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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Our First Construction Owie

Logan and Megan came over tonight to help with the bathroom a little. The first project was to get all the bricks out of there and make some room to work. We devised a good system where Megan loaded a few bricks up in a 5 gallon bucket and handed them out the window to me, standing on my truck boxes. I would then pass them down to Logan on the ground where he would stack them. Well, after about the 3rd bucket, my crappy window decided to fall. It smashed Megan's ring finger pretty good then broke in half and fell on my arm and neck. Amazingly enough, no blood was shed and the only injury was Megan's finger. Can you tell which one it was? So Megan was done with brick duty, but she didn't let a little sore finger stop her from helping with other stuff later. She's pretty tough. Anyway, Grandpa showed up about this time and was able to help me and Log get the bricks down in 10 or 15 minutes. I was REALLY glad to get that little job done. After that, dad looked over some of the electrical work that needs to happen. Meanwhile, Megan cleaned all the dust, insulation, nails, and other miscellaneous crap up off the floor. Logan and I cut out and installed the sheeting for over the stairway. Here's the before shot... And here's what it looked like after... It looks so much better to just get things cleaned up a little. I went ahead and pulled up some floorboards that were broken and/or insufficiently supported. Incredibly enough, there were only these three spots that need to be replaced. Tomorrow's project will be to rip down some OSB to fill in the floor gaps. After that, I'm not sure. I'll have to think about it some more tomorrow. Thanks to all the fam for coming over to help tonight and thanks to Liv for feeding us all a smashing spaghetti dinner afterwards!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Point of No Return

Well, there's no turning back now. I think we're committed...
I finished wrecking out the chimney today and cut a new door to access the lost room. It may not look like much, but it's about 3 times bigger than the other access door in our closet. Eventually, most of that whole wall will come out. I'm trying to keep the bathroom usable for as long as I possibly can before I rip it all out. I also bought a sheet of foam insulation so I can cover the hole up and maintain some of our warm air. Here's what it looks like from the other side.
You can see I built a little bridge to cover up the chimney hole and make for easier access. I can't sheet over the hole until I get the plumbing in underneath, so this was a temporary deal for safety mostly. You'll also notice I took down part of the duct work. The trunk line comes up from the basement immediately to the right of my little bridge. It splits into 3 ducts there. I was able to leave the one into the bathroom and the one into my office connected for now, but the one that ran across to our bedroom is no more. It never put out much anyway, so we won't really miss it. I think tomorrow's project will be to replace some of the floorboards that have gone bad and to cut down the OSB to sheet over the steps.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Let the Destruction Begin

We finally finished harvest around lunchtime yesterday, so by yesterday afternoon I had begun the bathroom project. First thing on my list, the disappearing chimney trick. Now you see it... Now you don't... In about 2 hours I managed to dismantle it brick by brick. Luckily, the bricks were pretty non-porous and the old mortar was not very well bonded to them. Most of them just pulled right off and were easily cleaned off with a few taps and scrapes from a claw hammer. Amazingly enough, I managed to drop only one brick down the chimney and I still have my hammer too. If you drop something down there just let it go, 'cause man, it's gone... It's probably 15 or 18 feet down to the bottom of that. It does make a handy trash receptacle though. Never underestimate the benefits of having a bottomless pit in your house. That's where I dumped the mortar that came off the bricks. Olivia came upstairs and was like, "There's a bunch of smoke in the basement!" I assured her it was just some leftover dust being kicked out of my disposal chute. I've removed to just below the floor so far. I need to remove another 5 or 6 rows of brick to get down to the downstairs ceiling. Then I should have the room I need to maneuver my plumbing between the two. So now I'm left with piles of well-worn bricks that need to be removed from the room. I've already found a home for them all as Olivia, Megan, and Shauna all need some for various gardening projects. All I need now is some help getting them down. It's a bit cumbersome because they have to be handed out the window to someone standing on my truck toolboxes. Then you have to hand them down to someone on the ground to pile them on the concrete patio. So, it's really a 3 person job. Hmmm, there just so happens to be 3 people that want the bricks. What a coincidence.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

15 Years, 2 Months, and 1 Day to Go

The countdown has officially started for Nathan to get his driver's licence. This boy LOVES being behind the wheel. Liv brought him out to the field again yesterday and we sat him up in the seat of the semi once again as well.

He lives for this now. This 40 ton vehicle is now his new favorite toy. See for yourself...

Here's some more random pics of the boy we've amassed lately.

Thanks to Aunt Megan for her contributions to the montage!