Category: home renovation

Places You Don’t Want to Hear Water

I was excited for Friday last week, as I had the day off work, and I was looking forward to getting closer to having the house all ready to go for Thanksgiving. I got up and got some chores out of the way, and I was just getting ready to get down to some cleaning when I heard it.

Trickling.

Not just trickling, really. More of a “constant flow of water falling.” That’s a beautiful noise out in nature. Calm. Peaceful. But in your house, where you don’t have any water features installed? It’s not exactly a noise that brings a spring to your step. MC had been having a bath in our new tub, so I thought perhaps there was just something strange about the way it drained. A new noise I wasn’t familiar with.

I followed the sound all the way to the basement, where I discovered a steady flow of water coming out from my crawlspace into the main part of my basement. Thankfully I have a sump pump there, so the water wasn’t accumulating too much, but it definitely wasn’t designed to be coming from the crawlspace. I took out my phone (for its flashlight) and clambered down into the depths of the area below my kitchen and bathroom.

It didn’t take long to discover the problem. The drain pipe from the kitchen sink to the main drain had come unattached. And the drain from the tub to the main drain wasn’t venting the right way, which made it so all the water from the tub was flowing up through the pipes (instead of down through them) and out that detached pipe and into my crawlspace. It must have been doing that for a while. I have no idea how long.

This is why doing your own plumbing can come with some . . . risks.

On the plus side, I knew how to fix this, more or less. It involved a trip to the hardware store for some more PVC glue, as well as some PVC supports to make sure the problem doesn’t happen again. (I had failed to properly support that pipe, and I think it came detached at some point when I was monkeying around with everything down there.)

Of course, once I had that glued together properly, I discovered that the drain area of the tub was also leaking. I had helpfully put a bunch of spray foam around there, so I had to scrape all of that out, which ended up being the problem: the spray foam was pushing up against the tub and loosening the seal that was supposed to be there.

In any case, the leaks are fixed, and this evening I’m going to tackle the venting issue to make sure the drains all do what they’re supposed to do. And all it’s taken is 4 hours or so of my life. Kind of like The Machine in the Princess Bride, except dirtier.

Here’s hoping the venting goes more smoothly . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this DON’T GO TO SLEEP Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

The Bathroom Begins!

And here we are. September and another home renovation project. This time, we’re working on the downstairs bathroom. (The only bathroom we had, back in the day.) As we’ve renovated the rest of the house, bit by bit rooms that were just fine have become rooms that need renovation to keep up with the upgrades we’ve been making elsewhere. (Which makes sense. Those rooms are now at least 15 years old, if they were renovated right before we moved in.)

Up until now, the downstairs bathroom has been more and more neglected, to the point that none of the kids even wanted to use it to shower. It’s always also served as the laundry room, and it’s right off the kitchen, and we’d really love a bit of separation of the bathroom from the kitchen. That bathroom is quite spacious–more than what we need out of the room, now that there’s a second bathroom.

So what’s the plan? We’re going to turn that one big bathroom into two smaller rooms. Coming in from the kitchen, you’ll first come to a laundry room (we’re going to stack our washer and dryer) that has a sink and storage cabinets. Beyond that will be a small bathroom with a tub and sink. It’ll be a much smaller bathroom, but it’s a bathroom, not a gymnasium.

Honestly, I think I’m still quite traumatized from our infamous kitchen renovation last year. But this one is going to be different for a number of reasons:

  • Tomas is going to be the main helper. He doesn’t leave on his mission for two whole weeks, and it’s not like he’s got anything else going on. It’ll also be great experience for him. I wish I’d known more about construction before I bought this house, that’s for sure.
  • It’s a much smaller room. Like an eighth the size of the kitchen. Smaller = easier, if for nothing other than the amount of time it takes to do things to the whole room. (Like painting, for example.)
  • We already have (almost) all of the stuff to do the renovation. I imagine there are some things we’ll still have to pick up. But the toilet, sinks, tub, vanity, and the like are all in my garage. (It’ll be lovely to be done with the project, since we’ll also be cleaning out the garage at the same time. Bonus!)
  • We did most of the legwork on the tricky stuff when we did the kitchen. The water and electrical are mostly good to go. (Knock on wood.)

