Monday, May 14, 2012

Living in a Charming Victorian Rowhouse

Friends. We've been here before. See here and here. For as much as I love my 'charming' Victorian rowhouse, with all of its plaster mouldings and stained glass french doors (original, of course), it has its issues, that is for sure. Issues like super narrow staircases that mean you can't get just any tub or washer or dryer up and down them. A couch that doesn't come in 60 pieces? No chance. Neighbours who insist on playing with their 2 year old at 1 a.m. ("weeeeeee!!!!!") or give him a golf ball to bounce on the hardwood? Awesome.

This weekend we became acutely aware of another downside to the charm of a Victorian row.

Picture this:

A 32 year old first time mom-to-be has a particularly frustrating day at work. She is tired. She is probably cranky. Her feet have swollen to 3 times their normal size (thanks, 34th week of pregnancy). She comes home to find her super handy (and very handsome) husband putting the final coat of oil based primer on the stair treads.

Because of the fumes and her MASSIVE feet, she heads down to her newly finished basement to put her feet up and escape the fumes.


First step into the basement feels good. Basements are great like that. A little cooler than the rest of the house, and the cool on her feet makes her very, very happy.

Step two is not quite as nice.

Step two takes our very uncomfortable and pregnant heroine (or is it victim?) into the centre of the basement and into a part of beautiful carpet that makes a tell tale SQUISHY sound under her fatty fat fat feet.

There may have been swearing (but I should keep this story PG), I'm not going to lie.

The pregasaurus rex quickly scans her surroundings. The walls look fine. The ceiling looks fine. This basement has never been anything but dry as a bone.

This is NOT what a 34 week pregnant woman wants when she is still knee deep in a stair project that just. won't. end.

She calls her husband down to the basement to break the bad news. They have no idea what the problem is. The water is clean, so that is good news. The bad (and somewhat ironic) news is that we have no access to towels to start sopping up the water because the handy husband is already 5 steps in to the paint, so there is no access to the linen closet.


Later that night, on the way to dinner and a movie (which was always the plan because of the paint fumes), the husband thought he'd be a kind neighbour and call the owners to the left to warn them to check their basement for water just in case they were also having the same issue.

"Oh gosh," the neighbour said. "Our hot water tank burst this week. We hadn't heard from you so we thought everything was fine."

Um, no. Not fine. Brand new carpet soaked, so not fine. Fear of mold in a house with a new baby about to arrive, so not fine.


Anyways, we are lucky that this was the good neighbour. He immediately offered to cover any damage (or we could go through insurance) and he helped J lug away the sopping wet carpet and under-padding. Downside is that J had to spend hours cutting up carpet, taking apart all of the furniture, etc and now we have to set the whole basement up again once the new carpet is in.

If you think that this sounds like a MASSIVE PITA, it is. This, my friends, is one of the MANY reasons why I would like a detached house next time.



We've had an industrial fan going since Saturday and everything is very dry. We've also had a de-humidifier running and surprisingly it isn't gathering much water. We are going to keep it all going for the week just to make sure it is SUPER dry down there before the carpet gets installed. Plus we've been advised to spray down the concrete with some kind of solution that will kill any possible mold.

Lovely, right?

In other news, we did make some stair progress but I will update you tomorrow. I'm still in grief-mode over our basement and need a moment.



meryl rose said...

OH MY GOD! I'm so sorry that SUCKS! :(  The good news is that your neighbor is incredibly nice, so that always perks things up (just a littttlleee). I'm sending you lots and lots and lots of good vibes!!!!!!!!!!

Life Begins at Thirty, Right? said...

I KNOW. Can you believe it? And the timing couldn't be much worse to be honest. We just really want to get our house put back together before the baby arrives. Sigh. You are right though - good thing it was the good neighbour, so it could have been worse.

Sarah - { rad } said...

Oh no! :(  I'm so sorry that you have to deal with this unexpected hassle.  ugh.  What a horrible surprise.  Thank goodness the neighbour is willing to pay for the damages.

Jean @ Flower Hill said...

Oh no!  The charm of older homes.

Tara said...

