Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Cat Box Box

Why, yes, we are still drywalling. It's been a month since we started on it and David and I are both soooooo very ready to be done with it. Fortunately, the end is in sight.

We have applied our final coat of mud and are just waiting for things to dry completely, make a few touch ups (you can see our markers as little dots of blue tape) and then it will be time for paint!

We did out semi-final sanding today (still have those wet spots and touch ups to do) and it was... dusty.

 Hopefully things will go a bit faster once we are on to painting. I am so jazzed to actually have some electrical outlets down there soon, instead of 500 extension cords strewn all over the floor! Then tiling! Then floor! And ceiling!

So anyway, the point of this post is to share a little project David and I did over Christmas. We have been wanting to find a way to hide at least one of the cat litter boxes both for aesthetics and also because the dog likes to *ahem* snack from it. We really liked the cabinet idea but not the price of a pre-made one, so when we found one that would work at Ikea a little while ago, we added it to our Christmas wish list.

This is what we chose. We liked it because it was the perfect size, doubled as a bench, and has a drawer that rolls out for easy cleaning.

So once we got it assembled, it was time to modify it.

We determined our hole size based on the size of our cat door. It was 8"x8". David used a jig saw to cut it out after I drew it on the outer portion of the bench.

Then we put the drawer in place and traced the opening onto it so we would be sure they lined up.

David cut that one out and we were in business. The cats were already very interested.

Then I just got some iron-on melamine edging from Lowe's and attached that to the rough edges.

I'll spare you a picture of the inside of the bench. Nobody wants to see that mess.

Eventually this will move down to the basement bathroom, but I wanted to go ahead and get the cats used to this new contraption, so I wasn't springing too many box changes on them at once.

Hopefully soon I'll be able to show off some pictures of my painted basement!

P.S. Check out my blog header - I updated with a more current picture. :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

It's Christmas Time!

Anyone that knows me knows that I love Christmas, especially when it comes to decorating. I had a big old Pinterest Fail a couple years ago when I tried to make one of those cute ornament wreaths, and since then I've been in need of something to spruce up the front door. I'd been looking around on Pinterest and was inspired when I saw a red burlap wreath. So off to Michaels and Home Depot I went.

Here's what I started out with. Red burlap from Michaels, an 8' section of pipe insulation from Home Depot. This is soooo much cheaper than buying a wreath form. This 8' section cost me $1.40 and it was enough to make two wreaths. The holly was from my holly tree outside, and a roll of duct tape that I already had.

The first thing you want to do it form your pipe insulation into a circle the size you want, cut it down to length (I used a kitchen knife) and then duct tape the ends into a circle.

Then I just wrapped my burlap around the wreath. I used sewing pins pushed right into the foam to hold the ends in place. Then I just started hot gluing the holly on in a pattern that I liked.

I hot glued a loop of twine-wrapped wire on top the hang it by, and pushed in a pin to keep the fabric from pulling away.

I also added a bow on, but I'm not sure if I'll end up keeping it or not.

The whole thing took about 30 minutes to complete and cost less than $4.00.

With the extra bit of pipe insulation that I had, I made a smaller wreath form and followed this super easy tutorial to make a coffee filter wreath.

I hung this one on the basement door by a velvet ribbon that I hot glued to the back of the wreath form and then duct taped to the back of the door.

I love the texture of this one and the best part is, I already had all the supplies so it cost me nothing.

So there you go, two Christmas wreaths for under $4.00! You can't beat that. Has anyone else been doing any Christmas crafting? I'd love to see it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Inspector Gadget

When I last updated, we had finished our framing and were getting ready to start running our electrical. We knew this needed to be inspected, and shortly after that, the building inspector would come and give us the go-ahead for drywall. David and I were both really nervous about these inspections. We had never been through anything like it before, and we really didn't know what to expect. Would the inspector walk around and examine every little thing? Would they tell us we obviously didn't know what we were doing?

With these questions in mind, we ran all the electrical lines, and scheduled our inspection. Much like with the plumbing inspector, you have no time frame for when he/she will come, so David took off work for a day, and I anxiously checked my phone every 15 minutes from work. Well, the inspector came, took a look around (not inspecting every little thing) and not only did he not say we were idiots, we passed! Woo hoo!

After that, we knew we needed to put up the insulation for our next inspection. What we didn't know until David went to schedule the inspection was that we had to do what's called fireblocking. Neither of us had ever heard of this, and David had an hour long conversation with the building inspector trying to wrap his head around it. This curveball doubled our nerves for the inspection and pretty much took away all our confidence. We spent the night reading online and watching YouTube videos about the process and by the time we went to bed, we felt a little better about the whole thing.

