Garage update

When the wall of the pool was removed to frame up the openings for the new garage doors, I had a few regrets about turning the pool into a garage. I had a great view from the kitchen island out the side of the house, across the lawn all the way to the barn.

Not regrets in terms of, “Stop the project! I don’t need a wall on the side of my house!” But more, “Wow that’s a lot of light and what a nice view.”

Well, the view is no more. The mudroom wall has been filled with insulation, covered in vapour barrier and sheathed with plywood (on the garage side). I don’t even have a view out the mudroom door, as that opening has been covered in plastic (we will, once the door arrives).

But the regrets are easing. We are inching ever close to the mudroom actually being part of the house, which feels like a pretty big win.

Two beams are sitting in the new garage. This week they should be installed in the archway between the kitchen and the mudroom and the patio door will be removed (good riddance).

Framing in the opening means that tile can be laid and paneling can be installed on the ceiling and walls.

Outside, the roof is shingled and new board and batten siding is almost done. I feel like both of these items are a journey in colour.

For the roof, I knew what shingles we used on the rest of the house, so our contractor was able to get an exact match. Exact except that the other shingles are 9 years old and apparently pretty dirty. I had expected the old shingles to be sun faded and lighter. But instead they’re darker. Massive pine trees, dirt from fields, dust from the road, air pollution? Who knows what all is on them? But the new shingles are already starting to blend (or my eye is just getting used to them).

For the siding, I was trying to complement our existing red brick and the new garage doors. And I was referencing tiny sample chips, just a couple of inches wide. I called my contractor’s stain supplier and asked for a sample can, and they offered me a gallon. So I held my garage door sample up to the brochure, picked a light, warm neutral shade and crossed my fingers that it would work.

Right now, I love it. It looks good with the brick and is such a light, clean sight out the kitchen window. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works with the garage doors (ETA unknown). Please don’t let them clash.

Also, please appreciate the precision of the spacing on the siding so that the light is exactly centred on the board. My contractors’ care and attention to detail consistently impress me. All of the lights across the front of the garage are each centred on their own board. The windows on the end gable wall have the same spacing all the way around so that trim is even. The battens are prenailed like this so that all of the nails line up perfectly.

Doors may end up being our speed bump (literally) on this project. I got word last week that the person doors are another 4 to 6 weeks out–even though they’ve been on order for nearly 2 months. I’ve had no word on the garage doors. So that view out across the lawn is going to be a while yet.

But, tile and panelling are on-site and ready to go. We’re also ready for soffit, fascia and trough, which will nearly finish off the outside.

It feels a bit like we are moving onto the finishing stage. Not necessarily finishing–although that is getting closer, doors notwithstanding. But installing the finishes like siding, paneling and tile feels like a good milestone.

Who else is a cross-your-fingers-paint-picker? When do you feel like you’re nearing the end of a project?

Treehouse playground

One year ago, as I was driving home with parts of Ellie’s new-to-us playset in my car, I spotted a slide at the end of someone’s driveway. It was cracked, but I couldn’t resist so I loaded it into the car.

As soon as Matt’s Dad and I set up Ellie’s playground, I started dreaming about expansion plans.

I quickly realized that a playground was not super complicated to construct, I had better quality lumber stored in the barn than what her playground was constructed of, I didn’t really fit in the playground, and Ellie was going to quickly outgrow the set.

When I saw this treehouse playground, everything clicked in my mind. We had a big pine tree near her current playset that would be perfect. We also had an old deck worth of lumber in the pool. Oh, and we had that extra slide.

Construction on the playground began after a timely text from a cousin. He asked if I needed help with anything, so I replied, “How do you feel about building a treehouse?” A week later, he helped me build the underlying structure of posts, beams and joists.

We made it as big as our lumber allowed. Roughly 10 feet by 12 feet. The platform is 5 feet up from the base of the tree, which was recommended for a 10 foot slide. It feels high enough. The tree is on a little mound, so the edge of the platform is 6 to 7 feet off the ground.

It’s big and tall and open to so many possibilities.

I contacted a local deck company, and they let me (and Matt’s Dad) dive through their dumpster to get boards for the decking. I’ve been slowly working my way through the decking for the last couple of weeks, and yesterday I finally finished it.

