Monthly Archives: June 2014

Roof Gone

June 30, 2014

Well at least some of the roof is gone. Sunday AM was a trip to the dump to get rid of the green waste followed by an afternoon of stripping shingles off the back side of the house in the areas I want to first take down so I can move the shipping container to the front yard.

I then had a very unproductive evening trying to reconfigure my Wireless LAN bridge per EnGenius instructions. The end result is that I had to undo all of it today because it just did not work in their recommended configuration.

This morning I headed out early to the Eco Landfill where I dropped off 780 Kg of clean shingles for only $33. Not only is this $50 cheaper than just taking it to the North Vancouver transfer station, but the shingles will also eventually be ground up and used for admixture in asphalt roads.

Full trailer full of shingles from back roof ready for trip to Eco Landfill

Full trailer full of shingles from back roof ready for trip to Eco Landfill

My load hardly mad a bump in the huge mound behind.

My load hardly mad a bump in the huge mound behind.

The nice thing about dropping these off myself is that I know they ended up at the right place.  Recently my neighbour had a roof replaced and the vendor advised they would recycle the shingles.  When I asked where they were taking them, they advised they just take them to the transfer station and they are sorted there.  As a person who is very well versed with the workings of the transfer station (I have been there 138 times per my accounting software), I can advise that this is utter bunk and yet another example of green washing.

I then spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon resetting the network back to the original configuration.  After a quick lunch with a neighbour, I decided I really was done and needed a nap.  Unfortunately I stopped at the computer first and ended up answering and sending out a whole bunch of emails.  I also was still having problems with the roving cam and took forever to figure out that my IP forwarding service had effectively been shut down by Microsoft. So I had to change services.  Then when I updated the IP on my site, the image stopped refreshing.  Will need to check with my programmer on Wednesday.

After a couple of hours of this I decided I really needed to get back to work and so stripped the roofing off the front of the house – again, only the areas I need to do now.  I need to ensure that the master bedroom to the north and garage to the south still stay dry as they still have stuff inside that will go into the shipping container once it is moved.

I finished off the evening by emptying the majority of the stuff that was remaining in the attic.  This was mainly wood that was either already up there when I bought the house.  I will keep some of this for shop projects and the rest will go to green waste.

60 years worth of junk removed from attic

60 years worth of junk removed from attic

Tomorrow I hope to start taking down the roof structure and Eric will be by again to help pull nails from salvaged material – awesome!

Thanks for visiting.



Top ↑

Network Configuration

June 29, 2014

Just a really quick note.  I am making some network re-configurations.  Until complete the Container and Roving Cam will be off line.  Will try to have up by tomorrow.

Was a very productive day.  Will fill you in further tomorrow.


Top ↑

Cats, Raccoon, and Skunks – Oh MY!

June 28, 2014

Well it sure did not take long for the wildlife to figure out my house had no walls.  I set the roving cam to email me alerts when it sensed action last night. Partly as a security measure, but also because of interest in what might be coming through the house now that it was wide open.

I was not disappointed!

The skunk was the first recorded visitor and made multiple visits including this one at 3:43 AM

The skunk was the first recorded visitor and made multiple visits including this one at 3:43 AM

Next came the Raccoon who first showed up just after 3:00 AM

Next came the Raccoon who first showed up just after 3:00 AM

And then finally at a more civilized hour, the back neighbour cat apeared around day break and again made multiple visits including this one at 9:43 AM

And then finally at a more civilized hour, the back neighbour cat apeared around day break and again made multiple visits including this one at 9:43 AM

But lets back up a couple of days to see how I got here.  As I last reported – Wednesday was an excellent and productive day.    Thursday ended up not being too shabby either.  I finished stripping the wood furring strips that were behind the brick facing on the front of the house and then set to stripping out the electrical system in a majority of the house.  By 8 PM, I had all the circuits that really need to be gone out except for some of the kitchen circuits.

I had 4 different types of wires in the house which is interesting as three appeared to have been installed during construction and were not reno additions. There was cloth covered 2 & 3 conductors circuits, plastic covered 2 conductor – no ground, plastic covered 2 conductor with ground, and then modern Lumex (installed by me). Except for the Lumex, almost all of the circuits showed some break down of the insulation jacket at terminations, especially ceiling lights or other areas that go hot.  The rest of the insulation jacket throughout the circuit would be just fine.

The wiring connections were also interesting. The cables that had ground wires had the ground wire wound around the cable clamp on the OUTSIDE of the box.  From the box you could not see any ground.  The circuits that did not have a ground conductor sometimes had an independent bounding wire (single conductor) routed in the wall between outlets, with itself being bonded to something below the sub-floor (I believe it will be the hot water heating pipes but that system was never bonded to neutral or ground). And in one case, the neutral conductor was jumper-ed to the ground.  For anyone who knows wiring, these are strange (and generally not approved) wiring methods. With the amount of fraying I saw, I am lucky there never was any arcing or fires.  It confirmed my opinion before I started tearing down, that the electrical system would be beyond its service life.

Sorry for the bad picture, this was with a cell and I did not think to take another.  This was a kitchen ceiling light and what the picture does not clearly show is that there were bare conductors present.

Sorry for the bad picture, this was with a cell and I did not think to take another. This was a kitchen ceiling light and what the picture does not clearly show is that there were bare conductors present.

Typically when present, the grounding conductor was wound around the cable clamp screw

Typically when present, the grounding conductor was wound around the cable clamp screw on the outside of the box.


This was an area where the outside cloth sheathing had disintegrated and fallen off.

This was an area where the outside cloth sheathing had disintegrated and fallen off.

As you will also see in two of the photos above, wire marrets were generally not used in the system.  There were a few, so I do believe they were available in 1954 and I am not sure why this method of winding the conductors together and just taping was allowed. I cannot really complain though, none of the taped joints had broken down or opened up.

Friday morning, Eric came back and by 4:00 PM had finished bundling ALL of the beach flooring.  The whole job only took 1.5 days.  All is now tucked safely away in the storage container and I have someone coming at 9 AM tomorrow to pull up the oak flooring in the office and spare bedroom.  So this is perfect timing (the beech flooring Eric bundled was in the office).

I spent Friday morning pulling the last of the wiring out of the kitchen and utility room and then went to town on the exterior wall ship-lap sheathing.  By the end of the day, I had stripped the dining room, kitchen, and utility room down to the studs.  Hence why we had so much wildlife in the house last night.