Basically, you are making separations to slow the spread of fires through walls and between floors. There are several approved materials, but what we used was fireblocking spray foam, unfaced fiberglass insulation, and 1/2" drywall. We did most of our work over the weekend, then David took some pictures of what we had done to the building inspector's office to make sure we were on the right track. They had a few things we needed to change, but otherwise we were looking good.

You can see above where the wall was not flush with the cinder block, we used drywall to make our separation every 10' and unfaced insulation at the top to separate between floors.

After that was done, we put up our insulation on all the exterior walls, making sure to leave any fireblocked areas exposed for inspection.

We had our inspection this afternoon. She looked at the framing, fireblocking, insulation, etc., as well as making sure certain things were meeting code, such as smoke detectors and the size of our egress window in the bedroom. She also made sure we had our plumbing and electrical rough-ins approved. I was fully prepared to get the big old "You obviously don't know what you are doing." but instead we got a big old "This looks great!" I could hardly believe it.

So I got started finishing the insulation in the areas where I had left things exposed.

Things are definitely looking more room-tastic!

We have a little bit of HVAC venting to tinker with, then we will be on to drywall. I just placed our order from Lowes, and since we will be needing just over 2,000 pounds of drywall and cement board, we are having it delivered. Keep your fingers crossed that the delivery men carry it downstairs for us!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Framing Is Complete!

Yes, that's right, friends. We are done framing the basement. Imagine me doing a dance of joy when that last stud went up. My joy was short lived, because we have actually noticed a couple of small things that still need doing, but we will still pretend it's all finished for the purposes of this blog.

So here's how things are looking now, after some good old fashioned cleaning. Cause things were looking pretty messy there for a while.

Standing in front of the bedroom, looking into the living room.

This is looking the opposite direction from above.

In the living room, looking at the doorways for the unfinished area and laundry room.

Laundry room looking to the bathroom. This room was the biggest pain to frame, since there were pipes and water lines allllll over the ceiling. They were inevitably always right where we needed to put walls.

The bathroom with the roughed in plumbing, which has been inspected and approved. The toilet will sit where all those boxes are and the sink will be on the wall to the left where you see those pipes coming out of the wall.

We went to Ikea last weekend and bought our vanity and mirror for in here. We have just started on the electrical by marking where all the outlets need to go in each room.

So here's an updated to do list for down here:
  • Finish framing walls
  • Rough in bathroom plumbing, get inspected (we just hired a plumber for this)
  • Run electrical, get inspected.
  • Replace windows (we are going to take a stab at DIY-ing this, eek!)
  • Drywall, drywall, then drywall some more
  • Paint, paint, then paint some more
  • Floor and ceiling
  • Final inspections!
  • Trim and finishing things like doors, closet, stairs, etc.
David is expecting the electrical rough in to take about a week and a half to two weeks. I am both very excited to get to the drywalling stage (it will actually start looking like a finished space!) and very much dreading it (So. Much. Mudding.).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Upstairs Sprucing Project

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, we are doing some other projects in between working on the basement to get the house spruced up for our appraisal. One of the things we have been working on is the little roof that runs between the carport and the garage. We love having it there to shield us from rain when going out to the garage, but it (and the carport ceiling) were covered in this white corrugated plastic stuff that I've never been overly fond of. One day, I got this wild idea to take it down and see what was underneath.

The answer: a lot of nasty stuff. And birds nests. Lots of birds nests. We knew there was at least one, so we made sure to wait until the babies were gone before starting on this project, so no baby birds were harmed in the making of this post.

Once we got all the plastic sheets unscrewed and removed, this is what we were left with. A corrugated metal roof with a wood grid and several extra pieces of wood that the plastic sheets were screwed into.

Next we tackled this weird wood wall thing. We basically used a hammer to break up and pry it all off.

Once that bit was gone, we removed all the wood supports that the plastic stuff was screwed into.

Then we were left with a bit of a blank slate. We tossed around a couple ideas of what we wanted to do from here, ranging from tearing the whole thing out and re-doing it, just replacing the roof part, or just working with what was there.

We settled on painting what we had. I decided to spray paint the corrugated metal a sky blue color and then paint the wood grid white.

It took 6 cans of spray paint and about an hour of time to spray the metal roof. I thought I was going to have permanent claw hand afterwards. My hands were so weak I could barely press down the trigger on the can. But I persevered.

