A Small Roof and a Window

You may remember that when we demo'd the bathroom just after Halloween, we discovered that the roof was leaking. (Yes, it's the last of the old roof on the house at this point.) No big deal. We had plenty of roofing leftover from our main house roof job several years ago - enough to do that one small section.

And just two weekends ago Timmy, our roofer/carpenter extraordinaire, came over to tackle the job. It didn't take long, just a few hours and the old roof was off and the new roof was on. Trouble was, there was no problem with that old roof. The problem, Timmy guessed, was that water was leaking through one of our bedroom windows... one of our crooked bedroom windows.

The window hadn't been installed crookedly. It had been installed straight and level in a crooked house. Then, we lifted the house to put in the basement and leveled it when it came back down on its new foundation. The once crooked house became level and the once straight window became crooked. And apparently, it had been leaking water into the downstairs bathroom ever since.

Last weekend, Mike remedied the problem by removing the window, sticking down some ice and water, and re-installing the window straight and level.

Eventually, that window will become a door when we build another bathroom atop the downstairs bathroom... and I hate to do to re-do... but at this point, that project is on major hold and we can't have water leakage for years and years.

In the past couple weeks we also had the opportunity to re-visit Lowes and their corner shower enclosures. After experiencing the ones at Home Depot, we both agreed that the Lowes options, though more costly, were much sturdier. We decided on a model, but couldn't purchase at that time since we were pressed for time and driving in a honda civic. (Let's see you fit a 36" corner shower enclosure in a honda civic!)

Purchasing at this point will most likely be after the holiday. Although we will be getting the toilet at the 'ol HD this week, along with some other needed items.

Still on the needs list - shower fixtures, flooring, and a window.

I'm thinking a different size window - maybe half the size of what we have in there now. The current window is right next to the toilet, overlooking the neighbor's house. "Hello - I'm pooping!"
I've always hated that... so you have to keep the shade down all the time... and it's super-dark. Mike wants to keep the same window hole to make things easier, but I'd rather put a smaller window up higher, using half the hole if you will, so at least nobody can see you when you're seated.

Aside from that, it's just all the building materials and plumbing materials. I doubt we're going to futz with the electrical. Maybe move some things around, but I don't see it being a huge major deal.

Watch out world - second bathroom in 2013!

Some Black Friday Advice for Retailers

Just a few short weeks ago we made a trip to Lowes, but came home unsatisfied. (Read all about it.) So, with Black Friday just around the corner, we saved ourselves a Home Depot shopping trip for the weekend after Thanksgiving. In preparation, I did some showrooming at the store just before Thanksgiving, and found that they had a toilet and a stand up shower that I liked for prices within our budget. Awesome.

Saturday after Thanksgiving, we packed up the kids and headed out to the Home Depot with full intent to blow $700-$900 and light our Home Depot credit card ablaze with red hot deals.

We get there - I pick out some new christmas lights to replace some that had gone out on me this year. (If I'm paying for big purchases on my card and already getting 0% financing for 12mo's, why not?) I also find a faucet on sale that I decide I will use to replace the more expensive one we previously purchased at Lowes. So far, so good.

Mike is already in the shower section. I left him there earlier after pointing out the shower I like, which is on display and priced at $515. But when I return to him with my cart already half full of goodies, the problems begin.

He doesn't like that stand up shower kit - says it's too flimsy and he feels like he can bend the walls with just a firm bump. After a short argument, we decide to look for it anyway. For the price, we'll give it a shot. Maybe it's just poorly assembled in the display.

There's no box. We can't find the item anywhere. An HD associate is actually nearby and we ask him to look for us. Come to find out that this item is no longer available and has been discontinued - no other store even has it. The discounted $515 price was a final closeout from who-knows how long ago.

Now we're getting really aggravated. The kids haven't eaten dinner. We haven't eaten dinner. It's getting late and there we are in the aisle trying to decide what to do about this shower situation. There's another stand up shower kit that they have plenty of... it's the right size and everything. Trouble is, the display is 10' over our heads. Yes, there's a standup shower kit assembled and displayed 10' up. That one's even less expensive, but Mike doesn't want to buy it without experiencing the display, which he can't because for some reason some ding dong thought it was a good idea to put a display waaaaaaay up on a shelf that nobody can access.

