Archive for the 'bedrooms' Category

Drywall’n In The House Tonight

Getting back to where I left off last we had our electrical inspection and……wait for it…..we didn’t pass. Boo! Luckily it was just very minor things that could easily be added/fixed. There were two locations where the holes we drilled to run wiring in the 2×4 walls were 1″ from the edge of the stud instead of the 1 1/4″ required per code. Yes our inspector was nit picking over 1/4 of an inch! (But overall the two inspectors in our area are actually pretty good guys.) I guess next time we need to measure where the center is instead of eyeballing it. We were able to quickly fix this with some $.60 metal cover plates to keep screws or nails from hitting the wire. Just hammer them in over the thinner area and you’re good to go. They do make the drywall bulge out a little in those areas though (kind of a bummer) but our existing walls are so wavy it will fit right in!

The one other request the inspector had before he passed us to continue had to deal with smoke detectors. He was requiring that we add one to the master bedroom but noted that starting in 2012 a new state law was requiring them in every bedroom for existing homes also. So any future inspection we ever have in the home he could ask us to add them in the other two bedrooms and the basement. We ended up installing 6 new detectors when all was said and done. I was bummed our nice clean bedroom ceilings would be ruined by smoke detectors that would be an eye sore when you’re in the bed sleeping. So I searched around and found a slim smoke detector, Kidde’s Silhouette.

I love the way the look! Too bad they don't have a smoke and CO combo unit that looks like that. Flannel Man added old work round electrical boxes for the smoke detectors but I failed to tell him these new smoke detectors I bought were square. Whoops! I ended up being square to the walls in the master bedroom but in the two spare bedrooms they are at an angle. For now they are staying that way because the boxes are foamed in place.

To follow up the inspector had no issue with us not having two outlets in the tiny hallway/entry to our master bedroom and said that because one wall was existing there were exceptions to the 12′ rule. He said we had plenty of convenience outlets around the room and noted that we had more outlets in the new smaller master bedroom than we had originally in the bigger master bedroom so it was no big deal. Apparently he doesn’t whip out the tape measure to keep everyone to the 12′ rule like he does for the 1 1/4″ rule (above) because it is not a safety hazard. Makes sense to me. We’re glad we have practical and relatively easy going inspectors compared to nearby cities. I’m telling you the country is where it’s at!


The electrical inspector returned to pass us so we could start adding insulation to the walls. You can find some good tips for insulating around electrical with fiberglass batt here. Like I said before we used some kraft faced insulation we already had plus some new unfaced insulation which is significantly cheaper. Because we were adding visqueen (aka. poly sheeting) to the mix we thoroughly slashed any facing that was going under it.

We picked the 6mil thick visqueen which was unnecessarily thick but it was only a few bucks more than the 4mil so we figured why not. The 6 mil wasn’t that much harder to work with but the one benefit I do see to the 4 mil is that the thinner sheets are see through. Why is that beneficial? Well what we didn’t know having never used visqueen before is that you typically keep the plastic covering the windows until after you’ve drywalled, mudded, and painted saving you time from having to tape them off again and again. So our nice treetop views out the new windows will be covered up for a long time. : ( Not a big deal but it’s kind of depressing not being able to see outside in ¼ of my house.


First we moved all of the drywall from our screened in porch and garage which was a task in itself with 8×10′ pieces. The stairs from the garage were too tight of a bend so the person on the stairs had to lift their end over their head onto the stair railing, crawl under the piece while the other person held the free end, pick it back up and position themselves first through the small opening for the built in leading to the master closet.

The first area that got drywalled was the master closet which only need a few pieces.

At the last minute I convinced Flannel Man to switch the attic access to just inside our new closet. Originally it was in a spare bedroom closet but to get to the access all of the shelving and things in the closet needed to be moved. It’s always been a pain and we’re just using it for spare storage right now. This new location will mean nothing needs to be moved to access the attic. Flannel Man built up the sides with spare 2×10 pieces so that the insulation won’t fall out of the hatch when it’s open.

