Category Archives: Etcetera…

1
Jun
2015

Pool, Pool House and Garden

You know that expression “The cobbler’s children have no shoes”? Right. That’s my house for the most part, because I’m renovating other people’s homes and don’t take the time to work on my own.

This spring Heather and I decided to tackle the backyard in a big way—adding an in-ground pool, pool house, paths and 700 sq feet of garden.

The backyard before. A deck, then (weedy) grass and more grass.

The backyard before. A deck, then (weedy) grass and more grass, and overgrown cedars.

It’s not just anybody driving a backhoe who can dig a pool hole. Pool excavators are specialists. After interviewing several, we hired Harvey Harper of Harper Enterprises. He and his team were excellent. Precise to the inch and a pleasure to deal with. I can’t recommend them enough.

Pool dig.

Pool dig.

Is it done yet??

Is it done yet??

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We designed the pool with Mermaid Pools: 14 x 28 with a larger-than-normal shallow end and Roman 8′ Sit and Step for easy socializing.

We ordered the pool parts from Mermaid Pools and I’m installing the pool myself—bringing in specialists as needed: for the dig, grouting (concrete base), installing the liner and the electrical. I have zero ambition to start installing pools, but doing it myself at my own house was a considerable cost saving.

Pool walls installed, safety fence.

Pool walls installed, safety fence going up.

Pool house structure.

Pool house structure: 16 x 9.

Mark and Jo, pool specialists, "grouting" the bottom of the pool. This makes a smooth base for the pool liner. When a liner costs $6,000, you do want a perfect base that won't cause any rips.

Mark and Joe, pool specialists, “grouting” the bottom of the pool. This makes a smooth base for the pool liner. When a liner costs $6,000, you need a perfect base that won’t cause any rips.

The pool house has walls on two sides (where there are neighbours) and is open to the pool and yard on the other two sides. It will have electrical outlets plus lights, a fridge and a fan. We’ve also ordered composite wood cabinets that are rated for Canadian garage use.

Big day!! There is gravel part-way up the pool wall. The pool is filled, then the rest of the gravel goes in.

Big day!! There is gravel part-way up the pool wall. The pool is filled, then the rest of the gravel goes in.

We're getting there! This concrete secures the wall and support system together. Luc from Centennial Concrete delivered load after load of concrete throughout this project. Great company and driver to work with. The concrete is mixed as it comes off the truck, so you only pay for what you use.

We’re getting there! This concrete secures the wall and support system together. Luc from Centennial Concrete delivered load after load of concrete throughout this project. Great company and driver to work with. The concrete is mixed as it comes off the truck, so you only pay for what you use.

We're getting there! This concrete secures the wall and support system together, and provides a base for the stone around the pool. And yes, Mr. Moose in the background will be hanging in the pool house.

We’re getting there! This concrete secures the wall and support system together, and provides a base for the stone around the pool. And yes, Mr. Moose in the background will be hanging in the pool house.

Yoda, our 12-year-old rescue dog, had a tough time with the early (and loud) stages of this project. She was seized from an abusive situation when she was 10 and we adopted her a few months later. She tends to be anxious to begin with. Big machines digging and making deliveries, changes to her space (it is her bathroom after all), and strangers coming to the house were all hard on her. We finally had a quiet day in the backyard, which seemed to help her adjust. Nothing like a good nap to make things right again.

Yoda, 12 years old, taking in the new backyard.

Yoda, 12 years old, taking in the new backyard.

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First time in the pool. Just 72 degrees F.

See that garden below in the background? That’s the temporary bed. Heather moved two yards of fresh soil and all of the backyard plants in the early spring to protect them during the renovation. This was the only spot that would not be trampled by machines and wheelbarrows.

Placing boulders throughout the new gardens around the pool.

Placing boulders throughout the new gardens around the pool.

Our recently retired stone mason neighbour is winning an international award for his work on the new Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health. We are beyond grateful that he so generously helped with the final tricky cuts around the pool.

The awesome neighbours are just one of the many reasons we plan to live here forever (pool and big garden are no-nos for house re-sale). The neighbours are friendly and kind people.