Mike wants to go back to Lowes. I, who have already picked out several items with a toilet yet to go, want to buy something here and now so I can get my 0% financing for 12mo's and Black Friday pricing on my faucet and lights.

But I'm also tired, hungry, and not in the mood to argue. Especially with a tired and hungry 3 1/2 year old and 3 1/2 month old in tow. "If we don't get a shower, we're not getting anything," I finally exclaimed. "Come on, let's go put all this stuff back."

And we did.

And as we're walking out of that place with the empty cart full of kids, I'm thinking to myself, I'm a customer who came into this store with the intent to spend around $800 on the store charge card and now I'm walking out with nothing because of improper displays. (The first being the discontinued kit, which was still on display long after they had all been sold. The second being the replacement kit, which was displayed so high up that we couldn't look at it.)

So here we are, over a week later, and Mike and I are still to flustered to discuss it. We still need to go back to the HD for the toilet. The great faucet prices will have probably passed by now. But we have no idea what to do about the shower kit. Back to Lowes, I suppose? There are some local stores we could try, but I hate to say it, I imagine that they will be much more expensive.

Breaking Bath

Alright, so maybe that's the title I should have used back on our post-halloween-party bathroom breakdown blog. But I just now thought of it and feel like it's just too cute not to publish, even a little late.

So, how goes the bath battle? Well, in our last episode, Mike had just begun installation of a new subfloor. Last weekend, he finished that subfloor with scrap pieces of wood we already had in stock. Sure that meant making his own tongues and grooves, but it worked out perfectly. (And now we don't have any additional costs and extra pieces that we probably won't use for anything else.)

Sunday, we started our fixture shopping at the local Lowes. Our main reason for picking the Lowes over our usual Home Depot - vanities. In our last bathroom remodel, we were both completely unsatisfied with the DeepHo's selection of vanities. They were expensive. They were ugly. And few came with a sink top. (For that job, we were lucky to find an inexpensive open-box model at the HD that we really loved - sink included on that one!)

Lowes did not disappoint in the vanity department. We found a small vanity, nice modern styled wood cabinet, with sink and mirror included. $200. Awesome.

The trouble came when we went to look at stand-up showers and toilets. In the shower department, we were immediately drawn to the space saving corner units. (And I use the word units lightly.) You had to purchase the bottom separately from each side and separately from a glass door. Add it all together and a full stand up shower would cost about $700. Our tub kit for our basement bathroom from Home Depot only cost about $450. Why wasn't the stand-up shower sold as a kit? Additionally, the signage was confusing and it was difficult to tell which prices went with which models. We were not satisfied and did not make any shower purchase.

It was the same story with the toilet... kind of. They had plenty of those - and all the parts came in one box, thank god. However the Kohlers seemed pricey to me at around $200. (That's the brand we have downstairs and have been thus far satisfied with it.) We did not make a toilet purchase either.

We did select a faucet for the sink... but since we'll be going to the DeepHo to check out showers and toilets there, I may take a comparative look at their faucets and return the Lowes one. (It's a no-name brand too - I would much prefer a Moen or something like that if prices are comparable.)

A somewhat frustrating trip overall, yes. But we're both very happy with the vanity, so I still consider it a success.

Today I did some homework over at the HD during my lunch break. They had a stand-up corner shower kit that I liked - and that seemed well constructed - for $515. Their Kohler toilet was $138. I didn't have time to look at the faucets, but did snap some pics of the shower & toilet info sheets with my iPhone so we could measure.

2nd Annual Christmas bath purchasing comes again! If we keep a similar pace as last year, we should have an upstairs bath by March. (Much less to this one - hence the shorter time estimate.)

Starting the Holiday Season with a Bang

It was the morning after our 10th Anniversary Annual Halloween Party. Mike and I cleaned up, took down all the decor, ate some food, and then set our sights on the dreaded bathroom... that last remnant from the house as we bought it in 2004. Demo day had finally, thankfully, arrived.

The goal of the day was to remove everything - fixtures, walls, flooring... everything. I removed those few items I wanted to keep and Mike started in on the demo with a few choice hammer blows to the shower wall.

