Building With Bay West Homes

The journey of building a new house...

Monday, May 27, 2002

The long-awaited photos of our house as it looks today are finally live! I should have a good excuse for not posting them sooner, but I don't. It has something to do with the amount of time I knew it would take to prepare the images and do the write-up - then not havng the time to do it (going away to Cancun for nine days didn't help my project list very much!). I'm writing this on my laptop while my wife drives us to my folks' place for dinner, so I've made some time. Here we go...

We're going to start the photographic tour in the basement. My office is shown above. It's rather chaotic at the moment because we don't have enough shelving for all the hardware & software I own. All the furniture except the chair was purchased at Ikea. I want to add more shelving units, but as is typical for the Ikea in our area, they were out of stock when we went back a couple of weeks ago. Please excuse me while I rant about Ikea for a moment...

We really like the European look of Ikea furniture, so it's no surprise that Ashley and I decorated 95% of our house with Ikea products. Yet as much as we enjoy how it looks, getting it is another matter. In January of this year, armed with the new 2002 Ikea catalog, we set out to plan our interior. We picked our furniture, only to go down to the store and discover that several items we chose were discontinued. What? How can a store discontinue items from their NEW catalog? We were looking for coffee tables, display cabinets, and a few other items - only to be told by Ikea that the product lines were either discontinued or they would take six months before they would be released again (something about them changing paint?). At any rate, as much as I like Ikea products, trying to get everything we wanted was a frustrating experience.

This is what our walk-out basement looks like from the inside. We opted to get blinds from Affordable Decorating, a local Calgary company, that would block 99% of the sunlight.

Chaos unleashed! My home office from the condo (our previous residence) had a massive custom-designed closet that stored a lot of equipment. I have no such closests in the basement, so we have a lot of work to do. It looks better now then when I took this picture - really! ;-)

This is the "spare bedroom" in the basement. We haven't had company yet. ;-) This is actually going to be our storage room. We'll probably throw some drywall up, but the floor won't be carpeted. You'll notice the computer sitting atop the rubber storage containers. My cable modem sits on top of that computer, which in turn hosts my multimedia files on 120 gigs of storage space. I love my digital audio!

We haven't finished the basement stairwell yet, but we thought we'd add a little culture to it. The artwork in the middle is Kanji created by my brother, Aaron Dunn, and the figures are martial artists in fighting poses that I bought in Calgary's China Town district.

Now we come to the "good looking" part of our house - the areas that we put a lot of effort into. Above is our living room - Ikea everywhere! We're really impressed with the hardwood floor, and the blend of colours we chose came together nicely. A set of Samurai swords adorns our mantle, a "flat" style stereo from Costco on the left, and not pictured on the right is a soothing stone waterfall. Our couches, chairs, and table are from Ikea.

Our kitchen area. The table and chairs are from Ikea, and the centrepiece was a wedding gift. The maroon colour looks excellent! We wanted to get a table big enough for both of our families, so with the wing inserted (not shown) the table seats twelve people. Our "bottom's up, top down" blinds were also provided by Affordable Decorating - we're really happy with them.

The famous stainless steel fridge! Both Ashley and myself adore the look of stainless steel, so we were practically giddy at the way our fridge looked in our kitchen. Someone generously gave us the retro-looking stainless steel toaster oven for a wedding gift.

Another shot of our living room.

The other half of our kitchen. We were shocked when the cabinets we liked weren't an extra! Everything with any real style was always an extra, so we were delighted when we didn't have to pay more to choose this design. We did, however, have to pay a few hundred bucks in other extras to get the cabinets lengthened for the nine foot ceilings. If we'd had an unlimited budget, we might have opted for a gas burner stove, but the black smooth top looks great, and we haven't quite evolved as chefs enough to warrant the gas top. Notice how high our microwave is above the stove? Despite our protests that it's wrong, Bay West assures us that it's to code and it needs to be that high (26" of clearance). Having ventured into friends' homes, we've noticed that all their microwaves are at an appropriate height...

Ashley and I are both tall, so we can reach it without a problem, but no woman of average height (5'5 or less) would be able to reach the top buttons on the microwave. This makes no sense to me - a building code that would force people to stand on a stool to use their microwave?

Our lovely island! It took Prestique Kitchens three attempts to get it right, but we're very pleased with how it turned out. The arc is finally correct! It was frustrating that it took them three months to get it right, even though Bay West apparently told them the arc was incorrect the first time they did it. Prestique went ahead anyway and tried to pass it off as correct, and Bay West didn't stop them - not exactly impressive.

