221) Merry Merry at This Green House

by Gail on December 23, 2014

house in snow

I’m wishing you a wonderful and warm holiday season with family, chosen family, and friends.

fire with decorations

A story:

A  year and a half ago, I applied for a GST/HST rebate on our build. A few months later, I received an answer from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), telling me our rebate was denied, because the agent decided that our house was 90% finished about a year before I determined it was substantially completed. I tell the whole sad tale in this post.

Vexed and feeling cheated by CRA, we appealed the decision soon after. D wrote a letter, and I assembled a file of dated photographs as evidence that the house was not even close to 90% completed when the agent decreed it was.

I received a phone call in January that confirmed our appeal was being considered. That agent told me to be ready to provide evidence when our appeal was being heard. Never heard from them that they wanted our evidence.

Until yesterday.

An agent called me to say ……. our rebate has been approved in full!!!! ($5572)

The CRA works in mysterious ways. No one can figure out how. Least of all, me.

But, their timing in this case is exquisite, and I told the agent that much, thanking her for the (earned!) gift, and wishing her a Merry Christmas herself.

Sometimes there is a happy ending to the story.

I wish you unexpected surprises, too.reflected sunset




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220) Greenhouse at This Green House

by Gail on November 11, 2014

Oh, boy! I’m excited!

We have finally built that greenhouse, on the concrete pad that was poured ‘way back here.

We were gifted 25 plates of tempered glass from a condo balcony remodel that was headed for the landfill. Some of them were used in our balcony railings and one was broken.broken tempered glass panel

Sixteen odd-sized pieces remain.safety glass for greenhouse WWOOFer Tim re-measured them, and we finally had the good sense to write the measurements right on the glass.tim measures glass for greenhouse

Then we designed the greenhouse to fit the available glass.greenhouse plans

I found a solid wood door at the landfill or curbside, I don’t remember which. It had a 16″ saw-cut down one side and was missing its window glass. greenhouse doorWe patched the saw-cutsaw cut in door

and got 13 pieces of glass cut. Painted it in our house’s accent colour (“anthracite”, custom-mixed to match our window frames.)painted greenhouse door

(D was concerned that the greenhouse might end up looking like a hippy hobbit house. Scroll down to see if it does!)

Here’s a quickie photo-essay of the stages:

Framing first wall:framing greenhouse side 1

Raising first wall:first wall greenhouse

Second wall:greenhouse 2 walls

Third:greenhouse 3 sides

Fourth:4 walls of greenhouse

First rafters:greenhouse rafter start

Sheathing inside wall with plywood to strengthen and stabilize. We get a lot of wind here, almost every day.interior sheathing greenhouse

Rafters and skylight frames built.greenhouse rafters and skylight frames


Ela and Francois and I painted all the parts visible from inside:Francois painting GH

Then, shingling.GH roof shingles

We ordered a steel peak cap in the same colour as the roof on This Green House.IMG_0256

D installed the skylights on frames he built atop the rafters. It was a job that required an assistant.

Raff GH skylight

In an effort to prevent leaks and movement, D used exterior silicone between the glass and the frame. It’s white in this picture, before it cured.GH skylights

Interestingly, when the sun shone down in the heat of the summer, one plate of glass started sliding down with the softened silicone, so D nailed little blocks of cedar below the glass to provide stops.finished greenhouse

Next, wall shingles to match the house. Because we were doing so few, compared with the 12,000 or so we painted for the house (our technique, here), we took turns hand-staining them.painting GH shingles

The rest of the glass was installed in fussy-to-figure-and-build window frames. D installed three automatic window openers I purchased from Lee Valley Tools. They work hydraulically based on temperature – when the temperature gets too hot, they open to provide cooling/air.

