Thursday, June 30, 2011

Update on the Tile Sitch

As promised, I told you that there was an update regarding this:


Remember that little problem that has held up the basement reno? Yep.

So when I last freaked out about it (that you know of), we were told that the tiler who was going to fix the problem couldn't come until August.

Well, after the whole "quote getting way more expensive" thing, and the "picking a new awesome contractor" thing, we had to do what any homeowner would be expected to do.

We had to break up with Joe.

(oh how I wish I were cool young enough to actually know who this 'Joe Jonas' kid was)
The kicker was that we had to break up with Joe while simulatneously ensuring that we'd still get our tile fixed. NOT easy.  Of course this is a classic situation in dealing with - well - any service provider. Once they have your money, it is not easy to get it back. Want to buy some carpet? The sales guy is ALL OVER you until you sign on the dotted line. Two days later, they install, make a mistake, and it takes SIX weeks to get someone back to fix it.

Yep - that type of classic situation (which is a true story, by the way! Happened to a friend of mine.).

So Jay calls Joe to break the news. Of course we are chicken, so he doesn't tell Joe about Josh. Kind of like a teenage breakup. It's never the hot guy from the basketball team that is making you want to break up with your current boyfriend. No way.

It's not you, it's me.

And by me, I mean the hot guy from the basketball team who bought me a Slushie afterschool yesterday.

In reality, Jay just said that we weren't ready to move forward with the upstairs bathroom, but that we'd like to book the tiler to fix the basement tile.

Joe: "okay - no problem. He won't be able to do it until September"

Ummm...excuse me? September?

Jay hung up (because what else could he do) and I proceded to have my hundredth freak out about the tile. This, to me, is UNACCEPTABLE. Waiting until SEPTEMBER for something that was messed up in MARCH is ridonk. Especially when even September isn't guaranteed (Joe woudn't book a specific day - we'd have to wait till the tiler got back from ITALY.)

When my temper finally waned, I thought of another option. Let's get JOSH, our friend JOSH to quote on the job, ask Joe for $$$ and be done with it.

So in a nutshell (this is me, in a nutshell**), we got a quote, negotiated a deal with Joe (yes, we didn't get the full amount), took a small loss and have finally wiped our hands clean of the issue.

(this is the photo I found when I googled "relief feeling")
So that's that.  Josh said he could fit in the tile fix earlier than August so that while we are waiting for the bathroom reno, we can finally finish the basement.

What a saga. I can't wait until the tile is fixed, carpet installed and wallpaper hung. Then we can go on a shopping spree at Ikea and finally bring Karl home to rest.

The end.

**Awesome movie quote - any guesses?)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bathroom Update - Contractor Conundrums

I know...I know. Bathroom stuff isn't half as interesting or funny as our raccoon issues, but bear with me :-)

Last time we talked about this, I was ranting and raving about how my contractor had pushed our start date until AUGUST because of the tiler's schedule.

Well, a few weeks back, we received a call from our contractor, "Joe", with our revised quote. To be fair, we did ask him to confirm the quote with us once we received our design plans from Carol, because there were some slight differences, but we expected the price to stay about the same - maybe $1500 more expensive because we were doing a few more things.

Um, yeah.

Boy, was I wrong.

Joe said our new price was 6K more than the original quote! WTF?!

J and I almost choked - this reno is expensive enough and we were having issues keeping it on budget with the original quote, and here was 'our guy' coming in 6K more than we had planned on. I of course asked where the additional 6K came from, and he basically blamed it on the plumber and the tiler fees.

Of course...THE TILER. No, not the tiler that messed up the basement tile, but the guy who was coming in to fix it and do the master bath who was making us wait till August. THAT tiler.

We told Joe we thought that was crazy and we didn't think it was justified. He was clearly paying his sub-trades too much. He told us it was fair and that we could get other quotes to compare if we wanted, but we had to get back to him soon so he could book everyone for the job.

Um, I'm sorry - is this the same guy who has YET to fix the tile in the basement? The tile that was laid in MARCH? The reason that our basement still looks like this:


We said we'd get back to him, hung up, and promptly started freaking out. I mean, we'd already purchased all of the fixtures!

Not one to just sit around and take it, I got busy calling a few people that we'd had recommended to us to come in and quote the job. Here are the players (names have been changed for the time being):

Murray: Murray was recommended to me by a reader as someone who had renovated her house and a family member's house too. His company is on Home Stars and is well reviewed. Was responsive to my calls, extremely professional and I felt comfortable with him as we discussed the project. He took a week to get back to me with the quote, and his quote consisted of a 4 line email - no details provided. Just the price (with a 3K range). Could start in July.

