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Over the last couple weeks the In Law unit has really started to take shape. What was once a zombie rodent playground, littered with rotting wood and asbestos, has begun to resemble a rustic retreat.  Well, even if the room leans on the ‘rustic’ side more than on the ‘retreat’ side,  at least you don’t need to don a space suit just to walk inside.

space

While we continue to work towards the modern-barn aesthetic, we’d still like our visitors to be able to enjoy all of the conveniences of the 21st century.  Luxuries like indoor plumbing and electricity should be in lavish supply.  Unfortunately, electricity is one item that has been hard to come by in our rustic space.  While draping extension cords from the garage may work for this DIY’er, the tripping hazard liability has prompted me to pursue other, more permanent, methods of powering this space.    Now, when it comes to re-wiring and electricity, I thought it might be wise to reference my DIY Rulebook.  

Rule #1…”Don’t do anything that might cause you to die.”

Now, while you might think that this rule should be reserved for jobs like underwater bomb defuser or flaming aerial stunt woman, you really shouldn’t limit yourself to only the extreme professions.  In my case, my knowledge of electricity does not expand much further than keeping powered items away from a full bathtub.  Therefore, when it comes to re-wiring an entire space, it is time to bring in the professionals. 

Here’s where things are right now:

lamp

As you can see, we’re not exactly overflowing with lightning-like power.  Therefore, the wiring plan is as follows:

INSTALL…

  1. Recessed lighting all over
  2. New electrical outlets all over
  3. Behind the wall wiring for a wall mounted TV
  4. Some lights outside the sliding glass door.
  5. A bathroom fan and vent it outside

I’m very lucky in two regards (well, many more than two, but let’s stay focused!).  First, a family friend, Dave, is a great professional electrician who I completely trust;  and Second, Dave knows how to design wiring for a space.  If anyone can take this gloomy In Law unit, that is littered with ancient home-owner hacked wiring, and make it glow, Dave could do it.  So I handed over the keys and  let him get to work.

Here’s the progress:

electrical

wires2

While these wires are not being powered at this exact moment, I am still at risk of being strangled or of getting an eye poked out, so I have left this space so Dave can continue to work his magic.

After a few days of wire wrangling, here’s our newly powered up space!

BEFORE:

room.off

door.off

broom.off

AFTER!

room.on

door.on

broom.on

This light and electricity will definitely come in handy with my next project.  It’s time to focus some time on that bathroom.  Stay tuned.

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This week was particularly fun!!  Not because I was able to get a lot done in the In Law unit, as you might suspect, but because the in-laws were visiting!  And what do you do when the in-laws visit, you ask?  Put them to work of course!

As you might remember, one of the windows I needed to install was ordered with the wrong dimensions.  Conveniently enough, the new window arrived not long after our family arrived.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to encourage them to put their own stamp on the project that has been named after them. Luckily for me, Terry, my father-in-law, actually had an interest in getting his hands dirty and lifting heavy objects.  There are few things heavier than new windows, so this worked out perfectly.

terry

Here’s where we started:

window

When we installed the sliding glass door and the bathroom window we framed the space where this last window would live.  Having the space already framed made the process of installing this window much faster.

window2

bday

One thing that I learned while working with Terry to complete this task was that I am very easily distracted by enjoyable conversation.  Unfortunately, Terry is a fun and interesting person, which is a huge distraction to this DIY’er.  This means that I failed to fulfill my DIY’er responsibilities and document the entire process of window installation.  I can only hope that you, my blogging audience, can forgive me, and that my DIY membership pin (that I built, of course) isn’t revoked.

A result of this lack of DIY’ing evidence is that it appears as if the window unwrapped itself, waddled up to the hole in the wall and effortlessly leapt into place:

Ta Da!

window

While the window would like to take full credit for the installation, the reality is that (despite my encouragement) a magical arm did not extend from the window to affix itself to the exterior wall.  In the end, it took the combined teamwork of Terry and myself to get this task completed.  Now if only we could get the in-laws to come and visit more often we’d get this project done in a flash!

