Monday, August 8, 2022

The Arch-itect

My husband wanted arches in the Master closet, and he learned to make them in drywall!

Lots of little cuts made it work. And a lot of screws!

(Yes, we know. Things like doors or windows not being centered often happened. How we missed things like that I don't know, it looked good on paper...)


Meanwhile downstairs the window bays were in progress, almost ready for the drywall pros to come back and start mudding. This area, too, received a lot of architectural thought and personal design elements. 

Lowered ceilings, shelves in the walls, it was going to be pretty. Practically, we also put charging stations in some of the shelves. 

We tried to utilize the thickness of the walls here and there, such as this front door cubby. It does not always work out to use the wall depth, and sometimes you just want a blank wall anyway! Blank walls and furniture give you more options than built-ins, and as much as I love the idea (and look) of built-ins I was more in the "give me options" camp. What is your opinion on built-in storage areas?


Friday, August 5, 2022

Plumbing that Never Was

And now to see what was going on while the paint dried.

 In the kitchen we plumbed an extension for the pot-filler by the stove. Do I have a pot-filler by the stove today? Nope. There was a lot of shopping for it (a lot ). There were hours of frustration trying to find a lead-free pot filler. I know it sounds silly to a lot of people, and plumbers, to fuss about a little tiny bits of government-approved amounts of lead. We did our best to find items that had as close to zero as possible.  It was was so hard to find this type of faucet just for my regular sinks! A pot-filler was one of those trendy things we thought was neat, but in the end it was admittedly silly because the sink was a few steps away. So we decided not to develop it any further. 
This is the sink pipes. However the hot water pipe had to be changed, because... was pointing to the water heat that was going to sit here in a cabinet...
...that then was going to sit under the kitchen, but never came to be.

We thought about instant hot water in the kitchen, but the electrician mentioned that if it wasn't a gas instant water heater it would be very expensive to run on electric. So we opted for a hot water holding- tank style heater, but it eventually was eliminated from the project list for various reasons. So we re-routed the hot water pipe to the main heater, which was less than a 25 foot run away. That should have ensured that we had some kind of hot water in a timely manner! Unfortunately, it is never really hot at the kitchen faucet unless you wait quite a while. 
We never got around to returning the little water heater (which we bought in a town a hundred miles away). So I have in my mind's eye a cute little shed-roofed hut under the kitchen window that houses the little water heater and a water softener, with a 12" pipe to bring it all to the kitchen sink. Hmm maybe when the rest of the house is finished we can add that hard could it be?

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Painting Sunshine


My daughter chose a color called "Chickery Chick" for the walls of her room. No matter how gloomy  it was outdoors there was one room in the house perpetually sunshine-y. 

 It was one of those cases where the painter had the "vision" for it, and the rest of us weren't quite sure. Frankly, some of us were comparing this color to traffic-control-yellow. One thing was for sure: it is bright! I had to leave her room to go out to the snow-white primed walls just to rest my eyes! 

Now that the walls were primed, it was time to pick the paint color. We knew we wanted white with a tint of something. Wouldn't you know it, husband picked out beige. As beige as you could get, that is, without leaving white. "Shell White" won the contest. 

Monday, August 1, 2022

Snow-white, and ceiling painting tip

Yeah, it snowed. So much for the mild winter theory. 

Inside the house the rest of us- the ones who didn't use power tools-  could actually DO something: we primed all the drywall for painting. 

Disregarding the advice to put an "orange peel" texture on the wall, we opted for roller-texture, which was actually almost ZERO texture, which required a 1/4 nap roller. It's called the "slick wall" finish.
Folks, that's the "doing it the hard way" choice.
But what other choice did you expect us amateurs to make?

