Friday, December 18, 2009

Lez Demo

Demolition is the name of the game!

Lez be careful!

After all the jackhammering (ok it was really a hammer drill) of cement, Cool J tweaked my back carrying a 1 gallon can of paint. This week has made, of course, much less visible progress.

Yesterday  I tried some DIY plumbing & learned a couple things. I'm a little scared of burning the house down with the torch. AND how do you get all the water out of the pipe so it will heat up enough??
Now i give up: looking for a  plumber to come to fix all the leaky pipes in the last days before xmas. A typical Cool J behaviour: try it a bunch of times myself, until the last moment to get help from someone who actually knows what they are doing!  tomorrow when LL is organizing her crew to paint, they are going to have to run a hose from the neighbour's to clean up. oops.
well, hopefully we can finally start the floor sealing on sunday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lez Investigate

Day One in the house....we look around....hmmmmm

Lez get me a towel

Cool J:
Yesterday was fun. My Favorite Work BF (FWBF), Robyn, came over to give me some electrical instruction. He is a great coach. We worked on wire twisting, plug removal, testing to ensure electrocution would not ensue. I'm going to move a plug from the dodgy place it was screwed, so that was cool. Too bad i didn't take any videos. Speaking of videos, i love the youtube instructions. the problem of course is that one doesn't know if it is 'right' or not. Why doesn't Mike Holmes have a youtube channel??

I'm slightly regretting busting out the home made bathroom vanity, as it's shape was rather particular & will leave me with some problem - as if i'll be able to buy one to fit 13x 28 inches, and the flooring doesn't extend into that area. And the toilet was cemented on, so likewise probably can't easily (aka cheaply) be replaced. Lots of decisions to make about the toilet. But in the meantime I have to fix the leaky pipes. Yesterday there was only 1 leaky pipe, but then i got a bit rammy in the kitchen with Big Red the crow bar & cracked another & was doused with water. Oops. According to both Robyn & youtube, it is easy to resolder, though slightly risky of burning the nearby plastics with the torch.
I may just try it, so i don't have to run a hose from the neighbour's in order to have water for the Concrete patching/sealing job of today....
First stop today is the Top Secret Contractors-Only supply store for the sealant. I really feel like I'm in the know, using a product that the guy at home depot had never heard off. more on that later.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lez Demolish

Cool J:
I remain injury-free after 2 days of Lez Renos, though perhaps i'm risking talking about the shutout in the middle of the game?

We've spent the weekend tearing out a carpet sandwich, bathroom, & kitchen. Thanks BL & KP for the tough work & great ideas.

The carpet sandwich was not so tasty. I fail to understand why one would put carpet over existing carpet and nail it into place with roofing nails. And attach the corners with drywall screws. It was exciting to learn to kick the carpet in order to pull it loose, and it's too bad we can't recycle carpet into tennis courts or insulation, or hockey bags or something. Maybe we should save it in our shed until the recycling technology comes to Vancouver? I will say i am glad we didn't follow the advice just to steam clean & rent the suite as is. Yuk.

After devouring the Carpet Sandwich, dust masks on, we pried up the plywood subfloor. The preceding Handyman Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN) had glued the plywood to the concrete, so we had to pry it with the Big Red demolition crowbar, and used a shovel for leverage. Then we applied my dad's tip & sawed through the plywood with the Skil Saw. Then we could pry up little plywood biscuits. I don't know how we'll reuse those. It was much easier in the places where HWSNBN had patched together the subfloor with offcuts. Just like a little jigsaw puzzle. Bizarre, yet surely economical. We were delighted to find no sign of mold or damp!!! Our first miracle.

LL's Bro-in-law predicted a 45 minute conclusion to the demolition, a 'smash and grab' that has now lasted about 8 lez-hours.  LL & our good feminist friend, Alice B, removed the kitchen cabinets. No small job, as HWSNBN used a variety of screws, nails,  adhesives, and lumber offcuts to custom build them. They unearthed a kid's sweater (lavender- see i knew other lesbians had lived here).  Still not done with all that today and LL's middle finger is a brighter lavender than the kiddie sweater after she banged it with a mallet. Ouch.

The bathroom similarly had custom cabinets put together like a puzzle knot. A bit of moldy drywall (I cut it out like Uncle Rob said, in a square). Found one leaky pipe behind the drywall, smashed out some tile, removed hundreds of screws (needed 3 different screwdrivers & a grinder). Couldn't figure out how to use the screw removal tool i bought, then had to abort because an electrical outlet in the neighbouring room is screwed into a 2x4 layer cake that is holding the remnants of the cabinet in place.

I conferred with the electrical panel and was delighted to find an index of all the breakers. Except that it is written in Vietnamese. I busted a gut laughing, tested with a radio plugged in to the outlet in question. The radio went off when I switched off one breaker (as did a bunch of other lights in surprising places), but when i used my Life Saving Gadget (non contact voltage tester), it said the outlet still had juice. WTF?? I'm waiting for tomorrow's FBF (Favorite Boyfriend, remember?) to advice.

