Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bathroom Redo | Part One - Demo Done!

Mike officially finished the demo of the bathroom last weekend.  He removed the lath from the walls and all the flooring.  I unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on from which persons talking) was unable to help and instead of standing in a demoed bathroom tearing out layers of flooring, spent the evening at dinner celebrating my grandmother's birthday.  By the time I got home, Mike was already starting his clean-up.

The path to the front door from the bathroom (hallway, stairs, living room) has been pretty dusty since we've started the demo, but we are finally at a point where we can put things almost back to normal and prepare for the next step - framing.

I know demo pictures aren't always the most exciting and we've kinda dragged this thing out, but here's some pictures to keep everyone up to date on what it looks like now.  I promise it'll start moving along quickly from here.  
 

After tearing out the tile flooring, (and the subsequent layers of flooring underneath that), Mike found the plumbing definitely needed to be addressed.  One of our projects includes moving the shower head and drain to the other side, making our bathtub right-handed instead of left.  We thought we were SOL when we figured the plumbing was running through the soffit in the kitchen (effectively smashing my dreams of ceiling-height cabinets).    


We were elated to find that it didn't, but knowing the half-assed work throughout the house, knew we didn't get off that easy.  See, in the picture below you can see that they notched out the floor joists to run the plumbing across the room, and they pretty much cut a huge section out for the shower drain and piping.  That pretty much defeats the structural purpose of the joists. 


Mike now needs to run it further into the room so that it lands where the new tub drain is, and add support to the cut-out joist.  He'll also be replacing most of the plumbing you see, since we have everything open and it's easier than trying to retrofit the old stuff.

Mike will also will have his hands full updating all of the old knob and tube wiring:


Removing all of the live wiring that was boarded over, like the one's that serviced the scones beside the long forgotten medicine cabinet, (not to mention moving the wiring from the old boob lights to the wall for the new lights):


And, also venturing back into the attic to replace and move the overhead fan more towards the shower, and finally vent it outside, like it should have been along:


As for the framing, we've put the final touches on our plan for all the little things like outlets and light boxes and the dimensions for the closet and vanity.  The only thing we are having trouble deciding on is the bathtub.  I'm pretty sure we had a 4 1/2" tub before instead of the standard 5' (Mike sledgehammered the old one to carry it downstairs easier or we would just measure it), so I'd love to have a smaller one again, (since we don't take baths, and never felt like it was too small), but Mike thinks we have the room for a 5' one.  Plus, I think after using the basement shower (which is a stand-up shower that's only about 3' x 3') he's excited to get back into a large shower and is looking for all the space he can get.

We're going to finalize the tub decision this week and purchase the one we pick before the weekend so we can get that in the space and start framing around it!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bathroom Redo | Part One - More Demo & A Couple Surprises

Not renting a dumpster means that demo is taking forever.  It also doesn't help that we're continuing our everyday activities and have been out of town the last couple of weekends.  I guess having a full bath in the basement has actually hindered us - in that we have no kick in the butt to finish everything!

Even though it's slow-going, it's still neat to see the progress every time Mike tears out another layer, not to mention all the little surprises we find along the way.  Last time we left off, Mike had torn out the chimney and all the additions, like the shower surround.


Like the rest of the house, the bathroom evolved over the years and tearing out everything unmasked a couple of interesting surprises.  The first one being the shower surround was built over top of everything existing, wallpaper and all.  See what I mean:



Not only did we find more toile wallpaper, Mike also found trim around the floor, meaning that at one time there was a claw foot tub before the shower was installed.

The other little surprise we found was behind the vanity.  After Mike tore out the wood backing, we found more clues of what the original (or at least one version) bathroom looked like.  See if you can figure it out:

 
The big gray square areas in the middle and to the left show that these were filled in and used to be voids.  Since the smaller one in the middle of the picture has two little shadows on either side, it's safe to say this was a medicine cabinet with two sconces on each side.  The pedestal sink shadow and drains below don't hurt this theory either.  The other gray area we were a little less sure and guessed maybe a window.  It would be one big window, if it were.  And, one window in a bath is nice, but two makes it a little less private.


Our suspicions were sorta confirmed, (as confirmed as we can be without pictures or the old owners telling us), when Mike tore the rest of the plaster out.


As you can see it's looking a lot different without any plaster.




At least now we know for sure there isn't anymore toile going to pop out behind anything.

And, don't be fooled by how clean it is right now, (well as clean as a demo site can be), I snuck in to see how things were going and this is what it looked like for the better part of the evening:


That is not how you should treat any fan, kids.  That's our old shower rod holding it up, and what looks like some rogue lathe pieces trying to pull it down.


The next step is to tear out the flooring and all the wall lathe to insulate (something this bathroom has been lacking from day 1).  We're keeping the ceiling lathe and just drywalling over that.

