One down, eight to go

7/29 Sunday -- That's right, I finally finished a room. Damn it feels good. The upstairs bath is for all intensive purposes done. I need to let the silicone I've got on a toilet leak cure for another day before I turn the water back on, need to replace some O-rings in the cold water shutoff valve for the sink, mount the door after the trim dries, and that's about it. I'm super pumped with the results, it looks like new construction. But I'll just let the pics speak for themselves. The rooms pretty small so it's tough to get a good shot but I think you'll get the idea.

The beginning
As a frame of reference here's what things looked like when I bought the house.


And another angle


Still alive

Okay so I haven't really updated in a LONG time. I've been beyond busy and it often comes down to 20 minutes of working on the house or 20 minutes of blogging at the end of the night. I think you can tell which route I've been opting for. Rather than try and recall everything that I've done here's a snapshot of how things look right now with some quick explanations.

Bathroom Furniture
This is the vanity and mirror from the upstairs bathroom. The bathroom is going to be a white ceiling with gray walls so the red on white should look very sharp. Very New England.

Bedroom set
Heres the bedroom set that Tara and my mom picked up from an estate sale for $100. The thing on the other side of the beam is another dresser of similar size. Considering it came with a twin bed set (box spring, frame, mattress) it was a steal.

These are about two thirds of the cabinet doors. My mom sanded them down, primed, and stained them. This is after the first coat of polyurethane. They need steel wool then another coat of poly and they'll be set. They're coming out way better than I thought.

Dining Room
Though it's a bit of a mess right now, the dining room is just about done. The walls have been painted along with the ceiling. All it needs is for the door trim to be finished/painted then of course the floors.

Electric Panel
God damn that's some sexy wiring. At least I know if the whole pharmaceutical sciences thing doesn't work out I can always take up electric contracting.

Alright so I didn't clean it up before taking a picture like I said, so sue me. At least the appliances are moved in. I need to hook up the dishwasher which will probably take a solid day and the oven is already going. The kitchen is painted like the dining room and after the cabinets go up it's just about done.

Living Room
What a difference a coat of paint makes. Under the pile of crap in the middle of the room you can sort of make out the new couch. The old one got the boot. It still needs another coat.

Master Bedroom
Paint is up and though it looks pretty awful with the green trim that's left, things will really turn around after a bit more painting.

Upper Bath
This is where my main focus has been the past few days. The tub is refinished. The tub surround is up and caulked. The window frame is painted and drying. The walls are primed. The ceiling is painted. The furniture is painted. There's a box of new fixtures waiting to go up. I need to paint the walls, cut the new linoleum for the floors, add some rubber molding around the base of the walls, paint the trim, and reinstall everything. Though it sounds like a lot it's moving along great.


Oh no, it's in the walls

So it's been a while since I posted but I was pretty swamped for a while. First with my parents here and then work in the labs & on the house, I've been a busy boy. While my parents were up we made HUGE progress on the house. However, the moment my mom left the organization she had fell to shit. I need to clean up before I take some pictures to really do the progress justice. Hopefully within a day or two I'll have some good shots. As far as what we accomplished: the kitchen/dining rooms are primered (tinted primer so it's like they were painted), the cabinets were sanded down and the cabinet faces were stained, the master bedroom was primered, the trim stripped and paint, the stairwell ceiling cleaned up, a bunch of wall paper taken down, just tons of crap.

7/17 Thursday -- Erik came over today to help me out some. So we came in this morning and found a bird in the study. Someone had left the window above the AC open (and with no screen). Naturally we did what everyone would, shut the window and trap the bird in the house. It was flying around into walls and stuff, I touched it, it flew into some other rooms--all fun and games. That's when Erik said "oh no, it's in the walls." The bird flew up into one of the walls where I had the trim pulled and the thought of a dead bird rotting in my wall turned things serious real quick. We opened another window and were able to scare him outside. An interesting way to start the morning no doubt.

So anyway I had Erik come to help me pull some of the last wires I need for the electric. Fishing the wires through the walls goes MUCH faster when you don't have to keep going up and down out of the attic to check if your through the wall. I've been working on the electric a couple days and at almost $650 worth of electric supplies, I'm not sure what a contractor would have charged but I'm pegging it at no less than $1,500. Seeing as how I don't exactly have an extra grand or two it's been well worth the DIY route.

