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.