Breaker Breaker

I flunked my first framing inspection last week because I don’t have an HRV installed. “A what now?” you say? Well, since I made you ask, the short-story-long is: we will be air sealing the heck out of the place with spray foam. So less air leakage means less ventilation. Ventilation is good, but uncontrolled ventilation is not. The goal of controlled ventilation is to bring in air fresh air and expel stale air at a balanced continuous rate through vents and ducts designed for the purpose. Uncontrolled ventilation is what the house does now, air leaks in (or out) through cracks or windows or dirty floor boards or old chimneys at a rate that depends on how hard the wind blows.  Not great for energy efficiency or indoor air quality.

During the winter, a controlled system exhausts warm, humid air and brings in cold, dry air. That can add up to quite an energy loss, so years ago some smart Western Canadian dude added a heat exchanger core to the ventilation system and the Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) was born. HRVs are required in new construction in Nova Scotia.  I wasn’t certain it would apply in my project, so I kinda procrastinated on finding out more and getting a system installed, although I know ultimately I should have one. So the inspector called me on it during the inspection and wants to come back and re-inspect after it’s installed. No biggie.   

Martin called in an HRV contractor to come in and give a quote and I wasn’t able to make that meeting. That evening I was working at the Home Show and I crossed the aisle to say hi to Dave the HRV guy I met at the show last year. I was chatting with him and I mentioned I was getting a system next week. When I told him where the house was located he said, “I was there this morning!”  Halifax, my friends, is very small.

Now I will stop talking and let you see what happened over the last couple of weeks.

The bathroom floor was excavated

The threshold at the bathroom door

New drain pipes, gravel and perimeter insulation

Underslab insulation (R20!), vapour barrier and in-floor heating cable.

New concrete slab

Gerry drilling the hole for the bathroom fan exhaust. The new wall framing is complete.

The back doorway is blocked up where the wall-mount toilet will be installed.

The bathroom fan and skylight

The bathroom roofing was installed just yesterday. Yes, I will be painting the white flashing.

This is the first layer of the torch-on asphalt roof.

Here is what the skylight looks like from the front door. Pretty awesome.

The full length of the main floor party wall is being framed out with steel studs.

The cavities in the steel stud wall will be filled with fibre insulation that keeps out sound and fire. It's made like cotton candy but with rocks instead of sugar.

This is another job that got finished. To the right is what remains of the old double-sided cupboard where they would drop off provisions to the officers' barracks.

This what it looked like when I bought the place. It's a nice shot of colour, but it was uninsulated and the panel was in a less than optimal location.

And here is what it looked like from outside. Another apostle down the lane blocked up the back door and turned the cupbord opening into a doorway. That seemed like it would solve the crazy small bathroom problem, so that is what I decided to do after confirming with the Bldg and Heritage Depts.

So we had to remove the cupboard, block up the bathroom door, and move the meter. It looks bad, but trust me, it gets better.

One cool detail - turns out the two shelves in the old cupboard are solid pieces of slate. I may be able to use them to replace the smashed off mantle in the living room.

Scotty and Tim of Breton Electric moved the panel to the adjacent wall and wired up that sucker. The new panel is in a blocked up doorway to the back hall. I had to sacrifice that space in order to put in a laundry.


All this moving and adjusting for this very moment. Target rolls up cool as Steve McQueen and gets to work.

He says to the wall "I will cut you."

Your twelve inches of raw brick power

Is no match for my big saw

Cutting done. Now tag teaming with the jack hammer. Wall concedes defeat.

Hello doorway!

In closing, here is the exposed conduit wiring in the living room. I am calling it the Rustic Vintage Industrial Barracks aesthetic. I am not even joking. Ok, I am. Professional interior designers would laugh me off the internet for that light fixture.

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