So i moved on to the toilet . I had to grind a finger's width of plaster/concrete/something off the base of the toilet so i could  remove the toilet. There was smoke & sparks. Very scary. Do   grinders always do that??  yikes. Good thin i had eye protection. We really need web access at Georgia Cottage, so i can look stuff up as i go. Here's where I learned that grinding is supposed to be like a scene out of Flashdance.

What a feeling! Thanks terry.

I closed the day by prying out some drywall in the bathroom & discovering an avalanche of drywall offcuts & plumbing bits hidden between the studs. I guess that's one way to save a trip to the dump.

So that was the day. I love the smashing. I really do. Putting it back together could be hairy, but so far, so good!

Housewarming Party!

LL Says:

A housewarming party is a party held on the occasion of moving into a new residence. It is an occasion for the hosts to present their new home to their friends. Usually the event takes place after the residents have moved and settled in. We decided that we would like to have a housewarming BEFORE we move in, to give the house a fuzzy feeling of love so when we start to tear it apart, it won't be mad at us!

And preparing for this soiree was no small feat. Since the house had no furniture, no kitchenware, no nothing - we had to bring it there. Plus, we had the great idea of setting up my band equipment in the basement for some rocking good times. At our old rental house, we had a jam space in the basement and MANY house parties that included various musicians bashing out covers, surprising us with original gems and tons of jamming. So - we had to load the golf VW with gear that was being stored by a super nice fella of mine, which took a couple trips. Add on a few more trips with some folding chairs, a table, kitchenware, food, tools (for the next day demolition) and last minute - "oh, we forgot...." items, hours later we were finished lugging crap.

Now we had everything, we just needed to set it all up. We wanted to welcome our friends and family with open arms. So, we quickly threw up some Christmas lights, and did the first cleaning.  Cool J took on the noble duty of cleaning the upstairs kitchen and bathroom. Which I understand was disgusting. The previous owner had different standards of cleanliness from us so, I'm sure there was some dry heaving involved. She was a trooper though and pressed on. I, on the other hand, had the fun pleasure of setting the band equipment up in the basement. But don't worry, I had my fair share of unpleasantry the following day which included a nose bleed, but I'll save that story for another time. :)

The party was a super success! We had various musical combinations throughout the evening, including a jam with a longtime friend of mine that I have never played music with before. That was a blast! And a dance party upstairs that only got crazier as the beer filled fridge continued to empty.

Now, we didn't have a chance to meet our new neighbours and warn them of our ensuing noise, so I'm sure they were a little annoyed that it went a little late. It also got a little louder once we made everyone participate in a swift gear-moving measure. Since we were going to start demolishing the basement first thing in the morning, we thought it would be a good idea to move everything upstairs into an empty room. My brother-in-law decided that having a daisy chain of hands moving the gear would be most productive. So, there we were - 30 people wrapped around the outside of the house into the basement and hand bombing every piece of equipment to the upstairs bedroom. Now, keep in mind - a lot of people were drunk and disorderly. So there was a lot of laughing, yelling and overall noise. Thank god this process lasted all of 5 mins! Wow. And there was some heavy stuff too. Amazing. It was such a great display of teamwork. Drunk teamwork.

The evening was so great. Everyone loved the house and had many suggestions to impart to us. We had put a couple suggestion sheets up for people to jot down ideas. A couple of my favorites were: "full sound systems in every room", "install a dumbwaiter to the attic for the cats" and "knock every wall out and make it open!".  We might just do....we might just do.

I have uploaded a couple party pictures to our new flickr account:, which will carry most of the photos that we will be taking over the next few weeks. And you can click on the pictures to the left of this post to get there as well.

Georgia Cottage party #1 - Success!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lez history

As you can see from the pics, we spent yesterday in our NEW house. Ok, new to us. This house was built in 1929 & it must have seen lots of other families before ours.  Who knows, maybe even one of those families was a long time pair of lady 'spinster' companions, who baked brownies for the whole neighbourhood and held garden parties during the early years of the PNE. Maybe some of the 'customizations' we see in the plumbing were done by one of those lady spinsters, learning to reno on the job like we are?

Maybe as we unpack the sandwich of flooring layers, we'll make archeological discoveries about East Van Life in earlier times?  Or maybe we'll find asbestos & mold. Either way, tomorrow is Day 1, Iteration 1. Lez demo!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lez Landlord-ess-es

What do you call a couple of East Van Dyke landlords?
Sounds like the opening of a joke, of the type we've heard at the beach in the 'burbs: "what do you call two lesbians in a canoe?". Anyway.

We're about to shift from being lifetime renters to becoming the Homo-ners renting a ground floor suite under us.