And then my camera died. (Too many Halloween party pics.) Mike continued on as I kept on post-halloween cleaning. (Although I did help carry out some large pieces of wall to the truck that wouldn't fit out the bathroom window where we were shoveling and throwing the rest.) In the midst of one of these trips to the truck, a single pink tile fell off the wall piece and hit me on the head. I thought to myself, "I should save one of these tiles," picked it up, and kept it.

Once most of the walls were down, the tub had to be removed. The cast iron tub. Mike's original plan was to bust it up. This proved impossible. Repeated blows with the hammer barely dented the green coating. These things were made to last forever... and ever. By some fit of amazing strength, Mike was able to turn it up on it's side. Then, we used a hand-truck and a couple straps to carefully wheel it out of the house and onto the porch. (Where it still sits.)

The breaking of the green sink and toilet must have been much more dramatic. But, unfortunately, I missed that too. I was picking up the kiddos by that time in the late afternoon. Mike said they both just shattered. I can only imagine!

When I returned home with the kids, the majority of the work was done. Mike was just finishing up demo on the floor. I took some pictures with my camera, now charged.


Back wall and floor


Other wall, window


The old pink and green monstrosity bathroom was no more. With no tub in there, the room actually looked much bigger. I was surprised. We also discovered that the roof was leaking! In not one, but two places! Rain dripped right onto the floor. (Leaky roof, leaky pipes....) Luckily for us, we have enough roofing leftover from doing the main house a few years ago to cover this small area of space. That will be our next order of business, before any drywalling can be done.

In the following days, Mike put down one sheet of plywood that we already had in stock, steadying at least a portion of the floor. As you can see, we have just a bit more to cover.

In the days following that, the chimney guys came back and finished the chimney! To prepare for our inspection, Mike re-organized and moved all the "combustibles" from the wood stove area in the basement and placed them over by the furnace and oil tank... what will be their final resting place. (This area will be a utility room once the basement is fully finished.)

If you focus on the top of this photo, you'll see Mike's genius idea for storing long pieces of wood and trim board... a couple wooden shelves attached to the ceiling. Perfect for keeping all of that stuff out of the way!

The rest of the stuff he managed to condense to three shelving units - carpentry tools, paint, plumbing and electrical supplies, drywall supplies, and misc.

That half of the basement looks pretty amazingly clean, doesn't it?

And the work paid off! We were inspected and approved in about 30 seconds. Trouble came when Mike tried to call the fire department to come and inspect the stove. "You don't have a permit," they said. Mike replied, "Yes we do, a building permit and it was just signed off on." Come to find out, we needed some special stove permit? Which the town never told us about? Yesterday being Veteran's Day, Mike couldn't get it all sorted out. The secretary was out. He'll try to call again on Thursday. It's always something!

Oh, and for those of you who may have missed our basement bathroom closet door install, which happened right before the party, here ya go! Sometime we'll have to stain these bad boys...

Sandy Installations

Hurricane Sandy for us was little more then a wind storm. A wind storm of less then epic proportions, I might add. Nevertheless, media hype closed down just about every school and business in the area, leaving Mike and I with an extra day off.

Hmmm, let's see. How to spend an extra day off? Install some stuff?! Brilliant idea. We started with the new over-the-stove microwave we purchased from some friends of ours. (They purchased an entire set of gently used appliances, but did not need the microwave.) We didn't have the parts yet to be able to install the vent, which will eventually pull air from over the stove and push it outside, but there was no reason not to install the microwave itself and start using the microwave functions.


After a lot of lifting and drilling and figuring with the included template, the thing was in! The last part to complete our new kitchen puzzle. Looks awesome! And unlike our old countertop microwave, this one fits and spins our large plates and everything. (Oooooo!) It even has a preset button specifically for "Chicken Nuggets." (Ahhhhhhh!) *Why chicken nuggets? Who suggested that? I understand the "Popcorn," "Defrost," "Steam Vegetables," etc. But chicken nuggets of all things? I would have put frozen pizza waaaay at the top of my own "microwave present items" list.

I digress.

With the microwave in place, Mike went downstairs and installed the basement bathroom closet doors! Yippee! But they're not stained yet. Ohhh. I had previously made a deal with him that I didn't require the doors stained before our annual halloween party, just installed. So I'm happy!

And with those items complete, we were done. We actually accomplished everything we'd wanted to do over the weekend, plus plus. That never happens. And we weren't about to start any new and huge projects either... that's for after the Halloween Party.