My plan to cut the ship-lap off from the inside was a bust.  The tools were just not up to the vibration.  But then I figured out I really did not need to cut the nails off.  I used the top surface of the sledge (wide part) and started at one end and hammered it away from each succeeding stud.  At first I needed to just hammer out the board a bit and work through 2-3 studs, but once I was able to get the nails free on one or two stud bays in from the end,  then I would just use a crowbar to push the already loose part away from the walls so there was a strain on the board and then just had to lightly tap the next stud bay and it would pop off.  By repeating this all the way down the wall, I was able to get 15-25ft pieces off with no splitting.  This is cedar ship-lap (unusual) and someone has already indicated they may want it.

Of course there were a lot of boards that were cracked before I touched them (decades of expanding and contracting against nails) and other areas that were too short to try and save.  In the end, I suspect I salvaged about 50-60% of the total sheathing removed which is material I do not have to pay to dispose of.  Also, as this is unpainted wood, the material I did have to dispose of is considered green waste, is much cheaper to dump, and will end up as garden soil in a few months and sold back to the public.

What I also discovered Friday was that I had a badly corroded and cracked main cast iron drain pipe servicing the kitchen and laundry.  The pipe was also 2/3 blocked with sludge.  As I tell my home inspection clients, it is rarely the vertical stacks that wear out, it is the horizontal ones you have to watch for.  And after 60 years, this one was done.  This again confirmed my pre-demolition opinion that the plumbing drains would be shot.

This cast iron horizontal waste pipe was fractured, rusted, and 2/3 plugged.

This cast iron horizontal waste pipe was fractured, rusted, and 2/3 plugged.

Today was an equally productive day.  After my Saturday morning breakfast with a neighbour, and the inspection of a West Van house under construction, I loaded up the trailer with a trash load consisting of any of the painted cedar siding that was too cracked to save, and the tar paper from the majority of the house walls. Once already loaded and strapped down, I had a thought that the paper was probably recyclable and could have been taking to the shredder with the shingles.  But I just did not have the time to unload and separate the materials on the trailer. Once back from the dump, I removed the sheathing from the front part of the house that needs to come down first and then stacked the usable sheathing at the front and back of the house and loaded the rest into the trailer for an early morning run tomorrow.

Some of the salvaged cedar shiplap

Some of the salvaged cedar ship-lap

Green waste gereated over last two days from ship-lap too cracked or short to save and 2x4's with too many nails to be worth saving.  All will be top soil in a matter of a few months.

Green waste generated over last two days from ship-lap too cracked or short to save and 2×4’s with too many nails to be worth saving. All will be top soil in a matter of a few months.

Tomorrow I hope to start stripping roof shingles.  It would be perfect if the ones I need stripped now would fit into one trailer load!

I leave you with the last photo.

Something about a man and his throne??

Something about a man and his throne??

Thanks for visiting.


Top ↑

Pension Power

June 25, 2014

It was a great day. I actually finished what I planned to do when I set out this morning.

My Father-In-Law was here again and was able to bundle about 40% of the beech floor in only just over 4 hours. This is such a relief as he will probably finish Friday and now I do not have to worry about it getting wet when I start removing the roof. The bar clamps I made up yesterday worked very well for the first two layers and Eric brought his own 2 bar clamps that he used for the top two layers. He worked out a system where the top and bottom layer was generally longer pieces and the middle two were filled up with shorter pieces. Once clamped together, three bands of duct tape secured the bundle and allowed me to transfer to the storage container.

Approximately 60% of the flooring is left to process. Excellent progress for only 1/2 day

Approximately 60% of the flooring is left to process. Excellent progress for only 1/2 day

10 bundles tucked away into the storage container.

10 bundles tucked away into the storage container.

While this was being done I finished removing the siding from the front of the house and then tackled removing the brick facing.  It came off fairly easily.  Now I grew up next to a stone mason and spent several summers working with ‘real’ brick.  I remember when I installed this ‘fake’ brick some guilt I had and indeed I was mocked by my old neighbor.  But I have to say, I feel differently about the product today.  It is REUSABLE!  Yes you can reuse real brick, but it is MUCH harder to do so with a high wastage rate.  With this concrete brick, you just have to unscrew every third row (and only some bricks in that row) and the whole thing disassembles back to its individual parts.

Brick facing disassembles with the removal of a few screws

IMG_0437 Brick facing disassembles with the removal of a few screws

What shocked me as how much the polyurethane masonry adhesive I used to attach the top row still stunk after 15 years, once I pried it apart.  There was times the build-up of fumes were bringing tears to my eyes.  Now that is some serious staying power for the off-gas process.

Now the great part, my neighbor – who is also a pensioner, helped move brick for a couple of hours today.  I had planned on just dumping them at the side of the house and moving them to the back later where they would be stacked until I had the use for them.  But she sort of shamed me into loading the wheelbarrow and just dealing with them all in one step –  And she even ran the wheelbarrow!  She had stacked about 60% of the bricks by the time she had to go and make supper for Ron (some of you may know Ron as the person I was at one point planning to build a plane with – we were going to build a Coot before life got in the way).  I would never have dealt with this all on my own and would not have finished today to boot without her help.  Thank-you Gail!

Stack of brick ready for its next life.  Gail did the first 5 rows and I did the last three.

Stack of brick ready for its next life. Gail did the first 5 rows and I did the last three.

I will probably use the brick on the north wall of the greenhouse to fulfill a promise to ROCKWOOL to test a ‘heavy’ cladding overtop of 6″ of exterior mineral wool to determine the compression of the insulation and the settlement that results to the cladding over time (if any does occur).  This would of course be outfitted with sensors to measure the movement.

As it is supposed to rain on Friday/Saturday and then is sunny for the indefinite future, I am going to work on stripping out the electrical and then the shiplap on the outside walls over the next few days.  Monday, I will then start removing the roofing and structure and hopefully by July 5, the vast majority of the house will be down!

Wish me luck and more pensioners! 🙂

Thanks for visiting – I really mean this.  It is your visits that help motivate me to document this process.  My blog (which now gets a lot less updates) still gets over 900 hits a month and now this website is over 1000 hits a month, so it looks like a majority of my audience has made the transition to the new project website.  I find it really cool when throughout the day I get comments emailed to me based on what a viewer is watching me do.

