24 January 2009

Flooring options

Cruising the fancy schmancy showroom websites like I always do, I came across a pretty good deal on laminate flooring. I just got a coupon in my inbox that entitles me to 20% off my next purchase, which if I can apply toward that flooring (available online only), would make it a really good deal on laminate flooring. [We plan on putting it in the attic room, and maybe even use it to make treads for the spiral staircase we're planning.] But always the deal-monger, I've looked online at other feasible options. Here are some that I like:

From the fancy schmancy showroom.

$1.70 per square foot ($1.37 if I get the 20% off) with free shipping. Pergo brand. I like the fact that it comes in 3.5" widths and is supposed to look more individualized than a lot of other laminates. I hate it when you can tell it's the same 3-5 woodgrain patterns.


Balterio brand, which I've never heard of, but only $.99 per square foot and comes with a 25 year residential warranty. The planks are 7.5" wide, which I'm not crazy about but will make installation go faster. This website also offers a free sample so I can tell if I like it.


This is about $1.58 per square foot. It comes with underlayment, so that saves time and money in installation. I love how dark it is, but I don't know if it will go with the rest of the flooring in the house (which needs to be sanded and restained anyway). Am I going too dark for a room that gets very little natural light?

Another from Sam's club, priced at $1.50 per square foot. I like the reddish undertone it has. Also has the underlayment. I know that my 2 readers (hi Mom and Marian!) have experience with this sort of DIY project. Any recommendations or pearls of wisdom?

22 January 2009


When we first bought the house, I spent some time drawing up floor plans to correct some oddities that the previous owners were apparently going to construct. My biggest concern was the placement of the washer and dryer. I liked the fact that it was upstairs near where most of the household laundry is, but it created a strange alcove in the hallway that couldn't be enclosed. Plus, it made the secondary bathroom a true jack-and-jill. I don't mind it opening into the bedrooms, but I would like it to open into the hallway, as well. And I hated the gap between the tub and the bedroom wall (it looks like enough for a shelf for towels, but there's really only about a foot - there was some extra framing I didn't bother drawing). Here's the original plan:

So I finagled and finessed the plan. Here's what I came up with:

Another benefit of moving the washer and dryer was reclaiming the back staircase. I'll probably regret this when kids start sneaking out of the house, but for a while it will be a nice feature for a study. The bathroom layout seems more efficient, and I eliminated the awkward protrusion of the closet in bedroom #2. Of course the washer and dryer had to go somewhere, so I relocated them to the master closet and rearranged the bathroom.

I showed the plan to our weekly helpers, who pretty much dismissed the entire thing. They came up with a list of reasons it didn't work. (And of course I didn't have the wherewithal to defend my designs, just like in college. I would present the project that I had spent countless hours taking every possibility into consideration and designing in excruciating detail. The reviewer would throw in a suggestion that I'd doubtlessly had already thought of and eliminated, for various reasons and I'd just stand there and agree with him.)

So here's a list of their concerns, with my arguments as well. This is really just a way for me to vent my frustrations and pretty inconsequential to the blog as a whole.

1. It's already plumbed at the other end of the hallway, and moving it would be more work.

Yes, more work, but I really hate it by the back 2 bedrooms. It's in an awkward niche in the middle of the hallway. It's really pretty impossible to enclose due to the location of the door to the back bedroom. An additional day's work and $100 in plumbing materials is really a small price to pay for having it someplace where it works better.

2. You don't want (why are you telling me what I want, anyway? I drew plans of what I want, remember?) the noise of the washer and dryer by the bedroom where you're trying to sleep.

Well, if I did laundry in the middle of the night, this might start to be of concern to me. I'd be more concerned of the noise waking up our eventual kids during naps and such.

3. Having to walk through your closet to get to your bathroom is kind of weird. A separate hallway takes up just as much room as having to keep that area of your closet cleared.

Sure, it's probably not standard design, but I think it works. The center island in the closet would have a countertop for folding laundry straight from the dryer and storage (shoes?) underneath (that's a bench at the end for pulling on shoes and such in the morning - I know it's hard to tell that sort of thing from just plan drawings). Besides, it's not like I spend my whole day in the bedroom and would have to go through there every time I have to use the facilities. In the morning, I'd need to go to the closet to get clothes for the day before showering, and at night I'd need to get pajamas before brushing teeth. So where is the inconvenience in that?

4. Having the sinks on opposite walls like that is inconvenient. You don't want to be backing into each other if you're each at your sink.

