Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Has it really been a month.

I can't believe it's been over a month since the last post.  The bathroom project was moving along smoothly and the end was in sight.  But of course the ideal world of DIY home renovations just doesn't exist in reality, especially if you own an old home and have 3 young DIYers at home who always want to help.
The slow down of work in the bathroom started with the grouting of the wall tiles.  I'd like to say it was a rookie mistake, but it wasn't.  It was part over confidence and part poor planning.  We are still working on the grouting and hope to finish it soon.  Well, "soon" is a relative term and if used relative to the length of time the bathroom has been taking...  I'm sure you get the point.
The next slow down of work was caused by the sink installation.  We had put in a pedestal sink before so I figured it would take a half a day to complete.  Now "half a day" is not a relative term; it's a definite amount of time and if multiplied by 28 gives you 14 days!  It took about a day and a half of actual work, the rest of the time was accounted for by: 
  • figuring out the very limited instructions for the faucet
  • a trip to Lowes to get an escutcheon or parts of escutcheon that would work for the drain
  • a trip to Home Depot to get an extra P-trap for the off center drain stub out coming from the wall
  • waiting for the correct valve piece to come in the mail so the cold water would open clockwise rather than counterclockwise
  • testing and correcting the drain for leaks (multiple times)
Well here it, props go to Mrs. Forest for making me test a portion of the drain prior to putting the basin back on the pedestal (would have added another week to account for frustration).


It's amazing how having a sink upstairs again makes such a big difference to everyday life.  Not having to run downstairs to brush our teeth has been awesome!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grouting Bathroom Wall Tiles

This past Sunday Mrs. Forest and I grouted the bathroom wall tiles.  I'd like to say the task is done but it's not and it looks like it will take many long hours to complete.

It all started out smoothly, we taped off the floor, walls and tub.

Sink Wall

Toilet Wall

Tub/Shower Wall
We then mixed the grout and applied it to the joints.

Mrs. Forest Mixing Grout
I was a little lax about the setting time for the wall grout.  I think after successfully grouting the floor I figured grouting the walls would be a piece of cake.  As is the case with most of our home improvement projects, that was the first mistake. 

Mrs. Forest and I worked together on applying the grout and I thought it would go fairly quickly, second mistake.  The corners of the walls and chair rail were a pain to grout and it turned out to be almost an hour before I started to wipe down the walls to remove the excess grout. 

It took a lot more scrubbing than expected and a decision had to be made.  Keep on working or feed the kids!  Of course feeding the kids won out, but "feeding" also involved going shopping to actually have something to feed them, third mistake.

By the time everyone was fed and the kids put to bed the grout had a good amount of time to set.  Well, it's going to take a few days to scrape off the excess and get the grout lines to look the way we want.

I did manage to get the toilet in though.  The only hiccup with that was partially flooding the bathroom and water leaking into the kitchen below causing some plaster and old ceiling tile to come loose.

Yes it works!
With ceilings in mind, Armstrong has introduced a new custom ceiling product and are having a giveaway at One Project Closer.  Looks like something that would work in our kitchen.

Friday, October 15, 2010

More pictures...

...of Mrs. Forest's handywork.

We are slowly but surely getting to the point of grouting the wall tiles.  The tub knee wall and two corners of the chair rail remain to be completed.  Doesn't sound like much but the amount of tile cutting involved doesn't do much for the motivation.


It's hard to believe that these boxes are actually empty and out for recycling!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bathroom update...

I'm happy and proud to say that a lot of work was done in the bathroom this past weekend.  It's amazing how much can get done when the kids stay at the grandparents' for the whole weekend!

Mrs. Forest has been doing a great job with the wall tiles and we are getting close to finishing.  We hope to be able to grout by tomorrow night!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pipe is done!

Top of fitting
Check one more major item off the Bathroom to do list!  I was concerned about the remaining cracked section of cast iron and researched ways to repair it but came to the conclusion that the best way to repair it was to replace it with PVC.  That approach would have worked great but I was concerned with possibly cracking the fitting in the basement. 

"Just replace the fitting then," one may say.  Well, that would have taken me at least a weak to do as the fitting was partially concreted in the corner and had every fixture on the first floor connected to it. 