In the mean time, with a little help from family we’ve finished all of the windows, and are on to the next task.

window2

When I’m not destroying renovating my home and going to my day-job that makes all of this magic possible, I take a furniture building class at the local City College.  Since this blog is called “Building With Beth” I though that it might be an appropriate forum to show you what I’ve been working on outside of the house.

About a year ago we replaced a structurally unstable support column in the garage that is very similar to the one that still resides in the In Law unit:

twin

Rather than throw this beautiful piece of old growth Douglas Fir into the garbage, I took it into my wood working class.  There was something poetic about converting a historic piece of our house into something that could continue to be a part of our home.  With that in mind, we really needed a good coffee table for our livingroom, so I got to work.

Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I’m a planner.  I approach furniture building much like I approach DIY’ing.  If I just started hacking away at a piece of wood hoping to build a table I’d end up with a toothpick.  Therefore, the first step was to create the design using Google SketchUp:

design1

legs

apron

With the design in place, and the wood ready to be whittled down, it’s time to get this project started.  Here are some pictures of the transformation from structural column into reclaimed wood coffee table.

Here’s what I started with:

nail

The first step was to make this small tree trunk as square as possible.  Unfortunately, reclaimed lumber tends to be littered with shrapnel from years of abuse.  You can’t run a piece of nail ridden wood through a mechanical planer or saw without risking damage to that machinery.  Therefore, I had to square this beauty up using a hand plane, old school style.

plan1   plane2

Once I finally got things square I was ready to cut them to size.  Since planing helped me identify both where the nails were and where my arm muscles were, I was able to take some pliers and pull out all the metal slivers that were scattered throughout the wood.  Once I was confident the wood was free of shrapnel, I could start using the machines to do the hard work.

legs2      legs

The table top is being built out of an old work bench that was in the garage.  The workbench was as old as the rest of the wood in the house, so I imagine it was “reclaimed” as a workbench by the previous owner.  As we know from the In Law unit, he too was a DIY’er.

To create the tabletop, I took a Biscuit Joiner and ‘joined’ the two pieces together.

biscuit

tabletop

Now that everything is cut to size, I can start to fine tune these cubes & rectangles into a coffee table.

measure

two cuts

saw

legs.5

Now that all of my pieces have been nicely refined, it’s time to glue everything up.  Unlike my work in the In Law unit (where I shoot three nails for every pull of the nail gun trigger), when working on furniture I like to avoid using any metal.  Therefore, all of the pieces will be held together using wood dowels and glue.

clamps

pegs

dowels

table

As you can see, between the cutting, planing and sanding, a lot of the beautiful old patina that makes reclaimed wood so special has been removed.  In an effort to recreate the look of aged wood I’m going to create a faux-patina.  How? You ask.  Well, using fire of course!

patina

Burning wood can go horribly wrong, for both my project and my classroom.  However, after a bit of controlled flame-thrower action, we went from this…

patina3

tan

To this…

table

Finally I’m ready to apply the finish.  After consulting with my teacher, I’m going to coat the table in polyurethane.

home

After a few coats, and some light buffing, here’s the final product:

Ta Da!

table2

table

In case you noticed a drop off of “Building With Beth” posts over the last week it’s because I’ve been on a luxuriously relaxing vacation.  Now don’t start thinking that I didn’t spend any time working on the In Law unit.  It was my vacation after all.  I had to take full advantage of my open afternoons and scheduling flexibility.  While the first half of my week was spent soaking up the sun and hiking the trails in the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains, the second half of the week was spent bringing a little light into the dim and dark In Law unit.

That’s right, it’s time to install some windows!  Well, one window and one sliding glass door to be specific.  The second window that needs to be installed was accidentally ordered in the wrong size, so that installation will be a different post.  Therefore, today we will be installing one new window and the sliding glass door.

