Time Thief

Sunday, April 16, 2006

bathroom tour

Thanks for everyone's plumbing input. I decided to go with plumber #2. The fact that he did provide a detailed written estimate and that he had recently done a very similar job just a few blocks away clinched the deal. He's asking a reasonable price and letting him do it instead of doing it myself means I will be able to sleep at night, not wondering if the pipes in the wall are going to explode. As we all know, knowing how to do something isn't always enough. Some things take finesse and experience and I'm not willing to gain that experience on the pipes inside my walls. Now, I just hope plumber #1 doesn't call wondering when I want him to start. (I am so bad at rejecting people.)

Since I called for your advice, I will take you on a tour of my skanky bathroom.

Here is the before in all its beauty. The small bag over the top part of the window is covering an old ventilation fan. It was disconnected long ago and sent quite a strong breeze through the place because there was no damper. Not a good thing when you're taking a shower on a cold winter morning. The design on the bag is a post-911 american pride thing, so that gives you some idea of how long it's been like this. The large black trash bag was my attempt to keep water from going behind the wall and raining all over the basement. It took me a while to get to that point and I wish I'd done it sooner because it was about 90% effective. My other method of shoving caulk all over the grout lines didn't do much at all. I knew it was temporary so I was just smearing it all over everything. In any event, it didn't work very well.

Here is the window from the outside so you see what I mean about the fan. Judging by other houses in the neighborhood, I was guessing the plywood section was originally a slider window, but I found evidence to the contrary as you'll see when I get to the demo pics. When I re-sided, I just put 1 inch trim all the way around for easier removal later.

Here are the lovely original faucets. (That's not sarcasm, I actually like these.) This was back in the day when Kohler meant quality, I guess. I used all Kohler in the master bath and have not been happy. There will be no more Kohler in this bathroom.

Here is the drum trap in the basement, under the tub.

And here is the bucket that catches the rusty water from the drum trap. ewww.

Here is the fabulous sink, complete with 'Do not use' post-it note. I am a female of average height, and the top of this sink comes to just above my knees.

Be sure to note the pointless mold-experiment "ledge" that was built between the vanity and tub. Betcha can't guess how it was attached.

Only a select few get to see inside the vanity cabinet. Aren't you lucky?

Here is where various medicine cabinets used to be. The "current" wall paper is some funky early-80's stuff that's like thin canvas. I couldn't even hammer through the stuff. The older, funky paper must've gone very well with the light blue paint I found on the trim. Oh, note the towel sticking out of the wall...That's where the old outlet was, a mere two inches from the shower tile. I moved that when I re-wired the first floor eons ago.

The tub is staying. There's no reason to get rid of it and it will look fabulous after it's re-finished. I like its funky curves. It's like mid-century designers thought about tubs the same way they thought about cars.

This toilet couldn't be any more broken. Really. The seat is broken. It doesn't flush right. It leaks. I guess if it didn't hold any water at all it would be more broken. That's the only way. And check out the nice, crusty vent. That is a supreme location on a cold winter day. You just have to time it right so you're there when the furnace kicks on.

Nice shot of years of toilet leakage and the original pinwheel tile. I'm conflicted about the tile. I love it, but I don't like the grout color. The tile itself is a little worn, but it could probably be workable. I certainly don't want to remove it all. It's probably sitting on two inches of mortar. Plumber #1 had a brilliant suggestion and that was to just tile over it. The toilet flange would just need to be raised, and then when someone comes along in 30 more years, they will be thrilled to find the original tile underneath! However, if I were to put down new tile, I would probably just put down more pinwheels. So, I'm investigating the option of coloring the grout.

Here is a close-up of some of the worst tile. Anybody have an opinion or tried this grout colorant stuff? They say it can last 10-15 years, so that's not too bad as a stopgap. I think I'd go insane if I attempted to saw out all those grout lines.

Finally, you know it has to be there. You know you wanna look up......

Glitter and popcorn and sparkles, oh my! I added the fan when I re-wired and obviously didn't care about being too careful with the drywall saw.

I have much more to share, but this will have to be all for now. The kitties and work need my attention.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


(I'm in a bit of a whiney mood, so skip to the end if you just want to know what I need advice about.)

I have started redoing the first floor bath. There are tons of exciting pics to share, but work is kickin' my butt, so I'll have to post those later. Anyway, as I mentioned in my last post, it's just me these days. The one thing the ex brought to the table, home-improvement-wise, was plumbing skills. I was the sole electrician, painter, insulator, sander, etc. and contributed my fair share on all things siding and framing related. The one thing I really steered clear of was plumbing. I may have helped with a few PVC pipes here and there, but me and the solder were not on speaking terms. Like Gary, I hate plumbing. I'll take it further than that though. I fear plumbing. I have nightmares about it. I'm totally serious.

