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 14, 2016

Guest Bathroom — Part 4

Last time in the guest bathroom I installed new water supply lines in the wall for the toilet and for the backyard water faucet, then ran those lines up in the attic and connected them to the new water supply manifold (and for the outside water, back down into the garage to the main water supply line coming into the house).  This post documents the work from that point, on the left side of the guest bathroom (vanity and shelves); the old wide shallow tub is on the right and will stay in place until I can start taking showers in the master bathroom.  It's a repugnant tub and therefore good motivation to finish the master bathroom and the new water supply system. 

So after installing the new PEX pipes in the wall, and insulating everything, I put up drywall.

You can see the beginnings of the soffit in the upper left of the photo.  I could not do more of that until the drywall was up; neither could I install the cabinet base (lower left) until the drywall was in.  The soffit would house the heating duct, and because of its structural duties, would be built of plywood.  In the photo below, I've installed the old ductwork (you can see the flexible duct going up into the attic).  As it turned out, the old metal duct was sized 3.5" x 10", and had been inserted into the top of the wall separating two parts of the old bathroom, with registers exiting both sides of the wall.  I didn't think to change to a larger size duct, and that came back to bite me when I discovered there were no 3.5" registers for sale.   More on that later. 

In the upper right of the photo is the patched hole for the old square light fixture.  That will be covered with joint compound, sanded and painted. 

With the ductwork securely in place, I fastened plywood to the bottom of the soffit, including a piece of 2 x 4 that would anchor the future partition wall between the vanity and the shelf cabinet.  The partition will house the light switches and the electrical receptacle (can't put them on the left side of the vanity because the pocket door fill that wall).

In this followup picture, the window on the right has been trimmed out, and drywall screwed to the plywood soffit.  Joint compound has also gone on.  The lower edge of the soffit has plastic bullnose corner bead applied; it's designed for right-angle corners, but is flexible enough for larger angles as well — in this case, 120˚.  You may notice that my improvised PVC pipe towel rack is still on the wall. 

Apply some paint:

By now, I've leveled the cabinet base and screwed it into the wall, and then screwed the vanity cabinet into the base and wall.  I then built the open shelf unit carcass (still needs interior paint and cherry trim, as does the vanity cabinet).  For now, it's just sitting in place. 

Since there was no register that would fit inside the duct, I bought a 6" x 10" return vent grille (smallest size available) and screwed that over the duct.  That looks bad, so I will custom build a cherry grille for the duct. 

That's where the guest bathroom stands.  I need to mill some cherry for the trim on the cabinets, and my planer blades are dull.  I have new blades, but can't find the special steel tool to set the blades accurately, so I'll have to build a wooden jig (eventually).  I also need the Corian countertop (with integral sink and backsplash), and a larger version of the same for the master bathroom.  So progress stops.

Meanwhile, I've been putting up tile in the master bathroom shower.  This is where that stands:

The blue tape on the floor is to keep the white grout off the floor tile (and its light gray grout).  I need to press the white grout under the cove base wall tile.  Close up:

At this point, I can't really do more on the bathrooms (other than shower wall tile) until I get the marble thresholds (that go on the floor under the doors) and the vanity countertops.  All of that, as well as the big kitchen countertop, will have to come from the same contractor.  I'm hoping I'll be able to find a competent and honest company, not a trivial matter, but that's the next task ahead.  Starting tomorrow.