Friday, October 21, 2016

Bathroom Remodel: Hiatus

 Today is History Day.

Until the shower pan comes in, there's not much we can do.  Our contractor is going to come back a few times to finish the mudding and sanding on the bedroom drywall and fix up a few other spots so we can repaint the whole thing next week.  There won't be anything else happening for awhile after that.
In the meantime, I want to share this fun piece of history I found.  When we moved into the house, I went down to the library to do some research on when exactly our house had been built and if I could learn anything about its history.  I wrote a post about what I learned (Edward and Viola).

When our contractor pulled off the trim in the bedroom, I noticed that it had some writing on the back.  In case you can't tell (the photos aren't that great), the top one says "E. Kreutz" and the middle says "326 21st St."

If you reference that old post, you'll note that according to city records the owner of my house in 1924 was Edward J. Kreutz.  Confirmation! The address on these boards, however, is that of the house to the south, originally owned by William Schroer, who we surmised owned both lots and sold the second to Edward after building a house on it.  What does it mean, then, that Edward's name and William's address are on the boards?  Was Edward helping William with the construction?  Was this before the two lots had been officially separated into two addresses?  I'm not sure, but it is fun to conjecture.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bathroom Remodel: Day 4

Today is Killing Time Day.

I forgot to get a photo of the wall before it was taken out, but trust me, it needed to be done.  It sounded like my house was being ripped apart while they were doing it.  I guess it was.

They took all the plaster off, leaving just the laths.  In this state it reminded me of my grandpa's barn.

Then the drywall went up.  They said it would be dusty.  They were right.  Even the rooms that weren't being drywalled are covered in fine dust.  Luckily, Millie was on the back porch, so we still have a black dog.

When Sam and I agreed that this was a good side-project to get done while waiting for the bathroom, we forgot one major aspect.  Once you drywall something, you have to paint it.  And when you move into a house and all the walls are already painted, there is a good chance you don't have matching paint sitting around.

Suggestions for new bedroom wall color?
I said yesterday that something drastic was going to have to be done about the warped floor.  The result is a concrete-related floor-leveling product that pours onto your warped floor, naturally flows to level itself, and then hardens.  We'll have a nice, level floor in 24 hours.

As a sidenote, while checking for the correct spelling of "lath," I learned that plaster and lath was used to build houses until the 1950s, and then it was discontinued for drywall.  My contractor had a youngster helping out today who I overhead asking, "Do people still use plaster?" The answer is no, and after all the problems we've had with it, I can see why.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bathroom Remodel: Day 3

Today is Setback Day.

We started the day out well with new wiring, outlets, and switches for our lighting.  The vent went in without any problems.  And then we came across some problems.

Our floor may be not as water-damaged as we thought, but the boards have warped with age, thereby creating unevenness and significant frustration for our contractor who is trying to level the floor. It turns out that one side is 1/2 inch lower than the middle, and one side is 3/4 inch lower than the middle (that's the side with the most water-damaged boards).  This will require drastic measures to fix.
Our biggest issue of the day, however, came when the shower pan came out of the box.  It had a nice big crack in one corner, and is unusable.  Because our shower space is an unusual size, this shower pan had to be special ordered.  That means we have to wait for another one to come in.  They will try to expedite it, but it will come in next week at the earliest.
The shower pan has to go in before pretty much everything else, so in the meantime, our contractor is going to work on a new linen closet for this corner, leveling the floor, and fixing the wall on the other side of the bathroom.

The bedroom wall is bulging due to, most likely, the degradation of the plaster "fingers" holding the plaster to the slats and the consequent separation of the plaster from the inner wall.  We are surmising that the plaster was dislodged during previous bathroom renovations.  The bulge was present when we moved in, and it only took two days for Sam to poke his finger into it to see exactly what it was.  We've had the bulge and the subsequent hole ever since.  Might as well fix it while we have the chance!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bathroom Remodel: Day 2

 Day 2 is More Demolition and Some Remodel

The floor and ceiling came all the way out today.  We were really worried about the floor being damaged, but lucky for us, it's really just in one corner.  We'll get a few boards replaced and all will be well.
 It turns out that our low ceiling was caused entirely by a big light and fan.  Take those out, and you have a much higher ceiling!

