The Major Renovation: Work in the Bedroom, Bathroom and Laundry Continues

The next few weeks were a flurry of activity as the contractors finished the bed, bath and laundry rooms, and we made plans for the next stage of the renovation:  the kitchen.

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Day 19, 20, 21

Tuesday April 7 to Thursday April 9

The movers delivered the tub early Tuesday morning. The contractors took it apart outside and brought it in, one piece at a time. While one contractor worked at installing the tub, the other set about applying compound to the drywall. The tub is beautiful but I am a bit disappointed.

Not quite as advertised

Glaringly obvious is the lack of the back massage jets. Remember, we ordered this tub through a member’s only showroom. Their website clearly states that this particular tub includes the back jets, so I expected back jets. However, I then took a look at the manufacturer’s website which states that the back jets, while standard with the massage system we ordered, are not available with the tub model we ordered.  Confusing, no?   Unfortunately, although I did a LOT of research, I somehow missed this fine print.

The bottom line:  we got what we bought.  Since we designed the bathroom around this particular tub, it was too late to make any changes now.

Watch your head…

Another disappointment is the height of the shower unit, or lack thereof.   The contractor was unable to mount the shower head at the standard 78 inches.  Admittedly, at 6’2″, I am the only person in the family that is affected.  The shower in the original bathroom was also short, so this is nothing I haven’t dealt with before.   Still,  an upgrade would have been nice.  An important point to remember is that the interior dimensions are always going to be less than the exterior dimensions (obviously).

…never mind

[Update December 2012:  the height of the shower head is fine.  My complaint was largely based on the opinion of the contractor.  In actual use, there is no issue.]

Happy with the purchase

Despite these disappointments, I am still thrilled with the tub.  It really is a beautiful unit that will no doubt get a lot of use in the coming years.

By the end of Thursday, the contractors  finished hanging all the drywall and have applied three coats of compound.  They have also installed the cement board in the laundry room and bathroom ready for the tile.

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In floor heat!

We got a price on in-floor heat for the tiled floors (the bathroom, hallway and kitchen).  The system is surprisingly affordable.   Radiators would be less money, but not by much, and having an in-floor system will definitely help the resale value of the house.

The system we are having installed is a “dry” or “below deck” system, where the tubing is attached to the underside of the sub-floor.  While not as good as a thin slab system where the tubing is installed on the sub-floor and covered with lightweight concrete or gypsum cement, it is less expensive and less messy.  Plus, there is no risk of damage to the tubes during future renovations if removal of the tile floors is desired.

Custom cabinets!

We got an estimate for custom made cherry cabinets for the kitchen that was perfectly in-line with what we were expecting.  We are really excited about this part of the renovation because the design of our current kitchen just doesn’t work well.

Even though we have already picked out tiles and counter tops, we will be going to a tile store with the architect to look at other options on Monday, so some of those choices may change.   We need to finalize these decisions quickly so the contractors can start laying the tile this week.

In fact, the project is now moving at a very fast pace.  Second-guessing is no longer an option– we will have to live with any decisions we make now.

Day 22:  Picking out kitchen materials

Monday April 13 (following the 3-day Easter weekend)

While the contractors sprayed and back-rolled the primer on all the drywall, we met with the architect at the local tile store.  Three things happened at the tile store:  we changed our tile choices, we picked out the bedroom flooring, and we are now seriously considering a different counter top surface.

The tile choice isn’t much different than what we had chosen at Home Depot.  The main difference is that we are going with just one tile in the hallway, bathroom and laundry room, whereas before, we had two tiles selected, with the bathroom differing from the rest.  Plus, “on sale” and “in stock” helped sway our decision.

For the bedroom floor, we are selected traditional oak hardwood flooring,   Some of the other options we were considering were not as durable and  Durability is good when there is a 50 pound black lab sharing the space.

The biggest development on Monday was that we are now considering spending more money and investing in granite counter tops for the kitchen.  The granite costs twice as much as the laminate we had selected, but it will definitely affect resale value (whereas the lack of granite might deter some buyers).  We have gone with relatively high end fixtures in this renovation, so it makes sense to not stop short.  Our kitchen is relatively small in size, so the actual dollar amount for granite counters is not going to break the bank.

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Day 23:  Painting

Tuesday April 14

The contractors spent the entire day painting.  Once again, my wife has proven herself to be a woman of good taste (this in spite of the fact that she married me).  Her color selection is excellent!

Day 24 and 25:  Flooring

Wednesday and Thursday April 15-16

Floors! The contractors installed the tile and wood floors.  They had other commitments on Friday, The grout would wait until Monday, giving the floors a chance to set up over the weekend.

bathroom floor tile
The floor tile has been laid in the bathroom, hallway and laundry room.

