Every place I've ever lived has been designed for that "average American family," with lots of bedrooms, living room, dining room, family room, etc. The problem was that I was a single person, not an average family. I needed space, but for hobbies, not people. And because I'm over 6'2", bending over to use sinks designed for children was a constant frustration. Over the years, I collected a list of things I would change if I could have my dream house. As I approached retirement, I realized time was running out for that house; it was now or never.

Dreams are not always perfect, however. I could never afford my dream house, a spacious Southern California home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But I could afford a modest ranch house, with a 20-mile drive to the beach. It was a very long way from perfect, but it had potential.

This blog documents the process of turning that small average house into something that matches my lifestyle. It will be as close to my dream house as I can make it. I'm doing all the work myself to stretch my resources. By not hiring contractors, I can afford high quality materials, and I'll know the job is always done right. The remodeling will be my primary avocation for a few years, even as I try to fit in my writing and other hobbies.

It promises to be an interesting journey, and a challenging one!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pottery Studio — Part 4

And so it goes.  This time new windows in the north side of the pottery studio, replacing the old single-glazed slider and tall skinny fixed side windows (with their flimsy aluminum frames) with an insulated Andersen picture window over an awning window (same pair as in the kitchen).

As seems to be the case with my window replacements, the new windows are different sizes, different types, and in new locations than the old windows, so it's never a matter of removing the old window and sliding in the new one.  I end up reframing the wall.

To see what's inside the wall, I first remove the drywall.

In this case, I was happy to find out I could leave the old header in place, saving a lot of work.  I needed to relocate an electrical receptacle for the pottery wheel to a more convenient place (the old location will be behind a shelf unit).  I discovered that someone had drilled holes through multiple studs for an electrical cable where mine needed to go, but for some reason had not actually routed a cable through said holes (but more work saved).  The old receptacle box becomes a junction box.

I removed the side windows first, and discovered the builders had not covered the studs with sheathing, but had applied the masonite shingles directly to the studs.  I applied plywood sheathing.

With the side windows removed and covered over, I tackled the center slider.  I needed to remove all the framing in the center section to make way for new framing to accommodate the new windows.  Left a big hole . . .

Then the new framing went in.

Then sheathing, black roofing felt, waterproof rubber membrane, and the windows . . .

Back inside, I insulated the new wall and put up drywall.  Here some of the joint compound has already been applied.

After finishing the taping (joint compound, etc.), and a first coat of paint, I started installing the window jambs and trim (but have run out of trim stock at this point).

So the inside needs some more trim on the picture window, caulking, installation of the electrical receptacle, and semi-gloss white on the trim, and another coat of eggshell yellow on the walls.  Outside—just getting started.

I've put on a second layer of roofing felt.  Now in preparation for the stucco, I need to add metal weep channel along the bottom of the wall, and then the wire mesh can go on.  With that on, I'll put on corner reinforcement wire, and then start applying the stucco.

After that, I'll likely start putting down the new tile floor, at least in the front of the pottery studio, and continue with the wiring and water supply lines in the new master bathroom.  I'd also like to get the new windows installed in the workshop and master bedroom, but that may get put off.  Sigh.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The New Kitchen — Part 8

Long time without a post.

When we left off last time, I had ordered more tile for the new kitchen floor.  Well, the tile was delivered to Home Depot after ten days or so, but a lot had been broken in transit (UPS), so they suggested that those tiles be returned.  They also suggested a special order directly from the tile factory (to avoid breakage), that would be delivered directly to the store along with the tile the store ordered for their own stock (to avoid breakage).

The expected delivery date was about a week, but that ended up being more than two weeks, and then that new order contained a fair amount of broken tile, but I took it anyway.  It also turned out that they accidentally ordered the non-skid version of the tile, which contains little bits of black grit in the clay.  So it didn't match what I already had, but close enough.

So I adjusted, created a passable pattern and forged ahead.  Here's the tile starting to go down—over thin-set mortar spread with a notched trowel.  You can see the slash of new concrete running across the floor where I put in the drain pipe for the sink.

Here's a photo of the tile stuck to the floor, sans grout.  I put down the tile in four batches over the same number of days, so I could walk on the tile I put down the day before while putting down the next area.  The area of bare concrete at the lower right is where the refrigerator will go; the plan was to use the old tile without the grit outside the single ring of non-skid gray tile.  But I ran out of that plain tile, and so had to order more.  When it eventually came, it was a lighter shade, so I ended up using the gray tile with grit there (but that further delayed completion of the floor).

Here's a photo showing grouting in progress.  I started at the far end and worked my way to the foreground (again, one section per day).  The tile in the foreground has had the grout pressed into the gaps, and then the excess scraped off with the edge of the grouting float.  After ten or fifteen minutes (time to clean tools and mixing bucket), I cleaned off the excess grout from the surface of the tile using big sponges wrung mostly dry, finishing with sponges rinsed in a bucket of clean water.

Here's the finished floor.  Most of the baseboard has also been installed.

With the floor finished, I was able to move the refrigerator from the pottery studio to its rightful place in the new kitchen.  Of course the refrigerator was wider than the pottery studio door opening, so I had to remove the door, along with its hinges and the door stop molding, and even then it was literally a squeeze.  

So the kitchen is coming along nicely, and you might think I would just build the cabinets for the other side of the kitchen, order the Corian countertop, and have my official kitchen sink and cooktop (and dishwasher).  But no, that would make too much sense, from a logical perspective.  But alas, no cabinet-grade plywood in the garage (more would have to be ordered).  Instead, I have drywall and ½" sheathing plywood in the garage that is taking up my storage space, as well as boxes of Andersen windows here and there.

So now that I have moved the refrigerator out of the pottery studio, I have room enough to restructure the front wall in that room and install the new windows there.  The old windows are single-glazed with flimsy aluminum frames, and no interior trim (just drywall).  Getting rid of all of those, including the tall, narrow side windows.  The new windows are the same as in the kitchen—a small picture window over an opening awning window.  Inside and outside views follow.  Obviously I need to relocate more stuff . . .   Outside, the wide white trim and fake masonite shingles will be gone!