Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Shack: A Beginning and End.

About two weeks ago, Marn and I decided to tear into the shack because we have had this big plan on remodeling it into a guest house / rental for a while now.  It was in pretty bad shape, so we were planning on a full remodel where we would pull everything out down to the studs/joists and start from scratch.

TECHNOLOGY NOTE (for those who don't know much about it):
If you click on the picture, it will show you larger version.  Especially for you oldies losing your vision (Mom/Dad)

We started off by surveying the current state of the premises.  It was pretty bad:
The kitchen /Bathroom
We had already started pulling up carpet.
 The Living Room/Kitchen
 Kitchen/Living Room - Front Door
 As you can see from the pictures, there was a lot of work that would have to be done.  A lot.  For the flooring, we pulled up two layers of carpet and padding, and there was insulation board, linoleum, and hardwood floors under that.

While i was perusing around, my foot noticed a soft spot in the flooring.
"I wonder why my foot is sinking here?"
I continued on to do what anyone would naturally do in that situation - poke it with a crowbar.
"Holy Smokes!  I just put a hole in the floor!"

Still contemplating on why the crowbar went through the floor:
 After my crowbar went through the floor, I decided to find out what was going on underneath the last three layers of floor covering.  I discovered some nice vintage flooring with a pale pink leafy/floral pattern.  (No you don't have to agree with my color analysis, you can see it for yourself)
 Then I ripped up the floral flooring to find a nice big area of rotting/molding wood joist and floor. (All the white stuff is mold)  I touched the floor joist with the crowbar and over half of it just fell off the bottom. If you look below the wood floor, the white strip going through the bottom is the floor joist, and its got a nice thick layer of rotting mold eating it.  It should be brown and look like wood.
Needless to say, this threw a brick at our window of dreams of remodeling the place on a small budget. In the end, we came to the decision that we are going to demolish the house by sledgehammer and saw, and send it off to the house graveyard in a giant dumpster.  So far, I have gotten all of the utilities removed from the house, so it is just awaiting its ride to the house graveyard (that's the dumpster).  I will update some pictures when we tear it down.  So long, old moldy little shack.  Were going to miss having you block the light from our neighbors giant back porch spotlight. <--(for Mike)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Major Project Update - Too Much for Facebook!

Project 2 - The Shower Project - Part 2:  The rest of the project.  (how's that for a title?)

I originally had this post titled Part 3, but I went back and realized that I never wrote a Part 2.  I guess a whole lot has happened since then, so I will try to keep it brief, yet fulfilling. (mostly pictures)

To start it off, here is a pre-part 1 photo that I never included as part of the project.  I was showing off my awesome drywall mudding skills that I had learned through many years of previous experience (thats for you dad).

Next of course, came the daunting task of fixing the huge hole that I cut out of the floor.  It was actually alot harder than it looks in the picture below.   I had to add new supports to nail into for the new floor replacement piece, so I cut them and squeezed them back into the hole where they needed to be.  I had to use screws, because there was no way to hammer underneath a floor and in-between a bunch of pipes.

And voilĂ , the floor was complete! (if only it had been so easy)

Note - You may notice that some of my pictures appear out of order if you can catch the details, but thats only because I took them out of order.  They are actually presented in order of construction

Now, at this point in the project, we decided that we should just go ahead and redo the whole bathroom rather than just the shower unit.  Since we were going to completely revamp the room, we decided that it needed a new paint job.  We picked a shade of blue.

Here is us trying out the color on the wall:

And of course, the lovely assistant (Marn) did the majority of the painting. 

The completed color change looked like this:  (Marn added some graffiti in the corner)

Of course, Im sure you would have guessed at this point that we decided to do some work on the door by scraping all the old flakey paint off, filling in the holes, sanding, and repainting it.  Here are some pictures of that:

We decided to also spruce up the old rusty hardware that was on the door with some fancy spray paint.  It was supposed to make it look like antique brass, but it just ended up looking like gold spray paint.  Since then, it has actually been painted to match the locks on our house and looks pretty good, if I may say so.  Its a much darker color, almost black, with the gold showing through barely.

