Renovation

Hand-crafted leather floor

Perhaps the most unique and challenging floor I can lay is composed of leather tile. These are vegetable tanned hides whereby every tile has been trimmed to size and bevelled by hand. The tiles are then sorted for thickness and colour to be racked and arranged in a harmonious manner on the floor. Several light coats of finish help protect this princely floor.

The result is a true pleasure to touch and behold.

Colourful tiled backsplashes

It's not often enough that a client has the sense of adventure (humour) to use vibrant colour in tile. It was a pleasure to install these beautiful tiles to create colourful zones in their otherwise monotone kitchen. Colour-matched grouts kept the blocks of colour bold and solid.

Solid cherry kitchen

This kitchen badly needed an upgrade: I replaced the contractor-grade cabinetry from the 80's with quality solid cherry cabinets, new LED lighting,plumbing, countertop and tiled backsplash. Properly designed, the kitchen now boasts a tremendous amount of storage space, and is now efficient, bright and beautiful.

deck built to last

This was a deck reconstruction involving the replacement of the decking and railings with composite materials. Handsome, maintenance-free and built to last a lifetime.

seismic upgrade

An employee of Stantec Engineering hired me to evaluate and do a seismic retrofit on their basement walls, posts and beams. As typically found in our basements here in the Victoria, the cripple walls on which the house rests have very little resistance to the lateral forces of an earthquake. The result can be catastrophic if the first floor of the house slides off and lands a couple of feet off the side of the foundation. Shockingly, the beams under this house were not connected at all to the posts, and the posts were too short and shimmed with blocks of wood. I replaced these posts and reinforced all the others. The entire perimeter was bolted down, shear panelled and connected to the floor structure above. Some rot was discovered in the sill plates and they were replaced along the way, and of course the entire wall was insulated and a vapour barrier was installed.

reclaimed timber, salvaged doors and a missing closet

In this particular adventure, a client required a closet in a spare bedroom. The only space available was over the adjoining staircase. With the creative and whimsical re-use of reclaimed 100-year-old timbers from my collection, two matched stained-glass doors of the same vintage I salvaged from another house, I built a closet suspended over the stair. Lit from inside, the closet casts an intriguing glow over the stair.

bamboo flooring done properly

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I see too many poorly laid out wood floors. Wood flooring, such as this bamboo floor is not meant to simply be pulled out of the box and immediately nailed down. Let's assume the flooring has been acclimatised (that is a subject for another post). The next step after properly preparing the substrate is to rack the material. Racking means selecting boards for proper colour, grain and the proper distribution of end joints. Unfortunately racking and selecting the flooring material before laying it is supposed to be standard procedure- but I don't see much evidence of it when I see other people's floors.

When choosing for colour, I end up opening a lot of boxes to a get a feel for the colour range of the wood. Wood is a natural material and has inherent colour variation. Sometimes it can be quite extreme- but it can be managed by transitioning gradually from light to dark areas of flooring. In these images you can see the same light and dark samples of bamboo flooring placed on opposite ends of the same 200 square foot room. The change in colour is gradual accross the floor and barely noticeable.

I lay every one of my floors with this level of attention for superior results.

siding restoration

Restoring this 1910 house to its former glory with a new set of shingles. Unfortunately, the former owners of this house had woefully neglected the routine maintenance required of cedar shingles: this house hadn't been painted or stained in over 25 years. Fortunately I saved and restored about half the siding on this house, but the western exposure, this side, which receives all the wind, sun and rain had to be completely replaced. With a modern rain-screen system (an air barrier, drainage plane, and a free-venting air space) installed under pre-stained shingles, this new facade should survive more than another century with regular maintenance.

flooring inspection

One of the services I offer are home inspection reports. In this case, I was asked to inspect a hardwood floor. This horrible flooring installation serves to illustrate two hard-learned lessons: 1. make sure your flooring installer is intelligent and qualified to do the work; 2. make sure the material is acclimatised to site conditions. The Jatoba floor in this house quickly starting gapping within months of the owners taking possession of their new house. I came to the conclusion, from physical evidence I gathered on site, a few calculations and by interviewing witnesses that the floor had been stored in an unheated garage in winter (very humid here in the Pacific Northwest) and was installed directly from the garage. Thus, the floor dried and shrank in place, leaving gaps of up to 4 mm. Besides that, numerous other mistakes were observed that confirmed to me that this installer was not qualified and unaware of industry standards for the laying of hardwood floors. Incredibly, this individual is still in business here in Victoria installing wood flooring. I have inspected two of his installations and they were both disasters. He ran away with the money from both jobs and left one of the homeowners literally in tears over the fact that she had paid $12,000 for a botched floor.

red kitchen

Another complete kitchen overhaul. Windows and doors were moved to re-organize the space. The new kitchen incorporated a peninsula, rich colours, cork flooring and plenty of storage in this older house.