Thursday, April 30, 2009

Time to Party!

Sorry we have been silent for so long!

Now that we've finally been able to nail down a date, we want to share our joy and excitement about the completion of this project with a party - and you are invited!

Really, this project would not have been possible without the encouragement, support, help and prayers of YOU: our friends and family. Please come celebrate with us at an Open House:

Date: Saturday, May 16th
Time: Between 3pm & 7pm
Location: Our House, of course!

Stay for as little or as long as you want, enjoy some hors d'oeuvres, see the remodel in person and tell us what you think.

We look forward to seeing you there! (Please contact us if you need directions.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

We're There

We can now get clean in more than one room of our house!

We had our glass shower doors installed a few weeks ago and have really been enjoying our new shower! It is wonderful not to have to dodge bath toys! I wasn't sure how the shower dimensions would be; whether it was wide enough or big enough to fit two comfortably. I didn't have any previous shower design experience to base our plans off of so it was more of just a shot in the dark. Well, after the inaugural test run, we love it!

The shower glass install was very interesting to watch. Definitely something to leave to the pros until you've seen it done. The frameless glass design leaves virtually no room for error. To watch them get the glass plumb and level in 2 dimensions while maintaining a consistent 1mm gap between the door and the adjacent fixed panel and keeping all 3 panels aligned along the top was quite impressive! Anyway, it turned out great and adds the final touch to the bathroom.

Since then, we've been taking it a little easy on the house and only working on the weekends. It has been a nice break. We are gradually chipping away at the little details like getting the crown caulked and painted. We still have some trim to finish painting and general yard and house cleanup, but it's definitely time to PARTY! Look for an announcement coming in the near future about an open house celebration so you can see it all first hand!

Oh, and by the way, now that we have all this extra space we're working on filling it up. Ciraulo baby #3 is due in September!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Signed Off (But Not Signing Off)

All our inspections are done and it's official!

We got our planning sign-off for the tree we planted. All they required was that we email them a picture for verification. I guess we could of just gone to a neighbors house or taken a picture of another tree in our backyard, but we really hope the Bay tree takes. Once planning signed-off, we went down to the building department and had them give us the official final sign-off on our permit. It is now closed with the county and we officially have a 1300 sq/ft house!

We are still wrapping up the details. This last weekend we got most of the interior doors hung. This involved two sets of sliding bypass doors for the closets and the pocket door for the bathroom. All these doors needed to have their length trimmed down to fit, which is the reason we hadn't installed them sooner. To do this we made a zero clearance guide for the circular saw. This guide, when clamped to the door, would allow a precise, straight cut free of any tear-out.

The doors definitely add a finished appearance to things. It also makes the bathroom more convenient to use in the morning since you can close the door and then turn on the light and not wake anyone up.

The tasks we have left are getting the shower glass installed (getting quotes now) and caulking and painting the remaining trim. Then it's time to party!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Home Stretch

We passed our final inspection!

We had our progress inspection a few weeks ago. We used the opportunity to understand exactly what was required for the final inspection. It turns out that the list of requirements was pretty short: grout the shower, install the toilet, connect the sink drains, install the smoke detectors, install an air-gap on the dishwasher drain line and add a few more boards to the landing outside the sliding glass doors in the back.

There were a few things that we wanted to get done first even though they weren't required for the final inspection. Before we installed the toilet we wanted to get the baseboards done in the bathroom so we wouldn't have to work behind the toilet. Once those were in, we installed the toilet, hooked up the sink drains and installed the mirrors. We also turned on the heat in the bathroom floor and moved into the bathroom. We can't use the shower yet, but everything else is functional.

Next we wanted to finish the laminate floors. We needed to get the transition pieces for where it met up with the carpet in the new bedroom and the old hardwood floors in the exiting bedrooms. After a trip to the East Bay where a Lumber Liquidator had them in stock, the floors went together fairly easily. It is so nice to have them finished! It really makes the house look nice.