I anticipate surprises. But this has been a long time coming, and once we’re through with it, I’m through with renovation for at least a year. Yesterday Tomas and I cleaned out the old bathroom, putting all the stuff into our living room, right next to the stuff that’s still there from the kitchen redo. Once our house is renovated, we’re going to have to spend some serious time on getting that room together.

Always something . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this DON’T GO TO SLEEP Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Once More into the Decluttering Fray

When it came time for our kitchen renovation to begin, we had a number of items in the current kitchen that needed to be rehoused while the construction happened. And in true Bryce fashion, I handled that by . . . throwing all of those items into the family room next door. They remained there throughout the long reconstruction process, but when that was all over, I put them right back where they belonged, because I’m awesome.

Ha. No.

I left them there, untouched, because I had lots of other things to do. And they’ve stayed there and stayed there and stayed there, and every time I thought about cleaning the room out, I wilted in the face of just how bad it was. I didn’t know where to begin. Everything was coated in construction dust, and there were a ton of things in there that I didn’t know what to do with. This would be a job that Denisa and I would have to do together.

It probably would have stayed that way indefinitely, except I was asked to play the piano in church on Sunday. The regular pianist would be away, and I needed to pinch hit for a single song. That’s all fine and good, except I hadn’t touched a piano key in years. And where was my piano? In the middle of the mess that was my family room. So in the end, my desire to practice (so I didn’t look like too big of an idiot in public) overcame my reluctance to start on that decluttering job.

Saturday, Denisa and I spent most of the day cleaning. We threw out three big trash bags of stuff, and made a huge pile of other stuff to be given away. We swept and wiped and mopped and scrubbed (and practiced the piano). And the room went from a place where you literally couldn’t sit down to a place that’s close to what it was like before. There are still some piles that need to be gone through, but it was a huge improvement.

I kept that momentum going the next two days, working on the kitchen itself. Since we’d just been putting stuff anywhere into it as we went, there’s a lot of efficiency lost in terms of storage. And it was also easier just to put something somewhere instead of actually decide if we needed it or not. I’ve been making a lot of those decisions, as well.

In the end, it was a very helpful reminder that no matter how hard the job, starting it is often the hardest part. Once you’ve got even a smidge of momentum, things begin to get easier. I took photo and video to track the progress, but Denisa made me swear never to share it publicly, since the room looked as bad as it did. Sorry, folks.

(As for playing the piano, I did well enough. Made some flubs right at the beginning, since I was nervous and it had been so long since I’d played in public, but it went fine after that.)

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Kitchen Update: March 2022

I’m sure you’ve all been waiting, wondering if my kitchen might possibly be finished, now that I’ve taken a break from blogging and am back. Surely this project that’s been going on since the Hoover administration is finally complete, right? Right?

Well . . . not quite. That’s the bad news. The good news is that we’ve made real progress. (Today, MC was home sick, so I was home “sick.” But that meant I was here to help out in the kitchen some more. So we got the backsplash set, and it’s now ready to be grouted tomorrow.) Last week, the countertops actually arrived. Getting them in the house was a bit of an ordeal, since the island was one solid piece, 4.5′ by 9′ of granite. It weighed a ton.

We’ve had some backtracking. We redid the cabinets around the fridge, since they hadn’t turned out quite straight, and we swapped a couple of other cabinets around to improve the layout of the kitchen. Some of the painting needs to be redone where a few other repairs went in, and the flooring that we’d already gotten done needed to be taken out and redone.

