Inna Babina saw all the colors while renovating the almost century-old house, which she purchased without legal guarantee, in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, in November 2020.

She expected work to be done on the ground floor and upstairs, but she did not plan to touch the basement. The poor condition of a foundation wall forced her to review her plans. While putting the venerable home back on solid footing, even making it energy efficient, she worked tirelessly to restore the property’s charm. Thanks to the support of his parents, both very manual workers, what could have turned into a nightmare became a superb family project.

The semi-detached residence, built in 1923, had been inhabited by the same family for around forty years and had lacked love. The renovation work needed to rehabilitate it did not scare Ms. Babina, since she had experience. She fell in love with the large, bright rooms. Their arrangement and number also perfectly met her needs, since her parents were planning to leave Ukraine to settle down permanently with her and her daughter.

Very high energy bills (annually about $5,000 for electricity and $3,000 for natural gas) and the lack of air conditioning led her to want to change the heating system to natural gas. Managing the work herself, she drew up an action plan to make the house energy efficient. She started by having a French drain installed, since she had noticed humidity in the basement. It was during the work that she discovered that the foundation wall of the facade, at the front, was at the end of its life.

“It was quite a shock,” she recalls. This explained the heaters along the basement walls and the incredible heating costs. I had to tear out everything in the basement, all the gypsum, all the flooring, because there was a lot of humidity in the wall, caused by water infiltration, which constantly flowed from the small black roof above the entrance. »

This was only the beginning of his misadventures. Once the facade was reinforced by pouring new concrete, the same operation had to be done to solidify the foundation of the garage and the two floors above, built in the 1940s on the side of the house. The condition of the hot water pipes was also worse than she expected. Looking for how to change her heating system to include air conditioning, she came up against another obstacle: the house being located on a street corner, municipal regulations only allowed her to install devices in the yard.

“I didn’t want all these machines under my balcony, which make noise and which I would have to change every 10 years,” says Ms. Babina. I looked for more eco-friendly options. Weighing the pros and cons, I opted for geothermal energy, even though it was expensive. I trusted ThermoTech for the installation and Géothermix to dig the wells. »

To avoid mold problems and increase thermal comfort, the owner also called on Aerobarrier Global to plug all the holes in the interior envelope, using Aerobarrier sealant.

She lived elsewhere during the major work, with her daughter Margaret and her parents, who returned from Ukraine in the fall of 2021. Faced with a labor shortage due to COVID-19, her mother, her father and they agreed to do much of the interior work themselves. Valentyna Babina and Ivan Babin put their hearts into it.

“It was important to me that the heating system, the water and electricity pipes were redone,” explains Inna Babina, “but on the other hand, I wanted to keep as many things as possible and beautify the House. My father even restored the stained glass windows. We saved a lot of money that way. »

She did countless research to find furniture, accessories, fireplace mantels with a rich history. Daniel Bilodeau, owner of the Antiquités Comme dans l’temps boutique in Lambton, has proven to be a valuable ally. In February 2023, the family members finally returned. They then worked tirelessly to restore character to the house.

“No one was idle,” says Inna Babina, who is proud of not having given up.

Supported by her parents, she succeeded in her challenge. Against all odds, she gave new life to the house, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in much better shape. What could have gone wrong turned into an extremely rewarding family project.