Top ↑


June 25, 2014

Monday was uneventful – I was able to strip the siding off the entire south elevation of the house.  This took a lot longer once I got to the garage because that siding had been installed with spiral nails and there was no ship-lap behind the siding (or sheathing of any kind).  This meant I had to pretty much cut through every top nail before I could pry up from the bottom.

Yesterday was a good day on a couple of fronts.

It was the first day that my Father-In-Law came to site to help. This is going to be an enormous help as he is able to take care of several jobs that desperately need to be done but that I am finding it very difficult to get to. Yesterday he pulled all the nails out of the siding I have already taken off so that that siding is ready to be stacked inside of the shipping container once it is moved.

Fresh stack of newly salvaged sedar siding that was kindly de-nailed by my father-in-law

Fresh stack of newly salvaged cedar siding that was kindly de-nailed by my father-in-law

He is also going to take a stab at consolidating the beech flooring into manageable bundles so that I can again stack inside the container. We were discussing how to do this yesterday and the logical way is to somehow ‘reassemble’ it again into mini packs and then stack these packs until you have a manageable bundle and tape all together. When you purchase them, they come loose, but they have a box to contain the pieces. In order to tape up the bundle, it needs some rigidity hence the need to ‘assemble’. I suggested a rubber mallet, but Eric (my father-in-law) suggested some form of clamping system. So I set up the below bar clamps that will allow two rows to be clamped up at one time.

Hardwood Floor 'Packing System' using two bar clamps held in position by plywood saddles.

Hardwood Floor ‘Packing System’ using two bar clamps held in position by plywood saddles.

We may need to switch this up and place the clamps on top instead.  I am not sure how easy it will be to lift off an assembled layer.  It may be better to put cleats below, assemble the layers with the clamps on top and then just continue stacking new layers and not move anything until the whole bundle is taped up.

Going forward, having this kind of help on site will be invaluable to me.  It will take care of time consuming jobs that I would typically try to do ‘after hours’ but will often be too tired to get to.  This will allow me to better stay on schedule and most importantly, have shorter days so I do not burn out as much.

The second awesome part of the day is that I passed my inspection of the temporary electrical service.  This had been stressing me out (needlessly) for months as I had already installed the used telephone pole with the tractor some time ago when I then had a conversation at the District desk.  In the conversation I mentioned I had installed a used pole and cut in a relief cut at the 12′ mark as required.  This person advised this was not allowed and that I needed to purchase a purpose built pole instead and pointed me to the code.  I had been using Peter S Knight’s ‘Red Book’ for most of my guidance.  But he is in a copyright battles with CSA and so the Municipal staff translate this to ‘there is problems with the technical information in the book’.  Well I read all the relevant code sections as well, and there was nothing stating you could not cut in your own relief cuts.  So I finally bit the bullet and finished off the installation on Sunday (more on this later – word to the wise, make your enclosure big enough) and called for inspection on Monday morning.  Cynthia came by just after lunch yesterday and advised a couple of changes I needed to make (identify neutral with white tape, and move grounding plate conductor up into service area of the panel), but passed the installation on the condition I fix these up.  This was a huge relief.  I have called Hydro this morning and they will swing the power over onto the temp service within the next 10 days.

Photo taken before I marked the neutral conductor with white tape and before I moved the grounding conductor to service area of panel

Photo taken before I marked the neutral conductor with white tape and before I moved the grounding conductor to service area of panel

It is much cheaper to go this approach plus you then have uninterrupted electrical service to the site. The cost to swing an existing service over to a pole is only $306 + Tax.  This is as long as the temp pole is installed in a position that the existing line can easily swing to of course.  The cost to have the service removed and then re-installed to a temp service at a later point is thousands of $’s.  I also discussed my options for the permanent service with my inspector yesterday.  As long as the conductor between the meter base and panel is encased in concrete (so for instance inside my foundation and under the floor slab), I can install the distribution panel and main anywhere within the dwelling basement (as long as the portion exposed above the slab is 5ft or less.  This will allow me to put the meter in a convenient location for hydro (and out of my site lines) and place the panel somewhere near the centre of the house so that I have minimum run lengths and allows for the panel to be in a convenient location to access (not in some corner of the basement).

I just have to now discuss with Hydro running a tech cable right to the pole (dip) so that I can eliminate the need for any overhead service.  I initiated this process this morning and will hear from a designer within a few days.

I also was able to strip the siding off the rest of the garage and half of the east elevation of the house yesterday between all the various other errands.  Today I will finish the siding and hopefully get off all of the brick facing as well (It is screwed on).  This would allow me to start disassembling the electrical circuits in the house on teh walls to come down and then move to stripping the roof.

Thanks for visiting!

Top ↑

Blunder 1 of what I am sure will be many

June 22, 2014

The rest of Friday went to plan.  I was able to borrow a neighbours scaffold and take the siding off the back of the kitchen.  I found by far the fastest method was to use the flush cut saw to cut off one or two top nails in from one end of the siding and then pry from the end in.  If I pried at about the middle depth of the board, both the top and bottom nails popped out as I went with no spitting.  I was able to get 20ft pieces off with no cracking at all and in very little time (1- 3 minutes a board depending on length).

I rounded out the day moving the scaffold to the south side of the house to get ready for more siding removal.  Saturday was a bit of a dud in some ways.  The day started with my typical Saturday breakfast with a neighbour but then when we got back we discovered that their cat had been missing all night and had not shown up for breakfast.  This was extremely unusual for their 17 year old cat.  This cast a sad vibe to the day and I just could not get into ‘real’ work. After a search of my yard for the cat, I posted some signs and then spent the day doing a major clean to the front and side yard, stacking a whole bunch of salvaged and new wood, altering and erecting a sun shade in the front yard over the wood piles (will keep the rain off as well).

Today was much more productive. Did some computer work confirming needed concrete quantities before heading across the street to finish loading a garbage run to the transfer station.  This was followed by a run to the storage locker for the final items from the house.  This took much longer than expected because it was a very busy day at the locker and as I have an upper locker, I had to wait to get the rolling stairs to both get up to the locker and then to get back down. I then spent the rest of the day (and far longer than I planned) finishing off the temporary power pole.  I should have been done in under an hour.  I had to deepen the grounding plate hole another 6″ to get to the 24″ required, and I had to install the grounding plate and tie it back to the panel.  That part went just fine.  Then I tried to install the panel cover for the first time.