Josh: Josh is a general contractor who is an extended family member of a friend of ours. He's done work for my friend that I've seen with my own eyes and I was definitely interested in calling. Josh responded to my call, came out in a day or two, and provided a detailed and fair quote in just under a week (I had told him to take his time because J was out of town anyways). Josh made me feel very comfortable with his abilities (also sent me a portfolio of his work) and I loved the fact that he only subcontracts the plumbing - so he'll do the tiling himself! Can't start till late August.

Elton: Elton was a contractor at a company I found myself on Home Stars. Had great reviews and the woman I spoke with on the phone was awesome. They typically do 'package' deals that include the tub, toilet, etc, so would have to send out an estimator to quote my job. Three emails later and they disappeared - never sent me a suggested time/date for an estimator to come out. AWOL.

So with Elton clearly out of the running, we were looking at Josh and Murray. All things being equal (and they weren't really, when it came to $$$), J and I just felt more comfortable with JOSH.

The price was way better than Joe's, we felt he was trustworthy (especially because of the friend connection) so we would feel good leaving him with a key to the house, etc., and I appreciated the detailed quote that showed exactly what was and wasn't included. This way, there would not be any surprised (aside from the 'you live in an old house and we couldn't predict xyz would be in this wall' kind of surprises).

So there you have it. Goodbye Joe*** and Hello Josh! Tomorrow...get ready because I have an update on the basement tile situation (no, it isn't fixed yet).

*** To be fair to Joe, he is a great person who is a very good contractor. He worked quickly and did a good job in our basement. He also admitted responsibility over his tiler's screw up and if it weren't for the insane price hike, we'd have no issues hiring him again. I don't want anyone thinking that I'm not happy with Joe outside of the delay and price issues...


Quick Vote

Hey guys! Just popping by to ask a quick question about my bathroom reno (I promise a full update post later today!)

We have an awesome custom cabinetry maker designing and building our vanity and has sent me a few options for the wood veneer that will cover it.

I for one have no clue if one is better than the others which is why I'm asking you!

So take a look - does one stand out in a good or bad way? Keep in mind they will be stained.





What do you think? 1, 2, 3, or 4?

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Guess We are Chickens

First up, thank you to everyone who took time to comment and send emails yesterday about my raccoon problem and the resulting despair I felt. I really appreciated it and took away a few really great suggestions.

In a last ditch effort to deal with the raccoons who are rolling my new sod up every night, we took one last trip to Home Depot.

There was one suggestion we've received a number of times that we thought was 'too expensive' or 'too drastic' but after our experience on Monday morning, 'too drastic' seemed about perfect.

Chicken wire.

Like the bird netting (which we tried), the chicken wire is laid ontop of the grass and fastened into place. Supposedly the littler f'ers can't pull it up, unlike the bird netting which our superhuman-type raccoons seemed to have no issues pulling up.

So we went to HD, bought insane amounts of chicken wire and fasteners, and in the quickly-darkening evening, we got busy. Not like that.


Here is what we used:

(I know I'm a dork, but as we were laying the chicken wire, I thought "nice pattern!". I feel like Tommy Smythe would be proud of me finding design inspiration in odd places :-)

And these:

Looks simple enough, right? Of course the chicken wire isn't wide enough to span the grassy area, so we had to lay two next to each other. We used the white nail-y things on the side of the stone path and the ones that use screws were put into the bottom of the fence.

The reason for using the screw-type on the fence is because the nails would have gone all the way through the fence. Seems like a good enough reason :-)

So, because of the aforementioned setting sun, we only finished the long side (and just barely) so the other sides will have to get done tonight.

Here's how this morning went.

I hear J's footsteps going to look out the window. Silence.

Me: (thinking) This is Good.

I walk and check it out. SUCCESS!!

Of course, J actually looks a bit sad. Sad that it looked untouched. "Maybe it was overkill" he says.

What? This is overkill?


Again, I have a feeling you are all sitting reading this with your jaws slack. Yes, we have a metal yard. How did we get here?

Oh, that's right. This is how.

However, in (somewhat) good news, this is what the other side looked like this morning:


So at least we know they were here! They probably got depressed, turned up one corner and said "this isn't fun anymore".

Oh really, raccoon? THIS ISN'T FUN ANYMORE?

Um...yeah. So that is how we got a silver lawn. Part of me feels like it is the equivalent of stubbing your toe against the wall and in a fit of pain and frustration, and then wanting to then kick something. You know that feeling? Or is it throwing the baby out with the bathwater? I'm sure there is some kind of idiom that fits us putting CHICKEN WIRE over our lawn.


Will the grass grown through the metal? Will it bounce back after weeks of brutalization at the hands of the f'n raccoons? Only time will tell, as always.

PS I know that it looks hideous. I do.


