The Renovation Saga - Weekend #1

Funny home repair story:
We had been living in our house for ten years (bought it 7 years after it was built) and started to see water seepage in the basement ceiling right under where the upstairs bathroom intersects with the living room wall. Had the plumber in, who cut a neat square of drywall out of the living room wall to get at the plumbing. Turned out that when the house was built, a carpenter put a baseboard nail into the hot water supply pipe, and it took 17 years for it to show up as leakage.

It gets better.

After the plumber went his merry way we hired a handyman experienced in drywall repair to wall up the access hole; we wanted it to look nice since it was in the living room. He did a beautiful job, stretching out the job over multiple days to smooth the patch over a bit more each day. When he was done you couldn’t see the repair.

Within a week, we started to see seepage in the basement ceiling again. What the? Called the plumber back (or course he had to make a new hole). As soon as he looked in there he fell over laughing. The handyman had put a baseboard nail IN THE COLD WATER PIPE 3 INCHES AWAY FROM THE ORIGINAL REPAIR!

We decided to cut him a break and didn’t throw a fit. He did repair the wall (again) for no additional charge. He did not attach the baseboard, but left that for us to do.


We’re remodeling - we would be the dumbest people to rob there’s nothing left :wink: besides tell us you’re in the area and we’ll have you over for a BBQ :slight_smile:


(You are amazing!)

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I’ve barely had the time to turn on the laser in the past 2-3 weeks. Basically I’m only at that house to sleep these days.


I think I might be able to match that. Shortly after we bought this place, we took out the 1974 kitchen (complete with first generation ceramic top electric range) and laundry room. 12 years later we notice a little drywall sag on the kitchen ceiling (which could have been anything, including creep from jacking up some joists that had to be fixed in the basement). This winter we got an honest-to-goodness leak. Nope, not the bathroom right upstairs, or the heating pipe. It was the vent for the old washing machine, which had been cut off and left in the ceiling/wall, and connected to another plumbing vent that was still live. And the weather was cold enough that the condensation froze inside the vent in the attic, and when the weather got a little warmer some of it dripped down the old washer vent connection. Disconnected, capped, any month now gonna get the whole %#%$# kitchen ceiling redone.


I know that feeling.

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This past weekend’s shenanigans.

Drywall up and patching the electric strip.

More patching.

Primed, textured (mostly), and painted (mostly). The important wall is ready anyway.

Hot water heater onto the wall, ready to go.

After several iterations with the water temp, we settled on 112°.

Sadly, right after this I noticed a splash on the floor, coming from under the drywall. Cut a patch out of the wall to find an elbow joint was leaking. It was in a crappy tight spot with studs, electric lines… I just couldn’t get to it very well, and around 10:30pm on Saturday I gave up the ghost.

Sunday morning I got up early because I had to have it fixed by 10, when the tile guy was coming to install tile in the room. Hit Lowe’s first… don’t open till 8. Next went to Home Depot… don’t open till 7:00. It was 6:30 at this point, so I hit up the arches and had some breakfast. Snagged a heat-shield cloth and headed over to the house. Got everything taken apart, and as I was about to start soldering 3 or so joints, decided I should replace the whole straight section of pipe. But I was out of clean pipe. Back to Home Depot. Met @martinell.jan there and picked up the supplies that the tile guy would need, as well as a 5’ section of pipe. Back to the house. Finalized the pipes around 10, switched on the water heater and NO LEAKS! YAY!!! Didn’t have time to button up the walls, but we can do that once the tile sets…

Time to go back to HD:

We have a little dog, and the yard is not fully enclosed. Even if it was, there are huge gaps under both the neighbor’s fence and the fence behind us (to a major street). Even if there were no gaps, there are also about 10,000 Foxglove plants that we learned just last week are poisonous to dogs… people too, but I can avoid them. Eventually the Foxgloves will probably come out… but for now… it’s time to build a dog run fence.

4’ high… though thinking on it, 3’ may be fine. I’ll have to discuss that with Jan, enclosing a roughly 14’x10’ area. We are putting a doggy door through the wall in the dining room, and that is elevated nearly 2’ from the ground outside so I’ll have to build Ashby (the dog) a little ramp.

