Monthly Archives: July 2014

One Wall Standing

July 31, 2014

Well I tried.  I really wanted the house down and gone by the end of the month but it looks like I will be a day or two late. The house has won again.  I was able to proceed on the demolition today and took down most of the bedroom and the cavity around the fireplace,  but still have the north wall of the house left standing (minus the gable).

I lost some time today on freight tasks.  I got a call this morning advising that the ICF blocks had arrived and would be delivered today.  Since I was looking after the local delivery and did not know they had even left Ontario, this was a surprise.  I was granted some extra time and the consolidator will keep till Tuesday AM without any fees.  I need to setup a crane truck as I obviously do not have any loading facilities at the job site. It looks like transferring the goods from Richmond to North Van will be close to $1000.  This is almost 25% the cost of moving from Ontario to BC.  I will hopefully get a more competitive quote tomorrow AM.

I was not needing these goods till mid August at the earliest.  I now have to scramble over the weekend to create a flat area near the road to store them until needed.  Once the hole is dug, I will need to hire a crane truck again to lift them into the bottom of the hole.

On a good note, I received a quote for the floor trusses that is only slightly above my $2000 cutoff.  It is still coming by truck and not rail which is disappointing, but at least it beats the previous quote of $5K.  Reading between the lines, the problem with rail is not the loading into a container, but a lack of freight moving from Quebec to Vancouver that my goods could bum a ride with.  It looks like there are few less-than-container-load opportunities available.

Eric was hear today and was able to bundle all of the hardwood floor.  I sure have been appreciative of his help. It was freaky, but the flooring I pulled up made exactly the number of bundles I had room left in the trailer for.  I think there was only a couple of short sticks left that were left behind when the last bundle was complete. There is still about 20 or so square ft left installed on the floor that I will just chuck.

In the afternoon I made a trash run to the dump with yesterday’s load and then started loading the green waste created by today’s demo.  I was a little less careful today with the tractor and had a bit more breakage.  But I am still saving over 80% of the studs and about 95% of the ceiling joists.

Andre, one of my regular Craigslist respondents, also came by today to pick up another large load of ship-lap and some of the windows.  I informed him that whatever is left by Monday will be going to the green waste dump, so he will be coming a few more times to clean up.  He should easily have enough wood for his greenhouse.

Should be a very busy weekend.

One lonely wall remains

One lonely wall remains

Thanks for the visit.

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Almost Gone

July 30, 2014

Today capped off a couple of productive days.

Yesterday I did manage to get most of my list completed including lifting up most of the hardwood floor in the bedroom, removing all drywall and making a combined run with John from the end of the street, making an early morning green waste run, and stack all of the broken up concrete into a pile.

Eric was also here and process a bunch more wood that needed to be de-nailed and stacked.

Today I arrived at 8:30 AM to meet one of the excavators I have asked to and started to clean up the site and get ready for the day’s activities.  He ended up being held up in traffic and arrived a couple of hours later, but the extra hours on site were useful.  I ground off the staples from the hardwood I took up yesterday, which took me about half the day. I also cleared away  stuff stored around the remaining north annex to get ready for tomorrows tear down.  I also loaded the trailer for a rubbish run made up mostly from the foil backed cardboard that was in the floor assembly and has being drying out for the last few days. Finally I de-nailed some cedar planking that was in the closets and stacked it on the shipping container.

Eric was also hear today and finished processing the remaining wood that needed to be de-nailed.  Tomorrow he will help bundle the hardwood which will also go into the container.  Next week he will have the final wood being salvaged from the remaining structure and then things will slow down while the excavation proceeds.

One of the companies I am getting to quote is Diamond 11 Excavating and Demolition.  I first met them when they were digging the hole of the house I am currently living in.  I would help them out throughout the day by barricading the entrance to the property so they could get in and out.  If I did not, parents dropping their kids off or picking up from daycare would park right in front of the dump truck or block the entrance.  As a result, I got to know Parm and Nick quite well and they were the first company I thought off for my project.  They seem amenable to me ‘renting’ their equipment and only having a truck and driver service the project.  This will save me time and money and they will save resources that they can assign somewhere else.  I will still wait for a second quote however to see if it is worth it for me to participate or instead use the time to do other tasks to get ready for the build.

In the meantime, we will press on and hopefully have most of the remaining building down by the end of the day tomorrow.

On a side note, I wanted to comment on what a small world it is.  Last week I posted about my visit to my childhood home on 6Rd in Richmond.  Well I was talking with Ron (who is a commercial real-estate appraiser) who is working on a project involving empty land on Sidaway.  He was talking away and mentioned a house he had looked at on 6Rd as a comparable.  He briefly described it but then said the address was something like 66somthing 0.  After some further conversation I realized he was talking about my old neighbours house which was coming down.  Now he has never done any work on 6Rd before, what is the chances he would look at the exact house I had visited for the first time in over 25 years only a week apart!!!

These coincidences always amaze me.  By the way, I believe I found the contact information for my old neighbour and will hopefully make contact sometime this weekend.

Thanks for visiting.

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July 28, 2014

With a high of 868 watts per square meter of solar energy today and a UV index of 6.25, I felt every radiating watt!

Alfie developed troubles around 5:10 PM with the indication he was going to overheat.  I decided to stop and see what was up and glad I did for both our sakes.  The tractor had lost a tail pipe and was belching exhaust into the engine bay.  It also looked like the hydraulic oil was overflowing and I suspect it was overheating.  We had been working very hard breaking up the concrete slab.  So I decided to quit for the day because I did not want to risk damage and I needed the engine area to cool down before I could rig up a tail pipe.

That is when I realized I was not doing so hot (scuse the pun) myself.  I had had a headache since lunch and now I felt nauseous. I had been in the sun the whole day and even with a hat and lots of fluids, I was suffering from sun stroke. I have a feeling tomorrow will be a poor day.  I iced the head, had some ice-cream, and a cold bath before heading off to the dump for a green waste run with Ron.  While prepping for the trip I walked into the sharp edge of a ladder on the truck and now am the proud owner of a large gash.  Then we arrived just in time to see we both forgot the closing time and had missed it by two minutes. Oh well, at least we got to stop at Tim Hortons.

The day was at least productive and I finished removing the sub floor and slab from the entire dwelling except for under the still standing master bedroom.  Tomorrow I will need to make an early dump run and then start in on the bedroom hardwood.  In the afternoon, I will strip the remaining drywall and make a combined run with a neighbour down the street.

Eric was hear today and chewed through a large pile of 2x materials removing the nails and stacking for me.  He will be back tomorrow and should finish the de-nailing and then will help bundle the removed  hardwood.

One of the excavator contractors I asked to quote will come by tomorrow to discuss.  I will also see how much he would charge to take the concrete debris to United Lock Block on Mitchel Island.  They charge $35 to dump any size load as long as it is free of rebar, mesh, and dirt.  They use the concrete to make new product.  This is a VERY GOOD DEAL, but of course it will cost me money to it get there.  I am estimating 30 yards or 100K Lbs.

It is looking quite hopeful that I will be able to have the entire house down by the weekend.

By the end of the day, Alfie and I had chewed through a lot of concrete.

By the end of the day, Alfie and I had chewed through a lot of concrete.

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We are finally legit!

July 27, 2014

This afternoon I finally finished the re-configuring of the tree protection fencing.  This has been an outstanding task since the root spading was done a week and a half ago.  This completes the last thing I believe was outstanding with the District and should make all parties happy.  Now that the shipping container was out of the way, I took the opportunity to extend the protected area to the west to lower the overall stress to the trees.

Final tree fencing panel and gate installed.

Final tree fencing panel and gate installed.

The newly limbed trees look great.  Burley Boys did an awesome job.  The extra light into my yard and the neighbours yards is impressive and being enjoyed by all.  I do miss the tree by the street and the extra full boar sun that it represents will be something we will need to address with the new house. I do hope to replace it with another tree but this time deciduous .  Maybe a maple??

In addition to the tree fencing I also took down the scaffold and did some general clean up in the yard this afternoon.  I also had a visit from a Craiglister picking up the concrete blocks that used to be the boiler chimney.  Today was brunch at the inlaws, so only a partial day on site.  I spent the morning sending out RFQ’s for the cement blocks, excavations, concrete recycling, and a request to Hydro to meet to discuss meter placement.

I estimate that I will need to remove 1000 yards of dirt from the site.  I have no top soil to speak of on site.  It was always poor and I have made it even worse with previous years tractor activities in back yard.  I plan to scrape off 2ft across the whole yard when I am done and bring in fresh good quality soil for all the planned flower gardens.  I am hoping to setup an arrangement with the excavation company where I will ‘rent’ their equipment and do the dig myself.  That way they would just need a truck and single driver which hopefully will save me a bunch of money.

Yesterday after my Saturday breakfast with Ron, we took a trip to the transfer station and dumped the very large pile of green waste generated from the scrap generated from the tear down of the garage and office and then a majority of the sub floor removed to date.

