On Hold

So the house has been on hold forever and so much has been going on … can you tell by my lack of posting? I’ve been working away at it still but it’s been a lot more repairs than anything else. Life has changed a lot, I’ve officially separated from my partner and I’m raising my daughter as a single mother. John now has his own home that also need renovations, so it adds to the to do list pile. Plus due to the nature of the business, he has 95% of the tools and lives about 40 minutes away. I’m slowly purchasing and borrowing what I need as I go.

There never seems to be time for anything, let alone blogging. It’s just watch her full time, work on the business when I can, drive a million hours to see everyone for events or business and maintain the house + property. I concentrate the most on my daughter but am trying to work on something everyday when I’m here. I find myself often in the garden as it’s something that I can do without much $ and you can physically see the different changes.


Zoey and I, Rose, in our still un-renovated kitchen


One yard


The second yard in the centre where the house is and the third comes up to the cedar trees. Each yard is 50′ wide by 132′ deep. You can also see the worst two mossy roofs at the back on kitchen and above the old cold room.

Right now, the house is on hold because I’m so busy and I’m at an impasse. Since falling and hitting my head about 6 years ago, I became disabled and can’t hold a steady job due to “bad days”. Financially I do not have much. I’m still working with John on the business and have finally joined on as more than a volunteer. I hope the business can and my health can get to a point where I can work part time in the future hopefully at the business and in architecture again.

I don’t want to get into it too much but basically I’m on permanent disability right now and although I can afford a higher mortgage by far (I’m well under 30%) many banks don’t consider that I have an income. Also working part time doesn’t count as an income. In the future even if I make a lot as a part time employee it won’t count for a mortgage … it’s another battle I’m fighting.

My original plan was to increase my mortgage this year for renovations and get my step mother off my mortgage and off the title as the required 1% owner of my home. Right now it is impossible but if you know me, I’m a fighter and I figure out a way out of impossible situations. It’s also almost impossible to find a contractor that will come here, quote and won’t charge a huge price that is unreasonable.

I can’t imagine loosing my home even though I’m paying for it. The mortgage company – BMO – said that I should be able to remove her after one year. Fastforward 3 years and they now tell me, even though I’m making more money that it might be indefinitely be impossible. I make more than the required payments but they just increased my mortgage rate to a whopping 4.69% almost a full percent higher than it was. They increased it because they noticed they could when I went in. (They didn’t increase it last year when I went in). DOH! Isn’t it odd that the bank say you can’t afford to pay for things on your own, yet I pay more and then they increase what I have to pay again? What I’m paying still covers things and as I said I could afford more, but I was hoping I wouldn’t loose it to interest. I’m a planner and I want to always make sure I am good. Sadly it’s a long story but with my disability and the complicated grey area of my student loan (I don’t have to pay until I make a lot more money than I do now), other banks won’t take me on without a cosigner.

I had thought that I would fast track and pay my mortgage off in just under 13 years but now with the increased interest, it will probably take me about 14 years. I could see about upping the payments again … we shall see. I’m hoping I can find a better option for the future, so I can pay down the mortgage and get funds to renovate. This house will be useless to the bank and myself if there aren’t funds to maintain it and it goes into disrepair.

My father and step mother just sold their farm and bought a new place. Through the funds of their sale, they might see if they can help me with a new roof. So I’m hoping that will work out and then I can start moving forward again. I keep saying I’ll try to backtrack and post some of the changes here but who am I kidding – it may or may not happen? I shall hopefully show you some mundane but very useful work I’ve had done here in the last year or so that I’ve missed showing you.

For now I am going to buy a laser measuring tape and start sorting out a more conservative but definitive plan for the back roof. I also think I might have to start learning the trades (plumbing and electric) myself. :S I’ll take any tips you may have on budget renovations and budget ideas for trades.

Next up I have to figure out how to renovate physically with an almost 1.5 year old. The only time I have is when she goes to bed but renovations are quite the noisy event … Hmmmm. Let’s go with day by day planning.

For now let me find an updated photo because just seeing writing is no fun.


In the early spring just after Zoey’s first birthday. You can see how bad the roof is getting.


Parts of the carport have come off and it is leaking in the carport and the sunporch.

The electrical was moved into the laundry room earlier this year. WAHOO. I was so excited to remove this box until …


The box opened up before the electrical was removed and disconnected.


Electrical box removal


Close up


Oh no, there’s serious wood behind.


As far as it has come off.

… I found out there’s wood behind it that goes up into the ceiling. I don’t want to take down the gross bat infested ceiling above so it stays. I’m hoping to just cut it off. Half the stuff in this room will hopefully move into Zoey’s room by the end of this year. I’m hoping to make the dining room into my temporary bedroom to make it more liveable for both of us. We are crammed plus add renovation materials. Fun.

Here’s some more photos of the living room as we live in it (read make a mess in it).


She won’t stay still


Water is on everything. She recently poured a blueberry shake around this room


It’s a mess all the time and she’s a monkey


The book corner. I shall have to duplicate this in her room


Thanks for reading! Wish us luck.

Happy 2017. Plans

Happy New Year! This year will hopefully be the Elm house year. I want this house fixed ASAP. Ugh. It’s getting so bad it’s driving me nuts. Everything is breaking and it’s cold. 

Warning, don’t ever live in a house you are renovating even if it’s your only option. 

Ok back to being optimistic. Keep your eye on the prizes, right? Well, I’ve finally found a contractor who will come to my house, give me a quote and work with me. At least I hope so. I’m waiting for some general quotes and from there I can make better plans. 

For now, here’s a glance at the back room that is now the living room, over Christmas. I’ll take more photos when it’s been cleaned up and we have the new gas fireplace installed, which has been a crazy nightmare. 