We have a collection of tires here at the farm, thanks to previous owners. I picked out 8 that are roughly the same size and have begun bolting them together to make a ladder.

I’m still on the hunt for a firepole (one of Ellie’s favourite activities at any playground).

And obviously we need a railing.

This very sophisticated crayon rendering might help you to visualize the final playground.

So far, we’re having a lot of fun building—and already playing on—the treehouse.

Did you have a treehouse as a kid? Where was your favourite place to play? What’s your favourite activity at a playground?

Plans for planking the mudroom

On Saturday morning, Ellie and I hooked up the trailer and headed to a local lumber yard to buy the ceiling for the mudroom. 140 square feet of the most beautiful cedar came home with us. (Side note: this barn smelled fabulous.)

The inspiration to plank the ceiling came from Matt’s Dad. As we were taking down the ceiling in the pool (which was sheets of cedar designed to look like tongue and groove), he suggested reusing them. (You can get a little glimpse of them in this shot from our home inspection.)

Unfortunately, once the sheets were down and I pulled all the nails, the sheets were a bit too patchy and beat up for the mudroom. (I have saved them in the barn in case I can use them for another project in the future.) But we have new cedar T&G planks to put in their place.

I like that the ceiling will be a reference to the pool and what this space was originally. Natural wood is also a common element in other rooms of our home and it feels farmy to me.

I’m also planning to put vertical planks on the mudroom walls. The walls will be painted, so I’m on the hunt for some MDF V-groove. Pandemic shortages (and price increases) are not my friend right now.

I’ve chosen to go vertical to emphasize the height of the room. I also want to avoid a shiplap look. My reaction to some decorating trends is to actively avoid them, and shiplap is getting that treatment. V-groove feels more casual than beadboard to me, but more polished than shiplap and appropriate for our farm. (Remodelista has an explanation of V-groove versus shiplap versus beadboard and here is V-groove in action in The Grit and Polish’s kitchen.)

Source

The conundrum with the mudroom is the wall height–around 9 and a half feet. I found a few companies that make 4×10 sheets of V-groove, which would be ideal. They’re exactly the size I need and installing sheets would take much less time than planks. But the lead time to order them is 6 to 8 (or even 10) weeks–thanks pandemic.

So I turned my attention to planks. But the planks come in 8 or 16 foot lengths. My vision was for one continuous plank from floor to ceiling. The longer planks would give me that, but I’d be left with more than 6 feet of waste. Some late night sketching and texting with my contractor gave me a solution that allows me to use the 8 foot planks without having to splice them together.

Baseboard at the bottom gives us about 5 1/2 inches (we’ll have to put some backing to lift the planks up from the floor). Then a hook board mid-way up the wall gives us another 7 1/2. The hook board will be wood and feels like a really practical addition as it will be a sturdy surface to affix hooks or support a shelf. Then, any remaining gap at the top will be covered with a small 1×2 or 1×3 board. I think it will look good.

It’s fun to be focusing on the finishing details now, even if it might still be a while before they’re installed.

The framing is done, so the mudroom has been carved out of the garage and we have a new landing off the kitchen. The roof where the old sunroom was has been patched and the garage roof has been extended over the addition. Having the one continuous roof makes such a huge difference to how that side of the house looks. The garage floor has been poured. Electrical is roughed in. This week, tile should arrive and siding install should begin.

It’s exciting to see it coming together.

Do you have panelling anywhere in your house? Are you team beadboard, V-groove or shiplap? Are you pro-wood or paint it out? How do you react to decorating trends? Where would you use panelling?

Garage update

Garage under construction

Soooo much progress was made on the garage last week. In fact, we have an actual garage now.

There’s more work to be done, of course. But it looks like a garage rather than a pool. In fact, Ellie and I drove the car in over the weekend.

We are 17 days into construction.

The exterior walls are all framed. The walls turned out to be our first hiccup because our contractor wasn’t happy with how the bottom plate of the existing walls was positioned in relation to the pool deck.

It looks like the plate had been set in place and then the concrete of the pool deck had been poured up against the wood. He wanted the plate higher up, so he reverse engineered footings all the way around the garage.