We're talkin' kitchen sink, washer, toilet and bathroom sink!  And to make things harder the pipes for the washer, toilet and sink penetrate and are concreted into a load bearing wall.  I know I have to replace the whole thing eventually but I wouldn't have met Mrs. Forest's deadline if I tackled it at the time.  So there's one more thing added to the house to do list.

Bottom of fitting
I ended up solving the cracked pipe problem by lining the 4 inch cast iron with a 3 inch PVC pipe. I measured the length needed to line the cracked section and extend into the cast iron fitting in the basement. The length came out to 60 inches but of course when I inserted the PVC into the cast iron it would only go to about 28 inches. I thought maybe that would be sufficient but realized I was wrong after pouring water down the pipe and noticing water seeping through the crack in the basement section.

A decision had to be made:
  • Leave the pipe at 28 inches and try to epoxy the crack in the basement
  • Attempt to pound the pipe in the 32 inches and run the risk of cracking the fitting or getting the PVC stuck short of the 60 inches
I went with the 2nd choice and I'm glad I did because it worked like a charm!  Next was to complete the connection to the PVC coming down from the 2nd floor, which went together fairly quick.  And finally the leak test - YES, IT PASSED!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to the Bathroom!

I have been given an ultimatum by Mrs. Forest - "Finish the bathroom before school starts or I'm outahere!"  Lucky for me school starts a week after Labor Day!  Also, lucky for me "Finish" means a working tub and toilet.  The main obstacle to having working fixtures being the cracked cast iron drain pipe that was dumping water into the basement.

I had previously spent a lot of time (years) thinking about how to go about removing the pipe and the consequences of doing something wrong (causing more cracks or failing the pipe above).  Well, I finally MANNED UP yesterday and took out my trusty reciprocating saw.

I made sure that the pipe had adequate support above and planned my cut below the cracked portion of pipe.  The proximity of the pipe to the wall and the box-out sides didn't make cutting any easier and it took roughly an hour to get through or at least mostly through the pipe - the pipe cracked the rest of the way to complete the cut.

After the cut it took awhile to remove the 7ft section of pipe as the top was hung up at the connection to the new PVC above.  Plus the pipe was heavy as A$$.  I decided to try and crack the pipe into smaller pieces by hitting it with a small sledge hammer.  I was hitting it up high and it ended up cracking down low so I scrapped that idea.  The small section came out easily and the larger section came out with a little more effort.

After I got the pipe out of the way I discovered what I was hoping not to find on the remaining pipe - a large crack running down to the floor of the kitchen.  I'm fairly certain that I didn't cause this crack during removal as there is a good amount of corrosion and section loss of the pipe.

Hopefully there is enough sound section of pipe for me to connect to new PVC pipe.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

And more wildlife...

...but this one wasn't very welcomed.

It's very rare these days for all of us to be sitting together in the dining room for dinner.  Last night we actually did; well, between clearing the table, getting drinks for the kids, opening a bottle of wine...  I think I sat down for about a total of two minutes when Mrs. Forest looks up at the corner of the dining room and says "What the $&*! is that!?"  My first thought, before even looking up, was "Probably a big spider."  Well, it could have been a big spider or at least a big furry tarantula.  Nope, it was a bat!

Yup, it was just hanging upside down on the wall.  So dinner ended early and we decided to retire (aka run) to the family room.  Actually, at first I thought "Wow, that's pretty kool," but quickly it went to "How the F am I going to get it out of the house!?"  I knew I needed a net but knew the kids' butterfly net wouldn't do.  I called a neighbor that I knew would have a pool net who just happens to be an ex police dectective, they get bat removal training - right?  All kidding aside, as I had assumed, he did have some experience with removing bats from a house.

He arrived within minutes with his pool net which was more shallow than I had hoped.  His response was that it wasn't a butterfly net and that all we needed was to trap it and kill it.  I wasn't into that idea, not because I'm Buddhist, but because I couldn't see how we were going to kill it without squashing it and getting blood and guts all over the place.  So I convinced him that I could trap it with the pool net and then go underneath with the butterfly net, sandwich the bat between nets and get it out of the house.