While I would usually finish there, since I'm sharing surprises I might as well share a little surprise we received from a nice guy named Jerry from Alside (where are windows were bought).  Almost a year ago I mentioned that I found a nasty problem with out bathroom window and thought we were going to have to fork out the money to replace the bottom window.  Remember this:

  
Well, since we were working in the bathroom anyways we thought it was time to deal with the problem, and we thought since our windows were so new that they would still be under warranty and while we couldn't find any paperwork that the previous owner might have left us, we had a feeling they would have been from Alside.  Mike called and used the numbers on the sticker that's on all the windows to find our order number and he explained the problem.  They knew exactly what we were talking about and scheduled someone to bring a replacement bottom window out.

Two days ago he came and switched the window out in less than a minute.  And, it turned out that he was actually a consultant for Alside and was contracted to specifically research this problem.  He explained that it wasn't mold at all, but a failure of the low-e coating on the inside of the window when it's exposed to oxygen.  Definitely makes me feel better than thinking we had mold in there.  They're not sure why it happens, (that's why he was hired), but he's been collecting any windows that fail and has been testing them to see if they can come up with a better solution in manufacturing or materials to prevent it.   So our little headache was actually all in the name of science.

Now our neighbors will have a clear view of all the craziness that's happening during the demo.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bathroom Redo | Part One - Demo

Some exciting (and dirty) things have been happening lately over here. Last week I mentioned that I had already moved our things into the basement bathroom. I have to mention how grateful we are to have a 2nd full bathroom in the house, even if it is a crappy basement one that we've been using for storage/construction clean-up for the last 2 years. When I was younger, my parents renovated the only full bathroom in the house, (knocked out a wall and expanded into an office, so it was a big project). Every night we went to the local wellness center/natatorium where we would shower. It sucked. So, even though the basement shower is half the size, and I have to keep a watch out for spiders, it's way better then community showers and locker rooms.

So, back to the progress. Unfortunately, I got knocked on my butt by another bad cold, so Mike was on his own for demo. Not that I would have been much help if I was healthy, it just sounds better if I was unable to help. He started by taking out the brick from the chimney behind the door. Remember this area:


This is what happens when we get tired of looking at all those people and their sheep.  Let this be a lesson to all the toile hiding in our house:


If you look down, you can see Mike tore out the bricks below the floor boards so that we can close up the bathroom and pick back up when we start the kitchen and tear out the next level.


The bricks were a messy job and I was sick and didn't feel like taking pictures, but we had about a half of a truckload when we were done and we took it over to our friend's farm for some soil stabilization.  We're trying not to rent a dumpster and reuse/give away as much as we can, so we're finding ways to get rid of everything as we take it out.

Mike wasted no time and turned around and tore out the vanity, mirror, lights, and toilet.


He put the toilet in the shower to drain before carrying it downstairs.

We had planned on taking out the vanity and cabinets carefully and donating them to ReStore, but they were actually built in place and impossible to take out as a whole.     

After this first day of demo, we Mike rested for a couple of days and before long, (actually 6 days later) he was at it again.  This time he attacked the wood backing behind the cabinets and mirror, the tub, shower surround, tile along the walls, and the wall bump-out.

This is to the left where the vanity and sink were, with the toilet to the right underneath the striped wallpaper:
 

This view used to be obstructed by a half wall with the tub and shower:


This is behind the door with the wall missing, and a giant hole where the chimney used to be.


And, an overall shot that makes it look huge!


It's come a long way in a short time from this don't you think?


We have a bit more demo, (I'm really excited to finally get rid of that soffit with the lights), before we start framing and adding the big things like the tub, but we're moving right along!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Little Tweaking

A while back I did some small tweaking to our TV stand and I've finally remembered to share it.   The living room has had many small changes along the way, I can't seem to get it the way I want, but we're getting there.

Here's a reminder of what it looked like at the very beginning, before the picture ledges were installed, hence the blue tape:


As you can see it's not the prettiest looking thing.  We had our old box TV which only had an extra set of the red, yellow, white plugs in the front, so we had to physically switch our DVD player and PS2, (hence the hanging cords in front), whenever we wanted to use them.  I'm sure I've mentioned that Mike built that stand for us in our townhouse and it's got ton of storage for all of our movies and accessories, (except, of course, the guitar hero drums and guitars, seriously why didn't we think about storing those before we bought that thing!).  The only problem with having a lot of storage is, you always seem to find more things to fill it up!      

We bought a new TV for Christmas 2 years ago, and I was able to clean-up the shelves a little bit more.  Here's how it looked for awhile: 


Like I said, I don't like our living room yet.  I can't figure out the direction I want to go.  I have to work with the things we brought into the house like our brown leather couches and black painted furniture.  I've been focusing on little things here and there and I started by focusing on the TV stand since that's what everyone looks at when they're in there.  I only made a few little additions, but I think it's coming together in more of the direction I'm looking for.


I found a couple bamboo baskets on sale from Target a couple weeks ago which fit perfectly into the bottom shelves.  I put all of our random candles in the one on the left, and all of Benelli's toys in the right.  He knows that's where they are because sometimes he'll sit in front of the basket and lightly paw at it, letting us know he wants to play.  Also from Target, (and on sale) is the white leather bin on the floor to the left of the stand.  We have all of the controllers and accessories for the game systems in there.  Finally, I bought some blue glass vases from Hobby Lobby, (during their 50% off glassware sales), and moved the speakers behind the TV for a cleaner look.

