Day 25 – The Return of the Tiler

The tiler came back today and the bathroom is looking better and better. He set the infamous Quartz and he set tile, then he removed the infamous Quartz and set more tile.

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The first piece had left a gap where the Quartz met the cabinet.

The Quartz has the unique distinction of being the troublemaker on this project. The counter top cut from a template went in very nicely and fit well. However, the piece behind the tub came up short, where I provided dimensions was cut incorrectly. The tiler measured it and the notch was half an inch short. Like so many things in life you can be half an inch long, but you can’t be half an inch short. Fortunately, the fabricator had enough Quartz. They offered to cut another 20″ x 32″ piece. Unfortunately, they could not deliver it. I took an hour out off work drove down to the far reaches of Metro to retrieve it. But now the Quartz is in to stay and it looks right. And tiler can proceed.

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Tomorrow the tiler will be finished setting the tiles. The next day he will grout and install the grab bars – more on that later. The end is in sight. What will I do? Will I keep blogging? Do you want more drink recipes?

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Weekend 6 – How is your remodel going? & Dogs Negroni

I don’t know about Lake Wobegon, but it has been quiet here. The last two days we were “contractor free”. While I was writing the Day 24 post, my contractor was giving the trim another coat, installing the washing machine (alleluia), and finishing up the inevitable odds and ends that come with the end of a project.

Yesterday, we celebrated the arrival of the much anticipated Quartz. I like the color, but think the fabricator could have done a better job on the edges. Now we await the arrival of the tiler on Monday. He will take about three days to complete his portion of the work.

I was hoping we would spend the weekend organizing the basement. Maybe tomorrow, there is always tomorrow. Meanwhile, I a doing my best to rid the house of construction dust. However, the signs of construction are still present, the carpet to protect the floors runs through the living room, the Quartz is stacked in the corner, door protectors guard the jambs, and random cans of paint and stacks of tile sit waiting to be needed. One more week I tell my family. Then I tell them how the third light I ordered for the vanity is delayed.

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Quartz awaiting installation

So how about a drink. Using inspiration from a cocktail list of the Montgomery Distillery in Missoula. A place I just discovered online and I am looking forward to visiting on my next trip west. I would like to share with you the:

Dogs Negroni

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Pour together, add ice cubes. Enjoy. Take care to set your drink in a safe location so that the dogs won’t knock it over as they race around the house in their newly discovered enjoyment of the living room.

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Tired boys

Day 24 – Cudda, Wudda, Shudda

It seems that part of any purchase or large project comes with some degree of regret and the justification that the right decisions where made. Even though I am a designer and have been responsible for the design of million dollar projects, when it comes to my own house, I rely heavily on input and approval of my clients – my husband and daughters. I have talked to other designers about the challenges of doing their own projects. And the comments are universal, when you know all the choices and options available, it is easy to keep second guessing yourself.

Just as is an abundance of options for materials selections, there are an numerous ways to rearrange a space. In our remodel I have identified three options.

  • Option 1-leave it as is-redo the finishes.
  • Option 2-move all the plumbing and redo all the finishes.
  • Option 3-(which came to me at 4:30 this morning) flip the door and move the sink and toilet over close the built-ins and redo the finishes.

We went with Option 2-moving all the plumbing and taking the walls down to the studs. In Option 1 the bathroom would like nice, but the toilet would still be visible from the living room. Option 3-well it is a little late for Option 3 – considering I didn’t think of it until the wee hours of this morning. I contemplated getting up and measuring the space to see if it could have worked. I didn’t, I went back to sleep, but when I woke up I went into my almost completed bathroom and considered how it would have looked.

You will be happy to know I am glad we went with Option 2. When it comes to using the space – IE having more than one teenage girl in the room with all the required accoutrements, Option 2 will work the best. and have plenty of elbow room. After the teenagers have moved on, it will give me the most room. And Option 2 has the most storage. As we said when I worked in residential architecture, “You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much closet space.” I have given up on the first two, but I can still hope for more storage space.

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Day 23 – Suck It Up

When having your house remodeled there are so many ways one needs to “suck it up”; be nice to the contractor when he comes late, be nice to the fabricator when they charge extra, be nice to your family when they leave their stuff on the couch because they can’t get to the closet. But there is another way I recommend you consider to “suck it up” that will last long after the dust has settled and your have access to the whole house again – a new FAN.

A Whisperfit 110 cfm low-profile Panasonic fan was installed and vented in my remodel yesterday! We are all looking forward to using this fan. It will reduce the impact of moisture on the room, with a timed switch we can set it and forget it and it won’t suck all the heat out of the house. Fans are one of those modern conveniences that keep a remodeled bathroom fresh and sparkling.

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Not all bathroom remodels include a fan, I strongly recommend homeowners consider installing a new fan or replacing their old fan. Fans are not original to older homes, operable windows often serve as the ventilation for the room. Some homes, including mine, have had fans added. But chances are due to the location, venting, and volume intake or cfm the existing fan is not performing adequately. The slow creep of mold in the shower alone demonstrates the air circulation provided by the window or existing fan is not adequate.

