Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Bath Page 1 of 3

Life Happening + Basement Electrical

Life happening

For the past three months, we’ve been on pins and needles waiting for the basement bathroom to be completed. The promised July 8th deadline was abandoned with no new deadline, and the progress was very slow.

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When I say slow, I mean SLOW. The three pictures below showed the tiling of two of the bathroom walls, which took three months. THREE MONTHS! Some days we came home saw three tiles laid, and other days we only see tools being moved around.

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When an adult decided to not do his job there is really nothing you can do. By adult I mean our contractor. I considered firing him multiple times during the renovation, especially after he missed the July 8th deadline. But Slav advocated to keep him at least the quality of his work was decent. But when the wall of dark tile was laid, we could definitely see a drop on the quality of the work. And this was the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.

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Another red flag with this contractor is that none of his subcontractors showed up on time. His drywall-er came in at night without notifying us, and his plumber friend never showed up. More recently, after we painted the basement, his electrician who wired the can lights was expected to come back and finish the rough-ins and installing the outlets and switches. But for weeks, our contractor failed to get him back. More ironically, this electrician is actually our contractor’s brother! How could we trust a contractor if his own brother does not want to work with him?

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When October rolled around, we realized neither electrical or plumbing would be finished by professionals. Our then contractor, despite his lack of experience, was planning to finish everything himself. This explained why he was not making progress – he does not know HOW to finish these things properly.

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By this point we just want to get the project wrapped up. We did not need a functional basement right away when we hired this contractor, but that was assuming the project would have been finished by July 8th. Slav’s mom is coming for Christmas and we are looking forward to hosting more family and friends in the coming spring. Besides we are just too tired of seeing exposed electrical wires by now!

In the bath

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So, this was the state of the union as of Oct. 23rd, the day we let the incompetent contractor go. It may look like we were close to the finishing line, but unfortunately we were not.

The Unfinished surfaces

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For one, the dark wall of tiles are not grouted, and the white tile wall has several unfinished edges we have to cover somehow. Slav will finish the grouting himself – we have ordered the right colors of grout and silicone caulk. And I will be tackling the painting drywall work as soon as Slav finishes grouting.

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On a side note, Slav actually does not have any grouting experience either. But he is handy and good at learning new things. And he takes his time. If there is one bright side of this unfortunate contractor experience, that is I now appreciate Slav a lot more for his dependability and responsible work ethics. Apparently not everyone is a man of integrity but I am lucky to be with a good one. 🙂

Installing fixtures and finishing plumbing

The next step will be installing all the bathroom fixture, including the toilet, vanity/sinks, medicine cabinet, and shower fixtures. We have brought in an expert for the work, who pointed out several plumbing mistakes our previous contractor made with the first glance. Nothing cannot be fixed, and we are looking forward to a functional toilet down here really soon.

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Bathroom electrical finish

In addition to general electrical finish, such as outlets and switches, we needed to add two more mini can lights in the soffit which involves drilling the tiles. We brought in a wonderful electrician (his name is Paul) who installed these babies in just one morning:

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Paul also installed all the switches and outlet for the bath. His work completed the electrical in the bathroom, including two ceiling can lights, two mini can lights on the soffit, and one bathroom fan.

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Finishing the electrical for the rest of the basement

We also asked Paul to finish the rest of the electrical here for us. The previous electrician, the brother of our previous contractor, seemed to have done a decent job (phew). With Paul’s help, we added breakers to the subpanel, finished all the can lights, installed all the switches for can lights as well as all the outlets:

living room can lights

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controlled by two three-way dimmer switches:

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Bed room can lights and switches:

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Paul also installed the wall sconces in the bedroom.

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They are on dimmer and give the best warm light in the evening:

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The new to-do list

As we are coming down from this intense rollercoaster ride, here is the to-do list we still have to tackle for the basement reno 1.0.

Finding new bath vanity and sinks (the one we purchases back in June does not work with the plumbing our contractor did… SAD!)
Installing bathroom fixtures + medicine cabinet + vanity
Installing a glass shower door
Installing closets in the bedroom
Installing 4 new doors for the bathment bedroom, bathroom, and entry, including a pocket door between the bath and the bedroom
Installing baseboards and trims in the bedroom and media room

These tasks will for sure take us beyond the holidays, so we would have to move into the basement without baseboard or even doors. But that is OK as long as we have a working bathroom! So for now, we are focusing on bathroom finishes and everything bathroom. Stay tuned, friends!

Closing Up the Walls! A Basement Update

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I have not talked about the basement renovation for a while. Progress has been made, just not at the pace we were hoping for. But today, I think it has improved significantly compared to our last update and finally worth another post.

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First, drywall! The picture above shows the wall between the basement living space and the utility room. We took off the paneling here and some of the wall framing to open it to the living room. Below is how it looked like after we added soundproofing insulation around the furnace:

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Now, fresh drywall covered the insulation, I-beam, and the new framing around the doorway:

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We also removed all the ceiling drywall in the basement for new electrical and sound insulation. Since then, we have been looking at a sea of brown for a couple months:

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You can imagine my excitement when the ceiling drywall was hung. Bright and smooth ceiling made this space feel like a room again, even without paint:

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More drywall happened in the master bedroom. In addition to the ceiling, the newly framed soffit was covered and all the remaining walls were smoothed out:

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The vertical column next to the door contains the supporting column for the I-beam. It was exposed after we removed the closets dividing the two bedrooms.

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Inside the new soffit are the horizontal I-beam, a big air duct, and the HVAC pipes.

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A much improved look from this:

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The recessed lights and smooth ceiling definitely made the ceiling feel higher. Below is the space below Slav’s office, which will be our future walk-through closet.

