5 min read

Sweat Equity: Befores and Afters

The Huns are at the perimeter, but the job site is cleaned up.
Sweat Equity: Befores and Afters
On Demand Dumpster showed up promptly to get the dumpster this morning. Meanwhile, Wright Tree Service was all around harming old-growth trees again.

I pictured myself today a peasant farming fields on which my family had eked out a living for generations, and in the background, just over the hills, were the Roman soldiers or Huns or Imperial Stormtroopers working steadily to destroy our way of life and change our histories...

But it was just Wright Tree Service harming old-growth trees all over the neighborhood again, all to protect the electric wires, all reminding me of how important it is to protect the trees we can. The trim they gave the Norway spruce just over the back property line was ridiculous. They took everything off the south side, and I'm pretty sure they might as well have killed it outright.

After they finished with the spruce, they went after the old hardwood (an oak, I think) just to the left, leaving it a ridiculous shape. If only BWL had not waited 100 years to start trimming trees...

Anyway. As you know if you're keeping up, this weekend was a big demo weekend, with the final destruction done yesterday. That meant I spent today cleaning up, getting ready for the framer to come and figure out what's going to need doing for the new first-floor bathroom and new drywall in the back bedroom/office.

Here's the back bedroom before demo. Note the drop ceiling. What you can't see in the photo is the faux 1970's paneling on the walls.

Looking from the dining room door.

Here's the first floor bathroom as it looked when we bought 615:

The first floor bathroom when we bought the house, looking from the pantry off the kitchen.
The first-floor bathroom had a closet and built-in electric space heater.
One more image of the first-floor bathroom as it was.

Lisa the Design Genius has come up with a plan that calls for shrinking the bedroom a bit to add a bedroom closet and to give more space to the bathroom, to make it into a full bath.

If we pull off what we're thinking, the new bathroom will have a shower, fresh vanity – fresh everything. Instead of a space heater, it will have a heated floor. The back bedroom will have a baseboard heater added. All that heating consideration is meant to make up for the fact that these rooms are over the garage and not connected to the central HVAC.

Dealing with plumbing in a bathroom above an unheated garage is more than a bit of a challenge, but nothing we're unfamiliar with. Until we built a new garage onto the back of our house, we had a first-floor bathroom over a cold garage. The solution at 615 will be the same as what we employed in our house – electric pipe heaters, in 615's case specifically for the shower drain. At least that's the plan as of right now.

As a reminder, here's the way everything looked in the middle of demo, before the vanity came out:

Looking from the back bedroom/office to what was the first-floor bathroom (left) and pantry (right). The kitchen door is to the right of the pantry, where the green ladder stands.

Today, I cleaned it all up, because I know from much experience that presenting a clean job site to contractors is the best way to have them not feel overwhelmed with your job.

My good friend Stu Paterson came over to keep me company and help out, and, while I am exhausted, I am very pleased with the results!

Please notice how tidy everything looks!

Here's a shot showing the pantry and bathroom area after clean-up today:

In the midst of the cleanup, Habitat for Humanity's ReStore crew showed up to cart off a bunch of what was left of the prior owners' possessions:

Gone are a bunch of side tables, the old ceiling fan, a lot of kitchenware, and so much more. Next, the prior owners' hired guy will come in to get rid of the rest.

Meanwhile, since we own both our house's property and the one next door, we've decided to take advantage of the moment to have the retaining wall on the south side of our property (615's side) rebuilt. It's been collapsing 20 years since construction, and rebuilding it now is straightforward compared to what it might be like if someone else owned 615, since the infrastructure of the retaining wall necessarily requires digging up some of 615's property.

The driveway of our own house. 615 is to the right.

The wall on the left, next to our house, is doing okay. On the right, you see the new retaining wall in progress. This work is being done by Bud, Branch & Blossom, the folks who also are doing the landscaping for us at 615.

Back in 615's column, the tile guy has just now sent an estimate for the second-floor bathroom redo, and it seems reasonable. The plan there is to use mostly white tile to brighten the space but to incorporate some yellow to go with the tub. The plumber and I had to explain to Lisa, who is from Tennessee, that it's not really an option to go with a blue and yellow design in East Lansing...much as Lisa and I would be inclined to go in that direction.

So, we're probably looking at yellow, grey, and white, or similar.

Here's a photo of the second-floor bathroom when we bought 615:

You can see the drop ceiling over the shower and the plastic faux-marble surround, around the tub. The plastic was put up with no vapor barrier, and there's evidence water seeped behind the plastic.

I explained yesterday that the plumber convinced me we really need to redo all the plumbing for the second-floor bathroom. It's expensive, but it will avoid a disaster.

The great news from today: the plumber might just start as early as this week on the second-floor bathroom plumbing tear-out and rebuild! That would be amazing.

Now I have to go eat some serious protein. Thanks for sticking with me on the adventure!