Sunday, December 28, 2008

Because You Demanded It

Ok, because someone demanded it, here's more pics of the baby. We went over to Grandma Dudley's on Christmas Eve and spent the night there so Grandma could enjoy the boy's first Christmas morning. Grandma made a yummy ham for dinner that night. As it turned out, there was yet another ham on the menu as well...

He had been conducting to the music until I got the camera out. Then it was just posing. He started doing it again towards the end of the video, but my crappy camera started wigging out again. Never fear, a new one is on it's way from After dinner, we had some pie with whipped cream topping. Nathan had some too. Here's the best shot I could manage with our screwy camera.

I have determined that children are born with a chip in their head that prevents them from sleeping on Christmas Eve. Nathan doesn't even know what Christmas is and he was up all night. It was horrible! His mother and I were totally burned out when we finally got up in the morning. It caught up with the boy eventually, too.Thursday evening it was off to Great-Grandma Dudley's. Great-Grandma got Nate some new alphabet blocks. Unfortunately, he confused them with bullion cubes I think.In other news, I was able to spend most of the day working on the bathroom yesterday. I finished shoring up the new step and did most of the insulation that I can for now.
Now I'm totally at the whim of the power company. I've officially finished all I can do until they get the power switched over. When they do show up, I have to immediately start switching things over to the new box to keep them powered up. I imagine that they'll decide to show up early this week as we're gearing up for a trip to Iowa. Ugh.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Venting and Wiring

We've had a bit more progress this week. Logan and Megan came over Saturday and after a morning of hanging 15' off the ground from an extension ladder, we had the bath fan vent and plumbing vent through the side of the house and outside.
We only got the sink vent in. We're waiting on further wall building before we get the shower and toilet vents hooked up to this one. Today, my electrician and dad both came over and we finally got the new breaker box mounted and wired up to the new meter box. We are officially ready to switch the power over to the new box as soon as the power company comes and pulls their new wire in from the street. They probably would have done it by now it we hadn't got hit with an ice storm last week. They might get to it before we leave for Iowa next week, but I kinda doubt it. Once they finish that, we'll be scrambling to pull the remaining wires and switch all the circuits to the new box. I started that job this evening.
This is the new box in the basement. That big bundle of wires is the other end of the big bundle pictured in my last posting. So this is basically the whole upstairs wired into the new box. Not bad for my first wiring job, huh? When we get juice to this box, we'll splice the other end of these to the existing ones in the upstairs box. Then we'll pull the downstairs wires and they'll fill up the left half of the box. Once we get that done, this whole electrical ordeal will be OVER and construction can continue.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Creeping Along

The bathroom progress is starting to slow to a crawl. I've essentially finished most of what I can do until the electrical issues are corrected. Last week I finished installing all of the framing and nailers that I can do for now.
I installed all the outlet boxes and fixtures that I could and wired them up as much as practically possible
I even started shoving some insulation in the closets where access will no longer be an issue. Dad came over last night and we ran all the new wiring down to the basement where the new breaker box will go.
That's 13 strands of romex ready to be run into the old fuse box and be connected to the existing wires in there. The whole bundle goes down right behind the tub.
We also re-routed a couple other wires that were in the way, allowing me to finally put the last piece of new flooring in where the chimney once was.
There's a few more little odds and ends that I will try to wrap up this weekend, but after that I will be at a standstill. I'm waiting for the power company to come pull their new cable through the conduit we buried last week and I still need my electrician to hook that up to my new breaker box. Hopefully we'll get some movement before Christmas, but we'll see. Once that's finished, we can finish ripping out the old bathroom stuff, finish framing, and get all the electrical switched over as well.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Did You Ever Have One of Those Days?

Did you ever have one of those days? Not one of those days where nothing goes right, but one of those days where you expect everything to go horribly wrong and miraculously everything works out pretty well. Well, I managed to get lucky and have one of the latter today. Today was the day chosen to trench my new electrical service in. This was the first day I could get both dad and Logan to help me so we penciled it in last week. I decided to fork out the big bucks and rent a ride on trencher with a blade for backfilling the trench. It was like $350 to rent it for a whole day so I talked the place into letting me rent it for half a day and take it home the night before. Score one for me. So I got the rental set up last week along with a concrete saw rental so we could remove a chunk of sidewalk we had to go under. So, last week I was already sweating things. We would have to remove the sidewalk, cut 80' of trench, miss all the utilities, lay the conduit, get the electric company to inspect it, backfill the trench, and return the equipment to Springfield all before lunch. So last week I had serious doubts that we would even come close to getting all that done. Then comes yesterday.

