Dreamgirl and I discussed how we could find contractors we would need to renovate the church. We had some friends in Ottawa who won awards for renovations but they had long since moved on from renovations. We knew people in Belleville and reached out to them but the commute would not work to our advantage. Dreamgirl had already begun a job search. She was skilled at networking and had strong relationships in the area. Michelle owns and operates Fall River Fashions and was expanding her store. Dreamgirl had expressed interest in working with Michelle. To call Michelle’s husband a contractor is rather limiting. Paul and Michelle had renovated a century old country general store in Maberly into an award-winning restaurant and general store/gift shop. When I met him again he was renovating the historic landmark Perth Courier building so that Michelle could fill it with the gifts and fashions that make her store a must shop on Perth’s main road.
Paul met me at the old glass entrance door and invited me into the dusty stone and wood building. This is a building that you anticipate the floors creaking beneath your feet before you step in. To people who love old buildings this is like catnip, we get drunk on the stuff without damaging our system. He showed us the old beams and woodwork, gushing about the excitement of several welcome surprises. Paul spent 15 minutes talking about his mason. I had told Paul that I needed a mason who knew historic buildings. I want the church to be sound, safe and esthetically pleasing but I did not need a historic brick “artist.” Paul went on to say that his mason does really good work and likes to throw in the odd curveball for interest. To show me what he meant, he pointed out a stone in the wall that had been turned perpendicular to the rest, offering a nice spot to place a trinket like a candle or coffee mug. A fun, yet practical twist. Cam, our trusted inspector, had recommended Paul, as well as several other tradespeople. We were slowly assembling our team.
Paul is a really clever guy. He had a lot of practical knowledge. I still believe John is the brains of the operation. John is quiet but not shy. He lets Paul do the talking and has side conversations with whomever is not engaged in conversation with Paul, I have a feeling that John quietly works Paul until Paul sees things John’s way. I could be wrong, but I think we have all benefitted from knowing a guy like John. They agreed to meet us at the church later that day. I think they were happy to have an excuse to get out of work a little early.
They met us at the church and we chatted there for 2.5 hours before our real estate agent told us she had other places to be. The church was not yet ours so we needed to have her there. One thing that intrigued Paul was the large peaked arch over the pulpit. He speculated that it may have been formed with some large timbers which would look spectacular when exposed. We wouldn’t know until we punched some holes in the walls. The slooped floor was a challenge to overcome and he would give that some thought. One option might be to cut the beams along the foundation in order to lower one end and raise the other. This option scared me. Paul assured me that this would be done carefully, he was not planning on haphazardly swinging a chainsaw and hoping for the best. This brought back memories of Dreamgirl’s grandparents arts and crafts bungalow in the Beach neighbourhood of Toronto. When it had been sold the new purchasers caused it to collapse when they attempted to raise it to increase living space. It was a total loss.
Dreamgirl professed her utter trust directly to Paul. I later reminded her to be careful; we had trusted contractors in the past and they had taken advantage of that trust. Secretly I was thankful that we had found a contractor who understood our approach to renovating.