Destruction... here we come!

The Woodshed

No, we're not talking about that famous bar in Brewster. (With the rockinest Halloween party ever, I might add.) We're talking about a shed in which to place wood... Which we have a lot of since Nstar removed the locust from the front yard. Mike decided build one yesterday.

But what of Sandy, large storm affecting out area with high winds today? Well, unlike last year (Irene) there was very little we needed to do to prepare. Tree is down. Kitchen roof is done. All we had to do was to clean the yard, hit the dump, and secure and stow everything on the farmers porch. It's like we have an Easy button or something. "That was easy."

And Mike wanted to build his shed with some free plywood he obtained. I asked him if he could finish the project in one day. (How many unfinished projects do we have in progress now?) well, mike said he could do it and that he'd pay for the wood he needed with Home Depot returns. A project that could be finished in an afternoon and cost next to nothing? Could such a thing even exist?!

I must admit, mike did not disappoint. He built a 16' wood shed that reminded me of a bus stop. (It was almost a shame to put wood in it. I wanted to put in a bench and a schedule.) And he finished it in plenty of time to even load it up with all the wood.

His design was pretty nifty. He built it in the shelter of the hill and used pallets for the floor. That way, once they rot out (an eventuality with wood and ground contact) he can simply replace with more free pallets.

With us both off due to the storm today, mike will be tackling the basement closet doors at long last!


The guys were not roofing as I thought they were in my last post. Mike had just been up there tarping in preparation for the upcoming storms. Storms that ended by the weekend, with enough time and warm temps on Sunday for the guys to complete the entire job!

Mike even managed to give the trim a coat of paint and add siding to the itty bitty portion of wall where the kitchen roof meets the mudroom.

Unfortunately, the job encompassed the entire day, leaving no time to stain the basement bathroom closet doors. Oh well. Perhaps this weekend?

Winter Prep

It's cold. And by my definition of cold, I mean below 70 degrees. The leaves are turning color... the Halloween decorations are up... and the Weather Channel is talking about naming snow storms with name choices including: Athena, Draco, and Maleficent. Ok, so maybe I added Maleficent. (Maybe I should be on the naming committee.)

All this changing of the seasons means it's high time for some winter prep around the house. First thing's first - the kitchen roof. Last weekend, as you recall, we were supposed to be roofing. Well, turned out to be rainy and windy. Foiled again. However, the past two days it's been sunny and in the 60's. Perfect roofing weather. So, the guys have been working in the evening.... in fact, they're working right now as I type. And I hope they plan on finishing tonight because it's supposed to rain tomorrow and the next day. Thunderstorms. Wind. Lovely.

The chimney would be second priority. Wouldn't you know, the guys were supposed to come out and finish that this past Monday. Didn't end up happening for reasons unknown. We are still waiting for the rescheduling call, as we're just 10 feet away from completion on that one. Mike was so excited, he even got a log splitter and split all that locust wood we got from the Nstar fallen tree in the front yard. Oh well, no stove today Senor Lumberjack Breakfast.

Third priority? Well, while we've got chimneys (chimnies?) on the brain, Mike decided to help out our poor old furnace chimney so it could possibly survive another winter. (This one he built years ago, on his own, before having any knowledge of proper chimney construction. It's a bit of a hack job.) Today, having accidentally scheduled a Thursday off a week prior to me returning to work, Mike decided to really have a look at the thing. And wouldn't you know, upon closer inspection, the chimney had some huge hole in it that was allowing sand to enter whenever it rained. Nearly the entire exhaust was full of sand. No wonder the thing ran like poop and made loud noises whenever it kicked on.

As Mike worked to clear that mess and fix the hole, he discovered dead spiders all over the place and more trying to enter through the same orifice. (Yay vocab!) Great. Sand in the furnace exhaust and another grand entrance for the wolf spiders.

He ran to the chimney store, picked up another couple pieces of pipe and replaced the entire lower portion of the stove exhaust and chimney. Already the thing is running quieter, and hopefully more efficiently too. With a new baby around, we've already had the heat on for nearly two weeks and I can feel the upcoming disturbance in the monetary force... oil is not cheap these days.

Still on the agenda - staining the basement closet doors. That must be done before our Halloween party. (Or bust!) Window bottoms would be nice too... we'll see how things go in the next two weeks!

