Archive for the ‘Remodeling’ Category

Renovation Update Week 10

Plumbing end

Jason’s artistic photo of something he was trying to remove. He sent me armed with this and several other photos to Home Depot, where the knowledgable sales associate was thrilled to have pictures.

The House

After last week’s flurry of activity, it felt good to have a light weekend. I was out of town for most of it (Jason’s first solo overnight with two kids was declared a success!), and then we decided to do some pumpkin picking with the kids, clean up our trashed house, and it was Jason’s weekend to go to his friend’s for their Homeowner’s Co-op.

While I was in Cleveland, during naps and after bedtime, Jason caulked the tub surround, replaced the broken pump in the washing machine, and wired and installed the fan/light combo fixture. He’s a show off ūüôā

Laundry Room

  • Clean
  • Move things back in

Move radiator lines

  • Move living room radiator
  • Move 2nd floor bedroom pipes

Allegheny Millwork-Andy

  • Call with measurements for estimates
  • Order stairs

Bathroom

  • Finish mud
  • Prime (Christi)
  • Install door
  • Bathtub surround
  • Bathtub plumbing/faucets/shower
  • Vent/fan
  • Paint vanity (Christi)
  • Install vanity, contact paper on bottom shelf
  • Medicine cabinet
  • Lights & outlets
  • Trim
  • Paint trim (Christi)
  • Paint (Christi)
  • Clean fixtures & floor (Christi)-bathtub cleaned!
  • Install hand-held sprayer, shower curtain/rings/rod, toilet paper holder, hand towel/reg towel bars, robe hooks, washcloth holder(s), shelf, and some kind of wall-mount cabinet. Also need to find: bath caddy for shower head, something to hold 4 washcloths, bath mats, and a garbage can.

2nd floor bathroom

  • Plan
  • Build separation wall in kitchen

Donate old doors and windows

Paint back wall of house (christi)

Framing

  • Living Room
  • Dining Room
  • Blocking

*Electrical

  • Make plan
  • Plan reviewed by electrician
  • Install Boxes
  • Run wires

Insulate

OSB Walls

*Drywall

 

The Money

Grand total of $37.13 on new knobs for the vanity, many roller covers, and caulk for the tub surround.

The Kids

Nothing new here.

The Lovebirds

Nothing to report. I mean, we’re stil in love, but that’s not news, right ūüôā

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Renovation Update Week 9

bathroom renovation

All this in one week!

The House

I painted the back of the house during nap time on two beautiful days last week. Fastest painting ever! Nothing motivates like not knowing when the kids will wake up.

After some light begging, my mom drove up for the weekend to be primary caregiver to the kids while I helped Jason with the house. We accomplished so much (THANKS, MOM!). Jason finished moving radiator pipes on Saturday morning. He filled the system, then had to drain it because there was a leak. Second time was the charm, and just in time for it to get down to 37 degrees on Satruday night!

Saturday at 1pm, Jason’s friend came to help for a few hours and they replaced the bathtub plumbing/faucets/shower and installed the tub surround. The tub surround was tough because the ceiling is so low that the surround had to be cut down on the top. When I say low, I mean that the shower sprayer hits me in the chest, and I’m 5’8″. We will definitely be installing a hand-held sprayer.

While they worked, I moved a few things that were left back into the laundry room, cleaned up some of Jason’s piles, and started painting the bathroom and vanity cabinet.

On Sunday I finished the painting–almost. I’ve decided to do one more coat on the vanity (4!) because it’s still not totally evenly white (I did finish that yesterday, on Wednesday afternoon). We found a beautiful blue in our Oops Paint collection–you know, the returned but custom-tinted paints at Home Depot and Lowe’s. $5 for a gallon of $25 paint. I check the paint desk every time I walk into one of these stores, and we probably bought this particular can of paint at least a few years ago. AND it covered beautifully in one coat. I like the color so much (and we have so much left) that I’m seriously considering painting the second floor bathroom the same color.

bathroom renovation

Almost there…

While I painted, Jason drilled a 4-inch hole through the side of the house to run the bathroom vent pipe through. The space he was working in was awkward and criss-crossed by about 5 pipes of various sizes and a few wires, too. After that was finished he installed the door jamb kit (pre-primed!) and started working on the $5 Construction Junction door.