I put in 12 new receptacles in the bedrooms, removed the old bedroom outlets, dropped a dedicated 20 amp ground fault outlet into the bathroom (tying it into the lighting circuit is a no go with the code), put in smoke detectors on each floor and in each bedroom, a combo CO/smoke detector in the hall, a dedicated 20 amp microwave circuit, a dedicated dishwasher line, rerouted the kitchen lighting to it's own circuit (tying it into the small appliance circuit was again another violation), hooked up a circuit for the fridge, moved a couple circuits to the sub panel, and rewired in the 220 line for the stove. Not bad for an electric n00b. I must say that compared to the wiring in the main panel, the stuff I've done is a work of art. Before I left tonight I got a few circuits in the sub live. The rest just need outlets hooked up to the dropped wires. Another hour worth of work and I can *hopefully* not have to worry about electric for the rest of my time in the house. It's a good feeling.

Now that's a sexy sub panel


Um, more stuff I think

So I've been working here and there for the past few days. My parents came up yesterday (Thurs) and will be here until Tuesday to help me get a lot of stuff done. I probably won't update too much between then but I'll put up a big post after they leave with hopefully a lot to show off. I've got to go buy what's most likely going to be a couple hundred dollar in electric supplies so hopefully that will get underway too.


Rub a dub dub

7/10 Monday -- So I didn't really do any more with the staircase ceiling but I did include some pics of what I managed with it so far. Instead today I decided I'd recoat the tub. It's supposed to take 3 days to cure so I figured if I started it today I would be ready to finish the bathroom when my parents were up this weekend. Naturally I started by demoing the bathroom hard. Just about everything is gone (even the toilet is in another room), but I still need a basin wrench to move the sink. At any rate I had to scrub the tub with a cleaning solution, rinse, dry, scrub with steel wool, rinse, dry, and repeat 3 times. Took nearly two hours and it sucked. But after that I put up plastic over the walls and gave the tub the first of two coats. It really does look great to what it was. I mean the floor of the tub was worn down to bare metal before hand. However, I got runs in a couple spots so I need to wait 3 days to buff them out. It just means my parents won't get to work on the bathroom this weekend, oh well. I have plenty of other work for them. Oh and I hit the front door with a second coat of primer and then the oil paint. Hope it dries as good as the coat looked wet. That and I got my permit for the electrical updates. Tough to do some of the heavier stuff when it's over 90 degrees out.

Old floor torn out and half the frame up
Trust me, 10" is a huge difference
The minor spotting will get taken care of by the 2nd coat


Raise the roof

7/9 Sunday -- I spent the a good portion of the day taping off the drywall and filling in all of the screw holes in the kitchen. For having never taped before it seems like I did a pretty decent job but I guess I won't really know until I'm done with the final coat/sanding. I'm not even going to bother to tape the wall/ceiling joints since they're going to be covered with molding anyway. After that I moved back to raising the height of the ceiling in the main stairway. As is my shoulder hits the ceiling standing on the steps and since I need to make a big mess in one of the bedrooms tearing up the closet, this is something to get done now. I ripped out all of the closet in the room above the stairs and have a nice big hole 4 ft wide hole right through to the steps. I decided to raise the ceiling about 10 inches. I think this is a decent compromise between not too much work and still a significant improvement. I tore out the old frame and started to put the new one up but had to stop before it was finished when I ran out of framing nails. I still had one 2x4 to cut but with only one more full length board in the house, I wouldn't have been able to lock the front door if I did. I ran the plywood board that's the new closet floor through Vic's table saw and it fits perfect. All I need to do to finish is put up that last 2x4 support, nail down the plywood, and patch up the drywall underneath. I have some pics but my camera isn't with me so I'll try and get those up tomorrow along with what is hopefully the finished result.


Zomg a kitchen

So I haven't updated in a few days but trust me it's no so much a lack of work as a lack of teh internets. Without further adue...

7/5 Thursday – A better part of the day got sucked up by having to strip the front door I just painted. The paint had bubbles partially from the surface but I’m sure the rain didn’t help. I got a quart of metal primer for this go I just need to spend the hour and a half that was needed to get all of the old paint off. “Take the time to do it right” seems to be a reoccurring lesson. I need to get this finished soon so I can stop locking my house with a 2 x 4 at night. I was doing this while waiting for the contractor to show, but he never did. I’m not sure if I had the wrong day, or he got lost, or what. I only have his home number so I need to try and get back in touch with him.