I was tempted to Christmas wrap the superfluous function box behind the tree but alas I didn’t have time to. When the roof is fixed this box will go. This room will gain about 2′ in height. 

Up next on the agenda is some temporary work to make the house livable like reinstalling the hardwood in the laundry room from the second flood, cut out dryer vent and finally get the dryer going a year after I bought it, install the gas fireplace, finish insulating the dining room ceiling and vapour barrier, then lots of selling of household items, rearranging and organizing and then hopefully get a plan going for the roof. I’m also going to start slowly buying my kitchen cabinet frames. I’m going to just do a basic IKEA cabinet and then see if John can custom make cabinet doors and fronts. We shall see. 

What are your 2017 reno. plans?

Back room Newest Iteration

We need a living room and a space for Zoey to crawl so we are working on finally finishing up the temporary renovations of our back room. 

Here is it mid renovation as we have mostly cleared out the “junk”, I mean our stuff that has been stored in it. 

Here’s some of the updates. We’ve exposed the brick in this room.

Exposing the brick. Notice the broke hammer.

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A Mess

The house has become a disaster lately so today I shall focus on the minute. Zoey is too big for her bassinet now so I’ve moved in the crib.

I didn’t have space in the room to build the crib nor a baby sitter, so I took Zoey into the back room while I built the crib so she could use the jolly jumper. Turns out the crib didn’t fit through the tiny door between the kitchen and the back room. John muscling it on his own around the whole house while telling me he’s not doing anything was futile. The crib also didn’t fit through the door into the bedroom itself. Ya, I had to take it apart and build it again. Luckily she slept through the second making of the crib.

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The “back room” Begins a Journey Towards Becoming a Living Room

Life has been beyond overwhelming this year with a new child and the opening of John’s new furniture store. The renovations at the store took over everything. They aren’t fully complete but enough that focus may now be returned to this home. We also have had our water heater burst … Yes after we were well on our way to completing the transformation of the cold room into a laundry room. How fun, huh?!? So we have a lot to redo there and over time we will get back to it. (See flooring stacked against wall in pics below. It needs to be laid back down in the laundry room). For now we are focusing on completing the back room and making it into a living room because our baby Zoey is a mover and shaker. She will soon be crawling and we have no space for her to crawl safely. The bedroom is too small and there’s no space for us let alone crawling.
The idea is to rip up the old vinyl, slap down some flooring, finish stripping the old wallpaper, paint the wood panelling, clean the gross ceiling, switch out the furnace, put up fire retardant board behind the furnace, plug the laundry holes and figure out a temporary solution to the gross ceiling tiles. Oh and of course open up the brick wall. Eventually we are hoping to move the electrical sub panel into the laundry room. A lot of it has been disconnected. 

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Cold Room – Under Water

We’ve been working on transferring over the laundry from the back room to the cold room which will become the new laundry room. There’s still lots to do but it’s coming together. Here’s what we’ve done so far to the cold room.

In this room we did nothing at first, we just added a few of our own movable shelves to this room and stored some items away. There was a lot of random stuff that was left in here and we figured we’d just deal with it one day. The past owners put in massive shelves across every wall, even over and around the water heater. Taking them down was horrible. There was also a little shelf with damask paper on it on cinder blocks that we kept for awhile but it has now since been removed as well. The walls were black from moisture and the rotting shelves.

Last year we had no choice but to do work on it when it flooded. When it was super cold in February (coldest ever on record?), I was leaving the house and heard an odd sound. I doubled back out of concern opening the door to the cold room to see water, everywhere. As there’s no ductwork in our house, there was no heating in here, it got extremely cold in there with the door closed and a pipe burst. The plumbing for the laundry came from this room, across its ceiling down and through the wall and into the room next to it.  It broke on this pipe coming down the wall. We found out later that it was probably coldest at the wall or in it. Here are some photos of the flood that we took after shutting off the water. Basically this flood chronicles the “beginning” of the renovation of this room.


First view of the flooded floor

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Nursery / Master bedroom Part 2

So if you haven’t been following our blogs and just read the last one, you may not know that this room will just be temporary. We are just making it decent to live in for the next while before we raise the roof above and then raise the ceiling in this room and finish it properly with drywall, wallpaper etc. We will also eventually fix the upstairs and move back up there. So this is our temporary solution. The changes at most cost probably about $200 and will be mostly reusable for our final room design.

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Brick Wall Clean Up

I’m taking any tips on how to clean up brick walls. This is a tough one. We have a few exposed brick walls we will have to fix up over time but right now I’m trying to figure out how to make this brick wall look better.


This wall seems to be in need of paint, dirt and possibly tar removed from it??

Also not sure if we should seal it as this room is just being renovated for temporary use – read nothing fancy. Is there anything natural to seal brick??

I am going to be googling away for answers but if anyone out there in the field or any diy specialist have tried anything that’s worked I’d appreciate if you could share your knowledge with me.

Baby Zoey – Former Art Room Transforming into a Bedroom

Hey everyone, she’s here. We are now parents and life is more beautiful and more chaotic than ever imagined.


Baby Zoey arrived in Feb. 10, 2016 at 12:54pm

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Design + New House Plans

Normally my favourite thing to do is to design but with being so ill lately (I was hospitalized for a bit with some asthma complications from a serious infection), I am dreading designing as I have to throw something together pretty fast. We are in need of major changes at our house and the likelihood of it happening in time for the arrival of our little one is few and far between but at this point it’s worth a shot.

Many people say, don’t worry, children don’t need renovations and they won’t notice … well of course not but I think these people may have not been to our house or may not understand that it’s not cosmetic, although I’d like to change that too. We need a new roof, to insulate and keep the house warm and we need a new roof to evict the bat colony. Basically we need to renovate for the safety and well being of our child. Ekkkk, so much to do. We may need a few back up plans.

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