Yesterday I look at the weather and see Tuesday's forecast... "100% chance of rain." Great. On the bright side, it warmed up Monday and was supposed to be in the upper 40's Tuesday. Still, it was a less than ideal forecast for being outside and digging all morning. So between our timing restraints, relative ignorance with what we were doing, and the weather outlook, I was getting seriously worried.

I heard rain hitting the window on and off all last night while I slept. I woke up this morning expecting the worst. I literally was so nervous that I was getting stomach pains. I peeked outside and things were wet, but the rain seemed to have tapered to a light sprinkle for the moment. Then I looked at the radar and here's what I saw.Yeah, not a real promising picture. That is until I looked closer.

You can just barely see Springfield in the edge of the u-shaped rain-free area. If you look back at the national picture you can see how long the rain-free path is. As luck would have it, the wind was blowing SW to NE. I began to think that we might just luck out and not get drenched. I must have said the right prayer last night or something, because that's how things ended up working out. It was almost pleasant out there all morning.

So, we started in on things around 7 this morning. Everything went like clockwork. All 3 of us worked pretty much constantly from 7 to 11, but we got everything we needed to done by then. The only things we lacked were the electric company's inspection and a little hand work. I had set my watch alarm to go off when we needed to start loading the trencher back up to get it returned on time. The alarm went off while we were chaining the machine down. We got it back with a whole 15 minutes to spare.

After feeding my weary crew in Springfield we came back, finished up our hand work, and even had time to mount the new meter box to the house. Then the electric company finally showed up about 3. (I called them Friday and they said they would be here around 10 in the morning today.) They usually inspect the conduit before you bury it, but I had a trencher to return to they had to inspect what was left showing. They saw a couple minor things they didn't really like, but said they could work around them.

So all in all, today was a BIG win for the home team. This was probably the toughest thing we'll have to do during this whole project. It should be mostly downhill from here (hopefully). I know somebody was looking out for us today. Even now looking back at this morning, I still can't believe we did everything that we did before lunch. It seems like it should take a whole day. Then if all that wasn't cool enough, I find out that my boss, Uncle Rod, got arrested by the FBI today too! I hope he gets what's coming to him! What a great day all around. I'll close with a big shout out to Log and Pa Dudley. I owe them both BIG after this one. Good thing they work for food.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

More Bath Pics

Not much new to report. Grandpa came over a couple days this week and we framed up some more walls. Here's the wall that will be behind our vanity.
Here's the inside of the big closet.
We've essentially got all the walls built that we can build until the old electrical stuff gets moved. My electrician is coming tomorrow to start on things and I have a trencher reserved to tear up my front yard Tuesday. My goal is to get the electrical upgrade finished by the end of the week. It's a lofty goal on my part because I don't have much control over how much gets done. Our progress relies heavily on other people, most notably the power company. Even if we get the conduit buried and inspected Tuesday, there's no guarantees about when the power company will show up to pull the new cable. We've still got some work to keep us busy for a while though. There's a BUNCH of nailers that have to be put in yet.
These are some that I've finished over the tub. I've still got to do just about everywhere else though. I may even start installing some insulation and maybe even the light fixtures and exhaust fan. All in all, I'm pleased with the way things are progressing. We're not setting any records, but we seem to be making headway and avoiding big mistakes.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Have Walls!

The Thanksgiving holiday finally draws to a close and our house was a hive of activity for most of it. We spent Thursday at grandma's for the usual Turkey and whatnot. It was an awesome spread and a great time hanging out with family. Here's Aunt Shauna with her pet monkey, and his pet monkey.
Nathan enjoyed the dog too, provided there was a safe barrier to preserve his personal space.
Friday the family showed up for the first of 2 work days on the new bathroom. After a hearty breakfast of B&G (thanks Liv and grandma), we all started in on our appointed tasks. Since we had 8 people and just 1 bathroom to work on, we had to divide and conquer. Shauna, Megan, and Logan all went out to the garage to tackle the mountain of staining we had to do.
Grandpa went to work trying to get a detailed mapping of our crazy electrical system.
Tom and I started in with the new plumbing.
Liv concentrated mostly on keeping all of us fed while grandma and Nate entertained each other. I believe they came up with some sort of police lineup game.
That and of course some root beer too.

At the end of day one we had finished the 1st coat of staining, mapped the whole house's electrical, glued all the drain pipes in place, and started on the water supply lines. There were no major setbacks and only one minor injury when Uncle Tom took a piece of 2" PVC to the forehead from about 5' up.