Before hanging up my work clothes for the evening, I tackled the bathtub. This bathtub was, for 4-5 years, where Jason stored buckets of scrap to be recycled and his bike tire collection. It took 1.5 hours and shower cleaner, dish soap, Goo Gone and two different grits of sandpaper. I’m still sore.

Monday night, even though he was on solo bedtime duty, Jason finished the door and hung it.

Tuesday night while I was on solo bedtime duty he installed the medicine cabinet, the lights on either side, the door trim, and the doorknob.

Significant progress!

Laundry Room

  • Clean
  • Move things back in

Move radiator lines

  • Move living room radiator
  • Move 2nd floor bedroom pipes

Allegheny Millwork-Andy

  • Call with measurements for estimates
  • Order stairs

Bathroom

  • Finish mud
  • Prime (Christi)
  • Install door
  • Bathtub surround
  • Bathtub plumbing/faucets/shower
  • Vent/fan
  • Paint vanity (Christi)
  • Install vanity
  • Medicine cabinet
  • Lights & outlets
  • Trim
  • Paint trim (Christi)
  • Paint (Christi)
  • Clean fixtures & floor (Christi)-bathtub cleaned!
  • Install hand-held sprayer, shower curtain rod, toilet paper holder, hand towel & reg towel bars, robe hooks, washcloth holder(s), shelf, and some kind of wall-mount cabinet.

2nd floor bathroom

  • Plan
  • Build separation wall in kitchen

Donate old doors and windows

Paint back wall of house (christi)

Framing

  • Living Room
  • Dining Room
  • Blocking

*Electrical

  • Make plan
  • Plan reviewed by electrician
  • Install Boxes
  • Run wires

Insulate

OSB Walls

*Drywall

The Money

Grand total of $104.55 this week for a box of drywall screws, copper elbows, and a new faucet/shower combo and copper fittings for the bathroom.

We bought $400 in Home Depot gift cards from Giant Eagle last week, which we used for the above purchases. Our rewards credit card gives us 6% back on all grocery store purchases, and Giant Eagle gives us .10 per gallon of gas for ever $50 we spend. It’s an easy way to get a little discount on never-discounted building supplies.

The Kids

The kids enjoyed having their Nana all weekend and actually celebrated when they heard we were leaving.

The every-other-night solo bedtime duty is working very well. I had a board meeting one night and wrote on another, and Jason’s been feeling less guilty about going downstairs to work.

The Lovebirds

Nana gave us a date night on Friday night after she arrived. What did we do? We went to REI to buy shoes for J, went out to dinner, and then decided we were tired and had a full day on Saturday. We arrived home by 8:30pm.

But really, the whole weekend was a date since were in the basement working together with pretty minimal interruption.

 

Renovation Update Week 8

Jason sanding drywall mud

I’ve probably used this picture too much, but it makes me laugh!

The House

Jason finished sanding the last coat of drywall mud in the bathroom very early Saturday morning. Sunday afternoon I vacuumed up the drywall dust from the ceiling walls, fixtures and floors in the bathroom. While I was conquering dust, Jason was moving and repairing radiator pipes. That project, like most, ended up taking more time than estimated and pipes are still not together. Fortunately the weather is cooperating.

Wednesday and Thursday of this week are Jason’s nights to work downstairs, and then my mom will be in for a long weekend on Friday. She’s coming specifically to watch the kids so we can work on the house, so I’m hoping to see a few more things crossed off of this list next week!

A friend of ours, who happens to be a former boss of Jason’s, contacted us about someone he knows who makes stairs locally. That means someone reads my blog! It also means a local craftsman, an option which we’d prefer to see our money support. Our contractor is installing the stairs and has a relationship with Allegheny Millwork, so we’re going to get estimates from both. If the local craftsman comes close to the contractor pricing for Allegheny Millwork, we’ll be introducing our contractor to someone new.

