Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Things we had to finish for our contractor

So you've heard me lament about the contractor we hired for the project, now that the bank has FINALLY sent us the last check and the project is closed, I'll post here what he failed to complete for us. Before you ask, why didn't you make him finish it, go through a renovation of this scale and then we'll talk. Eventually you lose the will to live, nevermind about fight with your contractor who only shows up 1 our of every 5 days he says he will be there, and you are incidentally stuck with.

It's worse than a bad marriage (from my vantage point of being in a perfect marriage) because he already has all your money, its not like you stand to lose half...

1.       Kitchen cabinets, you installed them and the one that you installed had a stain on it that had to be removed. I had to finish the unfinished cabinets you bought, and buy an end panel so that it was truly finished.
2.       You never finished installing the dishwasher, and Max had to undo the electrical you did on the dishwasher as in his words “If you had put your hand on the dishwasher and the sink you would have been electrocuted. I could lose my license if an inspector saw this” So I’d not recommend doing your own electrical work.
3.       I had to redo the installation of the sinks plumbing in the kitchen as your install was not up to code and leaked all over the place. Also you cracked the granite in several places and left large blobs of silicone everywhere.
4.       You never removed the baseboards in the kitchen, despite me paying you extra to do so. And the bypass you put in leaked as soon as we turned the heating on because you didn’t clean the pipe before you soldered it, despite my asking you to test the system before you left. You really should stop doing plumbing and get a plumber, you don’t know what you are doing… it’s too bad for you, I paid some other guy 800$ to fix it all.
5.       You didn’t finish the trim around the top of the kitchen before the electrical inspection, I had to do that to ensure we would pass.
6.       The painting that your team did was really cut rate. We have several patches around the house where they didn’t complete more than one coat, doors downstairs in the master bedroom etc. The rooms they did finish they splattered paint everywhere requiring me to refinish the floors upstairs, and to spend a large amount of time cleaning the brickwork downstairs.
7.       You didn’t install the bathroom or master bedroom doors correctly, they wouldn’t close until I had to fix them.
8.       You didn’t complete the flooring downstairs, I ended up doing the trim around the outsides of the rooms and around doors because you left it for two weeks.
9.       You didn’t complete the dry wall in the laundry room, despite my reminding you a half dozen times while the team was still there, you never finished it.
10.   The bathroom downstairs was never painted at all despite our contract stating you would paint every room in the house
11.   You never replaced the molding in the basement sun room around the ceiling, so there is a gap all around the room from the wood paneling to the ceiling.
12.   You didn’t install the new doors I paid extra for correctly, there is no molding around the outside or the inside and the bottom of the door is not sitting on anything, whenever you step on it, it bends down till it reaches the foundation and you can see daylight under it. You didn't finish the trim aroud the inside of the doors.
13.   When you installed the windows you didn’t trim up to repair the damage you caused. This was apparently “extra” you might want to let people know that when quoting them a price, then they won’t be so irritated with you for nickel and diming them after the fact.
14.   The siding took 6 weeks, and the first time there was a wind pieces fell off the house. Turns out that you never even nailed down the top layer of the siding around the house, counting on the soffit to hold It up… You also claimed that re-installing the shutters after replacing the siding was extra, again a customer service note (since I manage a department that is customer oriented) in your quote just write down that the shutters are not included, you’d be amazed how different peoples reaction will be…
15.   The roofing on the back of the house was decoupled from the side of the house when you did the siding, and never nailed back down. So when the wind blew, the roof would float up and water could get underneath ruining the newly installed ceiling. 10 roofing nails, and we could have saved hundreds in damages.
16.   You broke the back window in April, and didn’t fix it for the duration of the project.
17.   You never tested the heating system, when I turned it on, it leaked in the garage and ruined the drywall in there that I had put up for the fire inspection.
18.   Your team constantly took supplies that I had bought, or used my tools to work on their stuff leaving them everywhere. While all the money is coming from me in the end, you should consider that anything you didn’t bring to the work site, really isn’t yours to use however you wish… I had to rent a truck to get stuff to the house, and again to replace the stuff your team used.

So if there is ever a question of would you recommend this contractor to anyone, I would have to reply with a resounding no. There is no one on this planet that I dislike enough to send this tool their way. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'd had enough...

After banging my toes a third time this morning I had had enough of the stupid door in the master bedroom that opens the wrong way... Ideally it should open into the bathroom, but instead it opens into the room and into the walk in closet too... It also has a habit of automatically opening which is irritating..

I was giving it some thought this morning and realized that by switching the hinges to the other side of the door I could have it at least open the other way up against the door. Enter the zero clearance cutter that my mom gave me last time she was here. The only other way to do this is with a router and a template, both of which I don't have easy access to..

