PROGRESS!  I’m happy to report that we are making huge progress on both renovation projects – the beach house and the cottage, respectively.  The beach house project is much larger in scope so we’ve had to divide in order to conquer both projects.  In my previous reno related post called ‘Sweat Equity – Before and After’ (posted May 28th) I outlined the scope of each project, team work tips, safety concerns and money saving tips and tricks.  This post will serve as an update on the beach house project as we’ve made some significant gains over the past 7-8 weeks!  The ‘cottage project’ is coming along nicely too.  I’ll reserve that update for a future post 😉

S-o-o-o, we started with a thorough assessment of the property and structure.  Reminder – the structure is 2800 sq. ft., 60’ long, a rectangle, two floors.  It was very outdated, extremely well used, in desperate need of a lot of design rework & TLC and (we supposed, correctly) structural repair.  After devising a loosey-goosey floor plan and plan of destruction(!), we endeavored to gut the entire structure back to the studs.   While demolishing we exposed a frightening structural detail and a bizarre attempt at insulation.  Seriously, who insulates a wall with a table cloth?  Yes, we found a hideous orange/yellow/brown/green table cloth (or was it a mumu?) from the 70’s stuffed into a wall, above a window.  The horror of that colour combination and pattern … I digresssuffice it to say that we believethe absolute hideousness compelled someone to hide it there.  As if that wasn’t enough, we uncovered a portentous support issue whereby 2×4’s and 2×6’s were sloppily hammered together to form a support beam in the center of the structure on the ceiling above the main floor.  Thankfully, our contractor/superhero in disguise – Richard Lashbrook of Straight Line Carpentry – called it out before we started the building of (and additional support of) 88 rafters to reinforce the roof above the upper level.  One does not want to add more weight to a roof if the existing support posts and beams can barely handle the existing weight, does one?  Nooo.

The complete rebuild and winterizing plan:  Time is of the essence as we have just a few months to install a gas heating/cooling source & electricity and plumbing before the snow flies across the Georgian Bay again!  Sourcing quotes, researching products/services/equipment and contractors, meeting contractors for assessments and getting permits and applications filed where necessary [i.e. for natural gas pipeline installation] takes excellent planning, resourcing and time management.  So, we divided the responsibilities among the team based on availability, knowledge and experience.  The task of sourcing quotes and contractors has been (self) assigned to me and John.  Richard’s initial focus was on the ceiling as the rest of the team assisted him and/or gutted the structure around him.  Check out the pictures of his detailed and AMAZING work below.  We now have a reinforced ceiling with brand-spanking new rafters and a few giant 2×14” x 16’ ridge beams straight down the center.  FYI:  Ridge beams are extremely HEAVY.  It takes at least 3 strong people to lift, hold, and fasten them to the ceiling and rafters.  You can see that we’ve opted for cathedral ceilings in every room on the second floor.  Beatiumus!  I’ll get more into our design aesthetic shortly.  We think the ceiling looks great; and we know it’s incredibly strong.   Really happy ’bout that!

While Richard and crew were climbing around scaffolding and tossing around ridge beams like toothpicks the rest of us concentrated on the removal and boarding up of second floor windows/doors and tearing up a lot of very stubborn vinyl flooring.  Removing windows and doors requires a plan that meets aesthetic and practicality requirements.  You want it to look good from all sides of the structure – inside and out – but you don’t want to find out after building interior walls that they cut through the middle of a window or door.  That would not be good.  We need about 8 new windows + 7 sets of French doors.  That’s a lot of glass!  It’s a lot of light!  It’s a heck of a lot of work too!  If YOU ever take on a large project (one that requires an insane amount of sweat equity!), just keep reminding yourself of how beautiful, functional and rewarding it will be when you’re done!  And the equity!  Again, that’s another topic – coming soon.