Look, just look–we crossed THREE things off of the list in the last 7 days! If nothing else, this blog certainly keeps us accountable for how we’re spending our time and motivates us to work.

Laundry Room

  • Clean
  • Move things back in

Move radiator lines

  • Move living room radiator
  • Move 2nd floor bedroom pipes

Allegheny Millwork-Andy

  • Call with measurements for estimates
  • Order stairs

Bathroom

  • Finish mud
  • Prime (Christi)
  • Install door
  • Bathtub surround
  • Vent/fan
  • Paint vanity (Christi)
  • Install vanity
  • Medicine cabinet
  • Lights & outlets
  • Trim
  • Paint trim (Christi)
  • Paint (Christi)
  • Clean fixtures & floor (Christi)

2nd floor bathroom

  • Plan
  • Build separation wall in kitchen

Donate old doors and windows

Paint back wall of house (christi)

Framing

  • Living Room
  • Dining Room
  • Blocking

*Electrical

  • Make plan
  • Plan reviewed by electrician
  • Install Boxes
  • Run wires

Insulate

OSB Walls

*Drywall

The Money

Jason ordered some copper fittings from McMaster-Carr totaling $26.81 in order to move some radiator pipes.

The Kids

When Paige heard the shop vac running early Saturday morning, she asked, “Where Mr. Bryan?” Mr. Bryan Holland is our contractor, and Paige thought he was awesome (as did we!). We’re switching to an every-other-night bedtime duty, so Jason will have three nights each week from 7-10pm to work on the house.

The Lovebirds

We’re working to adjust to a very different pace of life. We usually spend an evening or two each week with friends, but we need to work on the house and write and it’s become hard to make that time. Jason and I keep trying to remind ourselves that it’s not forever, and the more time we put in now, the less time this house will drag on/the sooner my work will reap financial reward (thereby funding the house project and finishing it more quickly). Some blogger I read this week said that with very young kids, schools, careers taking off, civic obligations and volunteering, this will be the busiest time of his life. I couldn’t agree more.

 

Renovation Update Week 7

Jason sanding drywall mud

This picture still makes me laugh.

The House

Other than finishing the drywall mud in the bathroom (Jason) and the cleaning in the laundry room (me), we took much of the last week off.

We did make our punch list, somewhat in order of priority, that we hope to accomplish during the contractor’s hiatus over the next couple of months. Anything with an asterisk will be mostly or entirely hired out. Here you go…

Laundry Room

  • Clean
  • Move things back in

Move radiator lines

  • Move living room radiator
  • Move 2nd floor bedroom pipes

Allegheny Millwork-Andy

  • Call with measurements for estimates
  • Order stairs

Bathroom

  • Finish mud
  • Prime (Christi)
  • Install door
  • Bathtub surround
  • Vent/fan
  • Paint vanity (Christi)
  • Install vanity
  • Medicine cabinet
  • Lights & outlets
  • Trim
  • Paint trim (Christi)
  • Paint (Christi)
  • Clean fixtures & floor (Christi)

2nd floor bathroom

  • Plan
  • Build separation wall in kitchen

Donate old doors and windows

Framing

  • Living Room
  • Dining Room
  • Blocking

*Electrical

  • Make plan
  • Plan reviewed by electrician
  • Install Boxes
  • Run wires

Insulate

OSB Walls

*Drywall

The Money

No money spent! I suspect this will be the last week that happens for a long time!

The Kids

Nothing new to report.

The Lovebirds

First weekend away from our kids where one of us isn’t in a hospital. Enough said.

Renovation Update Week 6

Drywall dust mitigation

Jason cleaning up drywall dust in between coats of mud.

The House

We’ve enjoyed showing off our fledgling renovation project to our friends and family over the last week. It’s such a stark contrast to the crammed-full-of-junk rooms that the first floor used to be.