The next weekend we got the remaining items for the final inspection completed. Grouting the shower was the biggest item and took most of the day. It was also the most rewarding. I was really looking forward to finishing the grout in the shower because it really makes a big difference in how nice it looks. We also installed the air gap on the dishwasher drain, installed the smoke detectors in the master bedroom and the hallway and built out the landing on the back porch.

We had our final inspection last Tuesday. It went really smooth and everything passed without any problems. The only thing that kept our permit from being closed out completely was that we need a sign-off from planning because they requires us to plant a new tree in place of the one we cut down at the beginning of the project.

In our plans we specified we would re-plant a Bay tree. We did this because they are native to the area and grow abundantly on my grandparent's property. So, this past weekend my grandpa and I hiked around his property to find a nice tree that we could transplant. We found a nice, tall and straight one that wasn't too bushy. It was surprisingly easy to get it out of the ground. I think it was partially due to the lack of rain. The soil was very loose and dry which made it easy to dig.

We got the tree out of the ground and wrapped it up. We planted it in the back yard
as soon as I got back to our house. Hopefully it will survive the transplant and take.

So now we are just waiting for planning to verify the tree and sign off on our project. Hopefully that will happen this week!

We will continue to wrap up the remainder of the items over the next couple weeks. We need to get the new doors in: the pocket door to the bathroom, the closet doors and a new door separating the hallway from the great room. We need to get the shower glass installed. We need to get the rest of the trim caulked and painted as well as install a few more baseboards.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just In Time

We are not finished with the remodel yet, be we are starting to enjoy it more. We've now spent three nights in our new bedroom!

So let me back up a little bit and fill you in. The week before Christmas was pretty hectic. We tore up the old floors in the living and dining rooms, moved around the furniture and started laying the new floor. This knowing that we were going to be home for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning for the first time ever! So it was a push to make sure we had the floors finished so we could enjoy a nice Christmas Eve dinner in our dining room and Christmas morning opening presents in our living room.

We got the floors finished in the living and dining room just in time to take a quick shower before we headed to church for Christmas Eve service. After the service we moved the furniture back into place and brought in the Christmas tree while Stacie finished up dinner preparations. Talk about cutting it close, but what a joy to have it finished for Christmas! Then we took a break and spent a few days with Stacie's family in the Fresno area.

Next we returned to finishing up the trim in the bedroom so the carpet could be installed. We had carpet installers coming on the Tues. after Christmas. We got the trim finished just in time and the room really started to transform once the carpet was in. Then it was off to Tahoe for four days over new years with some good friends (the girls loved their first trip to the snow).

Once we got back we had a few days before bedroom furniture was going to be delivered. In that time we needed to get the baseboards painted and installed in the bedroom. We painted them before installing them so we wouldn't have to do as much painting against the carpet. We still needed to do caulking and touch up, but again, we got it all done just in time - the night before the furniture arrived.

That brings us to this last weekend. My parents came up on Saturday to help us out. We started by putting up the shelves and hanging rods in our closet. Then my dad and I tore out the rest of the old floors that we are going to replace in the entry way, hallways and closets and started installing the new flooring. While we were working on that, Stacie, Vicki and Erin started moving our things into the new bedroom as there was no reason not to start sleeping in the bedroom.

My dad and I hit a snag on the floors. I thought the height of the carpet would be enough to cover the ends of the laminate flooring that we were laying. It's not so we need a reducer strip which I didn't have. Since the floor has to be locked together in a certain order, that brought the floor to a halt. We completed a few other trim tasks and called it a day.

That night we spent the first night in our new bedroom! It was so nice!