The stone is Blu 45 from Techo-Bloc. We ordered the stone through Central Precast, which was endlessly frustrating—from Central Precast losing our order, to finding our order, to sending the wrong order, and more. Enough about that.

Final tricky cuts around the pool.

Final tricky cuts around the pool.

We put in 700 square feet of new garden beds and wanted year-round interest, so chose several evergreen trees and shrubs. The staff at the Green Thumb Garden Centre at 17 Tristan Crt (near Hunt Club and Merivale) are fantastic. Mary, the owner, and some of her staff are Master Gardeners (yes, that’s a thing) and are extremely knowledgeable.

Trees and shrubs from Green Thumb Garden Centre at 17 Tristan Crt, near Merivale and Hunt Club.

Trees and shrubs from Green Thumb Garden Centre at 17 Tristan Crt, near Merivale and Hunt Club.

The cedars along the properly line were badly overgrown after years of neglect by previous home owners. The cedars were six feet deep from the trunk, so they got a serious haircut. We understand that the cedars will never grow back on our side, but it was well worth it to reclaim six feet of yard for the garden.

Gardens coming together.

Gardens coming together.

Thanks to a mature maple overhead, this garden next to the pool house gets morning sun at the front and full sun at the back. The maple also provides ample shade to the pool.

Gardens going in

Gardens going in.

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Because every backyard needs a cooking fire.

That was my progress in 2015. In 2016 the work started anew with the plans including a shed, deck railing, and painting and staining everything.

Contemporary shed going up.

Contemporary shed going up.

I repurposed the previous deck railing into a new chevron railing.

I repurposed the previous deck railing into a new chevron railing.

The chevron railing works well with the chevron planter boxes I built a few years ago. Both the railing and the boxes repurposed the wood from the previous railing.

The chevron railing works well with the chevron planter boxes I built a few years ago. Both the railing and the boxes repurposed the wood from the previous railing.

The pool house has electricity, allowing us to have potlights, a fan and a fridge.

The pool house has electricity, allowing us to have potlights, a fan and a fridge.

We weren't entirely sure about Mr. Moose at first, but he fits in quite well!

We weren’t entirely sure about Mr. Moose at first, but he fits in quite well!

The moon gate marks the transition to the pool area. It helps to create separate rooms.

The moon gate marks the transition to the pool area. It helps to create separate rooms. It was primed grey and painted black.

Our first pool party was a volunteer appreciation event for a fantastic folks with Community Veterinary Outreach. They provide a free vet check-up for the pets of Ottawa's marginalized residents.

Our first pool party was a volunteer appreciation event for a fantastic folks with Community Veterinary Outreach. They provide a free vet check-up for the pets of Ottawa’s marginalized residents.

We WISH that Abbey, who we adopted in May 2016, enjoyed the pool, but she has yet to go in. (Our beloved cattle dog,  Yoda, passed away in March 2016)

We WISH that Abbey, who we adopted in May 2016, enjoyed the pool, but she has yet to go in. (Our beloved cattle dog, Yoda, passed away in March 2016)

22
Feb
2014

Herringbone Planter Boxes with Repurposed Wood

My and Heather‘s home came with this existing deck. It’s well built and solid. There was no reason to tear it down, but the wood had not been maintained and sitting within these railings felt like prison — without access to the yard.

Deck 'before'.

Deck ‘before’.

Heather came across some great planter box ideas on Pinterest and we decided to tear down the railing, then repurpose all the wood into planter boxes. You can check all our backyard project ideas on Pinterest here.

Inspiration photo #1

Inspiration photo #1, from Gardener’s World.

Inspiration  photo #2, from the 91214 blog.

Inspiration photo #2, from the 91214 blog.

Pulling down old railing and saving all the lumber.

Pulling down old railing and saving all the lumber.

Foster dog Lexi definitely approved of the wide open deck and new wood stain.

Foster dog Lexi approved of the railing-free deck and new wood stain.

Planter box building gets underway, making use of the old railing.

Planter box building gets underway, making use of the old railing.

During the planter box build, Lexi got adopted by a fantastic family.

During the planter box building project, Lexi got adopted by a fantastic family.

Fresh Reno Ottawa Renovation Contractor Herringbone Planter Box 5

Finished planter.

