Archive for category Exterior

PVC You Later

As in, I’m done with the PVC drains and vents! What a relief. I had most of the rough plumbing done a few weeks ago, enough to install the subfloor & underlayment, but I still had a few things unfinished. So over the past week I rough plumbed for the tub faucet, shower head, and shower mixer valve.

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The extra notch out of the wall stud (don’t worry, this is not a load bearing wall!) is because I second guessed myself about the height of the mixer valve and shower handle. I originally put it at a height that felt comfortable when standing. But then I found that the typical standard is really really low, so I moved it down. After showering just this morning, I realized that as a 6′-4″ man, I don’t want to have to bend down to reach the shower handle. So I think I’m going to move it back up. I did decide upon a very tall height for the shower faucet. I believe it’s time to rid myself of this plague that has troubled my showering experience for the past decade:


Seriously, I can’t even remember what it feels like to wash my hair without ducking or bending half over. I cannot wait.

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I also finished the tub drain & overflow – which meant carrying sliding the tub into place – and then I connected all 3 of the bathroom drain vents and ran that vent pipe up through the ceiling. Above are the three vents coming through the floor, connecting to a main vent, and then going up through the ceiling. Once through the ceiling the pip transitions to 2″ in the attic before exiting through the roof. And then bathroom was entirely ready for wallboard!

Based on everything I’ve read, I decided upon cement board on the walls around the tub/shower as a backer board for tile, but the rest of the bathroom walls will be moisture resistant drywall – often called greenboard. My brother-in-law helped me hang a few sheets of drywall Saturday, so the west bathroom wall is covered. I’ll do the same on the east wall. The south wall is staying plaster – with some patching around where the new light switches are. The bathroom is 5’8″ wide, and the tub is only 5′, which leaves me with a narrow space on the wall opposite of the shower head. After some Pinterest searching, I came upon a great solution to use this narrow space- almost the exact size, too.

reader bath remodel with towel storage shelves built in behind shower wall, top pins on This Old House Pinterest profile 2013

Not my choice of colors for the towels, but you get the picture. It turns what would otherwise be unusable space into a little bit of storage. It will be fun framing it out, but if I do it right, it might also serve as handy access area to the back of the breaker panel in the wall behind (for future electrical updates needing additional wires).

So to recap, below shows the different stages from just about a month ago to where I am now.

bathroom 4 panel

I can almost see the finished product (thanks to the hours I’ve spent on Pinterest!).

I actually got a lot done this week – kitchen sink, tub, part drywall, purchased wall tile for bathroom. But the biggest accomplishment was not mine, but rather what Dennis was able to get connected for me. The process itself is worthy of an entire upcoming post – wet floor, curse words, and a return trip to the hardware store – but for now, I’ll leave it at a single photo and one last sentence. I have hot water.


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Keys to Green Gables

Well, it happened! This past Monday, to be exact. I drove to the bank right after work, signed 6 trees worth of paper, and they handed me the keys! The best part was my realtor bringing a 12 pack of one of my favorite beers with a big red bow, right into the banker’s office to congratulate me! What a surprise that was! Is it even legal to have beer in a bank? Oh well, my banker was good about it and laughed it off. I finished the paperwork and headed to my new place. I already had an ice cold beer in the car, ready to help me inaugurate the new place, and a camera in the other hand to make sure I could get a photo out front with the realtor’s SOLD sign.


So there she is, in all her green gable goodness. Not a nice green either, but sea foam green. Or bright fresh spring vegetable green. Not a bad color by any means when a kid is excited about a brand new 48 pack of Crayola crayons, but on a house?? I drive down the street and barely notice the other run down homes, and then – BAM – like a jar of baby food smashed peas, there’s my little bungalow! It has a one car detached garage, stone driveway, and not a bad size front yard.


So what all does this house have going for it? Well, it’s entirely wrapped in aluminum siding. Not my favorite color, but it’s wrapped pretty well. Siding, soffit, and spouting all look to be in great shape. Upon closer inspection, the window trim was never wrapped in aluminum, so it either needs painted or covered. The concrete walkway to the front porch is in great shape, the steps are nice too. Being 3 steps, code requires it to have a handrail. The porch floor has taken a beating, looks just like a weather beaten deck. And the windows are reeeally bad. Loose glass, water damaged sashes, and cracked or missing glazing. And neither of these photos do justice to how bad the roof is, or just how many pieces of shingles I picked out of the yard the first afternoon.

I need to take “before” photos of several more rooms, and the nice back yard. But already I know what the first project will be: the bathroom. It’s dingy, moldy, rotting, and who knows what else. Looking in from the kitchen, it looks like this:


The nice large bathroom window floods the room with light. And that’s about where the amenities end. The walls are covered in bad paneling, the goose-themed wallpaper border is glaring, and the linoleum is peeling up all around the tub from water leaking.


