Disclaimer: we aren't professionals

Thanks for reading our silly little blog! As the disclaimer says, we aren't professionals in either blogging or house stuff, but we try. This is mostly to let our friends and family know what we've destroyed so far in the house. We post irregularly and usually forget to take pictures, so thanks for your patience, and please feel free to comment with your thoughts and suggestions!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I'm terrible at post titles. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
After the bathtub was installed, Chris and David began constructing the drain system for the tub and toilet.

Here's the toilet flange in place.

And an expanded view of that wall. The vanity will be to the left, out of the frame of the picture; then we have another roof vent (which now actually goes through the roof), and the toilet will be facing us. 

Here's the fancy tub drain. This tub has a special slotted drain, which was $100 (boo!) but looks really nice (yay!). Chris says he could technically take a bath now if he wanted, but he would have to haul buckets of hot water from the other bathroom, and step over the big hole that is still in the floor right in front of the door, and he would have to be especially careful to watch for splinters in his bare feet. So maybe it'll be a while before he takes a bath. Oh, the reason he can't now is because there is no drain stopper in the other bathroom. 

Next, gratuitous pictures of Hula. 

She looks so happy in her cute little sweatshirt!

Bathroom reno update

I'm bored at work, so I'm going to update! (Seriously, though, Thursday is a dead day right now)

We last left our heroes fixing the rotted joists in the master bathroom. After that, they put down subfloor and turned their attention to more demolition. Their next target: the ceiling.
As always, click on the photo to enlarge to full-size.

When they were done, the attic was fully exposed, along with its tangle of poorly planned wiring. 

Now that the ceiling was exposed, they figured out where to put the wall that will hold the plumbing for the tub/shower. (We had the tub by this time, so they could make exact measurements). 

The first picture shows a dry fit. They needed to add some cross-stud-truss-thingies in order to secure the wall. The second picture shows a different view, but the wall is still not nailed in place or anything.

Before the wall was put into final position, they brought the tub into the room to make sure they got it exactly right. It was a tight fit, but they won! It's too bad I don't have any pics of the tub in place (with the new window, too, btw). It's really pretty.

Next, Chris got to insulate the walls (for noise as well as temperature control). The next step was to put in the sheetrock for the ceiling. They tried to put it in just on the trusses, but there were clear waves. It needed more support, so I went to Home Depot (my role was go-fer for most of the weekend) and picked out some nice, straight 1x4s. This dropped the ceiling a little bit, but it is negligible in the grand scheme of things. In the second picture above, you can also see the new PVC vent pipe in the wall and the old vent hole in the roof.

I'm going to make new posts for the plumbing pictures and for the recessed-light-and-vent-fan pictures. I might also throw in some cat-in-a-holiday-shirt pictures for giggles.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Master Bath Renovation Part 2

Part two of the master bath renovation covers some of the joist repair and details on cast iron plumbing removal.

Dad is standing on a pair of the joists after repair. We cut back the rotted sections much like the repair work we did in the bedroom corner. After cutting the rotted sections out, we installed a new section of band (the 2x8s perpendicular to the joists) and then scabbed 2x8s onto the replacement 2x8 joists.

I think this was a photo of how we braced the joists under the house prior to cutting off the rotted ends. We didn't have to support the trusses like we did in the corner repair because of better wall support along the side as opposed to the corner.

Here is a better shot of the joist repair work. Notice that we still have to cut out the rotted joist section being supported by that dinky red jack support.

Here is a closer shot of the band replacement. We still haven't put the stud plate back down yet. You have to be pretty skillful with the saws-all in order to cut the old band out without bending the blade on the brick. Dad is getting lots of practice with that.

Here is a shot of the 4" cast iron vent pipe as we were breaking it down to the connection with primary drain line. We started by breaking out a section near the ceiling and I pulled that section out via the roof.

Here is a shot of the cast iron breaker. It is basically a large set of scissor jaws that collapse using a jack screw. You wrap the chain around the pipe and hook it into the other side of the jaws. The chain has little discs in each link that contact the pipe with a very narrow pressure concentration. When you winch the jack screw with the large leverage handle, it collapses the jaws and breaks the chain in a surprisingly clean break. Easy to use after you get the hang of it. Just don't tighten the scissors jaws passed the limit, otherwise you have to take the entire thing apart...