I decided to do this at the last minute, so Jenn challenged me with the usual flip comment that I had 45 minutes until supper....:)

Well, its ugly, and has a tendency to pop open, but it beats buying another 125$ door.... Now, I probably will do that one day, but for now at least we can use this one...:)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

More on the pool

So during all the plumbing snafu I dropped Jenns camera, breaking the lcd screen on the back and basically making it useless (since there is no view finder). Anyways I went through the camera's memory card and found some photos of the pool while it was in progress...

The entire bottom of the pool had to be reworked,  as you can see from the picture below the previous owner had neglected the pool for so long that there was a tree growing out of it... The bottom of a pool is a special type of concrete that "breathes" so that any water that comes from below, can go back down when the water table goes down. If you didn't do this, when the water table rose the pool would basically float up out of the ground

The entire process took a couple of weeks, and we had to use extra thick foam on the walls to protect the liner from the slightly rusted side walls.

In the end though, it was totally worth it, we were able to move the pump from the back of the house to the back of the lot, and Gavyn lost 12 lbs in a week and a half of swimming...:)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

my little helper

None of my kids have really shown an interest in helping with the renovations. Kyle has been grudgingly helping me whenever I need it, but when he has the option he would rather not assist... my only keener helper is this guy..

He is always interested in what I am doing, even if it is watching hulu... but when it has something to do with tools (so long as they are not too noisy) he's right there checking things out.

He does have a short attention span however....:) And needs constant encouragement or he loses interest and bails on my just like everyone else...:)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

So yeah, plumbing...

Plumbing is not all that complicated when you know the steps... first you buy the parts you need. When you are patching a pipe thats a coupling like the ones shown below. Note that one of them has a little dimple? That is to allow it to stop halfway through on the pipe, the other one is what we want for this particular plumbing project so that we can cut the pipe exactly the same length as the old pipe.

Next you have to clean off the remainder of the gunk from the old pipe, and add what is called flux which helps both clean the pipe and acts as sort of a lubricant for the solder you will have to add next.

Now, you're ready for some fire. There are two types of torches that can be used for this purpose, one is a propane type one (blue bottle) and then theres the right one, which is some magical stuff that burns hotter and comes in a yellow bottle. Its more expensive, but worth it... I'm using the blue crap..

Now you are all set, ready to roll as it were. All we have to do is heat it up, add the solder and if everything works as it should we should have a patch...

Now those of you that know what you are doing, know that this doesn't look right... What I should have done is cut a smaller segment out, like say one smaller than the couplings you see in the photo. Problem I had was the zero clearance pipe cutter I was using kept threading the pipe instead of cutting it... As you would predict, I couldn't get a clean seal on the pipes because all of the flux basically melted all at the same time...

As with almost everything, doing it on the cheap, and as fast as you can is not the right way to do plumbing.... After i patched this one, leaks and all, I checked for more and found two other leaks... So after it took me 3 attempts to get a seal that would sort of hold water, I gave up and called a plumber...Took him 3 hours, but it was worth it as there are no more leaks now...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hrm winter is coming

There can be no doubt that winter is coming. I had my colleagues over from Coach for a BBQ on Saturday and they all gamely froze to death outside. You see, we were supposed to have the BBQ when the project was finished, and we did... it was just finished 3 months behind schedule...

Anyways with the oncoming of winter I figured it was a good time to fix the leaking pipe in the heating system in the garage. Last time i posted we had identified the leak, but not yet fixed it... nows the weekend, carpe dium and all that crap.

The water is leaking from the bulkhead that I built, so down that comes

My fear of course is that I put a screw through the damn pipe when I was putting the bulkhead up. Luckily I am without blame on this one, but its still interesting... The leak is coming from somewhere up there....

Kyle climbed up into the attic and poked a hole in the ceiling to let the water that was pooling up there out, lo and behold, the water is coming from about 9 inches away from the bulkhead! Vindicated! I didn't cause it...

Apparently not having heat caused the issue... There is the burst pipe that I am going to have to fix later... note that the hole is about 5 inches across... there is an electrical wire running through there, and I have to solder a new pipe up there... this should be good times. How many times have I mentioned how much I abhor plumbing?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hurricane Irene, glad you're gone..

We were truly blessed by Irene missing us. I see a lot of articles and pictures of people wading through their ground floors looking for prized possessions and can't help but be thankful that all we got is some water coming up out lawn

This photo was taken about two hours after it stopped raining, within another two hours the water was completely gone. Thanks again for amazing sewer system... the high water mark was another 8 ft up the driveway.

The irony of finishing the project and then having Irene flood the house was NOT lost on me... especially since most of the issues with the house were related to water, it would have been pretty fun in a sad and desperately pathetic kind of way.. Now, I can look back at it and laugh, since it didn't happen... This flood was over the 100 yr mark, so looks like while our street does flood, we're out of the way of the worst of it, glad to know.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our pool, before, and after

So lots going on these days, after 6 weeks dumb and dumber finally finished the siding. have to admit it looks good, and it damn well better for taking all the time it did. Well it looked good until Huricane Irene came through and tore some of it off... Cold plate of Irony anyone?

