It started out small: we decided to get new drains. We live in an old 1887 Victorian in Brockton Village, and like many Toronto houses, we had old lead pipes and clay drains which sometimes emitted a sewer gas smell throughout the house. The fix, while not cheap or easy, was do-able: $14,000 for new drains, installed over three days. We called up our trusted plumbers, New Canadian Drain and Plumbing (who for the record, we love, and continue to love, even at that end of our story).
While the whys and the hows are boring, we ended up peeking behind the walls, only to discover some water problems we had no idea existed. New project: water proofing. We also discovered five massive windows that the previous owner successfully concealed with plywood (at last explaining the constant draft in our house), which led to tearing out the bathroom and some serious sealing of the house. Bill so far: $28,000.
So we’re 2 weeks in and of course at this point, I can’t help but want to finish the basement for real – new bathroom, new drywall and ceilings, new floors, new laundry room and built-in storage…
This all reminds me of the time I decided to install new lighting in my townhouse about ten years ago. The lighting made the white appliances look dingy, which lead to purchasing new stainless steel appliances, which led to new flooring, which led to new carpet on the stairs…..
Morals of the story
Budget, shmudget – nearly every renovation of an old Toronto house uncovers something unexpected, so plan for it. Plan for your renovation to cost twice as much as you expect.
Time – it always takes longer than you expect, even when you’re working with quality contractors. Plan for your renovation to take three times as long.
Unsexy Money – it isn’t fun to spend unsexy money, but had we not decided to fix the drains, we’d never have known about the water problem, which could have developed into something more serious in the future.