The back bedroom project is still underway, though. After gutting it back in March and April, we pretty much ran out of time and money. In May I was able to get all the framing done: I filled in the existing exterior door, framed two windows, added a real closet, and created a rough door opening where the end of the hallway once was. In June or thereabouts I was able to buy a roll of wire and run the almost all the electrical. And there I stopped for a couple of months.
I am so sick of working on this bathroom. Rather, I'm so sick of working on this bathroom and having one stupid thing after another break or go wrong, or just be poorly designed (or have the instructions not match the equipment).
But before I start ranting, here's the progress so far (and there really has been a lot of progress, just a whole hell of a lot slower than I wanted):
Since we have a little one who will be bipedal any day now yeesh, Jen's been after me to put up a baby gate at the top of the stairs. The instructions said it needs to be installed into a solid if not structural elements, which presented a problem. The staircase has sidewalls, but they have about three 2x4 studs each -- you can wiggle them about an inch either way without even needing any effort -- so I couldn't install the gate into the obvious opening. There are structural columns at the top of the stairs which are in place of the original outer wall of the gable cottage but which now form one of two arches from the addition on either side of the fireplace -- one into the stairwell and the other into the living room. But they're too far apart for the gate.
… Since the last post. And the bathroom’s still not done, dammitall.
I kinda ran out of PTO (well, not really, but I ran out of time I could stay away from work without making my boss mad), and then we moved in. You’d think that moving in would mean I’d be able to get more work done, but actually living here means I’m not alone when I’m here and thus liable to being called away to look after the baby, lift heavy things for Jen, install shelves in closets, fix the internet connection, and all the other obligations of daily married-with-children home life. Plus it’s very difficult to work in the evenings as either we’re eating dinner, I’m giving Jen a break from the baby, or they’ve gone to bed and the noise would wake either or both.
We moved in on September 25 pretty much without a hitch. We used Mountain Movers, who I have to recommend, as they were tireless, efficient, and professional. I managed to severely roll my ankle going down our porch stairs, and it still hurts two weeks later. If I hadn’t been wearing my combat boots I’d probably have sprained it.
Jen’s been getting lots of unpacking and organizing done. The house looks almost entirely like a home and not a storage facility, although we don’t have the books out yet — mostly because the parlor, where the bookshelves will go, is being used for temporary drywall storage.
Speaking of drywall, our friend Chris has been coming over on weekends to help out. Together we got all the necessary blocking (for nailing/screwing edges) installed, the outside wall insulated, the ceiling drywall hung (not that well, sadly), and about half the wall drywall and cement board hung.
Yeah. So, I’m never drywalling a ceiling again without a drywall lift. That shit is heavy. And next time, I’m cutting the drywall from the back side, because I guess thirty years of playing D&D and other tabletop RPGs has left me able to precisely conceive and measure a top-down plan but nearly incapable of measuring, drawing and executing a bottom-up view. Suffice to say that one piece of the ceiling went up fairly well with a minimum of fitting, but the second, more complicated piece ended up with either half-inch-plus gaps or overly-tight, creaking, breaking spots around the edges. There’ll be a lot of filling with joint compound in my future when I get to the taping stage.
Also, when I say we got about half the drywall and cement board up, I kinda mean the middle half, vertically. The plan is for 42″ tile wainscoting with drywall above. The walls are 95″-96″ high. Cement boards are 36″ wide, leaving a ~6″ gap at the bottom to be filled with a strip of cement board. Drywall is 48″ wide, leaving a ~4″-5″ gap at the top. I still have to fill in those gaps. (Oh, and I discovered that there’s a 1/2″ difference in the floor from one corner of the bathroom to the other. Luckily, the two walls on which I’ll have to cut base tiles at an angle will be mostly concealed by the toilet, sink, and dresser, so I hope it won’t be all that obvious.)
I’m pretty sure I can get the rest of the drywall and cement board up this weekend (Chris is busy). The only pieces larger than 36″x60″ are the closet drywall walls, which are standing on end and thus will be easy to maneuver and install. I need to install the floor cement boards, but for some reason I’m very nervous about mixing the thinset, even though it looks dead easy on TV. This is probably the same nervousness that makes me a lousy cook — when they say “mix until it’s the consistency of peanut butter” I get all anxious; do they mean creamy Jif, or do they mean that oily runny organic stuff? So I’ll be reading the directions very carefully and as much as possible mixing precise weights and volumes together.
