Archive for category Bathroom

Some Progress Lately

The treehouse is down. Went up on the ladder with the sawzall a couple of weekends ago and made pretty short work of it, considering that it was fairly sturdily built — except of course it was built of non-treated lumber so the roof was bowed in and the 2x4s were soaking wet. It’s really amazing how big the pile of junk lumber is from such a small building.

No more treehouse!

The absurdly large debris pile

The bathroom shelves are up, or at least two of them are since for some reason the middle shelf didn’t fit. I’m not terribly happy with how they came out, but at least there are shelves there and we can start using them for storage. When I have a few bucks lying around I’ll go get a sheet of birch plywood and do them better. I figure if I construct the shelf and the braces in one unit and attach it to the wall all together there will be fewer gaps.

The bathroom touchup painting isn’t done, but all the holes are filled and sanded. I now know that putty has to be applied pretty thickly because it shrinks as it cures. Hopefully I can finish that next weekend, and paint the door and window jambs where the old pink paint is showing through.

Last, I demoed out the wall in front of the old basement access door, and removed the plywood covering the stairs that gave us so much trouble with the underwriters last fall. Apparently, Nate is a big do-do head crap’r, whatever that means. Once I get the door freed of its very thick layer of silicone/rubber/whatever-the-hell-it-is caulk and get a padlock installed, I can move forward with taking out the existing stairs and filling in the living room floor with a temporary plywood patch.

Oh, those wacky previous owners!

I also have a good quote from an electrician to upgrade the service to 200 amps. Now I need to figure out what the schedule is for inspections and for Seattle City Light to hook up the new mast, and then I can schedule the electrician. I’m moving the location of the panel to the foundation wall, so I can remove the plastered-over stud wall the current panel is attached to when I completely gut the basement.

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Yard Work

So long time no post from me and all that. Yeah yeah yeah, I know.

The bathroom is still tantalizingly incomplete. I bought window and door casings from Second Use and cut them to size, but now they’re sitting in my basement unsanded, unprimed, unpainted, and uninstalled. And of course I still haven’t done anything about the tub/shower valve escutcheon, although I did fix the broken screw in the shower arm drop-ear, so it’s solid again.

The main point of this update is the most recent bit of yard work Jen and I did last weekend. It’s been unseasonally good weather the last week or so (it stopped today, naturally), so first Jen got out and raked up all the leaves, sticks, and dead morning glory from the side yard.

As it turns out, there’s actually a brick patio underneath all of it, not just a bit.

Typically for this house and yard, whichever previous owner installed it installed it wrong — there’s no base of gravel and compacted sand, no! They just laid down bricks over black plastic directly onto the dirt, so of course it’s all wavy and uneven. Sigh.

But: since I’m pretty sure the bricks are pavers and not wall bricks, we’ll be able to save them and use them for our own patio to be overlaid over the existing concrete patio directly behind the house. Someday. Yay!

As you can see by the photos, there’s also a pond — we knew it was there but didn’t realize it was about 30 inches deep. Apparently there was supposed to be an upper pond with a stream and a waterfall leading to the lower pond. I’m sure a shrubbery was involved somehow. In any case, it’s going to be siphoned out and removed and eventually appear on a Craigslist advertisement.

So: last weekend we acquired a lawn mower from a friend’s shed where it had been sitting idle for at least three years. A $50 trip to a local lawnmower repair guy later, I was able to mow the entire front lawn for the first time in five months. As you can see, the entry looks a lot nicer when it doesn’t look like a jungle:

The mower doesn’t have drive wheels like the mowers I used to use as a teenager, but at least our yard is almost entirely flat.