This weekend we were on the receiving end of the Homeowner’s Co-op, so there was an extra set of hands (and another strong back!). Jason and his friend worked in the basement laundry room (not actually a laundry room, but a large room with the laundry area in one corner). They fastened wires and pipes to the new floor joists above and cleaned a little, while I cleaned off one of the workbenches in the middle room and then sanded the drywall mud in the basement bathroom. It was a very, very dirty day. This, after showering and looking all nice a few hours before for our family photo¬†swap.

Basement Laundry Room looking to workshop

Basement “laundry room” that will be mostly storage when I finish cleaning it. this view is looking from the back door into the workshop.

Then I emptied out the upright freezer that’s been living in our kitchen for the last three months and the guys carried it downstairs. Boy, was I glad not to have that job again! The going up two flights of winding stairs left my back sore for days. As a bonus, taking everything out and then putting it back in allowed me to quickly organize the freezer.

Basement laundry room

Basement laundry room looking towards the back of the house.

The Money

We’ve spent a little over $8 on 2x4s this week (giftcards covered the rest), so no significant spending right now. I’m guessing over the next three or four weeks, we won’t spend much.

The Kids

Nothing new to report.

The Lovebirds

I realized this afternoon that I’ve had to remind Jason (twice in the last 24 hours) of the next items on our punch list that we recently talked over. ¬†Unfortunately, there’s a lot to accomplish and an order in which we need to work on our projects during the contractor’s hiatus. I think he and I should sit down and put our plan for this time in writing so we (I’m guilty, too!) don’t get distracted by some project thats more gratifying but less of a priority.

Renovation Update Week 5

new window full view door and structural beams

A view of the back wall of the house. You know, the one that leans out three inches bottom to top. It’s hard to tell, but that’s a seven foot wide window.

The contractor finished this past Friday. I was actually sad to see him and his helper go. They’re both intelligent and interesting people, and also were very courteous and kind to me and the children. If you have to live in a construction zone, there’s not much more you can ask for.

The House

The contractor left the first floor cleaner than he found it.¬†I can’t imagine that’s common, and it made Jason’s type-A heart sing!

After looking at the completed framing, support beams, new floor joists (supporting both the first floor and second floor), and whatever else, Jason said that he is relieved that he didn’t attempt any of it on his own. Not only did the kitchen floor slope by almost three inches front to back, but it turns out that the back wall of the house also slanted out from the foundation by about three inches top to bottom. That happens to be the wall that had to have a wall built inside of it for support, and that holds the new window and door. I remember hearing some swearing on the day the contractor was putting in the window–I imagine it was from trying to install a window on a slant!

To recap: all framing and structural repairs and modifications are finished, and the new kitchen window (7 feet wide!) and back door are in and working.

Not much new on the basement bathroom. Jason was putting a coat of md on the drywall at 5:30am this past Saturday morning, and then took the rest of the weekend off.

The Money

I realized I was being remiss in talking about how the money actually works out, so I’ll do that to some degree here.

The contractor’s fees were very reasonable and we managed to pay cash for all of his work and the materials so far. We did have to dip into our emergency fund for part of his last bill, but only for about $1400 of it. It only gets more expensive from here, so we’ll start using our HELOC within the next month. My plan is to pay off large chunks of the HELOC with some of the checks we receive in the mail from our credit cards. They have been offering us 0% interest on balance transfers (and I think a HELOC qualifies) until at least next May. Since we pay our credit cards off every month and hate debt, we’ll have no trouble making this work for us. We actually used this exact system (with the addition of second jobs) to pay down the credit card debt that we each brought into our relationship.

The Kids

P really liked the contractor. She wanted to say hello to him every time she went outside and asked what he was doing or where he was constantly. J warmed up to him eventually. They both keep asking when he’s coming back.

The Lovebirds

We were hashing out our next steps in the renovation this weekend at Jason’s aunt & uncle’s house. The conversation was hilarious, peppered with funny comments and enlivened by afternoon drinks and fresh perspectives. We definitely have more to figure out, but it was a great step and we both came away with a few calls to make this week.

Renovation Update Week 4

Home Renovation Structural Beams

A view from the front of the house facing the rear windows. The stairs to the second floor are on the left.

