5 min read

What. A. Day.

Dumpster delivery, electrician, plumber, tiler, landscaper, HVAC guys, tree service, lawyer, phew.
What. A. Day.
The dumpster arrived this morning, and by evening, it was full of what we tore out this weekend.

Today happened to be one of those days when every subcontractor was up for working with me and, at the same time, my normal work blew up and...let's just say I decided that, if I have to choose between talking with my electricians and talking with the President of the MacArthur Foundation, I'm going to prioritize my electricians. Because, let's face it: a good electrician is in high demand, while the president of a foundation will take my call later. (Which he did.)

A little after 7:30 a.m., I started the day with a call to On Demand Dumpster, and not long after, I had a dumpster! The company's name checks out. The landscapers were also here when the dumpster arrived, working on planting and mulching, and then the plumber showed up to pull the two toilets and give me the bad news about the second-floor plumbing (more on that below), which I relayed to the framer.

Then the tiler showed up to work up estimates on the second-floor bathroom job (tub surround and flooring), right after which the electricians came back to get some more stuff working – including, importantly, the overhead light in the basement bathroom, because the subs are going to need a working toilet they can see. (I definitely want all these men to be able to see the toilet.)

Then I also had phone calls and emails with MSU Extension Service, Top Notch arborists, and our lawyer to work out some details of the conservation easement for the two trees... I learned Ann the walnut is probably 50 years old or more, and Bob the oak is likely as much as 150 years old.

Amid all this, I was chucking stuff into the dumpster – material we pulled out over the weekend – and then at 5:30 p.m., before it got dark, we went back at it with our great neighbor Walter. Walter is literally great: he at least six and a half feet tall and he isn't afraid to really swing a sledgehammer.

I told Walter he was like a tornado in terms of turning wall to rubble and he said "The Polish Tornado" would make a good name for a professional boxer.

I had texted Walter yesterday to say that the bees in our yard were busy – it is his hive and they are his bees – and then we had a brief chat in which I told him we were busting down walls and he should come over and play if he felt like joining us. He did in his bee gear plus a respirator.

Thanks to Walter, we got things done much faster than we otherwise would have, including pulling out the first-floor vanity (very heavy plastic). He got the two toilets safely to the carport for possible reuse later.

There's not actually a vine growing out of the toilet. That's an illusion.

The first floor back bedroom/office and bathroom are now pretty fully demoed. I just have to clean it all up before the framer comes on Wednesday. The plumber disconnected all the plumbing to that room, so now we're ready to take on the adventure of turning it into a full bath. We're gearing up for finalizing the plans, getting the permits, and getting going!

Looking from the back bedroom/office to the former first-floor bathroom. That's the external side door to the right, looking towards our house! You can see the lamp in our sunroom window.

Okay, so now the bad news:

The work we did over the weekend to expose the ceiling in the kitchen and expose the shower plumbing on the second floor meant that our plumber could get a really good look today at the second-floor plumbing situation. And he wasn't at all happy. He said we could leave it alone and just to a cosmetic fix, but the odds of it springing a bad leak (like a kitchen-flooding leak) soon are pretty high.

It's a big expense to rip out all that plumbing and do it right. It also means delaying the framing in the kitchen, which throws everything off schedule.

But we're going to do it. Our plumber has never sold us stuff we don't need. In the 20 years he's worked on our house, he has never told me something is a disaster waiting to happen. And he's so busy, he doesn't need more work – it's actually a pain to him to add this to his schedule, especially when I'm nudging him to get to it soon. I really don't want to leave the next owners with a disaster to clean up. So, here we go.

The current state of the second-floor bathroom. We're keeping the tub, but that's about all.

The upside of fixing the second-floor plumbing is that we can raise the ultimate ceiling height in the kitchen a few inches, making it a grander space. So that will be pretty swell. And it's not like I didn't expect to find some major issue when we went into this.

Oh, one more set of subs today: Taking down the drop-ceiling styrofoam above the second-floor bathtub meant that everybody could peak to see how the vent is working. The plumber looked. The tiler looked. The electrician looked. Each one made the same sort of sound – kind of like a cackle combined with a groan.

So, I also called the HVAC guys and asked them to come back out and give me an estimate on new vent fans for the first and second floor bathrooms. The first floor doesn't currently have one, and the second floor needs to be of the sort that doesn't make subcontractors sound like feisty crows.

I feel lucky to be working with such terrific people. None of them talk down to me just because I'm a woman – in fact, sometimes I have to ask them to dumb it down for me – and they all work to do a good job with a good attitude. Can't ask for anything more.