Cool J says: I remember when i first understood the power struggle between renter & tenant. I was 8 & my dad brought us home a puppy (who was shortly thereafter run over in front of our wee eyes, as several other dogs & cats would be, but we can go into those life lessons in another post). I was a know-it-all kid, quel surprise, and pointed out that there were no pets allowed in Duplex Row II, our Glenrosa development. "What if The Landlord won't let us keep our puppy?" I asked my Dad. "I'll tell Vic to go jump his touque."

Vic was the landlord & i have no idea how my dad coined the phrase 'jump his toque'. Later in life, my dad liberally sprinkled f-bombs over most home improvement & power-brokering projects, but at that time, he was quite protective of our tender ears. I wondered what it would look like to see Vic the Landlord with his male-pattern bald patch & bushy 80s moustache jumping over a pilled, acrylic toque with a pompom. I'm serious. Or maybe Vic was a chef?? I really should get my dad to spell this out for me... The POINT however, is that I learned from my dad some clear lessons that began to shape my understanding of

The Land Lord / Tenant Treatise:
1. Landlords should be called by their first name. Don't let them get all Mister on you.
2. Landlords may own the place, but the tenant will damn well do what they want. Or else the landlord will have to jump over a toque. [Yikes.]

Later landlords  were clearly repeat subscribers to East Van Slumlord Monthly Magazine. One  I threatened to take to the Landlord tenant branch because he wouldn't replace the hot water tank. Who decides who pays? His retort was to call my BF & refuse to ever talk to 'that crazy wife again'. Sweet.  A great band [2/3 lez, by the way] by the name of New Years Resolution had rather a catchy tune on the subject of Slumlords.

Now our tune will have to change & we will aim to be decent landlords. Slightly embarrassed, but there you have it. Thanks future tenants for paying off the financial institution for us.Does it make me a capitalist if i own $10,000 equity in a 100 year old house?? We will have the means to produce a few veggies in our 25x10 front garden, but don't eat me yet, punks.

lez renovators welcome your input to the Land Lez oath, which i can swear to myself whenever i start to get righteous about "my" castle, property, entitlement etc. Toques for everyone!

lez rent it!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Basement sealing. Boyfriends disagree

Cool J says: Though there are no actual boyfriends in our house, we each have our favorites among the myriad boyfriends, husbands, lovers in our circle. And of course, we have our TV friends. I, like many, cannot tear myself away from the TV advice of Mr. Make It Right Mike Holmes. I am drawn to his confident assertion of his own authority, though somewhat repelled by his lack of interest in re-using & recycling.

While LL tends to choose the musicians in our circle as her Favorite BFs, my favorite real-life boyfriend is our neighbour on Ferndale Street - a friendly contractor who after a fire, rebuilt his own house as the gem of the block. He acheived Favorite BF (FBF) status by advising us against buying a moldy old house & gave the thumbs up to Georgia Cottage, complete with many practical tips on DIY.

But now a quandry: FBF said to treat the concrete floor with some product to prevent moisture creeping through. Then listening to my Dad, the old carpet guy, i thought we'd put rubber-back (ok, polyureathane. offgassing issues tbd) carpet right on top. I admit it, I haven't checked this plan with FBF yet.

But HGTV BF says in his Bible, never seal up the floor! Instead he says, put 1" foam board, then 5/8 plywood, screwing plywood to cement. No barriers. No plastic. No paint. Let the cement breathe.

Who should we believe!? I woke up worrying about it this am (gotta wake up worrying about something, as if looking for a job, fighting the revolution, and family weren't enough).  Yikes.

Looking on the internet machine, I found some info about the Construction Chemical recommended by FBF.  Claims that FBF's chemical of choice actually lets the cement be cementy & still porous, and doesn't try to totally seal it up (and later peel it's poisonous self off).

Whew! Seems like a consensus between my  World's Leading Authorities.  But we hope to get the friendly neighbourhood contractor in this weekend, to have a look & dispense more wisdom after we have pried up all the musty industrial carpet & plywood that the former owner glued to the basement floor.

Get your gloves & demo bar and meet us at Georgia Cottage this saturday! Lez demo! Lunch provided.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I saw you

LL says:
So - as with every renovation plan, you run into some needs. And needs we do have. Thank god we have parents (dads) that help us with these needs. Last weekend we loaded up our car with various tools and supplies from the recesses of our parents' crawl space and shed. Some elders were pained from crawling in these so called spaces, but they have quickly revived and are ready to start renovating!

Here are a couple photos from the acquisition of tools and supplies.

CoolJ Says:
Yessir, having 2 dads & 2 uncles weigh in with saws & levels & advice was great. The most satisfying was their clear encouragement that of course we could demolish,  install carpet, hang cabinets, install laminate flooring and tile, and do it ourselves! That's the kind of support we need - a real rosie-the-riveter yes we can endorsement from the fellas.  Count down to Demo Day is 8 days...