I’ve already figured out how to cut all the remaining necessary pieces out of my three and a half remaining sheets of drywall and my nine remaining sheets of cement board, and then I’m going to have to figure out exactly where my tiles will have to sit vertically to
- make an entirely seamless pattern extending from wainscoting to shower surround,
- end up with my top row of 2×6 black bullnose tiles overlapping the cement board/drywall joints in both areas, and
- not end up with slivers of tile either at the floor or at the tub/wall joint.
I was going to take precise measurements and create a scale drawing in Adobe Illustrator, but it occurs to me that just attaching a bunch of tiles together with masking tape and holding them against the wall will probably be easiest.
We just found the camera cable today, so I finally got all the progress pictures loaded onto the laptop. I’ll see about posting those tomorrow while Jen is off getting her hair done and leaving me with the baby (can’t drywall with a baby, y’know, so I might as well blog).
Well, I didn’t get nearly as much done today as I thought I would, even though we were on the job longer than yesterday.
First thing we did when we got there today was move all the rolled-up demoed carpet from the basement to the garden shed, which took an absurdly long time. Then I got back to work on the remaining drywall in the bathroom.
Just like yesterday, it resisted. A lot. Mostly because it was laid directly over wood (so I couldn’t punch through it and had to scrape at it from the edges instead) and was fastened not with brittle drywall screws but with big honking two-inch eight-penny roofing nails, placed randomly in ones and twos across the sheet.
There’s still sheets of maybe 3/8″ plywood against the studs in the non-plumbed walls of the tub, so I don’t know what’s back there yet, but so far the only visible rot is in the bottom of the side sheet of plywood and a 2×4 blocking in the plumbing wall just at the level of the tub/surround seam.
I did manage to find where the knob & tube wiring interfaces with the romex that goes into the new-work switch and socket. All the lights in the entire house (plus the refrigerator) are wired into one double circuit breaker, and there’s a carrier line for that circuit that goes above the bathroom ceiling, so I hope I can cut and cap the wires coming down into the bathroom without killing any other lights (for now).
WTF part #2: the duct tape “repairs” on the shower surround weren’t actually repairs. Apparently they bought a shower surround built for a modern hotel-style valve and faucet/shower placement, and then just duct-taped over the misplaced holes and drilled their own.
Here’s some more shots of the bathroom gutted down to the studs.
I was going to try to save the 3″ tongue-and-groove boards inside the closet, but when I tried removing the first one carefully, it broke right away, so I said the hell with it and just pulled them down with my gloved hands:
Meanwhile, Jen was shoveling up more rotted pears from the yard and dousing the basement in Simple Green.
Jen wants me to post this part:
Why Jen Hates The Previous Owners:
Not only did they let their cats pee all over the carpets downstairs, but they left bags and bags full of junk in the basement. Not only did they leave their crappy little 2×4-and-plywood desk screwed to the wall in the bedroom, but they left hundreds and hundreds of pounds of trash in the garage and shed — and we’re talking a busted fridge, a busted stove, broken snowboards, a computer monitor, old magazines, a safe that looks like it’s been blown up, and lots lots more.
Worst is the southeast corner, where apparently the previous previous owner put in a retaining wall with the plan of having a waterfall and a little pond. The previous owners allowed that entire area to be overrun with morning glory (I saw the 2007 high-res satellite photo on the monitor at the permit office, and large parts of that area weren’t green), and at this point Jen literally cannot tell where the ground is, there’s so much rotted wood, asphalt shingles, old dishwashers, pond liners, broken bricks, broom handles, wheelbarrows, etc., etc., strewn everywhere and now all grown through with bindweed.
Not only does this represent hundreds more dollars just in dump fees, but it’s also going to take months and months if not years just to clear it. All the while it’ll be a hazard to everybody, not least our daughter who will certainly be bipedal and running around by next spring.
WTF #3: Jen found it almost impossible to scrape up the adhesive underlayment left over from the vinyl flooring in the downstairs basement. She called me down to look at it, and I discovered that in most of the bathroom area the cement underneath the mastic was rough and pebbly. This means to me that when the POs jackhammered up the old slab and installed the bathroom fixtures, they didn’t bother floating the new cement afterwards to smooth it out but just called it a day and slapped the vinyl over it.
She then demolished most of the stud wall between the walk in closet and the platform the spa tub was going to go on, all of which is in the way of the planned basement bedroom.
I spent about an hour up in the attic trying to shovel the rockwool insulation away from the basement ceiling, but they don’t call it rockwool for nothing. That crap is dense, and it sticks together in clumps. At that point we got called away because our friend finally called us back about a 10% off coupon from Home Depot she had for us, and we dropped everything and headed out. That was about 4pm. Unfortunately, we had a lot of big heavy stuff to buy at HD, and not much time before we were supposed to pick up our daughter Thekla from her nanny/daycare at 6pm (we were an hour late), so we were rushing around and I’m sure forgot a bunch of stuff that we needed but wasn’t specced out on the materials list.