Bought a Bunch of Bottoms... Say That 5 Times Fast

We ordered and received our rubber roofing for over the kitchen! And of course, as if on cue, the weather changed from near 70's to mid-50's. Oh, and it's been raining every weekend, thus delaying any possibility of installation.

This week, we've again scheduled installation for Saturday and Sunday. So far, the weather looks good. Partly cloudy, near 60. Of course, it's only Wednesday and it is New England. Anything could happen within the next few days.

What's that got to do with buying a bunch of bottoms? Well, nothing. Just had to get that roof update out of the way.

Now. On Monday I had Mike back downstairs working on basement bathroom trim. He completed the door trim, closet door trim, and window trim!

Note that this time around, nothing has been pre-stained. That's due to the difficulty of the cuts and fit of most of this trim. The doors were especially difficult, as our wall is thicker then the average door width. Mike had to create custom trim to work with the pre-hung door. Then, of course, the pocket door required more custom trim work. The windows, as you can see, are especially tight to the closet. Those were a tight squeeze. And since traditional window bottom trim is very thick, Mike decided to make custom, thin window bottom trim out of scrap side-trim pieces. It looks great - but took all day to accomplish.

Late in the day, Mike ran out of trim half way through the job and needed to hit the DeepHo for more. I jumped on the opportunity to remind him that we desperately needed bottoms throughout the house. Window bottoms.

Don't ask me why, but every time we trim windows, we forget the bottom trim piece. The large kitchen window we installed two years ago - no bottom. The mudroom windows we installed four or five years ago - no bottoms. The office windows we installed like the first year we were in the house - NO BOTTOMS! Something's seriously wrong with the two of us.

So I took this opportunity to remind Mike to buy a bunch of bottoms. And, I said, Our bedroom closet needs trim. And, the attic entrances need trim. Oh, he's so happy to have me around to remind him of such things. Because he just loves to trim stuff. But once it's done, it's done! No use waiting any more years to finish these things.

Tuesday night, Mike began the laborious task of staining everything - in place. (Hence all the painters tape.) He should begin on the doors tonight. Once those are finished, we can complete those other small trim jobs - the window bottoms, the upstairs closet, the attic entrances.

Oh, and have I mentioned our annual Halloween party? Though the day is always a big one that we look forward to, the day after is almost an even more exciting this year. The day after the Halloween party - that will be 11/4 - we will be demolishing the upstairs bathroom. With the party over and both kids already out of the house, it's the best time to grab up a hammer and whack away. I can't wait.


Mission organization continues... and in fact, I think I may be done with the basement! Or, at least with my stuff  in the basement. (I'm not reorganizing Mike's stuff. It's just a disaster in his areas and I refuse to be aggravated with cleaning that.)

Yesterday I took on the bins in the bathroom closet. Two were filled mostly with wrapping and present materials, so I started there, separating the bags from the tissue from the ribbons. And that led to the thought, "Hmm, I have more bags and tissue and ribbons in other bins under the basement stairs." So I pulled those out and separated everything: bags, tissue, ribbons, boxes, and wrapping paper. (And of course - trash, of which there was a ton.)

So once all the wrapping material was straight, I got to fixing up all the christmas boxes and other bins under the stairs. They were all messed up after I had torn out all the bulk t.p. and paper towels and diapers to put them in the new basement bathroom closet.

After I reorganized and replaced all the boxes and bins under the stairs, I found I had room for more stuff! So I went around the basement, gathered up anything that could be considered "mine" (anything not a tool, a building material, or parts) and incorporated it under the stairs.

Here is the result... And there's still room for more stuff if necessary.

And here's the closet so far - completely organized except for those few tools you see there on the third shelf. There's still more room here too - mostly in the small drawers underneath the shelves. As we demolish and re-do the upstairs bathroom, there will be more moving and re-moving of stuff too, so additional space is a good thing.

Take That, Locust

Last year during hurricane Irene, a huge branch fell off our front yard locust tree, knocking out our power for 6 days. Compounding the problem, Nstar was lax in their response to the problem, despite our poor two year old, who had the stomach flu through half of the outage. Nstar continued to mark the job as "completed" when in fact it wasn't. We were still in the dark when the rest of the town... and the rest of the street were on. Mike and I were livid. Mike told them over the phone, "I want you to come out here after this is all over and remove this tree. You owe us that."