The Floor PlanThis should go without saying, but I’m compelled to point out that floor planning is absolutely necessary for any project to be successful, for many reasons.  If you don’t have a floor plan you will likely end up with wasted space and therefore, inadequate living space.  Or worse, you could be left with dangerous structural issues.  If you don’t have a floor plan your contractor won’t be able to fully realize your vision.  Costly mistakes could be made; and time and material could be lost.  Your budget will suffer.  A floor plan is a communication tool, a design tool, a budgeting tool, an engineering tool.  It’s a multipurpose tool that you need.  How else can one expect to squeeze in a very necessary wine-tasting cellar/Texas Hold-Em room?  Maybe that’s just me.

To nutshell the overall design … it will be ‘Country Cottage’ in the back (street side) and ‘Venice Beach’ in the front (beach/waterfront side).  You know you love the idea and that you wish you’d thought of it!   In other words, when you pull into the driveway you will see a country style cottage complete with a bay window, shuttered windows in a linear arrangement across both floors, maybe a wooden & over-sized entrance door, and a veranda.  Auditory, visual and olfactory senses will be appeased with wind-chimes & waves, birches & lilacs, sunrises & sunsets, bonfires and beach sand.  Undoubtedly, there will be a couple of rockers on the veranda, firmly within which we will plant our exhausted selves at the end of these projects!

View of the beach from the second floor.

From the waterfront you will see a deck on the second floor that stretches the full length of the house with 4 sets of grilled French doors exiting each of the 4 bedrooms.  That’s right – you wake up, fling open the doors and boom, you’re on the deck overlooking the beach!  The sun sets on the bay so I predict many an evening will be spent on this side of the house.  On the main floor under the deck you will see 4 more sets of grilled French doors from a bedroom, the kitchen, dining room and the family room as well as a modern outdoor, tiled or interlocked common area.  For the beach, a sunken stone fire-pit with embedded seating is in the plan as well.  This could be the outdoor pièce de résistance!  We’re happy to sit on a log stump in the sand with an open camp fire too though.  We’ll keep you posted.   The entire design will be pulled together with lower level exterior stone façade and upper level siding.  I can’t reveal the colour of either at this point … because we haven’t decided!  Send me your thoughts.

Last week we completed the laying of plywood on the upper level floor (after removing about 5 gabillion-jillion nails!); and this week the bedroom, bathroom and hallway walls will be complete. The current staircase is a standard up/down design that had a closed-in closet underneath.  Old staircase be-gone with you!  A floating staircase (with open space under each step) – ‘L’ shape with a landing – and completely open underneath will be installed soon.  Natural light will flow in from the upper level windows at the top of the stairs and from the doors and windows on the main level at the base of the staircase.  That, along with the cathedral ceiling above will make this chunky, clunky, old, beaten up, boxed in waste of space staircase a show-stopper element in the middle of a room.  Pretty darned happy about that!

The main floor is now almost completely gutted.  Next up: we are removing the remaining plywood on the main floor, removing a few more windows and doors and then erecting the walls for each room on the main floor while sourcing an electrician, a plumber and gas provider.  Just so’z you know, removing 1400 square feet of plywood that is nailed to 2×4’s that are nailed to a concrete foundation slab under the house is back-breaking work.  For funzies, we also have to remove hundreds of pounds of debris as we demolish!  Good times!  We’ve accomplished a lot, but there is still quite a lot to do.  Team work, building in efficiencies where ever possible and keeping our eyes on the prize supply the motivation needed for such an endeavor.    Oh merciful, therapeutic, cooling waves of the Georgian Bay … don’t go changing!  And, on that note, please check out and join Stop the Drop if you’re in the Georgian Bay area or want to support those that are.

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Onward & upward!

Roy Perreault

Roy, our Operations Manager spearheaded the creation and launch of our website and social media initiatives as well as the design and roll out of our new company logo and rebranding while leading our strategic marketing, advertising and analytics endeavors.  In his personal time, he enjoys photography, recording music, concerts, and traveling.  Sometimes he sleeps.