Most of what I have been doing doesn't make for good blogging, that or I forget to take a before and after photo...:) This one is something that I had nothing to do with, other than to open my Wallet up real wide and let the pool guy reach in with both hands.... here is what the pool looked like before:

and heres what it looks like now:

You can also almost see that I power washed the fence... The fence now actually looks new instead of like a slime covered remnant from a post apocalyptic world...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Three way light switches... wtf...

OK so I have this weird electrical issue with the lights in the garage, yes there are a couple of other weird electrical issues, but for now I am going to deal with the lights in the garage. Basically the problem is that there is one light switch at the front of the garage that turns on the light in the garage, and the light in the storage room.

Sounds like no big deal right? Except that its the only light around, so you have to walk to the front of a tool/garbage ridden garage to turn the light on and off.... bit of a pita... so I decide to take a look at it, surely I am not the first one to think this sucks. At the door to the garage (the one that leads to the house) I have a plug, in the ideal place for a switch... so I take the plug out and low and behold there is a 3 way Romex in the box.

OK, so whats a three way Romex? Its an electrical wire that has white, black, and red. The red bit is the important part I'll get to that in a minute. Anyways the electrical plug (which was installed by my electrician) has one black, both whites connected to it, and the red is tied to a black heading back into the wall.

Now, I know 3 ways like I know italian. That is to say, not at all. But I know from the internet that there should be one "normal" wire coming from the panel, one "three way wire" going between the switches, and one "normal" wire going to the light.

Problem is that I have one normal wire going to the switch, and a three way at the front of the garage. At the back of the garage I have a plug, and a three way wire...

At this point my wifes unshakeable faith in me is getting shaken. She wanted the project house, but water is the bane of both of our existences, and whenever that stupid pump starts leaking she basically loses it. She wants me to call the electrician... I of course think, he didn't do it right the first time, what makes you think he will do it right this time...

You tube to the rescue, theres quite a few good links if you google for "How does a three way switch work". One of them actually lead me in the right direction (after I blue a fuse, and caused the stupid AC pump to leak again.. hate that damn pump, seems like if you turn off any breaker anywhere in the house the things stops working...).

The key is, there shouldn't be a plug there... after scratching my head and staring at some live electrical wires for awhile I decide to take a current checker and check the plug. Deader than a door nail...

Current checker? You see Holmes on Homes using it all the time, its this little pencil like thing that beeps when it comes into contact with current, the higher the current the more emphatic the beeping... Anyways since the plug is dead that means that the two wires in the box are connected to the other switch, and the light.

Finally all the wiring diagrams that I have been looking at make sense. I take the two three way switches I bought (oh yes, I planned ahead, you can't use regular switches they have to be three way) and I wire em up per the diagram.

From the fuse box (which is the only wire that makes the current checker beep when all of them are floating around in the air) you attached the black wire to the black terminal on the switch. The white wires get bound together and the black and red from the three way go on the other two terminals of the switch.

Next you go over to the other switch, again the two whites go together, but now the black from the "normal" wire that is going to the light goes to the black one, and again the black and red go to the other two terminals. It doesn't REALLY matter which one you put the red on, but I tried to stay consistent... Now with two switches floating in the air I decided to see if the light would turn on... sure enough it did, and turned off, and on regardless of which switch you used! Success!

Now I have a box that has a place for a plug, but no plug.... I will run another wire later, but for now I hooked the neutrals together, and spliced a wire onto the common terminal (black one) of the second switch. For those of you wondering, if you turn off that first switch near the garage, the plug doesn't work anymore, but its good enough for now.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Desrosiers 1 shed, 11

We had this old wooden shed in the backyard when we moved in, I was convinced someone or something was living in it. Anyways our insurance compance wouldn't give us insurance unless we either put the shed on the ground, or removed it. The shed was up on cinder blocks and they were worried it would blow over.

Now, feel free to comment if you think that particular bit of bureaucratic nonsense is as ridiculous as I do, but since we have a chow chow State Farm is the only insurance company that will even insure us, so I do what they want.

So first step when demoing anything, remove the roof right? I honestly have no idea what I am doing but it seems if I could get the roof off with Kyle, then the rest should be easy... In retrospect we should have knocked out all the boards on all the walls first, then taken down one wall and let the roof come down...

After three of us step on rusty nails (I'm the only one who strikes skin rigt after Jenn tells me to be careful of the nail that I step on... Shes a witch, I swear it...) and are cut scraped and bruised, but the shed is firmly in the dumpster...

It was rotten almost to the core too, so it's a good thing I'm getting rid of it. At least, that's what I am going to tell myself when I shell out a couple of grand to by another one in a month...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I probably should have listened to her...