Sub floor and Garage/Office Scrap green Waste ready for dumping

Sub floor and Garage/Office Scrap green Waste ready for dumping

Looks much more impressive as a pile at the transfer station

Looks much more impressive as a pile at the transfer station

I then did not get back to the job-site till after lunch as I needed to address some errands.  I then had a surprise visit from my sister and her husband which was a nice treat.  For the rest of the afternoon I attacked more of the sub floor and slab. Gail was also there most of the afternoon loading the trailer up for the next green waste run.  At 4:30 We called it quits and I took Gail and Ron out for dinner as a small token of appreciation for all the hard work Gail has been doing on site.

I had hoped to get all the sub-floor and slab up, so we did not quite make it, but we got close and did quite well considering only 1/2 day on site.

This coming week, I will be missing two of my wonderful helpers.  My landlord has left for holidays for a month and Gail is going camping with her daughter and grand-daughters.  So it will generally just be Eric and I.

Tomorrow I hope to completely remove the balance of the sub-floor and slab except for under the north annex and then start in on the remaining hardwood floor.

Thanks for the visit.




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The Alfie who could

July 25, 2014

Yesterday morning I decided to get a bunch of errands  done due to the copious amounts of liquid falling out of the sky.

I had to drop by BCIT and pick up the container I had brought my EPS/XPS submerged samples in,  take some materials and tools back to Home Depot, take in some paper for shredding, pickup a rolling magnet for picking nails off the ground, repair a trailer tire that had a slow leak because I have not previously had a rolling magnet for picking nails off the ground :-(, pickup a 500 ft roll of braided cable that will be used to suspend my tarp and also hopefully devise a way to easily lift the ICF block into place, and finally pick up a weight lifting belt for my back because I actually picked up the 500ft spool of braided cable :-(.

I had a really bad back a few years back with herniated and perforated discs.  Spent 6 months in bed before 4 months of very limited activity.  It had been doing quite well over the last few years but started acting up just before I started taking the house down.  Lifting very heavy objects, like sacks of concrete, seem to cause the most grief.  The demolition has actually seemed to help it which I am sure has a lot to do with the rather dramatic weight loss.

I have been wearing a back brace for some activities but have wanted a more rigid weight belt for the times I need to lift heavier objects.  It was quickly apparent that lifting the spool yesterday was not a good thing to do without a back support.  I did ask for a dolly but the supplier did not have one. So on the way home I finally got the weight belt and wore it all afternoon to try to help repair the damage.  I also took a stint on my inverter table before deciding to take the rest of the afternoon off and just rest with my knees over a bolster.  This all seemed to do the trick as I had minimal pain today.  This back issue has been the single largest stress for the upcoming build as I just do not know how I am going to do.  In general the small amount of pain I typically do feel is enough to be a reminder that I MUST lift properly with my knees bent and if I need to pry something, I need to do it with my torso centred to the object.

Today was a very productive day in contrast to yesterday. I was on site by 9 AM and started preparing for the day’s onslaught.  Gail arrived at 9:45 and Eric at 10 AM.  We setup a good team with Eric processing the wood by removing all of the nails, Gail was the runner taking all of the loose 2×4’s to Eric for processing and the green and garbage waste to the trailer for the next run.  I generally processed the pile of lumber separating the components into individual sticks.  The verdict is in, the dismantle with the tractor actually resulted in less damage to the wood than by taking it apart by hand.  If only I had not tried this earlier in the process.  One really neat thing was being able to use the tractor to strip the 2×4’s off the ship-lap.  It was fast, easy, and resulted in pretty much no damage to the ship-lap.

Large stack of lumber to process

Large stack of lumber to process

By 3:50 we were all done

By 3:50 we were all done

Eric headed off just before 3 to beat the traffic and Gail and I finished processing the rest of the south annex tear down pile just before 4 PM.  Gail then headed off for her afternoon walk with Ron and I decided to start pulling up the sub floor with the tractor.  I never intended to keep any of the sub-floor.  The 2×4 sleepers were typically showing signs of heavy decay and   I did not expect the plywood to separate easily from the ship-lap.  Well I was wrong, the plywood peeled off quite nicely (nice enough that someone will probably take it).  I was even able to pull a fair amount (50%) of the ship-lap off without significant damage. It was also very quick and within an hour I had stripped about half of the floor area down to the concrete.

By 5:15 most of the sub-floor is gone

By 5:15 most of the sub-floor is gone

For the concrete slab I had planned to rent a breaker attachment for the excavator but there was a loose piece of concrete between two strip footings that I knew I could pry out with Alfie.  One I got the first piece out, I was able to grab a few more of these smaller chunks.  I then attacked the main slab which is 4″ at the very minimum with many areas even thicker.  To my total astonishment, little Alfie chewed through the slab with relative ease. Yes it was at the extreme end of his strength, but each large chunk would break off without a lot of effort.  I was able to break up and stack about 400 sq ft in about 20 minutes.  I had worked my way to the foundation and I was sure poor Alfie would not be able to break through (about 16″ wide by about the same high), but as soon as I was able to get the bucket below and pry up, I saw movement and in the end was able to lift out 6ft long chunks of foundation.  This is awesome and will same the cost of renting a breaker for this task (I will still rent one for the excavation to assist in breaking through the hard pan).

By 6 a large portion of the slab is gone

By 6 a large portion of the slab is gone

Tomorrow I will finish removing the sub-floor and slab from the parts of the house that are already down and if I have time will also trip the final  hardwood floor from the bedroom (it has survived so far even though there has been a couple of floods in the room when the tarps have not been positioned properly).

Sunday I have agreed to a day off to go for lunch at my in-laws.  I will be great-full for the rest I am sure.

Next week should see the north annex come down and be processed, the removal of the remaining sub floor and slab, the stacking of the long lumber on top of the shipping container, the construction of a long work bench and saw station, and the general preparation for the excavation.

Lets see if we can keep on track.

Thanks for the visit.


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Alfie comes out to play

July 23, 2014

Today I had had enough of the slow methodical dismantling of the house and got the excavator out to help things along.  I could only start after lunch as I had a mid-morning appointment.  I still wanted to salvage the wood, so went carefully.  I was amazed at how little breakage there was if I used a little thought as to the best way to use the bucket and claw to dismantle.  In general, lifting framing members from below seemed to work the best.  I was then even able to use the bucket to strip 2×4’s from the sheathing greatly speeding up the process and also fracturing way less ship-lap.

So the south annex is now down.  Still have a day of work to separate and process the resulting lumber.

Alfie helping take down the last vestiges of the south annex

Alfie helping take down the last vestiges of the south annex

As you can see, while a chaotic pile of lumber, it is not a pile of fractured pieces.  I would say that the tractor method in this part of the building resulted in the same or less wasteage that taking apart by hand in only a fraction of the time.

As you can see, while a chaotic pile of lumber, it is not a pile of fractured pieces. I would say that the tractor method in this part of the building resulted in the same or less wasteage that taking apart by hand in only a fraction of the time.

I will try to use the tractor on the bedroom annex as well.  The only concern on that side will be the ceiling joists.  If they do not pop off easily, I will need to salvage these by hand first before using the tractor.

One milestone I forgot to mention last night is that my ICF blocks from Durisol were successfully picked up yesterday and are on their way.  Looking at the pallets of material in the warehouse floor is already filling me with dread as to the upcoming task of installing these blocks.

Durisol ICF blocks ready for shipment.  This photo shows about half the volume.  All in all it is 37,000 Lbs of product!

Durisol ICF blocks ready for shipment. This photo shows about half the volume. All in all it is 37,000 Lbs of product!

Thanks for the visit.

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Tree Day

July 22, 2014

Tonight’s is short and sweet.  Today was tree day.

I arrived at 7:30 Am to do a final cleanup before Burley Boys arrival at ten to eight.  Most of the rest of the day was occupied with trees.  I did spend some time in the garage while they were working on the tree by the street and managed to strip out the remaining wiring, garage door and opener and roof joists. But then they started on the tree clump beside the garage and it was too dangerous to still be in the garage as they were booming large branches above me.

So I made myself useful for a bit helping Eric split apart multi-ply lumber posts before we broke for lunch. After lunch I helped the crew clear fallen limbs and brought to chipper. I topped the day off by putting a bigger-hole-free-tarp over the bedroom (North Annex).  I had a 5:30 appointment so knocked off at 4:00 to get some paperwork done.

The Burley Boys crew did a great job of limbing the cedars and it was amazing at how much light this let in.  We actually had to set up a canopy in what was the living room this morning for Eric’s nail pulling station as it was too hot (an area that would have typically been in shade before lunch). What was also nice was the confirmation that there was about 12″ of rot on the street tree just above the false leader forks.  So it WAS just a matter of a few more years before the top of the tree would have snapped off as the rot progressed.

Street Tree - Beginning of Day

Street Tree – Beginning of Day

Street Tree at End of Day and limbing south cluster

Street Tree (stump at left) at end of day and limbing south cluster

Tomorrow I have some appointments in the morning and then will try to make final work of the garage and office in the afternoon.

Thanks for visiting.

