Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

It’s so hard to believe that it’s the end of October already. This year we didn’t even get a chance to carve any pumpkins for Halloween (at least we’ll fit right in with the rest of the neighborhood!).

We don’t have much to show for bathroom progress this week. We did finish installing the drywall on the walls and cement board in the tub surround. And of course there have been multiple additions of drywall compound. The pictures look about the same as last week so it’s not even worth posting them.

We lost some working time this week for a few reasons. We were out of town Friday and Saturday, we watched Ohio State beat Wisconsin (Penn State won too!), and we took our CPR class on Wednesday night. Fortunately, we are both now certified in CPR. In the upcoming weeks we’ll be starting our childbirth classes, infant care classes, etc., etc. At least we’ll have a night away from the house each week!

We hope to be able to buckle down this week and pick tile so that we can tile the tub surround next weekend (we’ll keep our fingers crossed!).

Monday, October 24, 2011

We Have Walls!

This week was filled with greenboard and cement board. We installed all the greenboard pieces except for a couple small ones near the bathtub (a task for tonight). I’m still amazed at how well we did with our measurements for cutouts. One sheet had two outlets, two water lines, and a drain line and they all lined up perfectly – I guess we’re getting pretty good at this!

With the walls and ceiling in place, we now have a lot of mudding to do. Chris started some of it last night but of course it will take a few coats in some places.

We’ve been using the living room as our prep area – it’s a nice straight shot down the hall with the greenboard. Unfortunately cutting gypsum is a very dirty job.

My parents drove down for the weekend to help us with some of the bigger tasks. We started the weekend with a trip to the dump and Lowe’s. I’m sure our neighbors are happy that we no longer have a bathtub (broken into two pieces) on our front lawn.

In the afternoon, Chris and my dad worked to add strength to our floor joists. The 50+ year old joists were sagging a little under the bathroom area. Even with all the plumbing lines in place, they were able to sister up most of the joists.

Our next door neighbors hired a contractor to do some major renovation at their house last year. Fortunately they were nice enough to ask the contractors to leave some of the items for us in case we wanted them. We ended up with quite a bit of loot – a new front door, a few interior doors, two sink tops with faucets, two light fixtures, and a ton of shutters. The light fixtures were brass and didn’t really fit into our new design for the bathrooms. So my mom spent some quality time with the spray paint to turn the light fixtures into something we can use in our master bathroom. I love being able to re-use something!

One other big thing that was started was the replacement of our back door. The door between the kitchen and the back porch was in pretty bad shape. The previous owner’s dogs jumped on it and had claw marks and dirt all over it. It also had an enormous gap for air to come in. Oh and let’s not forget the lovely trim job where they installed the vertical pieces backwards:

So Chris and Dad worked on installing a brand-spanking new door. It’s not finished but already we notice a big difference in air flow (partly due to my awesome Great Stuff job!). I’ll be sure to post pictures of the door when it’s finished.

Now tonight, on our two year anniversary, we’ll be spending some time putting drywall compound on our joints instead of going out for a fancy dinner – isn’t that romantic?

Two Years Ago Today...

I married the love of my life!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rough-In Inspections Passed and Bathtub #4

Wow – what a week! We’re both completely exhausted (so much so that we both fell asleep at our desks on Thursday).

Monday through Thursday evenings we were working well into the late evening trying to get everything ready for the rough in inspections on Friday. In order to be ready we had to do the following things:

1. Install the framing for the closets
2. Install all supply water lines
3. Support all plumbing lines
4. Get electrical lines installed (we hired this out)
5. Install bath fan housing
6. Install bath fan ducting
7. Insulate bath ducting
8. Clean up debris and tools

Tuesday night was spent installing all the cold water lines for the two bathrooms. Since we’re new to this it took a little longer than anticipated to figure out how to route everything. Wednesday night was installing the hot water lines and starting to install supports for the lines. Thursday was a very long night where we finished framing in the closets, installed the bath fan ducting and insulation, and finished all other small items that weren’t finished (mostly supporting plumbing and installing protective plates).

I was a nervous wreck on Friday. I stayed home for the inspections and spent the first couple hours of the day moving our construction zone into the bedroom and cleaning up a bunch of debris. From my previous experience with inspectors, I was very worried about the electrical and plumbing inspectors. The last time they were here, the plumbing inspector made me cry and the electrical inspector was kicked out of our house because he was such a jerk (I did apologize to him later).

