Saturday, April 02, 2016

Victorian Farmhouse - Days 2 & 3 Bathroom Demo

Days 2 and 3 were largely spent on more demolition work (demolishing the bathroom, the HVAC stack in the office, and the cabinet over the electrical panel in the living room), as well as exterior work cutting trees and shrubs. As I mentioned previously, Angie's father also found an amazing historic masonry guy who's been working on the foundation, so I have photos of the foundation in this post. We also did some demo work in the upstairs hallway.

First, a bit more of the exterior, and some updated floor plans.

Here's the new floor plan with adjustments showing more correct proportions for the front porch, and now showing details of the attached barn and shed. If you're good with measurements and you want a better idea of the size of the place, the old farmhouse portion has the living room 11 feet wide, and 17 feet long. The office is 11 feet wide, by 10 feet, and the front hallway with the stairs is around 11 feet by 6ish. The main footprint of the farmhouse is roughly 17' x 22' on the interior.

Here is the house viewed from the road. Rather than having a large front facade facing the road, the wider side of the house faces South for better light. In the back you can see the detached barn along with the little "side addition" poking out of the right hand side at the bottom. There's a small window there. I mentioned to Angie that the right side of the barn is so roughly finished that I think it was chopped down and shortened at one point (more photos of this side are farther down). The original footprint of the barn likely lined up with that little side portion. I'm really not sure why they would have shrunk it down.

Also take note of all the wild grape vines that need to be removed.

The front porch is a later addition (or rebuild). The "long term plan" would be to completely rebuild this as an L-shaped wrap-around porch.

The edge of the roof needs work. Part of the roof line has been boxed-in on the North side with more modern flashing, and half of it is falling down currently.

On this side of the house, there's a very tall cinder block chimney that used to feed into the old furnace. It is no longer used, but for now the top has been repaired, and the plan is to leave it in place. There's also a large antenna, which is in good shape.

You can also see the two small rooms that lead off from the kitchen. The gutters may need to be replaced, but otherwise it's not too bad. Paint and window glazing.

The three small rooms in the photo above correspond to the sections highlighted in blue below. Rooms 1 and 2 have the white siding and windows, and they are on a foundation, while room 3 is in brown barn wood, and not on a foundation.

Here you can see the chimney and antenna better, as well as the roof line and flashing that needs major repairs. Also note that these large cedars have been trimmed along their base. That one branch at the top will be removed.

Here's another look at those three small rooms. Room 3 leads into the rough garage/barn, as well as out into this part of the yard (though I'm not sure if that door opens very well). We plan to remove all the trees visible in this photo (not the cedars). The trees are nice, but they're growing right up against the buildings.

This is the old well. It has several small hawthorn trees (a type of crab-apple). We'd like to keep these, but it would be better to remove them as well. There is another smaller tree growing farther from the house.

West-facing roof line. The upstairs window flashing will need repairs/replacement. The wood roof line will either need to be painted, or capped with flashing.

Here's the right-hand wall of the detached barn. You can see the ends of exposed floor beams as well as poorly patched wooden planks. another sign of the shortening of the barn is the very roughly cut tin along the roof line (not that visible in this photo). A bunch of these trees will (or should) be removed. The majority of them are growing right next to the building, which isn't good.

Here is the extreme back end of the house, showing the main house in the back, the barn addition in the centre-right, and an attached shed on the end in the foreground. The black grating is just a trailer where tree branches were getting piled.

The attached shed with the slanted flat roof is highlighted in blue below:

These next few photos show the interior of the garage/barn portion (highlighted in blue on the next image).

The construction on this part of the barn is very old, and it uses pegged corner joints and massive timbers.

The floor boards of the loft are nice thick barn wood, but they span too wide of an area (more than 4 feet), so everything is sagging.

The white door leads into "room 3" on the floor plan. Behind the plank wall on the right is the staircase leading up into the loft and over the kitchen (shown in the first post, but included again here for clarity).

This is the loft over the garage area of the barn.

Section over the kitchen. Next time I'm in here, I'll take more photos.