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All Hands On Deck

July 21, 2014

This morning, I was blessed with FULL pension power.  Both Gail and Eric were on deck from 9 AM to 12:30-1:30 PM.  It actually took some effort to feed the beast they became together.  They chewed through tasks faster than I could create them.  Gail was cleaning out the shed at the north side of the house including stacking some new oak floor cutoffs I have been saving for shop projects in the Cootery (name of my shed due to its original plan of housing a Coot Amphibian that we were going to build) out back. Eric was de-nailing yet more wood and then both Gail and Eric started loading the trailer with the next load of green and garbage waste (I now have a split personality trailer).  Eric then moved onto de-nailing teh ceiling joists I was taking down while Gail continued to load the trailer including removing the building paper from the garage.

Who was strangely absent all day was my promised re-inspection by the District to ensure I had the security fencing up.

I pretty much dedicated the day to taking down the ceiling and then outside wall in the living room to make way for tomorrow’s tree trimming day where the 4 cedars to be kept will be limbed up to a height of aprox 30 ft.  This will allows the winter sun into the house but block the higher summer sun and resulting heat.

I had hoped to get the south annex down as well today (garage and office) but it was not to be. It took quite a while to take down the ceiling joists because of all the added blocking around the fireplace and then it also took some time to disassemble the plate glass home made windows int the living room.  I still have a fair bit of electrical to take out of the garage which I will do some of while Burley Boys are here doing the tree work.  I might then use the tractor to help dismantle the remaining structure to speed things up.  It is already quite unstable because most does not have any sheathing.

As promised, here are some picks of the newly configured tree fencing and also the security fencing.  I can attest to the tree fencing’s strength.  I dropped a wall on it during demolition and it hardly budged.

As you can see, our air spading allowed us to get very close to this cedar

As you can see, our air spading allowed us to get very close to this cedar.  This makes room for cement blocks to stabilize the bank of the excavation and allowed the cedar to stay.

Security fencing near the back of the property at the south neighbour.  We will need to put a gate in here so we can get back and forth to each others yards.

Security fencing near the back of the property at the south neighbour. We will need to put a gate in here so we can get back and forth to each others yards.

South tree fencing was able to get close to 2 ft closer to the cedars.

South tree fencing was able to get close to 2 ft closer to the cedars. Now the bank will have proper slope and not need stabilization

Newly configured gate near temp electrical service.  High header board allows me to take tall things through gate area.  It was needed in the first place because I did not want to screw into the side of the container.

Newly configured gate near temp electrical service. High header board allows me to take tall things through gate area. It was needed in the first place because I did not want to screw into the side of the container.

Thanks for the visit.

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Fencing Duo

July 20, 2014

Today was all about fencing, both construction safety fencing and tree protection fencing.

The day started very early (for me on a Sunday) and I was at the computer at 8:00 AM editing and organizing photos.  You will have noticed I took my cameras off the system.  This was because there was no easy way to download the photos that was collecting, and as the system occupied the FTP function of the camera, there was no other way I could get these photos.  So I decided a few weeks back I would have to abandon their system in favour for a home grown version.  But I had about a months worth of images already on their servers that were really important for my time lapse, as the captured the beginnings of the exterior deconstruction of the house.

Adam @ agreed to zip up all of the photos and upload them to MY server where I could then download them to my local file server.  I did this last night (about 10K images) and then starting this morning, I started to go through and organize the images into days and delete the ones I did not want (because they really did not show anything – I had a high rate of false motion captures due to wind in trees). After about 4 hours of this, I accidentally PERMANENTLY deleted the directory that had all of the extracted pics in their directories AND also the zip files.  I had also already deleted them from the web server.  I panicked but was extremely relieved that last night the back up ran and I had at least the zip files.  At this point I thought it was probably a good idea to leave it and go to lunch.  I have had enough with computer issues – don’t you agree?

After lunch I started to build the final safety fencing along the neighbour to the south. This first entailed taking down the final roof joists from over the office area as I needed a couple to use as the top and bottom plate of the fence.  The safety fence took a couple of hours including the joist dismantle and then I moved on to the tree protection fencing.  An additional 4 hours saw the NW fencing complete and about 80% of the south fencing complete.  I had to reconfigure the gate around the temp electrical service which took some time.  The only thing left is to build a gate at the west side and close it up.

Will upload some pics tomorrow. In general I will be uploading a lot more pics to the photo gallery.  Just have not had the time to organize them and annotate them yet.

For now, I will leave you a pic of a friend who has improved your view.  I had a spider who was starting to build a nest in front of the street cam.  Then all of the sudden the spider was gone.  While going through images this morning, I came across this chick-a-Dee having a late night snack.

Chick-A-Dee eating spider

Chick-A-Dee eating spider

Thanks for visiting.

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Rock Crushing and Removing Shiplap

July 19, 2014

Earlier in the week when I was dropping off a load of shingles, I was able to view the rock crushing operation in progress at the next pile.  I was happy to see that this was occurring and that the promise of re-purposing the materials was not empty.   They apparently use much of the crushed concrete as road base throughout their operation.

I also thought I would share a short clip showing my method for removing ship-lap.  This was very brittle material (60 years old) and a lot of it was cracked before I started.  But I was able to get 80%+ off in one piece using this method.

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A dump of a day!

July 19, 2014

Today was dump day.  I started out after breakfast with half a trailer load of green waste (final fractured roof ship-lap) to the transfer station.

I then loaded up all of the drywall I had removed from the garage and a wall from the living room and from the bathroom (all installed post 1998 so non containing).  For this load I had agreed to also take in a neighbours removed drywall from down the street (also modern and non containing). Their son came along which made for a fast unload.

On return I started to prepare the Asbestos containing materials I still had on site.  I had cement board and a VA tile floor.  All got triple bagged and marked.  I then headed off with both the bags of ACM and the last of the roof shingles.  I stopped first at the EcoLandfil in Richmond to drop off the shingles and then the Vancouver Landfill in Delta to drop off the ACM bags in a special bin.  I was relieved when the day was over and the ACM was gone with a bill of  only $21.

At this point it was 5 PM and I called it a day.  Tomorrow I will finish re-configuring the tree fencing and erecting security fencing along a neighbours fence line at the rear 1/3 of the property where I will be building the block wall.  This will have to be easily removable in sections to allow work on the wall in the evenings, once I get started on construction, and then replacement at the end of each evening. Why needed at all at this location is beyond the neighbours and my logic but alas we obey!

I realized I missed one point in last night’s posting.  I am very thankful the District gave me a reprieve till Monday before pulling out the fine book.

This morning, Andre from Craigslist also came by for his second load of ship-lap and 2×4’s.  He even took the 2×6’s I had used to move the shipping container, that were lathered in VegOil. This is just a fraction of the wood I have salvaged from the house and given away (Andre took a load like this yesterday as well and there have been several others).  This has allowed the diversion of tons of material from the landfill.   Pickups are even better than the green waste as they are reusing the product without any further refinement or processing.  Andre is planning a large greenhouse build.

Andre - Loaded up with ship-lap and 2x4's

Andre – Loaded up with ship-lap and 2×4’s. Notice my new construction fencing in the back-ground!

Thanks for the visit.

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Roadblock (Updated Aug 25/2015)

July 18, 2014

The morning went well.  I finished pulling off the sheathing on the garage and disassembling part of the roof structure on that side.  Eric was there again and de-nailed a whole pile of wood and I had two Craigslist respondents picking up half of the ship-lap and most of the 2×4’s.  They will both be back tomorrow to pick up the balance.  The 2×4 are being used for a deck and the ship-lap for a large greenhouse.

Then at around 12:15 PM the suite doorbell rang (Eric and I were having lunch) and it was a District Building Inspector who seemed to be quite agitated.  The claim was that I did not have a demo permit in place.  I was perplexed by this because I certainly had applied and paid an amount of money toward one and as far as I was concerned, it was in place.  All my conversation with the Municipal staff over the last three months were biased by my assumption it was in place and some of the staff were certainly aware I was actively demolishing. But alas it appeared in the end, there still was some outstanding paper work and fees.  So I promised to go to the Hall this afternoon and sort it out (more on that in a second).

The second item in the upset list was my lack of construction fencing ALL AROUND the property.  I was given an ultimatum that this had to be in place by my re-inspection on Monday or I would be fined.  There was an indication someone had complained and a strong concern for child safety.  While I totally understand the child safety thing, I also expect parents to supervise their kids and not let them walk through other peoples yards.  I had planned on fencing, but was unsure of when it needed to be in place and had planned on ensuring it was in place prior to excavation when real injury could happen.

Update Aug 25, 2015 – I was in the wrong on this, I should have had the fencing in place before starting deconstruction on the exterior of the dwelling.