The ceiling was THE MOST ANNOYING project of that week. There is hardly a way to disguise painting mistakes on the ceiling. It's not like you can hang a picture there or something! You can kind of see what I am talking about in the photo above.  The 1/4 nap roller hardly holds any paint. One and a half short strokes and it's time to refill. Glopping it doesn't help. I went to YouTube, of course, for help. I bought the suggested items and tried them our. 
The Canadian guy's advice was the first to go (he made it look so effortless), then the other guy who said "get up close and personal with the ceiling and use a brush." Neck ache! Finally the Idaho guy (these aren't YT channel names BTW) had the most amazing tool: did you know they made MAMMOTH rollers?

About 3/4 into this frustrating project, my husband came along with the best solution for "slick wall" painting finish on the ceiling! First he came in with the mammoth roller and simply got the paint on there, and then I went quickly over what he just put on with a "dry" 1/4 nap roller and "ironed it flat." From that point on the job went easier and faster. 

When we were all done it was so bright in the house I had to wear sunglasses! 


Friday, July 29, 2022

Not Quite Ready

(Perhaps some of you are enjoying a heat wave right now-- in that case I hope the timing of these building re-cap posts cools you down!)

As we were enjoying days where the temps were in the 50s, winter suddenly looked over its shoulder and said, "Hey, I forgot Oregon!"


Well, a little dusting of snow doesn't hurt. 

Well okay, six inches or so for sledding. Fine. 

Remembering the roof snow avalanche in an earlier winter, I steered clear of all eves, climbing up on the side of the porch instead. 

True to their word, the drywall pros came back the first of February. The announcements were thrilling: "This room is ready to paint!" "That room is ready to paint!" 
They moved down to the first floor and started doing what they could, but it turned out that we weren't really ready for them down there. We needed to re-build some in some places, re-plumb in some places, and order a bunch of materials. With all the time it takes to tape, mud, remud, mud again (not to mention if the pros were even available to come back), not being ready could mean quite a delay in wall progress. 

We couldn't manage to sell the ol' snow car. It was too much of a lemon and my honest husband ended up talking everyone out of buying it. Eventually the Prius went up for sale instead. And yes, now you can laugh. 

I just want to put a note here about not being ready from what we learned. Get a detailed list from the contractor of what he needs to have in, be done, or see before he comes out to do his part of the job. Don't rely on your memory, write it down! If you are doing stuff, or another sub-contractor needs to do stuff, make sure you have that list and check it twice. Also, something I recently learned from a contractor: nowadays, if you are not ready for a contractor when they show up at the appointed time, you will most likely be charged a gas fee & hourly fee for all their trouble and time to drive their diesel pickup out to a non-job that day. This can occur even if you forgot to leave a key for them to get into the job; they really don't like that kind of delay. So make sure you think ahead!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

More Interior Structure and the Forgotten Laundry Chute

 More beam-lifting resulted in this new, improved-looking window bay structure. I can't find if I took any photos of the installation but it was quite a strenuous thing to put this structure up. 

Heavy 6x12" beams rest on 6x6" posts. 

Some fancy cuts to join beams.

It is more in keeping with the look that is in the rest of the main floor. 

Meanwhile, upstairs, the laundry chute was going in. It wasn't quite in the place we thought it would go, nor was it quite the size I envisioned. This was because we forgot to mark it clearly for the plumbers and heating folk, who put drains and lines right where the chute was supposed to be, and then we forgot it ourselves and put more things in the way! We had to "go back to the drawing board." We went round and round on design options, and came up with compromises to move it to a new location. As soon as I saw it under construction, I knew it would not work. There was that moment when I had to disappoint everyone who was bending over backwards to put in this feature just for me. Did they really think that they were going to shove a handful of bath towels and work jeans down a chute that size? I had to admit that we were out of options and the laundry chute was not to be. Yes, it was plumbed and wired right out of the house!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Fine Day for some Siding

You may recall that our siding could not go up over our special exterior insulation unless the weather was in the 60s.  Surprisingly one week in January was in the 50s, but the sun was warming up that south wall to the 60s! So the crew jumped at the opportunity and finally got the front siding up!