So things are progressing well, we've even got trim up in a couple of rooms, there will be a barrage of posts later this week when I get around to them, for now its night after night of working on the house... Patching drywall, replacing lights, recepticals, building a desk, you name it...

When we tore up the floor in my office we discovered a rank smell, mold worthy, but we didn't think it was mold. When we actually got the vinyl flooring up it was discovered to be the source of the smell! Once we got it outside the smell died down to almost nothing, except under the stair. We bought this neat product called Damp b Gone (real name to be added later) and while I was skeptical I thought 8$, its cheaper than most apps in the app store..

The premise is a bag of mystery stuff sitting over a canister. The mystery stuff apparently captures the water which is then considered brine (salt is involved somewhere, ya think?) and drops into the canister below... Again, sounds almost magical but I put it under the stairs and promptly forgot about it. This week the contractor was finally back to finish the flooring in the main room and he decided he would do the closet. He pulled out the damp b gone, and sure enough it was half full of water! However the mold smell was still pretty bad.

It was then that we found that we had a leak in a pipe, not just any pipe, but the main water pipe to the house. Now, you know I hate plumbing, and its the one thing that Jenn doesn't think I can do, so of course I have to prove her wrong...

Not sure if that video worked, and excuse the amateurish filming...:) I'm new to this..

Monday, June 27, 2011

Two projects left, flooring and siding...

The siding, well that deserves a post all to its self...

The flooring however is turning out really nice, we bought the brazilian koa from lumber liquidators, its expensive but since its on cement and not being glued down we needed a engineered non laminate (dogs, kids and their various accidents ruined our last laminate floor so not doing that again) flooring, so far so good. After 4.5 hours of work here's what it looks like:

Finally (and mostly accidentally) remembered to take a before picture.. this is the cement flooring before we got the hardwood, and what we have been dealing with for the last month. But stefan you say, what about the humdidity... well two things, one that is drywall dust on the floor, and its not sticking, its just floating around, so probably no water problems... two see the greenish yellow crap? Thats the foam backing which acts as a vapor barrier, and three its engineered not solid, so its designed to expand with a little moisture, so, we're covered...

Now for the siding....

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fun with plumbing

Now, if you know me, you know that the only thing I hate more than plumbing is gas, which is essentially plumbing that if you mess up can explode and kill you instead of just making you wet...

So I'm at work and Jenn calls, the dishwasher is leaking all over the kitchen floor. This mind you, is the day after the electrical snafu so I'm wondering if maybe something got shook loose when the guys were working on it... When I get home I find that the dishwasher is full of water (Jenn stopped it mid-cycle to stop the flow of water) and the p trap under the sink is as well.

Now my contrator is the plumber in his family and he installed the sink for us... He used these accordion fixtures because they are easy, but they are not to code... They are now full of water, fully expanded and leaking everywhere...after Tightening up The joints the leaking stops but the water won't leave, so I grab the trusty plunger and have at it. Since the kitchen sink has two vessels I plug the other one (otherwise you just suck air in from the other sink btw) and have at it. Eventually the sink is full of water and I am once again sucking air. Good news it, the sink is properly vented, bad news is the plug is somewhere past the vent.

So off to hd for some drain cleaner and supplies. I buy a plumbers snake, and some PVC to fix the drain properly. Ironically while easier those accordion things are about 5 times as expensive as doing it right...

Back home, take apart the sink and drain out the remaining water, then since it's a double sink I reconnect just one sink to the main plumbing and pour down some of the drain cleaner, it recommends half a cup, I poured in the whole bottle, I figure this is a special case.. Did I mentioned this stuff is guaranteed to work? By this time it's 11:30 at night, so I call it quits needing to work early in the morning.

While I am waiting or our tech team to install what they need to, I am standing in the kitchen looking at the sink and notice the water is gone Woot!! Turn on the tap and sure enough the water drains...for a little while, then the sink fills up again. Looks like I have no choice but to use the snake. Work is finally finished and I take the sink apart again, if you are going to use a plumbers snake the best thing to do is get it as close to the wall as you can. If you can take the sink assembly out it will make your life easier because you can see if the snake is going up that awesome vent stack, or down where you want it...

I bought a 25' plumbers snake instead of the cheap 8' one, and thank god I did... The "issue" is about 20' down the drain. After several attempts at drilling through the gunk I finalls hit something and am able to pull the snake out with a giant glob of mystery crap in it. Next (I bought more of the guaranteed to work stuff btw, since I have had good experiences with it in the past) I pour another half a gallon of the drain cleaner down the sink and take a break. Like anything, the longer this stuff has to work, the better.

With no shortage of projects while I waited for that I installed doorknobs on all the new doors downstairs. Who designed these things? The doorknob doesn't come off, so when you are screwing the screws in they are constantly in the way... I think of the 4 I installed I only managed to get one in without completely ruining the screws... Best of luck to the poor bastard who has to take them off...