But, that time table was escalated.  I called Super Save, Modu-Loc, Yellow Fencing and Fencer.  Super Save seemed to be staffed by very young women who did not know what they were doing. After way too long on the phone I asked her to just call me back when she had a price because the initial price of $441 for the first month and $58 (35¢ a foot per month) for each additional month included setup and take down which I did not need.  I never got a call back.  Modu-Loc was 40¢ a foot per month and $195 Drop Off.  Yellow Fencing was 25¢ a foot per month (for the old ugly fencing) and $175 for drop off and pick up.  Fencer was also 25¢ a foot per month for nice forest green new fencing (blends into background and will be up for probably 2 years) and $99 for drop off and $99 for pickup.  Sam @ Fencer rentals confirmed he would make sure I would get this weekend.  Yellow was to call back but never did.  I confirmed the order with Sam and at first he said for sure Sunday AM but possible Saturday. Then a couple of hours later while I was having dinner with a friend from the company I used to work at, he called and advised that it would be delivered within the hour.  I returned from dinner at 5:30 and it was being unloaded.  So I spent the evening putting it up.  I have already received complaints from both neighbours asking how we are to get into each others yards.  So I will have to figure out some type of gate.  After all Gail to the north is part of my Pension Power and Ron her husband is my main Supervisor 🙂  We are all good neighbours to each other and regularly slip into each other’s yards for some reason or other even just to visit.

The final item on the list was the absence of some of the tree fencing. I tried to advise that it was in the middle of reconfiguration as it needed to be moved now that we had approval to do so by the arbourist who had completed air spading.  I mentioned that I had discussed this in advance with the District person reasonable for the fencing and that I was to just send in photos of the reconfigured fencing once done.  I also mentioned that the big gap, was because a shipping container had just been removed and that I had not filled in the resulting space yet but was planning to when I finished the overall reconfiguration.  This seemed to go over like a lead balloon.  It seemed I was in the bad books and nothing I said made a difference.

After lunch I went to the District hall to sort out the permit process.  I arrived at 1PM and was told it was lunch time and come back at 1:30 – So noted for future visits.  At 1:30 I returned to complete the process for the Demo Permit Only.  As far as I am concerned, I had an agreement from staff that I could apply for and proceed on the demo independently of the building permit.  At first this was to allow the demo to proceed before the building permit was issued as a special favour by the District.  Then for me it became a cash flow issue, because as part of the Building permit procedure I have to pay $10K for a security (refundable as long as I return District property to undamaged status), and $7700 for relining or replacement of the sewer line (I totally understand this policy, you want to take these opportunities to replace your infrastructure, but 1. $7700 is not a competitive rate for this work and 2. I know the line is in really good shape – glass lined, I believe porcelain and probably would be fine for another 50 years).   But I was told the official policy is to not allow independent application of the Demo from the Building permit and none of the people that I had this arrangement with were in the office today.  And I did not want to push this any further and get further into hot water if things were not settled by the Monday re-inspection.  So I forked out $22,220 in permit fees and damage deposit (and this is not all of them by a long shot) and received my full building permit package.  This was upsetting because I am a month away from actually needing the building permit – assuming I could excavate with the soils permit which I did already have.

While at the hall I talked with the person responsible for the tree fencing and confirmed again what had transpired and that I will send photos of the reconfigured fencing when in place.  She seemed satisfied with this (but did state it is their policy that I have to call before moving it in the first place.  She said the same thing when on site the first time but then we made the arrangement to just do what the abourist allowed and then send over photos)

I am really hoping today’s tone does not continue through my inspection process.  Up to now the District people I have interacted with for the inspections have been awesome, flexible, supportive, and understanding.  I want a very cooperative relationship and not one of constant strife.  I do not need the added stress and they do not need the extra hassle.  I am chalking this up to inexperience on my side (I did not know I needed to post something on site for the demo permit and so did not clue in that the process was not complete), the District responding to a complaint (which certainly did not come from any of the direct neighbours), and a possible a lack of systems at the Hall to document any special dispensations provided.

The one good thing about the fence in place is I have to worry less about theft.  I have had people responding to Craigslist ads act like it was a free-for-all and just take other things.  I also forgot to lock the truck last week and had someone go in at 3:19 AM (motion caught on web-cam) and riffle through the truck and take a bunch of gifts cards I had in the centre console for various stores and also some pocket knives.

Well that was the day. On average a downer, but we worked through it. I will spend the weekend re-configuring the tree fencing, taking another load of green waste wood to the transfer station, taking my drywall and a neighbours drywall down the street to the transfer station, stripping out the last of the roof structure for pickup by someone, and a final trip to the EcoDump to drop off last pile of shingles.  If I still have time, I will try to take the south annex containing the garage down.

Wish me luck and thanks for visiting.

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A walk down memory lane.

July 17, 2014

This morning I headed out to the EcoDump in Richmond to drop off another load of shingles.  On the way out I noticed a big excavator at the house beside where I grew up.  On the way back I stopped in and asked if I could look around before it was torn down.  The workman said sure.  I then met the people who own the property I grew up on and after introducing myself, they gave me permission to look around their yard as well.  The last time I had stepped onto either of these properties was February 1988.  It effected me in a way I am still unable to describe.  I know it brought about strong emotions, but I am not sure which emotions they were.  This was after-all where I grew up.  It was an era that basically came to a faily abrupt halt when I moved away in 1988.  I keep in touch with the people that were my neighbours to the North to this day (they are now in Penticton) , but I never went back to see the Willkomms that lived to the south and I regret that because I have so much to thank them for.

Warning – this will be boring to all except those that grew up on 6rd  with me or knew me at that time.

This meant I did not start at the job site till after lunch, but the delay was well worth the opportunity.  This afternoon I stripped off the balance of the shingles, and then stripped most of the ship-lap off the roof (just some left on the garage that is more difficult to get to), and then removed the roof structure on the north annex.  I also pushed over the balance of the chimney.  At 6:00 I was calling it a day, but Bahman my landlord said he was coming at 7:30 PM to work whether I was there or not.  So I went back at 8:30 PM to do some site cleanup including loading green waste wood into the trailer while Bahman stacked all of the removed ship-lap by the road for the Craigslist respondents.

Was not completely what I wanted to get done today, but much closer than previous days and considering the very late start – a very good effort.

Thanks for visiting.

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Operating at about 1/3 Speed

July 16, 2014

Going to keep this short because frankly I am tired and want to go to sleep.

I fell far short of my goal for today.  I am operating at about half speed (which for me is about 1/3 impulse!)

The heat is kicking me in the butt and sucking the energy out of me.  Today was the first time I even got burned. AT only 80F, it was no where near the last week’s high of 86F at our property, but I guess the repeated days of elevated temps are starting to get me.

Eric came today and was kind enough to strip all of the electrical switches and plugs from the boxes I had stripped out of the house.  As these were all modern Decora that I had installed a few years back, I wanted to save and reuse them.  He also polished off a pile of lumber that needed to be de-nailed.  I continue to be very grateful  for his assistance.

Bahman (my landlord and neighbour across street) also came later in the day and separated some built-up lumber pieces, cleaned up and organized some lumber, and then helped me on the roof by cleaning off the heavy moss layer and then peeling back the roofing paper under the shingles I had removed.

I managed to get the shingles off the north annex and about 50% off the south before accepting that my trailer was full and should not be loaded any further.  I only have the garage roof to still strip so it is a shame I will need to make two trips.

I also removed the ship-lap from the west side of the north annex roof before calling it a day at 7:00 Pm.

As you can see, this is well below my goal of having the entire roof and ceiling structure gone.  Guess that will be tomorrow.

My 60ft x 80ft tarp also arrived today.  Man is that going to be a brute to get up.  I would estimate it at 400 lbs.  My arborist gave me some ideas on hoisting it up so we’ll have to see how it goes.

Speaking of weight, I have not mentioned what an awesome weight reduction this building your own house is.  I have struggled with being somewhat overweight most of my adult life.  I would typically hover 20-30 over my ideal weight but over the last 5 or so years have been more like 50 over my goal.  Well, over the last 3 months I have lost 32 lbs to date.  The beauty is I have not changed anything about what I am eating (OK not entirely true – I am getting wonderful lunches from my neighbour and also my mother-in-law, where before I would often just snack).  Just the activity of being constantly active is shedding it off.  I love this and had hoped it would be a by-product of the build because I HATE exercising with passionate conviction!  Lets hope the shed continues as easily and I will reach my goal that I have not been since 1991!

Finally, an update on the eastern orders freight situation.  I am still trying to find an affordable freight option for the floor trusses.  I still would like to move these by rail and asked my new broker about options. As I do not need on site till mid September earliest, I have some time to figure this out.

The second part of this shipment is the 37,000 lbs of ICF block I have ordered from Durisol.   This IS coming by train (a full 53′ intermodal container).  I decided to go out for quotes because I really was not happy with the original broker who screwed me.  I was able to find someone with a competitive quote and booked the freight with them this afternoon ( The train has a transit time of 6-8 days, so they will easily arrive by my middle of August installation.

Well that it.  Tomorrow I will continue to take down the roof structure and Friday Eric will be back and we will load the top of the storage container with the salvaged siding and 2x material to get it out of the way.  I will spend the rest of Friday hopefully gutting the bedroom (last room left) and taking down some of the final walls.  By Monday, I hope to have a majority of the walls taken down to make room for the tree limbing on Tuesday AM.