Not an earth shattering make-over or anything, but definitely a nice change from where we started!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Tale of Two Sinks

Even though Mike and I both work on construction jobsites, a lot of our work is done on computers, so whenever the mood strikes I'll email him over a picture of something I'll looking at to get his opinion.  He usually sends me back a couple word reply that lets me know how he's feeling.  (I've long ago given up on hoping to receive the same level of excitement that I have).  The other day I sent him a link to a faucet I found on Amazon that I really liked:

     
He said it looked good (which in guy talk translates to "Yeah!!  I love it!!! Let's buy two of them!!"), but we would need to buy the sink first to make sure the rough-in hole the sink comes with would fit this faucet.  He then asked if I had any sinks in mind.  It's like he doesn't even read the blog!  Of course, I had one in mind and mentioned it here:


After giving up on the Ikea one from my original idea board, I was already over it and smitten for this one.  The picture on Overstock even had the faucet I picked (I hadn't known that when I picked it)!  The price wasn't bad either, $119, and it was also 10% off that day.

Of course Mike had to try to outdo me and sent me back a link to this sink:

 
Don't worry if you don't see a difference, there really isn't one, except this one is an inch wider, $30 cheaper and includes the pop-up drain (which run about $20/each).  I was so excited that I told him to buy two of them right then and there.

Sorry if it's been a little boring until now, I had to explain the process, this is where it gets interesting.  The only thing we were hesitant about was the pop-up drain, which said chrome in the title, but in the description and picture said that you could chose between the 4 options.  I, of course, wanted the satin nickel.  Mike went ahead and ordered from Amazon, thinking that he would have the option to choose the satin somewhere in the ordering process.  He didn't find any sort of drop-down menu, so he called the manufacturer, Kraus (which we knew had to be a sign since that's my mom and stepdad's last name, spelled with an e though).  They said that there was not any additional cost for a different finish and all Amazon had to do was note which one we wanted and they would ship us that one.  Mike went ahead and ordered the sinks then immediately called Amazon since he didn't find anywhere to make a note.  Amazon said that they had no way of noting which finish and we were stuck with the chrome.  Not that bad of news since we were getting such a good deal, but Mike wasn't satisfied since the listing was deceiving.

I have to mention that until I met Mike I was one of those people that if someone said I couldn't have it a certain way I usually just let it go, whether they were right or wrong.  Mike is not one of those people.  If he finds something wrong, he has no problem calling customer service and asking to speak to a manager to find a solution that works for both parties, (unless he's really being screwed over, then he's only looking out for himself).

Since he had already called Kraus and knew it was possible to get a satin finish drain rather than the chrome, he felt he had a legitimate argument.  Also, we knew Amazon ordered these straight from Kraus and they are the ones that ship it out from their warehouse.  Amazon argued right back and said that they just "copied and pasted" the description from the manufacturer's website and wasn't responsible for the discrepancies.  Mike argued that they were responsible for the content on their site and misleading the customers.  They finally agreed that they would try to send a satin finish one with each sink, but could not make any guarantees.  Mike assured them that he would call them back if we received chrome.     


Obviously this would be a horribly boring post if we just ended up with satin nickel drain stoppers the next day.  We were really surprised to see two big boxes on our porch the next day, (we use Amazon Prime and this item qualified for free next-day shipping).  We weren't however surprised to find two chrome stoppers.  So, back to the phone Mike went.  He was sent to someone different than he talked to before and I think she just didn't want to deal with Mike, because instead of our solution of sending it back and waiting until they could guarantee a satin nickel finish, they refunded our money.  And, didn't want the sinks back.  Yes, you heard me, they gave us the sinks for free!

Not that we're not really excited, but we didn't really want anything for free.  We just wanted darn satin nickel finish!  We were more than happy to pay the already discounted price for two sinks, we just wanted what the ad said we could get.  We're all for getting free things, but we feel a little weird about it.  We kinda would have preferred to have been able to choose the satin nickel finish, buy the sinks and gone on with our day.

I'm not writing this to brag about getting our sinks for free, I'm more sharing our story.  We love Amazon and have very few issues with them, (I say few because we can't forget about TVgate last January).  But it bothers us when customer service only sees you as an annoying number and does anything to get you off the phone, including giving you your money back, but still leaving you with the same problem you started with. 

We'll continue buying from Amazon, (we've found that they usually have what we're looking for the the cheapest price), but we'll definitely be more aware of assuming anything from the listings, on Amazon and other online shops.

In happy a conclusion, we've already called Kraus, (the company, not my parents, har har), and they said if we ship them the two chrome pop-up drains, they'll send up two satin nickel ones in return.  No problem.

So, that's what's going on over here. I promise to be back soon with some demo pictures and obviously I'm sure you're all excited to see what all the fuss was about with the sinks and see them in the finished room.