A closer shot of our mantle and the stonework. Kanji symbols courtesy of Linens n' Things, swords courtesy of eBay.

Our front closet - nothing too exciting here. Adequete shelf space, although with no closet in the back room, I wish this was a little bigger. What's ironic is that it's already bigger than it was originally supposed to be - Bay West framed the bathroom incorrectly, which made it smaller, and resulted in the front closet being slightly bigger.

Our front entryway. Shoe rack by Ikea, floor mat by Linen's and Things.

Asian wall hangings from Pier 1 Imports.

Our back laundry room. The washer and dryer we purchased from Coast Appliances, and they're working out really nicely. Very quiet when operating. And no, we don't actually keep a monitor in our back room - it's from our church office and it's broken.

The hallway leading to our bonus room. The mighty Chewbacca looms off in the distance.

Our bonus room entertainment system, with Han Solo standing guard. Thank goodness my wife shares my sci-fi passion and she let me keep my cool stuff in this room. ;-) Media rack on the right courtesy of Boltz-USA.

Our well-worn leather couch which we brought from the condo and Ikea bookshelves in the background. Despite all the frustrations we've had with Ikea discontinuing certain pieces of furniture we wanted, these shelves and the rest of our decor really turned out exactly how we wanted it to. Lots of books! Every single book we own, short of the few we have in our piles of "to be read" are housed in these bookcases. Thankfully Ikea provides wall anchors with all their shelving units - the cases kept falling over with the weight of the doors! All is well now though - between the anchors and the heavy books, everything looks great.

These are dragons from a Franklin Mint collection that I own. They adorn the bonus room and look great! We're looking to get some backlights to mount inside each shelf to light up the dragons. Because the unit is black, when the blind is closed, the room gets quite dark and the dragons become invisible! Kind of tragic considering how beautiful they are.

Main bathroom upstairs. We were shocked to recieve such a cool shower curtain for a wedding gift. :-) Most of our "thematic" house decorations were hand-picked by us, but whoever bought this for us sure knew us well enough to pick something to match perfectly!

Pictured above is Ashley's office - I'm jealous of how quiet her Dell computer is! :-)

(Ashley now takes over writing the rest of this entry). Jason gave me the computer as a Christmas present. What a sweetheart! I still have some organizing to do in my office, but mostly just going through boxes and figuring out what can go in Jason's parents' garage sale two weekends from now. My mom and dad gave me my sewing maching on the day Jason and I got married. I still haven't used it, but my sister has promised to help me get started this summer.

Master bedroom with ultra-plush king-size bed that we nearly have to use a step stool to get onto! We decided to go all out and get a king size when we moved. Our old bed is in the spare room. The headboard and footboard match our decor as well. We've been really blessed during this building process in terms of meeting our decorating goals.

Here is our ensuite with walk-in closet. A standup shower on the left and the closet on the right. Between the two of us, we didn't have any trouble filling our closet with clothes!

This is our wonderful jacuzzi tub. As you may recall from Jason's last post, we've been having trouble with the water heater, and have to carefully monitor the water when we fill the tub up, otherwise it ends up freezing cold and ruins the bath. But, that aside, we love our tub. It's spacious and has six jets, three on either side. Having the block glass window beside it really adds a lot to the bathroom and the tub because we get more natural light.

Here we have our counter and medicine cabinet. We love our stainless steel sinks and our space-aged taps! (Poke-Moen!) As you've no doubt noticed, we went with an Asian decor, and have been fortunate enough to find a lot of matching accent pieces, like our kleenex box covers, toothpaste cup, soap dispenser and many other little knick knacks (talk about price gouging though - I'm still in shock we paid $40 CND for a kleenex box cover!)

Ah, the infamous main floor half bath. Quite some time ago, we posted about a building error made by Bay West in that they framed on the inside of the marks rather than the outside when building this bathroom, thus making it six inches too small. The round sink you've seen in all the other bathrooms was supposed to go in this one as well, but due to the smaller bathroom, we had to wait for a good month after moving in to get this smaller, airplane sized sink. (Personally, I think it looks like a hospital bedpan. - Jason) It's still fun though. Half baths are the ones you're supposed to have fun with anyway!

That's it for the photos - we hope you've enjoyed them! If you'd like to see pictures of anything else, or if you have any questions for us, please use the email link in the upper-right corner of the page. Thanks for visiting and reading about our new home!