The door installed:

GH door and stucco wire

D applied a scratch coat around the bottom 36″ of the building.GH scratch coat

I applied stone, leftovers from the house construction (how-to’s here):stonework on greenhouse

And we applied the “pointing” (or grouting, how-to’s here):greenhouse closeup

D built interior shelves to my specs, using scrap cedar we had lying around:Greenhouse shelves

I planted seedlings,tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil:plants in greenhouse

I was disappointed in the harvest – it just seemed that my pampered plants should have done much better in their special greenhouse. There were plenty of pests that got in (including tomato hornworm), and my special organic soil mix lacked calcium, I think, so the tomatoes suffered from Blossom End Rot. It sure is a learning experience!

Next year, I plan to use beds instead of pots. Will let you know on This Green Life (this blog’s daughter blog) how my continuing experiments pan out.

On the advice of a gardener friend, I have also planted lilacs, which will leaf out in the hot summer to shade the greenhouse, but allow the full sun to heat the GH in the winter when the leaves are gone.lilac near greenhouse

So this is how my little (8 x 10) greenhouse looks today:greenhouse with forest pansy

house and greenhouse

Cost breakdown (estimated):

Concrete pad – $400

Lumber – $150

Shingles – $75

Roof cap – $70

Paint – $100

Total: ~ $800

For all the scavenged and cheap materials and labour, I don’t think it looks at all like a hippy hobbit house. What do you think?

Sharing with:

Savvy Southern Style, DIY By Design, Stone Cottage Adventures, Lamberts Lately

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219) R.I.P. Bosch Angle Grinder

October 8, 2014

Just as I was nearing completion of the stone facing on the greenhouse, my trusty Bosch Angle Grinder died. My masonry teacher, Serge, said I would go through 2 or 3 of these before the house was done. It has seen me through the masonry on the whole house exterior Plus the pizza patio Plus […]

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218) Fold-down Bed

August 5, 2014

As I mentioned in this post, we’re working up to twenty beds in This Green House. The studio has already been used as an add-on bedroom (see this post: Make Your Own Bed) but we wanted something more comfortable and permanent. After Rob the carpenter was here doing our “Sprint to the Finish,” I sent him […]

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217) Rainwater Harvest Waterfall Feature

July 21, 2014

  Whenever we tour new visitors around our house and yard (quite a common occurrence here), there’s a lot of interest in our water feature. We have quite an elevation drop from the entry level to the back yard. So, to indulge ourselves myself with a luxury, we hired a rainwater harvesting contractor to build a […]

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216) Patio Plantings

June 24, 2014

Our patio has been functional for a few months now, and we have even had a few pizza parties. I haven’t yet reported on the plantings around it, so this post outlines my rationale for the landscape design. It’s a challenging slope – maybe 50 degrees. WWOOFers (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and I have […]

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215) S.T.T.F. Final Day (11) Loft Beds

May 28, 2014

I have told you about the construction of curtain frames for our loft’s twin beds. Rob, our Sprint to the Finish (S.T.T.F.) carpenter built them, as well as doors for the storage underneath. Inspired to re-create the romance of train bed berths, I asked him to craft valances from the same tongue-and-groove pine that we […]

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214) S.T.T.F. Day 10 (Loft Baseboards)

May 4, 2014

Of all the deficiencies in a house-build, nothing marks “unfinished” like the absence of baseboards.  We just never got around to it. So, in our Sprint To The Finish, we asked Rob to complete the baseboards in the loft. I painted all the primed 1×4 with a colour that matched the wool carpet. Much easier […]

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213) S.T.T.F. Day 9 (Loft Train Beds)

April 30, 2014

When our architect asked us how many bedrooms in this house, I responded, “Two bedrooms and twenty beds.” Most of the twenty beds are in the loft, where I see hosting bunches of guests, including grandchildren eventually (if I should live so long!) In the loft, we built bed platforms for two twin beds. TV viewers […]

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212) S.T.T.F. Day 8 (Guest Room)

April 24, 2014

Our Sprint to the Finish campaign is steady and productive. To begin with today, you may remember this staircase I painted last year: What the pictures didn’t show was finished drawers. I had some trouble getting the painted drawer fronts attached to the installed drawers. They restricted the smooth opening by scraping on the treads, […]

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