The old closet door.


With all of the drywall to hang Flannel Man and Papa Flannel went into overdrive. Papa Flannel would stop by the house and wake up Flannel Man early everyday and they would work on it for 1-2 hours before Flannel Man had to go to work. He also came over on weekends he was available and the three of us had a hanging party. OK well not a party but I can pretend if I want right?

We also tried a new to us product called Green Glue to help soundproof some key walls. This is not the right way to apply the glue (DON’T DO THIS!). We tried it on our first wall and it was a complete fail. I’m doing a separate post on soundproofing and the right ways to use Green Glue so stay tuned.

Two layers of drywall were also used on those key walls for better soundproofing. This is the wall between our master bathroom and the bedroom.

The backside of that wall.


The view of our living room was slowly changing. For the first time in months we couldn’t see from one end of our house to the other.

Next up our master bedroom exterior wall.

And finally the long wall between the master bedroom and the living room. This wall is another wall we soundproofed.

Outlets in the wall had to be kept out extra deep. The electrician oringally thought that was an error on our part until we explained one side had two sheets of 1/2″ drywall and the other only had one. Another good reason we hung our own boxes!

The second layer of drywall going up. Notice the seams of the first piece were caulked up with acoustical sealant.

The view of the master closet from the bedroom now that there is drywall.

This has been our makeshift door to and from the construction zone for months. Every piece of drywall was brought through here. It’s going to be a built in bookcase for the entry but for now it’s our super skinny doorway.

My corner of the master bedroom. Sorry Flannel Man I called it!

The same corner from the entry door. Notice the awesomely slim smoke detector.

This stuff is so expensive! I hope it works well.

The right way to apply Green Glue.


Yipee we finally got the living room side of the long wall done. The 10′ pieces were harder to handle but they make quick work of this +20′ wall. Less seams are always good.

The green drywall is started in the master bathroom.

master entry smk det


Things Are Taking Shape

You guys I have some more good news we have all of our walls framed up! Flannel Man has been getting up early almost everyday and working with his father on the house for a few hours before going to work. I’m so lucky to have such a dedicated husband and talented father in-law. Papa Flannel is amazingly fast at rough carpentry. He can knock out a full flight of stairs or a 20′ wall in no time flat. The guy is a machine. The new view from the entry is of the long wall between the living room and the master bedroom.

We’re also working on the second layer of plywood floor for the master bathroom.

The size of the new master closet.


We still have all of the electrical to do up here. The existing wiring is all run from the attic (see outlets hanging where the old living room wall was) so that means a lot of time spent in the attic rerouting/correcting that.

To redo the basement electrical we had to add this big junction box to the master bedroom. It still looks like a tangle of wire right now but eventually it will be covered by a double blank plate. We tried to put it at a height that will be hidden by the nightstand.


A better look at the master closet. It’s huge! See the hole in the ceiling and the diagonal piece of subfloor? That is where the old non-working fireplace was. I’m so glad I convinced Flannel Man to take it out instead of just boxing it in! The door on the right is to the master bedroom and the smaller hole on the left is the built-in bookcase in the entry we’re going to replace.

Looking through the built-in bookcase opening.

This 24″ wide space has really come in handy. It’s our new doorway for tools, supplies, and walking back and forth.


With the walls all up I took the time to tape down some of my furniture and layout plans to help visualize where everything will be…and to assure Flannel Man it will all fit OK. I knew it would work because I drew it up. ; ) Here’s a little tour:

When you enter the master bedroom there is a view of an upholstered chair and nightstand from the mini hallway into the space.

As you walk into the room you see a four post bed with windows and nightstands on either side.

Along the blank wall is long, low dresser with art above.

Turning around there is a small, slim TV hanging on the wall opposite the bed. The closet door is next to it and a hamper in the corner where the ladder is. (Entrance to the room is on the far left.) Check out the awesome light show!