Today was garbage day so after getting all of the carpet out to the curb I decided it was as good a day as any to tear out the cracked tub surround upstairs. I had priced them out at Lowes and a new one costs $62 or even cheaper if I go with tile board. A new surround, a refinished tub, and a coat of paint are all the bath needs aside from an outlet dropped in. Some of the green board and insulation are a little rotted so I can selectively replace those without much trouble. The only problem I ran into was when I unscrewed the collar to get off the last piece of surround I didn’t realize as I was unscrewing it that the whole faucet setting was turning too. Fast forward as soon as I get it off water starts to shoot straight out of the wall and I had to book to the basement and kill the water/electric. I go the electric back on but even after putting the handles back on the water comes full force out of the tub spout when I kick it back on. I’m sure I just have something hooked up wrong but the water in the house is off for the time being.

Again on the theme of garbage tomorrow I took the time to clean up a few of the more desperate areas of the house. The kitchen looks less like something you would find in an abandoned building. I moved the table and chairs to the basement so they don’t get totally destroyed during the renovations. I even cleaned up the rest of the basement and organized things for the first time ever. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed earlier during the day but a little cleaning does wonders for the state of mind. I didn’t get done until 10:30, making it the latest night I’ve had in a while. I’m really hoping that I can at least get the rest of the kitchen drywalled this weekend… hoping.

Looking, well, worse than ever
A bit cleaner
Ultralock 2x400, Patent Pending

7/6 Friday – Worked both jobs today so not much energy left by the time I got home. First priority was fixing the faucet so I could turn the water back on in the house. Spent some time with it before realizing there was a small rubber grommet missing from the cold water. It’s one of those thing that if you didn’t know you were missing it you’d never realize it was there. It must’ve shot out when I got blasted with water. I found a replacement and the water was all set. It’s a good thing too because the turtle tank pump must’ve gotten clogged at some point and their tank was ripe to the point the whole house was stinking up. I decided that the basement was a better place for them, at least while there’s lots of construction dust in the air. At least with the water on I was able to change the water in their tank and having them in the basement I can use the hose to fill it up. That was basically it for the day but big plans for tomorrow.

Turtle Vacation

7/7 Saturday – So I got to work a little before one and headed right for the kitchen. Vic had left some drywall on the porch the other day after he was unable to defeat my amazing new lock. I hung what I had but I would definitely need to go pickup some more to finish the kitchen. The Beastie Boys once said “ain’t no time like the present to work shit out” and since I already had the walls exposed this much I figured I’d put some insulation in under the windows where the blown in never reached. After I got back with the drywall I called Erik to see if he’d come help. I was having a little trouble getting them butted up against the ceiling on my own. He came over and we spent the rest of the night finishing off the kitchen. We didn’t finish until 10:30 but the kitchen is now completely walled and looking pretty sweet if I do say. Taping, sanding, painting, molding, and cabinet mounting then it’s done. This was just the sort of pick me up I needed.

A little work now means big savings in the winter
Zomg a kitchen
And another view


Who doesn't love demo?

7/3 Tuesday -- I took off a bit earlier today and met up with Erik in the afternoon. He took the task of tearing out the rest of the plaster in the dining room while I got cracking on some odds and ends. He really brought it to those walls and a small ~1ft x 4ft section of plaster over the counter is all that remains. The walls at some parts were full of literally garbage: beer cans, broken plaster, newspapers (dated 1979), god only knows what else. No wonder why I couldn't get the wire snake through to where I wanted to put the light switches. Anyway we got that all cleaned up while I had painted the front door, hit the steps with a second coat, caulked up the cabinet holes from the old hardware, and pulled up some of the floor in the bedroom closet where I want to raise the height of the staircase ceiling. I found finished hardwood floors under the carpet. If I took a picture of it you'd understand what a weird place this was for it. Anyway I pulled up those boards to use for replacing some of the more beat up boards else where and by the time I was ready to cut some flooring it was 9:30 and too late for power tools.

Looking good a coat later

The last day I'll have to look at this

7/4 Wednesday -- Today was a big day, no questions about it. I got started around 11 and Erik was over again by noon. Our main project was to raise and widen the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room. It'll give me a little extra head room and really add to the fluid feel of the house. I originally thought it wasn't a load bearing wall but after doing a little reading found the contrary. Not a big deal. It had two 2 x 4's for the old header which I upgraded to 2 x 6's and added two studs under each side of the header where there had only been one. We ran into a bit of trouble trying to figure out how to transition from cutting the existing studs to getting the new header in place while still supporting the wall. Luckily I had a hydraulic jack in the truck of my car. We were able to jack a 2 x 4 up to the ceiling to support the wall and still had enough room to squeeze in one of the 2 x 6's for the header. With that one in place we could drop the jack and put up the other side. The picture I posted was taken before we added an extra stud under each side for additional support. Not half bad job for a couple of guys who really didn't know what they were doing. After talking to Charles, the neighbor who works construction, the only thing we maybe should've done different was put a sheet of 1/2" plywood between the two header boards so they sat flush with the rest of the studs. Not the end of the world, we'll just have to shim out the trim that goes up later.

