The Big Flush

30 11 2012

The exhilaration I felt after finally carpeting the basement and finishing some of the last odds and ends are finally coming to an end.  It’s been over 2 years since I started the basement, and I’m finally wrapping up the final projects that will make the basement officially “done”.  The last project on this list was finishing the bathroom.  Back in July we set a goal to have the bathroom finished by October so that I didn’t have to spend my time working on it while also adjusting to the adventure of fatherhood.

Long story short…

We are finished with the bathroom! (the birth of my son, Connor, on October 19 is the reason I have not gotten to writing anything until now.  Who would have thought that such a little guy would require so much time?)

Short story long…

The bathroom has a long, complicated history.  In July of 2011, I had to dig out the shower drain in order to align the drain with the shower tray.  Starting in about May of 2012, I started drywalling the interior walls and ceiling.  Preceding from there, I tiled the floors in July.  Then in August I finally got around to installing a shower stall that I had bought over a year earlier.  With the help of a carpenter friend, I was able to do the plumbing myself, which saved me well over $300 that it would have cost for a plumber.  Speeding forward, I finished mudding the walls (mudding is still no fun, but at least I had a lot less to do this time).  By the end of August we had paint on the wall and functional toilet.

Installing a toilet is yet another project that is a lot easier than I would have imagined.  The drain pipe was already in place, and the water pipes were installed.  I put the stop valves in place and the last thing that I needed to do was actually install the toilet.  After much deliberation and a lot of research, I one night decided just to go down and tackle the project head on.  There really was almost nothing to it.  The hardest part (which really isn’t that hard) is making sure you get the bowl lined up in such a way that it is square to the wall.  Other than that, I just had to put the wax ring in place, fix the bowl to the flange, and secure the tank in place.  After hooking up the water, I had a brief ceremonial moment before performing the inaugural flush, to much jubilation.  (As a side note, the toilet brand is called “the Diplomat”, which I’m not sure if that label refers to the toilet or the user, but that’s for a different discussion)  Happy flushing!

After that I installed a vanity, 2 mirrors (one was too small, so I had to remove it and install a bigger one, hence 2 mirrors), and a linen cabinet.  The vanity was white and so was the linen cabinet.  However, the linen cabinet was a slightly different shade of white.  Luckily the white paint I used for the trim and the doors was virtually an exact match to the vanity, so I painted the white linen cabinet white (or white-er, I guess) to match.

White vanity, white linen cabinet, white toilet, white trim

White vanity, white linen cabinet, white toilet, white trim

Adding a bit of color to our bathroom.

Adding a bit of color to our bathroom.

I finished everything up in the bathroom with just a couple weeks to spare until the due date our first child.  The bathroom project was in a way a triumph of everything I had done in the basement as a whole.  Not only did I put to use a lot of the skills I learned doing the whole basement (like drywall, mudding, tile, and trim), I acquired a few new skills as well (like plumbing).  On top of this, for the bathroom we actually sat down and mapped out everything that we needed to complete it before hand (including all the parts, labor needs, and resources), and I came up with an estimated budget to go along with it.  Unlike the rest of the basement where I never planned more than one step in advance, the bathroom had a very specific road map that I laid out for myself.  Thanks to this, I was able to keep impeccable records, and actually spent significantly less than what I even had planned on spending along with finishing almost to the day of the deadline I had set for myself several months earlier!  I now have a model with which all future projects can be managed.  Of course, I have no more major projects to undertake so it probably will never be used, but alas, I have a model!