Back to the sink, I boil up a kettle full of water and pour it down the sink, repeat that three times then run the water as hot as it will get and wait with my fingers crossed... 3 minutes later it's still leaving as fast as it comes in! I've won! And I saved myself at least a couple of hundred dollars (yes after taking into consideration the cost of tools) by not calling a plumber! I call Jenn over to show off my success, since she knows I hate plumbing I'm expecting some kudos, all I get is, does that mean the dishwasher works? Well no, since I haven't fixed the sink just yet, I just fixed the drainage issue... Love you too honey, now go away...

Once I correctly install the sink (I'll put some photos up later of the before and after to show you how messed up it was) the dishwasher drains like a champ and we're all set until next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time, that kind of drain clog doesn't just go away, it's hiding in there waiting until I am out of town so that it can make the dishwasher puke all over the floor again, mark my words...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Duct tape... What is it good for really?

So other than making wallets, or boots for cats, what is duct tape really good for? It doesn't stick to anything, dries up and is basically useless for duct work... What brought this on? We had a hvac guy come in and give us a quote on what it would take to fix the geriatric ac unit in our attic.

The ducts are made out of insulation, which I thought was weird, so they are soft, and all disconnected everywhere. Anyways the quote was for 3500 to just raise the unit, replace the ducts and drop two new ducts into the basement so that we can get some ac down there. Right now we are losing at least half of the ac into the attic because the ducks are all broken.

Ok well I don't have 3500, if I did I would fix the pool first because I can't get insurance until that is fixed..and the fence, and the shed..sigh... So off to home depot. I'm a DIY expert right, how had can duct work be? You buy a dozen rolls of duct tape and your good! Only I know better, sorry to all you duct tape enthusiast out there, but it's crap. It's certainly not what you use for ducts, for that you use the shinny metal tape that sticks to it's self as if it were the same piece of tape..

I pick up 10 6" diameter pipes, 8 90 degree elbows, a dozen or so clamps, and a roll of the metallic tape to prepare for battle tomorrow. The attic is on average 20 degrees hotter than the outside due to the roof being black, and almost no air circulation. Ok granted when the ac kicks in there is some nice cool air moving around up there at present, but it's still damn hot, I'm really hoping it won't be hot tomorrow when I try and do this.

Edit: ok so it's 1am and I just finished the duct work... Yah I know, but I thought, hey it's probably cold up there right now at about 11:30, and I was right, it was about as cold as the inside of the house. I dragged most of the components up stairs and got to work, starting with the ducts in the mbr (one of them doesn't put out any air at all) I patched them up with the tape, reconnected the ducts that have fallen apart so that they are sturdy again.

While I am a pretty good diy'er I'm a crappy blogger because I forgot to take before pictures, but I will post some after ones below so you can see some of the funny crap I had to do. Anyways when I am finished I set the ac to 68 and check all the ducts, low and behod they are all belting out cold air and the temperature in the house is dropping by one degree every 10 minutes. Success! Of course, Jenn is not impressed because it's 1:30 and instead of letting her sleep I am talking to you guys...

We're IN!

OK, so I know I've been quiet, but its hard to do anything when you are holding your breath. The last couple of weeks (months!!!) have been torture. We've cancelled our move date twice, and the only thing saving us is that my landlord didn't have anyone renting the place we were leaving so we could stay an extra month...

But we're finally in the house, no where near unpacked, and we're still missing flooring in the basement and paint in half the rooms, the laundry room is half finished, but now we are living here. The contractor now understands what I meant by my dog being insane, as he now has to deal with a barking dog for every second he spends in the house, maybe it will speed them along (or just give them another reason not to come to the house)

Electricity, how hard can it be?

Seriously, there's a hot and a cold and ground, just like water only it's best not to let them mix... Right? Simple right?

Sigh, our contractor installed our dishwasher the other day (in spite of me telling him, and the electrician telling him not to) and when I went to turn it on, nothing. Nw behind the dishwasher there was a box with a 120v and 240v feed, so my immediate thought was, he connected it to the 240v and I need a new dishwasher, or should I say ANOTHER new dishwasher...

Max to the rescue (he's the electrician and a really great one) turns out the garbage disposal switch next to the sink not only Turns on the dishwasher (what?) but also two lights over the sink. Max sets about re-wiring that and notices some serious no nos... My contractor, is clearly not a licensed electrician as he used the wrong gauge wire (smaller number = larger wire, weird but true. Using the larger number wire means that you could melt the wire as it heats up trying to carry enough current for you. Melty wire usually means fire...) he also connected the ground to the dishwasher, but not to the ground in the wall completely defeating the purpose of the ground wire. Last but not least, he didn't use a clamp around the wire, so here is something that is perpetually filled with water, that is ungrounded, and with a wire that is rubbing on metal all the time... Basically a recipe for eventually electricuting yourself...

