attic · basement apartment

Dreams and Reality: When Fun Renovations Must Be Usurped By Less Fun Renovations

Two summers ago, when we first moved into this house, we tore through two kitchen renovations and a bathroom renovation, from start to finished in about three months. We kicked ass. I was proud of us. I thought we would never be one of those people who allowed renovations to drag on and on, living with dust curtains, rooms full of tools, and patches of mud on our paintless walls.

It’s time to admit it. This time around, we’re going to be one of those people. Dear friends who renovate for months, even years, I have a new respect for you.
Because, here’s the thing: I get it now. I get how it happens. I get how things come up and priorities shift, how budgets get re-allocated, and our time gets funneled away to other things, just as important. I understand: this is just how life works. 
Our attic looks no different than it did weeks ago. In fact, I don’t think we’ve done anything up there in almost a month. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to stay that way for a good many weeks longer. Our priorities have shifted and we have no choice but to turn our attention elsewhere. 
Namely, down here:

This is the front bedroom in our basement apartment. It’s damp. Too damp. Last month, when our tenants made note of a couple puddles of water that showed up on their floor, we knew we would need to do something to solve the problem. Obviously, the room didn’t look like this then. We’ve made some cosmetic changes in the days the apartment has been empty. To diagnose the issues, we ripped down the drywall from the outside walls. We discovered far less water damage than expected, but plenty of speckles and watermarks all the way up the wall, a symptom of the poor condition of our siding and flashing. 
Full-on waterproofing seems to be out of the question: it’s ridiculously pricy – though understandably so – and we have some unfortunate neighbourly relations that are turning my hair grey and would render the project unpleasant to impossible.* Besides that, we’re constantly assessing our home, how long we’ll be here, and what is likely to happen to it when we leave. Our prediction? Our little bungalow will fall into the hands of a builder who will adore the long lot. He or she will raze this little house down to its foundations and rebuild. It’s just what happens to bungalows around here. So, what’s the point of an expensive permanent fix when a well-executed temporary fix will carry us through to the day these walls disappear?
So, we’re prepping for a little interior waterproofing: plugging the visible cracks; painting on a polymer membrane, spray foaming with waterproof insulation, drywalling, and a coat or two of waterproof paint. New siding and flashing will help our efforts significantly, as will new basement windows. It’s not a permanent fix, but it might be a five year fix. If we’re still here then, it will be time to bite the bullet and go for the full solution.
Of course, all of this is going to be a lot of work. And, as seems to be our style, we haven’t got a lot of time to complete it all in. Waterproofing, drywalling, windows, and paint, all of this in two months. Come the last week of August, we’ll be welcoming two new tenants to our little two bedroom apartment. We better be ready for them.
In the meantime, our attic isn’t going anywhere, right? 
* I have thought about writing a blog post about this. But, every time I sit down to write it I find I’m unable to fully express how difficult the situation has become. And then, I talk myself out of burdening the blog world with the negativity of that relationship.
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