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Home Improvement Sucks

I've talked about my adventures in home improvement before, and this latest activity was no less entertaining.

Last time around, we totally destroyed our master bathroom with the help of my parents. This time around, working by ourselves, we're working on the main hallway bathroom in our home. We thought it'd be easier because it was basically just tear down the sheet rock, install a new fan/light and then replace it, but it ended up being far more complicated than that.

This is a bit long, so I've put this in an extended entry, but if ANYBODY is a sheet rock contractor/installer or drywall guy of any sort, e-mail me privately if you want to make a few bucks for what will probably be easy work for you. Read on for the full story.

Our reasoning for wanting to do this was more out of need -- the bathroom has mold problems because of poor venelation out of there, so moisture was getting trapped. So our goal was to tear out the molded out sheet rock, replace the fan, replace the sheet rock, and be good to go for future projects in that bathroom (flooring, vanity, etc...). If things only worked out that simple.

First off, I had to go up into the attic again to get rid of all the blown-in insulation that was above that bathroom. I learned my lesson last time I was up in that part of the attic, and wasn't about to go up there again without really good protection. So I had a friend steal a bunny suit from the manufacturing plant she works at (they work a lot with fiberglass), and then I actually got a good mask to go up there with. So while I went up there, and was able to breath without caughing and was able to crawl around without stuff sticking to me, I was sweating like a bit. The outside tempurature was about 75 degrees, and the attic had to be over 100 degrees, and these bunny suits are not breathable at all. After crawling up there and bagging up all the old nasty insulation, I got out of there, and litterally down about a half-gallon of water. My shirt and pants were absolutely soaked with sweat. My cousin actually works in one of these suits at this plant where my friend took this bunny suit, and I can't imagine how he's able to function wearing one of those things.

So after I got the insulation out, we started to destroy the bathroom. First order of business was to remove the soffit above the sink. And unlike the last soffit removal in our other bathroom, this one was a pain in the butt to remove. It was totally over-built, with a crapload of wood holding the thing up and framing it out. That took several hours of work to get that thing cleanly out so it didn't totally destroy everything around it, and cause us more work and greif down the road. And unlike the other bathroom, this one was not sheetrocked behind it, so we have to sheet rock up on that wall now, too.

After the soffit came down, we started yanking down the sheetrock from the ceiling. That was fairly quick and painless, if not a horrible mess. Hauled all that stuff out, slept it off, and then started the next day with electrical, which turned out far more complicated than it should've been.

The electrical in my house is weird. It was built 30 years ago, and the things they did probably made sense back in the day and were probably up to code back in the day. The hall bathroom was no exception. Once I got the sheetrock off, I took down the old fan to see pretty plainly why it wasn't venting. While I already knew there was no ducting running from the vent on the fan, the vent was actually clogged with insulation and the fan moter was shot. So we took that thing down and promptly tossed it.

Once that was out of the way, I was able to get a good look at what the wiring in the room was doing. We had three switches in that bathroom: one for the lights above the sink, one for the fan, and one for the light that was in the fan fixture. The thing than concerned me is that there were only two wires coming out of the top of the wall framing, meaning something was wired funky. It also confused because the wire for the light above the sink was being junctioned in the fan fixture instead of having a seperate junction box. So I crawled up there with 'el cheapo electrical tester in hand, and come to find out that the reason that three devices were able to be powered off two wires and switches was because they were sending power over the ground line.

We're just lucky the house hadn't burned down.

To complicate matters more, the entire electrical system for the bathroom and everything in the chain beyond the bathroom was all going through the wall plate for one of the switches. So if I screwed up one of those, I basically hosed the plugs and lights for at least both our bathrooms.

So after taking a few hours to clean up the wiring, making sure everything was grounded properly, installing a newer, cleaner junction box for the above-the-sink wiring, and verifying that it worked properly, I got the fan housing mounted, ran the new ducting to my exterior vent, and then started thinking about sheetrock.

And here's where my brain just turned to mush, and the slightly-off size of our bathroom didn't help things. Standard sheet rock (especially the green-board moisture resistant stuff we bought) comes in sheets of four-foot by eight-foot. Naturally, our bathroom measures five-foot by eight-foot, three inches (not couting the little three-foot square bit above the doorway into the bathroom). So it's an odd-ball size, complicated by the fact that the ceiling sheetrock was laid before the shower tilework was done, so the tiles and grout go all the way up to the ceiling, concealing nails and making it a bit more complicated to not only remove the old sheet rock but getting the new stuff in (and taping and sealing it off isn't going to be easy, either). And because of the slighty-to-large size and the spacing of the ceiling joists, I'm going to end up with far more seams that I'd care to deal with, as I don't really know the ideal way to cut it so that I have finished edges meeting up properly, etc... . The otherbathroom was easy, as we just had a little three-foot sqaure we had to sheet rock -- this whole thing is far more complicated, and I just don't want to deal with it.

So this is where somebody else can come in if interested. My dad's a good contractor, but not only is he out of town, but he hates doing sheet rock, and all the folks he usually hires for this type of stuff are all too busy. So does anybody want to make a few bucks and come over and hang this and then (optionally) put down the first coat of tape and mud? We're not texturing our bathroom, we just want to be able to paint it all up again (we have a bucket of primer ready). So if somebody is interested, it's a small bathroom, probably would take somebody who knows what they're doing an hour to deal with. We already have two sheets of green board (plus half a sheet in the garage) as well as mud and putty knifes. So if anybody's interested at all, e-mail me at utterlyboring [at] gmail [dot] com. If your company has a Web site that you want plugged on here, consider it done if you'll help a geek out.

But I can tell you one thing right now -- I truly hate home improvement. I would've much rather have been fixing Cheryl's computer this weekend (like I said I was going to, but my wife had already made plans for bathroom destruction since I'll be out of town the next two weekends).

Posted by Jake on 08/27/06 @ 05:19 PM
Posted in Jake | Permalink

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