We need to have an inspection soon since we have a max of 120 days between inspections. We aren't totally ready for our final inspection yet, but it will be good to have the inspector come by and tell us the things we need to finish up before he can sign off. The main tasks to finish up before the final inspection are: finish the floors, finish grouting the shower, get the shower glass installed, get the toilet installed and get the bathroom sink plumbing hooked up. The other things like painting the trim in the living area and putting the rest of the baseboards on can wait until after the inspection.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Laying Plank

Tuesday after Thanksgiving we were hoping to grout the bathroom floor, but the after letting a sample of the grout cure over night the color wasn't right. Instead we started grouting the shower. We got one wall done that night.

Then we realized that we really wanted to get going on carpeting the bedroom. It would be much easier to paint all the trim before the carpet was installed so we wouldn't have to worry about protecting anything. So we switched focus to getting all the trim in the bedroom puttied and caulked so we could finish the painting. The rest of the week was spent caulking and caulking and caulking.

On Saturday my dad came up to help us out. It didn't seem like painting trim would be the best use of his help so we started working on the flooring in the living room and dining room. My dad started tearing up the old wood floors while I worked on cleaning up the master bedroom so we could get to the flooring.

Once my dad had torn up a good bit of the old flooring we encountered the hard part - the figuring. The issue was that we already had some of the new floor installed in the new kitchen. We needed to meet up with this floor perfectly so the laminate would all click together right. The problem was that the flooring installed in the new kitchen wasn't parallel to the main walls of the living room, dining room and hallway (it was off 1/2 inch over 8 feet).

We probably spent at least an hour trying to figure out what was and wasn't parallel and how to handle it. Our options were 1) take out the appliances in the kitchen and see if we could twist the floor to make it parallel (since it is laminate it floats and isn't physically attached anywhere), 2) start the flooring against the wall we
want to be parallel with and when we get to the kitchen tear up the floor and re-lay it or 3) just keep laying the floor based off the kitchen and don't worry about parallel.

As we started playing with the layout based on the assumption that we would still meet up with the existing kitchen floor we realized that we could flex the floor quite a bit.Over 8 feet we could easily move the floor more than 1/2 inch. We realized that we could build off the existing kitchen, but flex it so that it would be parallel when it met up with the walls. So, after spending a long time figuring everything out, we actually got started laying the new floor.

We didn't get too far since there was a lot of cutting involved in getting started. But we got the hard part done and once we get back around to working on it it should go much more quickly.

For now, it's back to working on getting the trim in the bedroom finished so we can get carpet installed and finishing the floors that we started in the living and dining rooms.

We hope that during this Christmas season you are filled with wonder and awe of a God who put a plan into motion that would require Him to send His Son to this earth as a baby, born in the most humble of circumstances, for the purpose of suffering death on a cross so that we could have the opportunity to be in a personal, loving relationship with Him forever.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thanksgiving Progress

We took some time off over Thanksgiving to work on the house. We spent Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Monday working on our big push and we got quite a bit done!

Wednesday we finished trimming out the closets by building some shelves and clothing racks. We also started preparing for crown molding which we started on Friday.

Friday my dad came to help us out. The plan was to try to get all the crown molding done on Friday and Saturday. I built a jig for the miter saw that allowed us to make all the crown molding cuts with simple miter angle cuts rather than compound miter angle cuts. This saves a lot of time. We actually were able to finish all the crown molding before dinner time! We put crown in the master bedroom and bathroom, hallways, entry way, living room, dining room and kitchen. The trickiest part was taking the crown around the outside corners (we had 5) because we used rounded drywall corners.

Saturday I had help from my soon to be brother-in-law. Since the crown molding was all done, we started by finishing the molding above the kitchen cabinets. There is not a lot of molding there, but the ends need to be scribed to fit against the crown molding. It's also nice not to see the exposed plywood anymore.

After that, we moved on to finishing up the closet units. I needed some special hardware to finish a vertical hanging piece that will support the lower clothes rod. The challenge was hanging this vertical piece that stopped well short of the floor but could support the weight of a rod full of clothes. This vertical piece is bolted to the shelf above, doweled to the horizontal upper shelf support and doweled to the lower shelf. Hopefully this will be enough.

