Monday, September 12, 2016

Bathroom part 2

Oh, this is slow going.  Things were held up because the counter guy didn't have an opening to come measure for a while.  Then there was another week while they were actually cutting all the pieces.

In the meantime, the tiling was finished,

the pocket door was installed (note that there is still a protective layer of paper over the full-length mirror so you can't see it),

and the bathroom and closet were painted.  This is huge, as it meant I could put my clothes away over the weekend -- hooray!  I hate living out of heaps.

Today, the countertop material, sink basin, and drawer pulls were installed.  It's really starting to look like a bathroom again.

They've also been working on the fan vent things on the roof this week, and put the special UV-resistant goop on over the foam patches.

Now, we *might* get the plumbing and toilet finished in the next day or two and maybe the remaining electrical, but then have to wait for the shower glass people -- they don't have an opening to come make the measurements until next week, and then will need some amount of time to cut the glass before they can install it.   Patience is a virtue, right...

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bathroom remodel part 1

We've been in the middle of a bathroom remodel for what feels like far too long, with the contents of our closet and bathroom scattered throughout all corners of the house.  Every morning, I have to think about things like "Where did I put my shirts?"  You'd think this would be straightforward, but more and more things have moved out of the way and out of the bedroom as the project has progressed, sometimes hurriedly, or not even when we are home.  I can't find *anything*.

The background:
The bathroom before felt cramped, with an extra door in the middle,

a serviceable but sort of ugly vanity that had a mirror that is mounted so low that Chad had to stoop to see the top of his head,

and a shower stall that not only had a low door that meant Chad had to duck every morning to get in, but was also dark, and starting to pop away from the wall.

More disturbing, and the true impetus for the project, was the black stuff growing behind the shower stall and our knowledge that during windy rainstorms, the vent fan leaked, as it was not built tall enough to have good clearance above the foam roof that was applied well after the house was originally built.  So, water pools on the roof, wind blows it in, and the corner of the house behind the shower walls has been slowly rotting away over decades.  Ick.  After hemming and hawing about it for several years, we finally got around to hiring someone to do something about it.

Back at the beginning of July, the contractors installed a porta-potty in the front yard, 

and commenced demolition.

On taking things apart, we found that there were plenty of rotten ceiling boards up by the fan and top of the shower

a live switch box we didn't know about buried in the wall next to the vanity, and various bits of nasty corroded stuff.  It took a bit to fix this leak, and as the water to the kitchen oddly goes through our bathroom on the way to the kitchen, we were without cold water in the kitchen for about a week.  Fortunately that was mostly while we were gone camping and back East so it wasn't too much of a bother (though I did have to leave a big jug of water on the counter for the petsitter to use when she came to take care of the cats.)

At first, things seemed pretty contained when work finished for the day

but the chaos rapidly expanded so they could frame in the pocket door and install the in-wall toilet tank.

Why the in-wall toilet tank?  It turns out that we didn't have enough clearance to fit in a modern toilet and be up to current code without either rotating the toilet or scooting it back a bit.  You wouldn't think this would be that hard, but keep in mind we live in an Eichler built on a concrete slab, further complicated by my desire to not screw up the still-functional, very nice, original radiant floor heat.  I turned on the heat one morning early on so that Matt (the project foreman) could plug his very cool infrared camera into his phone and draw the path of the radiant heat pipes on the concrete.  It became clear very quickly that that plumbing had been installed very close to the original toilet, probably so you could have nice warm feet in the morning, and while nice, this meant we couldn't just rotate the toilet without disturbing it.  So fancy German wall toilet it is.

There was still quite a bit of careful concrete slab chipping to do so we could move the plumbing back several inches,

which had to expand a bit into the bedroom under the carpet due to the location of a plumbing junction that couldn't be reached otherwise, leading to a nice big hole.

The cat has been somewhat perturbed througout, though I think that keeping an eye on all the activity helped her not be bored when we travelled back East at the end of July.  Also notice the line drawn on the floor where the floor heat pipes go, and appreciate the painstaking chipping that had to be done to open this up without breaking it.

Slab chipping revealed more corrosion -- when the house was built, some misguided soul wired a copper pipe to a piece of steel rebar, eventually leading to corrosion and a slow leak in the slab that we didn't even know about.  I'm trying hard not to think about what's hiding under the rest of the house...

Gradually, things have become more put-together, as the demolition debris was cleaned up,

the shower plumbing was moved so we could open up a wall, a recirculating hot water loop was added,

and the rotten ceiling boards were replaced.  I was gone for that part, but am quite glad it went well, as it involved cutting into the foam roof and then putting it carefully back together again without causing damage that would require the $5000 foam truck to come out.  There's also a new taller fan box projecting up through the roof to fix the root cause of the leak.   Incidentally, I found myself texting the contractor about fans while on the fourth floor of the New York MOMA on vacation, which was somewhat amusingly odd.

Oooh -- insulation!  What a concept.

Wall boards -- wow.  It's starting to look like a room again.

No more hole in the concrete!