I would have continued mowing and done the back yard, but since there were huge piles of yard waste covering parts of it I figured I’d take care of those first. The largest pile under the trees was mostly leaves and sticks and not so much morning glory. I filled up the 40-gallon yard waste bin plus nine big Home Depot bags:

You can see more or less where the pile was — everything in the area from the leftmost tree to the fence to the concrete driveway was a foot and a half or more deep in crap:

Meanwhile, Jen completed (or nearly so) work on the front garden beds, which are going to look very nice when they’re planted with flowers in the spring:

Sadly, the end of the great yard cleaning is still pretty far off. Not only do the piles of dead morning glory in the first picture remain, but in the raised area at the southeast corner is this:

We’re kinda scared to poke about in this treacherous pile of junk, construction debris, tree branches, weeds, and rocks to even determine how bad it is. And there’s another similar pile on the other side of the garden shed. When the clerk at Home Depot saw me buying twenty yard waste bags, he commented, “Those are pretty big, you know.” To which I could only reply, “Oh, believe me, I’ll be back for more…”

Finally, since it was such a nice day and both Jen and I were working outside, we brought Thekla out to play, which led to lots of hysterical crying. Turns out she’s terrified of grass.

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OMG I’m So Done With This Damn Bathroom

I am so sick of working on this bathroom. Rather, I’m so sick of working on this bathroom and having one stupid thing after another break or go wrong, or just be poorly designed (or have the instructions not match the equipment).

But before I start ranting, here’s the progress so far (and there really has been a lot of progress, just a whole hell of a lot slower than I wanted):


The tile is done. Well, all but done. It’s all on the walls and floor, and it’s all grouted. The wall tile is Rittenhouse Square 3×6 in white with black accent tiles, and the floor tile is Octagon & Dot, both from Dal-Tile. Grout is Polyblend Delorean Gray, sanded on the floor and unsanded on the walls.

The wall grout was difficult and it’s not as clean as I’d hoped, because I only had just enough grout so I was trying to conserve it, and then I ran out of time toward the end and tried to basically do the entire shower at once, which meant that it had started setting up by the time I got around to sponging the excess off. And wiping, wiping, wiping on a vertical surface was very hard on my arms and back.

The floor grout was a lot easier. Granted, there was only about a third as much floor square footage as wall square footage, but the joints being bigger and the whole thing being horizontal made it a lot easier. I only used about a third of the 25 pound bag, but since I didn’t know better I mixed up the whole thing — which is now completely set up in the bucket; I used a plastic bucket that cat litter came in because I intended it to be disposable.


We haz tile


Jen presciently bought us a Wagner Paint Crew airless sprayer and a roller arm accessory. It took me a while to figure out how to set it up, and the first coat of primer went on pretty slowly. After that, however, the second coat of primer and two coats of paint only took half an hour each. We used Sherwin-Williams Bath Paint, and I have about a quarter gallon left to use on the window and door trim. Sherwin-Williams says the stuff is self-priming, but I don’t believe them. It took two coats to really cover and get out all the thin spots. On the other hand, it went on really well, and I think it was a good value despite being $40 a gallon. The only downside is that it’s so white (I didn’t have them tint it at all) it makes the white tile look off-white. 🙂


We haz paint

Shower Valve

And now we come to the clusterf*** portion of the program.

We got the Premier Torino shower/valve/faucet set (and the matching sink faucet). It’s pretty, but in retrospect I wish I’d looked at a model in person instead of just ordering it off the internet — turning the handle adjusts both temperature and pressure simultaneously, so there’s no way to have a lukewarm trickle; a quarter turn from off is both half and half hot and cold and maximum flow. I’d have preferred the type where turning it adjusts the temperature and pulling it adjusts the pressure.

Anyway, there’s a brass bolt with a threaded hole through the center sticking out from the valve that the handle attaches to. Apparently in order to adjust for different valves, wall thicknesses, etc., it’s overly long and you’re supposed to cut it back to the proper length.

Here’s the problem: there’s a brass adapter that screws into the bolt with a knurled knob on the end; the handle fits onto that with a locking screw to hold it on. So I measured and marked where to cut the bolt to have the adapter sticking out far enough to have the handle sit flush with the escutcheon. No problem. But then I cut it, screwed the escutcheon on over it, and then discovered that there’s a piece molded into the top of the escutcheon that blocks the adapter from going in far enough.