We rented one of HD’s trucks (since 4×8 greenboard ain’t fitting in the trunk of my Saturn) and drove it the couple miles to the house, where our friend Chris was kind enough to meet us to help unload. (I’ve never driven anything before that beeped when I backed up. ) After getting the truck back we discovered that we had forgotten to load the toilet, but Jen threw herself on the mercy of the delivery coordinator and got them to deliver it for us tomorrow for free.
Plan for tomorrow:
- Make nice with the building inspector when he shows up and get him to sign off on the reframing plans.* The only conceivably controversial part will be the new basement stairs going through the old entry hall area, since there might need to be a widening of the foundation wall opening.
- Drop the bathroom ceiling and just clean up the fracking rockwool when it falls down (I’ll just put R30 fiberglass batts up when I’m done).
- Pull up the vinyl flooring in the bathroom and see what condition the subfloor is in.
- Demo the stub wall at the end of the tub.
Really, that should about do it. If I get to capping the wiring and plumbing I’ll feel really happy.
And now I’m going to bed. By the way, Flexeril is a wonderful wonderful thing.
* This is the preliminary inspection. Seattle has a class of permit called “Subject To Field Inspection”, meaning the job isn’t complicated enough to require full engineering drawings and formal review; instead the inspector just eyeballs the plans and the building before the work starts and approves or not, and then comes out when you’re done and checks that you did it right.
Edited to add: The original graphic theme for this blog wasn’t working out, so we’re trying “Arclite”. Please let us know if there’s any issues with the UI. Thanks!
Yesterday after getting the permits all straightened out I got to spend about three hours working in the bathroom. Today it was about the same — got there about 3:00 and left at 6:00.
The permits and plans “prominently posted at the job site”:
The bathroom before yesterday and today’s demo. I’d already removed the chair rail molding, the sink and the toilet:
I pulled off all the remaining moldings and door casings (carefully for the main door, since I’m putting them back). I got all the drywall off of one and a half walls, and all the towel hooks, mirror, etc., which are in pretty good shape and will be appearing in a Craigslist ad very soon.
Bathroom at end of day today:
So I now think that, in the 1930 floor plan, what is now the parlor was the main bedroom. Either in the original plan or very soon thereafter, they framed in a closet against the wall opposite the bathroom with 2×2s, which is why the bathroom side of that wall is narrow horizontal T&G instead of the wide vertical T&G on the room side that’s used everywhere else.
Much later, very possibly in 1994, the owner knocked out the part of the bathroom/closet wall and drywalled the bathroom.
You can see the framing of the wall between the old closet and the old bathroom in these two photos:
You can see the end stud and the top plate of the 2×4 wall that was removed, along with nail and pipe/wire holes.
I say in 1994 because I found a bible hidden in the walls with a note inside reading “Hid 12-17-1994″.
The T&G cladding in the old bathroom was removed (assuming it was ever there), so in there the drywall was 1/2″ and fastened to the studs. In the old closet, the T&G was not removed so they put 1/4″ drywall directly over it. This still didn’t make the walls even, so they had to add wider moldings to the bathroom side.
It wasn’t a load-bearing wall, so I don’t understand why they cut the bottom plate and removed the intermediate studs, but didn’t cut the top plate or remove the end stud. It would have been so much easier to make it look good.
WTF #1: Notice how the cold stubout comes up from the floor but the hot stubout comes down from somewhere:
Here’s the plan for the next couple of days:
- go up in the attic and scoop away all the rockwool insulation from above the bathroom ceiling so I can demo without having all that fall down on me
- find the shutoff valve for the tub/shower and then remove the faucets and handles
- remove the window casing, the rest of the drywall, the T&G cladding, the vinyl floor, and the plastic shower surround
- turn off the power and trace and cap the wiring (removing the hidden junctions or unboxed splices that I’m sure are up in the attic)
- drop at least part of the downstairs bathroom ceiling and disconnect the bathub drain
- trace the water lines back as far as I can to the earliest common point where I can cap them
- hope like hell the subfloor is okay and doesn’t need replacing
The building inspector is scheduled to come by sometime on Monday to review and approve the plans, and I want the bathroom completely opened up by then so he can see the stub wall I want to move isn’t load-bearing. Hopefully he won’t make me reframe the 2×2 old closet wall.