While max fixes that, which incidentally took him 6 hours due to the sheer volume of wires in the box, the electricity is off of course... Now the major issue with this house was water damage if you remember... When the elec is off, water starts dripping down the kitchen wall from the pump in the attic that is supposed to take the run off from the ac unit and bring it outside. More on the ac next post... Back to fun with electricity for now...

Finally all is said and done and Max and his father in law leave. Everything goes well for a little while until Gavyn goes to sleep. He has a ceiling fan in his room, and a personal fan (which secretly I think he needs for the white noise not the cooling effect as he sleeps under his comforter all the time) and the lights go out on the bedroom side of the top floor. I mean all of them, his room, the hallway, the master bedroom, the master bathroom.... All of them. So down to the breaker box, sure enough the fuse popped so turn it on and go turn some lights off to reduce the load.

Anyone who knows anything about electricity knows that by code you should only have between 10-12 things on a single breaker. One pot light counting as one thing, and one plug counting as one thing, we're approaching 40 things on that one breaker. Short of re-wiring the house not much I can do but change to cfl lightbulbs and try and keep most of the lights off all the time...

Finally, things have calmed down and I go to work (yes, all of the above happened on one day...) and my contractor comes over to install two new back doors on the house. The olds ones are so bad they don't even open anymore, but for $1000 I get two new doors installed and they look pretty good too... Before they get installed however the lights dim again, and then go out. The phones are down (wireless hand sets don't work well in a power failure) the Internet is down, and Jen has no cell phone so she cant reach me. She somehow finds my mifi and gets online long enough to email me so I give Max a call and he heads over right away.

Meanwhile, the neighbor comes over and asks if we are having electrical problems. That's right, we did something and the ENTIRE block is paying for it. I'm still not sure how that happens, that's what panels in your house are for, to isolate you from the outside world, but anyways the transformer on the street has lost a phase, so we can only get 120v into the house which is then split for all of the plugs, lights, etc in the house.. Pseg to the rescue and we are back to normal... The guy driving the truck says this happens all the time to this house... So we're in for some more interesting things I'm sure.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I love my folks

OK so if you read my other blog you know I'm all gushy about my loving wife and how much we get along and all that, but my parents rock too. When you have kids you start to resemble your parents in the things you say and do, and start to feel sorry for what you put them through...:) Anyways, my parents deserve this call out, and on the reno blog, because they came down to help us move!! Only we weren't moving because hey, thats just how this project is going. Anyways, when they came down they not only brough me 20 coffee crisp bars (if you care canadian you get it, if you aren't you don't, but they are the best chocolate bar out there, and sadly not available in the states), 2 LARGE tins of Timmy's coffee, but they also brought down 4 boxes of Robertson screws.

Now I've mentioned Robertson screws a couple of times, otherwise known as square heads, but they are basically impossible to find down here. They are also vastly superior to any other screw out there (though a recent experience with a 6 inch long lag bolt with a 10 pointed head and a sore wrist might alter that opinion) so the fact that they thought to stop off and grab what must be 50$ worth of screws to bring me shows how cool they are.

Love you guys! Thanks for coming to see us and hopefully next time we won't have to kick Kyle out of his room so you'll have somewhere to sleep!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

This definately qualifies, as one of those days

So for the last couple of weeks not much has been going on at the house, I have finished almost everything that i have to do, and our contractor is waiting for electricity to complete his side..

Last thing on my list was to cap off the water lines that fed the ridiculous bar, and to finish up the plumbing on the master bedroom sink, the drain line. So today, I thought hey we'll go over do that, get some groceries, Jenn wanted to check out the Lumber liquidators sale that is going on. All told, shouldnt take more than an hour.

First thing first I need to get my plumbing gear, I'm anal retentive/organized so I have a plumbing kit, electrical kit, drilling kit blah blah... But I cant find the plumbing one, being as how I packed up the entire garage. Here is where I should have turned back around, gone back upstairs, changed back into my pygama's and called it a day.... but instead, I unpacked half the pack rat before giving up and thinking, i must have left it at the house.

Jump in the car and over to the house we go. As soon as we arrive it dawns on me, I was so pre-ccupied with trying to get the plumbing gear that I didn't grab the parts off the kitchen counter. Neither did Jenn. Luckily house is only 5 minutes away, so back into the car back to the rental. Grab the parts back to the house. Jenn goes upstairs and I head back down into the basement, open up the duffelbagofwonder and grab the torch and realize, I have no solder... its not in the bag where I thought it was.

This being our second trip to the house, I refuse to leave without doing SOMETHING, so I head upstairs to the ringing laughter of my loving wife, and crawl under the master vanity, valiently pull out the pieces I bought, and growl as they don't fit.