The planter came out great. I made another one (one for each the corner), then set to work on stairs for better access to the yard, and of course railings to keep us safe.

30
Sep
2013

Christopher Solar’s Energy Efficient Addition in Ottawa South

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Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 33 exterior slider crop

Homeowner Christopher Solar is a very talented furniture designer and builder. His old home in Ottawa South has seen renovations before. This time, a deck-come-3-season-room is being demolished and properly re-built to be part of the living space year round.

The new space was designed by Renzo Cecchetto, principal designer at funktional design. Renzo is certified with the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs to submit code-compliant permit and construction-ready plans to City planning departments.

The project is expected to take five weeks.

Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 1 Before
“Before”. The base of this “extension” was basically a deck with a room built overtop. It was freezing in the winter, not matter how much heat they pumped in or insulation they put underneath (and there was A LOT of insulation).
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 2 Demolition
Day 2: Demolition continues. The roof and one wall are gone.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 3 Demolition
Day 3: It’s mid morning and the structure is down. Now for the base.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 4 Demolition
Day 4: The old structure is gone. You can see the footings underneath were basically for a deck. This was not a proper extension. Now just the old deck footings to remove before we dig for a proper foundation.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 6 digging foundation
Day 6: Foundation digging underway for a “frost protected shallow foundation”.
The footings will be only 2-feet below grade and the hole will be 30″ deep and 4′ wide.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension day 10 footings
Day 10: Forms for the footings are done and ready for a concrete pour.
The first City of Ottawa inspection was yesterday and the build passed with flying colours. 
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 11 pour foundation
Day 11: 60 wheelbarrows each with 100 kg of cement.
The footings are done and tarped for drying. Who needs the gym?
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 13
Day 13: 2,500 kg of delivered cement for the pad wheelbarrowed in, then
another 1,000 kg carried in (30 kg bags) and mixed in our mixer.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 19 roof and boards
Day 19: Wall and roof framing are done. Aced the second City inspection.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 23
Day 23: 3″ of polyiso insulation on the walls and 4.5″ inches on the roof.
The roof is shingled and exterior strapping is done. We’re ready for windows.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar extension Day 24 windows
Day 24: The windows arrived this afternoon and all but one are in.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar extension Day 27 siding
Day 27: The board and batten siding is complete on the front and the windows are trimmed too.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 29 insulation
Day 29: Roxul insulation added in one layer to the walls and two layers in the ceiling. Vapour membrane to be added before our next inspection and then we’ll drywall the room.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 33
Day 33: Interior done!
Painted “Cotton” on the walls and installed plywood subfloor. Homeowner (and skilled carpenter) Chris will take care of the window trim and a flooring company will finish up… well the flooring.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Renovation Contractor Christopher Solar Extension Day 33 exterior
Day 33: Exterior done… until spring when we’re back to paint the wood.

 

5
Jun
2013

Colin and Susan’s Bamboo Flooring

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Paul Gratton Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Day 5 bamboo wood flooring 2

We had the pleasure of renovating two bathrooms for Colin and Susan last year, and they asked us back to upgrade their flooring on the stairs and throughout the upstairs bedrooms, from old carpet to bamboo. They made a greener choice by laying bamboo.

Repeat clients mean a lot to us, thanks guys.

Paul Gratton Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Day 1 flooring before
Before: upstairs carpet.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Day 5 bamboo wood flooring 2
Detailed look at the new bamboo flooring. It has great ridge detail — too look warm and broken in.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Day 5 bamboo wood flooring
New bamboo flooring at the lop of the stairs.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Day 6 bamboo wood flooring on stairs
New bamboo flooring going up the stairs.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Day bedroom after 2
Bedroom ‘after’.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Day bedroom closet storage
Bedroom ‘after’ with a simple custom closet that makes the most of Colin and Susan’s space.
Paul Gratton Ottawa Home Renovation Contractor Day stairs after
Stairs ‘after’. Just guess how long it took to do this corner.

26
Mar
2013

Hi friends. I got married :-)

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Heather-Paul-Wedding-85

Hi friends,

Hope everyone is doing well. Am I so pleased to share that Heather and I got married March 23, in an outdoor ceremony in Westport, Ontario.