Just over a year later, they did in fact make good on that promise.

When I saw the trucks arrive in front of our house, I was ecstatic. I grabbed my camera, pulled up a chair on the porch, and enjoyed the show - Sweet revenge on that ugly, ugly pain in the butt tree.

The "Before" as the trucks have just arrived.

Boom man cuts the low branches first

Moving up, cutting branches

Time to give this guy a hair cut

Cutting and dropping

Up to the tippy top

Carrying down the branches

Dopping branches

Tree's looking uglier than ever

There goes the top

Bringing it down to size

Halfway there

Now for the big logs

Last few logs

Time to drop it!

Finishing the incision


And it's down!

We elected to keep the wood - it will be lots of good firewood after it's seasoned, and after we get the wood stove installed of course.

And what a nice view in the front yard without that ugly thing.

And Up...

The chimney crew was back on the job Monday evening - completing another 10 feet.

One more evening and the chimney will be complete! Wow. Then, just connect up the wood stove, get everything inspected, and light a fire... just in time for fall.

Downstairs in the basement bathroom, we've made a little progress here and there. Monday, (before the chimney guys arrived) Mike hooked up all the outlets and the closet light. I continue to pick away at closet organizing whenever I get a free moment. We still need to stain all the doors, install the closet doors, and complete trim on all doors. After that - window trim. And then it's done. Wow again. Strong words. "Done." I don't hear myself saying that very often!

Going Up and Going Down

Amazing what the impending end of summer can accomplish for you. In our case, we had a visit on Sunday from Timmy, our carpenter. He was all set and ready to build those front steps. Wow. Ok. Mike dug out the rest of the decking planks from the basement, some lumber lock screws, and some joist hangers, and we were ready to rock - no additional purchases needed.

A few quick hours later and we had the stairs we'd been waiting for... for four years. (Hard to believe we started this porch four years ago, aint it?)

Next up, we'll have to purchase the two railings, two posts, and six 6" post end caps. I think I'm giving up on my dream of having solar lit post end caps. They just don't exist in 6" for a reasonable price. (4" solar lit ones are under $20 at the DeepHo - but we don't have 4" posts.) I just want ye-old regular end caps to finish off this job! Those plus a little bit more trim... a little stain on these front steps... a little bit more lattice work... and this job is done.

While Timmy was over, Mike talked to him about the kitchen roof. As you'll recall, it's been tarped since March when we discovered that it was leaking on the back wall when we were re-re-doing the kitchen in early spring. Well, needless to say it can't be tarped all winter. The tarp is in fact, fading fast as you can imagine. So Timmy took some measurements and he'll see if he can order the roofing through his work. He'll be getting back to us on that - the roof job will need to be completed before weather gets cold. Rubber roof cannot be done under 50 degrees. It's scientifically impossible.

Now that we've gone down (stairs), we move on to up - the chimney. The chimney guys will be back this Friday night and plan to go up another 10 feet. So, in preparation, Mike loaded the scaffolding with blocks and removed the siding from another 10' up the house.

Mikey on the scaffolding

Mike tears off siding up another 10 feet.
 Meanwhile, in the basement, Mike cemented in the top part of the chimney hook up (or whatever you call it.) And as for me... in the bathroom... my closet organizer arrived on Monday, but Mike did not have an opportunity to install it. I must admit, I'm dying to organize. I'm hoping he'll be able to do it tonight, since tomorrow we'll be having friends over and Friday night is chimney night. BUSY!

Up, Up, and Up Some More

Mike successfully exchanged the chimney liners and the guys were back to work last night, 6pm to 9pm. This time, they were up to house level and had to cut into the old siding to get the blocks right up against the house.

You'll see that the hole has finally been filled. (No more rain storm cave-ins and re-digs.) Also, you'll see that the guys are almost up to the old hole in the wall... This, we cut into the house when we were first renovating and imagined that we'd put a fireplace or wood stove in the living room. Now, of course, we're going in a different direction with the stove in the basement. The living room hole has long since been filled and covered on the inside of the house - and now it's about to be covered on the outside.

Next session, more cutting... more blocks... and so on and so forth right up to the top of the house.