Next, we made a run to Lowes to pick out a new sink that we had been thinking about getting for about a year.  I wanted to test fit it to see how it would look.

Finally back to the shower.  The shower unit we picked was designed to be installed against studs rather than over drywall, but due to the way the last unit was, we just decided to place it in the existing location.  Thanks to a house that is over 100 years old, the next time consuming task was leveling the shower pan.

I know what your thinking.  "How un-level are we talking here?" The answer is about this much:

For those of you that dont know how to read a level, skip to the next picture.  The floor ended up being a grand total of one nut and a washer out of level, or equivalent to 3/8 inches from the back wall to the corner.

 That of course, was not at all what I was expecting.  The first thing that popped into my mind was: how on earth do you measure for shims underneath a shower pan?  My ingenious plan that I came up with involved Google SketchUp and a tape measure.  I quickly threw together a 3D model that allowed me to draw out the slope of the floor underneath a level base.  I sketched out the where the support grid was, so I could then get an approximate measurement of how thick each shim needed to be.  Come to find out, SketchUp only will give you a measurement of 1/16th of an inch, so I had to do a little guestimation.

After the computer work, I headed out to the table saw.

I sliced myself up a few shims, about 24 or so.

I then proceeded to not take any pictures till after I had test fit the shims, nailed down the shims, mixed up a bag of mortar, spread out a bunch of mortar onto the floor, and finally squished the shower pan down into the lovely mortar bed and finishing the installation of the shower pan.

After installing the pan over a mortar bed, I shimmed and secured the sides of the pan to the wall.  I also stuck a few shims under the edges of the bottom just for support.

So by this point, if your still reading, your might be thinking - wow, it cant get worse than having to level a shower pan - or you might not.  If you did, you were thinking the same thing I was until I test fit the shower receptor.  This is where the wonderful 100+ year old house likes to show off its curves, curved walls that is.

This next picture shows the first solution I had to the problem.

It turned out that it ended up not lining up properly with the shower door when I test fit it, so I switched over to a set of shims cut similar to those I used for the shower pan.  The next picture shows the wall properly lined up ready for measurement.

 To cut the shims for the wall, I had to make measurements at each drill location (they were pre-marked) accurate to 1/32 of an inch.  I then cut the shims accurate to 1/32 of an inch, or at least I tried.  The picture below shows the shims in a pile ready to get installed.  The largest shim I cut was 1 3/8 inches, and the smallest shim was about 1/32 of an inch.  Those were some curvy walls.  You can also see my second nifty 3D model I made to help me keep track of my measurements in the picture below.

After I finally figured out how to get the walls to be level and secure, I had to reinforce the back of the walls with some shims.  I also had to cut a huge hole out of the wall so that I could pull the shower handle out far enough to reach the back of the receptor.  Marn wasn't so excited about that part.

Here's a picture of the construction zone.  I dragged everything I needed to finish the project upstairs that day.

Finally,  I got the walls square, and secured to the wall.  I stuffed some insulation in behind the wall to help with sound control.  I didnt want the shower to be an echo chamber.

Next I had to measure about 30 points to cut continuous shims for the trim.  I painted everything and tacked it all up with some finish nails.

After that picture, I finished mounting all the trim, caulked all the cracks and gaps, filled all the nail holes, installed the sink permanency, installed the glass door, and called it finished!

Here are some pictures of the finished remodel.  Since then, I have hung a hand towel rack by the sink and a picture above the toilet.  Marn is going to take care of the rest of the decorating.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Very Interesting Project - A Must Read!!!

Yes, I did use a catchy title to get your attention.  I may have over hyped this past weekends project a bit.

