Construction or Destruction?

Because no matter what the post topic, nothing beats a beautiful orange hibiscus

Sometimes during a renovation it’s hard to tell which description is most apt. Of course given that I’m still dragged-out from Covid, and I’m STILL congested with a runny nose, it’s hard to do most anything.

Grape tomatoes don’t require my brains or energy to thrive. Can you see all those green tomatoes?

There has been some work done with framing and pipes since my husband and I were felled by Covid. I think it all happened on the Monday before I lost touch with reality. Ken & Chris added more pipes and connections for the new bathroom.

sometime last week there were pipes for the sink & toilet

Yesterday John and coworker (don’t know his name) were here doing more framing – hammering, sawing, generator running, maneuvering large plywood sheets around my old, beloved chestnut bannister and railing. You know I first started to watch and then decided to turn away because I did NOT want to see it go wrong. Of course it was fine. They are pros, after all.

and we’ll have a working shower as well πŸ™‚

The HVAC person, Marcel, came by last week with Don. We got the quote on that yesterday. All told, not unreasonable. I really consider putting in central air to be a necessity. Yes I’ve lived here 38 years without it, but there have certainly been times it would have been a very nice option. Once I decided we’d do this renovation, I figured out there were 3 guiding principles.

Boards come, they go. I thought that was framing the shower but later photos say no

First goal was to give my husband the 2nd bathroom he’s been wanting for years and years now. The second goal is to add the other things that we’ve thought would be nice to have. For instance a new floor. The original/current one squeaks. A lot. It’s also very worn. We’re going to use it as sub-flooring for new wood floors.

replacing broken boards, and they’ve leveled the original floor that was under the wall – had to bring it to the level of the exposed flooring

The third and very important guideline is for selling the house. Ultimately we will move and have to sell the house. We cannot sell it with the knob&tube wiring in place. We’ve been told that insurance companies will no longer insure homes with K&T and so we either deal with it ourselves before we sell or we have to factor that into a reduced desirability/cost when we sell.

In case you forgot knob & tube wiring. I believe the fuzzy stuff is insulation, NOT wiring πŸ™‚

Although we love our hot water radiator heating, the radiators are the old huge iron radiators. They take up a LOT of space and are not especially attractive. We’ve dealt with them on the first floor by purchasing attractive radiator covers decades ago, and removing the 2 in the kitchen & front hall as part of that renovation. But there are 5 old iron ones upstairs and we’re replacing them as part of this effort. I don’t want to hear about “ew the radiators are so big and ugly”. Incredibly efficient but ugly.

Chris removing the radiators

I want my windows back. For 38 years I’ve had to deal with a/c units rendering windows useless. In 2019 we replaced all of the upstairs windows yet I still lost 3 of them to a/c units. I LIKE windows. A lot. As long as the walls and ceilings would be ripped open I said let’s put central air up there. Don said it would not be much more effort to drop it to the 1st floor as well, which would be wonderful. I’d get back my dining room window. We’re going to take the window that was removed from the little room (which will now be a bathroom) and we’re going to put that in our bedroom next to the existing side window. MORE LIGHT!!!! And fresh air in season.

There will be a different window up there ultimately, in the shower. an “awning” window

Today John & friend and Ken & Chris were here. Not sure what all the woodworking was about but the radiators were going. *laughing* And not a moment too soon. I had the a/c units going this past weekend. I woke up Monday morning and as I pulled up the shades I thought “is that radiator WARM???” Yep. I’d forgotten to turn DOWN the thermostat while the a/c was on. *rolling eyes* I told Ken & Chris to make sure they not only removed the radiators but turn OFF the connections from the thermostat as well. *grin*

there was a board, now there is not. but there IS insulation

So here we be. We are still home not working. Well, I managed to do a little something today that did not require a lot of brain power. There’s something I need to do for someone at work but it requires much more attention to detail and thought than I can muster at this point. The radiators are disconnected. There’s woodworking done. Don said that next he wants to start on the shower!!!

If those boxes are for the shower, WHY NOT THE TILES??????

I was SO EXCITED and asked if that meant I should have the tile delivered so we could start designing the tile walls. Don got that patient long-suffering face he uses with me and started shaking his head saying “too soon”. 😦 I want to play with the tiles! And I’m afraid that he will tell us one day – get the tiles so we can install them tomorrow, without leaving us time to obsess and agonize and do and redo our design. πŸ™‚

the gardenias are blooming. so are the canna lilies but they are the WRONG cannas. 😦 too short
Why I need to protect the hibiscus every day with repell-all. so beautiful!!