Fine, we're NOT going to do anything then, back into the car and off we go. Once we're done the patrol of southern NJ, i drop Jenn off at the grocery store and go grab some plumbing kit. Now I have every tool known to man, anything I was ever missing I bought, so I HAVE EVERYTHING I NEED to do these jobs AND ITS SOMEWHERE IN THE PACK RAT! Well whatever, having more money than brains (if only just barely) I just buy everything I need again. My father would roll over in his grave, if he were dead, but he's not, so he's just rolling his eyes.

Drop off the groceries, down a cup of joe, grab Sawyer and head over to the house again to do what I need to do. Once I arrive, Sawyer does his usual 3lb crap on the floor, and I realize, I have no source of fire to light up my crappy torch for the plumbing... BACK into the car (those of you counting, that is now 4 trips.. and we're not done yet) back to the rental, drop of sir shits a lot, and grab Jenn's lighter (she doesn't smoke, not sure why she has a lighter...).

Back over to the house I go, and surprisingly I haven't lost it yet.... this is extremely rare for me. I head back into the lovely house head downstairs and get setup, light up the torch and yank off the offending pieces, then I set in to re-attach the plugs and I can't find them. I call Jenn, where did you leave them? In my sweater. I swear to god, I can hear the tears of laughter in her voice....BACK to the rental, at this point, my stubborn streak has kicked in, I WILL FINISH THIS PROJECT TODAY. Back home, grab the caps, back to the house open up the duffelbagofwonder again and that pot of flux, isn't, its a pot of Plumbers putty.

Back into the car, back to Home Depot. I grab what I need for the basement job, and then ask the guy about the upstairs bedroom. He patiently listens to the mess I have constructed, and then sighs and says, I think you might be screwed. Cut off the mess you made and bring it in here and I'll get you what you need.

Awesome, because after 7 hours, thats EXACTLY What I wanted to hear... Anyways back in the car, back to the house where I finish the soldering job in about 6 minutes... Then go upstairs and start to saw off the mess I made. It's making a weird noise though, so I reach back and realize its not black PVC piping like I told the guy, its metal... Its a threaded plastic doodad on the metal pipe, so I just unscrew it and bring it to the guy. About 2 minutes later he has me with all the parts I will need (the right parts, not the half assed BS I was doing) and I go home. Screw it, I won't finish tonight I just don't have it in me....

Pray for me, I'm going back tomorrow.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

20 days later, still no electricity

So here we are, 20 days after we passed the electrical inspection, and the city only got around to sending the information to PSEG today. Yep, 3 weeks lost, so of course now we can't even move in.... None of the other work could take place while we waited for the electrical to be completed, so here I sit on my hands watching as nothing happens in the house...

My work, amazing as it is, was complimented by a friend of mine when he put up the mudding, all of the crooked walls now look straight, and all the holes where there was no drywall have been patched. Place looks great! Of course when the electrical guy rolled through he saw the work, and promptly slapped a stop work order on the house. Apparently my contractor had not submitted the plans I drew up for the basement work that we wanted to do. So we had to iron out that particular kink, city was very forthcoming on what they needed, and as of this morning we have the permits we need and an inspection is scheduled for monday.

What I will likely have to do for that inspection, is tear down a couple of sheets of my newly painted drywall to prove that I did the framing and wiring correctly, awesome no? Yes, I know, I know, get permits and you won't have this problem. Every DIY show in the world states that 3-4 times per episode, so why did I not do it, well I thought I had, but this goes to show you (they also mention this) check up on your contractor early and often...In the end, its your responsibility.

So, 1 week away from our target movin date my contractor has finally said we're not going to be able to make it. Now I have to find somewhere to live, I wonder if my landlord will notice if I just don't move out..

Friday, April 1, 2011

We passed the electrical inspection!

And thank god too, because I really need to get the heat turned on in our house so that the pipes don't freeze again and the drywall mud can actually dry... I did some mudding on sunday around the panel, and on tuesday night it still wasn't dry, just not warm enough I guess.

So next we get the cut in card from the city, and get the meter installed, get the gas turned on, check the boiler and fire it up.... Probably won't actually have heating until the end of next week, but we're one large step closer.

Good times!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Drywall is up

After a long weekend of work, and some more late nights, the drywall is hung. I had to pry up the floor to get the door installed (which does NOT bode well for when the carpet is installed, but I'm conveniently ignoring that fact for now).

Now the worst part, the mudding. Seriously, while drywall is the best invention known to man (can you imagine pulling up lathe and plaster?) I think mudding is stupid. Someone needs to make beadboard that is like drywall, so we can avoid the whole mudding thing... dreading it. I checked with Dad, and he said, hire someone. Whatever you do, don't do it yourself... I'm going to listen to him... might be expensive, but my sanity is more expensive...

The inside of a closet takes an amazing amount of drywall to cover, so many twists and turns in there...