So this past weekend, I decided to install a water line for our refrigerator's ice maker/ water dispenser.  When we moved into the house, they had not installed anything for one because the original fridge did not have an ice maker or one of those built in water dispensers.  We finally got around to getting a fridge that had these abilities about a month ago, so I decided it was time to stop making ice with the ice trays. (We had been making ice for over a year and it gets old).  I promised (and bet on it) Marn this would be a one hour task and I tried to stick to that.  It ended up taking about an hour and a half.  Oh well.  

To start it off, I ran (not literally) down to Lowe's and grabbed (aka purchased) a wall mounting in line freezer/fridge filter that is replaceable and an ice maker line tapping installation kit.  That sort of fancy equipment runs about 70 bucks for everything, though if you didn't want a filter, it would be more like 20 bucks.

After that I officially started the project by drilling a hole into the floor behind the fridge.  This was a little scary considering i didn't know where the joists were because my stud finder was not being very helpful.  Fortunately, it went right through without a problem and I was able to start feeding the water pipe down into the basement.  The plan was to hook the water up to one of the water lines in the basement using a self tapping valve (this is a pretty common method).

After getting the tube into the basement, I had to crawl under our kitchen crawlspace.  To get an idea, our house has a basement that was added after the house was built, plus several additions.  Because of that, we have kind of a maze of crawlspaces with only a few holes punched in the foundation walls for access.  I don't know if you can tell how narrow this opening is, but when i climbed on in, my rear end was touching the floor joists.  The picture below is the entrance under the kitchen.  I couldn't fit through the other opening in the basement because it was full of water lines.  You can see the piece of card board that I put down to try to keep from getting dirty.  It didn't help much in the end.
The next picture is a close up shot of me on my way into the crawlspace.  You can see my flashlight waiting for me to go in.
This picture is right as I climbed inside.  The clearance had to be just a little over a foot.  You can see all the junk left from the construction workers and all the spider webs that got all over me. Toward the back, I was shining the flashlight on the place where the pipe was coming through the floor under the fridge.
Here is another shot showing the other opening from the basement that I couldn't easily get through and all the water pipes.  I ended up tapping the line right as it entered into the basement so that I could turn it off if I needed too and also because that was one of the only copper lines accessible.
So after I climbed around in the basement for a bit, I got the line run across the space and tapped into the water line.  It took a while to get the water filter hooked up because it kept leaking until I put thread sealant tape on the fittings.  I should have used the sealant originally, but I was trying to shortcut my way so that the project would not take more than an hour.   The photo below shows the completed filter install on the wall behind the fridge.  I put the filter on the side of the fridge so that I can change it in the future without having to roll the fridge out
So there it is, my interesting weekend project.  I also finished the floor on my shower project, but ill upload a few photos and words about that later.  This week and weekend we are planning on trying to finish our upstairs bathroom shower project (there's a few older posts about it).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Movie about my house, tree, fountain, Marn, Dog, and other stuff.

Our Japanese maple was looking really good yesterday, so I took a video of it.  Then i included other things in the area like the fountain that I built, the lack of landscaping in front of the porch, Marn, Maggie, and whatever else is in the background (like the kid dressed up in his army uniform).  I recommend clicking the link and watching it in HD because it will blow your mind!!!!  Actually, it just wont be as grainy.

Seriously though, try to spot the kid in the army getup.

Project 2: The Shower Project - Part 1

On Saturday, i started a project that has kind of been in progress for a while now, but kind of on hold.  Let me start it of with a brief history.

Brief History:
After we bought our house, we found out that our upstairs shower had a pretty bad leak in it.  When you showered, you would walk out into a puddle of water.  I wasn't sure what was going on with it, but i was kind of mad at first that this kind of thing didn't get found by the building inspector (which was a waste of money).  So we just kind of left it there not working and didn't really think about it because we didn't have time or money to spend on it.  So one day, i decided to take a closer look, only to find out that the entire base of the shower was cracked due to a faulty installation.  Let me back up for a second, prior to us buying this house.  This shower was purchased brand new less than a month before we bought it, and wasn't even finished getting installed until about a week or two before we closed.  So back to the story.  Basically, the person that installed the shower didn't do it correctly and cracked the base which was thus leaking water underneath the shower and out into the surrounding floor area.  I wasn't too upset about this, because i didn't like the shower and it was the cheapest shower i have ever seen.  It wasn't even made out of fiberglass, and it had a Styrofoam base.  After this, we decided to pull the shower out of the bathroom and order a new shower.  This pretty much gets you up to date

So, now I will come back to the present.