A couple of sandwiches later we were ready to tear up the carpet in the living room--the last of the carpet still haunting the house. It was a bit tedious to get through but with Erik pulling tack board up while I hit staples we really got a good rhythm going and banged it out. The floors really have some potential but will need a bit of help getting there. After Erik headed home around 7:30 I went to give the door another coat of paint. I was super disappointed to find that yesterdays coat was all bubbles and awful. Even sanding was no help. I'm going to need to strip it back down and use a primer first. The steps had looked good but with today's rain (last nights actually) they started to spot a little. We'll see how it looks when they dry. I hit the part of the floor that was in really bad shape with some ammonia and retired for what was left of the night.

Such an improvement

Carpet no more


Hammer Time

So I haven't updated in a few days. That's mostly because I decided to take a much needed break and catch a ride back to Newburgh for the weekend. It was a nice change of pace. Other than that I had only painted the steps and added the trim molding to them so nothing major.

7/2 Monday -- Back in town and back to work. Vic and Erik helped me pick up a fridge and a dryer that I had lined up before I left town. They're both in really great shape. The fridge is a five year old Maytag and even has an ice maker that is still brand new because they never hooked it up. I headed in to work after that and didn't get home until after six. I got right to work on tearing out the plaster down to the lathe in the kitchen. It was the first day I would say I was properly equipped for the job: from the respirator to the safety glasses to the work belt. So I got the whole wall facing the dining room done or about half of what was left. I also learned that just because you have 44 gallon garbage bags doesn't mean you'll be able to lift them once they're filled with 44 gallons of plaster debris. On a side note once the wall was torn up I was thinking I'd raise the doorway a little, make things a tad more height friendly. Then I realized that I can just as easily widen the frame as well, creating a more open feel. The entrance from the living to the dining room is 7' x 5' or so and I'm going to do something similar in the kitchen. Since I've already got the wall exposed the hard part it done. If ever there was a time to do this it'd be now. No pictures until I can unearth my battery charger somewhere in the rubble.


Step on up

6/27 Wednesday -- Today Tara's dad spent the day building wooden steps for the front porch. It took most of the day but they came out pretty great. Not to mention he got to go at a pitbull attacking another dog with a hammer. After two hits with the hammer the pitbull hadn't even flinched, but I digress. I just need to get some trim molding to run along the side and then give them a coat of paint, hopefully at some point tomorrow. While he was working on that I took care of a few miscellaneous jobs: spackled the screw holes in the drywall, took down the deck in the back yard, removed all the cabinet doors and cleaned them up. I tried stripping a cabinet door to see how they'd hold up but even just a little sanding with an orbital was going through the veneer. I'm going to have to wind up painting them. It wasn't what I originally wanted but I guess you have to do what you can with 50 year old cabinets. I also got some epoxy floor covering for at least the workbench/laundry area and some spray on epoxy kit for redoing the worn upstairs bathtub. Oh and I meant the guy who owns the house next to me on the corner (the people living there rent) and apparently he's not only a plumbing contractor, but the guy who installed the lower bath in my house to begin with some ten years ago. He's supposed to drop off his card and I'm going to have him take a look at what'd be needed to get the shower installed downstairs.

A coat of paint and we'll be in business

The yard gets bigger every day


It almost looks like a kitchen

6/25 Monday -- I spent today trying to finish straightening out the wiring so the last sheet of drywall can get hung. I decided to knock out the plaster behind the sink to not only make it easier to get the wires through but to put more drywall in it's place for a cleaner look. I got the wires through and brought home another sheet of drywall (10' sheet on the roof racks of a Neon, w00t). Daylight took it's leave and without those wires hooked up I couldn't turn the circuits back on to keep working. Tomorrow I'll finish up.