Thanks for the visit.

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Ups and Downs

July 15, 2014

I am starting to wonder if I will be able to string a series of good days together.  Today I was reminded why I left professional purchasing.  There are so many crappy vendors in this world.

I am bringing both my Durisol ICF and my TriForce Floor Truss from back east.  Both of these are great vendors (although I did have issues with one of the TriForce agents in the Vancouver area).  In this case, my frustration is geared towards a freight broker.

I wanted both of these goods to come to Vancouver by Train considering the much lower embodied energy (and I found out today to my surprise – cost) over traditional truck freight (which has the highest embodied energy of almost all forms of transit).  I had been planning this shipment since Feb 2013!

Yes you read right – 2013.  This project was originally supposed to proceed a year ago and I had gone out for freight quotes to move these two products from Eastern Canada to BC.  I wanted to make sure it was reasonably affordable and did not place too high a burden on the budget.

The ICF was pretty much a slam dunk, it was something I wanted to showcase and I thought would lower my costs by allowing me to do the installation.  I will need to check the numbers when done to see if this was actually the case. The floor trusses were also pretty critical to the design.  In only a 12″ depth, they had models that spanned 22′.  For those in the industry, you know this is an impressive span that can really open up a structural design.  This saves money by reducing the need for beams, posts, and most importantly – footings.  The added benefit was that this was an open web truss that allowed EASY routing of all services including HVAC. The icing on the cake, was that this was an environmentally friendly product fabricated in an environmentally friendly factory.

So in February of 2013, I provided the rail freight broker the weight and dims of the expected skid (pretty close to today’s actual) volumes with the largest one being 4ft wide, 27″ tall (in reality is only 15″) and 22′ ft long. I estimated this skid at 1800 lbs. In March of THIS year, I reiterated that this shipment was going to happen and that I was just working through some permit bureaucracy. In May I confirmed the transit time from each vendor to the consolidation point in Ontario and again confirmed that the trusses would be able to stack on top of the ICF pallets in the rail container.  They came back with no problem and even advised they have a method of creating a second level in the inter-modal rail container with spreader bars able to support 2000 lbs at each post.

Yesterday, I finally finalized the truss order and this morning contacted the freight broker to arrange for shipment this Thursday only to be told “Sorry – we cannot do this”  They decided that they did not have the facilities to lift the trusses on top of the ICF pallets without damaging the cargo.

As a person who worked in logistics for years and who has actually loaded heavy 20ft items into the upper level of a container before, I felt this was total bunk!  You line up the item with the container and lift from the side with one forklift to the height needed.  You then take a second forklift and push the bundle from the end into the container.  Of course you need a smooth surface to slide on, but this is easily handled by decking that level with plywood.  As you can only push in 20ft, you need to do this operation in two halves or you can line up and use a second bundle to push the first bundle to the back half of the container. To get it out, you reverse the process using a pallet grabber to pull the bundle out onto the receiving forklift. For the second bundle at the back you need the grabber and a chain.

Pallet Grabber allows a forklift to pull a pallet out even when they are not close enough to get the forks under.

Pallet Grabber allows a forklift to pull a pallet out even when they are not close enough to get the forks under.

Anyway – enough of the shipping lesson, the facts are I was now screwed.  The goods were going to have to come by flatbed truck all the way to BC.  The added embodied energy is bad enough pill to swallow, but it turns out this is also more expensive than rail (counter to my assumption) – Much more expensive.  The adder for the truss package to ride on top of the ICF was only $1200.  The cheapest truck freight quote I have so far is $4600!

This is a game changer and would have probably effected my decision to buy these trusses.  I certainly would have looked a lot harder on a more local basis to find someone who could fabricate something similar or I would have looked at changing the design to require shorter spans.

I am still working on options to move this freight.  I do not need on site till September or even early October.  The pickup now was because it was coming with my ICF which I do need on site by mid Augustish. I am looking for a co-load share shipment where a trucker coming this way has a 4ft x 22ft space left on his flat bed.

This fiasco ended up absorbing 4 hours of my day and generally took the air out of my tires for the rest of the day.  I know stuff like this is going to happen and I need to suck it up and not let it get to me.  But I did not expect it out of the gate and on something I though was so well planned.

I did manage to strip the drywall from the garage and remove the garage electrical panel and the house electrical panel and generator bypass.  Also managed a trip to the dump to get rid of the bags full of mineral wool insulation (which they almost did not accept – seems they have issues with blown in insulation. Only an assurance that there was no fibreglass blown-in included in the bags, got me through the gate keepers).

SO I got about a third of a day’s work done.  This just is not going to do and I am going to have to step up my game.  Tomorrow I hope to strip the remaining shingles off the two roof sections that are left, remove all of the ship-lap from the remaining roof structure, and then remove the remaining roof and ceiling structure (I will leave a few ceiling joists until ready to take the walls completely down).  I will be satisfied if I get this done.

Lets see how I do. Thanks for visiting.


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We have Construction Power

July 14, 2014

When I woke up this morning I had a funny feeling that BCHydro would come today and at 10:30 they arrived.

I was amazed that they work ‘live’ but really, what else could they do.  They are not going to take down a block every-time someone needs power connected.  There procedure was to clamp onto the temp power pole and existing services with a hand winch.  After placing some tension on the service they cut and tape up the first line conductor, then the second.  A single wrap of their tape is good for 600V they said (there was several wraps).  Once the two line conductors are cut and taped, they then move to the neutral which is the bare conductor and also acts as the support wire.

With all conductors cut,  the service swung over to the new temp power pole.  They start by securing the neutral to the wire holder and then crimping it to the neutral conductor from the meter base.   They then untape the first line conductor and crimp it to one of the line conductors off the meter base and then the second. The whole process took 20 minutes.

The rest of the morning was generally preoccupied with emails regarding my floor truss order.

After lunch I got to the task at hand of vacuuming out the insulation above the master bedroom.  This took the rest of the day.  This was not the fastest method, but a lot more comfortable to work with and when you factor in cleanup time needed if you just pull the whole ceiling down, it did not take that much longer.

I McGyvered a home made vac truck using my large shop vac and some lengths of ABS pipe.  This ended up working quite well, but would have worked better if I actually had used elbows instead of just cutting a 90 degree slots in the pipe and bending it (would have resulted in less plug-ups), but it worked well enough and I only lost 10 or so minutes to freeing up the jams compared to the 30-40 minutes to go get fittings.

I used the existing vac fitting and 'spliced' it onto a ABS riser.

I used the existing vac fitting and ‘spliced’ it onto a ABS riser.

Once at attic height, I cut a 90 degree notch and created an elbow to create a length of vertical ABS pipe (extended the reach into the attic)

Once at attic height, I cut a 90 degree notch and created an elbow to create a length of vertical ABS pipe (extended the reach into the attic)

End of ABS was transitioned to the normal shop vac hose

End of ABS was transitioned to the normal shop vac hose

Standard shop vac wand extended reach to the eaves of the attic

Standard shop vac wand extended reach to the eaves of the attic

The end result was that I had a system that effectively sucked 7 large contractor garbage bags of loose blown mineral wool insulation out of the attic including all the debris that was on top (re-roofing jobs, general dust and grime, chimney removal from an earlier renovation). Now I do not have to worry about any of this coming down when I pull the ceiling in the bedroom which will make that job much faster and more pleasant.

Because the insulation was so porous, I was able to get the canister very full before needing to come down and empty.

One very full shop vac!

One very full shop vac!

I have been continuously impressed with the quality of the build of the old house. Yet another best practice that Keith followed was installing batt insulation at the eaves before transitioning to loose blow in.  This keeps the blow-in out of the eaves where it would block the air flow and also prevents wind washing stripping back the insulation near the eaves.  You would be shocked at the number of new homes I see that still do not follow this practice.

Eaves are stuffed with batt insulation before transitioning to blow-in

Eaves are stuffed with batt insulation before transitioning to blow-in

All in all it was a good day.  Tomorrow should see the rapid start of the demolition of the balance of the house.

Thanks for visiting.

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Productive Weekend – Considering the Heat

July 13, 2014

After a disastrous Thursday, the end of the week turned around and was quite productive (especially considering the heat!).

I spent all of Friday going through all of the stuff that was already in the container (A friend in the city had loaded me up with all his left overs after his build) and then started moving my stuff from the house into the container.  Saturday continued the loading and organizing of the shipping container. This is a time consuming and boring task, but I have learned many times that time spent organizing pays off in spades (Thursday was a great example – spending 1.5 hours looking for a tool and connectors that would have taken 60 seconds if I had put it back where it belonged).

By yesterday evening the bedroom was empty and I only had the dregs in the garage to deal with.  After a late start (it was Sunday after all), I went with Ron to take a load of trash (rotted lumber from his back deck) to the dump.  After some chores on the way home, I then loaded the final items to go to the storage locker.  My locker which is on the upper level was hotter than a Finnish sauna! I went in dry and came out drenched.  The rest of the afternoon was spent polishing off the last of the items in the garage and the house is now essentially EMPTY!  I planned on getting to this spot by Saturday, but with the 80+ heat (90+ in the shipping container), I am satisfied with the progress.