Monday, June 27, 2011

I Give Up

I was going to write about the Canadian Design Bloggers meet up today (I will tomorrow) and how awesome it was and how I won a prize and everything, but I'm too depressed.

I'm not kidding - this raccoon thing isn't funny anymore.

Today, as I lay in bed, I yelled to J "Have you checked the backyard yet?"

He walked over to the windown and yelled "holy sh*t - they are in there RIGHT NOW"

I ran to the window and looked out - 25% of our lawn had been turned up (okay, I'm no mathemetician but it was A LOT) and those a$$hole raccoons were still in there, messing with my sod.

Did I mention it was 8:05 a.m.?

Aren't these jerks supposed to be nocturnal?

Jay went out, threw something near them to scare them, and off they scurried sauntered.

10 minutes later, they were back. This time, Jay turned on the hose.

Here are some photos of the destruction:

And for the piece de resistance:

I'm guessing you are sitting at your computer with your mouth hanging open. Yes, kids. This is for real. These pictures were not doctored for effect.

The look of defeat on my husband's face this morning was awful. We don't know what else we can do. The raccoons are clearly getting more and more brazen. And fat. Probably very full too.

So that's that. I surrender. I give up. I'm not sure what can be done and whether it is worth trying anymore.

I will say that if anyone knows a landscaper or a sod specialist or someone experienced with how to deal with a raccoon problem in the city, I will give away free advertising on my blog for a YEAR for anyone who will help me with this problem. Free advertising and my undying love and constant recommendations. I'm not too proud to beg - just ask me.

Suggestions and words of encouragement for my husband are both welcome and appreciated.

The End.


Friday, June 24, 2011

I Hope This Doesn't Jinx Me...

...but thanks to the rain the garden net we put down, we've had 3 days of raccoon-free sod!!!

Woo hoo!!

In other news (there isn't much...sorry), I walked through the Eaton Centre yesterday and saw their new Information Booth (or customer care centre or whatever). It recently had a makeover and it is HIP.

Like really hip, like...Door Sixteen hip!

Eaton Centre Customer Care Booth:


Door Sixteen:

Anyways - hope to see everyone at the Canadian Design Bloggers Meet up tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

J(anie)'s Got a (Water) Gun...

Last night, around 11 p.m., I went upstairs and got into bed. Just as I was starting to doze, my phone rings. I can see it is my husband (the magic of call display, not any kind of psychic ability)

Me: Hello?
J: (whispers) I've got 'em cornered! Get down here!
Me: (groggily) What?
J: Get down here - there are SIX of them!

I spring to action - run to my dressing room at the back of the house to look out the window and this is pretty much what I see:

That's right - it's blurry but it is my husband with a garden hose.

I run downstairs and grab the flashlight - we are literally SURROUNDED by raccoons. I swear, 3 babies up in the trees (where they ran after hearing the water hit the roof of the garage), and a stream of babies and mommas running along the fence lines.

Disgusting. Cute, but disgusting.

Can you see that little guy?

Um yeah - so after spraying the raccoons like J was in some kind of video game, we decided to let them be and just see what they did.

Seriously, it was like some kind of horror movie as they all decended into view. Trees where I thought there were none produced 1, 2 and sometimes 3 baby raccoons. Mom came by to pick up her kids. The stream of raccoons along the back fence started up again. It was like J was this guy:


And once he said "GO", man did they ever start moving!

(not my photo - but this is basically what they looked like)

After a while we gave up. Surrounded by the sounds of scurrying feet and chirping baby raccoons, we decided to give up and go to bed. We found comfort in the fact that we had done the best we could to protect our yard, put away the hose, and locked up.

Of course, this garden net that we put over the grass made us feel better too :-)

Thanks to the net J's stellar skills with the garden hose, we woke up this morning to a beautiful, intact lawn!

So what did YOU get up to last night? :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Glow

Mason jars are the best!

Anyone Have a Green Thumb?

This past weekend was a bit of a whirlwind, but included in our task list was a little work in the backyard.

After mowing the lawn, hubs got busy fixing up the big garden bed, which used to look like this:


Yep - filled with garbage and clay and concrete. Hot.

So while I napped (thanks to the boozing raccoon-hunt from Saturday night), hubs took care of the back breaking work and now the bed looks like this:


Much better, right?


So here's the real question - what the heck can I plant?! The photo shows about how bright it gets in the back yard. Little to no direct sunlight. We have pretty crazy tree coverage so I'm not really complaining (trees in the city = pretty awesome), but I would kill for some pretty flowers and a peony bush.

Are any of you gardeners? Any suggestions? I'd love some colour and wouldn't mind if a bunch were perrenials since I'm new to this stuff :-) As long as you don't say "fill it in", leave a comment telling me what you think will might grow!