Day 2 started much the same as day 1. Shauna and Megan were back on staining detail with help from Olivia this time. Grandpa and Logan picked up where Tom and I left off with the water supplies, and Tom and I started framing in the new ceiling. Grandma gladly took baby duty again and away we went. After lunch we finished up some jobs, juggled around some helpers, and soon had about 5 people framing walls up in the bathroom.

Everything was going fine until a small drip of water was noticed coming through the kitchen ceiling downstairs. After some investigation, we discovered that the new cold water supply line was full of water despite having the valve shut off to it. Somehow during the new supply line installation, the valve had been damaged allowing a tiny trickle of water to seep into the new pipes. It took a couple hours, but the water eventually filled the new pipes up to where we had stopped and began dripping out the unfinished end. So, we had to glue caps on to the open ends to prevent any further leaking. It was an easy fix, but it still baffles me how the valve could start leaking after having been totally fine for the past 2 weeks.

Progress had come to a screeching halt for our little water problem, but after the fix we were back at framing walls. By quitting time we had completed about half of the bathtub surround and half of the adjoining closet.

All in all, it was a VERY productive weekend. We got all the staining done.
We got all the sub-floor plumbing done.
We got the new ceiling in and a good start on the walls. Thanks again to everyone that come over to help. Olivia and I are very grateful to you all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Finding Comfort in the Pain of Others

My electrician came over this afternoon and we formulated a master plan for fixing the wiring disaster that is our house. The good news is that we will be upgrading to a 200 amp service, relocating everything to a single breaker box, moving the service underground, and generally making the place safer and more appealing for potential buyers. The bad news is that this little project is going to add around $2000 to the price tag on our bathroom. I'm a bit saddened at this news to say the least. In times like this, you can pout and wallow in the crappiness of your situation. But I prefer to forget my sorrows by reminding myself that I have it a lot better than most people. For one, I have a brain. That may not sound like that comforting of a thought, but many people are born without a brain. Take for instance, this fellow I found on YouTube who decided it would be a good idea to try and jump THROUGH a basketball hoop.

Stupid high schoolers. I sure hope Nathan was born with a brain too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cut, Level, Shim, Repeat

Today I started tackling the problem of the out of level floor in the bathroom. After some extensive work with the 4' level the other day, I got a better idea of just how bad the problem is. In the worst spot, we need to make up almost 1-1/2" over a span of about 40". Just what does that mean? Continue on and the pictures will tell the story. After much cogitating, I decided the best plan of action was to rebuild the area around the step, making it level, and then use it as a guide for the thinset I'll have to use to level up the rest of the floor. Here's what I started with.After removing all the warped, splintered, unsupported, and out of place boards, here's what I was left with. My plan of attack was to cut a big piece of 3/4" OSB to support the toilet and also act as the step. I would attach it flush with the floor on the left side of this picture and level it across the floor joists. It took a good couple hours, but this is what I wound up with. You can't tell from the picture, but the 2x4 under the front of the step is more than 1" taller on the right than the left. Crazy, huh? Here's the back side. Right now, the OSB is only supported on the front edge and the corners. My job now is to do some very tedious shim work to support it on the floor joists. When it comes time to level the rest of the floor, this will serve as my thickness guide for the thinset mortar I'll use to level things up. I also found that the floor below the step is out of level too. It's not as bad or as widespread as above, but I will still need to level about 4' wide all the way over to where the closet starts.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Destruction Continues

Logan and dad came over last Saturday and helped me tear up my house some more. We actually started putting some new stuff in too, so that felt good. Logan spent most of his time tearing out the old linoleum floor and underlayment. He pretty much had to do it nail by nail because the stuff just fell apart when you pulled on it. Dad and I re-routed the air vent from it's home next to the old chimney. We took some flexible duct and ran it under the floor to behind where the wall will be.
As an added bonus, we were able to maintain the venting into my office, so the only room losing a vent is our bedroom. After that, dad and I went ahead and started nailing down the bottom plate for some of the walls. I can't believe we're already starting with walls! We need a double bottom plate to account for the thickness of cement board and tile and still leave us with a nailer for the drywall, so we're just nailing the bottom one to the floor. When we come back with walls, we'll have everything laid out for us already.
This is the view standing at the chimney, looking to the north-east. The first part is where the tub will sit and the back part is closet #1. Wednesday I finally tore out the old wall between the two areas and also put in closet #2. This one is directly across from closet #1.
In those last 2 pictures, I'm sure you noticed the extra holes in the floor that are appearing. I cut those for plumbing access. Hopefully, that will be the project for this weekend. I have all the plumbing supplies and my goal is to get all the plumbing dry fit by next week. I probably won't glue anything together yet pending the new electrical service. We might have to move something and it's a lot easier to move unglued pipes. So here's how things look right now from the door...
and from the window...
Another project for this weekend is to figure out what's going to happen with the step down and my out-of-level floor. Here's what I'm looking at with the step down...