I imagined the thing taking off as I approached but it didn't.  I imagined it escaping when trying the sandwich move but it didn't.  I imagined it pooping on the floor, it did.  Other than that it went pretty smooth, though there were times when I was going to scream like a little girl!

My neighbor was the one to get it out and he took it to the street to let it free.  It seemed to have trouble with trying to fly away and it ended up crawling away instead.  I don't know if it was in shock or sick, I'm pretty sure we didn't hurt it.  Well, hopefully it's happier now and flying around eating mosquitos.  I know I am, happier, that is!

Of course I thought of pictures after the fact, maybe next time.  Just kidding Mrs. Forest.

Monday, July 26, 2010

More Wildlife

Pulled into the driveway this past Friday after work and noticed this young buck enjoying the yard.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tree Update

More trees have been taken down!  Thanks again to Mr. H for all the invaluable help and tree experience. 

A total of 6 trees came down - 3 cedars, 1 dead dogwood and 2 fir or spruce.  Three were 15-20 ft tall and fairly easy to take down but the other three were 30-40 ft tall and took a little more effort.

We're not big advocates for taking down trees but our yard has just become too overgrown and the health of our house and surrounding trees are getting compromised.  Here are a few pictures of my favorites in the yard (maple & flowering dogwood).

Kitchen Update

Believe it or not, the kitchen island is almost done!  I haven't taken pictures of it lately but I do have some progress pictures.  Below are pictures of the sink install into the butcher block counter. 

It took awhile to layout the opening but the cutting went rather quickly.  I had thought that the cutting would be the most difficult part.  My past experience with cutting 3/4" plywood using my father's old Black & Decker jigsaw was not very encouraging.  Well let me tell you the Bosch jigsaw went through the 1-1/4" butcher block "Like BUTTA!"

Also, here's a picture of the working - yes working - dishwasher!

All that is left to do is to attach the back panels and toe kick to the island and install some drawer hardware!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And another giveaway!

One project closer is having another Skil giveaway - a 7-1/4" Skilsaw 

Deadline is today so head over to their site and enter!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Giveaway from One Project Closer.

One Project Closer is giving away a Skil Random Orbit sander.  Enter now as there's less then until the deadline!  This would be great for conditioning the new butcher block counter we are currently putting in.

Another project!

One of the fathers (Mr. H) from my daughter's 2nd grade class made me an offer I couldn't refuse.  He offered to come by to cut down trees and help clear up the overgrowth in the yard.  Now, the bathroom and kitchen are on the priority list as far as projects go but this offer I just couldn't pass up.  Especially since they just sold their house and would be leaving town in July!

Yesterday, we got started around 8 am.  Mrs. Forest and I wanted to take down a huge Mulberry that was leaning and had some fairly big dead branches, one of which had fallen a year or two ago.  We cleared the area around the Mulberry to gain access to the trunk and once we got a better look at the trunk we decided to clear more of the surrounding area and then decide if we still wanted to tree to come out.

Well 5-6 hrs later we cleared a lot more of the area than I had originally thought.  Mrs. Forest wanted the area cleared out anyway but I was amazed at the amount of work we got done.  We could have continued but I was dying and could keep up with Mr. H (who's 10 yrs older, by the way).

We ended up taking out a lot of small maples, small oaks, yews, pines and a bunch of other stuff (mostly of the poisonous variety).  The transformation is amazing and the pictures I took don't really show the size of the area we cleared.  Below is a before and after of the Mulberry.

Now I have a couple of huge piles for the wood chipper and about 2 seasons worth of leaves to clean up but it's all worth it.  Thank you Mr. H!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


We have lived without a dishwasher for almost 7 years and I thought we could get by a little longer but I was wrong.  Our dishes that have figured out how to reproduce by themselves and it's time for some birth control!

Today is the day that our new dishwasher will be delivered!  It won't be hooked up but it will be in the house, which is a step in the right direction.  I had hoped that the new kitchen island would have been ready but that didn't go as planned.  Turns out it was better that the island wasn't set because we decided to switch positions of the sink and dishwasher.  It would have been terrible to cut holes in the wrong locations in the cabinets!