Note to self, when building an enclosure around an abject like a electrical panel – make sure you leave enough room for the cover!  Well, you can see where this is going.  I had built the enclose too small.  As you can see from the below left photo, I had to raise the height of the front of the enclosure a full 2″ so that I could get the panel cover on. A waste of time and probably the first of many blunders I will make during the building of this house.  I popped out the two side panels and cut new ones.  By the time I made these edits, completed a second cabinet that will house my first aid kit and possible some of the web cam gear, applied torch on roofing to the two cabinets roofs, and painted the cabinets so they were ‘weather proof’, close to 4 hours had elapsed and it was 8PM and time to crash for the night.

Original Enclosure is far too small to allow cover to be installed on panel - Oops!

Original Enclosure is far too small to allow cover to be installed on panel – Oops!

Grounding Plate installed 24" below grade

Grounding Plate installed 24″ below grade

Finished Panel Enclosure

Finished Panel Enclosure

Tomorrow morning I will call for inspection on the temp power pole and if I pass arrange with hydro to make the swing over.  Otherwise, I will be continuing the removal of the siding, removing some of the electrical circuits that are in the exterior walls coming down soon, and removing the roofing and roof structure.  I am going to try to get at least 12 hour days in all week to get somewhat back on track to the schedule.

Thanks for visiting.

Top ↑

Siding Removal Started

June 20, 2014

I spent several hours yesterday vacuuming the whole house from one end to the other because the air quality, after pulling down the ceiling with the mineral wool and fibreglass insulation, was toxic.

This Picture shows all the particulate in the air right after pulling down the ceiling insulation

This Picture shows all the particulate in the air right after pulling down the ceiling insulation

I had been wearing a mask, but anyone else that came in the place complained and started coughing right away. I anticipate getting some much needed help from my father-in-law, and did not want him to be in harms way. Now I can work inside without a mask which is a lot more comfortable for me as well. I also finished clearing out the remaining lumber I have salvaged to date.

I then finally started to take off the siding.  My plan to cut the siding and ship-lap off the outside of the stud did not work out.  The first obstacle was the total disintegration of the flush cut adapter I had bought for my saw in just 5 minutes.  So I had to fall back on a friends saw that is much older and has a much slower rpm.  But then there was nails I could not reach with the saw and even with all the nails cut off, there was still at least a 1″ nail stub holding the siding to the ship-lap. This just resulted in cracked or broken siding.

Within 5 minutes of use, my new flush cut adapter bit the bullet.

Within 5 minutes of use, my new flush cut adapter bit the bullet. Poor!

I then graduated to using the flush cut saw on the outside instead.  I gently pried the top edge away from the ship-lap (which is the very thin edge of the siding) and cutoff all the top nails. This then let me pry up the bottom edge which is much thicker and could handle the prying.  I am hoping I can get at least 75% of the siding off in this manner without cracking.  I was able to get two small walls off in about 1.5 hours. (I will upload a vid soon)

I then switched it up and started ‘digging’ the hole for the grounding plate I will need for the temp power service.  Of course as soon as I put the shovel in the ground, I hit rocks.  I dare anyone to come to this yard and try to find a spot they can bury a shovel in the ground without hitting a rock.

Hard to believe this many rocks could fit into the hole

Hard to believe this many rocks could fit into the hole

So I could see that either I was going to need a very wide hole or use a different approach.  They were doing a tank repair at a local gas station using a vac truck and I thought why not.  So I lugged out the shop vac and had a 2ft deep hole in about an hour.

Shop vac make quick easy work of a 2ft deep hole for the grounding plate

Shop vac make quick easy work of a 2ft deep hole for the grounding plate

Today I will either build some scaffold to take off the back gable siding or start on a shorter side wall. By Monday AM, I hope to be ready to start taking off the roof.  The shingle recycling place I was going to use is currently off line, but  EcoWaste landfill in Richmond off 6rd and Triangle (I grew up less than 2 miles from here) takes in the shingles and stockpiles them until they have enough to shred.  The shredded product ends up in various products including road asphalt.

Thanks for visiting.

Top ↑

No More Insulation

June 18, 2014

Well yesterday was the first day in a long time that went to schedule. Of course I went and ruined that today.

Someone came yesterday morning and picked up all of the fibreglass insulation. Earlier in the morning I had actually updated my schedule for the first time in a long while and got depressed.  I will start framing the first floor in September and will not have a roof on till January.  I sure hope that my tarping the whole job site will work out.  Otherwise it will be one miserable winter.

Later in the morning I finished loading a massive load of foil lined cardboard panels, loose fill and batt style mineral wool insulation, and various debris that was in the attic (including a whole bunch of all drawers and such that I took out of an old garage before it was torn down) and took to the dump in the early afternoon.


Foil Lined Cardboard ‘Insulation’ panels and bags of mineral wool insulation


I then came back and loaded all of the 2×4’s I did not want and other unpainted wood in the house and headed back to the transfer station to the green waste section.

Generally 2x4 material from top and bottom plates, dropped ceilings, and headers that would take too much energy to de-nail.  These will be topsoil in a few months.

Generally 2×4 material from top and bottom plates, dropped ceilings, and headers that would take too much energy and time to de-nail. These will be topsoil in a few months.

Before I had to pack it in for the day (5:30 do to a medical appointment) I was able to stack most of the 2×4’s I will keep in the front yard.  Later in the evening I had dinner with my nephew who had been nice enough to pick up my reciprocating saw flush cut adapter from a PO box in Blaine and bring it out to me.  I plan on using it to cut off the siding. I tried it out after dinner and while the concept is sound, I was not sure the tool is up to the task.

Today was going to be the start of removing the siding, but I realized I really needed to move up the clearing along the back of the house instead to make remove for removing the siding.  So I spent the day on the tractor in the back yard moving 6 roses, a rodo, 2 kiwi, 1 mock-orange, and a gooseberry to make room to tear down the house and also have a place to stockpile soil.  Many of these items had just been placed in their current locations about a year ago before I thought about the need to stock pile the dirt.  So they had to be moved again.

Although this was not on the schedule for today, it was on the schedule and will now make removing the siding so much easier.

Tomorrow I will do some final cleanup inside and then start removing the siding.

Thanks for visiting.


Top ↑


June 16, 2014

Today was an itchy day.  It started with loading the trailer with all the non-green waste that was created while taking down all the interior walls.  This was mainly painted panelling and plywood along with many panels of foil backed cardboard.