I still have some organization to do in the storage container and the shop out back, but will try to do most of this in the evenings. I will post some pics once I finsih organizing and get some light in there.

Tomorrow will start the deconstruction of the final parts of the house.  My first task will probably be to vacuum out the blow-in mineral wool insulation above the bedroom ceiling.  This is the last of the difficult jobs left.  Once gone, the house should come down quite quickly (by end of week is probably pushing it, but by mid next week for sure).

BC Hydro are supposed to be here by the 17th latest to swing my service over to the temp power pole. In the meantime, I have borrowed power from both neighbours so that I can uninstall the balance of the circuits and proceed with tear down.  By the time Hydro get here, there may just be the wall the panel is installed into and the soffit wall that the service is secured to.

I will also need to move all of the salvaged siding and longer lumber to the top of the storage container as that is the only spot left with room that will be out of the way.

Should be an exciting week.

Thanks for visiting.

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Time Lapse

July 10, 2014

Here is an example of the time lapse I am developing from the various camera views.  This covers the full container move from the POV of the roving cam.

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July 10, 2014

Ever have one of those days you just should have stayed in bed?  Today was such a day!  A Bad Personal Day.

I got a very late start today.  For some reason I was beat even though yesterday was generally tractor work which is not too taxing on oneself.  Possibly it was a bit of heat stoke as I did forget to wear a hat yesterday.

Anyway, I got up early enough but that is where the day turned south.  I quickly realized the radio on my phone was off and obviously had been for some time.  I had texts, emails, and phone messages I had missed.  Once answered I started working on a time lapse video of the shipping container move to the front yard.  After a hour of editing, I pressed the wrong button and lost the file.

At this point it was 10AM, and I quite frankly did not feel like doing anything.  Eric was not coming today, so I had no reason to feel I had to perform. So I watched TV for an hour.  Should have stayed there!

I finally got to the job-site just after 11:30 AM. I puttered about for a bit starting to clean up some of the stuff in the container that fell over and then my den mother (Gail) next door suggested lunch.  Who was I to argue!

After lunch I started organizing the container in earnest.  I set up most of the shelving units I scored on freecycle.  These will store all my construction supplies in different categories like electrical, plumbing, building envelope, fasteners, etc.

This all went fine, except slow, until I decided it was time to move the camera network back into the container.  At 2:30 I shut everything down and started the switch.  It is not overly complicated, I have a port that supports PoE (which is where not only data but also power is sent across a network cable to a device – in my case web cams), the inside console for the weather station, my older file server, a battery backup system, the Engenius Wireless LAN bridge, and all of the miscellaneous power supplies.

By 2:45 PM I was hooped!  I had moved over the UPS and server and was energizing the port and LAN bridge when I accidentally switched two power supplies and supplied the 24V LAN bridge with 48volts!  The unit sparked and died.  I spent the next 45 mins unsuccessfully looking for one locally or even further afield that I could courier over night.

No dice – did I mention I should have stayed in bed?  So next logical step was to piggyback on Ron’s internet (which is coming from me anyway), but this required a very long cable to be made.

2 weeks ago I could have told you exactly where my crimper and parts were.  No such luck today.  I spent the next 1-1/2 hours looking for it in the old house, garage, shipping container, back shed, and of course our basement suite.  I went through each 3 times and nothing. Then finally I found the crimper mixed in with some pliers and such at the job site, but no connectors.  However, now that I knew I was no longer looking for the pair together, I quickly located the small bag with the clear connectors in the suite.

Why they were not together and why neither of them were in there proper spot was beyond me.  I was able to quickly make a 100+ft cable (I have a spool of cable for such needs) and hung it between a tree and Ron’s roof peak before connecting it to his system and my port (if you look closely you can see it hanging across the yard in the shed cam).  Even the cable gave me grief as it would catch on branches, and then shingles on my roof, and then the ladder, and then …  You get the idea – I was at this point just wanting to crawl under a rock and come out next spring.

Things went a bit better after this but the day was done.  I re-routed the street and shed cam LAN cords to the new container position and reconnected the weather station.  The day came to a close and I had basically done 1-1/2 hours of a typical days work.  Can you say POOR!

As one final dig the day had for me, I had gotten to the suite and already started to decompress when I realized I had forgotten to turn on the file server which also runs the weather station. So get dressed and trod over one last time.  Can you say VERY POOR!

SO I guess tomorrow will have to be the house emptying day that today was meant to be.  I should have stayed in bed!

Till tomorrow.


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The Little Alfie who could!

July 9, 2014

It was a great day on two different fronts.  The day started bright and early with me on site by 8:15 (OK- That is early for me).  Sean Wightman from Burley Boys was coming at 9 AM to do the air spading around the trees I am keeping.  Air spading is a process where a high pressure – large volume air house is used to ‘dig’ a trench down below the root zone.  The air pressure blasts the soil away from the roots without traumatizing the roots.  The roots are then trimmed at the trench edge.  This protects the roots outboard of the excavation from being damaged.

This is only typically needed when the excavation line is closer than recommended to the tree (in my case MUCH closer).  Typically, you protect everything below the drip line of the canopy above.  As these cedars have branches that radiate out at least 20ft. this would be the typical protected zone.  But due to the tree location, and the front yard setback, I was needing to get much closer.  When designing the house I  added in a notched setback at this corner to accommodate the tree somewhat, but  I still had an issue with the excavation which needed to be vertical at this location.  As reported earlier, the cost for a driven anchor and shotcrete stabilization for this corner was a staggering THIRTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!  This was clearly not going to happen, so the next option is stacked concrete structural blocks.  These are about $50 a piece, so this corner will only cost around $750. The blocks will stay in place permanently.

BUT, this meant I needed to get even closer to the tree to make room for the 2ft wide blocks. In the end, I needed to be less than 2ft away on the east side and about 7-1/2ft away on the south. Fortunately, we only hit feeder roots in this zone and did not run across a single root that was larger than an inch.  So although the tree will definitely be stressed, there is not a risk that it will not be structurally sound, and it will eventually rebuild its feeder root network.

The second triumph today was the successful completion of the container move from the back to the front yard, much to the shock and amazement of all the spectators including myself.  I am still in somewhat denial that Alfie the tractor was able to get this done.  It was not easy on the girl to be sure.  When it took 30 minutes just to lift one end up 6″, I knew I had a treat in store for me.  But I have a saying “I’ve heard it CAN be done!” Yesterday, after 2.5 hours I was able to get the container rotated so that it was sitting on top of the floor slab.  A task I would not have been able to do if I did not have a double track railroad tie in the yard (was part of the foundation for an outbuilding I have since torn down).  This provided a very hard and slippery surface to rotate the container on and bridged the gap between grade and the top of the slab.

Today’s task was to get the entire container onto the floor, rotate 90 degrees so I could push it through the house to the front, and then the seemingly impossible task of pushing it through the soft soil in the front yard, rotating it 90 degrees again and pushing it back into the newly created pad I made yesterday.

Once the air spading was completed I took a quick run to the transfer station to drop off the vine maple I took down yesterday and to get some diesel for the tractor.  On my return I had a lovely lunch provided by my awesome neighbour Gail, and then set to getting the job done.  The hardest part turned out to be getting the container all the way onto the slab and then onto of the remaining sub-floor.  This took probably an hour during which time my 2 ton hydraulic jack became a heap of twisted metal.

Once fully grounded in the house, the 90 degree turn to get through the house went really fast and smooth.  I then used salvaged 2×6 ceiling joists and lubed them up with veg oil I burn in my truck.  The push through the house literally took seconds.  A deployment of another two lubed joists and a good shove and we were completely in the front yard. Now on a roll (so to speak, more of a grinding slide), I lubed up yet another two joists and placed them perpendicular to the container.  Now it was a fairly simple manner of pushing the front side and the whole thing again rotated 90 degrees. Redeploying some now free joists to the area of the landing pad and I was able to push it all the way home with minimal effort. In fact I pushed it too far and had to pull it back 2ft so it was not on the neighbours side of the property line (fortunately I am higher so it was just intruding on their air space parcel and no damage to their lovely gardens was done.


Another great use for used veg oil. Lube up some 2×6’s and it makes great skids for a 5000+ pound shipping container!

Now sitting in its new home, this shipping container will be used to store all manner of construction supplies. This will keep them dry and with the locked doors and webcams, should also keep them safe.

Now sitting in its new home, this shipping container will be used to store all manner of construction supplies. This will keep them dry and with the locked doors and webcams, should also keep them safe.This all goes to show that the ancient Romans were really smart people (where I got the idea for lubed boards – I was at a museum at the Pont du Gard in Provence where I believe this technique was demonstrated and I guess it stuck with me.  In their case I believe it was animal fat that was used).  I should also confess that part way through the day, I took out 11 – fifty pound sacks of mortar mix out of the container which surely improved my chances of success.