After that we tore up the rest of the linoleum from the old kitchen. This needed to come out before the new floors go in and we are quickly approaching the point when we will start working on the new floors.

We still had some time left in the day so we installed the radiant heat mat in the bathroom that will heat the tile bathroom floor. The mat gets glued to the floor using thinset - the same cement based adhesive that glues tile to a substrate. The mat went down pretty easily. The key is to make sure you are careful not to nick the the wires.

Monday my dad came back to help again. We rented a tile saw to try to finish up the bathroom tile work. We needed a tile saw to make some long straight cuts that are visible on the shower curb and half wall. The curb, half wall and shelf took much longer than we anticipated. All the cutting time really adds up. Even with two people working, we spent most of the day working on the shower and only got to starting the floor a little before dinner time.

The floor tile goes down a little differently than the ceramic wall tile. We used travertine on the bathroom floor which is a porous natural stone. The edges are sharp corners rather than an eased edge like on most tiles. We decided to install the tiles with a very small grout joint (1/16"). With a small joint and sharp corners it is very important to get the tiles level with each other. Any irregularities will be obvious to the touch, especially when walking on the floor with bare feet.

To do this the process is a little more involved. You need to start at the highest point in the floor. You can always add more thinset to the bottom of a tile to build it up, but you can't (easily) lower the floor to make a tile line up. After applying thinset to the floor with a notched trowel in the normal manner, thinset also needs to be applied to the back of the tile. This serves two purposes: to fill the voids in the porous stone so that it is fully supported and won't break and to add an appropriate buildup to keep the tiles all level as you move away from the high point of the floor.

We only finished about a quarter of the floor on Monday. The rest would have to wait until the next weekend. In fact, getting the rest of the floor installed was all that we've gotten done since then. The following week only afforded us one night to work on the house and last weekend was Natalie's 3rd birthday party and the Yahoo! year end party.

Over the Thanksgiving week we also had the exterior of the house painted. I highly recommend David & Co. Painters. They did a great job and pay great attention to little details that really make a difference. We just had the new parts of the house painted since there is a lot of work to do on the old parts before it can be painted. We'll get to that after this winter and then have the rest painted to match.

The next steps are grouting the tile in the bathroom, installing the toilet, caulking all the moldings and casings, painting the trim work and starting on the living and dining room floors.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Getting There, Thankfully

Happy Thanksgiving! I can't believe that November is already coming to an end!

The last several weekends have felt like a broken record: tile the shower, tile the shower, tile the shower. It is looking really nice, and it will be worth it when it's done, but we certainly didn't make it easy! The design adds a lot of cutting and that just takes time. Fortunately, our time is less expensive since we haven't had to rent a tile saw for all this work. A friend of ours who has done a lot of remodel work let us borrow his. This has been a huge help.

A typical Saturday over the last few weeks has consisted of:
- 1 hour of prep, setup and planning
- 8 hours marking and cutting tile to size
- 3 hours setting the tile
- 1 hour of cleanup

Then on Sunday morning we would pull out all the tile spacers from the tile that was set the previous day. We would wipe the tile down to get any thinset off that had gotten on the tile or filled the grout joints before it fully cured. The girls loved helping with this part. They also discovered that by squeezing a tile sponge in the middle it could look like a Minnie Mouse bow which they would then hold on the top of their heads.

Since it takes so long to setup and cleanup the tile work, we've been working on other projects during the week. We've installed the door jambs for the closet doors, trimmed out the closet openings and the windows, installed the bathroom sink faucets and installed the tile backer board on the bathroom floor in preparation of the floor tile.

This Thanksgiving break week we are trying to make a big push. We hope to get all the crown molding installed, the tile finished in the bathroom, the closet organization units built and installed and have the house painted. After this, all that's left is the doors, floors, toilet, painting the trim and any touch up paint.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nearing the Home Stretch

The last few weeks haven't been as productive on the house because of busyness at work, but we are still nearing the home stretch.