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Existing Fan in upper right                                               Patch for exterior at old fan

House ventilation, achieved through bathroom fans and kitchen vents is another area that Green Building have had a huge impact. Most new fans are very energy efficient and when installed to building code they limit heat lost from running the fan. I know you are all curious about the code for bathroom fans. It would not surprise me if you woke up at 4:00 am this morning wondering that very thing. Code in Oregon requires that fans be sized to the room, have a timed switch, the vent pipe should be 4″ rigid or 5″ flexible, and the fan should be vented through a roof cap (ie not hooked to an existing roof vent).

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I usually recommend up-sizing the cfm of the fan (contractors I have spoken with agree on this). The chart will indicate a typical 5′ x 8′ bathroom needs a 90 cfm fan.  But using a 110 cfm fan will remove the moisture quicker and maintain functionality if venting requires additional bends to exhaust the fan. Contractor’s may also avoid installing a new roof cap. It is extra work (and liability) to cut a hole in the roof for the cap, but hooking the vent pipe up to an existing roof vent means the vent is always open and warm air in the room has another avenue to escape.

Day 22 – Today we are late because . . .

In which I drive to the far side of town and my contractor has vehicle troubles. As the slow and gradual pace that remodels assume at the end continues – oh, I have mentioned that before. My contractor didn’t arrive so I sent him a friendly text. He responded with a call that his truck was in the shop. What would a project be without a delay caused by a vehicle. It wouldn’t really be a construction project.

After the contractor arrived, he templated the counter top. Originally, I just did a drawing and emailed it to the Quartz fabricator. But since the Quartz had delayed the project, we decided to template it for an EXACT fit. I lost a few days on finishing the bathroom, but I gained a counter top that will fit exactly along the not so straight old wall.

The fabricator is located in a far corner of the Metro region, a location I normally avoid. Fortunately, I was able to deliver the template (a 1/4″ piece of plywood cut exactly to the size of the counter with labeled with detailed instructions) and get home without getting stuck in too much traffic.

I haven’t mentioned my contractor’s truck, it is a things of beauty. I will snap a pic of it sometime. On the exterior it looks like any unmarked delivery vehicle. But on the interior it is an immaculate shop. How cool is that? He can haul around the large items needed for construction, store his tools, AND have a dry interior from which to work. It goes without saying that the contractor needs to have the right equipment – that is huge part of where that chunk of change I pay every week goes. It is important to have a contractor who keeps his space neat, neat, neat. Because if he can’t keep his own room clean? How do you think he will keep yours?

In other news, the trim has been installed and is being primed. I am still trying to get a light for the vanity ordered, but I have cabinet knobs I like.

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Day 21 – Weekend 5 – G&T

The blog didn’t happen yesterday, between a school auction, a basketball game, a trip to Home Depot, and a discussion with contractor it had to wait. Meanwhile, faithful husband got up early to put a second coat of paint on the walls.

The paint was dry by the time the contractor arrived. I find myself starting to feel a little grrrrr towards him. Yesterday he was grumpy and not happy the Quartz had delayed the project. He is ready to finish his part so he can get paid and on move on to his next job. Fortunately, he still pays attention to the details. He installed the cubbies on the cabinet, cut the trim to size and primed it. He and his assistant will be ready to install and finish priming the trim and cabinets when they return.

It is not uncommon for the homeowner and the contractor to get short with each other when the project is nearing a close. I do my best to put on my “professional hat”, always referring to the contract and drawings to ensure we are discussing the same scope and price. Throughout the process my contractor and I have maintained good communication, discussing heights, locations, and the numerous other items that contribute to a successful final project. I appreciate the time he spends to make sure he understands my vision for the project and is able to accurately execute it. It avoids the need for expensive changes that cost time and money and may compromise the finished quality.

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As I write this the weather feels like summer and that calls for a favorite summer standby – A G&T.

A variation on a G&TAviation Gin with two slices of grapefruit since the lime in the refrigerator has gone bad. Aviation makes the best G&T’s, and   I am not alone in this belief.

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Day 20 – Fresh Coat

Today’s progress consisted of painting, which with insulating shall count as part of the home owner contribution to the project. The laundry room wall has received both coats of paint. And the bathroom is awaiting its second coat of low VOC paint tomorrow morning.

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Low VOC paint is excellent example of how the market has embraced a green product. Do you remember the smell of a freshly painted room and how it lingered and lingered. You wanted to feel good about the freshly painted room, it was clean and felt new. But something didn’t feel quite right and someone in the house usually had a headache after the room was painted. That someone was usually me. Now we have an option to forgo that smell, for a few extra dollars no or low VOC paint is available, the investment is an easy choice. Good for the environment and the indoor environment.

There is more painting tomorrow. It may not be so air friendly. Primer is not as   easily available in the Low VOC variety, especially primer that needs to cover shiny wood.