Sunday, March 29, 2009


This weekend was our official move-in weekend. Moving is never fun; it's hard work. This was no exception because Justin and I have a lot of "stuff". But we had an agreeable work crew who made the task all the quicker. Thanks so much to Dale, Bobbi, Ryan, Michelle, Caryn & Dan for your help. We rented a 17' U-Haul and filled it to the brim once and took a second lighter load plus a bunch of car-loads of random stuff. Michelle stayed back and started cleaning the old place which was far dirtier than I could have imagined with cat hair everywhere. I wish I could blame our cat for all of the mess but unfortunately, some of it was just from us humans.

Dale, Ryan and Justin did much of the super heavy lifting and shimmied some pretty awkward pieces of furniture up the stairs. The rest of us schlepped box after box up and down the stairs. What a workout!

We wrapped up around 3pm and crashed on the couches and enjoyed a beverage and some snacks. And Caryn helped me make the bed which was an awesome idea because when I fell asleep on the couch around 8:00, there was little that would have motivated me to make the bed at that point.

So, the good news is that we are all in, partially unpacked, especially in the kitchen. We've spent our first night in our new bedroom and cooked our first real meal in the kitchen (flank steak with carmelized onions and balsalmic reduction-yum!). We've moved all of our clothes into the new closet and took delivery of the new dining room table. We picked up our three new favorite chairs for the counter, a gift from Caryn. And we changed the locks--a sign that we're done with the contractors. The old place is spic and span and ready for it's new owner.

Here are a few of the "after" pictures from the move:

Caryn and Dan chilling in the dining room.
Michelle, Bobbi, and Justin resting on the furniture they just moved.

Tink takes the edge off. Moving is stressful for kittens (seriously, she loves beer but she only gets to lick the rim of the bottle)

The new dining room table and counterstools on the left.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's official!

We're all signed off with the city and county on our construction permit. We did it! Almost exactly 4 months of renovation and we're ready to move in on Saturday.

We still have a bunch of odds and ends to go that will keep us busy for a while but it's done enough to call this place our home.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rounding Third...

...and headin' for home! Literally. We are officially six days away from moving into our project and it is frankly, a bit scary. The big news of the weekend was that we passed the final plumbing inspection on Friday. Laura spent the day waiting around for a 90 second visit. Annoying but one less hoop to clear.

We worked on the upstairs bathroom tile for about 12 hours yesterday which is about as much tedium as we could take. Eating pizza made by someone else at 9:30 at night after a long day like that is awesome.

Today we slept in (also awesome), dropped off a whole truckload of cardboard at the transfer station, sanded some molding, sealed the grout and caulked the downstairs shower, grouted a bit of the upstairs shower tile for the last of the plumbing fixture install tomorrow and re-installed the microwave (long story but this time it was done on the first try). Laura wrapped up the pull and knob installation and then we both did a big cleanup of the place. I have scheduled the last of the inspections for tomorrow morning and we want the place to look move in ready. I think we are there so wish us luck!

Here are some pictures of the kitchen (with knobs!):

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Well, the day has arrived! We have hot water and toilets. And let me tell you about them!

The toilet in the main floor bathroom is just a simple low volume flush toilet (uses 1.28 gallons per flush).
The toilet in the upstairs bathroom is a fancy dual flusher. You press the small button for .8 gallons per flush and the large button for 1.6 gallons per flush. Not that water is terribly expensive or scarce around here but we thought we'd do our part.
Here's a view of the upstairs bathroom with the faucets installed too. I love them!

The plumber ordered up the final plumbing inspection for tomorrow. Since we haven't finished tiling the shower upstairs, he wasn't able to install our fixtures for the shower so we are crossing our fingers that the inspector doesn't have a problem with it. We shall see. If we don't pass, we'll try again next week.

We received our kitchen appliances too this week and have them installed now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Pats

I hope someone hoisted a green beer tonight. I was a bit busy paying homage to the tile gods to find myself a pint. Not that I am complaining, especially since the results of the last few days have been pretty remarkable. Laura and I took a day of "vacation" yesterday to work on the bungalow. I say "vacation" as that is what our companies call it, but relaxing it is not. We did sleep in and run some errands before meeting the countertop installers around 9:45. They rolled in like a storm and in a little over four hours had all of the quartz counters in. They did a pretty stellar job in my opinion.

Superfriend Jill came by around 12:30 with an awesome lunch of Indian food. Our lunch places are getting a little stale, and this was a welcome change. So welcome that the leftovers were our dinner. She and Laura installed tile on the walls surrounding the toilet upstairs while I grouted the downstairs bathroom walls. I then handed off the grouting operation to them so that I could work on the never-ending shower pan upstairs.

Tonight I grouted the two walls and the floor tile in the upstairs bathroom in preparation for the plumbers that are arriving tomorrow. Here is a little before and after shot of the upstairs bathroom for those just tuning in:
Our 1/2 bath before
The current status of our new 3/4 bath
If all goes well tomorrow night we should have hot water, a toilet that works and hopefully a sink or two. Oh yeah, and appliances. Those are coming tomorrow too. I think that I am most excited about the hot water though.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pushing through

We had lots of wheels turning today, working on lots of different projects. In the end, the progress was remarkable. Jon came out again and spent the day sanding our trimwork and patching the holes. We hired a friend of Justin's who is a carpenter and door hanger extradordinare to come hang our doors. Eric installed all of the door jambs that we so dutifully saved from demolition.

