April 23, 2017

One Week Until We Move In


It's been nearly two months since my last post.  I'm sure you were all wondering, "Where is Chris, and Why isn't he posting?" Well, the truth is, I fell into a 20 foot deep cistern that we discovered under the kitchen floor, and have only now been able to get out to share my story.  Cistern pictured below. 


Of course I didn't actually fall into the cistern, but we did find one.  It was 20 feet deep, had a diameter of about 6 feet, and it was totally full.

We used sump pup to drain it into our pond. It appears that it doesn't fill up any more, so we put a lid on it and sealed it up.  There was a tremendous amount of moisture in that corner of the house, causing some mold and mildew issues.  Thankfully, that is resolved now.

When I last posted, we were stuck in the bathroom.  shortly after that post, we added a bathtub faucet, and a toilet seat (CJ is demonstrating how it works, in case you had any questions).



We also added lights, and a mirror over the sink to complete the bathroom transformation.


I had saved all of the old kitchen bad bathroom cabinets, cleaned the mold and mildew off of them, and put them in the garage for use there.

We continue to have a ton of help with everything.  Mom and dad helped paint this bookshelf that we at the house already.  It was a built in downstairs cabinet, and we had to tear it total apart, rebuild it once transported upstairs. That was fun.

The next big project was sanding the floors in the hall and CJ's room upstairs.  I think it turned out really well.  It was also a huge amount of work, and why we decided to go with a pre-finished hardwood floor downstairs.  Pictures below.











In the midst of all of this, we had couple of really intense spring storms.  I got the opportunity to use my cousins boom lift to repair my barn roof.


Not bad for a guy who isn't too fond of high places.

My brother-in law, Seth, has continued to do the electrical work for us.  Getting lights hooked up downstairs was a game changer.



We took out the floor because I needed to put plumbing and HVAC in the crawlspace, but it was too tight to do so.  So rather than commit to losing weight and maintaining it as long as we live in that house, we ended up digging about 2 feet of dirt out of the crawlspace so that I can continue to get in there for years to come.  Pictured here is my brother-in-law Chris who came for the day with his wife Heidi to help.

So I also re-piped the entire house.  I didn't take many pictures of this part, because, frankly, they were boring.  It went fairly quickly, and when we turned on the water for the first time, there were no leaks or drips.  That was an amazing feeling. 

As an aside here, there are many things about this project that have made me sore, but nothing has even come close to making me ache quite like doing plumbing.  Doing the PVC drain lines was freaking stressful - you put the adhesive on the pipe, and you have about 15 seconds to get it right, or else the glue sets wherever you are.  So the combination of stress and then squeezing those pipes together until the glue set, along with spending two entire days under the house in the crawlspace was enough to leave me bruised and sore.


The area above the kitchen was unusable attic space. It was filled with blown in fiberglass insulation, years of slate dust (from our shingles), and a bunch of abandoned wasp nests.  we thought it would make a great play room for the kids, so we cleaned out all of the insulation and put OSB sheeting on the floor.  We will eventually insulate and put some sheeting on the walls, but the kids love it the way it is right now. 

There is a story about taking out the insulation that deserves to be told.  I had actually left all of the plaster on the kitchen ceiling, and just planned on having the drywall installers go right over top of it.  However, I decided to install like 15 lights in that area, and the thought of cutting all of those holes and moving all of that nasty insulation out of the way for the lights made me decide that it might be easier to just take the entire ceiling down.  It took one entire day, and was certainly not easier, but I do think it will look better.   While removing the ceiling (I had already removed the floor in the kitchen) I was using two pieces of plywood laid on top of the open floorboards to walk on.  I took a step where I though there was a board, but there wasn't.  I fell and caught the top of my hip on a floor joist.  It took my breath away it hurt so bad.  I took a second to catch my breath, checked to make sure I hadn't broken anything (I hadn't) and then quickly finished the final bit of demolition before my hip could tighten up.  I had the most spectacular purple and black goose egg (literally that size) on my hip/love handle. I'd have had a picture to share, but a friend told me to put essential oil of lavender on it to help with the bruise, and it cleared up within a few days.  Since then, I've pretty much replaced showering with a routine application of essential oils . . . it's great!


As I mentioned, we had a ton of help.  In case you couldn't recognize them by their biceps, here a friend, Steve, and his son, Josh, are helping to install the ductwork for our kitchen.



One of the final jobs in preparation for the drywall was to install insulation.  Vanessa and dad started that job, and some of our contractor's guys finished up.  I believe that they all said it was their favorite job ever.

