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August 4

Homeowner Adventures: July in Review

Plumbing has been the name of the game in July.

Late June, Felix and I started preliminary preparation for the plumber.  Little did we know, we had such a far way to go to fully prepare for having a plumber come to our house.

The Good:  Besides having some duct work put in our house (by my licensed sheet metal worker pro dad), this is the first of the ‘trades’ we’ve had come in the house that we’re paying for.  Very exciting to be moving forward with building infrastructure on our house.  I’m looking forward to having to never (really) worry about major issues in the near future since everything will be all new.

So yes – every single pipe in our house has been replaced.  All of them!  We’ve had a complete system overhaul done by a licensed pro.

The Bad: Since we have a subcontractor coming in, we’re trying to save mega $$ by doing all of the demo work ourselves.

The Ugly: Doing the demo work ourselves.  I had no idea how gross this was going to be.  I should have put it together… you know waste lines in a house that are very old…. but I just didn’t.

Felix and I (with the mega help of my dad), set out digging out our basement wherever the waste lines were and also digging up the old lead water service lines.

Can I just deviate for a sec and say: I never thought I’d be so interested in house codes and all of this stuff… but here I am.  

Seriously, all of this stuff is really cool – to see how a house is put together and functions.  I bet many of you don’t even know how you’re getting decent water pressure in your shower.  I didn’t… there are so many factors to take into account – I just had no idea.  These tradesmen are really knowledgeable, ya know?!  They know so much about stuff that I’ve been clueless about.  I’ve always rented and I guess I just took stuff for granted since I never had to think about it.

Now I got that out of my system…  Here’s what Felix and I have been doing in July.

The Basement:

Digging the sand out & re-stacking it in a pile in the middle of the basement.  (Look I’m not wearing my Rt. 66 shirt – you know that blue one. heh)

basementDigging2_01_7_5_2014

A bit of progress being made to expose the clay tile waste pipe.

basementDigging2_03_7_5_2014

We also had to dig out near the back of the house (laundry room) to redo the old water lines.

basementDemo3_07_7_6_2014

Exposed waste pipe – but we still had more to dig even after this…

basementDigging2_04_7_5_2014

Resulted in this massive pile of sand/soil:

basementDemo3_10_7_6_2014

Next came the demo of the pipe.  :(

My dad, Bob, busted out this whole, hunking cast iron waste pipe:

basementDemo3_01_7_6_2014

He then busted up the clay tile waste pipe that I’m attempting to haul out.

basementDemo3_03_7_6_2014

This is the ugly…. I got really grumpy, really quickly here.  I’m a complete sweat ball & it was smelly & awful work.  I’ll just leave it at that.

I really want to tell you all about how dreadful this was, too.  But I just can’t bring myself to.

Post demo, nice new pit for the new plumbing lines & a bathroom to go in.  This is about 18″ to 24″ below the concrete.  Depth perception is hard here…

basementDemo3_08_7_6_2014

I forgot to mention…. While we were busting up the concrete for a new waste and plumbing lines, we decided to have a bathroom installed in the basement.  We just figured, why not since we’re already here doing it?!  So part of this space above will be a 3/4 sized bathroom.

A week later, Felix then went about cutting out all of our pipes that feed the upstairs bathroom (all overhead).

cuttingPipes1_7_13_2014

Again, I’m not sure why we didn’t think about it… but this was an unpleasant job also.  Very smelly & dirty as we were dealing with the overhead waste lines from the tub and sink, as well as the water lines.  Very glad to be done with this part of the project.

Back to the good:  The plumber was here!

New waste line on the left forefront and down the length of the right along with stubbed in bathroom stuff (farther back on the left).

basementNewPlumbing_5_7_11_2014

This is the back laundry area & utility sink lines:

basementFill1_04_7_12_2014

Bathroom, under the sink:

Bathroom Plumbing

Kitchen:

Kitchen Plumbing

Now that the lines are down, guess who had to add back all of the sand, once more.  Doh!
I feel like I’ve spent 2 whole weekends now shifting about sand/soil in my basement.  Many hands hurt, just from gripping tools.

It doesn’t look like much… but this is the fill we added back into the pit of our basement.  The point here is that you really can’t see the plumbing lines anymore.

basementFill1_02_7_12_2014

What this has all meant for my daily life this past month:

I haven’t been actually living in my house since I have no working toilets or available water.  Luckily, my mom lives about an hour outside the city, so we’ve been staying with them.  I’ve been out of my house from July 3rd to July 22nd, nearly the whole month.

I’m thankful I have them so close; I can always count on them.  But I’m ready to be living back at my house, being on my own routine.

The Yard:

Not a terrible amount of progress here.  I got outside with my mom & started pulling out the remaining section of day lilies from my front yard – the parkway, more precisely.

Pre-removal:

lawnTransformation_07

The section I dug up was that whole mess of day lilies behind my mom and myself.  As much as we pulled out of the front yard, the parkway was worse.  It was much denser an area of day-lilies and I filled at least 7-8 large yard waste bags full of them.  I lost count.

Parkway

We found a whole mess of bricks buried in the ground.  There was once two walkways to the street here that were since buried by decaying leaves & day lily overgrowth – like years and years of it.  While it’s hard work, this task remains a treasure hunt.  I continue to find lots of neat things buried in my yard.

I wish I had a grand plan of what to plant in the front yard.  But it’s already past the official planting season & I’m just looking for quick and easy at this point.  I don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to garden maintenance while the inside of my house remains very much a wip.  So I’ll most likely put some sod down and call it a day.

The reason why I don’t have sod down at this point is I’m waiting to get a hose and water line set in so I can water the sod when it goes in.  Once I have water, I can lay the sod.

My mom and I just decided to plant a perennial garden instead.  I’m excited and I think this will end up looking much cuter and less like an area for dogs to do their business in, ie sod.  Sometimes sod/grass in the city can be a negative thing….

The Kitchen:

Little progress was made this month on the kitchen.  The plumbing work & pre/post prep work for the plumbing took up our month’s free time.

Kitchen Planning:

I officially picked my kitchen floors out!  But you may already know about this via instagram.

Aqua Tile

I found commercially available (awesome quality) vinyl flooring in the (a nearly) perfect shade of aqua and a white with gold flecks that will be going in the kitchen in a diagonal check-board pattern.

It’s the closet match I could find to my aqua dishes.  You’d think there’d be more fun, teal colored floor tiles out there, but they’re really aren’t.  BUT, please alert me if you see some more out there I can check out.  (There’s a great dark purple vinyl floor color that would be awesome set in my laundry room in the basement! – click on this link to see all the colors.  FYI: they send out free samples too & are an eco friendly company.)

The floor isn’t going in any time soon, but I had to pick them out now, so that we could build up the floor to the correct level.  Reminds me… I should get this aqua ordered in case it is discontinued by the time I go to install it.

Again more info than you need… but if at any point in the future I want to take out the aqua vinyl and put in ceramic tile (thicker) we can do so easily without ripping out the subfloor & re-leveling everything.  I’m really trying to think ahead many years in case I or the next owners want to change something around.

I’m planing on keeping my kitchen nice and white: white cabinets & appliances & a lt. grey marble counter top.  But what was nagging in the back of my mind is that it’s going to be too plain without any fun colors.  So I am jumping on the color bandwagon and adding in my pop’s of aqua whenever I can – as courage allows.

One neat detail I saw is painting the insides of your cabinets a color for fun pops.  I’m hoping to do this also in mine – that or adding in some colorful wallpaper to the backs of them.

Colorful cabinet back

This is a bathroom cabinet, but you get the idea.

I want a very clean, looking kitchen, but I also want it vintagey-cute.  So that means color – color – color.  :D  I’m hoping to incorporate teal with some pinkie corals and some mute grass greens.

Something similar to this (minus the peach & slightly darker or lighter green):
pleasedtomeetyou
via Rottencupcakes

Doesn’t that look like a cheery place you’d want to be with those colors?  :D

I’ve also been waffling around about 2 separate ovens and a cooktop.  That idea has gone by the wayside and I’m now debating this little beauty by AGA:

legacy-44-cathedral-door-vintage-white-large

 

It’s a bit more “country” looking than I initially wanted, but I love the knobs and the fact that it has 2 ovens + a separate broiler and a small storage drawer also.  (I really don’t need all of these burners up top… it’s a bit excessive for me. I just need my double oven space.)

It also comes in 1 size smaller which is also an intriguing thought:

36_df_all_white_cathedral_doors_large

This one has the same size oven + broiler + 2nd long oven on the right.  Isn’t that kinda neat?!  And I really like this burner configuration too.

Basically, I need to check out these puppies in person and see if the oven is large enough for me to use for all of my macaron baking & such.  This will be a day trip, sometime in August.

Last but not least….

The buns are back!

Bunnies

The buns have been at my bunsitter’s place since I moved in at the end of March – too much dust & debris for their delicate lungs.  But as demo has been non-existent in our house for a while, it was time to get them back from the sitter.

Bunnies

I’ve had to go without my favorite fuzzy friends, Quincy & Phineas’ company for a whopping 4 months.  You can imagine I’m so happy to have them back once again.  Expect many vine videos and instagram photos of their shenanigans in the new house.

What’s Upcoming:

I’m not quite certain, actually.  My dad’s been spending too much of his time helping on my house, when he has his own house to work on still.  I’m thinking our pace will slow down in August/September.  

What I do know that’s next on our list is electrical work, insulation installation, & pouring concrete in the basement to continue to finish the plumbing job off, among other things.

Perhaps my dad (non-step dad, dad) will have some free time to come up from Georgia to help us on putting up some fresh drywall in the kitchen or something?  He’s been wanting to come up and help Felix and I do work on our house – which is lovely!  I just haven’t known what task to give him…

  1. Helen / Aug 4 2014

    Hi Liz,
    Thanks for the update. My husband and I are looking at buying a house, but we are the renovating types- you are doing an awesome job by the way and I am looking forward to seeing the kitchen finished. I was wondering during your time spent on the house, have you come across any asbestos issues?

    • Liz / Aug 5 2014

      Hey Helen! Many old houses – and really even houses built into the 60’s and 70’s have used asbestos products. Some are more harmful than others (ie more dusty), but some are actually good products in doing what they’re designed to do. Asbestos is harmful when they expel any dust or if you cut into a product that contains it and dust is released into the air.

      I’m not sure what state you live in, but I’d check your state’s policies on asbestos removal before buying a house that contains it. Professional abatement is very, very expensive. But if you are able to do it yourselves (via state regulations), you need to be fully knowledgeable about how to abate it yourselves. Good luck & happy house hunting!

  2. Lili / Aug 4 2014

    Aqua floor tiles, check out Marmoleum Laguna here: http://www.greenbuildingsupply.com/All-Products/Rhythmic-Blues. It’s real old-fashioned linoleum, which is actually a lot more eco-friendly than vinyl.

    • Liz / Aug 5 2014

      I am hoping for a solid teal color… not so much as multicolored ones like these. Thanks for thinking of me and sharing that link.

  3. Jacqui / Aug 4 2014

    It must feel nice to have that dirty job behind you! Sounds like a rough month. How nice you and the buns are re-united in your home now though :)
    I continue to be so impressed with all the hard work you all do on this house. Thanks for sharing the journey on your blog Liz–you are amazing.

    • Liz / Aug 5 2014

      Thanks Jacqui! Yes, I’m so happy to have the buns back with me/us. :D They really help make our house a home again.

      Unfortunately, I do know of a few more ‘dirty jobs’ that have to happen; like cleaning the remaining icky insulation out of our attic, but hopefully they won’t be as bad as the plumbing. We’re looking up and to the bright side of things too. :)

  4. Sandra / Aug 5 2014

    I applaud you, Felix and your parents. Hopefully, all the dirty work is done; the fun stuff (decorating) is a while away – hang in there.

    • Liz / Aug 5 2014

      Thanks Sandra! We’re just pushing through & will get to the fun stuff soon. And what I mean by fun stuff is… laying down subfloor in the kitchen, replacing windows, and starting in on the electrical. :D heh

  5. L / Aug 5 2014

    It’s so fun to see these updates! What an amazing amount of progress. Thanks for sharing!

  6. K-Line / Aug 5 2014

    I want an AGA! I want a kitchen reno! I know i say this every month, but I cannot believe what you’re going through for this place. You must be in great shape with all of that digging and lifting and gardening.

    • Liz / Aug 5 2014

      I’m all about consumer reports ratings, and the AGA’s aren’t included so it’s hard to know if it’s the right choice or not. But from what I’ve read, all have been positive comments. Have you heard anything about them as a company/product?

      I would love an aga cooker in aqua color, but in Chicago with 80 degree summers (usually) having an ‘always on’ oven is not a smart choice. How lovely it would be for winters though… The legacy seemed the best option for me with the gas burners.

      How I wish I lost weight with all of this manual labor. :( Sadly I’ve put on a few extra pounds since we haven’t been able to cook as much healthy meals as we used to. It’s just soo much more effort to do so – but we’re trying.

  7. Tasha / Aug 5 2014

    Meanwhile we painted two rooms and hung up curtains and a curtain rod, and 4 cellular shades. Ummm YOU WIN. ;D You guys are doing an incredible job!

    • Liz / Aug 6 2014

      Aww. The little stuff is hard to do too.

      For example: I have a front door buzzer that is out of order & I can’t manage to remove it or add our new door knocker. I’m bad.

  8. Sox / Aug 8 2014

    Wow! You have done an impressive amount of work.
    I love the look of Aga ranges. We considered one when we did our kitchen renos but we didn’t have the space (I hadn’t seen the smaller one -that might of worked). Also I’d heard they have a pilot light on all the time, which can be add a great deal of heat to an already hot house during a prairie summer. Because of the space issue, I didn’t check further into that. Maybe that isn’t the case in North America but cozy during a UK cool summer.
    I’m looking forward to your next update!

    • Liz / Aug 8 2014

      Thanks so much.

      The AGA I’m considering doesn’t stay on all year round, actually. It would be too much for our Chicago Summers, although it would be lovely in the winter months.

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