Onto the closet. Now the closet is twice the size of the old walk-in closet but you have to keep in mind that I will no longer have a dresser because the master bedroom is smaller and there are more pathways that need to be kept clear. So we’re going to make a built-in closet system with drawers. It will really act as my dressing room. Which is exactly what I wanted (no not because I’m a girly girl with tons of clothes and shoes!) because Flannel Man works nights so he is sleeping when I get ready in the morning. It’s not a big deal in the summer when there is light filtering under the blinds but in the winter it is still pitch black in the morning and I use my old school cell phone as a nightlight to find what I need. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell if my socks are black or brown with that light and I’ll admit on a few of those rushed mornings I went to work with brown socks and black shoes. See I told you I was not a fashionista! Anyway with the dressing room I can close the door and turn on the light to get dressed in the morning without waking up FM.

The closet plan is still in flux but here is what I’m leaning toward. When you walk in the back wall has single hanging for long items, a bank of drawers with shelving above, and double hanging. In the corner is the built-in bookcase that faces the entry. There was a smaller version of one there before but we widened it and will be adding convenient drawers in the bottom. It puts the normally hard to reach corner space to better use.

To the right are some more drawers with the top drawer being a short jewelry drawer. Above is an open wall area for a jewelry cork board. Behind the door we might have deep shelves specifically fit for four of the large Rubbermaid bins we use for off season storage.

To the left is more double hanging and a hanging rod with shelving below for either shoes or bulky items. On the left over wall area we’ll try to squeeze in a tall shelving unit for shoes and accessories. It is also going to be lined up to be behind the same wall cavity of the TV so we can store our TV equipment out of the way in the closet.


Finally, there is the master bathroom off of the bedroom.

We Have Real Floors and Everything!

The electrician finally came to finish hooking up the basement electrical. We now have working lights in the basement people!! I can’t even begin to explain how awesome that is. Then the inspector came to approve everything so we could close the floors back up. The inspector was surprised when he found we had removed all of the floor layers instead of demoing the drywalled ceiling in the basement. Papa Flannel thought the same thing and we had to fight him on the idea of pulling up the floor. I guess we’re just strange. But upgrading to a better constructed all plywood floor that won’t squeak and is more stable sounded a lot nicer than re-drywalling 650sf of ceiling and keeping the old plywood/particle board floor in it’s less than stellar condition. Plus doing so gave us the change to try to even out the waves in the floor.

Lesson for the day: Just because something is typically done a certain way doesn’t necessarily make it the best way.

Originally the floors were ½” plywood with ½” of particle board on top. We were able to salvage and reuse a lot of the ½” plywood. There were a few areas were we didn’t cut away all of the plywood. Along the exterior walls we cut to the first floor joist unless we had to access the space and under the master closet we didn’t need to reach any utilities. In those areas we added some screws to help eliminate the squeaky floors. This meant our base layer had to stay ½” plywood then we topped it with ¾” tongue and groove exterior grade B finish plywood. Ideally the bottom layer would be ¾” to help span the joists but ½” + ¾” tongue and groove was sufficient over the floor joist spacing we have for the type of flooring we’ll be installing. If you aren’t sure check out the handy Deflect-o-lator here.

With everything set to go we could finally start using all of the plywood we had bought. After carrying it all in Flannel Man & I were balancing our way across the floor joists to measure what size we needed to cut them down to. We’ve been walking on exposed floor joists for over a month. The only way to turn on our basement lights or get to the master bathroom area was to walk across them. You think we’d be primed to be tight rope experts by now right? But earlier in the day FM stubbed his toe badly on the plastic boxspring corner (the big four post bed frame couldn’t fit in our makeshift master bedroom so the boxspring and mattress are on the floor). Cut to back to Flannel Man needing to walk +30 feet across opened floor joists and …CRASH!

