Thursday, July 30, 2015

Basement Bathroom

This is one small project that snowballed into a full tear out. Silly me. I thought for a brief hot minuet that only the bathroom shower needed to come out and we could replace it with a shower kit. The old shower was leaking and we saw old evidence that it had leaked into a part of the closet behind the shower. Well, that old water stain on the dry wall was masking a whole pile of rotted out studs. The studs behind the shower were pure black silt and once the adjoining closet door was removed, the wall sort of gently waved in the breeze. Oh, to be on a tropical island.

I can almost feel those sea breezes silkily curling across my sun baked skin. Almost.

I'm pretty baffled that someone would build a bathroom without any sort of waterproofing. We removed the studs in the bathroom and just continued down the line until the whole closet was removed as well. All that remains of the bathroom walls is a mulch stained footprint.

We decided after prying the concrete and tiles off the bathroom walls that we'd leave the shower pan for our contractor to remove with some more serious horsepower. It was a bit astonishing to see the tiles were just thickly back buttered onto the brick party wall with concrete. We are pretty sure it was concrete because we found a rotted empty bag tucked behind the pipe in the wall once we took out the tile.

But it is a bit airier down here now. After eating lunch and restoring some of our blood sugar, we've decided that we won't rebuild the closet. I think keeping it as a mudroom with a bench and wall hooks will help the basement hall not feel so closed in once the bathroom walls go back up. We also plan to remove the closets under the stairs and simply have the railing exposed to help it feel less like a creepy descent into a basement. There are plenty of other closets down there for storage and a whole room in the back where we can put shelving if we find we still need to squirrel things away. For the time being, it's nice to see the bad going out and hopefully soon we'll have the good going back in.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A little bit of this, A little bit of that

It has been a crazy few weeks. We are still in a holding pattern concerning a contractor, but at this pace, we'll have the full building ready for them to put the pieces in. We hope to do all the demo ourselves, saving money and also ensuring that every piece we can salvage gets salvaged. We've been removing baseboard and trim work where necessary and putting it aside to strip and stain or paint. C even came across this little tidbit tucked behind a baseboard. I love the history this house has tucked into its walls.

A little bit of happy comes in the form of our new back porch light I installed last week. This pink beauty came from Barn Light Electric. It took me a while to pull the trigger on it as I was unsure as to how I'd like it day after day and also how C would respond to having a hot pink light. I didn't have to worry as it is EPIC and we both love it. 

Another happy comes in the form of pedestal sinks and faucets. I'd put these on my wish list and low and behold they just happen to go on sale a few days ago. Granted, I did drive to the ends of Brooklyn in order to get my hot little hands on them but I am a sucker for Kohler. These pretties will go in the Jack and Jill bathroom and in both tiny tub bathrooms. I love how there is a bit of counter top space around the sink bowl.

We've been spending more time in the basement this week as the temperatures have gotten a wee bit high and the upstairs apartment doesn't have any insulation in the attic and it feels like a muggy oven up there. We've been moving boxes down into the one finished room in the house so that we can begin prepping the first floor apartment for work too.  It is pretty lovely and cool in the basement. We'll post photos of the basement bathroom as we get it gutted. It is a project and a half. We seem to have some plumbing issues in this house, serious issues. The tubs have consistently taken 30 min to drain and there is a strange smell emanating from under the basement stairs. There is also water seepage into the basement whenever it rains. We are hopeful that the cameras we're employing tomorrow will settle what the issue(s) are once and for all. I have a suspicion that they are all one in the same, connected. Wishful thinking perhaps. I've got to keep looking on the bright side as our recent plumbing and HVAC bid clocked in at a breath taking $70,000. At first I was shocked, now it just sets me into fits of giggles. I can't even comprehend that plumbing and HVAC alone would cost us $70,000. Granted, they quoted us a high velocity AC system, something akin to a UNICO (used in a This Old House renovation) in which they'd also replace all our current heating ducts. I had hopes and still do, that it is possible to add ac without adding new heating. The high velocity ac is an amazing product as it is threaded through the wall cavities leaving the plaster and lathe in place and doesn't need new bulk heads build around new large duct work. Definitely need to rethink what else is possible though. We were told our old duct work is in miserable shape. I want a second opinion because it isn't good looking but I thought the worst of it was that it wasn't connected to the vents. Doesn't duct tape fix that?

Oh well, time for more happy.  The laminate is all gone from the upstairs! Yaya! Go-go heat gun.

Those were some of the sweatiest days of my life. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Let's talk about floors

Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. Ok, honestly, cheesy song quote aside, I'm mostly seeing only the bad flooring at the moment. I know that it will all turn out lovely and right but bare with me, this post gets a little shouty. You'd be shouty too if you just spent 5 hours removing laminate flooring tiles then stood up to massage your claw hands (again blame goes to the laminate) and noticed you hadn't even reached the half way point in the room.

