There are two ways to do everything.

Recently having become infatuated with Karen Bertelsen’s Art of Doing Stuff blog after she talked me down off the ledge of self-leveling concrete, I thought it might be a good idea to document some of the fun of my ongoing remodeling projects in case it might be useful for someone– if only to answer later “why the hell did he do that?!”.

For history, the house was originally built around 1910, permitted in 1919, and majorly remodeled in 1980 or thereabouts. The people who built the house were, let’s say, not homebuilders by trade. For instance, the cross-bracing in the main floor was never attached because they cut it the wrong size. So, they just left it hanging there.

The people who did the remodel were, by all indications, really into drugs and/or alcohol. Trombe wall on the south side of the house, upon which the sun never shines in the winter. A big platform with a smoky cast-iron woodstove with the chimney installed upside down in the middle of the living room. And lots and lots of sponge painting. In one case, it was purple, black, and white.

There are two ways to do everything: the right way, and the way they did it in this house.

For example, if you approached a sink to turn on the cold water, which handle would you grab? Well, if you were in this bathroom, it’d be on the left side. If you were installing an opening in the outer wall of your house, you’d want to install a header to keep the house from falling down.


The panel’s covering the opening from where I removed the old glass block yesterday. Notice the header floating jauntily in the middle of it. It’s like that on both ends. Why… would… I mean, it doesn’t…

So why remodel the bathroom?

No ventilation beyond an operable skylight. So, when you take a shower, and assuming you’re not scalded/frozen by the lack of temperature adjusting valves, the steam just hangs there.

The grout in the shower is cracked, and leaking. Spoiler: it turns out that they tiled the walls first and then put in the pan and tiled that. So, the slightly mildewy funk was coming from water leaking down that cracked grout over the wall tile and into the pan. 


That thing is a demolition hammer that I rented. Great fun and not nearly as hard to use as it looks.

The shower looked like it was made for a middle-school locker room. His and hers shower heads at different heights for, I assume, side-by-side showering at an uncomfortable distance?


Junior helping out with the de-locker-rooming. He works cheap.

The toilet… rear exhaust. Now normally, your “waste material” goes straight down a drain. In this case, it goes out the back, across the crawlspace floor about eight feet, and then down. That’d be fine except for the slow leak of poo water into the flooring underlayment. That’s… bad. Time to remodel bad.

This project is going to go on for a while. I’m putting in a wall-hung toilet to save some floor space and avoid the poo-water situation. I’m going to install under-floor heating and tile (for the first time) the floor and shower. The shower will also get new, valves, fixtures, and an operable window.

I’ll try to document the adventure to the best of my ability.

In another post, maybe we’ll remove the giant metal tubes that block the southern exposure of the house, or replace the metal siding that was used as roofing.

Sadly, I’ve already replaced the deck that was built out of regular indoor lumber (when it rotted, they just nailed on more regular lumber), so you’ll miss that one beyond this picture:


Regular wood? I mean why would you… it rains all the time here… and… so, obviously… oh, forget it.


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