Yup. Balancing on a floor joist with a still slighting numb stubbed toe is not a good idea. Flannel Man’s whole leg went through the ceiling below but he caught himself on the floor joist with his other thigh. He had a massive 6” long bruise on his inner thigh the next day. I’m sure the male readers are wondering…it was a close call but luckily nothing got smashed. ; )


How to fix uneven floors

I’ve heard of people using self leveling cement or asphalt shingles to level an existing subfloor but since we pulled up ours we only needed to level our floor joists themselves which made things much easier.

Before we put down any plywood down we double checked how level the floor joists were. We knew originally there were some dips in the floor that we were hoping to correct them as much as we could especially in the bathrooms. So we went to our trusty home improvement store and bought a sheet of plywood in every small thickness we could find. Then we cut them down to 1 ½” wide strips using the table saw at FM’s work (it’s so handy to be able to use big tools we don’t have at his work). We learned cutting flimsy 1/8” thick plywood is much easier when it’s stacked on top of another thicker piece of plywood.

One of the ways to forcing yourself into getting tasks done is to inconveniently place large objects in your way so that you eventually get sick of walking around them and do something about it. Here is the main artery of our house.

Bedrooms and what we someday hope to call a bathroom to the right. Kitchen, laundry, dining room (aka. box central), and living room to the right. Only working bathroom down the stairs. Yeah this trip hazard didn’t last there long.

With the strips cut we tried to decode the puzzle of what needed to go where. It was a lot of trial and error. Some places needed only one shim for a few feet others needed two or three shims that stopped at different lengths to taper down the ends. Where we had kept the base layer of plywood and it needed lifting we pulled the nails out so we could slide shims underneath.

Each layer was glued down with Loctite’s PL-400 adhesive.

We used all of the 1/8″ strips up and had to go buy and cut more before we could finish. There were a lot of the thicker strips left. Where we had less than gradual tapers in the strips we hit the corners with an orbital sander for a smooth transition between the floor joist and the fill in strips.

The corner the master bathroom is in was the worst. We think that corner of the house has settled slightly (due to some poor grading and having no gutters on the house for 35 years). We needed as much as 3/8″ thick strips in places!

Then we put down more adhesive along all of the floor joists for the plywood and nailed it down using long rim shank nails. For the best results you’re supposed to stand on either side of the spot you’re nailing to ensure everything is tight to the structure and help reduce squeaks in the floor.

In the bathrooms we wanted an even stronger floor so we used only new plywood and used screws instead of nails. They were placed every 6” around the edges and every 8” in the center. In the bathrooms we’re considering the future tile floor a permanent floor so burring screws under layers of glue and plywood was fine by us. Sophie wasn’t willing to let me get any good pictures but I thought it would be fun showing you a quick timeline. Papa Flannel calls her a cat because she always wants to know what you’re doing but we just call her curious. As usual I’ll give her a voice.


“Hey what’s up?!”

“What you don’t want to pay attention to me? OK I’ll walk over here.”

Sniff sniff sniff.

“Still working on that hey?”

“I’ll just mosey on over here for a little bit.”

“Third times the charm! Pet my big head please!”


The finished first layer of plywood in the master bathroom. The room is looking more finished everyday!

Ductwork & Plumbing Win

As soon as we had the floor up we started working on re-routing the ductwork. Though we are hiring out the plumbing and electrical I have experience working for mechanical contractors and can easily run ductwork myself. Just give me some sheet metal self-tapping hex screws and let me at it!

We needed to both add and re-route duct runs. Originally, there were only two runs for the master bedroom area; one under each window. With our new plan everything had to get moved. Unlike electrical or plumbing you can’t drill through floor joists with a 6” round duct you need to remove it back to the main and put it in a new floor cavity. That is why we went through all of the trouble to take up so much of the floor. Don’t get me started on those high velocity systems that can be drilled through floor joists. Just avoid those at all costs OK? Moving on.

Flannel Man had never worked with ductwork so our first duct run was kind of like Ductwork 101. We started with the easiest runs in the master bedroom where the floor cavities were relatively empty compared to the bathroom. The duct run under the south window was pretty straight forward.


