Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dining Room Before and After

We have had the same dining room table and chairs for over 10 years. My Mom had given me the table and chairs when I had my first apartment after college. I really, really like the style. Unfortunately they came with a few issues - beaten up a bit and only 4 chairs. It was tough to sit comfortably with a group of over four. I was always fearful that someone might fall to the floor if one of the chairs gave way. It was time to move on.
I wanted a table with claw feet - antique or antique style. We came upon this one and decided to give it a go. I like it very much...and with 8 chairs - no more folding chairs at dinner parties. I think it looks more grown-up, too.

My Hero!

It is clear to me that I make everything more difficult and intimidating than it needs to be. I've been anxious about this bathroom refinish and my guy, Kimball has put me at ease. He has bought and flipped several houses like this and he does refinishing in bathrooms and kitchens all the time. After having the other guy out who basically wants to gut the bathroom, Kimball has given me reassurance that we don't have to gut it to accomplish what I want to accomplish. I'm so relieved.

Today he is here making life better. The two little peevish projects are in the works as I write. He put in a 20volt circuit in the eletrical which took all of 5 minutes and our crap shoot microwave is fixed. It was such an irritating problem. While cooking we had to hold our breath every time we turned on the microwave. Would we have to go to the basement to flip the breaker this time or next? It seemed it was every two to five times of use. He thinks he resolved it. No need for expensive overhauls as I thought might be the case. Seriously - 5 minutes. To me he is worth his weight in gold.

The kitchen sink. He is putting in a new faucet. The old one was driving me crazy because it was so low to the sink that it was just not user-friendly. I had put a nozzle on the end of the faucet to have a spray option which makes a big difference, but only added less distance between the bottom of the sink and the end of the spicket. In addition he is adding the water valves under the sink so that we can turn the water off from upstairs should there be a problem. Now we'd have to run to the basement to shut off the water which in such situations time is of essence.

My hero!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

ARGH! Bathroom Advice

So the bathroom is going to be a major ordeal. I spoke with a contractor who basically wasn't listening to me. I told him I wanted to keep the bathroom pretty much the way it is, but add tile where the ugly plastic is and take the faucet off of the water return drain in the tub.

Perhaps it's because I'm a woman that he felt he knew best, but he's fired before I even hire him. Yep. This isn't going to be so fun afterall.

The kitchen and bath salesman I spoke to was great. He came with the plumber to look at the job. He removed his shoes and made the plumber remove his shoes as they walked across the hardwood floors. He seemed to "get it" and listened and offered some suggestions. He said he would send over the contractor who does the demolition and tile work. It was this contractor who disuaded me from only replacing the plaster where I wanted the tile. When I said how I wanted the tile to be 6 ft.' he said that it should go to the top of the arch in the tub area. He suggested that the whole bathroom be gutted so that he could put in mould adverse boards. He said he could recreate the arch over the tub and it would still be an arch but would be a little different. He then proceeded to tell me how he put in lights over the shower and a glass door and pulled out the closet outside the bathroom and reconstructed a bathroom somewhere in the neighborhood. My heart just starting sinking. He did confirm that the plumber should put in the "studs for the second floor bathroom while we have it torn apart. I did like that idea. He also confirmed that the floor finish on the baseboards would have to be sanded and repainted. It was my floor refinisher that has made me leery of contractors in the first place. If they don't know what they're doing they could really screw you up.

My handyman I like. He is reasonable - beyond reasonable in cost, but he also has a full time job. I'm afraid he just doesn't have the time to do the bathroom. He, too, would modernize the bathroom if it were strictly up to him. He listens, though. Meanwhile, until I get this dang job started the water is dripping down the drain and it's like Chinese Water Torture.

Who knew it takes a week to get a quote. I know there is someone out there who gets the point. Hey, it isn't going to be the biggest job in the world, but the fact is, if they do a good job then it is likely they'll get the job to do the kitchen, basement and the attic space, too.

Monday, January 12, 2009


So it is going much slower than I thought it would. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the "to do list". It's not the actually list as much as who I want to work with, who to call first - a plumber, a handyman, a contractor or an architect?

The bathroom is priority
as there are issues that need to be resolved. Do we just patch it up or do we go for renovating the whole thing right away. Cost comes into play. This is the most pressing job because the faucet is now leaking 24/7 in the tub. The handles in the bathtub are stripped. I tried simply replacing the parts behind the handles but unfortunately they would have to be ordered and they're really old. They may be the original parts when the house was built. New generic handles worked for awhile, but now even pliers aren't working to turn off the water. The question becomes why not just invest to do it right verses patching it up to just get by. Tiles, new pipes if need be and all that jazz.

At some point the shower enclosure panel was replaced with a yellow panel so it doesn't match the other panels. The vent is vented to the attic and not outside - sloppy. The ceiling is cracking a little and the pain is peeling. I'm curious to see the original color of the tiles. Someone did a white wash over the whole bathroom at some point.

But no project is in isolation. There is the question of the attic renovation. We'd like to put a claw foot tub in the attic bathroom. Will there need to be support structure built in to handle the weight. If we have the bathroom renovated and then had to have a steel beam structure put in would that mess with the newly renovated bathroom since the bathroom ceiling would be essentially the bathroom floor in the upstairs. If we can't have a tub in the attic do we want to put a claw foot tub on the first floor and rip out what we have now?

It seems that the projects are somewhat dependent on each other. Anyway that is what is going on.

I have my concerns about who to hire. We know there are people out there that lack any integrity about their workmanship and perhaps are just looking for a quick buck and might do a shoddy job. I heard plenty of horror stories while living in Chicago. Even the guy who I hired to refinish the floor when I first bought the house didn't cover the baseboards and got vanish all along the bottom of the baseboards and a few places on the walls. His co-worker dumped the left over vanish down the tub. When I questioned him he said he didn't know anything about it and didn't offer to do anything to fix it either. When I learned that it wasn't just a matter of removing the stain with GOOFOFF OR Goo Gone it was too late. So I guess I'm a little gun shy about it but nothing is getting done and that is unacceptable.

Do I have to become a licensed contractor myself in order to be sure things are done properly?

The bathroom - I'm thinking I'd like to keep all the original fixtures; the tub, sink and toilet. I'd like to have the mechanics in the toilet replaced if possible. There is a piece that slides and causes the water to run in the toilet that looks like it could be replaced. The sink has rust near the drain and the faucet and hot/cold water handles need to be replaced. Can we have it re-glazed? If we go that route will it be more expensive than just getting a new sink that looks like the one we have?
Same question regarding the tub. And then the ugly enclosure - one panel is yellow and the rest is beige and it's just UGLY. Should we get a new enclosure which would be the least expensive option or should we go for having it all ripped put and re-tiled? Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.

Such is the life of Cowabungalow