Once all the floors at the east half of the house was generally clear, I started taking down the ceiling. This involved removing the foil back cardboard panel and then the insulation above it. I have at least 4 types of insulation in the attic.  The oldest (I believe) is loose fill mineral wool.  The second oldest would be mineral wool batts.  These   have plain paper on one side and asphalt impregnated paper on the other that was facing the warm side and acting as a vapour barrier.

In this photo you can see the lined mineral wool batts to the bottom right, the loose fill mineral wool to the left, and the fibreglass batts and foil covered cardboard panels to the top of the picture.

In this photo you can see the lined mineral wool batts to the bottom right, the loose fill mineral wool to the left, and the fibreglass batts and foil covered cardboard panels to the top of the picture.

I then had two vintages of fibreglass, one with impregnated kraft paper, and then the modern style see in the above photo.  Once I finished the east side of the house, I moved to the west side and all is now down except for the part over my old office and the master bedroom.

In progress of removing cardboard panels. You can see the fibreglass above.

In progress of removing cardboard panels. You can see the fibreglass above.

Foil cardboard panels removed - read to take down pink stuff.

Foil cardboard panels removed – read to take down pink stuff.

I think is is pretty cool that I had two vintages of mineral wool in this dwelling considering I think it is just about the perfect insulation and will be exclusively using ROCKWOOL in my upcoming build.  I also credit the fact that the mineral wool was along most of the perimeter of the attic for keeping the house rodent free after 60 years.  There was not one sign of rodent activity anywhere (event though neighbours on both sides of me have regularly suffered from extensive rats in the attics).

The loose fill mineral wool was far too dirty to keep (dust from 60 years and debris from several re-roofing projects.  As was the mineral wool bats that just fell apart as they came out.  But the pink fibreglass was separated, shook out to remove most of the debris and pilled up.  I posted for free on Craigslist and had 4 replies. The first respondent has promised to come at 11:00 AM tomorrow morning.  This is awesome as it keeps more material out of the landfill and is quite usable as it has not been contaminated by rodents, asbestos laden vermiculite, or mould.

What has been a general surprise is the number of apparent roof leaks I had.  There were at least a dozen foil backed cardboard panels with water stains on them and several of these were actually quite deteriorated.  None of this was visible within the home while we lived there (there was one leak that developed within a few days of moving out).

I also managed to strip the rest of the exterior walls of the foil backed cardboard and readied them for the next step of ship-lap/siding removal.  Throughout the day, I used my modified pick axe and have to say, that it has turned into a real workhouse.  Withe the fibreglass handle and missing the pick, it is really quite light and ideal for a whole manner of tasks.

I modified a pick-axe by cutting of the pick.  It has become one of my go-to tools during the demolition.

I modified a pick-axe by cutting of the pick. It has become one of my go-to tools during the demolition.

Tomorrow should see the end of the interior gutting culminating in a trip to the dump for garbage followed by a green waste trip of 2×4’s  I am generally keeping all of the studs, but turfing all of the heavily nailed bottom and top plates and any built-ups headers.  I just do not have the time to de-nail them and I will have lots of 2×4’s from all of the studs (I actually will have a storage issue for all this salvaged material that I have yet to figure out).

Current Pile of Salvaged 2x4's

Current Pile of Salvaged 2×4’s


By the end of the day tomorrow, I hope to have the house empty except for the master (which is currently storing construction supplies and will stay up until the shipping container moves to front yard), the garage (same as master), and office (which is currently stacked with 3-1/2 feet of de-nailed beech flooring). On Wednesday, I hope to start cutting off the exterior siding and ship-lap by cutting off the nails from the outside face of the stud (from inside the house).

Denailed beech flooring.  Needs to be stacked in a compacted format and tapped into bundles.

Denailed beech flooring. Needs to be stacked in a compacted format and tapped into bundles.

As it is already apparent that there is no easy way to salvage any of the sub floor, I am going to save the effort of cutting it into 4’x4′ square and instead use a mechanical advantage named Alfie! I may even be able to use the bucket to separate the plywood from some of the ship-lap and 2×4’s and therefore reduce the amount going to the dump as opposed to the green waste station.  Having the sub floor in place may also make it easier to move the shipping container to the front yard.

By the end of the week, I also need to make sure I get my temp power pole finished and call for inspection so I can get Hydro to transfer my power line over to the temp service as next week I plan to remove the roof and generally start taking down the exterior walls.

Thanks for stopping by!  Got any comments?  I would love to hear from you.




Top ↑

House Insurance Scams

June 15, 2014

Sorry – It is time for a soap box rant.  We have typically ALL been overcharged for home insurance!

This has been on my radar for almost a decade now and a few years back I even tried to get the media to pick up on the storey.  The facts are that we were generally being over insured for the dwellings we live in.  This is 100% due to an overvaluation of build costs by BC Assessment authority who have been providing a subscription service to most insurance carriers providing build costs per region on a yearly basis.

Based on my insurance documents, I was paying based on the following rebuild costs of a 1460 sq. ft. bungalow:

2005 replacement Value – $140,000 = $95.90
2006 Replacement Value – $154,000 = $105.47
2007 Replacement Value – $178,000 = $121.92
2008 Replacement Value – $204,000 = $139.72
2009 Replacement Value – $308,000 = $210.96
2010 Replacement Value – $308,000 = $210.96
2011 Replacement Value – $308,000 = $210.96
2012 Replacement Value – $308,000 = $210.96
2013 Replacement Value – $308,000 = $210.96

While reasonable in 2005, they then skyrocketed to over double the market costs to build a house based on the quality and finishings of the existing structure.  And remember, just because you are insured for $308K does not mean that you could actually rebuild a house that cost $308K.  They would only rebuild to the same level of quality and finishings to the original structure.  This would mean a code minimum house with basic finishings.  A house that even up to last year could be built for well under $125 per sq. ft.  How do I know this?  My neighbour appraises homes for banks who are providing construction draws to builders.  He gets the fulls costs to build from the builder as part of this process.  In the 2005 – 2008 period, he was seeing costs as low as $80 per square foot.  Granted, these were not high end homes, but certainly better outfitted than the house I was currently living in.

I made such a stink with my carrier, that they finally agreed to provide a sizable discount on my policy that would decline to 0 over a 10 year period (I believe this is why my value became fixed at $308K)

SO now lets move forward to 2014.

