Still Here

Sep. 3rd, 2011 12:06 am
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Right. The earth did not open up and swallow us whole along with our house.

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.

Originally published at Casa de Lovely
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Last weekend I started on the back bedroom/hallway project. The plan is:

• Gut down to the studs
• Frame in the door to the outside
• Add a window to that wall
• Take out the existing closet wall and move the doorway back to the bathroom wall
• Add a real closet and a reading nook
• Rewire properly
• Add attic stairs to the hallway ceiling
• Lay down a plywood floor in the attic for storage
• New drywall and moldings


Originally published at Read more at Casa de Lovely
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After all the adventures in plumbing, the next project in the queue was taking out the crappy stairs down to the basement. For reference, here's a photo of the stairs:

Originally published at Casa de Lovely
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Originally published at Casa de Lovely. Please leave any comments there.

Friday all the inspectors showed up.

First was the electrical inspector. She actually arrived when I was on my way back from the hardware store so I talked her through most of it on the phone, only arriving as she was finishing up.

Everything passed, except one of the boxes in the ceiling should have been face-up (into the attic) for accessibility. She was concerned about the remaining knob & tube, but I convinced her that the rest of the house was running off it and I would be happily removing it room by room as I renovated. I had her look at the little subpanel, and even though she couldn’t officially “inspect” it since it wasn’t included on my permit she said everything looked okay.

(Apparently she asked Jen if I had an electrical background. She said what I would have, which is no, I’m a complete newbie, but I read books.)

Second, the building inspector. As I figured, everything looked good, except for a couple missing nail plates over holes through the studs. He gave me a pass with the stipulations that I install nail plates and insulation (which I already had on site) and that the plumbing inspector passed me. All good so far.

Then the plumbing inspector showed up, and I wasn’t done with running the PEX. I’d hoped he’d arrive later in the afternoon, but no such luck. In any case, it didn’t matter, since he took one look at the new tub drain and said it didn’t pass. There wasn’t a vent close enough to the drain, and Nate had installed flexible Fernco compression fittings (not the metal-covered ones) to connect the toilet and tub drains to the cast iron stack (which apparently aren’t approved for indoors, notwithstanding my plumbing guru’s book — maybe it’s just a Seattle thing). The inspector took pity on us and basically went outside his purview and described what he would do if he were the plumber and officially allowed to tell us what to do. Heh.

Now, at this point, we had a non-code tub drain, half-installed PEX supply lines, cuts in the old lines, and no water to the house. I was utterly exhausted, and Jen was dog-tired after removing about a million nails holding down the carpet on the stairs. Our plans for closing up this weekend so we could possibly have an operational bathroom by next Friday were quite obviously scotched.

So we discussed it for a few minutes and did what we should have done in the first place: called a plumber.

The plumber arrived about an hour later, looked around, came up with a plan, and handed us an estimate for just $1700 (and that was contingent on us doing all the necessary demo). We handed him a check and a house key so he could do the work on Monday, and went home planning to break into my current job’s 401(k), which up to now had been sacrosanct. (All of our credit cards were near the limit already.) He’s going to do the drain right using 2″ pipe the whole way plus a vent and a test cap, install the PEX supply lines correctly using 3/4″ tube on the main line instead of 1/2″, and install the shower valve, which is reportedly much more difficult than it looks.

Jen called her folks when we got home, and we got more good news: they were sending us a check as an investment in our daughter; it was supposed to be a surprise, but they figured they should tell us so I didn’t tap my 401(k) on Monday morning before the check arrived. It’s going to be enough to cover a lot of things and a huge load off our minds.

So we won’t have a completed bathroom by move-in day. Not possible. But it should at least be minimally operational by then, even if we have to hang plastic around the shower or at worst have to take showers at our friend Alexia’s house a mile away. The rest of the work can be evenings and weekends without having to drive twenty miles each way.

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Originally published at Casa de Lovely. Please leave any comments there.

(or, Welcome to The Bathroom Renovation Death March, or, Plombieren Macht Frei.)

This is where things got bad. I was running out of time and the to-do list just kept getting bigger as I discovered step after intermediate step that I hadn’t planned for.

The plan was to finish up the framing, including framing in the hole where the old closet door was and building the stub wall to go at the foot of the tub, then to run the electrical back to the breaker panel, then tap into the existing feed lines and run PEX to the faucet, bath and toilet. Didn’t even come close.

First off, of course, is that I didn’t even get to the house until after 3pm, what with having to run around and pick up supplies, including my busted Craigslist Special circular saw from the repair shop way the hell up in Kirkland (about fifteen miles out of my way). Then I ate a sandwich and finally got to work about 4pm. I called the city and county and scheduled all the inspections for the following day. I was committed now.

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Originally published at Casa de Lovely. Please leave any comments there.

I haven’t been posting the last few days because I’ve either been too goddam busy or too goddam tired.

The difference between the DIY reality shows and reality is that the shows never show people covered in filth on top of a ladder working with heavy tools at arm’s length in the middle of the night.

Monday I pulled down the ceiling and dropped a huge pile of rockwool all over everything — I pulled one nail off the corner of each sheet of drywall and the whole thing came down. There were a bunch of nails in the joists, but the drywall must have been completely rotten. After I cleaned all of that up, I scraped up all the vinyl flooring and the linoleum underneath it (at least I hope it was linoleum). Also, the building inspector showed up for the preliminary inspection, and signed off on all our plans, including the stairs; what was especially useful is that he let me know that on old existing buildings they’re understanding about what’s possible and what isn’t, and with respect to the winding stairs that the 6″ inner width of the tread was the most important part and that if we missed the 10″ middle width by a quarter-inch or so they could let it slide.

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Originally published at Casa de Lovely. Please leave any comments there.

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”:

IMG_0678

The bathroom before yesterday and today’s demo. I’d already removed the chair rail molding, the sink and the toilet:

IMG_0664IMG_0665

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:

IMG_0667IMG_0668IMG_0670

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:

IMG_0671IMG_0672

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″.

IMG_0689IMG_0686

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:

IMG_0691

Here’s the plan for the next couple of days:

  1. 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
  2. find the shutoff valve for the tub/shower and then remove the faucets and handles
  3. remove the window casing, the rest of the drywall, the T&G cladding, the vinyl floor, and the plastic shower surround
  4. 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)
  5. drop at least part of the downstairs bathroom ceiling and disconnect the bathub drain
  6. trace the water lines back as far as I can to the earliest common point where I can cap them
  7. 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.

January 2015

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