So in other words, it’s impossible to have the handle flush with the top of the escutcheon. Now, the instructions are less than clear: the parts list shows the adapter and locking screw, but the assembly instructions show a screw going through the handle and into the bolt with no adapter. I wonder if I have the adapter, handle and locking screw from the newer model but the escutcheon from the older model.

Right now I have it entirely assembled sans escutcheon, so it works but looks kinda ugly. And I get to have the I’m sure wonderfully pleasant experience of calling their customer service and attempting to explain all this over the phone and ordering at least one new part. Grrr.

Oh, and I almost forgot: I was screwing the shower head arm back into the drop-ear elbow inside the wall. The “tight” spot had the arm at a 45° angle past vertical, so I could back it off 45° or push on almost another whole turn. I looked at the threads and it wasn’t really threaded very far, so I went ahead and cranked it. I got about halfway when the goddam drop-ear broke inside the wall. Or at least something broke; I’m hoping it was just the screws and not the brass fitting. Regardless, I’m going to have to cut open the wall, fix or replace it, and patch and paint. Grr raar raar raar.


The shower curtain rod went up easily, since I’ve already put it up temporarily and taken it down again, um, five times now I think. It’s a double curved curtain rod from Bed Bath & Beyond — I like having the curved rod since I really dislike brushing up against a damp plasticky curtain liner while showering.


We haz a shower curtain rod

The medicine cabinet was easy, as were the sconce lights. The overhead light was more difficult, since somewhere along the line it didn’t quite get set proud of the joists by quite enough, so the bolts hanging down from the box to screw the base onto weren’t long enough. A trip to the hardware store later (the next day) it went up just fine. Note to self, however: leave a longer wire to attach to. Last, there was again something wrong with the fan blocking and it wants to droop down a quarter inch or so from the ceiling, which means I have to climb up into the attic and figure out how to attach it better. Bah.


Medicine cabinet & sconces are in


Light and fan are in

Another annoying issue — chalk yet another thing up to inexperience — is the wall sockets. Those little spacer nubs on plastic electrical boxes that are supposed to leave the top of the box flush with the installed drywall? They lie. All my boxes are recessed about 3/16″. Not fatal — I can unscrew them and put in longer screws and spacing washers. But the other thing I didn’t know is that you have to cut the hole in the drywall exactly the size of the box, or at least no more than 1/8″ larger. The snap-on Decora plates need to brace against the drywall, and I’ve got too much of a gap. I’ll need to get out the patching compound that dries hard as rock and fill in around the boxes, and then paint the compound, and only then attach the switch/socket plates. Dammit.


We got the American Standard Champion 4 from Home Depot. Installation was pretty easy, except for the feed valve, which just did not want to go onto the copper stubout. Eventually I’d damaged the brass compression fitting enough that I just threw that valve away and went with another one. A whole lot of vice grip + pliers action later, it was watertight. That was yesterday at 1:00am.


Toilet installed


Look! It flushes!


My sophisticated leak detection device


Clusterf*** part II. We got a pedestal sink off Craigslist from a guy up in Marysville with two warehouses full of … stuff. It’s fairly nice looking and we paid way less than retail because it apparently got dropped in the box and the top of the pedestal was broken. I was able to superglue it all back together and reinforce it with fiberglass tape and adhesive, so I didn’t think there would be any problem.

Until I got both pieces out of the box and put together in good light. At which point I realized that not only were they not quite the same color (white/off-white), but the top of the pedestal doesn’t actually fit into the groove at the bottom of the sink — they’re different models.

Okay. Fine. The pedestal isn’t really important in that it as long as it’s supporting its share of the weight it doesn’t need to be perfectly mated to the sink, and sometime next year when we have more money we’ll just get a new damn sink. So I put them up against the wall and spent an hour getting the assembly perfectly positioned and leveled and the screw holes marked.

My brand new carbide bit that I used to drill the holes for the toilet flange yesterday no longer wanted to drill through tile at all, so I made a late night run to Home Depot and found a set of tile and glass drill bits that I swear they didn’t have when I was looking for them weeks ago. I certainly wish I’d had them before, since they cut through the tile like buttah.