With the container now in its final resting place, I will be able to finish emptying the last items out of the house and proceeding on the balance of the tear down. I have challenged myself to have all of this done by the time Burley Boys come back on the 22nd to limb 4 of the trees and take down the 5th (previously topped and dangerous).

Lets see how I do.  I have heard it can be done!

Thanks for visiting.

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The Big Move – Part 1

July 8, 2014

Monday was another productive day. I spend some time moving salvaged plants I have in pots away from the tree fencing in the back yard to make room for the air spading tomorrow. Gail then helped me move all of the accessible landscape brick from the front yard and stack it beside the back shed.

I then set to work salvaging a rhodo, 6 large roses, an 7ft lilac, an azalea, and misc other plants. Most of the roses went to my neighbour to bring a touch of colour to their side yard and keep back encroaching blackberries from a lane allowance. The lilac was planted on my border to the house to the south to try and make up for the fact that I had to take down a vine maple in this area to make room for the storage container.

Much of the early evening was spent prepping the pad that this container will eventually stay during construction.

Nice flat pad to place storage container

Nice flat pad to place storage container

Today was less productive but not for a lack of trying. Gail was there first thing this morning to help cut up and load all of the cut down vine maple onto the trailer in prep for another green waste run. Eric was also on hand and again chewed through a big pile of lumber and de-nailed it for me. I finished clearing up in the front yard after yesterdays big plant salvage and then started prepping for the container move including removing the last wall that was in the way.

This was all done by lunch. I then spent the next 2.5 hours moving the container a measly 10ft. At first it did not look like it was going to budge at all. It took probably 30 minutes just to get one end a few inches of the ground. But then I was able to figure out a specific movement with the tractors bucket curling down into the ground that seemed to have the greatest force behind it. The container is 5200 Lbs empty, and I probably already have 1000 lbs of stuff inside.

Once I was able to get the end about 8″ off the ground I was able to block it and then stuff a long rail road tie I had in the back yard so that it was perpendicular and underneath the end of the container (So I could pivot one end sideways). Once lowered down onto the tie, the container was easily pulled sideways along the greasy tie until of course I ran up against the houses floor slab edge (foundation).  It then took an hour to jack it up and finally wrangle it up onto the floor slab. This is as far as I got for the day as I had to leave for a massage appointment with my lovely Karen at Bloom, who every week or two, puts me back together and helps prevent injuries.

2.5 Hours work to move a container sideways about 10 feet!

2.5 Hours work to move a container sideways about 10 feet!

Tomorrow morning the air spade crew comes and I will see if we are able to save the large cedar at the NW corner of the house.  I will then try to finish moving the container to the front yard.  I am thinking I will only get it to the front of the house and not be able to move it to its final resting place because of the soft soil there.  If this is the case, I will call the company who delivered it and have them send a track with the right crane that can lock onto the container and just lift and rotate it into place.

Lets see how it goes.  I would like this done so that I can finish taking down the house and get this demolition behind me!

Thanks for visiting.

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Garbage Day

July 6, 2014

It seems like I lived at various landfills this weekend.  After my Saturday morning breakfast with Ron (Gail’s husband), my Landlord Bahman and I went first to the North Shore Transfer Station to drop off a load of green waste (fractured shiplap and various 2×4 material not worth keeping or giving away). We then headed out to the Eco Landfill in Richmond at the end of 6rd (consequently the road I grew up on), where we dropped off another load of shingles that will eventually be ground up into asphalt road admixture.

Once back and after a quick break, I loaded some general trash from around the yard and all of the roofing felt I had taken off (it was not allowed to be mixed with the shingles) in the bottom of the trailer and a whole bunch of green waste (rotted wood) from Ron’s yard and headed back to the transfer station for two circuits.

By the time we got back it was after 5 and I was done!  I was going to make concrete for the bottom of the weather station but was way too tired and basically went to bed at about 8:30 and generally slept for the next 12 hours.

I am finding the schedule of getting up around 8 AM, working at computer till 10-11 AM, being at the job site till 8 PM and then on the computer till 11-12 a bit too much and so will have to find a good schedule to settle into.  I am generally finding my paperwork and planning are suffering the most.  I will have to get much better at taking Sunday completely off to get these items done.

But today was not complying with this wish.  After a morning of some computer work and a quick visit from my sister-in-law and her adorable dog Ida, I headed off to the site and spent the next couple of hours moving the camera network from the storage container into the garage including re-routing all of the aerial LAN cords.  This is all to get the container ready for the big move (probably Tuesday).  I also undid the shed circuit and pulled the tech cable out of the way of the tractor work.

After a quick trip to the lumber store for 6 bags of ready mix I mixed up the concrete to secure the 20′ weather station mast (now that it will no longer be supported by the container).  It is nice when you own your own tractor and can use it for things like this instead of spending hours digging a hole.

Tomorrow will be prep for the root air spading on Wednesday and then clearing out the landscape bricks in the front yard and starting to move the plants to be kept.  If the day goes well, I may even start the big move of the shipping container.  This thing took me FOREVER to get to the back yard, and that was when it was empty.  It is a heavy sucker (over 5000 lbs)!  Now that I have a whole bunch of stuff inside, it is going to be even harder.  I plan to use long 2×4 runners and 4″ Dia. round 7ft posts and try to roll the container along (much the way the Egyptians did it).  We will have to see how successful I am.

By the way – the container cam will be offline for a while (really did not have anything to see anyway and is low quality camera I bought used of Craigslist) while I reconfigure.

And because I really do not want you having to stair at my mug, I am adding in some random photos I have taken over the last few weeks.

One of the funner items I came across in the attic is a pare of radio controlled airplane bodies.  My wife had given me a kit back in the mid 90's which I built over a Christmas holiday.  I enjoyed it all spring and then a few weeks into summer, I had a radio glitch (believe someone turned on a transmitter with the same frequency) and the plane did a very high speed dive from about 200ft right into hard packed clay.  There was not a piece left that was too big to put into my pocket!  Shortly after these two bodies were donated but by that time I had lost interest and moved on.  I will need to completely strip these and restore them, which will be a fun project at some point in the future.

One of the funner items I came across in the attic is a pare of radio controlled airplane bodies.

My wife had given me a kit back in the mid 90’s which I built over a Christmas holiday. I enjoyed it all spring and then a few weeks into summer, I had a radio glitch (believe someone turned on a transmitter with the same frequency) and the plane did a very high speed dive from about 200ft right into hard packed clay. There was not a piece left that was too big to put into my pocket! Shortly after these two bodies were donated but by that time I had lost interest and moved on. I will need to completely strip these and restore them, which will be a fun project at some point in the future.

I put cfl bulbs in the attic lighting string, but based on the next photo - this was not always the case.

I put cfl bulbs in the attic lighting string, but based on the next photo – this was not always the case.


It is clear a very hot bulb was left on for a very long time.  Something as inocent as attic lighting came very close to burning this house down at some point over the last 60 years.

It is clear a very hot bulb was left on for a very long time. Something as innocent as attic lighting came very close to burning this house down at some point over the last 60 years.

Mushroom Cap Vent serving as bathroom exhaust termination completely plugged

Mushroom Cap Vent serving as bathroom exhaust termination completely plugged

As a home inspector I somewhat pride myself in the fact that the home was reasonably well maintained.  But when I peeled off this bathroom exhaust vent termination it reminded me of why you always want the right type of termination for each vent use.  This was a standard mushroom cap roof vent instead of a smooth walled goose-neck.  There was absolutely no way this could have been easily inspected from below or from the roof deck (below was blocked with a flap when the fan was off).  I would have had to get out my fibre-optic scope to have seen this deficiency.

Interweaved shingle valleys - poor practice!

Interweaved shingle valleys – poor practice!

One of the more significant leaks that developed just as we moved out was at this valley.

One of the more significant leaks that developed just as we moved out was at this valley.

You never want inter-weaved shingle valleys.  As I pealed back the layers, I could trace the route the water was taking to get down through.  And once water finds a path, it will tend to flow along that path for ever more.  Best practice dictates full metal valleys (I like 3ft wide) with a centre raised ‘W’ pattern to arrest the water flow down the roof slope (stops it from flowing up the opposing side). You also want what is called an open valley where the shingle is cut back from the centre line at least 4″ on each side.  This provides a lot of nice slippery metal (think slide) for all the leaves and other debris to slide on down to the eaves.

One of the cute features of this house when we moved in was this elevated 'cat' door.  It was about 4ft of the ground and had a leather flap. Based on neighbour tales, it did a poor job of keeping out the raccoons.

One of the cute features of this house when we moved in was this elevated ‘cat’ door. It was about 4ft of the ground and had a leather flap. Based on neighbour tales, it did a poor job of keeping out raccoons.

Thanks for visiting!

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Mommy – It’s raining INSIDE the house.

July 4, 2014

Today our house officially became two different structures and it rained for the first time in 60 years into the living room, dinning room, hallways, bathroom, and spare bedroom. You could almost here the wood soaking up the moisture and you could certainly smell it. All the walls down the middle of the house were removed making way for the big container move early next week or maybe even on Sunday.