The step should be fairly easy to fix, but the level problem scares me. I could probably get away with leaving it as is, but the toilet will be reclining if I do. If I fix it somehow, I have to rectify it with the existing doorway and carpeted hallway which will still be tilted. So, I'm now taking suggestions.

On another totally unrelated note, we started using time-outs on Nathan...

I think we need to get a bigger rock to put on top.
This last pic we took at Aunt Megan's birthday party over at Grandma Dudley's house Sunday. Yeah it's cute, but the funny thing is that he was getting into the drawer where Grandma keeps her secret cash stash. That boy is grinning for a reason.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Our bathroom project has been filled with both steady progress and frustrating setbacks over the past couple days. We keep running into things that weren't really anticipated and they are amping up the difficulty level of this endeavour. Thursday I managed to fill in our holes in the floor. There was some tedious saw work to it, but it turned out ok.

After finishing that, I stuck my head into the downstairs bathroom ceiling to refresh my memory on what kind of plumbing work we have ahead of us. It was then that I noticed something that I had never noticed before. Under the upstairs tub, there is about a 2" step down in the floor. Because it's hidden by the tub, I never noticed it before. Upon further inspection, my worst fears were confirmed. The current bathroom floor is about 2" higher than the floor in the unfinished portion. Sooo, option 1 is to build a sub floor and raise the level of the new portion to match the old. However, doing so will cost more, take more time, and reduce my already restricted headroom. Option 2 is to have a step down in the middle of the bathroom. That's what we're leaning towards right now, but I'm still undecided. Logan was trying to tell me that he thought the step down would look kinda cool, but I think he was just trying to make me feel better.

That brings us up to Friday. Dad got an electrician friend of his to come over and look at the rats nest of wires up there. I was originally thinking we could just replace the fuse box and be on our merry way. Ha ha, not so fast. Ron, the electrician, said I need to not only do that but also run a new main all the way to the street and upgrade the service. The only cost estimate I could get out of him was, "It ain't gonna be cheap". So that put a huge black cloud over everything yesterday. I think there's still a lot of the work that dad and I can do ourselves, but I'm probably going to have to hire Ron for some of it.

So after that big bummer, the whole fam showed up again to start the major demo. First off, dad and I had to shut off the water and put some valves in so we could kill the upstairs and leave the downstairs on. I've got copper pipes now, so that required us to sweat a connection to our CPVC. Dad was a bit unsure of himself since he'd not really done it in a long time. But I had the utmost faith in him. Dad can do anything, right? Dad said I actually had faith in Grandad Hagen, because that's where he learned it all. Here's the result...

This shot is looking into the ceiling of the downstairs bathroom, below the upstairs toilet. Dad got it right, first try, no leaks. He was practically dancing a jig, he was so happy with himself. I was pretty happy too since we couldn't turn the water back on until these valves were secure. While we were working on this, Logan and Megan were busy upstairs demolishing the bathroom. It was soon time to take out the tub. I knew this wouldn't be fun. It was sandwiched in on all sides, and I knew it was going to be HEAVY. After about 30 minutes of beating, banging, pushing, pulling, prying, lifting, and swearing we got it to where we could slide the thing around. I was right, it was HEAVY. It had to be every bit of 300 lbs.
We managed to slide the thing down the stairs and out the door. I feel sorry for the poor suckers that had to get that thing UP the stairs. With the major pieces removed, we started hacking up and ripping out all the old plumbing to make space for the new. Here's me in the downstairs bathroom ceiling with a sawzall.
A word to the wise, always make sure you have sufficient fall in your drain pipes or they will retain a funky and chunky black watery discharge that will come out when you remove them. One word, eeewwwww. FYI, that stylish bathroom you see in that pic is our next project. So, by Nathan's bedtime we had reduced our bathroom to this...
Here's the view from above (that's our dryer down there).
And here's the view from below.
Now I can actually walk through here without hurdling over the toilet.
Here's the hole we wrestled tubzilla out of.
As we were finishing up, I confirmed what Olivia had suspected early on. There's a significant slope in the old bathroom floor from one side to the other. I don't know what we're going to have to do there. I felt amazingly good after we were finished. Despite all the setbacks and looming problems, we got a lot accomplished. Thanks again to all my helpers. Big props go out to Logan for bailing the extra water out of my toilet with his bare hands! Thanks to Olivia also for another yummy construction dinner of homemade chicken noodle soup. Nathan had some, but really preferred the crackers.