Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Wallet

The minion speaks...

When we left off in the last blog Ted the drywall guy finished his work on a Thursday and I had to get things painted to keep the project on track. If you have ever painted fresh drywall or areas that have been slip coated you know they suck down paint like a fraternity sucks down beer on a Saturday night. I started with one fresh gallon of primer and a leftover half-gallon that apparently had a small hole in the can making most of it useless. I two-coat primed the bathroom but did not have enough primer for the little bedroom wall. I was able to get one coat of finish paint behind the toilet before it was temporarily reinstalled. It truly is a wonderful thing not having to, as our daughter Ashley stated so eloquently, “poop on the driveway.”

That weekend I two coated the ceilings and walls (their final colors), primed and painted the little bedroom wall and recut the berry accent wall. Early the next week the lights, exhaust fans, outlets and master bathroom medicine cabinets were installed. The HVAC guy was a no show as it was around 100 degrees F in Portland and they were making much more money installing and repairing air conditioners. So Gordon, from NWHC “plumbed” the new exhaust vent lines and repositioned the ductwork for the HVAC vent in the master bathroom.

Lights, camera, medicine cabinets!

Hall bath fan and shower light

As you may recall from earlier posts, Beth tracked down the original vintage switch plate and outlet covers and we have used them throughout the house. Due to code, the new exhaust fans must have timers and, as you might guess, there are no vintage 3 gang switch plate covers that fit a timer that wasn’t designed until 40 years later. Dilemma and solution – I took the vintage three-gang switch plates, a timer and a picture of the 3 gang set up into the tool and die shop at Blount. These guys work with tolerances so tight I don’t even know how many digits to the right of the decimal point they can go. Two days later, Chad and Dennis returned the reworked switch plates and they look like a factory press fit - Wow. So now it was time for the final electrical inspection – which failed as one of the outlets didn't function and a wire in the attic was positioned wrong and not to code. Within a day the electricians had it right and another box checked off. (By the way, even our general contractor was impressed with the new-old switch plate cover hack!)

Totally cool vintage switchplate hack!

So close and yet so far…

We knew one of the longer efforts was tile work. We also knew several weeks before that Beth’s accent tiles had a long lead time. We didn't know when they were ordered that the tile was hand made and built to order. So, it's time to introduce you to Kyle the Tile guy (or as we have dubbed him Tile the Kyle guy). First Kyle had to pour the shower pan and let it cure (then fill it with water and wait for...) the City of Portland plumbing inspection. Beth and NWHC determined that we needed different tiles for the shower floor as the wall tiles would have been too big and we didn't order enough accent tile to cover the floor. The seams in the water proof wonder board were cemented and then both bathrooms were waterproofed. If you ever wondered what the ideal career is for glue sniffers it's waterproofing bathrooms. OMG was that stuff pungent and a godawful reddish pink color to boot!

Poured shower pan

Smelly but necessary

Once the waterproofing had cured the tile was slowly but surely set. Instead of having bullnose edge tiles, Beth chose a metal trim referred to as Schlueter. Of course, the dimensionally wrong size Schuelter was delivered so a mad scramble to find the correct dimension ensued. Last Friday the accent tiles were installed, the formerly pink medicine cabinet was reinstalled in the hall bathroom and Troy and Gordon took away much of the equipment and leftover materials they were staging in the garage. Most of the protective materials throughout the house were removed and the large trailer full of scrap (and a week old dented bathtub) that has been parked on the driveway left and was replaced by a smaller trailer. On Monday, Tile the Kyle guy came and grouted the job and we had been told by Gordon we would have a working shower today. Tile the Kyle guy changed that as the grout has a 72 hour curing time.

Hall bath field tile

Master bath shower tile (and Schlueter trim)

Hall bath accent tile

Vintage medicine cabinet in the hall bath

September 1st and completion are tantalizingly close and yet agonizingly far away. We will likely lose the temporary toilet for a few days as the flooring gets prepped and goes in. Oh and the flooring was delayed as the roll of marmoleum for the master bathroom had a slice in the center of the roll. Lastly, the room I thought was complete, the little bedroom, has a boo-boo. Seems that when they installed the medicine cabinet in the hall bath they caught a nail just wrong and pushed it out. No I don’t want to hang a picture from it.


The next 10 days can’t come soon enough.

Just a quick note from Beth...we did enjoy viewing the eclipse from our front yard at the top of the hill. For your enjoyment (?) here are a few photos!

Beth and Son-Scott on the front lawn

Eerie shadows on the porta-john

Eerie shadows on the driveway

Sunday, August 13, 2017

And the Bathroom Project Continues....

The minion speaks....

To pick up where we left off, Beth headed to Chicago with her father and brother two days into the bathroom renovation project. So, as I did with Beth via phone calls, pictures and FaceTime, I will try to give you a flavor of the project during the first two weeks. 

After the first 3 days of demolition, comes the weekend. We (meaning me) have a porta-john (but no indoor toilet), the sink in the kitchen and laundry room and a shower on the patio.

As mentioned before, we did not anticipate the winds on the patio blowing the shower curtains with the vigor that they did. I can attest that having a wet (and cold) shower curtain hit your backside (or front side) mid-shower does not make the bathing experience pleasurable. I thought I had outsmarted these rogue curtains by buying the largest nuts I could find at The Home Depot and pinning them to the bottom of the curtains. I was feeling pretty smug as I was attaching them until a breeze came along and moved the curtain I had attached 3 large nuts to like a sail. The big guns came out after that and the curtain is weighted down to any available log, garden statuary or accoutrement I could readily find.

A refreshing retreat!