First hole dug…

Yeesh that’s a lot of work! Anyone want to come dig 5 more for me?

So, meanwhile the tile guy has been in the laundry room from around 11am until he finished at around 5pm. 6 hours. We are laying down an “L” shape of tile covering two walls. On this tile will sit the washer/dryer and closets, but some will be visible. We wanted the “L” to meet in the corner with a 45°. Tile guy comes out to where I’m working on that post hole, and says “I’m out, I’ll be back tomorrow to grout.” Ok. At this point it’s good to note that we haven’t paid him anything, and he didn’t ask for any money up front, or even at the end of the day.

He leaves. I go inside to get a drink and check out the tile…

Jan has left at this point, so I immediately text her that photo. She instantly calls the guy and tells him it looks horrible. “But it’s 45°, exactly like you asked for”…

Really? Aren’t you a tile guy? Shouldn’t you know your angles?

He came back today to fix it and add the grout… I believe the quote, when shown the difference between 30° and 45° was “Yeah, I guess you could do it like that.”

Yeah, do it like that… instead he decided, with Jan’s permission, to make a square joint at the meeting point. This was a bit of a trial run and was only 49sqft. I don’t think he’ll be coming back to do the 250 sqft of the kitchen. As much as I don’t really want to do it, I’d rather jack it up myself than pay someone else to jack it up.


It’s coming along beautifully, even with the (inevitable) hiccups! I’m amazed at how quickly you’re knocking it all out.

FWIW, I wouldn’t worry too much about the foxglove. Yes it is highly poisonous to dogs (and cats, deer, horses, humans, etc.) but most animals are smart enough to steer clear. I have it bordering my entire garden + all over the pasture where horses & deer graze. Had it in my backyard(s) when I lived in Seattle too. No fatalities yet!


Oh, and the tile is discontinued. And we bought all they had except for two boxes (why the heck didn’t we just buy it all?!?) And we know that those last two boxes are gone to another store. This guy wasted 3-4 pieces of our precious, precious tile.


The sad part is the tile guy probably thinks you are over reacting and saw nothing wrong with his work…


I liked your post for sympathy, not because I liked what happened.

It’s funny, my husband and I are real entry-level doofuses when it comes to home repair/remodeling and we always pay professionals to do our work (and not lowest bidder either), yet it’s surprising how often after they leave that we realize we could have done some aspect of the job better ourselves.


Believe me… if I could afford to have someone else doing all the work, I would.


After numerous renovations, I’ve reached the same point. My wife, however, would rather I pay someone to jack it up quickly, rather than wait for me to screw it up in 4x the time :slight_smile:


:joy: a good laugh in the morning is a great way to start the day!
It annoys me when her logic puts me in my place…


The tile stores where I’ve purchased tile/stone will refund you by the piece, so if there is 10 sq ft in a box you can return five pieces. You can buy more than you need with confidence.

Little late to tell you now of course. I don’t know what the policy is if you bought it from a big box home improvement store.


This was discontinued, all sales final… but it doesn’t hurt to have spares out in the shed.


We had something very similar. We were putting Vinyl Tile down and knew we needed 10 boxes. The style we liked was discontinued and they had 12 boxes on the shelf (in case we needed replacement tiles to finish the job). We bought all 12, and then when I went to return the final two boxes they offered me $1 per box because they had been discontinued.

We kept the 2 boxes.

My dad is a contractor, he has taught us to always buy extra. They’re handy in the event of mistakes, as well as repairs/replacements.

The laminate that we used upstairs has worn really well, so we made sure to grab extra. We originally planned to use something different when we get around to the downstairs, but it gets so many compliments that we decided to stick with it. It’ll be a while before we get to that project, but we did manage to nab up a few cases before they discontinued the style … with a little extra JIC :wink:


So we had a plan. The renovation is still going strong, but we had to book movers or risk no open dates… so we booked Tuesday the 18th. To throw a bit of a wrench into the mix, Albert Lee calls and says “we can’t hold your appliances any more. We HAVE to deliver them.” So they were to be delivered on Monday the 17th.

At this point the kitchen still hasn’t really been worked on that much, and as a result, it is not ready for appliances. Out of the five that we received, we plugged in the fridge and completely installed our washer and dryer. The induction range and dishwasher sit to the side awaiting their final homes.