We also need to properly vent the island sink.  Of course the original island sink was not vented and only worked because it was a double sink with one of the sinks serving as a vent.  I searched online and found a few ways to vent the sink.
  • Provide a loop vent according to the Uniform Plumbing Code
  • Provide a loop vent according to the International Plumbing Code
The Air Admittance Valve would be the easiest to install and take up the least amount of space under the sink but I wasn't able to determine if it could handle the discharge from the dishwasher.

The loop vents are similar in both the Uniform and International Plumbing Codes.  The difference is that the uniform code has a separate branch out to a vent to the roof.

I'm opting for the International Code, not because it will be easier.  Well, actually I am doing it because it will be easier as running a separate vent 3 1/2 stories up and through the roof is not something I really want to do.  And tying into the existing stack would be equally difficult if not impossible. 

I'm fairly confident that the International Code will work fine but if not I could always add the branch in later.  I will post the results when done.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Blue Jay Update.

It's been about 2 days now with no blue jay incidents to report.  No wait, as I was just starting to fall asleep last night I pictured myself laying on the grass in the backyard with the jays starting to gather around me.  One started to swoop down and instead of pulling up at the last minute, flew right into me.  I quickly woke up and could swear something had hit me.  Freaked me out a little but gave me a good laugh in the end.

I could deal with them outside but now (even if only in my head) inside!  The next home purchase may have to be:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wait a minute, two posts in one day!

Yes, that's right I actually have something else to post about!

We came to the conclusion that one of the things getting in the way of the bathroom project was the lack of a dishwasher.  How are they connected, you ask?  Well, with 5 of us in the house now the dishes have overrun our kitchen and dining room.  We always seem to be trying to catch up and it just doesn't feel right to work on the bathroom when there are dishes piled up in the sink.

So on Saturday we started to demo our kitchen island to make room for a dishwasher.  I had grand plans to have it all done this past holiday weekend.  But as usual other social activites just got in the way.

We did manage to get the island out and new Ikea cabinets assembled and rough layout complete.  We also managed to get my parents' hand-me-down fridge cleaned and put into place.  The old one that came with the house was just sucking too much power.


Because we didn't have enough issues at home, a group of Blue Jays decided to form a little gang and terrorize us every now and then.  It started when one day last week Mrs. Forest went to the car to get her phone.  She ended up calling me at work and freaking out about being trapped in the car by some crazy birds swooping at her.  Now I have this fear of birds and the smaller they are the worse the fear.  So I was definitely able to sympathize with her but I did have to fight the urge to laugh.

Well, things changed this weekend when I went out the back door and noticed 4 to 5 Jays screaming and looking at me.  One of them swooped towards the back door so that was the end of my time outside.  Then the next day I moved my car to the back and was immediately surrounded by 4 to 5 Jays screaming and swooping at the car.  Talk about Alfred Hitchcock, these guys are NUTS!

I managed to snap a few shots of the craziness.

I know there must be a nest around somewhere but it doesn't seem to matter if we're in the front of the house or the back.  They seem to have lookouts and when one sees us it calls for its buddies and all H#!! breaks loose!  I really don't know how to handle this and don't really want to wear a helmet and eye protection just to mow the lawn.  Maybe I can buy a plastic owl and attach it to my shoulder when I'm outside.

All joking aside, this really is a pain and we're scared to let the kids outside.  I don't want to hurt the Jays but if they end up hurting one of the kids they better watch out! 

Any advice would be welcomed.

Monday, May 3, 2010


...without any real content! I'm done with posting about what I plan to do. It always ends with the same outcome - NOTHING DONE!

Last Friday was very productive and I had high hopes for Saturday. But of course, Friday night I was feeling the beginnings of a stomach bug and had hoped it would have been better by Saturday. I even posted Saturday morning thinking I would be okay. No luck there. It wasn't too bad if I stayed in one position (standing, sitting...) but everytime I bent over to pick something up it felt like someone punched me in the gut. So I decided to take a little rest which ended up in a 3 hour nap.

NO MORE! Actually, my plan for the bathroom in the next couple of days is to get NOTHING DONE!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

More green items!

No, not green as in the environment. Green as in the bathroom "To Do" list! Managed to get the door trim installed.

Also, prepped the doorway for the threshold.

Hope to get the window trim and threshold installed today.