Wall with incorrectly installed bottom plate

He braced the ceiling, so that the roof didn’t fall down. Then cut out the original plate and about 6 inches off the studs. Then he put in a new (floating) bottom plate, squeezed forms in underneath and poured new footings.

Pouring footings under existing wall

This has been our biggest (not so big) surprise so far, so not tragic.

For the side wall on the new addition, he decided to reuse the existing wall (which I’m grateful for since lumber is so expen$ive these days). After a lot of figuring, bracing and some extra help, they hopped the wall (all 20 feet long with the windows still in place) out 10 feet.

Extending the garage
Reusing an existing wall when framing the garage

I love construction, so it’s neat to see the problem-solving, planning and building process up close.

The doors are all framed in as well. Seeing the garage openings made it feel much more real. It was also an opportunity to validate some of my planning. I am really happy with the dimensions and position (there’s a good amount of space to tuck recycling boxes along the side and still get out of the car).

They also mapped out the mudroom for me, so I could check the height of the floor, location of the doors and size of the landing. I really appreciate how conscientious and inclusive they are being.

And finally, FINALLY we have no pool. The excavator returned last Wednesday and gravel trucks started showing up a few minutes later. The excavator dumped bucketfuls of gravel into the pool and our contractor compacted it. It took most of the day, but by 5pm the pool was full.

Gravel pile to fill the pool
Filling an indoor pool with gravel
Filling the pool with gravel

The excavator returned the next day to finish backfilling all of the foundation, lay the driveway and take care of a bunch of other jobs that I had. Low spots were filled in, bumpy spots were leveled, rocks were moved, stumps were extracted. Soooo many things were crossed off my wishlist.

Though it felt like an expensive two days, having the excavator, two machines, our contracting crew and about 15 truckloads (250 tonnes) of gravel.

Backhoe and skid steer working on the garage construction
Truck dumping gravel

Ontario is under a whole bunch of new restrictions due to a huge wave of COVID infections, but residential construction that is already in progress is allowed to continue. So next on the agenda is framing the roof of the extension and the mudroom and pouring the garage floor.

Anyone else in the middle of a construction project (big or small)? Have you had any expensive days recently? Anyone else crossing things off your to-do list that have been on there for a long time?

Picking a mudroom floor

Last week I was talking about the exterior of the garage. Today I’m moving inside to talk about the mudroom. Specifically the floor.

In my original plans, we were going to do a concrete floor. I liked the idea of colouring and stamping it to look like tile. But I liked that it would be one solid surface with no grout to clean.

Our contractor and I both called a bunch of concrete installers, and we couldn’t find anyone to do the mudroom floor. The space is too small, and there would be extra charges for a partial load of concrete. Heating the floor wasn’t going to be as straightforward as I thought.

Change of plans. We’re going with tile, grey grout and a really, really, really good sealer.

Now I have to pick a tile.

My mudroom plan is to plank the walls and ceiling. The walls will be painted a light greige, taupe colour. Fairly neutral. Not white. Hide dirt.

Source: Sarah Richardson

The ceiling will be wood.

Source: Style at Home

So what do we do with the floor?

Let’s start with the two floors above.

The first mudroom by Sarah Richardson appeals to me the most. The floor is light, but close to the colour of dirt. I’d go with a grey grout over the white because… dirt. The tile looks a bit peachy in the picture, but I like the idea of something more brown-toned rather than grey. I’m worried grey tile might clash with the taupe walls. The tiles are a mix of sizes and the rough edges feel rustic.

In the second photo, we see slate, a common choice for mudrooms. For me, it feels a bit dark. Our mudroom will have a window in the door and that is the only natural light that will come into the room.

The other common material choice is brick. It feels a bit trendy these days, though some would say it’s timeless. It’s definitely rustic and durable. For me, I feel like the brick would start to feel too busy. There would be a lot of grout lines and tones of red. I’ve learned that I get tired of strong colours and patterns eventually. And I don’t want to get tired of this floor. Though a non-red brick might be an option.

Source: Brooks & Falotico

Ellie and I went tile shopping a few weeks ago, but nothing jumped out at me. (Unprompted, she chose red brick.)

What would you do? What would you want for a mudroom floor?

Garage exterior plans

Foundations are in for the garage and mudroom. I’m hoping everything will be backfilled this week–and maybe the pool finally filled as well.