Hooray, right? Well, I put my wood bit into my drill to complete the pilot holes for the wall mounting screws and when it punched right through into air discovered that I’d made a fundamental error. I’d never seen a pedestal sink unattached to a wall before, so months ago I looked at the big holes in the middle of the back and thought that’s where you put in lag bolts with big washers or whatever. I was wrong, as I discovered when I watched a pedestal sink installation video online.

Here, I’ll let the pictures tell the story:



So since at this point I can’t go in through the back of the wall and put in more blocking, I’m going to have to cobble up some lag bolt solution after all — tomorrow.

Punch List

  1. Get some more grout and fill in all the little gaps, in corners and just where I missed a bit.
  2. Call the shower valve company and get some new parts
  3. Scrape and clean all the excess grout, paint, and joint compound off the tile
  4. Silicone all the tile/drywall joints and around the tub
  5. Put up the @#$%*&! sink
  6. Fill in around the switch and socket boxes
  7. Clean, paint, and reinstall the door and window casings
  8. Fix the fan blocking
  9. Insulate the ceiling

Jen keeps telling me what a good job of everything I’m doing, but I’ve been so frustrated by stupid shit going wrong that all I can see is the imperfections. This project started out as hard work but fun and interesting. It’s not fun anymore. I have two days to finish the last couple of crucial items before we have people over for Thanksgiving, and then presumably complete the rest over the long weekend.

Then I want to not think about projects for a while. The rest of this house had better not be this stressful.

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Lots Of Progress, or, My Wife Is Awesome

The Baby Gate

Since we have a little one who will be bipedal any day now yeesh, Jen’s been after me to put up a baby gate at the top of the stairs. The instructions said it needs to be installed into a solid if not structural elements, which presented a problem. The staircase has sidewalls, but they have about three 2×4 studs each — you can wiggle them about an inch either way without even needing any effort — so I couldn’t install the gate into the obvious opening. There are structural columns at the top of the stairs which are in place of the original outer wall of the gable cottage but which now form one of two arches from the addition on either side of the fireplace — one into the stairwell and the other into the living room. But they’re too far apart for the gate.

So I built extensions, I guess you could call them, that anchor into the columns and make the opening narrow enough for the gate to fit. They’re not particularly pretty (I learn a lesson about carpentry every time I pick up a power tool: in this case, don’t try to drill a perfectly perpendicular hole without one of those mini-drill presses you attach to your drill), but at least instead of having bare ends of 4×4 posts sticking up I covered them with little fence post caps.


And, since they don’t meet the stair sidewalls or the fireplace, the cats can get around them but even a bipedal baby can’t:


So it’s nice to have one project completely done with and checked off the list.

The Bathroom

I got the floor down a couple of weeks ago, but it’s just been sitting there mocking me ever since.

As you can see in the photos, it’s an octagon-and-dot mosaic tile, and I really should have used a smaller-notch trowel. Pretty much every joint has thinset squidged up into it. That is to say, every one of the thousands and thousands of little tiny joints has thinset squidged up into it, some halfway, some to the top. Scraping them out with a utility knife is going to take forever.

I’ve been working slowly on finishing the drywall — it’s not that it’s particularly difficult, it’s just the first time I’ve done it so I’m figuring out my technique as I go along. But the bathroom absolutely must without fail be all the way done by Thanksgiving, so I took the day off work today to get as much done as possible. I spent the morning doing second-coat on the drywall, and then Jen called and said she was taking a half day and would be home to help.

So we decided to attack the walls. I mixed up a bunch of thinset, set up the borrowed laser level along the reference lines I’d already marked, and then Jen went to town setting all the field tile while I worked on making all the odd cuts and fits. The result: we have walls!


There are two reasons we didn’t completely finish: I can’t do the ends of the shower walls because the end-bullnose tiles are on order, and I can’t do the top row of tiles until I’ve skim-coated the drywall (since there will be a bit of overlap). The bottom row of black tiles is just going to be an evening of cutting and fitting, and we were both tired after working all day, so that’ll have to be another post for another day.

And here’s why my wife is awesome: not only did she do almost all of the work to get the tile up, she actually got it up a lot faster than I would have done. If she hadn’t taken a half day off, I’d probably have gotten one wall done and maybe two, instead of all of them. And that doesn’t even mention all the work on the rest of the house she’s been doing while I’ve been putting all my energy into one room. The fact that this place looks like a home instead of a box and tool storage facility is all due to her.


So you’ll remember the missing drain hole for the sink. I’m happy to say that it was pretty easy going in through the linen closet, since it was faced in particle board, not the 3/4″ tongue-and-groove of the bedroom closet, and my measurements were pretty darn close:


(Yes, I’m aware that it’s not centered. The sink, shelf, and medicine cabinet aren’t centered on the old pre-existing drain line, mostly because of having to mount both sconce lights into studs and find a center point between them.)

Now I have to figure out the best way to interface between the 1-1/2″ ABS and the 1-1/4″ standard sink drain and P-trap. I guess the trap escutcheon is going to have to cover a lot.

Oh, and here’s a photo I forgot to put up months ago.


Moral: don’t try to pull eighty-year-old framing nails out of eighty-year-old wood with a little bitty finishing hammer.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture

Here’s where the sink is going to go. What’s wrong with this picture?

(And no, “it’s red” is not the correct answer.)

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Lessons Learned (First of a Series)

I’m sure there’ll be a whole lot of these posts, but here’s a couple of things I learned from working with backer board and thinset:

1. If you’re using HardieBacker cement board, don’t use generic cement board screws. Make sure to buy the green-coated square-drive HardieBacker brand screws. With the 80-year-old framing in our house, driving one of the generic screws went like grr umph argh oh hell that’s good enough whew that’s one; whereas driving the HardieBacker screws went like zip ZARCH zip ZARCH zip ZARCH.

2. Don’t mix thinset with your bare hands, no matter how expedient it seems to be at the time. Last night I was cementing down the backer board sheets to the bathroom floor, and at first I mixed up what I thought was half the 50-pound bag but only turned out to be about a third of it. That was easy — the drill + mixing paddle seemed to be able to handle it, and hand mixing with a brick trowel wasn’t too hard. But it only put down one and a half sheets.

So I went to mix up the rest and it didn’t want to mix — I put down my drill when I noticed literal smoke coming out of the motor housing, and still there were huge dry clumps at the bottom that the brick trowel wasn’t breaking up. So I just stuck both hands in and kneaded it like the world’s thickest cookie dough, and then washed my hands off under the hose immediately afterwards.

About two hours later, as I was thinsetting the joints, I noticed that my hands felt sticky, like there was a thin layer of rubber or silicone on them. When I finished all the jointing and cleanup at 12:45am, I realized that, no, in fact, it was the skin on my hands that was peeling.

Basically, it appears that the entire top one or two layers of epidermis on my fingers and palms got killed by the thinset and is peeling off. Ick. You can kinda see it in this photo:


I guess this is my first remodeling “injury” — so far hardware stores have been more dangerous than the actual work, as I bash into wire racks sticking out into the aisle and so forth.

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Been A Long Time

… Since the last post. And the bathroom’s still not done, dammitall.

I kinda ran out of PTO (well, not really, but I ran out of time I could stay away from work without making my boss mad), and then we moved in. You’d think that moving in would mean I’d be able to get more work done, but actually living here means I’m not alone when I’m here and thus liable to being called away to look after the baby, lift heavy things for Jen, install shelves in closets, fix the internet connection, and all the other obligations of daily married-with-children home life. Plus it’s very difficult to work in the evenings as either we’re eating dinner, I’m giving Jen a break from the baby, or they’ve gone to bed and the noise would wake either or both.

We moved in on September 25 pretty much without a hitch. We used Mountain Movers, who I have to recommend, as they were tireless, efficient, and professional. I managed to severely roll my ankle going down our porch stairs, and it still hurts two weeks later. If I hadn’t been wearing my combat boots I’d probably have sprained it.

Jen’s been getting lots of unpacking and organizing done. The house looks almost entirely like a home and not a storage facility, although we don’t have the books out yet — mostly because the parlor, where the bookshelves will go, is being used for temporary drywall storage.

Speaking of drywall, our friend Chris has been coming over on weekends to help out. Together we got all the necessary blocking (for nailing/screwing edges) installed, the outside wall insulated, the ceiling drywall hung (not that well, sadly), and about half the wall drywall and cement board hung.

Yeah. So, I’m never drywalling a ceiling again without a drywall lift. That shit is heavy. And next time, I’m cutting the drywall from the back side, because I guess thirty years of playing D&D and other tabletop RPGs has left me able to precisely conceive and measure a top-down plan but nearly incapable of measuring, drawing and executing a bottom-up view. Suffice to say that one piece of the ceiling went up fairly well with a minimum of fitting, but the second, more complicated piece ended up with either half-inch-plus gaps or overly-tight, creaking, breaking spots around the edges. There’ll be a lot of filling with joint compound in my future when I get to the taping stage.

Also, when I say we got about half the drywall and cement board up, I kinda mean the middle half, vertically. The plan is for 42″ tile wainscoting with drywall above. The walls are 95″-96″ high. Cement boards are 36″ wide, leaving a ~6″ gap at the bottom to be filled with a strip of cement board. Drywall is 48″ wide, leaving a ~4″-5″ gap at the top. I still have to fill in those gaps. (Oh, and I discovered that there’s a 1/2″ difference in the floor from one corner of the bathroom to the other. Luckily, the two walls on which I’ll have to cut base tiles at an angle will be mostly concealed by the toilet, sink, and dresser, so I hope it won’t be all that obvious.)

I’m pretty sure I can get the rest of the drywall and cement board up this weekend (Chris is busy). The only pieces larger than 36″x60″ are the closet drywall walls, which are standing on end and thus will be easy to maneuver and install. I need to install the floor cement boards, but for some reason I’m very nervous about mixing the thinset, even though it looks dead easy on TV. This is probably the same nervousness that makes me a lousy cook — when they say “mix until it’s the consistency of peanut butter” I get all anxious; do they mean creamy Jif, or do they mean that oily runny organic stuff? So I’ll be reading the directions very carefully and as much as possible mixing precise weights and volumes together.

I’ve already figured out how to cut all the remaining necessary pieces out of my three and a half remaining sheets of drywall and my nine remaining sheets of cement board, and then I’m going to have to figure out exactly where my tiles will have to sit vertically to

  1. make an entirely seamless pattern extending from wainscoting to shower surround,
  2. end up with my top row of 2×6 black bullnose tiles overlapping the cement board/drywall joints in both areas, and
  3. not end up with slivers of tile either at the floor or at the tub/wall joint.

I was going to take precise measurements and create a scale drawing in Adobe Illustrator, but it occurs to me that just attaching a bunch of tiles together with masking tape and holding them against the wall will probably be easiest.

We just found the camera cable today, so I finally got all the progress pictures loaded onto the laptop. I’ll see about posting those tomorrow while Jen is off getting her hair done and leaving me with the baby (can’t drywall with a baby, y’know, so I might as well blog).

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Good News and Bad News

Friday all the inspectors showed up.

First was the electrical inspector. She actually arrived when I was on my way back from the hardware store so I talked her through most of it on the phone, only arriving as she was finishing up.

Everything passed, except one of the boxes in the ceiling should have been face-up (into the attic) for accessibility. She was concerned about the remaining knob & tube, but I convinced her that the rest of the house was running off it and I would be happily removing it room by room as I renovated. I had her look at the little subpanel, and even though she couldn’t officially “inspect” it since it wasn’t included on my permit she said everything looked okay.

(Apparently she asked Jen if I had an electrical background. She said what I would have, which is no, I’m a complete newbie, but I read books.)

Second, the building inspector. As I figured, everything looked good, except for a couple missing nail plates over holes through the studs. He gave me a pass with the stipulations that I install nail plates and insulation (which I already had on site) and that the plumbing inspector passed me. All good so far.