We can’t say enough about our fantastic wedding photographer, Liz Bradley of Elizabeth & Jane.

Heather-Paul-Wedding-85
Heather and I have also ‘foster failed’… again. We’ve been foster parents for Hopeful Hearts Dog Rescue for more than a year. We fostered 10-year-old Yoda for four months, fell in love with this sweet old girl and adopted her.
PicMonkey Collage

29
Sep
2012

Front entrance with live-edge maple bench and stone walls.

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Ottawa home renovations contractor mudroom front hall entry closet recessed shelves done crop
IMG_0279 Ottawa Home Renovations entra
Before

It’s been well over a year since I did any work on my own house, bought as a ‘contractor special’. My 60-year-old house is well built, but terribly outdated.

The front entrance had a 4-foot by 4-foot linoleum area to stand in and somehow get your coat and shoes into the closet, then another doorway, then wood floor.

Only one person at a time could stand in the front entrance. Plus, no place to put a chair. My parents live with me, so a place to sit and put on boots is helpful.

Working with Maureen McDonald at Centura, I chose floor tiles and wall stone. Cutting away several feet of hardwood floor made the tiling area larger so more than one person at a time can enter the house.

IMG_1814 ottawa home renovation contra
Hallway in progress. Live-edge slab shelf

Floor materials:

  • Wall stone: Golden Sand Natural Stone, Centura Tile
  • Floor tiles: Centura Tile
IMG_1076

The incredible live edge spalted maple slab that forms the bench is from KJP Select Hardwoods off Merivale Rd. At nearly $400, it was an investment, but is absolutely stunning.

My dining room plan includes making a coordinating light from a similarly stunning piece of wood.

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Live edge wood bench, recessed shelves
and stone walls.

With space at a premium, the shelves are recessed into the closet of an adjacent room. The shelves were built from inexpensive MDF, recessed between studs, then I used fine offcuts from the maple slab to make veneer trim for the exposed parts.

Ottawa home renovations contractor mudroom front hall entry closet recessed shelves done
Done. Am really, really pleased with
the result.
Ottawa home renovations contractor (1)
Found this light at Home Depot and it really works
with all the squares.

19
Jul
2012

David and Michelle’s renovation, from flooring to ceiling.

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Ottawa renovation contractor Day 6 dining room hardwood floor square pattern
Ottawa renovation contractor Day 3 dining room paint done ready for flooring
Dining room: new paint, flooring to come in next.

We work with one — and only one — electrician. Steve Le Gallez does superior work and he’s been to almost all of our clients’ homes, and seen our work.

So when Steve’s brother David wanted renovations, Steve recommended us.

David and his wife Michelle are making upgrades throughout their first floor. Carpet was removed to make way for tile and two types of hardwood.

Ottawa renovation contractor Day 5 dining room hardwood flooring pattern 02

They wanted a dark wood border around the 16 x 12 dining room and gave us carte blanche to figure out the rest of the pattern.

Good thing too — as Michelle went into labour a few weeks early and their new son arrived mid-reno. Everyone is healthy and home.

A standard hardwood floor install would have taken two people six hours and this pattern took two people 12 hours.
Ottawa renovation contractor Day 6 dining room hardwood floor square pattern v2
“Freaking awesome”, are the words we keep hearing from David. Hopefully he’s referring to us. He also has that new son.

As part of this renovation we’ve also remove ceiling stipple and put up a coffered ceiling.
Ottawa renovation contractor Day 10 dining room hardwood floor square pattern coffered ceiling
Ottawa renovation contractor Day 10 front hall recessed shelves
Front hall with new flooring, trim up the staircase wall
and recessed shelves.
Ottawa renovation contractor Paul Gratton Day 10 new baby
Welcome to the world little man! Michelle and
David’s new bundle of joy arrived mid-reno.

 

21
Jun
2012

Kim and Gerard’s Greely home office renovation

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Ottawa home renovations contractor greely home office renovation day 4 complete view from inside office
Ottawa home renovations contractor greely home office renovation day 1 before
Before: Kim and Gerard’s open space, to be closed off 
and converted into a home office.  

Last year we met Kim Chen and Gerard Chen, an Ottawa firefighter while renovating their basement. They were very happy with the result and asked us back to renovate their home office — taking it from an open space to a private area to work.