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The space next to the bathroom will host our king bed and night stands. The pocket door to the right leads to the new master bath:

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Speaking of the new master bath, it is a complete different space now with the walls closed up:

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Under the window will be a shower area, hence the pebbled flooring and the red water-proof coating. The double-sink vanity and a big medicine cabinet will be mounted on the blue coating-covered wall:

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Neighboring the two doors will be the toilet. We asked the contractor to add a electrical outlet behind the toilet for a bidet attachment.

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It is not our preference to have the toilet so close to the doorways. In another words, I’d rather to have the vanity here and the toilet next to the shower. But the ceiling at this corner is lower due to an air duct, so it make the most sense to place the toilet under the lower ceiling. The pocket door will save some space in front of the toilet.

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With all the surfaces smoothed out in the bathroom, our contractor has started tiling. The floor tiles were completed last week:

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We chose a smokey black/grey color for the floor and pebbles in a similar color for the shower area. I think they complement each other nicely.

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Next week we expect to see tiles on the walls. The same dark floor tile will be carried up onto the wall neighboring the bedroom, budding against the pocket door. The end wall and the vanity wall will go white. We want the bathroom to look simple and sleek with big contrast.

I did not expect finishing drywall to be such a significant step in the basement renovation – all the sudden, all the rooms look like rooms again, which invites all the imagination on how they should look eventually. We still have lots of big decisions to make: paint colors, flooring, shower doors, bedroom closet layout, the color and finish of the stairs, and whether to drywall over the big section of paneling in the living space. Each one of these factors can drastically change the feeling of the basement.

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For example, what should we do with the living space paneling? It will not stay brown for sure. Slav insists in covering it with drywall, but I would like to paint it white first to see if they can disappear with a lighter color. What do you think? Drywall or paint?

Since we completed the demo, almost 4 months have passed. This basement renovation has been a slow and painful process, but nevertheless, I am happy to be at a point that we enjoy thinking about the basement again. In the next a few posts, we will discuss how we are gonna use the living space, the flooring choice, and the potential bedroom layout. At the meantime, I am impatiently waiting for our contractor to finish tiling and wrap up the bathroom. Because after that, it will be DIY time again!

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Master Planning

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How are we in June already? The days in April and May were such a blur. We spent most of the April researching about basement renovation, interviewing contractors, and comparing bids. May was entirely devoted to making decisions on everything basement bath-related. Slav has been busy with his work during this whole time, and somehow we still managed to celebrate a birthday with friends.

The basement reno has picked up the pace. I’ve shown you the demo in the living room, bedroom, and bathroomthe installation of the egress window, the new electrical panel and recessed lighting, and how we sound proofed the basement. This week we crossed finishing line of framing and plumbing, which gave us a lot better idea of the new layout.

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1. The bathroom

To expand the bathroom we demoed the hallway closet, which I briefly talked about here. The goal is to accommodate a double-sink vanity in here.

The shower area

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The shower will remain at the end of the room, with the shower head on the left side. A double-sink vanity will be placed next to the shower on the wet wall, and a medicine cabinet will be installed above the vanity and under the soffit.

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The toilet will locate under the air duct and close to the doorways. I am not a big fan on having the toilet next to the door, but we’d rather place toilet but not the vanity under the low ceiling.

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We are in the process of picking out the tiles for the bathroom. We have basically narrowed down to using two tiles, a large dark one on one wall and the floor, with a white subway tiles on the other three walls.

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2. The master bedroom

By removing the closet wall used to divide the two bedrooms, we created a big and long bedroom. The I beam has been boxed in and will be drywall-ed over, which creates a natural divider to separate the sleeping area from the closet area.

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Under the egress window will be our sleeping area. We decided to put the king bed on the wall adjacent to the backyard for less noise, more fresh air, and east facing windows. The bed will be centered on the east wall of the master and flanked by the floating nightstands I built last year. The column to the right envelopes of the supporting columns for the I beam. I am considering putting a skinny bookshelf on the left to mirror the column on the right, which along with the I-beam creates the look of a sleeping nook.

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This is the view from the living room, through the two bathroom doors, into the bedroom. It will be a simple but comfortable space to nest.

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The front side of the bedroom, which is next to the front yard and under Slav’s office, will become a closet area. We plan to align wardrobe cabinets along the wall on both sides, which will provide more storage space than we currently have in the bedroom closets.

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3. The utility room

The last big changed we made is to remove the wall between the living room and the utility room. Remember the old laundry/utility room when we moved in? It was just a small hallway and hard to even open the dryer door. We first demoed a bedroom there to open up the utility area, and now with the living room wall coming down, we have the entire place opened up to the living room.

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We do plan to frame an utility room closet down the road to enclose the furnace and the water heater, and add a countertop on top of the washer/dryer. The small closet under the stairs will remain as a storage space.

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4. The living room

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Compared to other rooms, the living area changed the least. Aside from losing a wall, the only change is to add recessing lights and sound proofing in the ceiling. Instead of making this another living room, we will likely using it as a media/reading room. Before the sound proofing material went in the ceiling, electrical and Ethernet for TV box and projector had been put in. Slav has big plans for this space, and all I am responsible for is choosing a big and comfortable sofa down here. It will be a great room for late evening movies and friends to gather, but for rest of the year this big and empty room will probably remain big and empty.

The month of June will be hanging the drywall and tiling the bathroom, which will be done by a contractor. We will take the torch in July, after the drywall is finished.  Before moving down here we still need to paint, figure out clothes storage, and hopefully install some flooring at least in the bedroom before we move down here. We are far from fruition now, so it is hard to imagine to have smooth drywall and functional toilet again. There are still lots of decision to make (paint! shower doors! floors!)  and lots of little things to consider (tower bars! toilet holders! bathroom storage!). And I am trying to pump the optimism by keeping myself busy shopping. Cannot wait for everything to be over!

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