August 6, 2017

Concrete Kitchen Island Installation

So we got the bright idea to do concrete countertops. We like the look, and it was a lot more affordable than the Carrera marble that was our second option. I did one small bathroom vanity as a test option, and have been doing every other project I can do at the house, rather than doing the island, because the island is a bit intimidating.  When I did the bathroom vanity, I used a wet sander to get the imperfections out.  It used a ton of water, which wasn't a problem because I did it outside.  I didn't have that option with the island, as it weighed between 500 - 1,000 lbs.  We had to pour it in place.  My goal was get it as smooth as possible, so that I didn't need to use the wet sander.  Fortunately, I had some good help, and I think it's going to be smooth enough that we won't have to use the wet sander.

Island all framed up and reinforced with wire mesh

Seth, Ross, and Vanessa mixing the cement.

 More Mixing

 The finished product. 

Tomorrow night the frames come off. Hopefully the edges are ok.

July 10, 2017

All Moved In

It's hard to believe that my last post was nearly 3 months ago.  The last picture of that post was of me getting stiches in my hand, and I'm continuing that trend by posting a picture of me with a makeshift eyepatch after I got something stuck in my eyeball.  All is well now, and there was no damage done - there was a small piece of metal embedded in it, but the eye doctor got it right out. 

Me sporting the latest trend in eyepatch wear - painter's tape chic

We successfully moved from our rental house to the farmhouse at the end of April.  We've moved a number of times, and have a pretty good routine down, so I wasn't all that worried.  As we approached the move date, the weather forecast appeared like it was going to rain pretty intensely the entire weekend, so I disrupted the routine and just started taking loads of boxes and furniture and dumping them in the new garage.  It did end up raining the entire weekend, which turned the yard and walkway to the house into a muddy mess that we had to walk through to get in.  I don't have any pictures from that weekend, and honestly, it may have been the most frustrating part of this whole project.

Fortunately for me, we had a few people (Chelsea, Mom, Dad, Seth, and Steve Miller) swoop in to help us get stuff moved, and then Vanessa did an amazing job getting everything organized and making order of the chaos.

There was an issue with the drywall installers that resulted in a delay the week prior, so we couldn't bring any of our furniture into the house, because the installers had to come back to finish the downstairs after we moved in. So everything went into the garage.

Right now we have a few remaining supplies and some storage items in the garage, but we basically had this space set up like a giant living room - couches, chairs, dressers, tables, lamps, and boxes of all of the stuff we needed access to.

The first weeks being in the house were great, because for 7 months I had been leaving work and going to work on the house, only to come home after Vanessa and the kids had gone to bed. We had no sink, stove, or way to cook other than a microwave, our fridge was in the garage, and our downstairs was a construction zone filled with drywall dust, but finally we were all back together.

We quickly got tired of doing the dishes in the bathtub - there's something about sitting in a tub filled with dirty dishes that just ruins the whole "relaxing" bath thing. . . . I probably shouldn't have tried to both bathe and wash dishes at the same time.  Also, trying to cook in only the crockpot and microwave wasn't all that great, so we ate out a lot.

Within a couple of weeks, we got the sink and stove installed, and the refrigerator and microwave moved in from the garage.  That was a game changer.  We've now been in the house about 10 weeks, have moved out of CJ's bedroom and into our own (he was sleeping in the guest room for the first 6 weeks), and have slowed down a bit to enjoy this amazing house a property.  The sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking, we really have not experienced any issues with bugs or mosquitoes. There is typically a slight cool breeze that's really refreshing blowing across the yard, and the house and land is flooded with sunlight, all the time.  It's peaceful, quiet, serene, and feels like we are living in a resort (that's still under construction) If you want to see some great pictures of more of those things, check out Vanessa's blog:

Ok, so I've rambled on enough, it's time for some pictures.

This was the original downstairs bathroom/hallway/laundry room. We had just started demolition.

This was demolition well under way.  We planned on making the front area a small powder room, and converting the back into a master bathroom and walk-in closet.

This is the view into the back part of that space from our bedroom.  The unfinished area on the left will be a walk-in shower, and the area on the right will be a bathtub, and the vanity/sinks. The doorway is to the closet.

 A view into the closet.

 The powder room. I just completed the sink plumbing this past weekend, and now we are fully operational.

I used this sink as an opportunity to test out my old finish spray gun, as well as testing out how to do a cement counter top.  Vanessa has several pictures of the work in progress on her site.
This was the master bedroom just as demo was getting started.

This is the new master bedroom. The window trim will be painted white eventually.

Another angle on the master bedroom.

Vanessa found these 2 cool old doors that I am in the process of restoring for us to use on the bedroom and powder rooms. I have one of them done, and the other needed a lot of work, so it's not quite done yet.

Here's the door in place, and the powder room with it's temporary door. We really need to get a sign that says "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" that can be hung when it's occupied.

This was the original kitchen and living room area

This is the new, open-concept, kitchen and living area.  The kitchen still needs finished, all that remains for the living room is paint on the walls, and trim.  We love our ceilings restored to the original 10' height (pre-renovation they were less than 8').  I splurged and added an in-ceiling 7.1 surround sound system.  It is awesome!

We also got a great deal on pre-finished, hand-scraped, solid hickory floors from lumber liquidators.  Even though I refinished some of the floors upstairs, the cost was virtually the same, with much less mess.  We are really pleased with how these turned out.

I'll be back to share more pictures, stories, and hopefully no more injuries.


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!