Where we tapped into the main Flannel Man first tried a hole cutter that was in the ductwork aisle but all it did was dull and throw sparks. On the back of the package it clearly said for drywall only. So why was it being sold in the ductwork section? Who knows. For future reference the only ductwork hole cutter I’ve ever had good luck with uses a drill bit. With a dented circle in the main we turned to a spade bit and jigsaw for this connection. Then we added in a collar to connect the round to the main. It has bendable teeth on one side and a crimped round on the other.


When we got to where the fireplaces used to be and had angled floor joists. So we had to pop down below the ceiling which fortunately was a perfect height to tap into the supply main. We’ll eventually build a soffit around the duct to hide it but this whole nook of the basement will eventually be storage so it’s not a big deal. Of course in our rush to get it done we forgot to put in the damper at the end of run. Duh. So we had to rip apart the last straight section and reinstall it.


The second master bedroom was not too far from the old run so we were able to salvage a lot of straight pieces of ductwork. The boots and fittings get pretty tore up when we removed them. Everything was pop riveted together so it was a combination of drilling through those and just brute strength. The old ductwork was a nice heavy gauge (much thicker than today’s standard gauge) so I was glad we could reuse a lot of it. We removed the old run and patched the hole in the main then cut a new hole.


Because the main was run tight to the bottom of the floor joists we couldn’t just tap a 6” collar straight in the side like we did with the previous run. Instead we went with a top tap off boot which has a square end. Why square? Because cutting a square in a tight spot is a lot easier than a circle.


As we constructed the new and salvaged ductwork we sealed all of the seams with duct sealant. It’s a cheap and easy way to save energy and make your system more efficient. No need to dump air we’re paying to heat/cool in the floor cavity. I also sealed any seam in the existing ductwork I could get my hands on.


Before we could get the bathroom ductwork figured out the plumber came to do the rough-in. It was a nice change to pace to just hire a professional and let him do his job!


Progress after the first day.


Working on a new stack location (see the rags stuffed in the old stack and the new location in the upper left). On the right the main bathroom toilet.


Master bathroom. On the left a sink drain. On the right the toilet.


Almost complete after the second day. Initially, we really wanted all copper piping because we know how to work with it in case we ever need to change or fix anything. But the cost was significantly more for both materials and labor. So we ended up with a compromise of having extra copper used on the ends of the rough-in. From there we can use solid copper and easily solder on valves but the majority of the run is easier to install PEX.


Master shower drain.


New stack location in the 6″ wall.


On the third and last day the inspector came by an approved everything.


In the main bathroom we didn’t have to move the duct because one wall was staying. Yay! We also were able to fix the reason the basement bath (which is directly below this bathroom) has an extra low ceiling in the shower. Originally, the tub drain crossed over a duct which required the duct to jog down. Thus the claustrophobic shower I get to use everyday. With a little maneuvering we were able to straighten the elbows without even removing any of the duct.

That means that someday when we get around to remodeling the basement bathroom we can raise the shower ceiling. Someday previous owners we will have corrected all of your mistakes!


With the plumber gone and everything approved we were back on ductwork duty. Only this time we were in a real pickle. My plan got thrown out the window when we pulled up the floor and saw how many floor joists were already full of ductwork and later piping. With the size of the new master bathroom and the fact that it now had two exterior walls and two windows I needed to get two floor registers in the room which is difficult when bathrooms have limited floor area for a register. The old master bathroom duct would work it just needed to be extended a few feet. But on the opposite exterior wall there wasn’t anything and there wasn’t any way to add another run since every floor cavity was full with either ductwork, piping, or both. There was an existing floor register under the big 6’ slider that used to serve the bedroom but that is where our tub is going so that wouldn’t work. After a lot of hemming and hawing it finally occurred to me just change the basement registers around. So without having to change the majority of the runs we swapped the upstairs and downstairs registers.


