Renovations, Part 1 - Demolition

It is said that it is easier to destroy than it is to create. However, it is not said that it is also more fun. I wonder why?

This morning, we started the first part of our house renovation: tearing apart the crap that’s in the basement. As you’ve seen in pictures already posted, the basement was a renovation gone wrong.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. Today, I found out it was several renovations gone wrong.

It really baffles me where people learn to build things. I know enough from what Dad taught me, and from what Holmes on Homes often champions, to know what’s right and what’s screwed up. That’s always part of the fun, I guess. But wow — some of the things I found today were … well, let’s say I’m glad we’re tearing all that out.

Basement demolition, Westgate, Calgary, Alberta, 29 April 2007

Allen is here to help, too. He arrived last night and will be our “contractor” for the week. Actually, he’s going to be our adviser, as well. He’s built houses and reno’d houses. He knows the good, the bad, and the ugly, and has enough experience and wisdom to suggest a few things we hadn’t previously considered.

One of them: get a general contractor.

Back when we’d decided to buy this place, I’d thought that with the exception of the heated floors, I’d handle most of the other work (framing, wiring, pluming, drywalling, mudding, painting). Given, it’s a lot of work, but not unmanageable. Allen’s quickly changing my opinion.

There’s a lot of work, and it needs to be done by mid-August. Earlier, if possible. And there’s a lot of things that someone else with more experience should do. Like the duct work (it’s a bit of disaster down there), moving the gas lines (poor organization), rewiring (80% or more of the wiring is 1950s, and I really want to get a newer/better electrical panel in a different location), and so forth.

I wanted to this work partly for pride (I am my father’s son), but also for cash — I didn’t think we’d have a lot left over after the sale of our house. But a visit with the lawyer last week has at least changed that view. Now … if we can get a general contractor, I think this might work out well for us.

Anyway, today was demolition. While Alex and Allen were at church, I laid into the fibreboard walls, Gyp-Roc ceiling (a bit), electrical sockets, the “bar”, moved the appliances, and tried to figure out which electrical was wired into which breakers.

Following a lovely lunch on the deck (first of the year), Allen and I resumed demolition. Slowly, but surely, more of the mistakes were revealed as walls came down and the horrible truth became keenly present. Yes, Virginia, there is a mess down there.

Our biggest success of the day was getting rid of the pool table. Tom, a friend from Critical Mass, came by with a friend of his, and decided they’d take it. It took a bit of planning, and a lot of unbolting/hammering, but the three of us broke it apart into its core pieces, loaded it into Tom’s truck, and I bid the thing a happy farewell. (Thanks again, Tom!)

Allen has his work cut out for himself tomorrow. (As do I, but I have to spend eight hours at the office first.)

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