We’re Going to Need More Pipes

unstressed wc

We finished growing framing for the time being. Not sure if I mentioned this already but this project will happen twice – first for 3 rooms and then for 2 rooms. Anyway, John has finished growing closets, and some walls, and a doorway. Now we need to grow some pipes. Maybe this weekend I can get back out to my garden so I can grow plants, not house. πŸ™‚

lots of framing got done

The plumbers, Ken & Chris, were here bright and early this morning. I knew they were coming but I didn’t have a time. I decided I had time to do my morning walk, shower & dress before they’d get here. Wrong. πŸ™‚ I got out of my shower and saw the trucks parked out front. Whoops. I made it to the front door at 7:59am and personally I think that should keep me out of the dog house.

it begins with a hole in the floor of the new bathroom

Since we are adding a bathroom, we need to add pipes. As usual I had no idea what this means in terms of destruction/construction. I learned that they would be cutting open my NEW breakfast room wall (see 2018 for new wall photos). Ken was not sure about the wall – what they’d find, what it would imply. I said to him “never fear!!! I BLOGGED all of 2018’s renovation. I’m sure I have some picture of the inside of the walls from that angle.” And indeed I did. πŸ™‚ Yay me! The upside of being able to produce exactly what they wanted to see is that they have no objection to me wandering about today, taking pictures at various stages. I didn’t think John really enjoyed me coming around. I tended to wait for him to take breaks.

Next we cut open my beautiful wall to see the hole in the new bathroom

I’m still amazed at how fast this seems to be going at the moment. My recollection of the kitchen renovation is that someone would come and “do something” for a day or 2 and then everyone would vanish for over a week. Someone else would come and “do something” and everyone would vanish. If Ken’s schedule is correct for this week, I’ll have had workers here for 9 days straight: demolition, framing, plumbing.

Now to find the stack in the basement!

I still can’t envision how this will come together – what pieces happen when. When does the new flooring get put down? In stages as a room is done, or will they do the whole floor in one process? When they tell me that we will have the new bathroom working before we demo the old bathroom, what constitutes a “working bathroom”? In truth I’m a lot less stressed about it now that things are happening and I can talk with them than I was before the demolition. I’m also less stressed, I think, than I was with the kitchen. One, I’ve lived through a major renovation now. Two, I think we did a better job creating living spaces for us during the process. Three, honestly – I’m just too old and tired to spend my energy stressing about the renovation as a whole.

As with plants, the pipe grows from the bottom up

No, my Super Power IS obsessing/stressing, but my specialty is on parts of the whole, not the whole renovation. *laughing* I’ll focus on specific areas for my stress. Speaking of stress, the cats are holding up remarkably well. I didn’t think WC would mind too much given her deafness and overall preference for the 1st floor anyway. But BC seems to be doing alright as well. She has her set times to join me in “my office” in the morning and afternoon. Now that I’m doing my exercises on the living room floor she joins me there to coach. We both miss sleeping together, but we fit in lots of cuddling during the workday and before bedtime.

Pipes grow even faster than framing – right up that wall in a day!

My current worry is about my roof. John pointed out last week during the rain that the roof was leaking – water on the floor beneath the eaves. That roof is only 10 years old. I’m not happy. Don said he’d take a look at it but Don comes in and out sporadically. He’s very reassuring when he’s here but part of me wants to tie him up to a post and make him explain EVERYTHING to me in detail. And then have him fix it too. πŸ™‚ It’s supposed to rain tonight/tomorrow morning so maybe I’ll be able to find the spot in the attic.

Meanwhile back on the 2nd floor, the hole gets bigger and gets a companion

I’m also finding the construction noises a bit wearing. I’m not sure why. You’d think that hearing productive noises would be enjoyable. Yet I find myself cringing when the hammering or drilling gets above a certain level. Unexpected BANGs also make me cringe. There seems to be much more dust involved in this renovation. It could be that there is, or there isn’t but I spent less time in 2018 moving in and about the construction. I feel like I’m always breathing dust. I also learned today that I don’t care for the smell of the glue the plumbers use to seal the pipes. It’s like rubber cement smell on mega steroids.

Look! There’s my breakfast room!

I want to see some of the items that I’ve ordered actually get here. The teak cabinet and the track lighting for the new bathroom are not here yet. The cabinet is due anywhere from now til mid-July, and the lights aren’t expected until mid-July.

Pipes!

I want to start playing with the shower tiles. πŸ™‚ That’s a “reward” for me – getting to layout the tiles and create wall patterns that I think are aesthetically pleasing. I gather the tiles won’t be needed for a few more weeks. They’re at the tile store waiting for me but I don’t have a good place to store them here until I need them. No fair!!!! I want to CREATE!!!

unstressed bc

Return to Renovations

IMG_8603
When last we left our heroine, she was remarking on the widened passage to the breakfast room, the emergence of the white cat, and hoping her husband liked sloped ceilings.

