennsylvania so I’ll have some entertaining stories to tell.

Todd is apparently coming back to finish off on Thursday. It’s mostly outside, except the primer for the main drain needs to be hooked up and that is inside. Rod was supposed to call…but…Bottom line is that the 45 days is coming to an end and I cannot see me writing any numbers soon unless ALL of the items are finished. If we get such good service while we still owe him, can you imagine how great the service would be if we finalized the deal?

Just finish the damn job already. For god’s sake.

We’re still not finished…

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The inspector came out on Friday. There are a few items still left on ‘the list’ AND the damn reports have not been sent to the inspector. As well, the inspector had a few additional items that need to be done. I left 4 messages with George yesterday and guess what? The AH never called back…no matter how ridiculous he has treated this relationship, I am continually surprised by his audacity. UN-F’IN-BELIEVABLE. I will be calling every hour today, AGAIN.

The inspector also called out a couple of things that JT and I are responsible to do…for example, did you know that it is building code to have a privacy lock on the powder room door? WTF? And you have to have a Carbon Monoxide detector on the sleeping level of the home…seems odd since Carbon Monoxide is heavier than air…I guess we will have to figure out a way to install an outlet on the second floor landing to accommodate this requirement. Good thing my JT is so handy!

Final Inspection is BOOKED!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I really cannot believe it. Only 93 days late. I guess that’s not bad, considering some of the other horror stories I’ve been hearing.

I spoke to our inspector yesterday and he is scheduled to come in between 11-12 on Friday. I have a client meeting in Mississauga so I’ll be able to arrive home just in time for the wait. I also spoke to both engineers yesterday confirming their signoffs on the outstanding building permit requirements. I also confirmed their credentials on the professional listings on line (this is very handy, wish I would have done it when our contractor implied he was an architect!).

Wfew! I really thought the final inspection was never going to get done. Really. Not withstanding the remaining 10% hold back, I actually thought he would not do it. Now that’s confidence! or anti-confidence?

There are still a few things to do (like the hole in the eaves trough), and the final finishing of the sill outside (oh, and a few bags of dirt in the garage). I imagine Todd will do them on Friday. I’ll try to speak to him today.

The blog is slowly coming to an end. I’m afraid that once I have nothing more to complain about on the reno, I must end it. I may start up another subject just for fun, but the next few days should conclude it all. You’ll definitely know it’s finished when I do my last post. Perhaps a photo or graphic? Wait and see.

Self imposed deadline number 2,956,867,837,473,556.1a

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Yes, the fat lady is starting her warm-up! She’s actually warming up her voice…not quite singing yet, but warming up. It’s better than nothing I suppose. Many things got done yesterday – 91 days to the original second finish date. I am supposed to get a call from George verifying the engineers involved and confirming the inspection date (Friday?)

The outlet at the bottom of the stairs now works (it was disconnected at one of the junction boxes!) – the ceiling in the basement had to be opened, but Todd, repaired it and mudded it nicely. He will prime/paint it on Friday (this is a bonus since he absolutely hates painting!). The A/C hose was reattached to the house although the hole in the eaves is still there!! And the basement window sill was poured!

The drainage report: Supposedly, there is an engineer now working on the soil report but when I popped home at lunch, there was no hole dug yet, although Mark and Brett were at the house, which means lots of labour to do!! I was quite pleased to see Brett again! This finish has been quite a struggle. For the last week, I have been calling and emailing every hour during business hours to get George’s attention. Was this necessary? Well, we are getting stuff done, so I’m thinking: yes, it was; however, JT mentioned that the end of 45 days is coming to close, so possibly THAT was his motivation…who knows. I really don’t care, I just want it done and over with.

I got the window seat cushion done over the weekend. Wow, that was a job and a half! My sewing machines work perfectly now (repaired over the renos) but it still took a really long time – partly because I made my own piping out of coordinating fabric. I am very pleased with the look and so is JT – it’s a bit retro fabric, coloured in a very cool teal with brown – I love it! JT did a lot of the little things, repairing drywall screw pops, finishing the metal nosing on the tile stairs etc. etc. In the next few weeks we’ll be furniture shopping for the basement suite…that will be fun. The carpet is booked into October 27 installation! With any luck, we won’t lose our momentum to finish (although with the contractor taking 91 days to finish, it certainly does take a bit of the motivation away!)

The water feature in the basement still has not show itself again. I am relieved and yet a bit worried. What could it have been? We had a good rain last night, so that is a bonus – no puddle yet (at 8:30am anyway). I guess the melt next spring will really tell.

Our weekend is totally booked, but I love seeing our friends again…we’ve been a bit cocooning over the reno so it’s great to be active again!