The Pains of Remodeling

Tuesday, August 7, 2007 10:00:13 PM

For those of you who don't know, my wife, son and I have purchased our first house.  It is a cute 2 bed, 1 bath bungalow with a garage.  The house portion is 528 square feet and the garage isn't too bad in size.  This little house sits on a nice 0.14 acres at the edge of alphabet city in Vancouver.

We knew that there were some things wrong with it.  Let me rephrase that.  We knew that there were some things that needed "updated".  This included electrical, plumbing, adding a fence and removing the plaster and replacing it with drywall.  None of where are a real easy endeavor, especially when you think you can just do it, and don't know you need a permit.  Oops.

The other night I went to install a ceiling fan.  No, I don't need a permit for that, just listen.  The wiring in this house has no ground and is the old cloth wrapped wire.  Since I was installing this into an existing fixture the wires were already quite worn from age, plus the heat from the light after all these years.  After I started pushing the wires back up the insulation began to crumble in my hands.  Hmm, bare wire in the ceiling.  Anybody want to come flip the lightswitch that controls it?  Well, don't.  I will kick you and then have my son bite you with his tooth.

This all prompted me to begin making headway to replace the electrical wiring, and with that the breaker box.  Bringing in 20amp throughout the house and 12 guage wire, with a ground even.  So, I called up an electrician buddy of my brother and he stopped by to advise of what I needed to do.  It involved everything from bringing new cable from the service mast down, new cable from the meter to the panel and the actual panel swap itself.

So, I start working on clearing out the attic, which brings forth all sorts of treasure.  This is when I discovered the old rock wool insulation hiding underneath all of the beautiful white, newer insulation.  A great thing to discover in an attic on a 90+ degree day wearing cover-alls.  The newer insulation was installed in 1997 per a sheet I found stapled to the gable, and when they installed it they failed to remove the old insulation and, to top things off, tons of debris from the old shake roof.  So, I decided it was time for it to go.  I have been scooting all of the newer insulation to a "box" I made and then shovelling up the old stuff, bagging it and vacuuming what is left.  I'm about 75% done and I have 20+ 30 gallon bags of old insulation.  If anybody wants it, they can come take it off my back lawn, free of charge.

I've now discovered the joy of permits.  I guess you are supposed to get one every time you blow your nose more than four times, even though it is your house.  I'm sure they have a good reason, but I have good reason not to get one.  Like, not having the money for the permit and the work.  Not having the money to bring everything up to code.  From what I've heard, just to rewire the house to replace the old wiring I have to install hard-wired smoke detectors in every bedroom.  That may not sound like much, but that's an easy $50 cost that I just don't have right now, remember, I can't afford the permit.

I would do all of this without the permit, the biggest problem is when I go to sell and when I need the PUD to come out and remove the meter and then replace it.  For some reason they want to know that I'm not going to blow their transformers with a short.  For crying out loud people, you have 3 wires to worry about, I'm not an idiot nor am I careless/stupid when we're talking 200 amp, or even 15 amp for that matter.  Piss off!

So, these are the wonderful woes I have been encountering so far.  We knew it would be work, we were just hoping to have a month or two of breathing room before the work started.  Most of our stuff is still in the garage boxed up.  We may not have anywhere to put it, but we haven't even had time to try.  Oh well, the house is ours (the banks) and we all love it anyways.  It has all been a great experience so far and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  This house is cute and fun and all this work will pay off greatly in the end.

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