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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Shower: Estimates and Demolition

I've been interviewing plumbers to get an estimate on rebuilding our shower base as well as building and waterproofing our shower walls so that I could tile.

The first plumber let me know that rebuilding a cement base would be an extravagant cost that he doesn't do, but he knew a guy that did it.  He even called this guy while in our home for an estimate which ended up being around $2300.00 sight unseen and didn't even include waterproofing the walls.  This plumber's estimate of over $1400.00 included three parts:
  1. Redoing the drain pipes to code.  Apparently, in 2003 when we had our tub turned into a shower, they did not give us the right pipe diameter.  We have had no problems with draining our shower, but code is code!
  2. Replacing the pressure valve and shower trim.  A pressure valve helps control the water temperature when water is used in other areas of the house by regulating the pressure.  The shower trim includes the handle to turn on the water and the back plate that covers the hole for this handle.  Again, we have had no problems; however, I do want to change out our brass shower trim for an oil rubbed bronze finish.  I had planned to get my current trim powder coated, so I really didn't need this in the estimate.   (More on powder coating later.)
  3.  A fiberglass shower base and drain.  The idea that this would cost less then the cement base was intriguing.  The fact that his estimate stated a 'chrome' drain along with all the other 'additions' led me to believe this plumber was just adding up his profit.

The second plumber - actually both 'plumbers' were estimators for their employers.  They may have had a plumbing background, but their job was to assess the project and provide an estimate.  So, why am I still waiting for the second plumber's estimate?  It has been over a week.  He also suggested updating the pipes to code and to use his company's brand of shower base, along with a new pressure valve and trim.

Today, I might have found my shower installer!  He doesn't do plumbing and did not suggest new shower trim or plumbing changes.  His estimate for creating a cement shower base and water proofed walls ready for tiling was $900.00.  He doesn't give written estimates.   WHY IS THIS SO HARD?  The only reason I'm considering him is because he was referred by a local interior designer and he has been in the business for many years.

Well, regardless of who will be rebuilding our shower, we still need to demolish the old one.  I purchased an angle grinder and a diamond blade disc to aid in cutting through the tile and grout.  I picked up a sturdy face mask knowing that the air would be filled with grout and ceramic powder.  We also picked up a 'Bagster' which is a flexible dumpster bad that will be picked up by Waste Management when we call them.  It holds 3 cubic feet of debris and should hold our shower walls and floor and a few other items we need to get rid of.  Here's a few pics of the fun.

Don starts in on the niche wall.

I held a fan up to the window to try to exhaust the dust.

I was pretty tired at this point and didn't realize I was being filmed. 


At the end of the day, we left the shower floor, a few tiles in the niche wall, a very dusty mess, and damaged drywall to deal with the next day.

Have you had the challenge of demolishing a shower or other structure in pursuit of something new and improved?  Enter a comment below and let me know if it was as fun as they show it on HGTV!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Shower: You know when it's time to remodel when...

Back in April, I completed one side of our main bath remodel.  See the finale post here.  I had planned to wait a year or so to get to the other side.  Well, I think these circumstances are clear indicators that I need to do something NOW:
  • An increasing amount of ants marching across the floor on a daily basis.
  • The exhaust fan is dripping condensation and causing the ceiling drywall to disintegrate.
  • The toilet appears to be leaking from the base.
Believe it or not, the ants were the catalyst to do more investigation.  Don, my dearest and daring hubby, began to chip away at the shower step only to find swarms of ants living in the wet 2 x 4 wood that made up that step.   I'm SO glad I wasn't home to see the event.  He did a very good job of stomping, pounding, spraying, and cleaning up to eliminate the out pouring of those little pests.  He made a second attempt to go further into the investigation after consulting with me.  He was attacked again, but we think we won because we have not seen a single ant for a few weeks now.  Here is where we stand...not a pretty sight:

A few holes in the walls and a mess to clean up

The entire wall by the plumbing torn out to see if there are leaks

The trench where there was apparently a leak from the shower base

Do you know how long it took me to get this corner fixed during my previous remodel?  Hours!

