working @ home + contractor work = hilarity!

para-glide landing siteSo working from home  has its benefits when a contractor is working on your house, the obvious being that you know when they show up and when they don’t, they know you are going to be there so are more likely to work in a more structured pattern, and that they can consult you on little questions or changes as the need arises.  It also has downfalls, like wasted time bull-shitting about your home repair instead of working, making small changes on a whim because you are home, and occasionally being asked if you will run to the store to pick up a small part they forgot or didn’t realize would be needed.  But no one ever mentions the mood lifting laugh factor of home remodeling in an old house!  I don’t think I have laughed so hard or so often in my daily working hours ever!   Considering that the majority of my working hours are me home alone ( or with kids) working on a computer, baking in the kitchen, or taking care of livestock it might just be that my working hours are just normally filled with hours of a) hard physical labor, or b) concentrating deeply on the task at hand.  (Like take today’s tasks, computer programming  baking, livestock chores and deliveries, while the kids are playing loudly on yet another day when school is closed for no good reason!).#1's running over drywall attempt

So far in the great bathroom remodel/ floor leveling job there have been not 1 but 5! times that someone has put at least 1 foot through the dining room ceiling ( it is starting to look like swiss cheese down there!)  While horrifying at the moment it is happening, it is hi-lar-i-ous the second we find out the hapless victim is fine.  The 1st was #1 running to his room and side jumping.  The 2nd was our d-o-g reverse parachuting through the piece #1 had already broken.  from d-o-g's first flying attemptA few days later d-o-g did it again in another spot! and the contractor mis-stepped and broke a tile.  The floor leveling was done at that point and the rafters covered back up, but then yesterday while a small section of the floor was pulled up to install the toilet drain lines as we were debating whether or not to put the toilet where we planned or to move it slightly I managed to find the only spot uncovered big enough to put a foot through and did exactly that!  Each time after we realized the person hadn’t fallen through and was ok it was full on belly laughs to the point of having to go pee! ( and when d-o-g fell once he jumped up and ran away) we were laughing for forever!d-o-g fall #2

Then there was the water incidents.  While running new lines from the cellar to the bath on a particularly warm rainy day the cellar started to flood, apparently our sump wasn’t working properly ( which really is no surprise at this point) so the contractor stopped running new lines to take a look ( or else he would have been running lines knee-deep in water with in the hour!) and while he managed to get the sump started he also accidentally took the discharge hose off when he set it down ( turns out they hadn’t attached it with any kind of clamp or seal – doh!) and got a 5 second ice-cold shower before he realized what was happening and moved out-of-the-way.  It was one of those moments you wished you had been video recording so you could play it back over and over again!  Then the next day when he went to cut the new water lines to length and apparently one of the kids had turned the water back on the night before ( I blame #5 – the 3-year-old!) and got another shower! which then resulted as rain through the dining room ceiling.  this time it was the contractor

It’s just one of those things you laugh at because what else are you going to do?  It’s an old house apparently everything the previous diyers did was wrong and very very cobbled…  ( Insert bad polish joke here)   Once it’s over and everyone and everything’s fine, you just have to laugh at it.  Just think of all the moments I would have missed if I left the house everyday for a day job!

my bad!

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Kids bath: Planning and Demolition

I knew the floor plan of this bathroom needed to change.  There was a huge waste of space next to the toilet, only 1 tiny sink that had barely any door clearance and a shower so tiny that the kids would have out grown it by the time they reached puberty! That combined with the leak and frozen pipes made this room a priority.  (I was secretly hoping to do the main/master bath or kitchen first but the house apparently had other plans!  Oh well!)

I consulted the local kitchen and bath design specialist  they came out took measurements and asked what I wanted to see in the bathroom. I  explained that I wanted something that went with the feel/ age of the house.  I wanted to put 40 inch wainscoting on the walls, find a way to fit 2 sinks (because 5 kids crammed around 1 tiny sink in the mornings and evenings to brush their teeth just wasn’t ideal!), and frame-less glass shower doors with a tiled surround and a glass accent at eye level.  I explained I would like the vanity to have a furniture feel to it, and the 3 things I would love  to have would be a separate water closet for the toilet, so someone could pee in privacy while the others did teeth brushing and such; If we could find a way to make the shower become a tub that would be great but if we couldn’t a neo-angle shower would be fine and what ever storage we could add would be perfect!

Then my contractor who needed to measure doors for all the new closets and replacement doors happened by, he asked what was going on with the bathroom (since we had started demoing it at this point) and I explained everything I had told the design specialists.  He looked at the space for maybe a whole 5 minutes and came back with a great new design plan!  To move the door, to the opposite wall put a tub/ shower in and a pocket door to make a water closet and then tuck a double sink in where the existing door had been.   Honestly it was a perfect plan!  But I still wanted to wait until I heard back from the specialists.  I waited over 2 weeks for their reply.