The only problem was that the tub drain P trap came into that space and we had to cross the toilet waste pipe to get to the exterior wall. Hmm this calls for some creative ductwork…


Our nosy dog needs to be right in the action even if that action is on a plywood island in the middle of a construction site. See that guilty face? That is because 3 seconds after this picture she decided it was boring and wanted to get back off the island.


To get over the toilet drain we only had 3″ of height to work with. Two straight boots with a rectangular band bent to cover the joint. Lots of duct sealant and self tapping screws later:


Check out this sh*t! Ductwork WIN! Round to vertical flat oval. To round. To an offset elbow. To a round straight piece. To a boot. To an extreme short straight rectangular. To a boot. To a round straight. To an up boot. All done with the standard ductwork pieces Menard’s carries.

Yes this register will get less air because of the increased static pressure but I’m going to balance the dampers as best I can to overcome that and a low flow register is better than none at all.


Meanwhile the house is getting messier. Now I can answer all of Flannel Man’s “Hey Honey where is the _insert random tool here_?” questions with “It’s behind the couch.”

Demolition Part III

Now that the windows were installed and the exterior all sealed up again I dove head first into the project I’ve been wanting to do for some time now. Tear out the cesspool of allergens that covers our entire master bedroom…aka the carpet. We bought the house from a crazy lady who didn’t really believe in cleaning and liked white carpet. Not a good combination! Even after the professional carpet cleaners came though there were stains still in every room. The master bedroom was the worst though. The story is her dog developed cancer in his nostrils and was sneezing blood everywhere. It was sad but at the same time kind of annoying since the stains weren’t there when we put an offer in on the house and we never got money any money to replace the carpet. Everything happened between our offer being accepted and the closing.


We made the best of it by cutting out strands of carpet, spot bleaching, and putting furniture over the worst areas. From far away it didn’t look too bad:


It was just a temporary fix though. Carpet in the bedroom isn’t a good idea with my allergies which are the worst at night. I’m allergic to dust mites, cats, some kinds of mold, and now dogs (don’t worry we’d never getting rid of Sophie!). So we’re changing to hardwood flooring in the bedrooms and hallway. I tackled the carpet removal first thing in the morning so Flannel Man woke up to see this:

Sophie’s new favorite thing is to chew on wood scraps. She’s really loving demo. Crazy dog.


Under the hallway carpet I was surprised to find this strange pressure sensor for the old security system. So glad that we discontinued that old relic of a system that was always going off accidentally.


At this point we could see the underlayment was a 3/4″ layer of particle board with a 1/2″ layer of plywood subfloor underneath. We needed to remove both layers in the bathroom areas so the plumbing could be rerouted but we weren’t sure if we were going to tear up the master bedroom floor or just take down some of the basement ceiling below to reroute ductwork. Now knowing the underlayment was particle board instead of plywood we decided to take up the floor so we could upgrade to plywood. So Flannel Man, Papa Flannel, and I spend some quality time with cat’s paws and hammers removing every nail in the two layers of flooring.


With the second dumpster rental coming due we also tore out as much of the main bathroom as we could while still keeping it useable.


You can’t be very shy when using this bathroom that’s open to well everything. But having a bathroom on the main floor for an extra week was priceless. Who knew we’d be so sad to see this ugly harvest gold bathroom go?!


The drywall on this wall had to come down too so we could move the outlet that would have been behind the tub.


Squeezing every last bit of debris we can into the dumpster.

Open Concept Is In Right?

Step one was done. The chimney and two fireplaces were gone after a long sweaty weekend of removing 15 tons of block, brick, & rubble. With a new 20 yard dumpster delivered it was on to step two of the demo. Flannel Man & Papa Flannel had a week off to start the demo off right. First the long wall between the master bedroom and the living room was removed.

That was our master bedroom and closet.

Next up the master bath demo.

If you leaned just right you could see the TV in the living room from the master bathroom toilet. Talk about open concept!

A view of the future master bath which will extend all the way to the left wall.

