Thursday, February 24, 2011

Building up and breaking down

It's been an amazing week here at the house. Our windows were drywalled, Brendon and I framed our balcony door with beautiful poplar wood and we got the stairs well under way. Then early this week the City showed up at our door, closed down the street and hooked up our sewar and water. The best way to tell this story is through pictures and thank God Brendon took a ton of them.

Our much appreciated and continually enthusiastic "assistant" Roger Purdy!

Once again a big thanks to all our patient neighbours!  It was quite a shock to come home to the recent road blockages the city's put up and we know it's a huge inconvenience for you all.  Let's all cross our fingers and hopefully it'll be good as new in no time!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I 'heart' Craigslist

Today, on this day of love, I want to dedicate my post to one incredible man. He has helped Brendon and I save hundreds of dollars on items like a couch, kitchen cabinets, a closet and a bathroom vanity. He's given us the thrill of pursuing a good deal and ignited our inner haggler! This Valentine's Day, we dedicate our love to Craig and to honour him we'd like to share with you some of our recent deals.

It started with Jenn back at the beginning of January. She was moving into her mom's house to save money so that she could go travelling. But she needed to downsize to make that happen and had to let go of her Ikea Pax corner wardrobe. Ticket price: $150

Then Maria came along with her couch. She's originally from Germany but has been living in Vancouver now for over two decades, working as an artist. But her mother is ill and its time for her to pack up her life here in Canada and return to Europe. The first to go up for sale was her lovely little love seat that seems made for our small home. Ticket price: $130

Once we picked out the couch it was time to try and see if we could get a deal on items that were brand new. Within a week I came across Ani and Seraphin from Premium Bathrooms. The couple just started up an import company specializing in ready-made bathroom vanities. The cabinets are made from rubber tree wood and are especially good for wet, warm areas like bathrooms. They also happen to have beautiful designs and lots of options for small spaces. We bought everything we needed - a vanity, sink, faucet, drain and mirror. Ticket price: $500

With the success of a brand new vanity under my belt I gained enough confidence tackle the biggest challenge we've encountered yet - kitchen cabinets. We tentatively typed in 'custom kitchens' into the search bar and sure enough Craig offered me five or six options. To put this into context, two weeks ago I was crying and cursing at the Ikea kitchen planning tool...but that's another post. For now all you need to know is that we'll be working with Terry and Rob from Heritage West Interiors and installing Greenlam - a funky green laminate product.

Next on our list is this gorgeous coffee table made out of wood from and old factory. Wish us luck!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The cheap environmentalist

One of the biggest challenges we've found lately is balancing our dreams of saving the planet one household item at a time (yes, I see the irony), and trying to do so with very little dinero. The truth is it’s not easy but Brendon and I have definitely found some ways to save cash and the planet at the same time. This weekend we did it with our countertops. *Want to learn more about what makes a good countertop? Check out this link.

I first saw Paperstone when I went to the store Greenworks Building Supply about a year ago. It was BEAUTIFUL and the most eco-friendly option to be found. The countertops were made from – you guessed it – paper and they were as hard as, well, stone. Sheets of post-consumer waste paper (this is the stuff that’s already been used more than once) are dyed using organic pigments that produce a range of colours from deep tan to a slate black. The sheets are then layered one top of each other and pressed under high heat. A phenolic resin made from cashew nuts is used to keep the paper together and then the finished product is coasted with a combination of carnauba and bees waxes to protect it.

I was in heaven and I wanted it but the price tag was way up there with granite and soooo out of our budget. There was no way we could afford it. That was until our friends, the cheapest environmentalist I know, told us about the Paperstone factory specials. These are incredible discounts on countertops that have small imperfections like divots (like what a golf ball might make  on a wall) or blemishes which refer to a slight discolouration in the product. The reality is though that these imperfections are tiny and from what we found, in many cases imperceptible.

So Sunday night we drove 6 hours to Hoquiam.  Does anyone know where Hoquiam, Washington is? Don’t worry. Neither did I until about a week ago. The village of Hoquiam is home to the one and only Paperstone factory in the world. It really is a hole in the wall and not much to look at but the factory, now that’s another story.  What an amazing site! It was incredible to see the process in action and the mountain of Paperstone sheets being prepared for shipment across North America.

The super friendly Hoquians pulled out a few of the sheets that I had picked out online and we quickly decided on a beautiful Gunmetal (grey) sheet with a ‘blemish’ which we couldn’t find even looking under the UV light. The cost to us - $392.  In the store this would have been upwards of $2500. If you add the cost of one tank of gas $40 (thank God for the VW diesel), a stay in the Econolodge for $45 and the cost to get it home $150, we will saved almost  80% off the retail price.

Man I love a good deal.  Isn't our sheet beautiful!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Under the gun, but the floors are done

Almost a week passed without anything to show for all of our work. Brendon and Marty went back and forth to Home Depot and Nu Casa (flooring place) more that 15 times between Monday and Friday yet the boys weren't able to really put hammer to nail until late Friday evening. (n.b. To all the neighbours - we are so sorry for the noisy weekend. We owe you all two nights of good sleep and several boxes of cookies.) This kind of a delay began to get very stressful because according to my schedule, we were already a week behind.

The lesson that is becoming increasingly clear to us is that 'doing' is the easiest part. It's all of the research, decisions and preparation that need to be made pre-project that take all of the time. And then when you think you've made an informed decision, you're thrown a road block that forces you to rethink everything. Here's a little peak into our deliberations over the last week.

1.  Should the floor be glued or floated?
2. The wax paper we bought to put under the floor wasn't strong enough. Need to return it. Can't find receipt.
3. The joists under the floor don't all run in one direction and as a result the flooring can't be laid perpendicular to the supports. This may cause some movement in the future. [sigh] We'll just have to take our chances.
4. A nail gun Brendon's dad bought isn't the right tool for the job.
5. Where do we rent a Bostich nail gun?
6. Who can lend us a table saw and a mitre saw?
7. We've run out of finishing nails.
8. The shop vacuum just blew up.
9. What to we do with the vent opening?
10. AND what the heck are we going to do with the stairs...

We haven't yet solved the problem of the stairs. That will definitly be a post unto itself. That said, the floors are in and boy oh boys do they look beautiful!

Take a look at our video!

(Need a reminder on how we came about these floors in the first place? Check out this post back in October.)