However, we’ve made a lot of progress as well. Now we’re really just looking at what needs to be done, which is a rapidly dwindling list:

  • Grout the backsplash
  • Finish the floor under the oven and dishwasher, and then attach the dishwasher to the cabinets.
  • Tweak the door to the bathroom, which ended up being a bit too narrow for the opening, since the barn door hardware leaves it too far out from the frame.
  • Put in the trim around the corners and edges of the ceiling and cabinets.
  • Put on the back piece and corner pieces for the island.
  • Paint the sunroom.
  • Make seat cushions for the seats in the sunroom.
  • Finish the trim to the family room.
  • Finish the trim around the outside of the door to the garage.

While that may seem like a lot, many of those jobs are a half hour or less, and none of them should be longer than a few hours to complete. (Well, other than the painting. Sigh.) But as far as construction goes, we are really close.

Which is great, since as soon as that’s done, we can actually clean the rest of the house.

And start on the main bathroom. Bathrooms are much simpler renovations though, right?

Riiiiiiight.

Have no fear: I will be posting pictures once the kitchen is up to it.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

The Year without a Christmas

It’s been forever since I’ve jumped on here to post. It’s not because I fell off the face of the earth. Rather, I dove deep into the bowels of the kitchen renovation. I’m pleased to report that I’ve (mostly) come out the other side. (The mental image is quite appropriate.) Where is my renovation at the moment? Pretty much all demolition is done. The cabinets are all in. The island is in. The lights are in most of the kitchen. The doors are almost done. The trim is done. Almost everything is painted. The sink is in.

Probably it’s better to ask at this point, what isn’t done? The floor is the big thing. We have it, but it’s not in yet. We also need to finish off the sunroom completely. (Ceiling, walls, trim, electric, and window seats.) The door to the bathroom needs to be put in. (And then the bathroom and mudroom need to be done, but that’ll wait until February or March.)

This hasn’t really been a kitchen “remodel.” This has been the construction of a new kitchen. Most of the walls are rebuilt completely. The electric is totally new, as is the plumbing. We move the location of every major appliance. It’s been a loooong process. And I’ve taken many days of vacation time to help move it along more quickly. On top of that, I’ve usually worked 8-2 or 4pm during the day, and then added on another four hours or so of work at night.

We’ve emptied the dumpster in our driveway four times. It’s not a small dumpster.

The biggest casualty of all of this (other than my back) has been our Christmas season. We have almost no decorations up. We haven’t even had time to buy a tree, let alone decorate it. I did manage to get Christmas shopping done, though I haven’t wrapped anything, and some of it will be coming after Christmas.

For a person who loves to recharge his mental and physical batteries each December, this has been a Not Great Christmas. It’s even worse that it’ll be Tomas’s last Christmas at home. I’m pretty bummed about the whole thing, to say the least. That’s probably another reason I haven’t posted. I just haven’t wanted to think about what this month has been like.

I’ve completely given up on my goals. I haven’t written all month. Haven’t finished a book. Haven’t weighed myself in days. As you’ve noticed, I haven’t blogged. Other than necessities like work, I’ve done almost nothing else other than spend a bit of time with the family each night watching a Cutthroat Kitchen. (When I haven’t roped family members into continuing to work on the kitchen with me.)

The good news(?) is that as I said, we’re through most of it. Denisa is going to get a tree with Tomas in a few hours, and we’ll try to decorate some before the actual holiday hits. Our contractor is coming to work on the house with me tomorrow, and then he’s taking a well-deserved break until the new year. I’ll take the same thing.

I don’t know. It’s been rough, and I’m probably underselling it if anything. The kitchen will look gorgeous, and it’s enormous compared to what it was. They’re coming to measure for the countertops tomorrow, and we’ll get them (theoretically) by mid-February. We’re going to be using plywood and leftover doors as counters until then. I keep thinking that I’ll be looking back at all of this a few months from now and be happy we did it all.

I just wish the timing had ended up being better. It’s not like we planned for it to happen now. It is what it is.

In any case, don’t really plan on seeing me much around here until next year. I’ll be taking what vacation I can scrounge. I hope things are going well for you. Catch you on the flip side.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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