First, laminate flooring is not sexy. Attaching said laminate on top of the original hardwood with icky sticky glue is very unsexy. It is particularly troubling when upon removal of the previous owners past sins, the wood floors are revealed in some areas where their glue application was patchy, to be beautifully preserved. If only they weren't covered by a thick sludge of sticky.

I thought my two days spent with a molding bar and hammer were enough to drive me into a red haze of lamin-anger. But no, I had to break out the big guns to deal with the glue in the second bedroom. Five  hours wielding a heat gun and I give you this:

Secondly, when your first layer of ugly goes wrong don't, just don't, decide that perhaps the next layer your sad feet need to tread will not only be ANOTHER layer of laminate, but this time you'll show it who's boss by not only gluing it within an inch of utter destruction but you'll pound a dozen or so staples into a few inch section - just because. Again, NOT sexy.

Even less appealing, less exciting and more cringe worthy is that time you burned a whole into the highly melty substance you all flooring, cough, laminate and then proceeded to fill it with wall spackle because yeah, that's how you do it. Then you went and covered it with, you guessed it, more laminate. WHY?! I implore all well meaning and evil DIY folk out there: Just don't. Lamidon't.

And then when I think it can't get any worse, I just think of all the pretty hex tile that they took out in the kitchen only to replace with the horrors shown above. But then again, what they left behind on top of the small patches of hex tile remaining was a mini horror vignette. You're welcome.

Well that went well. I promise, less "doom raineth over" next time and more "go team go". Until then, just try and forget the image above, I know I can't.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Bathroom Plans

I've been busy tearing out all of the old things. Dreaming of replacing all of the ick with lots of pretty-shiny helps me stay motivated. The past few days I've been prying tiles off of the upstairs bathroom walls. It only seems fitting that I've also been spending a lot of time dreaming about what to replace the old mess with. I call it a mess because once again, I ran across sections of tile held up to the wall with tape. This time it was some sort of fabric medical tape. Unfortunately, not all the tile released it's cold steely grip so easily. Other LARGE patches seemed to have been attached to the wall with concrete and tears. The good news is that only a small patch remains. Tomorrow it will meet it's end. As for tonight, here's the dream:

Hall Bathrooms 1st and 2nd floor

  • Faucet - already purchase several from e-bay ~ Kohler Bancroft
  • Pedestal Sink - just picked this bad boy up including another faucet off of craigslist for $75! ~ Kohler Bancroft
  • Walls - white subway tile with gray grout
  • Floor - light blue Merola penny tile
  • Sconce - I have two of these as hand-me-downs ~ RH Dillon Single Sconce (or a look-a-like)

Only monkey wrench in the plan is that the upstairs tub is a beautiful shade of peach. Something like this bad boy below. There will be no replacement. The tub is in great shape, surprisingly, and it is a small 4 foot model which is damned near impossible to find and turns out that it also costs a fortune.

Master Bath 1st floor

  • Wall Tile - white subway with black liner
  • Floor Tile - 2" white hex 
  • Shower Tile - 1" black hex for the shower pan, nice and grippy*. 
  • Sconce - 2 RH Devon Sconces, another ebay score. $15 each!
  • Vanity - RH Espresso Cartwright. This was an amazing purchase made possible by a sale combined with a 33% off coupon. 
  • Paint - RH Light Silver Sage. I also picked this up using the 33% off coupon.
I'm feeling rather thrifty at the moment. I'm sure that is all about to implode as we purchased the windows for the rear elevation on Friday and are going to make the purchase for the front tomorrow.  I better get back to work. I have a lot of DIY moments in my future. 

*Spell check is trying to tell me grippy isn't a real word. Spell check is so 2014. I declare grippy the word of the day. Grippy grippy grippy.

**HA! Random House also declares grippy is real. This is not to be confused with hippogriff, which is not only a real word but a real magical creature probably hiding behind one of our walls or under the stairs. 

Friday, July 3, 2015


Well hello there basement. The folks living down there finally vacated this past weekend which means we were able to get a good look at the whole space for the first time, ever.  My hands hurt from wielding a crow bar this evening so I'm just posting a bunch of photos. So much to do. So much to tear out. Enjoy, and WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE!

TOP: Private entry from outside (so many changes in its future)
BOTTOM: Front room (future rec room)

TOP: Middle two rooms (one of which will be future game room)
BOTTOM: Rear room (future exercise room)

TOP: kitchenette (removing stove, replacing with mini fridge and microwave)
BOTTOM: bathroom - ick

Demo forth good people.