They called on a Thursday I went over Friday morning to take a look at what they came up with I was super excited, until I saw their plan, my heart dropped.  They didn’t give me a double sink.  They didn’t give me a water closet.  They didn’t give me a bathtub.  What did they give me?  A 18 inch linen closet.  And a budget 10 x more than I had said I wanted to spend (and 5 times more than my contractor said it would cost).  It was super disappointing , 2 weeks of waiting, nothing I wanted or needed in the space,  and a budget bigger than I have for the whole house remodel!  It wasn’t full of high-end granite, or vessel sinks, (both which the tall Man has banned from our house! lol) Kohler accessories  or new modern innovations and striking designs.  It was simple and boring, and costly.  I called my contractor on the way home to tell him he got the bathroom job, I didn’t even bother to call the Tall Man first because I knew he would agree with my decision and we wanted the bathroom done, and done now.

We did some of the demo ourselves before the contractor came in to save some on costs and to be involved in.  Tall man and the boys #1 and #3 demo’d the trim and the flooring.  We sold the vanity on Craigslist and took it out when the couple arrived to pick it up, and I demo’d the shower and removed the light fixture and wall decor.  Then our contractor came in and made short work out of gutting the rest of the place.  By the end of day 2 demo was pretty much done and some improvements had been begun.

One week into the job, new insulation is already being installed in the wall, the  old plumbing has been removed, the walls have been leveled out and the floor leveling is underway (the floor is being leveled for the bathroom and the adjacent toy room simultaneously as they share the same floor joists).  I can’t wait to see what progress happens this week!

The Kids bath

We were in the new house a whole 2 days before the shower started leaking into the dining room.  And within the first week the bathroom pipes to that bath had frozen on 3 separate occasions!  Which means it got bumped to the top of the remodel list.

Now I am a pretty competent DIY’er and spent my childhood growing up in a real estate office where we had to make repairs to rental properties constantly and our old ( for CA) 1940’s house.  And probably could have done most of the bathroom remodel components on my own, but I was a little daunted about doing them all at once in a short time frame and while trying to do everything else that needs to be done around here.  Plus the bathroom was going to need a complete over-haul ; all new electric, all new plumbing and drains, and a new floor plan to make a better use of the space.

Pictures of our space before:

What a crazy 1st week!

We have been in the new house a week now and things have just been crazy! Besides the normal unpacking involved in a move, We have had all kinds of exciting fun!

We discovered that every opening in the custom hand built kitchen is either to big for the appliance it is meant for or to small.  The fridge can’t go back the last 6 inches so is sitting somewhat in the middle of the room, the dishwasher can’t be attached to the kitchen counter because the counter is 4 inches to tall, the stove has a 3 inch gap on the side between the cupboards and itself, and these are all standard sized appliances!  I also am able to literally crawl through the bottom cabinets and have to sit in them to reach the stuff in the back, and Kitty has free reign of all upper cabinets because the Open cabinet above the fridge goes through all the rest.  We found out the hard way that they wired the outlets for the fridge and the counter tops wrong and had to have someone come and redo them if a) we ever wanted to use our fridge and microwave at the same time or any counter top appliances in the actual kitchen, and b) didn’t want to risk lighting our 1890’s home on fire from the inside of the walls.

The pipes froze in all the bathrooms 3 times last week with the subzero weather we were receiving, and once they were thawed enough to give us more than a dribble we discovered the kids bath drains slightly into the dining room ( slightly means a drop a second) which just won’t do…  So now we are demoing the room out and getting ready to completely redo it 3 months ahead of schedule!

I had the gas guys come give me an estimate to run a line to the dryer and today bought an electric dryer for 1/2 what it would have cost me to run the gas line.

On the upside, we now have most of the furniture we needed, especially for the kids rooms, by repurposing, hitting our local auction house, raiding the Tall man’s parents garage, and a few internet items the kids fell in love with.  The water hydrant for the cows works perfectly, and we are all finally warm for the first time in years where-ever we are in the house ( our old house had 1 warm room, 3 sweltering ones, and 3 frigid ones – it was lot’s of fun!)

Hopefully we can get walls and closets installed soon, and then on to flooring and getting the kids bath functional again!

I have lot’s of little updates on the kids rooms and all the other little stuff that’s been going on to!  And hopefully now that the house is 95% unpacked ( well, if you don’t count my office, which is still sitting completely in boxes) I’ll have time to hop online more!!!

 

And yes we did have a property inspection, so I have no idea how so many things are going wrong with the house except that well, that happens.  When you buy a new house, something always goes wrong!!!