The original windows were old, ugly and very energy inefficient.  Technically they kept out rogue mourning doves and roving bands of mosquitos, however, that was the limit of their functionality.  Here are a couple of pictures:

Window 1 – The Bathroom:  Technically the window in the bathroom is called a “Jalousie” Window, but I’m pretty sure that’s just a marketing ploy to make these ugly slatted glass windows sound fancier.

slatted

Window 2 – Future Sliding Glass Door:  This is a basic single-paned glass window, but someday it will be either a glorious sliding glass door, or a massive breach in the fortified walls of our castle.

sliding

Since I’ve never installed a window or a door before, I brought in a little help for this task.  There is something intimidating about cutting a hole into the side of your home and exposing the inside to nature and/or bandits.  Not to mention that the framing needs to be done properly or the window / door simply won’t fit.  To make sure this was done right, I brought in one of the guys who has helped me through this project, Simon.  

We began by reframing the spaces where the new window and the new door will be installed.  Since the space for the sliding glass door was already framed, we only need to cut the hole where we should be able to (in theory) simply pop the new door into place.  

side

Once the hole was cut we could stick down the waterproofing membrane.

obsolete

Once we finished cutting out the opening for the sliding door, we moved onto the bathroom window. The original window was tucked in between two studs, and was less than 12″ wide.  The new window will be nearly twice that size.  This meant that we had to add some new framing and expand the size of the original window opening.

bathroom2

I have to admit that the actual installation of the window & door was not nearly as complicated as I thought it would be.  In my mind I was opening a giant hole in the side of my home where waiting bands of robbers would come with their army of plague infested rodents and swarms of wasps to pillage my home.  I would be helplessly trying to keep them out by frantically working to assemble windows that came in a box of 1000 parts and needed to be put together using instructions that were both in a foreign language and in code

bandits

In the end, however, installation wasn’t nearly as intimidating as it was in my imagination.  Here are the really basic steps:

  1.  Frame out the space where the window will live.  Make sure that the new opening is 3/4″ wider and taller than the actual size of the windows/door that you ordered.
  2.  Install the waterproofing membrane in that opening.
  3.  Apply calking around the opening (on top of the water proofing membrane)
  4.  Pop the window into the hole & make sure it’s level by using a few shims
  5.  Screw the frame of the window to the wall
  6.  Enjoy your new window

Here’s the end result!

bathroom

garden

wasps

Now the real test will come when the reordered window arrives and I need to install it all by myself.   I’m pretty sure that I’m prepared for that challenge, but I’ll let you know how it goes!

Just when I thought I might be done working on my hands & knees, I was reminded that I still need to finish the bathroom floor.  I have grand dreams about what this bathroom will end up looking like.  It will have a tile shower & tub combo, recessed lighting, a nice big window and an open concept vanity with a drop-in sink.  It will be lovely, however, getting the bathroom from its current state to that finished product is a daunting prospect.  Especially considering my bathroom currently looks like this:

hole

As you may remember, when I first started looking into renovating the bathroom I discovered that none of the drains were vented.  Here’s a link to that post to refresh your memory:

The Science Of Water Drainage

In order to install the vent I needed to jack hammer the concrete in the bathroom to expose the plumbing.  What began as a little hole, slowly grew into a deep ravine.

small              bigger

biggest

Finally, after opening up the entire floor and having a plumber come in to make the necessary changes, I was left with lovely new plumbing sitting inside a giant chasm.  In order to build the subfloor in this room, I need to fill in this giant cavern with concrete.

Initially I though that working with concrete would be fun.  In my mind I had visions of playing in the sandbox as a child.  Enjoying the fresh spring air while meticulously building an elaborate fortified sand-castle.  The acropolis would defend against invading forces by enlisting the help of transformers who wouldn’t cower, even when faced with enemy GI Joe’s flying through the air on My Little Pony Pegasus’ like a synchronized fighter squadron.

pony

Unfortunately, the time sensitive nature of working with concrete did not lend itself to the unpredictable length of imaginary war.  

Before I could even get into pouring concrete, there were a few steps that needed to be completed. First, I had to wrap my new pipes in foam so when the concrete was finally poured and dried they would be protected.  The idea behind this step is that if the concrete were to shift, which it has been known to do in earthquake country, the pipes would have a little wiggle room.

floor5

I also decided to pour a light layer of sand into the crevice  and pound it down to make a somewhat firm base to hold the concrete.  Finally, I applied some concrete primer to the walls of the gorge to help the new concrete stick.

floor3

With that step complete, it was all about…you guessed it…material aquisition:

floor4

Now, in this picture you see 7 bags of concrete.  In the end, I severely underestimated my concrete needs.  After four visits to Lowes, I ended up purchasing 14 bags of concrete to fill my bathroom crater.  At 80lbs each, by the time this job was completed I felt like my arms were about to fall off.

