Sweat Equity: How we spent our autumn vacation… again! Week One

Sweat Equity: How we spent our autumn vacation… again!

The Bathroom Renovation

Day One Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day one of the holidays, Sunday! Attila did not want to work on renovations today, he wanted to shop. So off we went on a grand retail tour. On our travels we picked up sound damping insulation to install in the interior bathroom walls, for privacy in a small house. Then we went to Sears, because we have accumulated points on our Sears card over the course of the renovation. We had just walked in the store when Attila spotted a $799 set of pots and pans that we both loved. They had every feature we wanted, including metal lids with little holes to release steam. There was a short sale on the this set of pots and pans, for $199, and we had $140 worth of points. So for the difference we got ourselves a really nice set of pots and pans for the little house. That meant we could return the large pot we had borrowed from Terra; and she took all the old pots and pans home to hers, because she has lots of room, lots of company, and can use them.
DSCF3243 potsNpans sept 1
Day One Sunday: Of course we brought Mist with us for our extended holiday stay at the little house. She was quiet on the trip down, but that all changed when we pulled in the driveway and opened the car doors. She went wild, the cage was literally rocking in the back seat. So unlike our meek and mild little Mist. She roared and clawed and thrashed. Attila got her litter box set up quickly, and then brought her into the house and released the door. She sauntered out, cool and collected, and began to explore. Within a half hour she was resting happily on Attila’s chair, queen of the world once again. She likes the little house in the city.
DSCF3249 Mist Sept 1

Day Two Monday, September 2, 2013

We are doing all the renovation work on the little house in the city ourselves. We have little experience, and have to teach ourselves how to do most of the work involved. It is pretty slow going, because a lot of what we are doing is for the first time, with a lot of trial and error. And we live a long way away, and have little time off at work to devote to renovations. Still, we do eventually get the job done, and we do it well. We are just slow. I would not say we enjoy doing this work, but we do enjoy the end result, and the feeling of accomplishment that results from our efforts. As for the “sweat equity” aspect of the little house, financially we will not recoup our time and effort. We could recoup the money spent on the renovations, if we sold the little house in the city. But we like it at the little house, and hope to live here someday. This is not a “house flipping” project, it is a labour of love. We are investing in ourselves, in more ways than one, in working on this house.

Day Two Monday: Bathroom Starting Point: On our last visit Attila installed part of the subfloor, as well as a one inch temporary plywood toilet pedestal, and the toilet. The toilet as seen here was temporarily installed, and would have to come out again to install the flooring. Note, this is one tiny teeny bathroom, measuring 5 feet by 6 feet. Note also, the bathtub tap has leaked since we first turned on the water after buying the house. In the picture you can see a blue tote on the left, which is usually a quarter full after a night of dripping. I will be very glad indeed see the last drip dripping out of that tap! It has been dripping for three years!
DSCF3250 bathroom Sept 1
Day Two Monday: Bathroom subfloor installation is completed. Note that the mahogany subfloor around the toilet is brand new wood, while back towards the window the mahogany subfloor is darkened and weathered. We purchased the weathered mahogany subfloor from the lumber yard. Originally it had been purchased and delivered to a different customer. The customer stored it out of doors and then decided to return it to the lumber yard. We purchased it at a very reasonable price. The wood is sound, it just doesn’t look pretty. Since it goes underneath the actual flooring, we don’t care how weathered it looks, as long as it is up to the job at hand!
DSCF3252 bathroom sept 1
Day Two Monday: What Attila Did. After removing the toilet and temporary plywood toilet pedestal, Attila proceeded to install the new pine floor. We purchased this 1×6 red pine on a similar deal to the mahogany subfloor. The flooring had been sitting in the lumber yard for many years. Much of it is weathered and stained, but all of it is sound. For a reasonable price we purchased enough the install pine flooring in the entire little house, except the living room. Since the pine flooring isn’t all that pretty, we are going to paint it white, in the bathroom and throughout the entire house. The bathroom floor is the first bit of this pine flooring to be installed. I am very pleased with it. We will paint it white with floor paint.
DSCF3254 bathroom sept 2

Day Three Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day Three Tuesday: After Attila installed the new pine floor in the bathroom, I cut up the cardboard box that the toilet had come in and spread a protective layer of cardboard over the floor to protect it during the rest of the renovation process.
DSCF3256 bathroom sept 2

Attila installed sound damping insulation in the interior walls surrounding the tub, and put a coat of primer on the new pine bathroom floor. While waiting for it to dry we went shopping. The tub surround, paint, duct work for the ceiling fan, electric parts for the rewiring, and sundry other materials for the renovation were purchased. We also spent a lot of time at the Restore, purchasing a breaker for the electric panel and a huge assortment of “stuff”, including new white ceramic knobs for the hall closet at the little house in the city.