We were splitting the bar between Kyles room and the laundry room. In reality, the (eventually to be) laundry room came out ahead in the deal. And yes, before you ask, that piece of drywall is on backwards. And yes, before you ask she did notice and was nice enough not to say anything, and yes it will take WAY more paint to cover properly.. I know I know, should have just cut a new piece, I was tired.

OK so not ALL the drywall is up, sue me... That piece needs me to move the AC vent above the door over about an inch to ensure that it doesn't hit the wall, just didn't have it in me on this particular day.

Jenn decided she would pound away on the floor and finally remove all the cement down there that was holding down the old tiles.

She was so cute, I didn't have the heart to tell her that I was going to be removing all the old floor and she didn't need to do it. Then Tristen, Kyle, and Gavyn got in on the act. Now I have to figure out how to keep the flooring and go over top of it with hardwood or I'll never hear the end of it...

I haven't said it yet this post, and really, can anyone say it enough? Thanks Dad. Couldn't/Wouldn't have even tried this without the years of pain and suffering I put you through.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

its been a long couple of days

Well its been a long couple of days, whenever I tell people I am putting up a wall they are always amazed that I can do it... Again, thanks dad. People just don't know how "easy" it is to put up a wall. You measure twice, cut ones, make yourself two jigs (also known as a piece of wood cut to 14.5 inches) so that your beams will be 16 inches on center, and viola a wall

As Kyle and I were doing this work I couldn't help but think that around 16 years ago, I was in the basement of my parents place, framing up the walls with my dad and making the space that my soon to be wife, and soon to be son, would call home for a year... Time flies.

Note the pictures are really dark in the after... That is what happens when you get off work around 6, take a 1.5 hour commute home, stop to eat supper and THEN start wortking... Lots of up until midnight nights to get these walls up. One suggestion for anyone trying this, if you can afford it, buy/rent/steal a damn nail gun. We used screws, and mr Robertson, I miss you... Philips screws suck (Sorry Phil, but they do)

And yes, there is a LOT of extra wood here, shut up. I was making sure that when I was drywalling I would have something to screw to... Planning that ahead of time would have saved me a lot of pain, suffering, and stripped screws, but this eventually worked.

 And yes, I do my own electrical work. Seriously though, if my Dad hadn't let me pester him for all those years, I would not be as handy as I am, and wouldn't even be able to approach this project. Re-routing the electrical wiring, installing new plugs, framing (it only looks crooked, I swear that door frame is level, in fact whenever we put the level against anything it was level! Maybe the level is broken...)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The new before and after..

Taking time out to enter on the blog is nice, gives me some time to decompress and just chill

You can't see it real well, but thats a LOT of drywall that I brought home with me...:) Today was more demo, as I noted previously, just thought I would throw up some more before and afters, as well as hint at our next project..


After Day 1... note all the snakey junk on the walls? Thats glue to hold up the panelling, because the 80000 nails weren't enough.

After Day 2. 

The Bar, before (Thinking it might have been a better idea to keep it and let Kyle have it in his room)

After Day 1 (no change on Day 2) Note the patch of white on the bottom left of the picture? Thats filler, because the floor is concaved in that area. I don't really want to know why it is concaved in that area, though something tells me at some point I will know why.

Before, what a nice looking pool room... Maybe demoing it is not such a good idea.

And After, the wife speaketh, and the husband taketh away.

Monday, March 21, 2011

We' were done demo.... then we weren't...

So my contractor was at the house today going over what needed to be done, they tidied up some of the drywall upstairs and prepared the dining room for the new powerlam beam

Thats the area on the left there, it looked like they just cut the joists off from the drywall underneath, but once the drywall was down...

We found out we didn't have to do anything! First bit of good news... The other news my contractor broke to me was that (I was in denial here..) I would have to tear out the drywall in that area in the basement where the paneling used to be... Awesome, moar demo!

Sorry for the quality on that last one, snapped it with my Blackberry because I keep forgetting to bring my camera with me.. Anyways behind the drywall I find, some small holes in the insulation (awesome, now we need a cat..) and this space age stuff

Yup, THAT is the insulation... its literally paper thin...that is all that stands between whoever is sitting next to that wall (did I mention this is to be my office?) and the outside world.. awesome... this is being held up by 1/4 inch slats, and then bare cement... not much room to augment the insulation as I would need to move the heating system below and thats just not going to happen. I put in some pink foam , a whopping R1.5, spent about an hour doing it too, thinking the entire time, why am I bothering... but I'd kick myself later if I didn't try and put SOMETHING there... and tyvek over top.

We also built half of Kyles bedroom, amazing how 30 minutes of farting around with some two by fours on the ground can transform a space... stood it up, located a joist and slammed in a screw to stop it from moving around. Checked for level, and almost fell over... it was level.. Didn't ask too many more questions, threw in another screw and called it even. Tomorrow I get to buy a ramgun (not sure what the real name is) but basically it fires a 23 guage shell and powers a nail into concrete, can't wait. I think I'll make Kyle do the first one....:)