Of all the days to have a camera glitch, the shed cam was incorrectly programmed by me last night, so I missed all the time lapse image capture during this momentous event 🙁 For those watching it live, hope you enjoyed the show!

One becomes two!

One becomes two!

I started the day at the District hall where I picked up the environmental permit which included the soil removal and also the tree removal.  I will leave the building permit and all of its associated fees a few more weeks until I actually need it because it comes with a $20K+ price tag ($10K of which is a damage deposit I would get back) and I would like to hang onto our money as long as possible because as previously reported, we do not get any money from the bank until the foundations are in place.

I had a full contingent of help today. Eric (Father-In-Law) arrived at 10, and Gail (Neighbour) shortly after.  Eric stacked salvaged roof joists and Gail made short work of cleaning up all of the scrap wood about the place and depositing into nice piles.  Eric then moved onto nail pulling duty on the salvaged ceiling joists (it is weird – the roof joists were 2×4 and much longer spans with much higher loads compared to the 2×6 ceiling joists).

I proceeded on dismantling some of the outer walls and then moved onto the kitchen/utility roof and ceiling, but not before pushing over that stub of a loose chimney that made me nervous to work around.


With the chimney out of the way, I quickly dispatched the ceiling above the utility and kitchen and then cut down the rest of the exterior walls and 1 remaining interior wall.  As our cat Blackberry had woken us up at 3:20 AM and I had not really fallen back to sleep after – I was more than ready to call it a day.  But then Bahman, my landlord, arrived just after 5 PM and had other thoughts.  We worked till about 6:30 splitting those cut-down walls into their different components and stacking the resulting lumber.

I continue to be surprised and appreciative of all the volunteer help I am receiving.  I am a very lucky person to have such good neighbours and family.  I am now in good shape to drive the tractor through tomorrow and start moving plants and such from the front yard and then on Sunday attempting the big move to get the shipping container back to the front yard.

My web programmer encouraged me to leave my ugly mug on postings with no pictures.  SO you will probably see photos on all postings from now on 🙂 – as who really wants to look at me up close and personal.

Thanks for the visit!

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Roof Gone

July 3, 2014

Was able to strip off the roof and ceiling joists today in the middle section of the house.  Still need to figure out how to strip the kitchen structure in light of the fact that roof to the east of it is staying for now.  I may need to build a fast support wall in the attic.  Will look at tomorrow.

Bahman, my landlord, came by again today and helped for a couple of hours and my father-in-law will also be back tomorrow.  And yesterday and today, I was provided lunch by my wonderful neighbour (I should mentioned that on the days that Eric comes, I also get lunch care of my mother-in-law).  SO this is becoming a bit embarrassing as to how well I am being looked after.

I was able to get some great lumber out of the roof structure.  The roof joists were 2×4 and after 60 years of service were quite deflected.  These are being given away.  The 2×6 ceiling joists are in great shape and being kept. Geoff came by and took all that he needed and I still have lost left, so I have moved on to the next person from Craigslist who responded with interest and is building a shed for a community garden.  Hopefully they can come by tomorrow and take the rest away.  I was kind of counting on Geoff to take it all today, so now it is in my way.

No more roof or ceiling.  Yes that is a lean to the chimney.  It is loose and ready to come down.  I will give it a yank with the tractor when driving through.

No more roof or ceiling. Yes that is a lean to the chimney. It is loose and ready to come down. I will give it a yank with the tractor when driving through.


Lots of ship-lap to give away

I also lined up the air spading of the tree roots for next Wednesday and the tree limbing for the 22nd.  Air spading involves using a lot of compressed air to ‘dig’ a trench about 20″- 30″ deep.  Any roots are then manually cut off.  This is better than just digging with an excavator as the roots on the undisturbed side of the trench do not get traumatized.

I had a quick look at the schedule and it is looking like the whole house should be gone by 27th at the latest if all goes well.

Finally – Honeycomb Creative (my web programmers) enhanced the journal look today (except for the posts showing my ugly mug, which I have asked to be replaced with a more pleasing view of the house).  In the near future they will also add comment functionality (sorry folks – I thought it was already there because I was thinking always of the Google blog). This will allow comments and questions on any of my journal entries 0 be nice please :-).

Thanks for the visit.

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Roof Structure Started

July 2, 2014

It was another great day even though as usual I got a late start and arrived at the job site at 11:45 AM.

The day started with a chiro appointment where Dr. M tweaked me back into alignment bringing instant relief.  I then spent some time communicating with Paul who has been working on new PHP code enhancements for the cameras.

I then got started stripping the ship-lap from the roof.  It came off EASY!   Like the walls, I just needed to get one end going and then used my foot in the gap (steel toed shoes) to keep tension on the board as I used my new favourite tool (my modified pick-axe) to pry.

It only took a couple of hours to strip the back side of the living room and then another couple of hours to strip the kitchen roof (both sides).  I then started on the front roof and had a real surprise when my landlord across the street showed up and pretty much demanded to help.  His Persian background made communication difficult at times, but he quickly got the hang of what I needed done and became the saws-all man.  I would let him know where I needed a cut and he would go to it.  It was a pleasant surprise to get this help from a most unexpected source.

After an hour (and me noticing that he had made a call and interpreting that he was talking about me), his youngest son showed up with a nice black tea with notes of cinnamon and some dates stuffed with walnuts.  We all sat down and had a nice chat for an hour or so.  I took the opportunity to let them know I would need to rent for at least 4 more months than originally planned.  His son spoke English very well and would translate when we go stuck.  Of course I am terrible with names and have forgotten the son’s name.

Geoff Baker of Westcoast Outbuildings  also showed up around 12:30 and picked up all of the ship-lap I had stripped to date.  They will come back tomorrow to pick up the balance and any 2×4’s I can spare.  They also will take the windows I have taken out of the house.  They were going to take today but forgot.  I wish they hadn’t because a piece of wood I tossed off the roof took a bad bounce and broke one of the panes in an operable lite.  Fortunately, I have some spare glass around I can give them to replace.

Alfie got a mild workout.  The kitchen gable was going to be a PITA to get down with lots of ceiling joist navigating and lots of recip saw work.  So I saw the tractor sitting there and though why not.  It took all of 2 minutes to get into position and gently pry off the house.  Once down, this was the first project that Bahman (my landlord) tacked disassembling.

Tomorrow should see the last of the ship-lap removed from the roof to be taken down now, and then the removal of the roof and ceiling joist, and finally of the walls.  If I am really productive, I will be able to drive Alfie to the front yard by the end of the day and start salvaging the plants and shrubs in the front yard.

Thanks for visiting.


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Happy Canada Day everyone!

July 1, 2014

I am usually found at Sowden Park on this day working to maintain my top salesman position at the community picnic but decided this year that my build was more important and to give someone else a chance for the top honour. It is a crazy affair when 200+ people show up at 12 Noon sharp and want hamburgers and hot-dogs. We would typically in years past sell out in 20 minutes before stocks were boosted. I do not remember how many we typically served of each, but they were in the hundreds.  This is quite the afair that starts with a bike parade led by a firetruck.  Then there is races for all ages, bouncy castles, popcorn, shaved ice treats, and generally a great time for the families.

Instead I spent the day cleaning up the mess I created when I dumped all of the wood and stuff down from the attic. This involved separating the junk (which went to the dump this evening), from the wood stock I want to keep for my to-be-built wood shop in the new house, and then from the wood that I do not want but is either green waste or would be excellent kindling (an idea of my father-in-law).

Eric was on site again today to remove the nails from the rest of the siding I have salvaged to date and will keep. I also had Gordon drop by to pick up some free insulation (Gordon also worked all day Sunday salvaging the Oak floors I did not want) and then Marti stoped by to look at my salvaged windows for garden cold frames. Unfortunately, they were too heavy for her BUT in the stuff I took down from the attic were some wood frames I had wrapped with shower curtains and actually had used as cold frames. SO she also went away happy.

I then posted the cedar ship-lap I am taking off the house and got a HUGE response. When there is a lot of people who respond to an add I switch from first come first served to who has the most need or best use/story. In this case, I hooked up with Geoff Baker of Westcoast Outbuildings Inc. who is working with a group of volunteers to build a shed at the Sutherland School Market Garden project in North Vancouver.  I cannot think of a better and more sustainable use for this material.  I will also donate some of the 2×4’s that I would have otherwise taken to green waste because they are too much effort to remove the nails and may also donate some of the stash I was actually planning on keeping.

I had planned to start on the roof structure today but quite frankly, it was just too hot and I was too sore (I have some locked ribs right now and it hurts to even sneeze or yawn).  Based on my on-site weather station, we reached a temperature of 31.2 C (88 F) today.  I was happy to putz about in the shade of the house.  I also took the opportunity to catch up and many emails to vendors to get status on items ordered or items I need to order.

Tomorrow will see an early visit to the chiro and then I will tackle the roof structure.  I also need to take another load of shingles to the eco dump soon. Geoff is also coming by to pick up the first batch of the cedar ship-lap.  Should be a fully-packed day.

Thanks for visiting.

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