I’m trying to do my part of keeping the renovation moving by making decisions about what I want.

After thinking about and planning for this renovation for so long, I thought I knew exactly what I’d choose. But now that it’s real, I’m finding out that sometimes my mental picture isn’t as clear as I thought it was.

I’d appreciate your input on a couple of things.

Garage doors

A carriage door style feels appropriate for a farm. These doors have fake handles and hinges that make them look like old-fashioned swinging doors.

However, the carriage doors I like the most are all overlay doors. In an overlay, the panels or strips are applied by hand. This translates to more expensive. As well, there are sometimes issues with getting the overlays to line up between each section of the garage door.

I can get the carriage door look (hinges and handles) in a pressed door. In this profile, the design is pressed into the steel and there are no applied pieces. However, the profiles that I like the best (the two-panel or Zed above) are not available. I’d go with a simple shaker style panel to get as close as possible.

I’ve spent a lot of time gawking at garage doors, trying to figure out if I dislike the pressed profiles enough to go for an overlay door.

What would you do?

Lighting

Lighting is still a while away, but wiring will happen soon. So I’m thinking about how many lights we need and what they should look like. We could have as many as six lights (if we stretch all the way over to the living room patio door) or we could go with three, or somewhere in between.

They could all be the same, or we could switch up the style.

I’m leaning toward a lantern style light on either side of the garage. This graphic from Farmhouse Facelift shows two options that appeal to me: a traditional lantern and rustic wood design that I haven’t seen before.

Source: Farmhouse Facelift

I’m also considering goose neck barn style lights (though their trendiness makes me want to avoid them). We drive past a house that has used them beside the garage doors, rather than above (which we won’t have room for).

How many lights and what style would you do?

Garage construction has begun

Today is day four of garage construction. I am so excited to have this project underway. And our contractors have made so much progress already.

All of the brick is off the exterior of the pool, the deck inside has been demoed, the pool floor has been drilled for drainage, the new foundation has been excavated (without hitting the geothermal), we passed our first inspection, and footings have been poured. The patio around the outside of the pool and off the living room has been taken out. One tree has been taken down and cut up for firewood (half taken down by the excavator and the other half taken down by Matt’s Dad, who also did all the cutting up). Our pile of other firewood has been moved.

Two tractors (one a toy) in front of a pile of firewood
Child walking on dirt while a tractor digs in the background
Child standing on top of a pile of dirt
Child watching a cement truck pour cement

Next up is building the foundation for the garage extension and the mudroom dividing wall.

I ended up turning over the remaining demo to our contractors. I had really wanted to do a lot of the work myself. Demo is a relatively easy way for me to be involved, which is part of the fun for me. Plus it would save the contractors a bit of time.

But the deck turned out to be a beast. I took the railing off, then spent an hour and a half on the deck itself. I got four boards off and they all split.

Indoor pool mid demolition

I hadn’t taken any of the brick off the outside when the contractor said, “I can start next week.” He also said, “Scaffolding, jack hammers, three guys.” And I said, “You can do it.”

Removing the brick from a house

I am so glad I did. They were so quick. But they were also careful.

I want to use the lumber from the deck for Ellie’s playground expansion. And I want to save the brick for some future exterior work I have planned.

They took everything apart carefully. They stacked the lumber so I could take the nails out, and then moved it to the barn for me. They piled the bricks on skids and then tucked them behind the barn. Being able to reuse so much is so helpful.

Indoor pool mid demoltion
House with brick partially removed

And we’re already at the putting things back together stage. Though it’s going to take a while before it’s all back together. I’ll be sharing more as construction progresses.

Have you started any spring reno projects at your house? Do you have any renovation plans for this year? What jobs do you take on yourself versus hiring out? Have you ever reused lumber or other materials?

We’re building a garage

There was one project that I didn’t share in my Home Goals post back in January. Of course, it was the biggest one. A garage!

(I am so excited.)

At the start of the year, we were in the plans and permit application stage, and I didn’t want to share anything until everything was approved and confirmed.

We have received our permits, demo is underway and construction will hopefully begin later this month.

So let’s talk about the garage.

Here is our current floorplan.