Kitchen cabinet production starts

We met with the cabinet maker on Friday to give him the down payment so he could start making sawdust.  We have chosen natural cherry with a Mission-style door– simple, clean lines, light colored wood– that will give our kitchen a touch of elegance and class.  I’m just happy to get rid of the 1/2 inch particle board slab doors with unfinished edges that we have now.

The cabinet maker came by to take some measurements on Thursday, and his conversation with the contractors revealed that the gutting of our current kitchen could take place as soon as the end of next week.

The bottom cabinets will be finished first, so the granite guys (if we go with granite) can make their template and get started on the counters as soon as possible.  However, it is beginning to look doubtful that the project will be finished in time for the in-laws’ visit.

Day 26: Fixtures and doors

Monday April 20

The contractors picked up the replacement vanity early in the morning and installed it today.   They also hung the doors and installed plugs and lights  The vanity looks amazing.   The tile looks amazing with the vanity.   Everything is coming together.  Well, almost everything.

Linen cabinet disappointment

The bathroom was designed around the specific dimensions of the matching linen cabinet that we had ordered.  Unfortunately, those dimensions did not account for the crown molding which does not quite fit within the space.  Simply put, the cabinet just looked out of place.

Enter the cabinet maker

What’s another cabinet when you’re doing a whole kitchen?  The cabinet maker will modify the linen tower once he has finished the kitchen cabinets.

Pictures pictures pictures

You can really get a sense of how things are coming together.

bathroom wall tile
The bathroom tile and vanity are well matched.


laundry room floor tile
Laundry room floor.

Day 27: Trim

Tuesday April 21

The contractors are installing trim.  There’s a lot of trim.  But getting to this point means we will likely be finished this phase of the renovation by the end of the week.  It has now been 6 weeks since we stated.

The toilet base has been installed, the baseboard trim has all been nailed up, and the tile has been grouted. Just a few finishing touches left before we can move into the new bedroom.

Last night, after the contractors left, I took my shoes off and walked into the brand new master bedroom. It’s hard to believe that it is the same space that was once occupied by two horrendous little bathrooms. It looks and feels like a brand new house (which I guess it is, really). We certainly have come a long way in a month and a half….

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Day 29 and 30:  Finishing touches

Thursday April 23 and Friday April 24

The contractors took care of the final touch-ups in the bedroom and bathroom.  We are still waiting on the customized linen cabinet in the bathroom.  I intend to install some closet organizers in the walk-in closet myself.  But for all intents and purposes this phase of construction is complete.

Our seven year old daughter had the honors of taking the first bath in the massage tub on Thursday.  My wife followed on Friday, and I finally had my turn on Saturday.  Wonderful!

Also on Thursday, the contractors dealt with what we hope will be the final major structural repair in the basement.  The previous owner had installed an oversize window in the basement without a proper header inside to support the framing and without a proper lintel outside to support the bricks.   A piece of angle iron and a couple of jack posts now supports the structure inside.  We are waiting on a new window, and when that gets installed, so will the lintel outside.

I cost me more money…

There was a marked lack of progress on Friday and it was my own fault.

Clearing out the kitchen took much longer than I anticipated, and I had to make multiple trips to the supermarket to get more boxes (our supermarket places empty boxes at the front front of the store for customers to take/use).   We should have cleared out the kitchen by Thursday night.

While we were moving our kitchen stuff, the contractors busied themselves with cleaning up the basement.  That was something I should have done myself long before now.  But I’m used to maneuvering around the mess, the contractors are not, nor should they have to.  Still, I wish they had put me on notice that they would clean the basement if I didn’t.   It certainly wasn’t worth the amount of money I was paying them.

But then, what else were they going to do while waiting for us to clear out the kitchen cabinets?

A few pictures of the current state of the front hall.

front hallway
View of the main hallway from the front door.
front hallway
Bathroom door is on the left, bedroom door is on the right.
front door
The front hallway as seen from the back.

The kitchen is next…

Over the weekend, we busied ourselves with getting the rest of the stuff out of the kitchen as well as moving some of the stuff from the living room into the bedroom.  We temporarily set our daughter up in the new laundry room, which is just barely big enough for a twin size bed and a small dresser.  Meanwhile, our family room is overflowing with stuff.

The stress finally takes its toll

On Sunday, as I was moving our “stuff” around, trying to find room for it and maintain room for ourselves, I reached my breaking point.  A happy camper I was not.  We have a ridiculous amount of “stuff,” much of which could possibly be classified as “crap” and “junk.”  When we actually start moving into our permanent rooms, there will be a lot of purging.  But that is a couple of weeks away.  In the mean time, we have to live in a very crowded family room.  Frankly, I don’t know how much more of this I can take without completely snapping….

This post contains content consolidated from 5 posts originally published between April 11 and April 27, 2009. Revised 2018.

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