As we moved into a basement suite across the street, I needed to update our policy.  This worked out to $53.32 for just over the three months we had left on our policy and would extrapolate to just over $200 a year.  For what?  It is covering the same stuff that was in the old house, it now just has a different postal code.  Is is not like we are covering anything to do with the rental house.

I then got Course of Construction insurance a month later for an extra $96 for the last two months of the policy. But the real kicker was when the new policy invoice arrived this month. My premium has gone from $80 a month before all this started to $198.


Because I have to pay for the COMPLETED value of the house I am building even though it will not be worth anywhere near that value for at least a year. And Again, it is not like I would be able to ever utilize that value.  If the house burns down part way through construction, I will be compensated for the value at the time of the loss.  What a SCAM.  The logical approach would be to offer a graduated increasing value as the house is completed.  They could make it easy and just ride on the coattails of the construction loan draw values.

But is does not stop there – Not only do I have to ensure for the full value of the finished home right from the beginning, I also have to pay for Course of Construction insurance ON TOP of this to the tune of $694 per year.  FOR WHAT???  I am already insured for the full finished value of the dwelling.  Can you say GOUGE!

And it does not stop even there, that $700 a year includes a 10% premium because I am an owner builder.  Really – this somehow changes the value of the goods and services going into the dwelling?  It is this kind of money grabbing that give insurance companies a bad name.

SO, I thought, if I am that unhappy, I should see what the options are and get a quote from a competitor.  They came back with a quote of $550 PER MONTH! without even the coverage I have with the existing carrier. I am going to pay $6600 a year for house insurance?  What do I own, a 30 unit apartment building?  This is a single family residence.

SO I will stay with the current carrier and bite my lip (hard).  The only good part, is that the costs per square foot on the new policy have declined down to $185 per square foot  (based on the size of the finished structure) which is much more than I will be spending, but is a reasonable assessment of the costs if I had the currently planned structure built by others.

Thanks for listening.  Needed to get that off my chest!

Top ↑

Missed Deadlines, Casual Labour, and Progress

June 15, 2014

As I just wrote in my blog post, the scheduled deadline to start the big dig has now come and gone.  While we have made some real progress to get closer to this task, we are still weeks away from getting there and quite frankly, I have stopped trying to plan when it will happen and instead am concentrating on doing my best each day to move forward.

The interior is now pretty much gutted with the non-structural walls now all removed. Tomorrow will entail clearing out all the debris in a green waste and garbage run to the transfer station and then starting to cut up the sub-floor (it unfortunately will be too hard to salvage). I will then start cutting of the ship-lap and siding from the outside surface of the studs which should greatly increase the speed of this task and make salvaging both much easier.

As I wrote about earlier in the week, I hired temporary labour from Embers.  They sent over a nice fellow who put in a good days effort.  But I have to make a confession.  I REALLY do not like being responsible for another person’s productivity, and it is even worse when I am the person paying.  The task was to grind off the staples from the bottom of the pulled up beech flooring.  This was a monotonous time consuming job, but had to be done and I thought this would be a good opportunity to hire out and help me catch up.  I knew there was a problem when the individual asked if this was a two week job.  When I advised I thought it should generally be done at the end of the day and that I had only hired him for the day, there was a look of shock and disbelief.  So he got down to it and made a solid effort.  By the end of the 8 hour shift he had chewed through close to 2/3 of the pile.  I was not going to be around most of the next day and needed it done ASAP, so I tackled the balance myself and was able to polish it off in just under 3 hours.  So this worked out to a task that would have taken me 9 hours (close to what I predicted) to a task that would have taken the fellow I hired at least 12 hours and probably more because the speed dropped off a lot in the later hours of the day.  Those who know me from my Chemetics days, knows how difficult is was for me to work with individuals who did not match my efficiency and speed.  So, I have given the casual labour a try and will use it again in times where I just need more than one set of hands (placing beams and such), but will probably not be utilizing this as a general assistance method throughout my build.

I will post some vids and photos of the deconstruction in the days to come.  Today is office day and it is time for me to catch up on my paperwork.

Thanks for visiting.

Top ↑


June 11, 2014

Not a bad day again – productivity wise.  I spent the morning preparing for tomorrow’s labour (building a work bench), taking delivery of the toilet, and further organizing the construction supply container to make room for the panelling I took off from the hall.  I was able to get all the panelling off before my 1:30 Blood donation appointment.

Technically I was not supposed to do anything further that day as you are not supposed to do anything strenuous for 8 hours after, but by 6:00 I felt I had waited long enough and went back to do some more destruction.  This was also when the person who was going to pull up the hardwood floors was to arrive.  I spent the evening stripping off some of the hallway planking that was behind the panelling.  I was going to try and save the planking but it is probably only 1/2″ thick and typically had at least 3 nails into each stud.  It was just too brittle to pull without shattering. So shattering we did, in about 3 minutes I was able to clear off a wall.

Schedule_20140611-190122 Schedule_20140611-190422
Time Elapsed – 3 minutes – 20 seconds – Starting to look pretty bare

The wife of the person who was to take up the oak floors then arrived.  She lasted about 5 minutes and packed it in and said she would come back the next day with her husband.  I had to laugh as I felt the same way about 5 minutes into the floor I was doing but fortunately had the stamina to stick to it, and it ended up getting a lot easier as I progressed.

I spent the rest of the evening cleaning up including moving the hallway panels into the storage container.  One of the site visitors sent me a note asking why was I bothering to save wood panelling – ‘so 70’s’.  The truth is that this is not just any wood panelling.  It was imported from Japan and is called Japanese Sen Sen (species Acanthopanax ricinifolius of the Family Araliaceae). In Japan, sen is used for a wide range of applications, including furniture, chests, interior joinery, panelling, construction, piano cases, baseball bats, carving and turnery. As it is such an uncommon wood hear (especially a plywood panel of it) and because it is so beautiful, I am saving it in the hopes of creating a possible feature wall or ceiling somewhere in the house.  I have an idea to cut it into segments that are each stained slightly different and make an pattern of some form.  AT the very least, I will use to to panel a wall in the shop or something.


Hallway panelling was imported from Japan and has a lovely grain.

While stripping the panelling from the entrance hall closet I found this little surprise.