This will likely be the last week that our contractor will be here for a while. From the beginning, we’d planned to start the structural work and then take a breather while we save more, plan more, and plan some more. He should be starting back to work for us nearer to the holidays.

The House

All floor joists and the beam that hold up the kitchen floor were replaced and the new subfloor is in. There are two large holes where windows once were, boarded up for the weekend, of course. This floor is solid, and level. One unexpected outcome is that the step up into the back door will be a few inches higher than it was previously. But the cooking oil in the pans won’t all run to one side anymore!

new subfloor header beam

Photo from the living room of the future kitchen towards the back door and new window.

One mistake so far (that I know of): Jason planned for a small portion of wall that will go next to the pull-out pantry. Rather than run the new beam all the way across the width of the house and then add a little wall, he had it end at the beginning of this planned wall. He had wanted to put the light switches on this wall, but in order to support the weight of the beam, the contractor made a massive, solid wood support post. So the light switches will have to go on the outside of that wall, in the dining room.

Header beam support

The header beam support that won’t allow for a light switch.

Personally, I think it’s a great mistake–nothing’s broken, nothing needs to be torn out or replaced. The best kind of mistake to have, really. Jason seemed a little mad at himself, but I think that if that’s his only mistake in planning this huge project, he’s doing a tremendous job.

Jason and his friend finished the drywall in the basement bathroom without having to remove the toilet. He applied the last coat of drywall mud yesterday during the kids’ naps.

Drywall in bathroom

The basement bathroom is nearing the finish line!

We decided to go for a tub surround in that bathroom as it should be quicker than the other options. We also decided on outdoor lights around the medicine cabinet. The ones we chose look  fairly industrial (fitting a bathroom in an otherwise unfinished basement) and, since one will be pretty close to the shower, it was important to us that they be waterproof.

Hilarious side note: If Jason stands in the basement bathroom’s bathtub, his hair is smashed against the ceiling. The people who used that bathroom, who in fact owned the house, were taller than him.¬†

And I completed some overdue gardening and resuscitated or replaced the flowers in our front planters. Jason was a little too busy while we wer away in August to tend to the outdoors and really, it’s my thing, not his. I love making it beautiful, and he loves how it looks when it’s finished.

Flower window boxes platers

The flowers at the front of the house.

The Kids

We’ve been home since last Wednesday with no plans to leave. ¬†J keeps asking me if we’re going to West Virginia today (every day), but more in an anxious way than a hopeful way.

We had planned to spend some of this holiday weekend visiting with friends and family, but J came down with a cold and then I caught it on Friday. It turned out that a weekend at home with just the four of us was exactly what we all needed. J and P were both touchy, frantic, and aggressive on Saturday. Yesterday they were much less so, and today they are both a bit tired from missing a nap yesterday, but pleasant and pretty calm.

I’ll have to remember that after the inevitable chaos of traveling away from their father, the kids could use an at-home, family-only weekend when we return.¬†

The Lovebirds

Jason and I are sad to see an end to Phase 1 of the renovation already.

And a little shocked to see our renovation account draining so quickly.¬†We’ve come to terms with taking on consumer debt to finish this project by the end of next year, but we’re not thrilled with it. We still need to sit down and decide what our number is. You know, the number where, when you hit it, you can’t sleep at night because you’re worrying. Everyone has a different risk tolerance, but I know that we have a low threshold for debt. I’d like to stay well south of that number, even if it means putting everything on hold while we save up again.

It’s going to be tough, but necessary, for Jason to work on the house the next two months while the kids and I are home more. We’re lucky to have family nearby with whom we can spend a fun weekend, or even an afternoon.

I am slightly relieved to not have to call and deal with the city parking enforcement office every other week. They’ve now issued two tickets to the contractor’s helper, which means that they neglected to enter my faxed request for a contractor parking variance into their system. Each time I have to call and spend 10 minutes on the phone while the (very nice) lady searches through the faxes until she finds mine, and then cancels the ticket.

There has been minimal confusion between Jason and the contractor, no small feat since they only communicate via phone. All in all, I think this has gone pretty smoothly. So far.