Next, I'll show you guys the foundation. This was after several days that the mason had been working on it (maybe even a week). When I had first visited the house in mid-March I had seen the foundation, and while it looked pretty good (nice and square, and nice and straight) it looked more like piled stones than an actual wall. There was very little of the mortar left in place, and you could easily slide your hand between the stones by several inches. There was also enough water flowing into the house that it was like a small stream.

I had told Angie & Pierre that we could do the foundation work ourselves, but this would have taken AGES. I'm actually very glad that her father found someone who specializes in this, and who could do it for a reasonable price. The same man has also offered to redo the tin on the roof (he has spare tin sheets), which will save a lot of money. The current roof leaks in one or two spots, and it has a few tiny holes as well (we saw this from inside the attic).

The foundation looks AMAZING. It looks even better in person. I think everyone (myself included) was very impressed with the work and the quality. Side note: the stones mostly all look uniformly grey and shiny because they were painted at one time.

This support beam will be beefed-up or swapped for a steel I-beam. It is roughly next to the staircase.

Random detail shots. The historic hardware will be cleaned and restored.

This is the only "mineral clay" knob (aka Bennington Knob) in the house. All the others are white. I'm not sure if we're keeping this oddball knob, or switching to a white one for consistency. I happen to have spare white knobs that I can donate for the house (all my knobs will be black ones).

Bathroom Demo

Here are a few more details of the bathroom. I was very surprised to see that the light switch was also a matching lavender.

Lavender sink, and matching lavender swirl counter top.

A very small (and very low) mirror (no medicine cabinet).

Lavender toilet, and mauve cover. Note heating duct location.

After some drywall removal, I found more of this wallpaper border that continues into the hallway.

The acrylic bath surround panels were removed. I'm very glad we're also changing the drywall (in favour or waterproof/mildew resistant drywall).

Next Day

On day 3, I didn't jump back immediately into the bathroom. I was anxious to tear down the rest of the duct work columns and that cabinet in the living room.

Office stack gone (the plywood one).

Living room cabinet (part way):

More old carpet-pattern linoleum, with other layers under it.

We knew about the plumbing stack, but had forgotten about the heating duct. This is the one that ends right next to the toilet for the bathroom.

I found it really interesting that this floor seems to have had the exact same colour scheme as my 1923 house: first painted bright yellow, and later a medium brown.


If we can move the main electrical panel this corner will all be hidden behind a small and narrow corner (drywall) box, with matching wood paneling and trim to camouflage it.

I'm really hoping that we can relocate the box, because it's currently only a 60 amp service (I think) and while the old wiring is still technically fine (perfectly safe and up to code) it's a complete mess. We plan to separate everything into breakers "by room" and add additional plugs (the house never originally had electricity so the current plugs are few and far between).

Some of this feeds into the kitchen addition, some goes to the garage, and we know that 2 wires lead to all the electrical upstairs.

This was interesting. It looks like just a really OLD plug, possibly one of the first electrical outlets from back in the 1920s. It has a screw-on cover, and it has a single outlet. Still works.

More foundation work at the end of day 3 (though the mason had been at it for about a week, not just 3 days). The white is dry, the brown is fresh.

You can kind of see how this part wasn't done (or it was only partially done). The gaps are much deeper.

The bathroom was 60% gutted by end of day 3. I had taken out the vanity, the half wall, the flooring, and most of the drywall. We were left with a mess of loose insulation filled with mouse poop (which can be dangerous to handle). We removed some of this, but we needed a shop vac for the rest.

The floors upstairs are all very high quality 1 1/8" thick tongue-and-groove pine. Because it's so thick, and still in good shape, the current plan is to simply repaint it all (rather than install tile, which would raise the bathroom floor quite a bit).

Not shown in these pictures was a partial demo of the upstairs hallway. We wanted to see what was behind the awful paneling. More on that later.


  1. Wow, I would be overwhelmed by this project. Thanks for sharing your progress.

    1. Any particular reason why, Sharon? Remember, it's basically a free house. Once the plaster is skim-coated, all the cracks are caulked, and everything is painted, it will look wonderful. I do realize there's a lot of work, but it's largely all cosmetic stuff. The historic windows are in good shape, there's a new heater, the well is good, all the plumbing is new (copper and ABS).

      My two friends are quite excited about the project, and luckily my enthusiasm (and labour) is encouraging them.