Sweat Equity: How we spent our autumn vacation… again!
The Bathroom Renovation
Day One Sunday, September 1, 2013
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 Three Tuesday, September 3, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!