As this web site content gets closer to the present day, here's something we finished about two months ago: our basement! My dad and I got to work finishing the basement about a week after we moved in - right after the flood in fact. Here are a few photos of the process.

We started things off by building a wall between the furnace and what was to be Jason's office.

Here is a bit of a broader picture of the wall. It extends from one end of the room to the other with a large entrance way at the end of the hallway.

A bit of an idea of how things looked before we got started with the drywalling. This wall, as it happens, wasn't properly attached and secured to the ceiling when they dropped our vent to the floor. When we were drilling the drywall into the studs, we discovered that if you pushed on the wall, it actually moved quite a bit. A nice little surprise from Bay West. Fortunately because we built a sturdy ceiling which comes to a joint at the corner of the wall and the ceiling, we stablized it without too much effort. Still kind of unnerving though, knowing that the tradesguys were too lazy to screw a few more screws into place to hold the wall steady.

I look kind of like an abominable snowman here, but we had to cover up to do the insulation. The itching is unbearable if you get the little pieces of fibreglass under your skin. We only had to insulate the ceiling, because all the walls had already been insulated by Bay West (they did a good job on the insulation and sealing, with the exception of the hole in our house by the power panel). We're planning to finish the other half of the basement sometime soon. We also need to insulate and drywall our garage. Because our bonus room sits on top of it, it gets quite cold in the winter when the garage is the same temperature as outside (Bay West insulated part of the garage ceiling, but not all of it). For those of you who live in or have been to Calgary, we've had two snowstorms in May already...

This is what the ceiling looked like after the insulation went in and the drywall was secured. This was the most intense job - finishing the ceiling. My neck was killing me after all the mudding was done. My dad, fortunately, is quite tall so he did the sanding.

My dad and I doing some drilling. We finished the ceiling with drywall - that was quite a feat. Jason came down and helped my dad hold the pieces of drywall up while I screwed them into place.

Nearing completion, the walls had a coat of paint on them. My dad is a professional painter by trade, and a perfectionist to boot! Everything looks great down here thanks to him. He spent nearly three weeks worth of evenings over here with me, along with a few weekends too, getting everything finished. It took about three weeks from start to finish, which, all things considered, is pretty fast. Suffice it to say I was getting kind of tired of poor Jason having to work off the kitchen table. We weren't able to totally settle in until he was down here and set up.

All in all, my dad and I enjoyed some quality time together, and we completed Jason's office! We still have the hallway, storage room and bathroom to finish though. Hopefully we'll at least get a good start on them this summer.

Thanks for all your help dad - couldn't have done it without you! You're the best. :-)

Sunday, May 26, 2002

In the first week of living in our new home, we had a flood. Lovely, I know. Canyon kindly hooked up our water filtration system in the basement, but didn't tighten one of the connections properly, and a tube came loose and pumped water into our basement for several days. We had a gentleman from a networking company come out to hook up our ethernet cables about a week after we moved in, and when we went downstairs with him, we discovered this little surprise.

Here is a photo of the tube pumping water into our basement. Luckily we hadn't started finishing anything downstairs at this point, and we only lost two boxes - nothing inside any of the boxes was damaged though. Canyon came back right away and fixed the connection. They didn't, however, apologize for anything which was a bit frustrating...

We also discovered that Baywest didn't properly slope our basement. Our understanding was that the concrete in a basement was to be sloped towards the drain in case of a flood. Well, as you can see here, our drain was dry. There was a good inch to an inch and a half of water on the floor, and none of it made it to the drain. Unfortunately, there's nothing that Baywest can do to fix this problem. And now that everything is finished down there, we're just keeping our fingers crossed that something else doesn't break or come apart...if we had a flood today, it would damage a lot of Jason's office equipment.

The net result of our flood looked like this. You can see in the top right hand corner between the water heater and the wall, the floor is dry. The drain is right in that space.

We've selected a few photos to show you the moving in process we went through. Our scheduled possession date was January 31, and thankfully because that was a Thursday, we weren't able to make the move until February 2. You may be wondering why I said thankfully we weren't able to move right away...