 Ceiling over the kitchen done.



Floor back in place.  It's now level, solid, and doesn't have moisture/mold issues.


Of course no renovation would be complete without a trip to the ER.  I sliced my finger on a broken nail, and ended up getting 4 stiches.

I'm grateful it wasn't worse, and that it's been the first injury that has caused a doctor's visit.  Drywall is supposed to be hung tomorrow, and finished in the days following, and we have to be moved out of our rental house by Sunday.  Nothing like cutting it close.  We are excited for this new chapter to start!

Chris




February 4, 2017

Stuck In the Bathroom


 So I've pretty much been working on the upstairs bathroom since the end of December.  It is nearly done, and since I've taken so long to do a post, I thought I'd wait for a big reveal.  Vanessa keeps sneaking in and taking pictures and posting them on her social media, so even though it's not quite done, I've decided to post anyway, since word is getting out. 



This is what the bathroom looked like at the end of December.

 My plasterers called one day to let me know that they had someone delay a job, and that they could plaster the bathroom if I had the wallboard hung.  I told them that I didn't, but that I would by the next morning.  I forgot that Seth was working second shift, so it was just me.  As you can see from the picture, the wallboard got hung (the rest of the room was a mess), but it took me until about 3:00 am.  Ironically, I wasn't sleepy at all until I got done, except for the next morning, when I needed a Red Bull IV.

As you can see in the background, the plasterers were able to do their thing, and we got the room cleaned up and all of the old carpet out.  We also managed to salvage the old clawfoot tub that was in the room already. The outside was pretty dingy, and so I painted it black.

 I cleaned up the claws and painted them gold.  I'm pretty sure those are eagles claws . . . this which makes sense, since we are American.  There's nothing that makes a bath quite as relaxing as knowing that your laurels are resting on the talons of a bird of prey.

We managed to salvage the toilet from the room as well.  I put them in place and realized that the floor was severely out of level, and sagging in the middle.  I am sure that most of it was due to the age of the house, but whoever first added plumbing on the second floor nearly cut through over half of the floor joists, which contributed to the sagging. 


I reinforced the floor joists, and built up the floor so that the sagging wasn't so noticeable.  I also had to make sure that the areas around the tub, sink, and toilet were pretty level.



The wall behind the tub is an accent subway tile wall.  I really like this wall, but those little tiles took forever to install.


Forever


. . . and ever.


. . . and ever

We had planned on going all the way up to the ceiling, but we got to this height, and thought that it was perfect.  I nearly tiled the rest anyway, because I didn't want to feel like a quitter, but I had a shower and the floor to tile, so that took care of those feelings.

 The shower tile were much larger.  There were nine of those little subway tiles for every 1 of the big ones.  I much preferred these - although the smaller ones were more forgiving for any imperfections in the walls. 
 Moving right along

 Almost there. . .
 I ran out of tile (actually Menards ran out of tile, and I had to wait a could of days for them to restock) and Cassie and provided some comic relief. 

 Once the shower was done, I built the curb for the shower, and started putting the tile on the floor.  The white border around the room was my contribution to the design.

 Floor Done. I really wish I would have done this differently. . . I tiled myself into a corner and ended up sleeping in the shower for a night.  Just kidding - I climbed out a window instead.  OK, seriously, I planned my exit, and my last tile was right in the doorway. It fit like a glove, and I was able to go home.

The last two evenings I've been grouting, and once that has cured for 2 days, I'll seal it, and then the tile is wrapped.  As you can see, I got the shower fixture installed too.

Vanessa got the tub and toilet and but cleaned up, and we put them in place.  I've got some more plumbing and trim work to do to finalize things, and we have a few lights that will go up yet, but this is basically what it will look like.

 Vanessa found this dresser that we are turning into a vanity.  It is a replica of a designer piece that still retails for a pretty penny. She snagged it for $20 at a garage sale.

It's super exciting to get to this point. We will have this room wrapped up by the end of the week.  Then it's on to refinishing CJ's floors, and then we move downstairs. 

There's been a ton of other work that has gone on. Mom, Dad, and Vanessa helped paint nearly all of the rooms, Seth has gotten all of the light fixtures installed, we have carpet ordered and coming within a couple of weeks, the mudroom has been built, the leaking roof is fixed, windows that needed replaced have been replaced, we have water running to the basement, and dad has kept the house cleaned up, as I've made more messes.

We are planning on beginning to move things to the upstairs in March, and be totally moved in before April 1st.

That's it for this update.

- Chris