On Monday, after the concrete had cured to support the beam that was getting spliced in, Troy and Gordon did their repair and framing magic. The rotted sill plate and beams were replaced. The car decking (floor) was installed with a temporary trap door for access for plumbing and ductwork. New studs in the exterior wall and little bedroom wall installed and any minimally damaged wood was treated. The framing work for the new wall between the bathrooms was built with supports for new medicine cabinets, lighting, counters and plumbing. 

Over the next two days the plumbers were here. A crew of 4 the first day as they removed the old cast iron lines and the galvanized pipes that weren't removed already. New supply lines, shower controls and the tub were also installed. After two long days they filled the tub with water and requested the inspection. I was hopeful that the inspection would happen before the weekend but alas, it wasn't until the next week. Note that the toilet could not even be temporarily installed until the plumbing was blessed. I headed to our condo in Astoria for a weekend of cycling, relaxation and indoor plumbing.

The electrician was next as lighting was minimal and the outlets had been disabled. The new switches, outlets and junction boxes for new lights as well as exhaust fans in both bathrooms were installed. A new line had to be run to our panel which meant a hole in the drywall I had repair in February / March appeared. The electrician also dropped something heavy directly into the new bathtub. Oops. So out comes the plumbers again to install a new tub and take out the "scratch and dent" model that wasn't even a week old. Hopefully someone at Re-Store can fix the dent and use it.


On Friday Ted the drywall guy arrived and after meeting with Troy for about 30 minutes realized he didn't have enough sheetrock and off for supplies he goes. The rest of Friday, Ted measured, cut and fitted pieces of sheet rock in the old master bathroom as well as the little bedroom. Most of the hall bath was completely new sheetrock. With an indoor toilet in place and with exterior painting to work on before Beth returned, I spent that weekend at the retro ranch. 

Ted was back Monday to complete the drywall installation and to start his slip coating. Sadly the miracle of indoor plumbing was removed so Ted could complete his tasks. Troy installed the wonder board in the tub and shower areas and Ted worked his slip coat and sanding magic the next few days. By Thursday evening the master bathroom toilet was back in place and it was time to prime and paint before the next sub contractors arrived.

Hall bath (new) tub!

Space for our vintage louvered medicine cabinet!

Master bath shower control and where
the miracle of indoor plumbing was...

Master bathroom matching medicine cabinet (spaces)

Mischief managed in the little corner bedroom!

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

To the Studs and Beyond

We knew when we purchased the retro ranch that the bathrooms had to be completely torn out and rebuilt from scratch. We knew that the beam under the master bath shower and the associated sill were rotted and needed to be replaced or repaired. We knew all this because we had an inspection done before we made our offer. What I didn't realize was exactly what living with a whole bathroom renovation might look like. Yes, I watch HGTV and have seen Chip and Joanna Gaines turn the saddest houses into country chic homes (in just one hour!) But those homes aren't my house (for emphasis, MY house).

Enter our general contractors - Northwest Home Concierge in Portland, OR. Gordon and Troy at NWHC are knowledgeable, professional and communicate on a regular basis. They are very clear on price, what's included and what isn't. They are sticklers for doing things right and making sure things get cleaned up each day. Their subcontractors are masters of their respective crafts and are a pleasure work with. In fact, one of their subcontractors recommended them to us! You can find contact information for Northwest Home Concierge in the Contractors tab at the top of the blog.

The first week of the bathroom project was actually deconstruction of the old bathrooms and correcting structural issues. You can find "before" pictures in my last post here. It really hits you when you get home from work on the first day of the project and there is a six foot by four foot hole where your master bathroom floor used to be. Now for the good stuff, pictures from the first week of the bathroom project!

Pink sinks on their way to Re-Store!

And the pink tub, too!

Removing the floor tile in the hall bath

Tile surround from the hall bath - Bye bye!

Master bath vanity - Re-Store!

Master bathroom shower and floor

Just Wow!

Yes, that's the exterior brick seen from
inside the master bathroom! 

Master bath and little corner bedroom
as seen from the hall bath

The Minion's Corner (or Musings from Scott)

Allow me to to provide some additional flavor to Beth's description of the demolition of "her house". The job started on the morning of July 5th. We spent July 4th at our condo in Astoria watching the fireworks over the Columbia River about a quarter mile from our deck. So someone (and I won't name names) had to get up at the butt crack of dawn and drive two hours back to "her house" so the games could begin.

At almost exactly 8 am, our new "temporary" bathroom was unloaded on our driveway. After having done 20 or so AIDS bicycle treks since 1999, there is nothing like a porta-potty in the morning to start your day. About 8:15 the NWHC team arrived and the demolition commenced. Troy and Gordon had two helpers during the day and within hours we no longer had indoor toilets, a shower or bathroom sinks. Amazingly a good portion of the bathrooms was gone by day's end. You know the damage they uncovered was bad when their helpers are taking pictures to show their family and friends. As Beth wrote, we knew it was bad however when it is completely exposed...holy sh*t Batman!

What I would like to point out is the quality of construction and materials that due to many years of deferred maintenance had to be removed. Previously Beth has posted about the matching grain, built in-place cabinets. Great craftsmanship - rendered unsalvageable. The tiles on the countertops were set in thick concrete with a steel mesh base - heavy! The wood beams and studs were old growth, with a density of grain you can't find or afford these days. I am pleased to say that any studs that weren't rotted have been used again.

On Friday afternoon, Troy and Gordon poured a concrete pad to support the section of beam they tied into the main beam after removing the rot. The car-decking, sill plates and studs for the second bedroom wall were replaced and any minimally rotted wood left in place was treated and coated. Did I mention that Beth missed most of this portion of the renovation as she boarded a plane for Chicago on Thursday, July 6th. (Well I have now....)

Stay tuned for next week's adventures in plumbing, electrical and more.