The building inspector came first and was very happy with our work. We got a nice “pass” sticker. The electrical inspector came next. Fortunately, we hit the jackpot with the electrical inspectors – we were assigned the head supervisor instead of the jerk. This supervisor is extremely nice and gave us our second “pass” sticker of the day. Last was the plumbing inspector. This guy can be either very nice or very mean depending on the day. He started the inspection by pointing out a couple things that we had missed (very minor stuff) so I thought maybe it was a mean day. I was so nervous the whole time he was there but he surprised me and gave me our third “pass” sticker of the day.

As soon as I closed the door on the plumbing inspector, Tucker and I did a little happy dance and sang the “We Passed the Inspections” song in the foyer. I am so relieved to have the rough in inspections behind us!

Since we had worked so hard during the week, Friday was a nice night to relax before we started work again on Saturday.

Now I guess I should tell the tale of the bathtubs. Last weekend, Chris and my mom picked up a bathtub at Home Depot. We brought it inside, opened it up, and found a missing piece of porcelain on the corner. So we took it back to the store to exchange it for a perfect one (we opened it in the store to check this time). We installed the perfect bathtub last Sunday before my parents left. It was so exciting because it was starting to look like a real bathroom.

On Wednesday, the electricians came to the house to install all the lines. We had covered the bathtub with the cardboard protective cover it came with and had plans to put some blankets on it as well. While the electricians were at the house, I heard a clunk that sounded like something had fallen in the tub. I checked the inside of the tub while they were at lunch and didn’t see anything wrong. It wasn’t until Friday morning while I was cleaning for the inspections that I found the enormous chip of porcelain missing from the top of the bathtub.

The cardboard on top of the tub blocked my view of this on the first inspection. I was so angry – we had finally got the perfect bathtub and it was installed! I called the electrical company and told them what had happened. They were very apologetic and bought us a new tub which they delivered that afternoon. They also offered to hire someone to install it for us if we needed it.

When they delivered the tub we looked all over the top and inside of it – there were no issues. It wasn’t until we looked at the front that we noticed a pretty sizeable dent. It was even more obvious when we installed it.

So on Sunday, with our fingers crossed, we drove the (broken) truck to Home Depot in Ellicott City to get tub #4. We looked at the entire tub in the store to make sure that we were getting a good one. We were so gentle bringing it into the house and installing it. Now we stole Tuckers blanket to put over the tub until we can go buy some old blankets at Goodwill.

We were a little slow to get up on Saturday but once we did we were able to accomplish a good amount. We started by putting insulation in the exterior bathroom walls. We re-used the loose insulation in the main bathroom and put up a plastic moisture barrier. In the master bathroom we installed some un-faced batts with the plastic barrier.

To make the house more airtight we used a couple cans of Great Stuff to seal the gaps around the windows and in the joist cavity. Another thing that we learned during our energy audit was that we should seal the joist cavities below the upper floor to prevent air leaks. The easiest way to do that was with some Styrofoam and Great Stuff. It may not be in the best location or look very good but now we have much less air flow in this area.

We’re getting surprisingly close to being able to tile in the bathroom. The only problem is that we have no tile selected (or purchased). So we spent some time at the Tile Shop, Home Depot, and Lowe’s to see if we liked anything. We’re still not sure exactly what we want to do but we’re leaning toward a few different ones.

On Saturday night, Chris soldered the heating lines back together. We had to remove the radiators from the bathroom and closet last week so we’ve been without heat since then. Now we can turn on the heat on these chilly 40 degree nights!

On Sunday, after church, we started installing the greenboard in the main bathroom ceiling. Fortunately, Chris made a “dead man” so that I would retain use of my arms this week (holding a huge sheet of drywall above your head for 15 minutes is quite challenging!). Hanging drywall on a ceiling really requires three people (or a lift).

The first sheet we hung was cut so precisely that we had a little problem getting it into the one area…

Fortunately we learned our lesson and left bigger gaps on the rest of the ceiling and the rest of it looks great!

The next thing we started was the installation of bathtub #4. It didn’t take long for that perfect tub to slide into place. Then we put up tar paper and started on installing the cement backerboard. We have more backerboard to put up tonight before we can start putting up greenboard on the walls. By the end of the week we could have something that resembles an actual bathroom!

