Mission: Habitable

So more house fun I haven’t told you about yet: I was in trouble with my homeowner’s insurance company because my policy is apparently for occupied houses. This means they could have denied a claim if anything happened that I actually needed my insurance. They kindly gave me a little more time, and as of yesterday, I’m in!

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Hello dorm bedding, it’s good to see you again.

So it looked like I had everything planned out pretty well. The tile floor went in and the plumber was scheduled to follow that with the toilet, sink (just the one that came with the houd), a gas line, and a handful of odd jobs throughout the house. Of course, you already know what happened there. So much for the process being orderly.

The weekend before last I was out of town for a wedding, and on Thursday and Friday I started hearing from the contractors. Suddenly everyone wanted to work on my house. I’d be a bit short on time to prepare for it all, but it’s not like I could say no to any of them. So bathroom floor 2.0 went in Monday and was grouted Tuesday. I had the blower door test-out from the insulation people on Wednesday, the chimney liner went in Thursday, and I told the plumber the house would be ready for him Friday.

To prepare for all this, I had to bring the tile grout to the house Monday night. I also got the cleanout on that roof drain pipe open and got quite a lot of filth out of it. It had been in there for a solid hundred years and smelled wonderful. My dad got it loose, actually. He happened to have good penetrating oil and a piece of pipe at home that could extend the handle on the pipe wrench and get enough leverage to loosen 100 years’ worth of rust. He may be a hoarder, but he’s smart. The hole in the pipe now has a repair that should at least serve me well until I am ready to redo the back yard.

Tuesday night my dad came in to help me largely with air sealing odd jobs. I’m getting a rebate based on how much less drafty the house gets, so we wanted to caulk whatever could be caulked, even if it’s getting ripped out later this year. The bathroom floor was not grouted.

Wednesday after the air sealing work, my dad left and I stayed to get ready for the chimney contractor. I asked the plumber if he’d be starting work on Friday. He said that he was backed up with work but could if I needed him. I told him I was relieved that he said wasn’t.

Thursday the grout and chimney went in. I came by to see, and I was very happy. But I spent the rest of the evening on things completely unrelated to the house. It was nice.

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Doesn’t it look great? When I bought the house, it was a huge plus that this wall was flat. It more or less tripled the cost of the chimney liner, but eh, whatever. I used that low interest energy loan. Getting carbon monoxide all the way out of the house also qualifies as an environmental improvement. I added the new wood up there. It’s completely unnecessary but I like having that little bit of extra support anyway.

Then this weekend I was really excited that we were ready to really start moving forward. All that stopping here and there to wait for contractors was finished! We can finally drywall the whole house! So how many sheets did we install? 2. All weekend, 2. The two next to my bed actually. Aside from one outlet, no special cuts or anything.

So how did we spend the weekend? Cleaning up after all the contractors. The spray foam stuck out beyond the wall framing everywhere, so we went through that room cutting it back to the studs. Same in that little bit of outside wall in the bathroom. In all, we trimmed off nearly enough spray foam to fill a Husky contractor cleanup bag. At least that bag will give the trash collectors a break, right? Then there was some tiling debris around, and though the chimney people swept up, the living room was due for a more thorough cleaning. And the back bedroom obviously needs to be the cleanest room in the house now that I’m LIVING there.

And then there was the toilet. I’m sorry I didn’t take Wall of shame photos; it was bad. The gaskets were all rotted out, and the bolts were so rusty we had to cut them off. It’s only 10 years old. Help me understand how that would happen. Then there was caulk. All. Over. It. And worse, there was paper tape and joint compound on the lid to the toilet tank! It looks like some genius skim coated the previous bathroom walls without even taking THE LID OFF OF THE TANK and just bonded the tank to the wall itself. It’s not like you ever need to open those though. My dad and I worked together and spent about 45 minutes cleaning that toilet, and now once it gets a new flush mechanism and all new gaskets and bolts, it will be like new. Here’s the bathroom as it appears today, almost ready for prime time.

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The plumbing is set up for two sinks whenever I can afford a new bath vanity. In the meantime, the little one that came with the house and it’s extremely flimsy faucet will be installed correctly for the first time ever. Tonight the missing piece of Sheetrock around the window goes up. It wouldn’t be fun to do that after the toilet. Then whenever he can, the plumber will be in to set me up with a real bathroom! Well, a powder room at least. You might also notice that this time the grout is lighter. Last time it was Polyblend Natural Grey; this time Delorean Grey. Funny thing is they looked like very similar medium grey colors on the swatches, but the last one looked very dark and this one pretty light. I’m happy with it though.

Also, you may remember I have low head room in my basement, and that I had the plumber move the heating pipes out of the way so I could move down there. Upon further consideration, I don’t like that my gas line is so old it used to be hooked up to branches for lighting. Yes, that means it predates electric light. Also, on top of running disruptively through the middle of the basement, it has this annoying triple bend in it that serves no purpose except to make it easier to hit your head on that shut off valve.

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You’ve given me and my dad one bruise too many, pipe. Now you must die. I’ll be texting my plumber to schedule your execution tonight.

And so it seems like we’re really ready to move forward. I’ve updated the Make My House a Home Punch List and put it at the top to celebrate. Meanwhile in the suburbs, other forces have come together to make sure I don’t get too much done too soon though. And I’ve given the neighbors a view that just might be even classier than that Bagster. It’s the brakes, because the last time I did them myself and didn’t tighten the bolts enough. I’ll be doing them myself again. Because even if I’m no good with cars I’m officially house poor. This time my dad will probably tighten the bolts. He’s good at everything.

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12 thoughts on “Mission: Habitable

    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Yes, the next door neighbor (whose house is in the background of the car picture) was out back and my mom pointed out the new basement windows my dad had just put in. The neighbor said, “My husband can’t do anything! I think I need a little more Charlie in my life.” I was a teenager and imagined this being the start of a juicy soap opera style drama. For better or for worse, that had no connection whatsoever to reality.

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  1. infinitequery

    I think whatever you decide to do will be great-because aren’t you trying to please yourself. Its your house/part time house? and I don’t get what jury of judgers is dictating what people are doing to their own property. Are we competing with one another in a ( whose nest is bigger/better) or are we just trying to establish a warm happy home? Cranky old person………….. no offense intended

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    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Hmm, I’m not sure what you mean by a jury of judgers! I’m not exactly a seasoned pro when it comes to this stuff so I like getting (non-mandatory) advice though. I am doing it to please myself, and I will be in here full time once the project is a little farther along.

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      1. infinitequery

        I read too many of these-and many of them do seem more of a competition than just creating as wonderful a home as time, skills and budget allow.

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  2. Nine Dark Moons

    i had the same issue with polyblend natural gray vs. delorean gray! they look very similar on the shelf but natural gray is SO dark and kind of muddy looking when it’s on the floor. delorean gray is such a nicer, lighter, fresher color. i’m enjoying reading through your blog so much! you are very entertaining! and you have been doing so much great work. it’s very inspiring.

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