Current floorplan

And here is my (not at all to scale) floorplan of what’s going to happen.

The indoor pool will be filled in (yay to no more pool!). The west wall (top wall in this floorplan) will be pushed out 10 feet. A wall will be built to make a mudroom.

From the outside, it will look something like this.

I want to do as much demo myself as possible before our contractor arrives. It will save us a bit of money, and it’s fun to be involved in this project.

I started taking apart the pool in February. The first thing to go? That terrible indoor-outdoor carpeting coating the lower half of the walls.

Matt in the indoor pool

Yes, I will continue to share this photo as much as possible.

For the most part, the room has come apart fairly easily. The awkward thing is working around the pool. I feel very high when I’m up on a ladder with this deep gaping hole behind me. Matt’s Dad helped remove the siding above the windows. I only took down part of the ceiling, as the sections over the pool felt too high. I’m in the middle of taking down the deck off the kitchen. Hopefully I finish that off this week, and then the inside demo is done.

Nine years ago during our home inspection

Outside, I want to strip the brick and pick up patio slabs. The brick will be saved for future projects, and the garage will get new board and batten siding. But we need a bit more snow to melt before outside demo–or construction–can begin.

The garage has always been top on my reno list. Being able to load or unload the car without worrying about the weather. No scraping snow or frost off the car. Taking out the recycling without walking across the driveway to the driveshed. A mudroom with heat so that our boots aren’t freezing. So many good things are coming our way.

As long as I’ve been thinking about this project, now it’s time to make some decisions. I’ll be sharing some of those in upcoming posts and asking for your input.

And I’ll be sharing updates as construction begins.

Matt and I were saving for this project when Ellie was born. Our plan was to build the garage last year, but I decided to wait another year. I’m glad to be finally going ahead and working to realize our vision.

Farm-iversary 9 and a new project

Tomorrow marks 9 years since the farm became ours.

I’ve been trying to think about what I want to write for the anniversary, and I haven’t been sure what to say.

Looking back at previous farm-iversary posts, year 4 feels closest to what I’m feeling right now.

Four years ago, I started to live one of my dreams. It’s been a pretty amazing opportunity. Something I don’t take for granted and that is incredibly meaningful for me.

Obviously, life has changed a lot since I wrote those words. But they’re still true. This place is special. I feel Matt and my Dad here, and I see meaning all around us. I don’t take that for granted at all.

But rather than being sentimental today, what I really want to do is celebrate.

Because we are about to embark on a new project.

It’s big.

It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time.

It’s a… garage.

I’ve been planning this for years–9 to be exact. Our official planning process with a contractor and blueprints and permits started in the fall. Demo is underway (the old indoor pool is finally going away). Construction might start this month, depending on the weather.

Matt in the indoor pool

Nine years ago, during the home inspection.

I have so, so many more details to share. I think year 9 is going to be good. Stay tuned.

Do you celebrate your house’s anniversary? What projects are you tackling this year?

Replacing our drafty patio door

The living room has a big patio door on the south side. It gives us great natural light, which significantly increased when we removed the sunroom from the side of the house. I loved sitting on the couch in the fall, watching the leaves change colour.

But the beauty of fall is followed by the cold of winter, and I knew the patio door was a big source of drafts. I had felt that the sunroom provided some thermal buffer (perhaps wishful thinking). But with it gone, the cold air had a direct path through the door and into the house.

So at the end of the year (fortunately on a mild December day), we had the door replaced.

Of course, like so many things in this house, the door was “special.” It was right between five and six feet–the two standard sizes for patio doors. We went with a five foot door, and the installers built out the jamb and added some extra trim inside and flashing outside to cover the difference so it’s not noticeable.

Ellie plays in front of the patio door every day, and most lunchtimes are a picnic in the sunbeams that now stream through the window.

The feature I’m most excited about is the screen. With the sunroom in the way, we had no incentive to open the old patio door. We would have just smelled stinky old sunroom. Also, the door did not slide well and it didn’t have a screen. Now, we have a screen and a door that opens and closes smoothly. I am looking forward to fresh air as soon as the weather is warm enough to open the windows. For now, I’ll be enjoying my new view.

Anyone else dealing with winter drafts? Or enjoying winter sunbeams?