One of my neighbors has said that here you have first winter, first spring, second winter, second spring, third winter... and it seems to ring true. Some of our Januaries may as well be April, and in some Aprils you wish you could have kept your studded tires on your car a little longer!

 It was also a fine weather for a walk. Daily January walks are the norm for us around here. 

A short walk up the hill behind our house rewards us with mountain views. 

I don't recall what is being pointed at, but we sure have some interesting rocky spaces around here. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Working Indoors

I have so many sunset photos on here, but rarely dawn. So here's one for you. 

The day brought snow, however. 

It was nice to work indoors on snowy days!

With the drywall up some of the echo came back, but it did reflect the winter light and brighten things up.  It was easy to imagine how nice it was going to be to live here during the winter. 

This interesting shot shows what is underneath one of the bathrooms. There was supposed to be a laundry chute up there somewhere. Sigh. 

The blue or green drywall boards have to do with waterproofing. This wall is the washer/laundry tub area. All of the plumbing is going to be hidden by cabinetry, so that it is in the conditioned space rather than between the wall.  

There were of course some late nights working up at the house, but admittedly it was so much better than it used to be. We were no longer in the days of spending the evening there working only lit by a few shop lights. Those days of no windows to block the wind blowing in, the rain dripping through the ceiling, and kids huddling around a propane heater waiting to go home. We were making progress. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Heat and Floors?


We lost our drywall Pros to other jobs in late December and January, but they assured us that since we were ready for them to finish upstairs, they would give us the whole month of February. In the meantime, the boys hung drywall downstairs.

I was often asked what we had to do to get in, and here is what once inspector told: heat, a full bathroom, a kitchen sink and washable surface in the kitchen. Seems so simple, right? But in reality it wasn't that minimal and those few things did not come very fast. That orange coil meant that the in-floor heat was on its way, but we were nowhere near a kitchen sink install.

Around that time I learned how to make a house disappear. This information was from a friend who wanted to build on their acreage without taking down the existing (perfectly fine) structure. They said they were told by their county that they would have to either tear down the other house or just take out the stove. So I wondered: if you take a stove out of a house it is considered “torn down," so if we just put a stove in would we get our occupancy certificate? 

Somewhere behind this tangle of plumbing, electrical and radiant heating lines is a bathtub. We missed a fantastic opportunity to put the radiant heating lines UNDER the tub. It was in the plans but somehow things got re-routed and forgotten. 

The shiny brass knobs of the radiant heating manifold. They look like you would be able to control things with them but we actually have not figured out the fine-tuning yet. 

We had to shift some things around on our house calendar because of the delay in the drywall progress. Having a calendar planning night was really good for us during that time, it helped us to see what was coming up and realize what we had to research and order. Every time we drop off the planning, work seems to slow to a halt. 

(Don't get excited; those prices are really old)
 One of the things we decided we could start doing while waiting for the drywall was shop around for flooring. We did stop at a flooring store to see if we could plan that purchase, but the salesman didn’t seem to know much and we felt like we wasted our time.  Flooring couldn't go down until the walls were done anyway.  

The order things should be done for wood floors was sometimes hard to juggle in my mind. The purchase and delivery had to be just so for timing. For instance, we wanted to paint the walls first. Although you are supposed to let your wood floors sit in the house weeks before you lay them, you are not supposed to acclimate wood flooring when there is paint drying (it adds too much humidity I guess). So you can't paint the walls if your flooring is already delivered and acclimating. Oh, and the radiant floor heat had to be installed and you don't want stacks of flooring in the way, so paint then heat. And the weather affects wood flooring installation. By the time I counted up the rest of the delays I could see there wasn't any hope of ordering flooring anytime soon. At least we were beginning the process of thinking about it!

Here's a cross-section of what we were looking at, adhered to some plywood. My husband wasn't exactly impressed with this stuff. 

Stair backing also had to be thought about. More things to add to the list. 

I would like to say our new year's work was "cut out for us" but the fact was we DIY-ers had to do all the cutting! I couldn't wait until something could be bought pre-made and installed, like a cupboard!