Why We’re Investing So Much in the Guts of Our Reno Behind the Scenes

Good Bones is an ongoing renovation series, view the weeks 1 + 2 here and the 3 + 4 weeks here, Weeks 5+6 here, Weeks 7+8 here, Weeks 9+10 here, and weeks 11+12 here.

To the untrained eye, our house now looks like a war zone. But behind the scenes, we are working hard on our reno. Investing in the details of the plumbing, HVAC and electrical in the home is one of the most important components of the entire renovation. It’s great to have a nice place, but if it doesn’t function properly, it won’t be a pleasant place to live in the long run.

Weeks 13+14


New waste pile

The plumber replaced our 120 year old rusty cast iron waste pile with a brand new PVC (also called plastic). The plastic drain pipe does not rust, it is much easier to work with and connect, and it is one of the most cost-effective materials for plumbing. All the pipes that we need throughout the house are connected to this with PVC pipes.

Since replacing the main stack meant opening the wall all the way to the roof, we can also reconfigure some mishmash to get some extra space in the small 3rd floor closets.

Ordered kitchen and bath fixtures

To try and get ahead of horribly long lead times (thanks, COVID-19), we’ve had to make decisions about the fixtures like faucets, sinks, and toilets we want. Especially if you’re looking for a more traditional look, your choices are more limited and can get very expensive. To make our life easier, we ordered most things from the place with a combination of the largest selection and cheapest prices we could find, CRANES. When choosing fits and finishes, we’ve learned to always shop around to compare prices and ask for the contractor discount. Many suppliers charge both retail and trade prices for their products. So if you work with a contractor who is a registered trader, they should be able to get a better price than what you see as the list price.

For the master bath, we ordered the shower fixtures and faucet from The Edwardian Collection of Perrin & Rowe appropriate to the era in which our house was built.

Toilets are from Kohlers Memoirs Collection. The kitchen gets a nice big farmhouse style sink from Shaws.

Opposite the traditional kitchen faucet comes a matching pot filler over the stove, one of the fixtures I’m most looking forward to!

Perrin & Rowe Wall Mounted Pot Filler

To lose

Backflow valve rendered useless

When we bought our house, we thought we were lucky with the basement. It was very recently finished with both a submersible pump and a backflow valve to prevent city sewers from entering our home in heavy rain and storms. But then our plumber made a rather shocking discovery. The basement toilet drain is connected on the wrong side of the backflow valve, rendering it completely unusable. This means that if there were a city sewer, it would come through that toilet and flood the basement.

More will need to be dug into the basement concrete floor to connect the toilet to the right side of the backflow valve

We have no choice but to fix this. It will be necessary to excavate the concrete floor to lay all the new pipes connecting the toilet to the right side of the check valve. Yet another renovation obstacle and cost that we never thought we would face in a recently completed basement.

Losing precious centimeters

It turns out that the hot and cold water pipes to the main bathroom ran into an uninsulated exterior wall. This makes them vulnerable to possible frostbite and cracking in winter and flooding the house. To maintain the design we envisioned for this bathroom and to keep the plumbing in that exterior wall, we lose some of the precious little space we have in the bathroom to insulate the pipes. In this case, we chose to lose space in favor of preserving the aesthetics. A decision I hope we don’t regret!

The hot and cold pipes to our main bathroom need to be insulated behind so they don’t freeze and crack in the winter

What we learned behind the scenes about the importance of investing in a Reno

You never really know how to redecorate a room until you open the walls and find out what goes on behind the scenes. Perhaps the way the joists run makes it impossible to place a toilet in the spot you’d hoped. Or the need for insulation where there was none before changes the available space you have to work with. We have learned to maintain some flexibility in aligning our vision with reality and to make last minute changes at any time.

The mudroom is also stripped

Even when appearances indicate that a recent renovation has been done well, there can be surprises lurking behind every wall, ceiling and floor. When buying a house that has been recently renovated (especially the ones that have been turned over to sell), ask for the building permits and the details of who and how the renovation was done. If the house still has an outstanding permit, there is no final inspection of the work. If there’s no planning permission for a major remodel, that’s also a huge red flag. That means the work was done without the city’s permission, and critical things like structural, plumbing and electrical work may be uncoded.

Unfortunately, corners are often cut intentionally and sheer negligence is not uncommon when it comes to construction work, no matter where you live. In any case, we can be confident and proud that we do everything by the book. We correct any mistakes we find and spend a little more to invest behind the scenes in those critical components that will keep our home running smoothly and happily for many decades to come.

To follow @thepearsonhouse as two new homeowners, Nicola and Michael, struggle with the ups and downs of owning a 120-year-old home in Toronto, and learn to deal with the challenges of a pandemic renovation in an effort to turn their new property into their dream home. to make .


Written by
Nicola Brown

Nicola is an award-winning writer, editor and communications consultant. She writes about travel, food, lifestyle, real estate and personal finance. Nicola loves the perspective-shifting power of travel, psychological insights and a good cup of tea. E: [email protected]

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