The Present:
On Saturday, I started (or re-started) working on this project of putting in a new shower.  Here is a picture:
(Shower base on left, corner for shower in 
center,toilet i installed a few months ago on right)
This picture was how my day started on Saturday.  The plan for the day, was to cut a hole in the floor to allow me to move the sewer pipe from its current location to one further out from the wall to accommodate the new shower base.  Then I was going to recover the floor and install the base for the new shower.  Sounds simple enough right?

Heres the next photo I have from the day:
What is happening?  I'll give you some hints:  2 fans, dehumidifier, pitcher, bowl, and storage container.  Can you guess?

Did you guess:  
You started your project and everything was going great.  At one point, while using a saw, you hear a small pop and the sound of spraying water, when you realized that you cut through a pipe.  You then jumped up, panicked, and ran as fast as you could down into the basement, where you attempted to shut off the water by closing 8 different valves.  At this point, you realized the water was still running, so you then rushed out to the water main to turn it off, realizing that you couldn't without a wrench.  Then you ran back inside to find a wrench, found one, and ran back out to finally turn off the water after about 1.5 minutes total time of water spraying into the downstairs ceiling/upstairs floor.
If you did, then you are correct!

The picture above was taken about 20 minutes after the ordeal when the constant stream of water had finally stopped draining from 3 holes i poked in the ceiling and the doorway into the kitchen.

As you may have guessed by now, I didn't get the shower base installed by the end of the day.  

Here's the after picture:
(At this point, I had already cleaned up the area
alot.  It was covered in wet sawdust before this.)

Here's a closeup of where the water was spraying.  This is after I fixed the pipe, and its the one furthest on the left.

And finally here's a picture of the culprit:

In a sort of ironic twist at the end of the day, I found out that I am going to have to move both of those water pipes before I can install the new shower drain, because they are in the way.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Food for thought?

Why do we as people, think that hitting inanimate objects will get the inanimate object to do what we want it to?(with the exception of baseball, etc..)  Yes, this is a reference towards someone I know hitting a copy machine when it did not work.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another overdue blog update without any cool pictures. (I added one)

What is going on in my life?  Well I will tell you even if you weren't asking.
1.  The table saw project that I blogged about a long time ago, I also finished a long time ago.  I couldn't find the pictures i took of the final setup, but it ended up working really well and i can move it around really easily when we have to clean out the garage every time Maggie goes to the bathroom in there (which is like every day).
2.  We got a new puppy named Maggie.  We weren't sure about her at first, but she has turned out to be a lot of fun and really crazy and energetic.  I have probably talked about this already, but I don't re-read the things I write, so sorry for the redundant news
3.  I started a new project a few weeks ago.  We pulled out the shower in our upstairs bathroom because it was broken and also a piece of junk.  Our new one we just ordered just came in today!  I am going to try to get it put in before we start getting guests for wedding related things.
4.  I built a new home theater PC.  That news is kind of boring, but i am excited about it.  We don't have TV at our house, so this is a big deal for us (kind of).
5.  We just moved some flowers around our yard and are hoping that they don't die because we moved them kind of late into the season.  We are hoping to get started on working on our yard and landscaping, but we have just been jam packed with wedding stuff.
Thats not all thats going on in my life, but thats a good enough update for now for the few people that read this.

I will get some pictures up of things going on because pictures are always more fun to look at.  I know that I prefer them to reading generally, so you all probably do too.

Heres a photo of Maggie to tie you over till I stop being lazy and put more up: