Saturday, January 28, 2012

Plumbing, Patching, Plaster and Paint

What I feared would be the most intensely time consuming piece of our laundry 'shift', the plumbing, turned out to go relatively quickly. Tore out in a day; replaced in a day. The time consuming piece, in terms of volume of days wasted doing it, was the repairs to the plaster covered concrete walls, sealing, priming and paint. Each phase of this part of the project, while brief in terms of man-hours, was accompanied by a "cure time of 3 days" type series of instructions. In incremental, bite sized chunks, I transformed cracked, pock marked, stained walls from dingy to a nice semi-gloss green color. Below are before and after shots, although the color doesn't quite come out in the pictures very well; its subtle yet brightly refreshing...the folks at Behr are free to use that without charge.

Note the transition from primer white to primer stained moving toward the corner.

Pretty much the same view, just post paint and with the appliances connected.
Everything was hooked up by mid week which allowed us to test out the new sink and laundry combination. The prior configuration with sub-code drain pipe frequently resulted in the washer backing up into the laundry sink. Now that I've cleaned out the skinny pipe in favor of 2" drains for everything the laundry now runs without spewing up a volcano of nasty suds into the sink. And I can also officially say that this series of plumbing projects has been 100% leak-free...a first for me I think. Getting a couple cycles of laundering in helped thoroughly test my drain pipe work, and everything is still bone dry.
Now that we've got our laundry back to a functional state I have moved on to framing out the new walls. I'm hoping to get a lot of mileage out of the pile of 2x4's from the previous wall-door-wall sequence. That will hopefully help save costs and reduce the number of cuts I have to make as everything has pretty much been cut to height already. I may make some headway on this part of the project tomorrow, or I may very well get lured outside by the promise of unseasonably warm temps again. Last weekend when we hit temps in the mid 60's I found myself repelled from basement tasks and instead out in the front yard trimming trees in my shirt sleeves. The raspberry canes need some attention before spring so if the warm weather delivers framing may just have to wait.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Door Number 3

It is certainly a bad sign when you go to log in to your blog and you hardly recognize the dashboard. Has it been so long that Blogger's completely redesigned their administrative interface? Apparently the answer to that question is: yes. Conveniently, in the spirit of design and change I'm here to post some updates on our latest home related project.

Long story short we attempted to sell our house last year at the peak of the worst real estate market in years. That proved to be just a touch foolish. With that epic fail behind us we've determined to at least learn a few things from the experience and hopefully make some improvements to the place to better our odds for another foolish attempt this spring. Along these lines we added an expanded patio to the backyard, finished the landscaping and put in a privacy fence around the master bedroom creating a private patio complete with fountain vis-a-vis HGTV. With the weather driving us back indoors we've decided to tackle the biggest project on our list of potential home buyer gripes: the basement.

Although our basement is technically 'finished', and we even painted and spruced it up last year, it still abounds with wood paneling and a preponderance of doors something akin to a scene in Alice and Wonderland. Take this example: the door to the washer.
Now you might be thinking, everyone has a door to their laundry room: it helps hide your laundry negligence. But I didn't say door to the laundry room...I said door to the washer; not to be confused with the doors to the dryer...

or the door to the laundry sink for that matter.
Yes, there's definitely a lot of paneling and doors in our basement. And while I would have hoped that potential buyers might have enjoyed the fun house feel to the place, apparently it was a sore spot with folks. So the paneling, the doors, the oddly angled walls all would have to go. Figuring out what to remove proved to be the easy part: figuring out what to put back in its place was a bit more challenging. As wacky as it looks there was a certain element of logic entailed in the design. We've got a beam, a whole host of pipes and vents, a floor drain and a main duct trunk to contend with in the space we'd ideally like to salvage. The easier, and in my opinion more cowardly, way out would be to slap up some walls and doors and call it good. The real solution however entails moving a fair amount of infrastructure and then putting up walls where you'd expect to find them: around your washer and dryer...not in between them. So while de-dooring the basement might in the end prove harder than its worth (vindicating the cowardly door mongers) we're armed with a pretty good design and with that we got our hammers swinging.
Last week I spent a couple evenings pulling down doors, paneling and 2x4's. The plan is to save a lot of the 2x4's and perhaps a door (or two) and take the rest to the Habitat for Humanity store to see if it someone else might want it. The result was a drastically improved, 'doorless' space for the laundry. Next I had to remove the shelving along the back wall and scoot the appliances out of the way. The plan is to move the laundry appliances into the back corner and then frame in a wall around the new space as well as a wall to hide the drain and vent pipes at the base of the stairs.

Over the weekend I got all of my plumbing and electrical parts assembled and with the help of my brother-in-law Paul, removed the old drain and vent stack, moved the 20 and 30 amp service for the washer/dryer and extended the water supply for the sink and laundry. While it was kind of a long Sunday we managed to get the guts of the new laundry moved and reconfigured. Temporarily it now looks like this:

Despite Paul's confidence in my amateur plumbing abilities I was certain the pipes would leak when I turned the water back on, but Paul's confidence wasn't wasted and the basement is dry as a bone and actually up to code.  With the tricky bits out of the way we've moved on to sealing the old plaster wall along the exterior, which will form two sides of the laundry. I have to patch a few holes in the plaster and then we'll paint it before moving the new appliances into their permanent homes. From there it'll be time to start framing in the walls and moving on to drywall, which after plumbing is my second least favorite home improvement project. But I suppose if I've managed to conquer my plumbing demons a little dry wall won't be too tough now will it?