Step through the doorway, and immediately to the left are the skinny skinny vanity, the room’s only light fixture, and the toilet. The yellow tags are reassuring, they were left by a property maintenance company to let the realtor and myself know that the drains were winterized with antifreeze. Although the toilet isn’t that old, neither of these fixtures are staying.


Standing just inside the doorway shows how close the front of the toilet bowl is to the tub. Cozy, to say the least. Notice all the seams in the paneling below the window, the installer used scraps which means more seams and more areas for water to get through.


Stepping inside and turning around, here is the tub. Yep, the paneling is deteriorating from water, the tub faucet and handles are so corroded, I don’t even know if they would work if the water was turned on. The tub itself isn’t in too bad of shape. At this point I’m hoping to save the tub, after going a little Nicole Curtis on it with gentle cleaner and a ton of elbow grease.


Here’s the plastic hose and hand-held shower head, and in the ceiling is the home’s only attic access. The yellow wall is a poorly built divider between the tub and this unfinished space which puzzles me.


I can’t figure out what this area was. It is immediately to the right once inside the doorway. The linoleum has been tore up, exposing the original wood floor. The open wall looks like it used to be a doorway into one of the bedrooms. Part of me thinks there could have been a stand up shower here; its big enough, but there is no sign of plumbing, either supply or drain. So I figure this must have been a closet, and that would explain the door frame still in the wall. Perhaps the previous owner removed the closet in a first step to renovating the bath.


This is the same area, with the back of the tub faucet showing. This half-open wall was not constructed correctly and will be coming out. How about that great insulation job – aka- the opening in the sub-floor stuffed with an old towel. The entire room screams years of leaking without being repaired, and the quick-fixes I’ve found so far deserve some kind of award for stupidity. The sink, cabinet, toilet, and partition wall all need tore out, followed by the linoleum. I hope to find a solid floor underneath there somewhere. I’m also sketching a few ways to rearrange the bathroom fixtures in order to maximize space.

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Winter’s End?

Nearly a 1 year hiatus. Yes, and although I’ve often considered updating, I’ve been learning how to manage my full time job, living with family, and keeping friends on the weekends. With quite a few projects in between also. What have I accomplished over the past two years, since I got really lazy journaling about home improvement projects? Let me think:

  • Primed the entire house exterior
  • Painted the entire house exterior
  • Painted front & side entry doors
  • Install all new window trim and moldings through entire house
  • Stained or painted new window trim (the bathroom, laundry, and kitchen have painted woodwork)
  • Ordered raised panel vinyl shutters (not my favorite material, but inexpensive and zero maintenance won this time)
  • Primed & painted vinyl shutters (4 pairs)
  • Hung shutters on front & side windows
  • Blown cellulose insulation into attic (insulation value at R-60, baby!)
  • Painted main living room (boring white was getting old)
  • Hang living room curtains on new sturdy drapery rods
  • New laminate countertops & tile backsplash in the sister’s kitchen

Most of these steps I didn’t document, but I can highlight the finished outside of the house!

Below is the completely untouched “before” picture. Other than maybe a few plants and the park bench, this is how the house looked before I started working at all. Complete with rotting windows, vintage door, and fading bland paint job.


Here is my rendered “after,” with the intention of all new windows, doors, shutters and a new and noticeable paint scheme.


And here is the “after!” All the work I mentioned is complete, it’s only taken a little more than 2 years!

ImageOops, apparently this was before the shutters went up. But you can see how nicely landscaped it looked last summer, with fresh mulch, plenty of rain, and such a beautiful shaded green lawn. It has definitely spruced up the entire corner. What was before an almost unnoticeable little house is now a home that just looks loved and well maintained. And a little bit of personality thrown in there too.

ImageI really liked how the landscaping with its large radios curved edges has really softened the strong horizontal and box-like lines of the house.


And here is the house (with shutters) earlier this winter, about mid January.The shutters are actually a color called Urbane Bronze (Sherwin Williams), but it is a strange color. Some days they look brown, some days they look black, and in the photo above they look blue gray. Since we didn’t replace the dark gray roof, I thought a gray/brown shutter color would help tie in the dark roof and brown paint scheme. And I think it accomplished that.

Although you cannot tell in the above photo, thanks to all that snow. NW Ohio has gotten in excess of 52 inches of snow this season, more total snowfall since the Blizzard of 1978! But the fancy Nest thermostat and medium efficiency furnace kept up just fine. Although I can’t compare until the winter is officially over (yes, I do keep utility bills each year so I can document the homes energy usage and compare it after I complete energy upgrades), I would dare to say the energy usage this winter is probably lower still than any winter before this thanks to the energy efficient and air-tight windows and doors. And you can also see how, thanks to the attic insulation, we have very little heat loss through the roof, as the heat from the house doesn’t escape from the ceiling to melt snow off the roof.

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