There has been some discussion amongst the neighbours as to the age of the house.  I have always been under the impression that it was 1954 but this opinion was not shared by some neighbours.  Well, this is pretty concrete proof!  I will save and display with the previously found sign from the builder (Patsy’s former husband).

Finally I wanted to show you a photo of the interlaced corner I forced the installers to do when I was having hardwood put in when we moved in.  To this day, I have not see another house with this feature and really love the look.


As always – thanks for stopping by.

Top ↑

Continued Progress

June 11, 2014

I have made OK progress since Friday – Saturday was spent doing general cleanup including a load to the dump for green waste (unpainted wood), general garbage, and metal recycling. I know I did more than just this but for the life of me cannot remember that far back.

I took Sunday off (as I generally will do because I am not allowed to generate construction noise on Sunday’s) to catch up on everything else including answering emails, finances and some other chores. I also did some research on temporary labour and portable toilets.

Monday, as previously reported was a full day RCI seminar followed by more paperwork in the evening. I believe the real challenge on this project is going to be keeping up with the ‘paperwork’ side of the build (finances, quote requests and order prep, product research, management of this site including the photos). These tasks can quite easily consume a full morning if I am not careful.

Yesterday was generally spent setting up the week. I have decided to hire a construction labourer to take care of some of the time consuming tasks I have outstanding. I researched the different firms offering this service and settled on Embers-Vancouver-Logostaffing solution.  They have been on my radar for a couple of years and seem to have a good program and track record.  Their Green Renovation program has an A+ rating with BBB.

I have hired one labourer for Thursday and will have them grind the staples off the back of all the flooring I have just pulled up.  This means I need facilities on site and have a portable toilet coming today from Maple Leaf.  I checked with SmithRite, Pitstop, and Jiffy and Maple Leaf had the best rate when all costs were added in.  Pitstop looked attractive at first but when you added in the 11.9% fuel surcharge, they actually became the most expensive of the four.

Last night I finished pulling up the hardwood in the hallway.   The only floor left that I want is in the master bedroom but this is going to stay up until the very end of the demo as it is storage for the construction tools and supplies until I move the shipping container to the front yard which I cannot do until I take down part of the house so there is room to drag it to the front (I dragged it to the back before the tree fencing and temp power pole were up).  This leaves the oak hardwood in the office and spare bedroom.  I really do not want it and so posted it on Craigslist (free) and have someone coming today to take up and take away.

Today is going to be about pulling the panelling in the halls, removing the remaining non-containing drywall, ans stripping the rest of the washroom.  I probably will not get all of this done as I have a Blood Donation appointment at 1:30 (I believe my 122nd) and will not be able to do ‘strenuous’ labour after.

My friends at Honeycomb Creative were also able to fix the refreshing of the Roving Cam, so you will be able to watch the progress as I move forward.  I am also working on new functionality to would make time capture movies on each of the cameras at the end of each day for playback.

Thanks for stopping by!

Top ↑

Tunnel Implosion

June 10, 2014

I wish it went up this fast.  It took a day to put up and under an hour to take down.

Top ↑

RCI Conference

June 9, 2014

Today was the annual Roofing Contractors Institute conference and it was another great year filled with informative speakers.   My favourite thoughts of the day were:

1) Double Stud Construction is actually more dangerous than standard 2×6 construction from a condensation risk point of view. This is due to the exterior sheathing being so far removed from the interior heat source. Yes it CAN work IF the wall assembly including the WRB and the AB are perfect. Are you feeling lucky punk? Are ya? This is another example of an assembly that looks good in concept but starts to break apart when you throw building science at it.

2) ANY foam product on the exterior of a building in a thickness of 2″ or greater acts as a vapour retarder. If you are in a cold climate and therfore have to also have an internal VB, this is a very risky assembly. Yes it CAN work IF the wall assembly including the WRB and the AB are perfect. Are you feeling lucky punk? Are ya?

3) An elevated exposed concrete slab edge (just the edge, an eye brow, or a balcony) may only represent 3% of the overall wall assembly but will degrade that overall wall assemblies thermal resistance by 45% – 60%!  This leads to comfort issues and can often lead to surface condensation at the wall/ceiling interface resulting in mould.  See the RDH site for numerous supporting articles.

4) Michael Bousfield from Cascadia used an excellent analogy regarding the need to plug the ‘hole’.  He equated thermal bridges with holes in a dam.  The very common approach in buildings is to try to mitigate the hole by increasing the thermal resistance of the assemblies around the hole.  But this is akin to thickening the dam all around the hole and somehow expecting the water to stop flowing out of the hole.  It just is not going to work.

Cascadia has created a very useful weighted average assembly thermal resistance tool that demonstrated this fact.    You can see in the following diagram that the overall effective assembly R Value is 7.41

A higher performing wall and roof assembly with low performing typical windows.

So now lets get ridiculous with our envelope and make R1000 walls and roof.

Un-Buildable R1000 walls and roof

Wow – we went up a whole R2.5. But if we address the hole and say go to a triple glazed fibreglass frame window we can improve the overall assembly by 100% without changing the walls or roof.

We double our assembly thermal value by addressing the hole!

The moral of the storey is that holes mater and as Joseph Lstiburek states – BAH (big ass holes) matter most!

Top ↑

Liftup hardwood floor in living and dinning room – Check!

June 6, 2014

When I started the task, each row was taking on average 6 – 7 minutes.  The whole house was going to take days.  Fortunately I put my brain and not brawn into the mix and figured out a much better way.

See for the full storey.

The best part of all was that I was able to spend most of the day standing instead of hunched over or on my knees.

Tomorrow I think my arms are going to be beat so I will probable switch up and do some garbage clearing and if I have time, start taking the panelling off the wall.

Thanks for visiting.

Top ↑

Remediation Complete

June 5, 2014 finished their abatement yesterday and did an excellent job.  All of the drywall containing asbestos has been removed including any nails holding it onto the framing.

The place is spotless as per photos below.

IMG_0375 IMG_0376 IMG_0377 IMG_0378

The foil backed cardboard really helped isolate the drywall dust and debris from the rest of the structure and also prevented the insulation in the attic from falling down.

Once they removed all of the drywall, they vacuum all surfaces with a HEPA vac and then they spray all surfaces with a glue to encapsulate any possible remaining fibres. This includes the studs, insulation panels, and all of the tarps used in the remediation.  They let this dry and then start stripping and double bagging all of the tarps.  The process results in a finished process that is very thorough at removing all fibres.