After arriving home, Attila unpacked the new tub, which we carried to the bathroom, ready to install. Since the installation package we purchased did not include a vital part, Attila had to stop the project, ready to resume after a trip to the building centre on the morrow. Just as well, because it was after 11:00 p.m., and we were both very tired.

Day Three Tuesday: Attila installed sound damping insulation around the tub area, and applied a coat of primer to the red pine floor. Later in the day, after the primer dried, we carried the new tub into the bathroom. Missing a part to install, stores all closed for the day, so we will be back at it tomorrow.
DSCF3260 bathroom floor primer tub

I discovered the hard way that one must follow the manufacturers instructions when purchasing new stainless steel pots and pans. I did not wash the new large pot thoroughly enough before preparing macaroni and cheese for dinner. The finished dish tasted heavily metallic and had to be thrown away. I got all the new pans out of the cupboard and scrubbed them thoroughly, then tested one by boiling water in it. We tasted the water after it cooled and there was no metallic taste.

Day Four Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Today we are working on getting the tub in. I was able to have a bath, and wash my hair, last Saturday! Feeling truly grungy now, and really looking forward to having the tub installed. I am refusing to leave the house again, and be seen in public, until the tub is in, and I’ve had a bath and washed my hair! Hopefully today will be the day.

Attila has had to remove all the wiring in the bathroom, all to be replaced and rerouted. The former renovations in this house were incredibly bad, one bad easy-way-out decision after another. The bathroom will be up to code and all new; when we are done. It will probably take us the whole two weeks to get the bathroom to rights, and I honestly do not think we will have enough time to finish it during this holiday. Nor do I think we will get around to getting a front porch on the house during this vacation. Still, a working bathroom, even it isn’t completely finished, will be a wonderful luxury!

While Attila works on the wiring and plumbing, one man jobs for which he demands no help, I do little things, like install cup hooks and light globes, lots of little pesky stuff that only takes a little effort to make a big difference in comfort.

We are enjoying tomatoes from the garden, hundreds of them! I only planted five plants and we have had about 6 quarts since we got here. We offered the neighbours all the ripe tomatoes when we aren’t here, and they said that they have been picking all kinds of them over the last two weeks of August. What a bountiful harvest, for under $2.00 for a tray of very sickly looking plants.

A big discovery is Coronation grapes, they are seedless, grown by James Bartkiw Produce in Jordan Station, Ontario, and taste like Concords. I found them at a No Frills grocery store, but when I went back for more they were sold out. I look for them every year now, because we really like them, and they are grown in the province where we live.

The end of the day is approaching. Attila, after many challenges related to an uneven floor, finally got the tub installed and levelled. I tested it out by taking a much needed bath, and washed my hair. The drain leaks a bit, so that will need to be rectified, but otherwise it seems to work very well. It is such a relief to be clean!

Day Five, Thursday, September 5, 2013

A misery of a day on the renovation front. Attila managed to install cement board on two walls around the tub, and remove all the bathroom wiring. He rewired the some circuits, splitting the living room and bedrooms off, so that they are on separate circuits from the bathroom. The wiring is too big a job for just one day, so he will be back at it tomorrow.

Here we are, with the insulation and cement board installed around the tub. The insulation around the plumbing has been left uncovered, because we still need to replace the cartridge and fixtures, which will require an acetylene torch to accomplish. Lares will be loaning us that equipment over the weekend. All I have to do now is use stick pins to cover the insulation with plastic and we can bath. Tonight is the night!!
DSCF3269 duroc tub

The new tub drain leaks, due to an issue with the old metal drain pipe. We seem to be moving backwards on this, as we began the project with only the tap leaking. Now the tap and the drain leak! Attila thinks to replace the drain pipe, across the house and right back to the sewer pipe. This will take several days.