With the fireplace removed we’ll be able to expand the closet. The master bedroom will be smaller but the closet will be bigger. With a built-in storage system I think it will work out just fine.

Day 4 complete.

When we tore out the fireplaces we found that there were no joist hangers used in this important area. We added them to every joist we could reach. Of course the angled floor joist hangers cost 3 times as much as the straight ones and cost $100 just for this small area!

Raising a floor joist to restore the correct alignment.

This area of the living room will be the future master bedroom and closet.

No more big hole to fall through!

Removing the last little bit of the basement fireplace.

End of Day 5. The concrete block stacked in the corner we saved.

Day 6 was for window reframing! Hmpf this is the only decent picture Flannel Man took all day. But trust me there were temporary walls built to support the trusses as the exterior load bearing walls were reframed.

Here’s what I saw when I came home that night. Previously the bedroom window with one of the new bedroom windows on the left and the new bathroom window on the right.

The previous living room window with the second bedroom window on the right.

The future master bathroom windows. The slider is staying roughly the same size so no framing needed to be changed.

No wonder we would find bugs in this corner of our bedroom! There was a huge woodpecker hole complete with stick nest in the wall. When the second owners resided it 10 years ago they didn’t seal up the hole. It kept the birds out but still allowed determined bugs in.

Patching up the old window locations.

We are planning on residing the house in the future so we want to be able to remove the new windows without tearing out drywall. To do this we removed the interior frame and used the pre-drilled holes instead of using the metal clips.

Master bedroom windows.

For the master bath we went with fiberglass windows purely because condensation is an issue when you mix humidity + cold winters even with ventilation. My parents have mold issues on their wood windows because of repeated condensation. Running around every day wiping off the condensation gets old fast!

Re-hanging the siding. Luckily we had some left over siding pieces that were left from the previous owner. We were able to reuse almost every piece.

For the wood windows (Marvin Ultimate) we upgraded to a chunky exterior trim and sill. It’s made out of extruded aluminum and comes already attached to the windows. The cost was comparable to cellular PVC trim like Azek but it won’t become brittle when exposed to cold weather or sunlight like PVC. Plus we didn’t need to worry about waterproofing issues!

The only problem was that the fiberglass Integrity windows don’t have an exterior trim option so we needed to copy the design with some PVC trim. We don’t expect these windows or trim to last as long as the Ulitmates with aluminum trim but we’d rather deal with replacing them in 10 years or so instead of dealing with the condensation every winter.

We didn’t want to delay putting the siding back up so Flannel Man and I spent the night running back and forth between Menard’s and Home Depot to find the closest sized trim. To match the angle on the top of the sill we screwed some composite shims between two pieces of trim and then ran the piece through a table saw to square it up. After some notching to fit around the nailing fins I hung out of the window holding the trim in place while Flannel Man screwed it in.

On the right is the Marvin Ultimate window with the aluminum trim and on the left is the Marvin Ingrety with the PVC trim we made to match. I think we did a pretty good job matching the other windows! Don’t you think?

Our Biggest Renovation Yet!

I am so giddy with excitement to finally be letting you in on our plans for the next two years. Starting next July we’ll be taking on a major remodel that includes all three bedrooms and two of our bathrooms. Half of our main floor will be torn up while we live in the basement rec room. Our master plan for the house is to remodel all of it but the bathrooms were the best place to start because they were holding this house back. With our main bathroom having goldenrod fixtures and a faux black marble sea shell shaped and our master bathroom having avocado fixtures with gold accents they are a constant reminder that this house was built in the 70’s. And with each bathroom only being 45 sf we wanted to expand them.

Main Bathroom:
4-30-08 120 copy

Master Bathroom:
4-30-08 114

Looking at the layout of our house the most logical way to expand the main bathroom was to remove the wall between the two bathrooms and double the size of the main bathroom. Then the master bathroom will be moved to what is currently part of our bedroom. This will nearly triple the size of our master bath and allow us to have two sinks and a separate shower and tub. Our master bedroom is very large but taking out that much space would leave the room feel pretty small. To gain some sf back we’ll move the wall between the living room and master bedroom 6 ft to the south which will also expand our walk-in closet to a nice size.