As a general rule, I am very much a "I can do it all by myself, I don't need any help from you" kind of person. That's probably worse than usual right now. So, I was insistent on re-doing the bath with no outside help other than drywall. (Because, really, it's just silly not to outsource that....Are you listening Nick?) To prove a point and to move forward with gutting the bathroom, I set out to install shutoffs in the basement.

My first attempt totally failed. The main shutoff doesn't exactly work, so the water never really stopped. I consulted the ex and found out all the fancy steps I had to do to get the water to stop flowing. (Hmmmm....maybe I should just get the main shutoff replaced, eh?) Anyway, overwhelming fear led me to the quite logical conclusion that I didn't have to go through all the effort to install shutoffs. I could just cut and cap the lines! Brilliant! This calmed me down a little. The first pipe seemed to go pretty well, even though I felt like I was having to torch the thing for waaaaaay too long. Second one went the same except my first attempt didn't achieve a solid seal all the way around. I cut it again and re-soldered in a spot where I had better access. Turned all the water back on....success!!! No leaks! But I did walk around the entire weekend worried that any minute the water pressure was going to send the caps shooting across the basement and water would flood the whole place. I almost turned the main off before I left to run some errands. I didn't let the fear win.

Ok, so there are no leaks, but I'm pretty sure my soldering job would not get a passing grade. That and all the stress this ordeal caused me (along with the fact that I have some nasty drains I don't want to deal with) led me to the conclusion that I should probably hire a plumber.

Got the name of a guy one of my clients used and she absolutely raved about him. She even mentioned, "He's not the cheapest, but he does really good work." Okay, "not the cheapest" is fine with me as long as he's also not the most expensive. Called him to come over for an estimate and he seemed like a decent guy. He called me later that day with an estimate that was about double what I expected in a worst-case scenario. WOW!

I thought I should get a second opinion just to make sure he wasn't trying to screw me. The second guy I found on Angie's List (I know, I know!!!). He has nothing but rave reviews. He also seemed like a decent guy. His workday lasted longer than expected, but he still made time to stop by around 6:30 last night to check things out. He dropped off a detailed written estimate this morning and it is less than HALF of the first guy's estimate.

There are a few minor differences in the work they said they would perform. The first guy's estimate included replacing the closet elbow and setting all the fixtures. The second guy pointed out that if there are no problems with the toilet, there's no reason to replace the elbow now because there is full access in the basement if it needed to be done in the future. He also noted that setting the fixtures would be an extra cost. Either way, I'm sure I could do that part myself.

Wah! What do I do? Which do I pick? I certainly like the price of the second guy better. Some things concern me about the first guy: He's not very busy right now and could start immediately. That's great, but why isn't he busy? Is it just bad marketing or is there some "real" reason? If he's hurting for work, did he bump up the estimate because he needs to put food on the table? Oy!

I'm afraid to pick someone I _don't_ have a personal recommendation for over someone that I _do_, but geez! One of the first things the second guy said to me was, "the outside looks real nice". That means a lot after all the time and effort spent on residing the place. And it means he notices the details. Or maybe he just knows how to woo a customer. ;)

I'd love to hear your opinions.

Friday, April 07, 2006


I am officially single again. (Okay, so it's actually been a few weeks, but I've been slow on the blogging.) Now, I'm not saying this to invite the blogosphere into my personal dramas. Rather, it is so you will understand why I have painted the office. Again. After less than a year of inhabitation.

As we all know, when you're doing anything non-solo, there are compromises involved. I made compromises on the Time Thief that I am still not happy with. Some of those would be too time-consuming or costly to change at this point (eg. the crappy new Evil Orange entry door; the master bathroom tile). Other things are easier to modify. The office paint color is just the ticket for spiritual cleansing.

The original color was picked solely by the ex, and not only is it not my thing, it was HORRIBLY bright. I never turned on the overhead light because that just made the intensity too much to take. It could be easily argued that the new color is more intense, but it was picked by me, so I'm happy with it.

(yes, it's messy. i work here...cut me a little slack, people.)

When working some late evenings last summer, this room took on a feel similar to a teenaged-bedroom. iTunes blaring and working away on some "homework", I felt refreshingly juvenile, in a good sorta way. (Don't we all still feel like we're 17 to some degree?) So, I thought I'd go with that theme....even so far as to put up a band poster. I'm lacking in "big" wall art and they were just in storage anyway, so it works out well. (I did the grown-up thing and got a super-cheap frame at World Market.)

I continued the "color block" thing that was going on by adding one more white wall (the ceiling) into the mix. That also helps the overhead light do its job since it is reflecting off of white instead of color.

(the fan was another compromise, but it works and I don't look at it much, so it's staying)

I was mid-paint when my Mom came to visit and she caught this lovely shot for comparison.

Welcome to the treehouse....my office.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Gullibility Wars

Being gullible has its advantages....like never-ending fun on a day like today.

I knew right away that Slashdot was a joke. But it took a second to know this wasn't real. And I would've totally believed this post at House St. Clair if she hadn't fessed up.