First of all, there's over 5 feet between the vanities. Second of all, the sinks are offset from each other to prevent that. And I like the fact that the toilet is out of the way and concealed a bit. I love Tom, but I don't think there will ever be a time when I'm comfortable using the toilet when he's in the room. Call me crazy, but I don't really want to see him on the toilet, either. And this preference of not having the toilet out in the open has caused them to make fun of me, saying that I want all toilets to have their own room (which is often done, but I don't particularly care for).

5. I've never seen the toilet and tub doored off from the sink before.

Really? Because the house that I grew up in has two bathrooms with that exact setup. Just because you haven't seen it doesn't make it any less valid. And that setup is very convenient when you have more than one person using that bathroom, as constantly happened in my house growing up. As I mentioned before, we're planning to have kids.

So there they are. All points rebutted. But since my plan was rejected (by two people who won't be living there), it wasn't done as I had drawn it. Instead, Paul came up with this:

I don't mind the niche in the wall so much, but it really doesn't serve much of a purpose as far as I can tell. It took two feet from the closet and added it to the already-huge bedroom. We've already framed this change and put recessed lighting in the niche. What brings up this entire entry is that I recently mentioned that I would rather have the washer and dryer down in the basement than in that stupid spot in the hallway. That led to Paul telling me that I'd be much happier with it upstairs, since "most modern construction is moving toward putting it near the bedrooms" and suggested I put it in the master closet. Uh, excuse me? Isn't that exactly what I said to begin with? What happened to point numbers one and two of your original argument? And now, instead of having a nice spacious closet to put it in, we have a much smaller area to work with. Thanks, guys. I think the grinding of my teeth was audible when he suggested this, as this was the only thing I could do to keep myself from either screaming or crying.

I'm sorry this entry is so long (even though I'm pretty sure nobody reads my blog anyway), but I needed to get all that off my chest. I've never been very good at verbal articulation.

The latest progress

Our Sunday workday this weekend was one that you could actually SEE the result when we were done for the day. It's frustrating to spend hours on a project when you can't even tell you've done anything (for example, I spent several hours yesterday putting screws in the middles of OSB decking). But Sunday was magical. Our attic went from this:

to this:

Ok, so maybe it wasn't "magical." But at least it's nice to see some improvements. And it's almost starting to look like a room up there. We gained about 8 inches of headroom, bringing it up to 7 feet. It makes a huge difference, even if you can't tell from the photos.

Next week:
Sistering the joists on the other side.

12 January 2009

Upping the ante

Tom and I went back to our insurance agent last week to increase our coverage to include all our equipment and materials. I'd been keeping track of all our receipts in a spreadsheet, but I hadn't totaled them until the morning of our appointment. Turns out we've spent over $10,000 already. Fortunately our labor is mostly free (save for a weekly dinner for Paul, Francesca, and the kids), or the bill would probably triple that. It's a little scary to see that huge number at the bottom of the page, but I keep telling myself it's worth every penny. Isn't it?

Back to work

Now that the hectic holidays are over, we're back to working on the house. Yesterday we finally got the master bathroom plumbing vented. We had to connect these two existing pipes:

You might not recognize the pipe on the right without the dead chicken beside it.

to each other and also to another vent for the sinks, and then run that all the way up through a hole in the roof. By the end of the day, the pipes looked like this:

The shower bone's connected to the...

Toilet bone. The toilet bone's connected to the...

Sink bone. The sink bone's connected to the...

Uh, I dunno. Roof bone?

It wouldn't have taken the whole day if we hadn't forgotten to get a couple of things from Lowe's the last time we were out there. While Tom was getting those few items, Paul and I prepared for the 4' knee wall we are going to build. Since nothing in the house is square or dimensional, every 2x4 had to be measured and cut individually.

I wanted the height of the wall to be slightly more than 4', so that a single piece of drywall could fit horizontally without cutting it. This accounts for the depth of the drywall on the sloping part of the wall as well as a small gap at the base. We tediously leveled, marked, labeled, and cut all the studs. With all the prep we did for it yesterday, I was able to pretty much finish it by myself after I got off work this afternoon. Here it is:

No top plate. We're connecting the studs right to the joists.

I still have to put a few more metal plates on the sides of the studs to connect them to the joists (you can see some installed on the right hand side of the previous picture), only because all our drill bits are just about worn out. I'll be hanging insulation on the sloping part of the wall in the next few days, since I can do that more or less by myself in the afternoons. It is kind of a pain to do alone, but it can certainly be done. I think that next weekend, when I have strong man-help, we'll be doing something about:

We're replacing the old cross-pieces with new 2x8s higher up. They'll be stronger, and the new placement will give a full 8' of headroom. Once we have those in, I'll be able to put insulation all the way up the slope to the peak. And that will be the end of my $500+/month utility bills.