Let’s take this outside

One of the most dangerous phrases in any renovation has to be “as long as we’re already doing this, let’s do (insert expensive new project here)”.  I’ve heard and seen it with my clients, over the past 20 years.  It’s a guaranteed signal that the budget is about to expand, leading you closer to bankruptcy, and earning your home’s place in the MoneyPit Hall of Fame.  You’d think I’d know better, and yet, here I am, waiting on quotes for siding, eavestroughs, a garage door, and a new roof.  Did I mention that this is a ‘kitchen’ renovation?!


It all started with the exterior door that we planned to move up to kitchen level so we could eliminate the interior stairs leading down to the side of the house.   Yes, it would have left a gap in our siding, but that would have been hidden by the new side porch.  Trouble is, the side of our house is too close to our neighbour’s house to legally have a side porch.  So, we decided to eliminate the door altogether.  But that means that the gap in our siding will be visible for all to see.  We have a neighbour a few doors down who removed his kitchen door and patched the siding with mismatched pieces.  I suppose we could do the same, but I know I just can’t live with that.  (Yes, interior decorators do care about the exterior of the house, too.)  So that means the siding has to be replaced.

I love lilacs on bushes, but not on my siding.

I love lilacs on bushes, but not on my siding.

We really don’t mind, since the siding is original and has faded to not-so-lovely shade of lilac.  We have no idea what colour the siding was originally, but intentional or not, this colour has to go!  Luckily, we have several contacts who can give us a quote on this project.  Estate Renovations in Newmarket replaced our bedroom windows a few years ago, and will be replacing the windows in the kitchen and living room.  Turns out, they also do siding and eaves, so we have asked them for a quote.  For a second quote, we called on Elma, the female owner of Elle & Co. Construction, a fellow BILD member.  We had met at a BILD meeting for new members, and instantly connected.   Plus, I love the idea of working with a female-run company in such a male-dominated business.  Last but not least, we had a quote from a National Home Show find, Royal Crown Aluminum.   Since we haven’t yet signed the contract, I don’t want to say which way we are leaning, but I can say that the quotes from Elle and Estate were comparable, while Royal Crown is higher than both.  As far was we can determine, product quality seems to be equal, but Royal Crown is a union shop, so perhaps that is driving their labour costs a little higher??   Cost aside, we have learned that we want vinyl siding, not aluminum, for easy maintenance and durability.  We are also considering replacing the front part of our roof with vertical board and batten siding, instead of shingles.

house exterior cropped2

As you can see in this Google street view photo from a few years ago, our home has a mansard style roof, which makes our house look very squatty and top-heavy.  It also makes roofing a very costly endeavour.  Replacing the shingles with siding will decrease the cost of our next roof, and will last much longer than the shingles.  It will also lighten the look of our home.  Unfortunately, our roof will need to be replaced in a few years, and it has been brought to our attention that the roofers will mess up our new eaves and siding if we have the roof done after the siding.  We also had a small leak recently, and although it didn’t do any interior damage, we do NOT want to have another leak after the renovation.  So, ‘as long as we’re doing the siding….’  The first roofer we called, Better Contracting, was recommended by a friend who sells roofing to the roofers.  This is the company that Mike Holmes features on his show.   They were slow to schedule our first meeting to get a quote, and even slower to return a quote to us, so we called our friend again, and were referred to Dave McRae, at McRae Roofing.  He promptly returned my call, and we are meeting him this week.  Hopefully, he will be just as quick to get back to us with a quote.

Meanwhile, we have had our general contractor come back for an update him on our project, as lots of things have changed since our initial meeting.  Part of that discussion concerned the front porch of our house.  We had offered to remove it prior to having the siding and roof done, to make their jobs easier.  We weren’t going to replace it this year, due to the bulging budget, but our contractor has suggested that we keep the existing overhang, and just replace the posts.  This will allow the structure to be integrated with the house, as it should be, to avoid having to damage the new siding or roof in order to add it back on after the work is done.   We hadn’t considered that, so now we have to fit the porch into the budget, too.

This porch is much larger than ours, but I love the glass window on one end to shield from weather.  This could work for us.

This porch is much larger than ours, but I love the glass window on one end to shield from weather. This could work for us.

The easiest part of the exterior makeover is the garage door — my husband had been planning to replace it this year, even before the siding and roof came into the project.  You see, our living and dining rooms, and part of hte kitchen, are above the garage, and are very cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  We will eventually put spray foam into the garage ceiling to provide a better barrier between the garage and the main floor.  Meanwhile, a new garage door can be insulated to better keep out the heat and cold.  For this, we will look no further than Stouffville Garage Doors; they have been keeping our old garage door operating, and we love their responsiveness and service.  They are competively priced, so this one is a no-brainer.  The only hitch is that I prefer garage doors with windows, and my husband insists that we need to go without windows in order to get the best insulating value.  I know he’s right, but still….

garage door sample




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