I didn't get many shots of further joist repair, so the this shot jumps ahead to the point where dad installed the replacement window stud framework with the wall stud plate at the base. There is also a new piece of the vapor barrier board replacing the damaged one.

I've always found this to be a cool way of making large notches. All you need is a circular saw and a hammer.

This notch was made to allow for the tub drain which happened to be centered over the joist.

Master Bath Renovation Part 1

This first part of a series of master bath renovation posts is mostly concerned with demolition. We started out by tearing out the vanity and wall on the other side of the wall seen on the left, as shown in an earlier post. Dad and I started out this demo by getting an idea of what we needed so that he would be prepared when he returned in November. He smashed the faucet wall with a sledge hammer.

We took turns with the sledge hammer to break the cast iron tub in half. I think it weighed 350~400 lbs, so separation into two pieces was definitely a necessity for carrying the tub out.

Here is a picture of the other side of the wall for a reminder of the drain and electrical layout. These two separate spaces had originally consisted of two individual rooms, a small bathroom like my second bath and a laundry room. They blocked off the laundry room door to the hallway and added a doorway to the "master bedroom". The also knocked out some of the wall to make the bathroom larger. The layout was still horrible. It was the 70s/80s... I'll forgive them.

Here is a shot of the toilet wax ring, cast flange and an example of the fact that they poured an inch or more thick of cement to set the tile. Oh yeah, they also bound it to a wire mesh. It was a pain in the *&@ to remove. Sorry for the less than desirable image.

Here is a better shot of how they did tile during that time period. They did a beautiful job with the tile, it just wasn't quite my style...
Well, that wasn't the only reason that I removed it. Some brilliant person decided it would be a good idea to put a window in the shower... Well, years of silicone caulk neglect and water damage down the wall, you tend to reap some consequences. Observe.
Another shot of the ruined floor, the elaborate cast work (cast iron must have been a really bad word to plumbers back then) and the fact the pulling the tile was a lot of work.
Jumping ahead to a week or two later (and a bucket of sweat), I started to remove the window, rotted wall studs and window framing that was damaged. I ordered a standard window size (3/0 x 3/0, picture frame, obscured, vinyl, etc.) with the specification that it was new construction. The nailing fin will be secured to the new window framing studs when we put those up. Oh yeah, I found out that it is important to make sure the window has tempered glass. If someone slips and face-plants through the window, you don't want nasty shards to pay tribute to French execution practices. Also, I *heart* my shop vacuum. It has been awesome!

Out side view with the window and brick mold removed. That black edge that you see is the vapor barrier. The studs lined up behind that. I will have to add more studs to the window frame, meaning that the brick molding/trim will have to be larger to make the transition from the window to the brick.

The next shot is after the damaged studs and molded vapor barrier were removed.

Annie was doing her part by removing those cursed drywall nails. Again, I am glad we have become more civilized and use sheet rock screws.

After removing the window, rotted studs and drywall, the next step was to move on to the damaged flooring. We were going to have to do some joist repair. It didn't take me long to find out the extent of the damage. My dad and I are becoming pros at this joist repair business.

More of the floor being removed. Notice the red jack holding up one of the rotted-through joists.

Here is a close up of the damaged plate, band and stud plate. More Sawz-all magic!
First pass with the Sawz-all claimed the stud plate.

Part two will be uploaded soon with more demolition and the beginning of the new bathroom! Sorry for not posting lately. I hope everyone is doing well. Stay warm =)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dining room table - check!

We're really trying to make the house seem more like a home and not just a box under construction. Now that the major dust in the kitchen has cleared, we've brought out my big Ikea couch, my old tv stand (now turned sofa table), and we have a rug for the living room area.

The next thing to tackle was a place to eat. Since May, Chris has had to eat sitting on the couch, or I guess standing over the sink or in his car on the way to work or something. We had decided we liked Ikea's pine Stornas table in dark brown, and just had to figure out the size. I taped out the larger table size, with the logic that later we might want a bigger table, and this one would not overpower the room.
I told Chris to not walk into the blue rectangle so he could get a feel for pathways when there was a table in the way. I don't know if that worked, but in the end we decided the bigger table (6-10 seats, 2 leaves) was too big and we went with the smaller, 4-6 seater with just one leaf. It's in those boxes leaning up against the windows on the left.
So, last Saturday, while Chris started wiring lights into the crawl space, I assembled the table!
I am consistently impressed with Ikea's ingenuity. It was easy to assemble and the sheer simplicity of the leaf storage system brought tears to my engineer eyes. The leaf stores underneath the table, and can't fall out even if you're moving the table. To expand the table, you just un-click the gray fasteners (you can see them in the photo above) and pull the two halves of the table apart. They slide on the dark brown rails. Then just lift the leaf out, line up the pegs, push the halves back together, and re-click the gray fasteners! 
If that didn't make sense or you just said TL;DR (too long; didn't read), just know that Ikea is awesome. 