A gorgeous bamboo cabinet!  (It still needs handles for the drawers, and the counter+sink).  You can also see but maybe not appreciate the very flat walls that the taper spent many hours making perfect.  I had no idea how much work went into that seemingly minor step.

Waterproof stuff for the shower just seems like a good idea.

Our front courtyard became a tile cutting station last week

so we could have floor tile
and shower tile.

It has not been a super-fast project, due to some of the complications of the slab and foam roof, but those were not unexpected.  There has been a bit of waiting here and there for city inspections as well (who knew that a bathroom window that has a 4'11" high bottom edge near the shower needs tempered glass lest you put your head through it doing some incredibly unlikely acrobatic move???), but I suppose that is also par for the course.  I am quite looking forward for the final installment of the story.  Maybe another week?  Two?  Hard to predict...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Other summer fun

On this, the first official day of school, I finally took the time to slurp the rest of the summer pictures into the computer from various devices.  Here are some highlights:

Camping with crazy kids.

Watching the Tour de France using the cat as an ipad rest.

Consorting with dinosaurs.

Visiting relatives.

A trip to San Francisco that seemed largely like an excuse ride the train and eat.  (We did also see a museum and do some shopping/people watching.)

Room cleaning (and painting), followed by much sorting of crayons.  Nim carefully kept one of each color, and then made a bag of remainders to donate, complete with itemized list of how many of each it contained.  (Yes, a touch OCD this one is.)  Note the newly light gray wall in the background is a great improvement over the old yellow.

Last but not least, birthday cakes.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Coming full circle to Budapest

Like the trip, the posts come back to Budapest for their conclusion.  Here is the last vacation missive for this trip.

While still staying at Frosty's place, we spent one morning taking a walk up the hill to the Citadel

enjoying the views from the top of the hill,

and winding our way down the trails on the other side of the hill to the river

We noted a number of holes in the rock that makes up the hill on the way back.  Hot springs + dolomite/limestone = hill riddled with holes like swiss cheese.

Some had artwork,

and the last one contained the Cave Church, a church and former monastery built right into the a cave that was also used as a hospital in WWII.  We quite enjoyed exploring the interior.

That afternoon, we visited the Gellert Baths with Frosty and Zsanett.  (No pictures from the inside because I didn't want to leave the camera unattended while I soaked.)

As I already mentioned, we wandered about the Castle District on another day.  On the way up, we looked at the funicular, but chose to walk up the hill instead.

There were many things to look at and admire.

The were good views over to the Parliament building on the other side of the river.

We enjoyed the Picasso exhibit at the Hungarian National Gallery, as well as their permanent collections of Hungarian art.

The Matyas Church had all sorts of details to admire.  The current building was put up in the 13th century, replacing an older structure (dating back to Istvan again) that was destroyed by the Mongols in 1241.  I particularly liked the colorful roof, which was added during a restoration in the 19th century.

Next to the church, the Fisherman's Bastion is quite photogenic.

The ruins of the former monastery of St. Nicholas, also destroyed by the Mongols, and then the Ottoman Turks, then further damaged in WWI, and now incorporated into the modern Hilton.  I find the juxtaposition of the old and new to be quite pleasing.

After we headed back down the hill, we noted that the chains of the Chain Bridge resemble giant bicycle chains.

At one point, we headed over to the Pest side of the river to see Zsanett's salon.  It's a lovely little place; she's clearly put a lot of work into it.

 As you wander around the city, there more architectural details to admire than you can count.

After we got back to Budapest after the bike trip, we stayed in a rental on the square next to St. Stepehn's Basilica.  (Good old Istvan was everywhere...).  The apartment was in a building owned by someone Frosty knows, and there was colorful art in the stairwell as well as being in a fun location.

The view of the basilica from our window

It looks particularly nice in the late afternoon sunlight,

and also at night.

Many more cafes to visit, many more museums to visit.  Here we are outside the Ludwig Museum after we enjoyed some contemporary art.  We found ourselves here again on another evening with Frosty and Zsanett to see a circus/modern dance performance by two members of the Recirquel Contemporary Circus in the performing arts space in the same building.

Hungary played in the European soccer tournament one of the evenings we were in Budapest.  Given that they had advanced further than anyone expected at that point, and it was a warm summer night in a city that has a lot of night life, there was quite a bit of excitement.  We were entertained by the rally that accumulated in the square, full of singing and people in national jerseys.

Chad headed out to watch the game at a bar with Frosty and Zsanett; Nim and I, being less into the late night scene, stayed back at the apartment.  We did, however, wander about in the crowd that accumulated at the restaurant in the ground floor of the building to watch the game to soak in the ambiance, and then I turned the game on on the TV.  The TV feed was about two seconds behind the feed that was playing down in the restaurant, so I could tell when I would need to look up from my book to see the critical plays by the sounds I heard wafting up from below.  Even though Hungary  ultimately lost, there were large groups wandering about singing in the streets for hours afterwards.

A fine trip, all in all.  Many thanks to Frosty and Zsanett for their hospitality and knowledge of the city -- it wouldn't have been the same trip without their insight!