Think PAST the torn out wall

6/26 Tuesday -- I got to work around eleven or so. It was so hot just working on hooking up wires I was dripping sweat. When I say dripping I mean literally to the point where it was pouring onto the wires I was working with. Gross. I finished hooking up the switches before Tara's dad arrived. He helped me hang the last sheet in the kitchen and get the sheet up on the wall. He lent a hand with cleaning up while I ran to home depot to grab some pigtail lights. I just need something that will hold a bulb and give me a few more working hours each day, the light fixtures can actually get mounted later on. Finished the electric finally and everything worked without a hitch, score. I went to the basement with Mr. Sullivan and we finished drylocking the part that was still uncoated. Turns out there's another part of the basement wall that's a little hurting. My aunt mentioned a process called pilastering where you put up half blocks and fill them with concrete against the existing wall, it's something to look in to. At least the kitchen looks half way presentable. Once I figure out what to do with the rest of it I can really get somewhere.

We're cooking now


Do Work

6/22 Saturday – Today was prep for the upcoming drywall hanging. I spent a few hours tearing all the staples out of the two rooms, and the rest of the staples out of the dining room floor. Then I went over to Vic’s and we brought over seven sheets of 12’ drywall. The big sheets might be a little more work to hang but the tradeoff is we only have two or three seams to patch in the whole ceiling. It was late but I took a ride to Lowes to grab some flowers and perk up the front yard a little. $14 dollars worth of flowers went a long way. The root cellar has pretty much dried up but the one wall on the left is hurting. I'm going to have to jack up the trusses, smash out some blocks, and put in replacements. Tomorrow is a day of big work

6/23 Sunday – Had a bit of a late night last night so I arranged to meet up with Erik and Vic at 1:30. We came in and got started right away. The drywall hanger we rented from Home Depot was a great call. The $30 a day it costs to rent was well worth the headache it saved. I would help them get the drywall on the hanger then go work on straightening out the wiring situation in the kitchen while they screwed it up. The thing with the kitchen is that the ceiling fan that had been there was never wired into a wall switch, it just had a pull string. I don’t think the new fixture on the way has a pull string and I’d much rather have a wall switch regardless. After considering my options I decided to bridge the circuit from the ground fault outlet to the left of the sink to the ceiling fixture and the tract lighting for above the sink rather than using the existing wiring, it’ll be easier in the long run. I’ve got all the materials; I just need to do some more wall cutting to get feed the wires through. I may breakout the whole plaster wall where I’m wiring and put up more drywall and its place but I’ll have to wait and see what it comes to. After they had two panels up in the dining room I walked in and realized that we forgot to cut out the hole for the fixture in the dining room. We’ll have to go back for that. Anyway we got all but a single panel up where I need to finish the wiring so it was a big success and the ceilings already look a hundred times better. Progress feels good.

Someone cleans up well

Looks good, would look better with a hole for the light

Light years of difference


You can't make an omlette...

6/19 Tuesday -- So the theme of the past two days has been deconstruction. I came home on Tuesday during a rain storm and frantically ran around trying to cover things and get others out of the rain. The cabinet was still out drying when the rain started. With the rain as it was I went to the basement to try cleaning up the root cellar. There was just so much dirt even with a hose and the wet vac I gave up on it for the time being. I started tearing down the ceiling in the kitchen so I can get some dry wall up. I got about half way before taking a break and immediately falling asleep. That was that.

6/20 Wednesday -- I finished putting the chest back together and while it wasn't amazing, it certainly wasn't a failure. At any rate I don't think the turtle mind. I finished tearing down the ceiling in the kitchen and well, it's not pretty. However, without the panel that runs around above the cabinets it really does open up some space. Interestingly enough when I disconnected the one wall socket in the paneling I couldn't believe how it was hooked up. Whoever installed it could have used less wire and had ground fault protection on all of the socket just by hooking it up properly. I've only been doing electric for a week and even I know that. After the ceiling was down it was still fairly early and I decided to tackle the pool. I figure why have someone take the metal to a scrap yard and get money for it when I can just do it myself. It only took about an hour and a half to get it done. It really opens up a lot of space in the backyard. That's when Tara came to deliver me some food and I called it a day. Hospital work tomorrow at 8:30, ugh.

They're just so dumb.

It could be worse, somehow

So much for that

Lighting sale.

Amazon has a ton of lighting fixtures on sale. I just ordered $200 worth but checkout the selection here.

The blog.

So I just finally put up all the stuff I had been saving on my computer. It's a little disorganized but postings will be more straight forward from now on. Enjoy.

All Pics Up To 6/18

Early basement progress

What the basement walls USED to look like

Good thing for roof racks

Not bad for $40

A resuscitated sink

Who needs a doctor when you can do it yourself

Some potential maybe?

$12 well spent on the garden bed

Will look pretty killer in the dining room

I'm awesome