Just Yukky!
What does one do when you're faced with this mess?  Shop!  I sourced a few tile samples and set them up on the sink to see how well they would do for a backsplash as well as accent tile in the shower.
An attempt to move away from the dark tiles I currently have

I really like this look, but it is more modern than my cabinets
I found a sample at Menard's that both Don and I really liked.  When we both like something, it has always been a good indication to me to move forward.  We often have very opposite opinions.

My thought was to use the above sample as an accent and a sink backsplash along with either subway tiles or 9 x 12 tiles in a white that would tie in the sink countertop.  I found these ideas online to help me see how the large tile and the accent would look:

9 x 12 tile vertically applied

9 x 12 tile horizontally applied
 Once again, I'm wondering if the larger tiles conflict with the traditional style of my bathroom, but I like the idea of less grout lines.  The next picture was one of those Ta Da! moments for Don and I as the mosaic 'accent' along with the smaller subway tiles is quite dramatic:

I then found this beauty which pulled me away from the dark mosaic of which I thought I made up my mind.  Don knows me better - I always reserve the right to change my mind :) !

I think this is a great example of a 'transitional' style, which could work for me.
I captured a portion of this picture and did a quick mock up by applying it using 'PIXLR' onto a picture of my sink area.  See before and after:


This led Don and I off to shop in a real store to see what we could find in person.  We went to Floor360 on Verona Road.  We found a contender, but at this point, I don't know its cost:

The tiles that look a bit like a taupe color in my picture really match my apple green walls, not taupe.  My camera seems to be missing some of the green in other tiles as well.  Either that or my lighting was not the best.  The white tile came from Menards at $1.19 per tile.  I really hope I don't have to spend money on floor tiles at this point and if I don't, the above mosaic has some tiles that are a great match to the flooring I currently have.  Luckily I have a box of smaller shower floor tile left from our original work done on this shower.  With the purchase of a small amount of coordinating floor tile, we should have plenty and a new look.

Just one example of adding a different tile color as a border
We are currently searching for someone who can finish the demo of the shower, pour a new shower base with proper waterproofing, and set up the walls so they are ready to tile.  I'm thinking of taking on the tiling myself.  After all, this is a blog for DIY Challenges!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Bunk House Dreams

While between projects I've been searching for ideas on what to do with our lake bunk house.   It's a tiny house about 100 square feet - 9.5 by 11.5 on the inside.  The roof has been leaking for 2 years and there are some moisture problems with some of the structure.  We currently have a tarp over the roof, so we can ignore the problem until we can attack it.  We are planning to attack it this summer.

I do have some wonderful dreams for the little shack.  Here's one of my favorite.  Unfortunately, I don't have the link to the site where I found this.  Sorry.

One bed would not be practical for a bunk house that is intended to sleep more people than we can fit in the main house.  I'd love to be able to put in a bunk bed with a full bed on the bottom.  Here is something that is a bit more than we need, but still very cool with the stairs serving as extra storage.

Bunk Bed King

This one is much more rustic and looks like a great option for a cabin atmosphere.
The Log Furniture Store
Most likely I'll be at a flea market or garage sale and see something much more simple and inexpensive and I'll grab it up.  This one would work for our little lake cab-age (combo of cabin/cottage!).  Where is that garage sail when you need it? :)


I don't actually have many pictures of the bunk house at this time.  The focus has been the main house and the land around it.

Interior before we bought the place

Before any foundation work - Bunk House to the left of car
During our main house foundation work - next to the CAT

Here are some plans while I dream of the end result.  The roof is completely different.

As this project gets going, I'll be sure to blog the progress.  Unfortunately, I can't get to the Cab-age until it warms up.  We usually open up the main house the end of April.  I can still dream.

Tell me what your dreams are for this summer.

Friday, January 30, 2015

When gambling pays off!

I've been waiting for Lu to do the finishing touches on her laundry room/porch.  I wanted to wait to provide you with before and after pics.   The wait is still on, but my pursuit of projects continues.