Finally, it was time to pour the concrete.  I did this in two steps.  The first step was mostly about filing up as much of the hole as possible.   I was a lot less concerned about making things look neat & tidy during this initial concrete pour.

floor6

Once the first pour of concrete was dry I was able to start on the second layer.  The goal with this second concrete pouring was to level out the floor and make the final product look smooth & tidy.

floor7 floor8

Finally after 4 days, 14 bags of concrete and 2 very sore arms, I was done pouring the concrete.  Once this dries I can build the subfloor and we can get moving with making this bathroom the modern oasis that it is in my dreams.

Now that the In Law unit has a floor we can start addressing items that are at eye level. It’s a long way down to the ground when you’re as tall as I am, so the thought of working on tasks that don’t require kneeling on the ground is a very exciting prospect!  Also exciting is having a chance to practice my James Dean lean on a product of my making.

jd

That’s right, it’s time to build a wall!  Now originally I was concerned that building a wall would be like building a floor, but vertical.  I’m not going to say that building a floor wasn’t satisfying, but for all  you blog readers out there who are considering building a floor, here are a few things to remember:

1)  Floors are not at eye level.

2)  Gravity is not working with you.

3)  Building a floor involves lifting and moving very heavy and very long slabs of wood.  

4)  Nobody really says “wow, look at that awesome sub-floor,” except for people on this blog and I love you for it.

Here’s a picture of where the wall will be going:

wall

Now you might be saying “Beth, why would you build a wall where there is clearly a wall already built?”  That’s an excellent question blog reader.  You see, when we pulled all of the drywall down from this particular wall we found a living wall.  Not the good kind of living wall…

wall

…the kind of living wall that is made out of  mold.

stain

Part of our living wall was being fed by the moisture from the busted poop-pipe, and part of it was being fed by the moisture created due to a lack of insulation.  You see, this wall, which use to be part of the original house (hence the old siding), is separating the In Law unit from the garage.  The previous owner just slapped some drywall up onto the old siding and called it a day.

Eventually, hidden from the prying eyes of the public, behind the veil of drywall, the cold air from the garage started having a secrete rendezvous with the warm sultry air of the In Law unit.  The result of their romance was a living wall made up entirely of mold.

Now that their love children have finally been kicked out of the house, like any disgruntled step-parent I’d like to encourage them to explore the world & maybe get a job creating biofuels, but most importantly not move back home.

alge

To make sure they don’t move back in, I will be framing a wall over their former home (the siding) and will eventually fill that wall with closed cell spray foam.  The spray foam will both insulate and act as a moisture barrier between the cool garage and the warm In Law unit.

I began this task like all other tasks, with material acquisition:

wood

Once that was done I was able to start framing the wall.  Before kicking off this leg of the project I did quite a bit of research regarding how to frame a wall.  One set of videos I found really handy were from this guy:

Home Remodel Workshop

Based on what I learned online, I framed the wall every 16″, and tried to make sure the wood was all crowning the same direction.  Now, I know what you’re asking, “what is this lady talking about…crowning?”  Well, first of all, thanks for calling me a lady.  Second, every piece of wood has a bow or a crown.  That means it arcs in one direction.  If you don’t make sure all of the arcs go in the same direction, when you cover that framing in drywall you’ll have a wavy wall.   Maybe this illustration will help:

crown

With all of the crowns marked, I was able to get the wall framed pretty quickly.

newall

Once this was done, I was able to switch my attention to building a soffit around a few pipes that were attached to the wall.

drain

I’ve never built a soffit before, but how hard can it be?  After taking a lot of measurements to make sure I was building something square & level, this is what I ended up with:

drain2

drain3

I still need to frame out the wall under the new soffit but before doing that I need to make some adjustments to the bathroom door.