Day Six, Friday, September 6, 2013

This morning I suggested we slightly notch the wood around the metal sewage pipe to allow a bit of give to it, and see if that resolved the problem. It did. That took ten minutes, better than two days. The metal drain pipe can be replaced at a later date, if it is ever replaced. It is sound, and works well.

We are in need of gruntlement! We are both suffering from disgruntlement at the moment.

We haven’t had a break from renovating since we arrived, taking time only for quick and easy meals, then back at it, from just after breakfast till the time we lie down to sleep.

I need a break, something that remotely smacks of “vacation”; even if only for a day. Shopping for renovation materials is not a balancing break for me. We are not pacing ourselves in such a way that I can find a balance. Nothing for it but to keep trying to find that balance!

The bathroom is definitely the most intrusive, high pressure, and miserable renovation so far. We need to use the bathroom while we are renovating it. The old plumbing was archaic and the 1970s renovation only served to magnify the original problems. Trying to update things to code is very challenging and extremely time consuming.

I look longingly out the window at the beautiful sunny day, as we plod along, in and out of the basement, working on the plumbing. At the end of the day, everything looks just the way it did the when we started in the morning! That is the way of it when working on things like wiring and plumbing, the stuff that has to be done right, and will be hidden away behind the walls.

Why is it you can never find a good gruntle when you really need it!

As a partial remedy to the disgruntlement, I cooked a lovely meal in our new pots and pans. No metallic taste at all could be detected in the food, so the thorough washing recommended by the manufacturer worked as it should have. We enjoyed corn, potatoes and some lovely sausages. Snacks were blueberries and Coronation grapes, which were once more available in the grocery store this morning, a pleasant surprise.

Today Attila spent his time installing the new electrical boxes in the bathroom and new drain pipes from the bathroom tub. That fixes the leak from the tub drain! His efforts have not resulted in any visible progress, but have laid the groundwork for a perfectly functioning bathroom. That is one of the two leaks resolved.

The other leak, the leaking tub tap, will be resolved when Lares brings us his soldering equipment. Once we have that the rest of the cement board can be installed, the old but fixtures removed and the new soldered onto the pipes. It will be a few more days before all that gets under way.

In the meantime, I can pin up my plastic bags to protect the new insulation from splashes, and we can each have a leisurely bath this evening. I can feel the hot soothing water already… we have even remembered to turn the hot water on, after 7 p.m. of course, when the electricity is cheaper.

The new GFIC plug and light fixture. This doesn’t look like much, but half the house had to be rewired to get this little number working as it should!
DSCF3274 gfic receptacle

I was glad when the wiring, and the day, came to a successful close!

Day Seven, Saturday, September 7, 2013

Lares and Terra arrived mid-morning, with lots of energy and equipment. Lares was a dynamo of productivity. He used the acetylene torch to prepare the tub and shower plumbing for fixture installation, and installed most of the drywall in the bathroom. He and Attila worked hard most of the day, and the results were visible!

The tub and shower plumbing prepared for fixture installation, and the drywall installed! Things are beginning to visibly change.
DSCF3297 drywall installed

Today is Tink’s fourth birthday! What a big girl she is now! Luna called Terra via Facetime, so we all got to talk with Tink on her Birthday, since Terra and Lares were at ours to help with the bathroom renovation. I had mailed a card and gift, and Luna said they had arrived. Tink looked happy and was her usual spirited self, full of fun. We also got to say hello to Imp and Elf. The Grandbabies are not babies anymore!

And so this concludes the first week of our holidays, done and dusted. We worked really hard all week, every day, from just after breakfast till we went to bed each night. The project isn’t finished yet, but we have made progress!

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I am so impressed with your work ethic and knowledge, even if it is first-time doing it. Amazing progress you have made. It will make your enjoyment of the loo all the more, knowing you did all bits of work yourselves. Our bathroom is the same size as yours only configured slightly differently… and that is our “large” bathroom. We have a smaller sized half-bath upstairs which Paul renovated all by himself about 13 years ago.

Joan Lansberry

It’s amazing to see the work you are doing on that bathroom. It is coming along wonderfully.