Here are a few pictures of the progress this week:

One final thing – this morning when Chris was showering, the duct in the master bathroom was dripping water onto the master bathroom floor. After a *little* investigation we concluded that water is getting behind the tile in the upstairs bathroom (can you guess where in the picture below?) and migrating over to the next joist cavity. Since we plan on demolishing this hideous bathroom soon anyway, I’m going to use some caulk this evening to make it less leaky. At least we only have to use this bathroom until the main one is complete!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dust and Studs

This was the most physically exhausting week that we’ve had in a long time and of course this will be a very picture-heavy post. It all started on Monday evening when we began demolition of the closet. In order to understand the extent of this challenge you have to know a little bit about our walls. Unlike new construction, our walls have a ½ inch gypsum board that is covered with up to 1 ½ inch plaster. Each corner has a thick wire mesh that is insanely hard to remove.

It took us 4 full nights and a part of a 5th in order to remove all the walls, ceiling, and floor. The worst part of the whole demolition was the bathtub and surround. The bathtub is a huge, heavy cast iron tub that took quite a bit for Chris and my dad to get out. The surround was a full wire mesh with extremely thick plaster – Mom and I couldn’t even lift small pieces of it.

When we removed the ceramic tile, we found three more styles of tile and another remnant that matches our ugly upstairs bathroom (oh, the horror!).

We took Friday off of work and spent some quality time with my parents – doing home renovation! Dad and Chris continued demolition of the tub and walls while Mom and I took trips to the dump. Out of the three trips to the dump, we moved over a ton and a half of debris from the bathroom and closet.

On Saturday, my parent’s friend Jerry came down to help out with the rough in plumbing for the bathrooms. We made quite a few trips to Lowe’s in order to get all of the materials we needed. I was banished to being the “go-for” and cook. Chris and Dad installed subfloor and walls while Mom helped Jerry with the plumbing (which included removing the old cast iron drain pipe – yuck!).

Sunday was much more of the same. By the end of the weekend, we had all the walls up and the drain lines and vents installed. Fortunately we finished early enough that everyone could drive home early.

Now we have what is starting to look like a couple bathrooms. Here are the before, during, and after pictures – we still have a long way to go!

This week we plan to finish the plumbing rough in, get the electricians in, and get the rough in inspections. If all goes well, we could be installing some drywall next weekend – we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Convict Tucker and Zachary Michael

Well this week was all about getting ready for demolition. We have the building permit, have submitted paperwork for the plumbing permit, and hired the electrician (they get the electrical permit).

Most of the prep work has required us to move a lot of stuff. The closet was full of boxes and pictures before – now they are all upstairs. The bathroom closet had a ton of toiletry items that are now near the upstairs bathroom. The basement was a complete disaster and we moved a lot of furniture, boxes, and beer making equipment to give us access to do plumbing work.

We started demolition last night so here are a couple “before” pictures.

I know I promised finished TV room pictures this week so here they are. I also included the nasty “before” pictures – check out that incredibly stained floor!

You may be wondering why Tucker is a convict. We went to a family wedding this weekend and took Tucker to a friend’s house. When we first took him over to the house, he peed right in the middle of their living room carpet – bad dog! Then while we were away, he escaped with his buddy Ginger (You may remember Ginger as the co-conspirator in his first escape attempt).

Apparently, when our friend left his house, the door didn’t latch all the way and then the wind blew it in. With nothing to keep the dogs inside, they went exploring. Awhile later, our friend got a call asking if he owned a greyhound. The dogs were picked up by the Howard County Police two neighborhoods over. So Tucker is the first member of the Skocik family to get picked up by the cops – very bad dog!

We did get some very happy news this weekend as well – we have a new nephew. Our sister-in-law, Mary, gave birth to an adorable baby boy. Zachary Michael was born on Saturday morning. He is 7 lb. 5 oz. and has a nice head of blond hair. I guess he was a couple days shy of being considered “full term” so he’s now the biggest baby in the NICU! We are so happy for them and can’t wait to meet the little guy over the holidays!

Oh and I have to admire the honesty of my husband. When his brother asked if I was showing yet, his response was “Nah, she just looks fat!” I guess that’s what I get for complaining about it a lot!