Ottawa home renovations contractor greely home office renovation day 1 walls framed and drywalled
End of day 1: Walls framed, drywall hung and one coat of 
mud applied for Kim and Gerard’s home office.
Ottawa home renovations contractor greely home office renovation day 4 complete
Day 4 and Kim and Gerard’s new home office is complete. 
Great doors. They arrived unfinished so I took them home 
to spend time staining them perfectly.
Their family has grown since last year and they now have have a handsome baby boy.

A few words from the family:

We didn’t hesitate to contact Paul when we needed to create a more private office space.

Paul and his team finished our basement last year and we were so pleased with their craftsmanship and professionalism. Once again, Paul’s work exceeded our expectations. Our new office was completed quickly and seamlessly.

The best part is that it looks as though it was always an enclosed space. It doesn’t look as though there was any work done, it just looks like part of our home.

We already have a few more projects in mind for Paul over the next year or two.

Sincerely,
Kimberly, Gerard, Karson & Peanut!

28
Apr
2012

Ange and Kevin’s Kanata loft-to-bedroom renovation

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Ottawa Home Renovations Contractor turning open space loft into room Day 2 room done exterior view
Ottawa Home Renovations Contractor turning open space loft into room Day 1 cookie
Delish homemade cookies to kick-start the renovation.
Ottawa Home Renovations Contractor turning open space loft into room Day 1 room before
Day 1 view from the hall: Before.
Ottawa Home Renovations Contractor turning open space loft into room Day 2 room done exterior view
Day 3 view from the hall: After.

This week we did a second loft-to-bedroom renovation, this time in Kanata for Ange and Kevin.

Taking only three days from start to finish, this renovation brings their Kanata home from two bedrooms up to three.

The original builder used special-ordered Masonite room and closet doors, so we ordered a matching set.

Ottawa Home Renovations Contractor turning open space loft into room Day 2 room done interior view v02
Day 3 and the bedroom is done.

The builder had also left behind a sample of the hall beige paint colour, but it turns out they watered it down during application, so it took trial and error, adding a few drops of white at a time, to get the colour to match the rest of the upstairs.

The bedroom blue paint colour is Benjamin Moore “Blue Jean” (2062-50).

Kevin wrote on Ottawa Home Renovations’ Facebook page, “We totally love the room. Many, many thanks to Paul and team for the great work. Also thanks to Heather for hooking us up. You can definitely expect repeat business.

Ottawa Home Renovations Contractor turning open space loft into room Day 2 room done interior view v03
Completed bedroom.

 

16
Apr
2012

Patricia’s new maple hardwood flooring renovation in Kanata

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Ottawa Home Renovations Contractor Patricia Kanata Maple Hardwood Flooring Day 2 after v02
Ottawa Home Renovations Contractor Patricia Kanata Maple Hardwood Flooring Day 1 Before
Day 1: Existing laminate flooring to be removed.

This week we’re renovating at Patricia’s Kanata home to remove laminate flooring and replace it with hardwood. Patricia is a client of designer Sarah Kidder. She’s chosen Fay Signature Maple from End of The Roll, which we picked up last week and delivered to Patricia’s house to acclimatize before installation.

Ottawa Home Renovations Contractor Patricia Kanata Maple Hardwood Flooring Day 2 after
End of Day 1: the new flooring is down and we’ll
do the trim on day 2.
Ottawa Home Renovations Contractor Patricia Kanata Maple Hardwood Flooring Day 2 after v02
End of Day 2 and the flooring is complete.

By end of the day Monday, all 250 sq ft of hardwood was down. We’re putting the trim down Tuesday, then posting ‘after’ pics so you can see the effect.

Designer Sarah Kidder dropped by on day two and declared on Twitter, “Just checked on client’s hardwood floor install! It’s a gorgeous pecan colored maple! Looks beautiful! @OttawaReno‘s work is impeccable!”

A few words from Patricia herself:
The floor and baseboards (as well as the numbers) look absolutely great. Thank you so much for all of this and for returning the heavy furniture to its right place.

You can be assured that I will definitely call you for future projects and will recommend you highly to any friends who need work done.