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Chronicles of a home renovation project: the work begins!

Last modified: 2021-01-26 | Approximate reading time 5 mins

Léa Plourde-Archer

Here we go! On Wednesday, January 6th the great transformation project was finally able to begin. We had moved to our temporary accommodation the day before, although we were a little bit nervous about the announcements made by the government the following day. There were rumours that the construction industry might have to be put on hiatus for a few weeks.

I must admit that I was a little nervous to learn that our project was possibly going to be delayed because I am pregnant and the baby's arrival is scheduled for the month of April. If the project goes as planned, we would have one month to come back to our home and put everything in place to be ready to welcome the baby. That doesn't leave much flexibility for a delay in the work. Of course, we would have fully understood the rationale for the containment measures if the government had decided to go ahead with a hiatus in the industry, but I have to be honest in saying that it would have caused some anxiety. 

In the end, the authorities gave the contractors the task of determining which were the essential projects they needed to work on. As ours was already well underway (at least as far as planning was concerned), the issue didn't even arise!

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First visit on the worksite

Our first (daytime) visit to the site. The demolition was well underway! We see here (from left to right): the future living room, the bathroom and the toilet, the kitchen

Renovating our apartment: the work finally starts! 

The first steps of the demolition process 

From day one, the contractor started the demolition. His team worked so quickly that that same evening, my partner went there to pick up a few items we were missing for the temporary accommodation and found that the kitchen and bathroom were completely gone.

The project involves redoing the entire kitchen, changing the size of the bathroom (by recovering two closets that were located between the kitchen and the bathroom), then building a small toilet separate from the rest. Everything had to be brought back to the base of the walls in this section so that we could start over. 

Next, they created two openings, one between the kitchen wall and the future living room and the other between the master bedroom and the future workshop/walk-in closet. These openings were rather simple to make, as they look like a window and a door. Therefore, no additional support to the structure was required.

First visit on the worksite 2

More photos from the first visit to the worksite. From left to right: our boxes stacked in the living room, a view towards the kitchen and the bathroom, the entrance hall

Time to make choices 

Now that the work is underway, we often have to make choices quickly. Our contractor (Rénovation PJL) gets in touch with us almost every day of the week to ask us questions.

He is following the plan, but sometimes changes have to be made when faced with reality. For example, selecting the types of fans for the bathroom, the size of the openings between the kitchen and the living room and between the bedroom and the walk / in office, as well as the addition of insulation in the walls that separate the bathroom from the children's room.

Second visit on the worksite

Second visit to the worksite. From left to right: the entrance hall, the opening between the office and the bedroom, the electrical work in the kitchen and the bathroom

Monitoring the work

Due to the current situation, we cannot be present on-site at the same time as the workers. However, we can follow the progress of the work by accessing the contractor's schedule as he shares his work organization tool with us (monday.com). We can leave him notes outside of his on-site hours, and it becomes easy for us to see what has been done and what is scheduled for the next few days.

We visit the site approximately twice a week, once in the evening, in the middle of the week and another time during the weekend. This allows us to see in person the changes that are underway and to make some decisions that are more difficult to determine without seeing things in person.

The purchases we made

In recent weeks, we have been shopping non-stop while respecting the progress of the work. For example, when the contractor tells us that the plumber is coming soon, we must quickly buy the furniture and accessories that he will need.

Here are some recent purchases:

  • Bathroom: bath, sink and vanity, medicine cabinet, shower and bath faucet(see "A few mistakes not to repeat")
  • Toilet: toilet with bidet, wallpaper
  • Kitchen: kitchen sink, kitchen faucet, hood, hob, door handles
  • Living room: covers for armchairs
  • Whole house: furniture and accessories from IKEA, doors (see "A few mistakes not to repeat")

We will soon have to buy the baseboards, the paint and ideally, the kitchen cabinets that are missing (fingers crossed, IKEA).

Second visit on the worksite 2

Second visit on-site. From left to right: electrical installations in the walls, the space that will become the nursery, the opening between the kitchen and the living room (which will be extended to the ceiling)


A few mistakes not to repeat

Even if so far, things are going pretty well, we still have to share some avoidable mistakes that we have made.

In all cases, these are purchases that we made due to wanting to go too fast or because of a certain lack of information.

Our first mistake was actually a duplicate purchase from IKEA. Fortunately, we should be able to return the extra item in a few months as we have 1 year to do so.

The doors

We wanted to do things right by purchasing the doors for the bedroom, office, toilet and bathroom. Unfortunately, we forgot to buy the door with the frame! Due to a little misunderstanding, I thought the current structure was going to stay, but this is not the case. Our contractor was very understanding and cancelled the order himself. We will be ordering again soon, this time with the correct models!

The shower faucet

The mistake that led to the most consequences is the fact that we bought a shower faucet that did not come equipped with the valve! We had bought this faucet on Amazon because it needed to arrive within a few days (otherwise we would have bought it elsewhere). The faucet had been delivered directly to the job site and when the contractor and plumber opened the packaging, they discovered that the valve was not there!

Without the valve, the installation was impossible, so the contractor had to send the plumber home. I went to see the product sheet on Amazon and indeed it was written that the valve had to be purchased separately. Of course, it was written in the fourth image of the product sheet and at the end of the paragraphs, so my busy and inattentive brain could easily miss this info.

We were able to find another faucet model at a hardware store, and we will need to return the first faucet to Amazon.

These are small lessons to be learned over the course of the work. It's nothing too dramatic, but if you can avoid this type of problem, great!

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