Some time ago, our microwave/range hood stopped working as a microwave.  We purchased a new microwave because no one can live without one these days, but we kept the old one to use as a range exhaust fan and light until I could decide on and purchase a new range hood.  Yup, the light and fan worked, but the microwave only made noise, but didn't actually microwave.

After removing it from above the stove
I saw the microwave failure as a blessing.  The unit was an almond colored appliance, yet we had already owned a stainless steel look fridge, stove, and microwave.  Besides color, having a microwave above your cook top gives you little room to work with large pots.  The unit gave me only about 18 inches of room above the cook top.   Getting a separate counter top microwave was my goal.  I bought one and put in on a baker's rack in our kitchen.  Now I just needed the range hood for exhaust and lighting.  I've priced some at around 200.00 and up. 

Today I went shopping at St Vinny's in Verona, WI.  I wasn't shopping for anything special.  It was just a way to 'treat' myself on my day off from working my usual job.  Yes, this is what I do when I can't afford a weekly spa treatment!  It paid off.  What I found ended up saving me almost $150.00.

There was a box, taped up with no particular signage to draw anyone to it.  Since I was taking my time looking through the store, I looked closer at the box and found it was a cook top range hood.  Could it be one I would be happy with?  Was it the size I needed?  Was it stainless steel or black to match my stove?

I started with using my phone's barcode app to check it out since there was a label with a barcode.  Take a look at the St. Vinny's green price!  Under $50.00.  Was it a bargain or a waste of money?

The barcode scan brought me to a Costco ad for a stainless steel range hood that cost $189.00 - Take a look

I know that one concern I've had was how I was going to install a range hood that required direct electrical wiring versus a plug-in appliance.  Our current microwave plugged into an outlet.  This range hood needed to be 'hard wired' into the wall.  There was no plug.  Hmm.  Only $45.00....Stainless steel...the right width (30 inches).  Why not?  I asked for the box to be opened.  It had the plastic protective covering still on.  It had the mounting screws and instruction manual included.  Again - why not?  Note - when I went to Vegas, I didn't really gamble.  Here at St. Vinny's -  I decided to roll the dice.  I bought it.

At home, I convinced Don to help me remove the old microwave to see what we were dealing with.  The old microwave was held to the upper cabinet with two large screws.  You see the one on the right removed here after we got the appliance removed.

The next hurdle was removing the metal plate that helped hold the microwave up.  It wasn't a big deal.  I just remove 4 anchor bolts.

After removing the plate, I did a happy dance because I saw that there was some electrical wiring in the wall.  I did not have to settle for just installing my range hood only to wait for an electrician to do magic to make it work.  I could make it work!  

Shutting off the electricity was a bit of an adventure.  Don turned off breakers while I tested the wires.  Apparently I really don't know how to read the meter I have.  I thought I did.  Luckily, this is a happy ending.  I thought we shut off the electricity to these wires.  But, NOPE.  I was able to be extremely careful with how I held the wires.  There was a bit of a surge that made me jump, but didn't think much of it.

WARNING: Trusting licensed electricians is a good thing!

I got everything connected, then Don suggested I test it by turning on the light switch.  Guess what?  The lights went on.  The wires WERE live.  But HEY.  More importantly (okay I'm not advertising doing your own electrical work.  I'm just trying to write an interesting blog post!) I'm going to be able to install this wonderful bargain that was very much needed.

I went forward with the installation instructions.  I removed the plate for the exhaust.

I installed the duct extension and completed the wiring.

After a bit of adjusting to get the screws to line up properly, we were able to install my NEW range hood.  It works wonderfully!
Another project - a backsplash above the stove!

I gambled by paying 45.70 for an appliance in a box at St. Vinny's that could have ended up being a complete throw away.  I ended up with an appliance worth 189.00 online at Costco.  (I'm not even a member.)  Winnings - 143.30.   More importantly, I have room above my stove top to make pasta in some very tall pots.

Hope you enjoyed another side project at the Szarek household!

To Lisa-I promise to get to your Faux Wood project tomorrow.  I just couldn't resist a bargain and seeing it through to implementation.