(Click for larger version.)

(Click for larger version.)

The only problem is that we have a fireplace on the angled wall. The fireplace is in a poor location because it is right where the main walkway is around our stair railing so you can’t have anything more than one chair in front of it or you’d be blocking traffic. Add to that that last year we found out that the fireplace is inoperable due to a 2×4 in the chimney and we’ve made the decision to remove both the basement and first floor fireplaces and chimneys. The basement fireplace is operable but is huge, ugly, in a poor location (it angles toward the stairwell wall), and we’re not sure we could save it so it is going as well. Otherwise we’d lose a lot of space for the existing chimney to stay which will be in the middle of our closet. Plus, it will free up a lot of space in the basement for unique storage solution I have planned. Everyone thinks we’re crazy to remove two fireplaces because it will decrease our home’s value but my defense is (1) an inoperable fireplace which is in the main living area isn’t adding much if any value, (2) the dated look and awkward placement of the basement fireplace is not what today’s homeowners are looking for, and (3) the new bathrooms and master closet will add more value to the house than the fireplaces ever would.

First Floor Fireplace:
4-30-08 133

Basement Fireplace:
4-30-08 262

**Fireplace Rant**
I have to admit though that I’ve never been a fan of fireplaces. I like that they add a nice focal point to a room but they are so inefficient and drafty it makes my HVAC engineer head spin! You have a huge hole in your house that just dumps your heated air outside people! You wouldn’t leave your front door ajar all winter. Even if you have a damper in your chimney unless it makes a complete seal you’re still letting hot air out. Then you look at how much it costs to run a gas fireplace (about $1/hr) and you’re getting hardly any Btus of heat for your money. Wood fireplaces have cheaper fuel if not free but they take longer to get a fire started and once you have it started you need to be there for a long enough time to enjoy and watch the fire burn out which is not nearly as easy as flipping a switch on and off. Plus they are dirtier and you have to split and store wood. My thoughts were only confirmed when Flannel Man and I moved into our previous apartment that had a gas fireplace. In the year we lived there we never turned it on once. We were meaning around the holidays but that is when our schedules are the busiest so it never happened. I know a lot of other people who are the same way; when they bought their houses the fireplace was a plus and they planned to use it all winter but when it actually comes down to it they don’t use it for more than 4 days a year. If that’s the case they should just stick one of those balloon chimney blockers up there for the majority of the year and just treat the fireplace as decoration.
**Rant Over**


Since we are moving so many walls we also need to move, add, and remove some windows. One of the windows in the living room will need to be removed since it is where we are moving the wall to. Similarly one of the master bedroom windows is where our new master bathroom wall will be so it will need to be removed and instead we’ll have two smaller windows on either side of our bed. Another window will be added to future master bathroom to bring in more light and balance out the space. We’re going to keep the existing 6’x3.5’ window opening on the north wall but we’ll replace the window so it matches the rest. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a bathroom with natural light!

Which brings us to the floor. We want to rip out the stained off white carpet and replace it with hardwood floors. But where do we draw the line to have it start and stop? Originally, we were thinking of just doing the master bedroom since that would be the extent of our remodel. But seeing that we wanted the same floor in the hallway and two bedrooms we decided to include them into the project as well. Plus that makes the hardwood “stopping” line a much smoother transition where the entry peal-and-stick (which will be tile in the future) meets the hallway. We’re also going to be sound-proofing all three bedrooms and installing new trim and interior doors.

We’re looking to do everything ourselves besides major electrical and piping. Our timeline is pretty flexible since we can use the baby blue bathroom in the basement (yes we had every 70’s color in our house!). We’re looking to do demo, windows, the main bathroom, and the floors in the first year. Then we’ll finish up the master bath and closet in the second year.

This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
DIY Savings