Our new bathroom door and salvaged trim. We need to patch a few holes and sand down the finish before we paint everthing white.
Meanwhile, Justin and I wrapped up the tile in the main floor bathroom (except one piece of bullnose that we need to pick up because we ran out). Jon brought the medicine cabinet that he built and we installed that too.

And after everyone left, Justin and I installed the flooring in the upstairs bathroom. Even after breaking several pieces trying to cut around the toilet, we had just enough to finish the job.

And finally, Doug, the stair craftsman and his father-in-law, made some serious progress on the railings. He'll be back on Monday to finish the one section not in the photo.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Oh tile how I will love thee. Just not now. Not even close.

We are approximately 96% complete with the tile installation of the downstairs bathroom. We worked on it some more today and should have it wrapped up tomorrow if all is just and right in the world. Then we can grout on Monday in preparation for the toilet going in on Wednesday. To say that we will be excited to have hot water and an indoor toilet by weeks end is an understatement.

Here is the wall that we are closest to finishing in the bathroom:

Thursday, March 12, 2009


We had a little peak at the wood floors tonight...they aren't finished yet but it looks like they got at least one coat of finish down.

Justin worked on the railing for the back stairs a little too. This is the "quick fix" that he concocted to appease the building inspector.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tile, Tile Everywhere

It seems that laying small tiles takes longer than laying big ones. At least that was the revelation that Laura had today while on day seven of the downstairs bathroom tile installation. Our previous tile projects involved only floor tiles that were much larger and far less complicated than what we are currently working on. We made good progress over the last two days on the subway tile walls, and it appears that there is one more day of tile installation and probably a full day of grouting to wrap up that room. We will have to get the door frame set and trimmed as well as the medicine cabinet installed before that happens, so we have a few steps to make before that can be a completed room. Super-friend Jill helped out on Saturday and Sunday with the tile extravaganza and sanding some of the existing molding to prep for paint. I was attempting to get as much dusty work wrapped up before the floor finishing starts and that was on the list. My Dad also came out on Saturday and he wrapped up the last of the floor infills in the kitchen and prepped a couple of the recovered door jambs for re-installation. He also helped me out in the upstairs shower with the first of the multi-step process of building the shower pan. We were able to get the first sloped lift of the dry pack in on Saturday and that is where it sits. Doug the carpenter also came by on Saturday and he installed the handrail to the upstairs so it is out of the living room for the floor guys.

At this point we won't be back in the house until next Sunday which means we have a week of packing up the other house, making a dump run, and building a new railing on the back stairway to the bungalow. It seems that cutting up the old railing to make a ramp to get to the dumpster means that the city inspector can require us to rebuild the entire thing to code. With plans in the near future of replacing the whole shee-bang we will be building it on the cheap. Not my style as many of you know, but I am going to try. We moved a bunch of tools to the garage with the intent to tackle this during the week. Hopefully the on again off again snow goes away that we have been having as that is truly unpleasant to work in.

Here is what has happened lately:
The stairwell handrail (on the far right) and two of the newel posts are installed and ready for the floors to wrap up.

The first step of the upstairs shower pan installation is complete.

Laura and I in the downstairs bathtub discussing the finer points of the wall tile installation.

The downstairs bathroom as it currently stands. The big wad of blue tape is holding in the ceramic soap dish.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Flooring Prep

Justin and I had a good stress-out Sunday and Monday due to the fact that our progress didn't measure up to our expectations and we have a looming deadline. See, the floor refinisher is starting on Thursday this week and we have to have the floors prepped enough for them to get going. Because the flooring guys are going to need to have exclusive occupancy of the house once they start the sanding and refinishing until they're done means we won't be making progress on other stuff like tile or trim until they're out of there. So, Sunday and Monday were all about the kitchen floor, specifically removing that ugly sheet vinyl. It comes off slow, stinky and sticky with a 1000 degree heat gun so that is the tool with which we equipped ourselves. Jon came by on Monday with a heat gun of his own to help out and we knocked out 3/4 of the job and tested our smoke detection system. Jon's gun lost its smoke towards the end of the evening so we were back to a one-woman effort. The good news is that Justin wrapped up the remaining 1/4 of the job on Tuesday night while I was off at my volunteer job.

Here's the floor with about 1/3 of the vinyl removed on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday we did a hodge-podge of stuff including laying tile, wrapping up painting, and stripping floors. Super-friend Jill came by to help out and wrapped up the painting and pulled all of the tape and plastic down so now we have a fully painted house. There's still some touch up to do in nearly every room but it is good enough for now. Jill and I cut up the hex tile to fit the bathroom floor and laid in a simple blue border after contemplating many more complicated patterns. While Justin started laying the hex floor, I started stripping the vinyl and Jill painted. But, Justin was having an off day (off week it is turning out) and got frustrated with the hex pattern about halfway through so we switched jobs and I finished up the tiling. It turned out pretty nice, although there are a few spots that I wish had turned out differently. And my back and knees were the worse for wear.

Here's the floor sans grout. If you look closely, you can see the numbers I wrote on the tiles to remember where the pieces went (the hexes are sold in big sheets so you don't lay each tile individually).
And finally, the electricians have come and gone and outfitted our recepticles with real switches and outlets and trimmed out all of our lighting. So, the ceilings and walls are really getting that "finished" look. There's lots more to tell but I'll save it until I have some photos.