Then the plumbing inspector showed up, and I wasn’t done with running the PEX. I’d hoped he’d arrive later in the afternoon, but no such luck. In any case, it didn’t matter, since he took one look at the new tub drain and said it didn’t pass. There wasn’t a vent close enough to the drain, and Nate had installed flexible Fernco compression fittings (not the metal-covered ones) to connect the toilet and tub drains to the cast iron stack (which apparently aren’t approved for indoors, notwithstanding my plumbing guru’s book — maybe it’s just a Seattle thing). The inspector took pity on us and basically went outside his purview and described what he would do if he were the plumber and officially allowed to tell us what to do. Heh.

Now, at this point, we had a non-code tub drain, half-installed PEX supply lines, cuts in the old lines, and no water to the house. I was utterly exhausted, and Jen was dog-tired after removing about a million nails holding down the carpet on the stairs. Our plans for closing up this weekend so we could possibly have an operational bathroom by next Friday were quite obviously scotched.

So we discussed it for a few minutes and did what we should have done in the first place: called a plumber.

The plumber arrived about an hour later, looked around, came up with a plan, and handed us an estimate for just $1700 (and that was contingent on us doing all the necessary demo). We handed him a check and a house key so he could do the work on Monday, and went home planning to break into my current job’s 401(k), which up to now had been sacrosanct. (All of our credit cards were near the limit already.) He’s going to do the drain right using 2″ pipe the whole way plus a vent and a test cap, install the PEX supply lines correctly using 3/4″ tube on the main line instead of 1/2″, and install the shower valve, which is reportedly much more difficult than it looks.

Jen called her folks when we got home, and we got more good news: they were sending us a check as an investment in our daughter; it was supposed to be a surprise, but they figured they should tell us so I didn’t tap my 401(k) on Monday morning before the check arrived. It’s going to be enough to cover a lot of things and a huge load off our minds.

So we won’t have a completed bathroom by move-in day. Not possible. But it should at least be minimally operational by then, even if we have to hang plastic around the shower or at worst have to take showers at our friend Alexia’s house a mile away. The rest of the work can be evenings and weekends without having to drive twenty miles each way.

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Things Start Going Back In

(or, Welcome to The Bathroom Renovation Death March, or, Plombieren Macht Frei.)

This is where things got bad. I was running out of time and the to-do list just kept getting bigger as I discovered step after intermediate step that I hadn’t planned for.

The plan was to finish up the framing, including framing in the hole where the old closet door was and building the stub wall to go at the foot of the tub, then to run the electrical back to the breaker panel, then tap into the existing feed lines and run PEX to the faucet, bath and toilet. Didn’t even come close.

First off, of course, is that I didn’t even get to the house until after 3pm, what with having to run around and pick up supplies, including my busted Craigslist Special circular saw from the repair shop way the hell up in Kirkland (about fifteen miles out of my way). Then I ate a sandwich and finally got to work about 4pm. I called the city and county and scheduled all the inspections for the following day. I was committed now.

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Bathroom Demo Part 3

I haven’t been posting the last few days because I’ve either been too goddam busy or too goddam tired.

The difference between the DIY reality shows and reality is that the shows never show people covered in filth on top of a ladder working with heavy tools at arm’s length in the middle of the night.

Monday I pulled down the ceiling and dropped a huge pile of rockwool all over everything — I pulled one nail off the corner of each sheet of drywall and the whole thing came down. There were a bunch of nails in the joists, but the drywall must have been completely rotten. After I cleaned all of that up, I scraped up all the vinyl flooring and the linoleum underneath it (at least I hope it was linoleum). Also, the building inspector showed up for the preliminary inspection, and signed off on all our plans, including the stairs; what was especially useful is that he let me know that on old existing buildings they’re understanding about what’s possible and what isn’t, and with respect to the winding stairs that the 6″ inner width of the tread was the most important part and that if we missed the 10″ middle width by a quarter-inch or so they could let it slide.

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