WC is still doing fine, and still throwing periodic hissy fits of hiding to remind us that she does NOT like change and does NOT like the new living conditions. On the other hand she is eating, drinking and producing output, even if she IS refusing any cuddling (wrong chair – she can only be cuddled on the downstairs furniture). IMG_8606As you can see, she’s just fine. BC and GC are fine too, although there seems to be a slight dispute over who sleeps with me. BC prefers to be on or between my calves, whereas GC prefers β€œnext to”. BC understands the concept of sleeping in (at least until 6:30) and the concept that turning over in the middle of the night does NOT mean I’m awake. GC believes that ANY time is good for a cuddle and will purr in my ear, or lean over to tickle my face with her whiskers. If I roll over she will begin meowing to remind me that she is there to be cuddled. As GC never used to sleep with me, BC is a bit annoyed. I would not be surprised if one of these days I wake to a bit of caterwauling.

I’m still thrilled with the wide opening between the 2 rooms. It feels much more like a single room. Version 2We now have a pocket for our pocket door. The door to the basement has always partially blocked the big bay window over the sink. As the door stands open probably 98% of the time, it would be wonderful NOT to have it there. But for the 2% of the time that I NEED a door, I couldn’t get rid of the door. Solution: pocket door. The pocket door is one of the ways we chose our contractor. Contractor J didn’t think it was a good idea and wanted a folding door. Contractor M said good idea, yes, we can do that. πŸ™‚ Contractor M pretty much heard EVERYTHING I said even though I didn’t think he was listening. Contractor J ignored 3 of my key requests. Anyway, the pocket went up amazingly quickly. It necessitated removing 2 radiators (boiler/hot water system, 12 old cast iron radiators in the house). The front hall (yeah, I haven’t mentioned that little bit of this project) and the kitchen will have something more modern and stream-lined for heat.

IMG_8506I think that the same day they built the pocket they also framed out the cabinets. I had a long chat with the foreman yesterday and learned something I’d not noticed and probably never would have noticed. πŸ™‚ Apparently the (sewer?) pipe that runs from the upstairs bathroom down to the basement has an unsightly bulge. Now in some houses and pipes that unsightly bulge would have placed itself a little higher, a little lower. Not in our house. Never in our house. (Have I mentioned we hit another knob & tube wiring issue?) IMG_8567 In OUR house the unsightly bulge is right where our (gorgeous) backsplash is to be. The foreman dealt with this by framing out the cabinets about an inch further out than had there been no bulge. This does leave a gap between the existing tiled bay window and where things will now be, but that will be addressed with additional wood framing. πŸ™‚ I LOVE having competent, intelligent, forward-thinking contractors. This crew (foreman, electricians, carpenters, plumbing) have been simply fantastic. Innovate, responsive and cheerful. Which leads me to my sloped ceiling.

Much to my surprise and dismay my husband, the structural engineer, DID have an issue with a sloped ceiling. Keep in mind that the description I provide next is a non-engineer attempting to convey an engineering lesson. IMG_8592 Apparently if you remove the cross beam supports of the flat ceiling, you will have pressure on the bay window wall, causing it to bow outward. At the time when we discussed this I had no price estimate for the job, I had no reason to create marital discord and I let it drop. I was disappointed but knew that there were other things I’d want to champion and I’d already lived with the (wrong) flat ceiling for over 20 years. This past weekend we got the quote for doing the sloped ceiling. I wrote back to them and mentioned my husband’s issue with the slope and asked them to explain how they would deal with that downward-outward pressure. Yesterday the foreman and construction chief came by and discussed plans with my husband. To my everlasting gratitude, he agreed with their proposals and said that their adjustments addressed his concerns and we could go ahead. YAY!!!!!!! IMG_8593 My husband then took off for work leaving me to discuss all the OTHER issues: ways around our latest K&T issue, placement of switches, the fact that our electrical sub-panel is not up to code (the way they put it in 20 or so years ago), despite all the permits stuck on it, and what we’re going to do about modern radiators. There may have been a few other things but those were yesterday’s top items.

Today has been a day of hammering and power on and off and calls of “can you see if I’m on the right side?”. I had a long chat with the chief electrician and, oh what a surprise, we are adding another update to this job. For decades I’ve had a switch to turn on the deck lights on my deck (small, low wattage bulbs mounted under the bottom rail of the railing). The switch works fine but the lights don’t. πŸ™‚ We will get new deck lighting and have that done while the insides are ripped open. ka-ching, ka-ching. And one day I’ll describe what we hope to do in the front hall…….

Siri on bed