Addicted to the Demo - Bathroom Update

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As you can see, we showed up Saturday morning with our scrapers and hammers in hand. We'd watched the demo tutorials on YouTube, fully prepared to go to town on this bathroom. If you saw our bathroom before, you know we had plenty of work to do. 

First order of business, remove the toilet. We did all the necessary steps - drain it, un-screw it, disconnect the water supply. But then it came time for my most dreaded step: removal of the wax ring. Every time i watch a toilet removal tutorial on YouTube I always gag when they get to the part about wax rings. Seeing the sticky, yellow, bacteria riddled ring exposed in person was no exception. If you don't have a disease before removing a wax ring, you definitely do after. We got down there with a scraper, removed the old ring, and plugged the hole with an old rag. It was just as #glamorous as it sounds. With the toilet disconnected and successfully relocated to the living room, we moved on to the tub. 

We attempted to remove the first tile and things were clearly not going to go as they were shown in the tutorials. The videos showed the tiles coming right off the wall after a few taps on the scraper behind the tile. In our case the tiles were holding on to the walls for dear life. Going one tile at a time was going to take us a million years. Since we knew there was a leak behind the wall and we would eventually be removing the cement board to find the leak, we decided to take the nuclear option. 

We used the SawsAll to cut a seam next to the tile edge and then using a crowbar, pried off the entire wall which came crashing into the tub. We don't recommend this method if you plan to keep your bathtub and also for general safety reasons. The other two walls came down in a similar fashion and exposed some very questionable plumbing, water damaged framing, moldy insulation, and more roach poop than a lady should have to see in her lifetime. It was just SO much roach poop. We'll spare you the photos. 

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The tub came out easily with the walls removed and exposed that the floor beneath the tub was rotted as well. We removed the moldy insulation and vacuumed up the mix of roach carcasses and feces to the best of our abilities.

With my dad's guidance we replaced the rotting flooring and framing. EmO spent the morning painstakingly removing all the screws and nails from the 2X4s we removed from the central walls so they could easily be re-purposed as replacement for the rotted framing.

While repairing the rotten framing, we added the framing to install a small window above the tub. Seeing the new window framed in the wall we can already see how it is going to transform the space! 

That weekend we also made a bit of progress on the kitchen. We removed the cabinet to the left of the kitchen sink and started preparing for the dishwasher installation. My dad lent us a hand getting started on updating the electrical outlets to GFCI.

Next on the agenda? With our permit in place our carpenter is getting started on removing the load bearing wall (from which we previously removed the dry wall), adding the support beams, and reinforcing the roof. 

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Tiny Rehab lesson of the day: things will almost never be as simple as the YouTube tutorials make it look. It is great to come prepared with a plan, but in renovation you have to be willing to improvise when things aren't going as you expected. That can mean taking a sledge hammer and crowbar to your bathroom or vacuuming up an unexpected amount of roach excrement. Either way - just gotta keep moving forward :D. 

-EmV 

Tiny Rehab Firsts: Bathroom Demo

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Here is the state of the main bathroom in our fixer-upper. We often like to debate which decision came first -- the brown tile, the lime green walls, or the pee yellow ceiling. There is just something particularly unsettling about that combo that I find deeply triggering. 

To be completely honest, I've been struggling to make solid decisions regarding the bathroom. Part of me wants to go bright and white, which, i'm guessing, is a direct result of my allergic reaction to the dinge and gloom of the current space. The other part of me feels morally obligated to give in to my deep dedication to pattern and color. 

This internal debate is probably the reason the thought of doing a bathroom inspiration post has given me anxiety. If I were to show you my current collection of pictures, it would reveal just how mixed up I truly am.

Anyway, I digress. Here is the list of what we will be changing in the bathroom:

  • New shower tile
  • New shower fixtures
  • New tub
  • New floor tile and possibly subfloor (it is buckled and uneven)
  • New toilet seat
  • drywall repair
  • Wall and ceiling paint
  • New light fixture over mirror
  • New mirror
  • New faucet
  • New door & hardware
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As of right now we plan to keep the current cabinetry. It is unfinished wood that we can easily paint white (or a bold color --who knows!? not me!). The countertop is an issue of greater debate. It is in good shape and we could definitely save money by keeping it, but I'm struggling to design around it. 