Our contractor thinks that, on the basis of fixtures and materials, the most recent remodel was probably as recent as nine years ago.  It didn't age well, though, because it wasn't installed well.

All the plaster is gone, all the old lights are gone, and we're starting to build.  We got a new hole for the vent and a new eight-foot ceiling.  It's going to feel a lot more spacious, I think.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Bathroom Remodel: Day 1

Day 1 is Demo and Discovery Day.

I missed the photo of the horribly botched job of the wall behind the shower stall before our contractor took off the random boards that were slapped on with no apparent rhyme or reason.  There had been no vapor barrier applied, so many of the boards were actually damp and molding.

The new window we had installed earlier is lovely, though.  It has privacy glass on the bottom half so that we can shower with the top half of the window open for ventilation while still avoiding eye contact with our neighbors.
The wall behind the toilet is pretty much what we expected.  What we learned here is that the seal around this big pipe where it meets the roof at one time leaked, and there is some water damage near the ceiling.  This most likely coincides with water damage in the attic.

I now also know where exactly the water damage on the basement ceiling came from; one of the times this bathroom flooded, the water went to the corner of the bathroom and right down the hole for this pipe.
Just like all of the electric elsewhere in the house, this bathroom has several sets of wires and outlets added at different times.  We even found one that had been (against code) just tucked in and walled over.  Goody.  Apparently the bathroom is not on its own circuit either, as the contractor very easily blew a fuse while trying to run some equipment.

At the end of the day, I was told that my bathroom was not cooperating very well.  Based on my experience with it in the five years I've lived here, I am not surprised.

Bathroom Remodel: Before

This is our main floor bathroom.  If we piece together the clues, it was remodeled in the late 80s by the owner of the house to be wheelchair accessible.

That function is no longer necessary, and the problems that come with a shower with no lip are numerous.  Therefore, we are having it remodeled.

It's not a bad bathroom, but I'm looking forward to a taller sink, a functional shower, and a wall that isn't pink.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sunflowers in the fall

Summer left Wisconsin this week.  It is fully fall, with cool mornings and overcast days.  Lucky for me, I planted my sunflowers late, and minus a few droops from the rain, they are still going strong.

Monday, June 13, 2016

In the swing of summer

Britt found Millie a pool.  She mostly likes to get in and get out again, but when she's really hot, she'll lie down in it.

In the meantime, Sam and I have been doing a lot of work on the garden and building up our list of fun plants around the house.

Hops (four varieties)
Tomatoes (four varieties)
Cucumbers (two varieties)
Romanesque (fancy broccoli)
Eggplant (two varieties)
Soybeans (edamame)
Tomatillos (two varieties)
Lettuce (various)
Dragontongue beans
Snow peas
Snap peas
Eden's Gem Melons
Volunteer squash (probably Delicata)
Hot peppers (five varieties)

Other edibles:
Red raspberries
Black currents
Blueberries (new this year!)
Pineapple sage
Mint (so much mint!)
Alpine strawberries

And all sorts of random flowers.  It's been a productive spring.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Gardening in garages

You know you live in a good neighborhood when almost all of the garage sales include plants for less than $2. The homeowner knows exactly how the plant grows, and is often willing to dig up some extra if you need it.

Today I got two types of Lamium for the shady front of the house, some creeping sedum for the dry, sunny spot under the eaves, and a hen-and-chicks just because. 

Sam and I also stopped by a little, local greenhouse and bought a Cranesbill geranium for by the front steps and a rosemary plant for our herb garden.

Now if we can keep everything alive during the weekend's late frost, we'll be good.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Green unfurling

The ferns are unfurling their curls and leaving little bits of fern fuzz along the north side of the house. As this is the first time I have experienced such a thing, I am happily surprised.