About half way through my first wood painting session, I decided that I was going to leave it at one coat. The decision was 10% because I liked the look of only one coat and 90% because it was an annoying task and I didn't want to have to do another coat.

Here we are all finished up. Still not the fanciest thing out there, and maybe down the line we will tear it all out and put up something different. But for now, I'm pretty pleased with our charming little roof.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Replacing Basement Windows

Note: I had trouble finding a really detailed tutorial on replacing basement windows when researching for this project. I found absolutely nada on finishing the exterior of the window. So I am here to fill that void. Thus, this is going to be a long post!

We knew since the moment we laid eyes on these beauties that they needed to be taken to the window graveyard.

The view got even better when we moved the dryer vent and were left with this oh-so attractive and secure duct taped opening.

There are five of these windows in total in the basement and two of them will be in the finished area. We had gotten quotes from some window installers on replacing them all that came in from $2,000 - $5,000. Needless to say, we weren't thrilled with that price, but we knew that removing these old windows would be a tremendous headache.

Then one day, I was feeling wild and crazy and decided to look online and see if I could find any information on how to remove a window of this style. I found quite a few videos and they all made it look very simple, as online videos tend to do. But then I realized something that completely changed my view on the whole project.

Running across the top of each window is a metal bar that extends into the brick mortar on each side. I had assumed this this was part of the window and that it would destroy the brick when it was removed. I am here to tell you today that THIS IS NOT PART OF THE WINDOW. I cannot express how excited I was when I took a long look at the window and realized that. I got online again and found that Home Depot carried a window in the size we needed for $80. I immediately texted David and told him the good news. He was on board with trying our hand at window replacement.

We had planned to wait until the weekend to get started but we were both so excited that we dove in when we got home from work Friday night. We only bought one window at first in case we totally botched the whole thing. As you can tell, we were very confident going into this project.

We started out by tilting out the opening part of the window and sliding it out of the frame. That thing was HEAVY. Then we were left with the steel frame.

It was poured into the concrete around the window.

David made a cut straight through the frame on each side with his reciprocating saw.

Then he used a hammer, chisel, and pry bar to remove it. It literally took about 15 minutes. I was so excited. He used his chisel to break away any chunks of concrete that were left behind.

Then we were left with this nice clean opening.

We sat the window in place. The top to bottom fit was perfect, but it was a little wide. We spent quite some time trying to find a piece of wood that would be the right width to fill the gaps and were unsuccessful, so we retired to the upstairs for the night and perused Lowe's website. We found that a standard fence picket was going to be just what we needed AND they were only $1.18 each. Score.

We picked a couple up the next day, cut them to length and set them on each side. It was a perfect fit. So David screwed them into place with concrete anchors, while I sat outside to make sure they stayed flush with the front of the window.

Once those were in place, we wrapped some self adhesive vinyl flashing over the front of the board and onto the brick.

Then I attached the vinyl lattice strip we had picked up with the wood pickets with a nail gun. We added this trim piece to cover the wood spacers and make everything look more seamless. I used a utility knife to cut off the excess flashing on the brick.

Then I ran a "generous bead" of caulk around the sides and bottom of the opening, per the window instructions, and slid the window into place, making sure to smoosh it into the caulk.

I checked outside to make sure everything was looking good, while David shimmed the window from inside.

We made sure the window was straight and level, then David screwed the window into place with concrete anchors and broke off the excess part of the shims.

We filled the inside gaps with Window & Door Great Stuff (don't get the regular kind, it will bow the window), then cut off the excess once it was dry. This is as finished as the inside will look until we get walls and drywall put up.

But check out the exterior! All the outside seams got covered with silicone caulk. After everything had a few days to dry, we blasted the window with the hose for a good minute or so. It was way more water than would ever hit this window, but we wanted to be sure everything was water tight.

We have finished both windows that will be in the finished area of the basement and are soooo happy with how much less murder-y they look.

After this whole basement fiasco is finished, we plan to refinance the house, which means we will be getting an appraisal done. So in between working away in the basement, we have also been sprucing up the rest of the house so it looks as good as possible, and we get a nice high number on our appraisal. If you notice in the picture above, I painted the window ledges on all the windows.

I think it really makes the house look much nicer, and it only took me a couple hours (with Tater's help!).

So to anyone out there thinking about replacing their basement windows themselves, I say go for it! If we had known it would be this easy, we would have done it a long time ago. Not to mention the thousands of dollars we saved by doing it ourselves! Woo hoo!