Once the site was no longer in lock down and after they had stripped the tarps from the tunnel, I took the tunnel down and used the wood to build shelves in the shipping container that will be used to store all of the building materials salvaged from the existing house including the floors and siding.

Earlier in the day I put up a new pole that I will mounted the shed cam to this afternoon (check out the new view) and cleaned out the shed built onto the north side of the house.  All in all – a productive day.

Today I got a very late start after picking up some parts for a reciprocating saw I borrowed from a friend and then promptly broke.  After several hours and trips, the saw was fixed, but unfortunately will not be suitable to remove the flooring.  This afternoon I was able to get about 24″ stripped.  Each row is taking 7-10 minutes, so I will have three very long days to stay on scheduled for this particular task.


The enormity of what is ahead of me is starting to hit.  When I was walking through the now stripped house, I thought about the work needed to just tear the existing house down, not to mention put up the new one.  I have typically only thought about the next action, and this has served me well.  But every so often the big picture slaps me across the face and freaks me right out.

Hopefully tomorrow will be filled with many little pictures again.

Thanks for visiting.


Top ↑

Permit Issued

June 3, 2014

Well, I can hardly believe this and am waiting for the follow up email saying “Sorry we made a mistake”, but I received an email today at 2:18 PM advising that my Building Permit had been issued.  Remember, I only submitted my application at 3:00 PM on Friday, so this represents a 2 day turn around.  As I was expecting a 2 week turning around on a ‘fast track’, a 2 day response is quite frankly unbelievable. There is a few questions about the fees, but I can go anytime and pick up.

SO now I am really behind the eight ball to get the house down and get started. I expect this to take another 3 maybe 4 weeks but will know more when I see how difficult it will be to pull up the floors and strip the siding.  I just wish we had not wasted the last month and a half going through a redesign that did nothing to make the interface between engineered components and the rest of the structure any different than the first time I submitted.  Really the only thing that changed was the re-position of a few windows to make room for the bigger minimum braced wall panel size.  Changes that even the Guide dictating them admits are not necessary and only required because modelling the true performance of a structure through all of the secondary components is too complex and difficult for the engineering community.  If I had been working on emptying the house and tearing down during that period instead of redesigning and drawing, I would only be a couple of weeks behind at this time instead of two months.

The asbestos crew were at it again at 8:00 AM this morning.  It was all hands on deck to finish prepping the rest of the rooms in the house. The crew doubled lined the container and then went to work inside the house tapping of key surfaces including the floors that will be salvaged.  I completed off the tarping and sealing off the tunnel out to the container and then helped finish off the tape off on the interior. By 10 the prep was done and the crew went back to pulling drywall.

I basically took the rest of the day ‘off’ and caught up on emails, did the laundry, and then even allowed myself a 15 minute nap before heading off for a 5 PM appointment.  I knew there was a lot I SHOULD be doing, but really needed the down time after about 8 straight days of long intense activities. Tomorrow I will still be locked out of the house while the crew finishes up so my plan is to spend the day organizing the shop, emptying all the stuff in a shed built onto the side of the house, and relocating the shed cam so that you can actually see the house again now that everything has grown up around the current location.

Thanks for stopping by!

Top ↑

Asbestos Remediation is a go

June 2, 2014

I thought today would unfold very differently.  I thought the supervisor and possibly a small crew was going to come over and start prepping the area for tomorrows real start.  I thought that I would be told what kind of tunnel was needed and some prep work I could do in the house.  I thought the container would arrive tomorrow.

What I got was a neighbour ringing my doorbell at 8:00 AM a few short minutes after I had woken up stating a crew was waiting to be let in and a BIG container was waiting to unload.  And it was flat out from there.

After unloading the container a short briefing and discussion with the crew, they set to setting up a containment field for the kitchen, utility room, and my office.  I set out to building my first ever containment tunnel from the house out to where the container was dumped.  I used the trip to Dick’s Lumber to set up an account for all the materials I will need for the build.  By lunch the crew had pretty much gutter  and de-nailed the kitchen and utility room.  By the time they got back from lunch, I had finished most of the tunnel structure.  After lunch they got started on the spare bedroom and finishing off the office.  I would think by the end of tomorrow the hard part will be done and there will just be some cleanup.  I took the rest of the day and early evening to finish the structure and put up some poly.  The open side you see below and the bottom will be covered with the crew’s preferred orange tarp. It prevents prying eye but more importantly, it is not as slippery as poly.

Abatement tunnel

My Finished abatement retention tunnel


Tunnel ramps up level with container.



A tunnel to?



Tunnel seals to front door. This will allow crew to load unbagged drywall into the bin without the need for double bagging first. The bin itself will be double lined and sealed with tarps.

Sorry – no inside roving cam. I did not have the time or energy to set up some form of bubble around it and I am not sure the crew would have appreciated it anyway.  But I did stick my hand with a camera on the end through the air lock and took these photos.

IMG_0364 IMG_0365

The foil backed cardboard ‘insulation’ has really helped them contain the dust and minimize the materials that would need to be treated or disposed of.

Thanks for visiting.



Top ↑

A long productive day

June 1, 2014

The day started at 7:45 AM getting ready for a trip to the dump.  My neighbour Ron helped which was very much appreciated.  This was followed by a trip to the metal recycle at the transfer station.  The original plan was to take it to salvage and get some money for it, but they were not open today and I really needed the stuff out of the way.  By the time this was complete it was noon and my nephew was coming at 1 PM.  So I did some prep cleanup.  At 1:00 we moved all the cabinets I salvaged from West Van house that was torn down (see Rotting OSB) from the shipping container to the shed out back.  I was thankful for the extra help as it made it so much easier.  We then moved all the wood I had salvaged from the house over the last week or so into the container. Jonathan had to leave for work at 4:00.  I spend the rest of the evening clearing out the last remnants of the house, talking off mouldings, cover plates, and light fixtures and finally a quick sweep to round out the day at 10:30 PM.

My neighbour was laughing all weekend because I am famous for saying “Oh – That is only a couple of hours work”  and usually I am right.  My problem is that I am really bad at the cumulative part.  A couple of hours hear, a half hour there, and so and and very quickly you have a 14 hour day!

Tomorrow come to start setting up for the drywall remediation.  They will be here till Wednesday.  I am looking forward to getting this part of the project behind me.

Thanks for visiting.

Top ↑