And here is the finished table:
Yay! It has nice sturdy legs, is solid pine (cheaper wood, but fine for us), and we'll easily be able to put 4 chairs and a bench around it. The bench will go on the side nearer the door, so we can use it to put on our shoes or whatever when going out the door. 
In the background, you can see the entertainment center-turned-sofa table, the green couch, and wayyy back there are some black and brown coffee tables and a black couch.

Eventually we'll sell the black couch, but maybe we'll keep it in the office or something. The sofa table is mehh... it worked fine for my previous apartment, but I might sell it on craigslist too and find something else to stick a lamp on and store DVDs in. The red doors definitely need to change color; I don't know whether to paint them or wrap them in fabric or paper or something. The green couch cover will be replaced with a tan one that maybe Hula won't scratch up as badly. You can kind of see the damage in this old picture:
Note the claws, extended, gripping the couch, as well as the absolutely shredded area beneath her. Fortunately, Ikea sells lots of covers at reasonable prices! I think a less nubbly fabric (yes, nubbly is a word, spellcheck) will seem less like a scratching post to her. At least, I hope it will be. Anyway...

I also don't know whether to put a rug down yet. 
Pros: prevents scratches from chair legs on floor
Cons: much harder to clean up messes (I spill stuff... a lot... I am clumsy)

So now the hunt is on for dining room chairs. I'll put up a few options later (like, after I pass quals in 2 weeks?) as well as post an update on the kitchen table solution. We know what we want to do there, but it'll probably be a while before that happens. The important thing is, Chris can eat his dinner at a table now! Yay! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wreath I made

This is what I did yesterday evening.
- Decided I didn't want to study, so went to Michaels
- Bought jute twine ($5), a green foam wreath form ($6), a garland of fake flowers ($3.50), and some cute ribbon ($4)
- Made a wreath by wrapping the twine around the form and tucking flowers into the twine (their stems looked like upside-down Ts, so I just secured each side of the T by wrapping)
- Tied a pretty bow and hung it from Elise's front door!

The grand total was somewhere just under $20, but that's ok because I don't ever spend money on wreaths (ever, I've never bought one or made one before), and this one will last a couple of years I hope. 

Furniture stuff (tables, mostly)

The kitchen is really coming together! Chris has gotten most of the cabinet hardware on, and he's finishing the tile this week. Once that's done, we can put in a kitchen table and move the birds in there. 

I bought a cheapo rug from Target, so now there is a sitting area in the living room, but it's pretty much a couch and a coffee table on a rug facing a blank wall. 
We went to Ikea Tuesday night and picked out a dining table (which will go behind the sofa in the giant living room) and a sidebar thing for the kitchen. We discussed kitchen tables. I want a round pedestal style, but one with a light wood top. Ikea has this: 
But the top is yucky fiberboard. We could cover it with butcher block countertop if we can find it cheap, but then that puts the price higher than I'd like. 

I'd be ok with something like this: 

Minus the chairs, but the base might be a little too country for Chris. It's not so bad without the chairs, promise. Here's Target's all-light colored version:

For the dining room, I like this Ikea one in brown-black stain. It's solid pine, has 1 or 2 extra leafs (depending on the size we get), and so could expand later. I think I need to tape out the dimensions on the floor before buying, but I think the larger one fits the scale of the room better than the smaller one. We'll see. 

So we just need to order a real rug for the living room, buy new slipcovers for my Ikea sofa, get a rug or something for under the dining table, maybe, maybe not, and buy the dining table and chairs (still don't know what to do about those - check Craigslist probably). Then we'll get the fake fireplace (gel fuel cans), which will have a mantel for photos and Christmas stockings and whatnot, and we can mount the TV (which Chris doesn't have yet either) above the fireplace. And then maybe it'll look like a real living room. Oh and curtains. And move the coffee table from Goodwill that I refinished. Ok so there is still a lot of work to be done...