We're diving into bathroom demo this weekend and as usual, our research will begin and end with youtube diy videos. Stay tuned to our instagram stories for updates. Wish us luck! 

-Em O

Foundation Repair & Renovation Progress Update

Things have been moving along slowly but surely. The foundation has finally been leveled and they are pouring the concrete on Monday. They plan to be done by the end of next week! It's already incredibly different inside the house, particularly in the kitchen where it no longer feels like you are climbing up a hill to get to the sink.

As they leveled the section of the house that the previous owners added on, the whole addition began to separate from the main house. This isn't surprising considering everything the previous owners did on the house was done as haphazardly as possible (remember the "wall use only" boards glued to the efficiency apartment floor?). This is kinda freaky and tbh, i'm not sure what exactly we are going to have to do to fix that. More learning to do.


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Once foundation is done it will be time for a whole new roof! ...and electrical!...and plumbing! :) The foundation contractors found a leak behind the shower wall in the main house so we will need to get that taken care of asap. And once the electrical is fixed, hopefully the a/c will work!

One major layout decision we are trying to make involves the center bedroom that has no windows. We know we are going to take it down to open up the main living space, but we also would like to use part of it to put in a second bathroom. Also, the entire back of the house is currently bedrooms, none of which have a door to the exterior. The front door is currently the only entrance/exit. With smaller bedrooms, it's hard to figure out where it makes the most sense to put in a door. Luckily, we've been getting some professional help on these decisions -shout out to our wonderful friend and architect Jelisa for helping us figure it all out. 

That's it for now. We promised a full house tour and failed miserably at delivering that, but I remain hopeful we will get that up next week.

-Em O

Choosing A Foundation Contractor

Image that I personally found helpful during my "what is a joist" google query -Em O

Image that I personally found helpful during my "what is a joist" google query -Em O

You might have noticed that we went MIA for the past couple of weeks and the reason for that yet again involves our foundation.

We thought after we received our scope of work from the aforementioned structural engineer, that the bids process would be a walk in the park. As per usual, we were incorrect.  

We were instructed to get 3 bids on every major piece of work we are doing on the house. At least 2 should match and then you choose one of those two. So we gathered our 3 contacts and scheduled the inspections! In our case, no bids matched and no one just showed up and said, “we’ll do exactly what is on your SOW and we’ll charge you $X!” as we had asked the foundation gods to manifest for us.

We ruled out bid number one as it came from an unlicensed crew offering to do unpermitted work (possibly under the cover of night). We are all for a bargain, but decided that was just too risky for our first big job. It would take significantly longer, and, to be honest, the bid actually wasn’t much lower!

We were left with two bids, one outlining every possible contingency making us feel like the upcharge potential was through the roof (our albeit unstable roof which probably isn’t too difficult to puncture). The second bid was bare bones- leaving us wondering where the hidden charges are. And would someone for god sakes tell us if we need to be taking the efficiency apartment floor up or not?! (Although we are getting pretty buff from the 14lb crow bar we’ve been using.)

After spending some time with the bids, we were able to determine that the main differences between the two came down to

Contractor A

  • -158 ft of 4x6 beam
  • -100 ft of 2x6 joists
  • -excavation of the lower parts of the house @ $35 a foot
  • -foundation skirting price significantly higher than contractor B

Contractor B

  • -216 ft of 4x6 beam
  • -excavation of the lower parts of the house @ no charge
  • -foundation skirting price significantly lower than contractor A

Contractor B came in total around 2k below. Multiple phone calls and many google queries later we think we sorted out the discrepancy surrounding the joists. (A) put the joists in the bid under the assumption that since that part of the house is so low to the ground, the joists will most likely need to be replaced. We spoke to (B) and he explained that since we are getting an entirely new foundation from him, he will take care of any joist issues that arise. On top of that, he won’t charge us any extra for excavation, which could be quite extensive. His similar skirting offering is also cheaper. This sealed the deal for us, and we decided to go with B.

This may not seem that exciting in general, but it’s the first major decision we’ve made on our house and we are feeling pretty proud of ourselves for getting this far.

OH and as for those efficiency floors...since our foundation contractor doesn’t charge more for excavation, we decided to take up half the floors where the house is the lowest (to hopefully save some time on the overall job)  and leave the rest for them to take care of.

Alright, time for us to celebrate.

-Em & Em