Overall, I think that building the wall over the weekend was quickest task so far in the “My First Renovation” project.  I’m either getting better at this DIY thing, or the hardest work is behind me.  Let’s hope both are true.

I know what you’re thinking…”finally, the end of the floor building saga!”  (Okay, maybe that’s what I’m thinking).  Either way, we’re correct!  It’s true!  This is the last post on building a sub-floor.  I’m sure there will be other posts about laying hardwood, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  

For those of you just joining us, feel free to catch up by checking out the last two posts on building a floor:

Building A Floor, Part 1

Building A Floor, Part 2

Originally I was planning on splitting the room into two and building half of the floor now and the other half at a later (to be determined) date.  Some call the process of tackling a large project in smaller, more manageable, bites good project management.  What those jokers clearly aren’t considering is that I am a procrastinator.  I enjoy challenging the laws of physics by stacking my dishes into a Jenga-like tower rather than washing them.

dishes

Therefore, in an effort to keep this project from stretching into my golden years, I’ve decided to dump my previous approach and get this monstrosity of a floor finished.

Since I’ve already discussed the process of installing joists & headers in my earlier posts, I’ll give you a summary of that effort on the 2nd half of the room in picture form:

Installing The Rest Of The Joists:

To ensure that the entire room has a level floor, the new Joist Headers needed to be installed at the same height as the previously installed headers.  This is the perfect opportunity to utilize Jetson’s level modern technology.  The laser level!  With one flip of a switch, I was able to shoot a laser-beam around the room and measure off of that level line.

laser

Nothing can take away the joy of using laser-beams.  Even the process of installing a level Joist Header beside a recently replaced poop-pipe and ancient gas line that juts out of the wall.

wall

joist1

Unfortunately, the floor is covered in bumps and humps and other uneven things that need to be built around.  This required a little hacking of the joists to make them lay level.

beaver

Finally, the joists are built and are ready for some plywood!

joists

Step 7 – Get Some Plywood:

I decided to use a  mixture of pressure treated and regular plywood.  I’m going to put the pressure treated plywood along the walls and anywhere there is a risk of moisture.  Since pressure treated plywood is a little more expensive and isn’t needed on the whole room, the rest of the space will use regular plywood.

All of the plywood is tongue & groove, so it should fit together tightly.

tongue

In theory, the tongue should fit snuggly into the groove.  In reality, you have to MAKE the tongue fit into the groove by summoning all of your physical, mental and emotional strength.

After purging yourself of that strength, you will then find the clarity of mind to either cut the tongue off in a swift and satisfyingly decisive whack with a circular saw, or you will take my approach, which was to use a small hand plane to smooth out the tongue so it will slide into the groove effortlessly.

Step 8 – Marking Joists:

Before we move onto laying the plywood we need to mark the joists.  By marking where the joists are, you’ll have a much easier time screwing the plywood into the floor.  Being the techo-geek that I am, I like to use the latest in modern technology to mark my floor joists…the Sharpee and Chalk Line:

chalk

Then I just take my chalk line and stretch it from the joist marking to the end of the plywood.  When I get to the point where I’m gluing the plywood down, I’ll I need to do is place screws on that chalk line.

Step 8 – Screwing & Gluing:

Next step, screwing & gluing! That’s exactly what we’re going to do with that plywood.  The plywood is glued to the joists to reduce squeaking, and is then screwed into place to reduce movement.

To prep for the screwing & gluing process, I find it easier to lay things out to make sure the pieces will fit where you expect them to.  In some cases you will need to cut the plywood around obstacles:

plywood

Then I lay the plywood down so that the seams are staggered (like when you lay brick).  This will reduce the possibility of them moving along a seam and causing problems down the line with the future hardwood floor.

staggered

Then, in a whirlwind of a week you get a FINISHED FLOOR!

Step 9 – Enjoy Your New Sub-Floor!

Floor1

south

Room1

Ta Da!  A new floor, ready for dance parties and musical reenactments.  I have already certified that one can channel Julie Andrews, and spin wildly in a circle, arms outstretched in joy!  What more does one need from a new floor?

julie