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Home Improvement Craziness

My parents, for many years, have always given us gifts of labor (my parents working, not hiring anybody) and materials for projects around the house that we are tremendously grateful for. My dad's a contractor, and is good at a lot of things and does the bulk majority of the hard stuff (with my mom just making sure he keeps on task). Just the same, they helped us get this giant shed in our backyard moved to a better place so we could lay down a patio in its place. They helped us put up crown molding and paint our bedroom. They've helped us with a bunch of little things around the house.

The thing is, they'll say they're going to do something, and we have no idea when it's actually going to be done. This isn't a problem, generally, as they're being generous, and we're in no hurry for things. What usually happens is that they'll just randomly call, out of the blue, and decide they're going to come over and work on it. That's what happened yesterday...

Our master bathroom was next on the list of things to be taken care of (exterior paint on the house is next). It needed new light fixtures, new vanity and countertop (that part was already done a while ago), remove the decorative soffit, a new fan, a new cabinet above the toilet, and we need to regrout the tile in the shower (and possibly raise the ceiling in there, as it has odd-ball fake ceiling above the shower in there that's only a few inches above my head). My parents called that morning, saying they were going to come over and just have a look at things and make a shopping list. But when they left, the bathroom was in pieces, as they came to work and were ready for destruction.

The soffit actually came out cleanly and easily, and the Sheetrock behind it was in good shape. We got rid of the nasty light bar above the sink and took down the cabinet fairly easily (the cabinet was pretty much destroyed in the process, but it'll become shelving in the shed with no trouble whatsoever).

The last thing to do was to get some proper ventilation in to the bathroom, as we didn't have a fan in there and we didn't really like opening the window when it's 15-below outside and we're taking a shower. And we had one of those ugly metal, three-bulb light fixtures in our bathroom ceiling, so we managed to find a fan/light fixture that filled that hole. The problem is, it needed to be rewired and remounted up in the attic because of the crappy wiring that ran from the previous junction box, so that meant I had to suit up and go crawling.

And of course, out of all the days I was going to go in to the attic, I couldn't find my coveralls anywhere and I wasn't about to belly-crawl through the attic through a pile of nasty blown insulation without protection. So I found the nastiest clothes I could find, put on a makeshift face mask, and wrapped the seams between my gloves and arms (and shoes and pants) with saran wrap to keep crap out of the there (didn't have anything I could use for glasses, unfortunately). I worked my way up into the attic via my garage, and crawled from one extreme end of the house to the other, dragging things behind me that my dad couldn't cram up the hole.

Now since that bathroom is on the exterior wall and we have a truss roof, the roofline slopes down severely at the point where I needed to get to where this light fixture was going, so I had to crawl on my belly (after crawling the length of the house on my hands and knees through that dusty mess) to get to where the wiring junction box and the whole was into the bathroom ceiling. So I got to where the light fixture was, and had to do the remainder of the project on my belly, as the nails sticking through the roof didn't allow me to move much at all.

My dad handed me up some tools for the wiring, I cracked open the old junction box (after spending 15 minutes trying to break off a rusted screw on the junction), and wired up the thing. Then he handed me the light fixture housing and ducting, some screws, and his drill, and I gave him back all the tools that I had no intention of dragging back through the attic. He held the thing in place, and I pushed as hard as I could (remember, I'm on my belly with nothing to brace against) and after a few attempts we got the thing locked into place. All told, I was on my belly there for about 40 minutes, breathing in some of the dustiest, nastiest air and trying to keep from going blind with all the dust in the air. Let me tell ya, laying on a sheet of plywood for 40 minutes isn't the most fun I've had, that's for sure.

So I got myself all turned around and began the crawl back to the garage (it's about 15 minutes, because I have to take it slow to avoid putting a hole through my ceiling and to also make sure I make it through some of the really small access holes between areas of my home). When I finally made it out of the garage, I'd be up there about an hour and a half, and I basically dropped down out of the attic, stripped off all my clothes and blasted myself off in the shower, as well as put some eye wash in my eyes, as I could barely see at this point.

We got the light fixture installed and things are now venting. However, our bathroom looks like it's been totally destroyed with wires hanging out of the wall and unpainted walls behind where the soffit was. And to top it all off, while my dad was working on getting the soffit off, he dropped his hammer right on our toilet tank lid. Needless to say, we're going to need a new lid. And since getting a replacement lid for a toilet as old as ours is going to be just about as expensive as getting a new toilet, we'll probably have to get a new one at some point (my dad thinks he has a couple extra from a remodel he just did).

Some day, the plan is to re-do our hallway bathroom in the house and we'll need a better fan for that bathroom as well (even more so, as we have mold problems in that room). When that project comes, I'm just going to tear down the sheet rock in the bathroom and wire the thing up as I'm not going to crawl back up there again -- I'll pay somebody, I don't care how much it costs.

Posted by Jake on 02/26/06 @ 02:28 PM
Posted in Jake | Permalink

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