Despite having to work over the weekend two weeks ago, we managed to get the bathroom vanity installed. This is necessary in order to completely tile the shower as well as the bathroom floor. The cabinet and counter-top went together pretty fast and it looks good in the bathroom. It will be so nice to have more bathroom counter space!

This past weekend my grandpa came over and helped us work on tiling the shower. We tried to focus on the tiles that didn't need to be cut. It gets expensive to keep renting the wet tile saw and we didn't want to be paying for it to just sit in the driveway. This is definitely not the most efficient way to lay tile, but we got a pretty full days work in between figuring out the layout and setting the tile.

Here and there we've also been picking away at the little things: getting electrical outlets installed, installing the ceiling fan, grouting the shower floor, etc.

We're now working on getting things lined up for a big push over Thanksgiving. We need to get our interior doors, casings, moldings, toilet and heated floor mats. We're also leaning towards having the exterior of the house painted (just the new parts until next spring/summer).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Let There Be Light!

Again, despite my best intentions, here we are a month since our last update.

In our last update we mentioned that we were going away to spend the weekend at Stacie's parents house. Thank you to those of you that prayed for us. While a difficult and challenging weekend, I think it was healthy to be together in that place.

Since that weekend we've turned on the after-burners. We are really moving on the house and burning the candle at both ends to do it! I'll try not to make this update too long despite all the progress we have made.

Now that the drywall taping was done we needed to get the texturing done since the drywallers left the floors covered. The majority of the work was masking everything off that we didn't want overspray on. This was a big job in the living room, hallway and entry where we were re-texturing all the ceilings and the walls.

We got the master bedroom done before the weekend which was helpful so that my dad's wife could paint when they came up to help us on that Saturday. Vicki primed the ceiling and walls of the bedroom while my dad helped with tiling the shower floor. I didn't expect the tile to take us all day, but it did. There were a lot of cuts, and not many of them were straight, but it turned out really well. We also tiled around the window opening in the shower since this would need to be completed before the wall tile started.

The next week was spent texturing the rest of the house which included the master bathroom, the hallway, the living room and the dining room. We also spent some time choosing paint colors. Since we were painting so much new area we took the opportunity to reconsider the existing paint we had. We decided on a slight change in both ceiling and wall paint which meant we needed to repaint everything.

We wanted to get all the texturing and painting done by the end of the weekend and we barely made it. We sprayed the bathroom and hallway before the weekend since it didn't require as much masking. We masked and sprayed the texture in the living/dining room Saturday morning. Then primed and painted the bathroom and hallway. By that time the texture was barely dry enough to prime the living/dining room. Sunday morning was spent painting the dining room, living room and kitchen. We finished up just in time to head to my aunt's 50th birthday party.

This last weekend was spent getting all the electrical hooked up for the lighting. It seems like it shouldn't take all day, but it did (8am to 11pm). This included a trip to Home Depot and Orchard Supply to pick out the lights for the hallway and bathroom. It also included rewiring the halway lights once I was done. The switches we have for the hallway have to be wired in a very specific order, but it is worth it having a 3-way switch for the hall lights that is dimmable at both ends. We also had to install the bathroom lights twice because a trip to Orchard later in the day revealed better fixtures than the ones we had already bought and installed from Home Depot earlier in the day. We finished up by installing the kitchen lights tonight because the parts we needed weren't available on Saturday. It is really nice to have all the lights hooked up. It makes the house so much more warm and inviting.

This week and weekend we will be installing our bathroom vanity and getting ready to paint the exterior of the house. There is so much prep work to paint the existing exterior that we might just paint the new parts to get by this winter. It will look a little funny with the new half painted in completely different colors, but then we would have the time to prep and paint the rest next spring/summer. The other option we're considering is to pay to have it painted.