Remember that part where I said that we “had” a plan. The key word there is “had”.

Jan calls Monday morning to verify the movers were coming the next day. They say “We’ll be there at 9am”… she says “tomorrow?”, and they say “no, today.” . . .

I took a ReachNow and an Uber to get home (My house is outside the reach now service area), and we finished packing while the movers were loading the truck. Thank God my friend is in town helping with the renovation because he was a HUGE help in getting that done.

Now our new house looks like a hoarder lives there what with all the boxes simply every where. It’s kind of insane.

Now we focus on getting that kitchen demo’d so that we can install the cabinets, floors and appliances.


Isn’t it odd how every little project has many, many components to getting it done, and getting it done right.

This past weekend we were focused on getting the kitchen demo’d and getting cabinets installed. The demo itself went fine, though there are a couple of issues with some of the framing that was used and how it will interact with our floors. But in order to get the cabinets installed there are some electrical and plumbing items that need to be resolved.

The first was the electric for the new induction range. The existing electric was on the south wall and we needed it on the east wall. No problem, we’ll go into the crawl space where my friend found the existing line on a previous exploratory trip, pull the existing wire down, install a junction box and splice the existing to new wire to make up the added distance… however, the old wiring is cloth wrapped aluminum wiring, with only three wires (even though the outlet was a four-prong). We knew where the wire was, where it went and how it got there, so the decision was made to replace instead of extend. After the requisite couple of hours at Home Depot it took a couple of hours, several trips into the crawl space under the house, and trying (in vain) to pull the old wire out before we decided to just leave the old wire in place, and run the new wire. Thankfully the hole into the crawl space was big enough for the new wire to feed through. The majority of the cable under the house was cut away and removed. What should have been a relatively simple move of a single outlet took most of a day.

Side note, the room that Glowforge is going in has outlets that are testing un-grounded. While under the house I did some exploring and found wires that were running back to that room, and they were three-wire, meaning they should be grounded. Did some digging in the breaker box and found that this wire was not the outlets and was instead, the wall heaters… on a 220 circuit. So glad I did due diligence. I would hate to think what would happen to the forge if I plugged it into an outlet with both sides wired to hot! I will be back under the house and I’ll run GF it’s own circuit.

Next was shifting an outlet from a section of wall to be removed, just about 1.5’ to the left. This was completed with very few problems… until later when we decided to test the outlet… bad ground. Hmm. Lets do some research. I knew the switch was wired correctly. In the end we found that two of our circuits (1 and 4) were grounded to each other, but not to anything else… So as a temporary fix I ran a ground wire from an external outlet to the nearby meter. After that the outlet tested fine. That was an hour or more of digging around in junction boxes and tracing wires in the attic. So, does anyone else have cloth-insulated aluminum wire running the length of their attic attached to the rafters? If so, is it still live? Mine is. I guess when I go into the attic I should be extra careful and shut the power off.

Finally for the electric (that was done this weekend, there’s still plenty to do), was shifting two switches from another wall to be removed and into the outer wall of the house. It took some doing, but we were able to use the existing wires that were in the target wall, and run just a couple of new wires a short distance (so it wasn’t too difficult to fish them through). But you should have seen me trying to fish wires for twenty minutes before I figured out that there was a stud in-between my target and my source. The last kick was when I try to switch on the lights that said switches control and nothing happens… then I remember - new GFCI will need to be reset. The one bad design in this case is that the GFCI is the outlet outside on the back patio. So if our dining room light won’t turn on, I have to go outside to check the GFCI.

Anyway. I still have a couple of old switches to replace and at least one more GFCI to install. I also have to install the plumbing for the pot filler over the stove and the fridge water-line. I said f-it and bought Dex and Shark Bites.

I learned a lot about electricity this weekend, and now I am relatively confident that with enough YouTube for the things that I am not familiar with, I can tackle just about any electrical issue that comes up in the future. And at some point, I think I’ll take on the task of re-wiring the whole house properly and do-away with the cloth-insulated aluminum wiring running through my attic.

And lastly, I have to coolest wife ever. @martinell.jan found me this sweet lamp (though I did have to meet someone in a mall parking lot to pick it up)

It’s a life-size BB-8!!!