This is what our house looked like on January 31. Considering we were still living in our condo and weren't in a rush to get out, things worked out fine. But, had we been a family moving from a different city with all the movers scheduled to bring our entire life to our new house on the 31st, we would've been in a bad state. Our island had sawdust all over it and the sink hadn't been installed yet. The fridge wasn't plugged in and the door was broken and wouldn't close. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Here is a better shot of just how bad the kitchen looked on the 31st. We came to drop off most of our boxes that day just to get a head start on the weekend move. When we look back on that decision, it doesn't seem like such a good one. Prestique Kitchens, our most unfavourite company throughout the process, wasn't finished installing everything in the kitchen, and because they did such a poor job on our island, we had demanded that they fix it before we move in. The best they could do was to come in on the Friday after we dropped out boxes off, and sand down the edge to make it look nicer. They still did a poor job, but that's for another post. Anyway, the Prestique workers obviously decided it wouldn't be worth their while to cover anything when they were sanding in our kitchen, so when we arrived on Saturday morning with both of our families and the moving crew, all of the boxes and assorted goodies we had left there since Thursday were COVERED in sawdust. What a mess. We had nothing good to say about Prestique up to that point, and this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Bay West has actually found a new kitchen cabinet supplier since the poor job Prestique did with our house.

Yet another pile of boxes! Thanks to both of our families, we were able to get all of the boxes on the main floor either unpacked or moved to the rooms where they belonged. We truly owe our parents, brothers, sisters and yes, even cousins, a debt of gratitude.

This theme of boxes is getting kind of old, I know. The bonus room, as you will see later, is our entertainment room. Considering this is what it looked like four months ago, and what it looks like now, I think we've done a good job of getting things in order! Those media racks you see on the right - there are four of them which my mom and one of my cousins organized and alphabetized all our VHS tapes and DVDs on. That in itself is a big job! Everything looks great now though! We're thinking of charging rental fees for all the movies people borrow though...;-) Just kidding!

This is my cousin Deborah. She came to help on the Saturday even though she had to work later in the day! You will see two short bookshelves on either side of our fireplace in some later photos - that's what you see Deborah putting together here. She fell in love with our house when she walked through the door! Luckily her and her sister live about two blocks away!

Lovely, isn't it? This is the way Canyon Plumbing left our dishwasher. They never came back to finish putting it together, so Jason and I got down on our hands and knees and figured out how to put the last panel on. Canyon also neglected to turn the water on for it, so our first load of dishes was kind of a waste...just lots of dry soap swirling around inside. Thankfully our dads know more about plumbing than we do! They saved our butts more than once during this process!

Ah yes, our first meal in the new house! We went all out and got some KFC, then sat on the floor and ate it!

On Sunday, February 3rd, we got down and dirty and started actually unpacking some of the boxes we had simply moved around on Saturday. My mom and dad stopped over for a few hours and helped set some stuff up too. Kind of a messy job...

Friday, May 24, 2002

One of the "joys" of building a new home in an area that's under construction is the nail collection you'll quickly acquire. The problem is, your collection will start in your tires! :-( I've already had one tire patched from a nail, Ashley just got her car back and one tire had a nail, the other had a screw (both were slow leaks). Two of my tires have slow leaks once again, so I've probably picked up two nails. I knew that it was a construction area, but I wasn't prepared for how MANY nails there would be.

We decided to clean up our back yard you see - it was full of construction refuse. We packed up four huge garbage packs, and three arm loads of stuff too big for the garbage bag. Why didn't Bay West clean up after themselves? Who knows. The really shocking part was the nails - I'm not exaggerating when I say that there were easily 10-15 nails every square foot of our backyard. We spent an hour trying to pick them all up before giving up - there were simply too many. I'd say there are easily over 1000 nails around our house, so it's no wonder our tires keep getting punctured - the area probably has 100,000 nails rolling around the dirt and street. I think every new Bay West home should come with a tire patching kit - that would be a useful thing to have. :-)

On the home front, things are getting nearly complete. We're waiting for Canyon Plumbing to come back and look at our hot water tank. Because we have the jacuzzi, we ordered a larger water tank - no sense in running out of hot water. We were told that the standard 40 gallon tank would fill the tub up, but not leave much hot water for anything else. Not liking that idea, I went for the 60 gallon tank - our representative at Canyon Plumbing assured me that I'd have PLENTY of hot water left over. Guess what? I don't. Even after not running any hot water for 8+ hours, if we run the water, we can fill the tub up with hot water but as it gets close to being full, the water suddenly becomes freezing cold. So it's very easy to ruin the bath - you have to sit there watching it and waiting for the cold water so you can turn it off. We paid extra for this? I'm hoping Canyon will be able to offer us some sort of explanation - the first time we asked them, they turned the water heat level up and said "That should help".

Guess what's almost done? The pictures from the walk through - yes, finally!