I have a story that will make you feel like you're not alone. Here's the scene:40 weeks +3 days preggers comes home to see a moat around her house.
The story: 2 months preggers: we buy a 113yr old house. 2 days after possession we take down a  piece of damaged drywall in the basement and the foundation starts to crumble before us. The foundation needs to be redone NOW. So months 7-9+ of my pregnancy were spent with the AC off (in very hot and record breaking Ottawa humidity), the house dug up (as was our driveway and the neighbors) and a new foundation put in. We couldn't have access to the main floor... Pregnant people like to eat, and it is hard to eat without a kitchen.
The kicker: the sellers knew about it, but didnt' tell us. We tried to go after them for some of the cost, but they swear they didn't know (right... all of the neighbours knew and they didn't...), and we couldn't afford to spend another $100,000 on a lawyer, on top of what we spent on the house (too much) and on re-doing the foundation.
The good news: our baby was 10days late and the engineers and foundation guys were done before he arrived - phew!
I always said I would never live in a "new" neighbourhood (you know the kind where you have to paint your door a different colour so you know which one is yours?), but I can see why people do it!
Hang in there!

Life Begins at Thirty, Right? said...

OMG that sounds awful!!! I'm glad it was done in time but jeesh - a little R&R pre-baby would have been nice!

casacaudill said...

This story reminds me of the day that I decided we had to sell our loft. Our new next door neighbor, and resident douche, decided to remodel his unit. Himself. A noble cause if you know what you're doing, especially when you decide on a whim to go from a gas kitchen to an electric one because the HOA pays for electricity. Ultimately he caught his unit on fire. Specifically, the wall that adjoined our loft. The sprinklers in our unit detected the smoke and the heat and went off. Our entire storage area was flooded. He acted like this was a run-of-the-mill problem and that it was no big deal. To apologize he bought us a $14.99 bottle of wine. I took great solace in the fact that he ran out of money and his loft got foreclosed on.

Shadi said...

First of all, you are handling it amazingly well! If I were 34 weeks pregnant and were at the middle of another project and had just finished the basement reno, I would be a seriously furious Pregnoserouse! Congratulations on that front! time, don't buy any old detached house (like we did...even if it is really charming and nice and cute and looks clean and...) My advice; build your own house! ;) that is my plan, may be in 6 years or so...can't go through projects in an old house anymore. 

Lisaroyblog said...

Yikes! Yup, we lived in a semi and I'll never do it again. I want my problems to be my problems, not from someone else. Hang in there xo

Life Begins at Thirty, Right? said...

Oh my goodness - that is a terrible (yet totally funny after the fact) story. Sharing a wall is never fun. I now know that. I think I might move into a trailer park. My own little space with my own four walls :-)

Life Begins at Thirty, Right? said...

I think you have made a very very good point. A new house (that I know how it was built) would be fantastic. But the mouldings? The stained glass? I don't know if I could just say goodbye.

Who am I kidding. I could TOTALLY do it! haha

Shannon@Hoopla said...

Holy moly Janice, you are really steering me clear from a Victorian row house (because inalways dreamed of living in one!). Glad to hear the stair process is going well though. Hang in there Pregasaurus Rex :)

Stephanie Fazio said...

Ack! That really sucks :(

Rachel said...

Ugh  So sorry to hear of the new house development. We are also racing to get house stuff finished before our baby arrives. I wouldn't deal with an unexpected set back very well either. I hope it all gets sorted out very soon.

On a happier note, how is the baby bump? We haven't seen it recently.

Johns said...

should have installed a product called dricore! The water would have have chance to flow/air out, and wouldn’t have come in contact with your carpet and ruined it..

Heather @ InteriorGroupie said...

oh boy. that is the WORST. but you still managed to make a funny post about it...well done pegasaurus, well done.

Johns said...

You should have installed a product called dricore. The water would have had a chance to flow/air out underneath, and wouldn’t have come in contact with your carpet and ruined it..

Emma said...

I can't imagine! And to think the neighbours didn't even warn you. At least they are being cool about it now. It probably doesn't seem like it but it is better it happened now than 6 weeks from now!

Life Begins at Thirty, Right? said...

I think you are right - better now than later (if it had to happen at all). As much as it was weird they didn't warn us, I can't imagine the end result would have been much different. Except we'd have the ruined carpet out of the house earlier and it wouldn't have infringed on our painting schedule :-)

I hope you are feeling well, Emma!

Life Begins at Thirty, Right? said...

I think Dricore is great for general dampness, etc, but 100 gallons of water might have overcome even the best subfloor!

Cathy Fischer said...

Gee just what you need at this time, well any time. Nice that(you and) your husband is a good neighbour . It explained the leak. 

LipstikEvents said...

That's horrible. Thankfully you have a good neighbour. Good luck!

adamcord007 said...

I really love the idea - I mean how much time do you spend 

remodeling these places?