The Shower Continues

2 08 2011

That sneak peak from yesterday is going to get a little bit clearer.  Here’s a little history of this project:

The basement was stubbed in for a bathroom when we moved in.  However, a few nuances were left in our hands.  The layout was essentially identical to the upstairs guest bathroom which has a bathtub in it.  We did not want to put a bathtub in the basement, but the drain for the shower was way out of alignment for any type of shower unit we felt like going with.  So, when we had a plumber come out and do some rough-ins for the bathroom and a couple of other sinks, we had them move the drain for the shower (and the toilet, which was also slightly off).  They left the shower drain boxed in so that when we got a shower unit we could dig the drain out again and move it accordingly.  That turned out to be more of a project than I thought.  I had to dig about 10 gallons worth of rocks, cement, and dirt (luckily it was already jackhammered out, so I just had to dig).  After getting it all dug out, I had to cut the pipe and replace the trap assembly so that it would align with the shower pan that I bought.

The next step was to fill in the hole with cement and build a wall to create the shower alcove.  That’s what I did today.  I dusted off my masonry hat and troweled in some cement, using a trusty 2×4 to make sure the newly poured concrete was level (I did the same thing with the toilet stub, which was already in the proper place).  So I filled in the hole (which will take 5 days to cure, according to the package), and I built the wall.  Now I just have to wait for the cement to cure and I can continue on actually getting the shower unit in place.

Cement poured and smoothed, wall built and in place


1 08 2011

Here’s just a sneak peak at my latest endeavor involving installing a shower unit in our basement.

The pipe had to be moved

In order to align with the drain on the shower unit, I had to move the pipe slightly.  I had to cut this pipe off and go buy a new trap assembly.  It is still in the process of being all pieced together, but oh the adventure I am having, digging a huge hole under my basement and all.

A Hole in the Wall

21 03 2011

Ben Franklin I am not.  It is a well known fact that Ben Franklin invented electricity when he flew the kite in the storm, and he took that electricity to help defeat the British and form the American nation.  Ok, that’s a bit of a fabrication.  In fact, other than a few experiments, Ben Franklin really didn’t do much in terms of advancing the science of electricity like we may have been taught.

What does this have to do with me and the house?  I too have done very little to advance electrical development of the basement.  I studied all I could and came to the conclusion that starting an entire basement from scratch was not the right time for an electrical ignoramus to try his hand at running electricity throughout the house.  So I hired someone to do it for me.

What I did do, however, was mount some of the fixtures.  We are going with recessed lighting throughout most of the basement, and part of me talking down the quote for the electrician, I mounted the recessed lights in the ceiling; fortunately I had my dad over to help, so it didn’t take quite as long.  It wasn’t very complicated, but it did take a couple of nights.  All told, we have 21 can lights in our basement, and while the labor wasn’t back breaking, it did take a fair amount of thought and method to make sure the spacing was right.

The other thing I took on was mounting the bathroom fan.  That turned out to be more of a chore than I expected.  I was able to get the fan unit mounted in the ceiling.  The trouble came with running the duct work to the outside.  The 4 in flexible duct I had needed to attach to the fan, take a 90 degree turn, go through two joists, and then exit the house.

I rented a 4 1/8″ hole saw to cut through the joists.  Well, I couldn’t get the duct through the first hole.  I returned to the hardware store and got a 4 1/2″ hole saw; this worked a lot better.  So I got the two interior holes drilled and was ready to…..ahem……drill a 4 inch hole in the side of my house.

I did all the measurements and the placement of the hole was at no point a problem.  What was the problem was my arsenal of drills.  My cordless drill only has one battery and it was already pretty low.  I have one fairly weak corded drill and another 30 year old drill.  I started drilling with my corded drill; it was slow going and I’m pretty sure it was more than the drill was meant handle.  The drill started smoking eventually and after a while I wasn’t getting any deeper in the hole.  I tried switching drills, and none really worked.  Well, I eventually got through, but not before my drill started losing a large of amount of specs of something from the inside.  I have decided that I may need to add a better drill to my arsenal of tools.

I got the end cap fit into the hole, attached the duct, taped it all up with foil duct tape.  So now I can say I mounted a bathroom fan.  And I can cross “drill a 4 inch hole in your house” off my bucket list.

My self created fan mounting kit

That's much better than it looked about 15 minutes earlier

This was actually the easy part

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