Monday, June 20, 2011

I've Figured it Out

The best way to keep the raccoons away is to stay up super late in the backyard, drinking, eating and chatting with friends and family :-)

Saturday night we had my sister, her husband and our friends from Australia, R and R over for dinner and drinks in the backyard. R and R had been travelling for quite some time and were ready for a night in and some (somewhat) home cooked food.

We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, catching up, laughing and having a few drinks. Of course, once we heard that the Aussies had never seen a raccoon, we knew that no one could leave until one of our masked intruders made an appearance.

Of course, our friends were not disappointed. Raccoons are nothing if not dependable.

I don't have photos of the evening because we were too busy having fun and enjoying the sounds of Toronto in the summer (i.e. drunk guys sounding like pirates yelling at each other and the sqeeling of raccoons), but I did catch a pic of a little DIY project that I put together.

The party was a little last minute so I didn't have my mason jar project completed, so I had to improvise.

What do you get when you mix up tea lights, mason jars and salt?


The perfect candle centrepiece!

I'll grab a picture of it at night, but these suckers really glowed and lit up the table in that special "I can see what I'm eating brightness, but dark enough that everyone looks gorgeous" kind of way.

Also, once you are done you can either put it all away or just screw on the top and hold on to them for the next impromptu get together!

Summer Projects - An 8 Foot 6 Update

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you had a great Father's Day weekend :-) I have a special treat for you today - Shannon from 8 Foot 6 is back to give us an update on her (awesome) backyard reno! I literally gasp everytime she sends me a photo of what has been done. Lucky girl :-)

Anyhoo - accessories are the name of the game this time - check out what S has to say and let her know what you think!


Hello everyone!  Here's another peek into our backyard!  This hasn't been the longest landscaping project known to man, but these guys certainly have a way of stretching it out. 

Even though the yard is not quite finished, I am itching to get it furnished.   On the pea gravel patio (it still doesn't have any pea gravel), the area under the maple trees will be a circle of chairs around a fire bowl.  We would like to put a long dining table next to the garage (the garage wall will glow at night).  Let me mention that I am terrible with dimensions, more specifically, what size furniture is the best fit for the space.  I tend to go 'BIG'! Therefore, chances are that I am trying to squeeze too many people around a table that's completely over-sized.  We have a dozen adults and kids at family dinners, so I want a super table that lets us all gather together.  Please please let me know what you think of the direction I am going in...if not the final furniture selection!

The table is tough to shop for!  Since I have over 14 feet (14' 5" not including the interlock banding), I hope I can get away with a 10 footer. I realize this only leaves 2' of space on each end, or more like 2 1/2' when you include the banding...but I really want the length.  You know those super long tables in the center of pan quotidian?  I LOVE THOSE!    An expandable table, such as this one at Restoration Hardware, would be almost perfect, except it costs $2700usd.  Other than the ridiculous prices, I think we are having an impossible time sourcing the perfect table because, in my mind, the perfect table would be worn in and abused.  We need something that we are really not afraid to leave outside all year round, letting it earn a beautiful patina! Gouges from toy trucks and ketchup stains are welcome!   Which likely means our only real option is to recruit some help and build one! 

I thought of lining one long side of the table (garage side) with the bentwood chairs that I have collected. I have seven.  Seven chairs along a 10 foot table is tight, I know...I will probably line up six on that side.   That gives each of those six people each 1'8" of elbow room.   Oh man, maybe five chairs on the side, and one on each end? 

I would like benches along the other side of the table, maybe two of these from ikea.  I wonder if we can make them to match the table for less than $100 each?  If you DIY'd it, would you make one long bench, or two small ones?

For the fire pit area (well, fire pits aren't really allowed in the city, but bbq's and grills, regardless of shape, are!), I have my eyes set on this beauty from DWR.  Its only 23" wide....which is TEENY...but smores aren't very big either!

The black fire bowl would be surrounded by six white IKEA VAGO chairs....if they ever come back into stock (there are 20 of them in the Edmonton store - Lucky ducks!).  I can't say I have ever seen the Vago in person.  It looks bulky.  I am worried that it will be too chunky and will make my fire bowl look ridiculously small.  

There you have it!  All the pieces to finish off the backyard.  I think I may tape off a theoretical 10 foot table...then arrange my bentwoods around it, and go from there!  Actually, I might as well tape off six vagos around a 23" circle while I am at it! Maybe instead of shopping, some imaginary furniture is actually all I really need!

Thanks for having me again Janice!!!!!!!!!!!!There are more photos of the landscaping & recent progress on my blog!!!


Thanks to Shannon for popping by to give us an update! Looking forward to the big reveal!