A Long 48 Hours

A lot has happened in the two days since we last posted. Unfortunately not a lot has happen with respect to the kitchen. The remnants of a tropical storm came through Thursday and dumped a biblical amount of rain on our area. Before the rain started I cleaned out our gutters of all the leaves that have started to fall. There has been small roof leak above our guest bedroom. We had not been able to track down the source of the leak and were trying to just get by until the kitchen was done. Well we found the source during this monsoon. It’s coming from the flashing where our plumbing vent goes through the roof. At least we also now know why there was one ceiling tile upstairs with water damage.

The next day, Friday, was an adventure getting to work. We live very close to a decent sized river and due to all the rain it has swollen it’s banks and flooded out many of the area bridges. To make matters worse the rain also caused a sinkhole to develop on the local expressway causing it to eventually shut down for a few hours. Needless to say traffic was at a standstill and I went out of my way and then some to cross the river and get to work without sitting at a standstill for two hours like many others did. Fortunately Irene did not have to deal with this because she had off. Unfortunately she had off because she volunteered to pick up an overnight shift.

Last night we did a little more shopping for electrical stuff. I had return all of the outlets I bought because current code requires tamper proof ones. I also bought what I needed to replace the wiring for the stove, put in an outlet for the dishwasher, and wire up our LED lights. Today is Saturday and I am waiting for the Ikea delivery folks show up with our cabinets while Irene sleeps after her 12 hour overnight shift. I had to clean up the garage a bit to make room for them.

The garage is straightened up and ready for our cabinets.

I also took the time over the past few days to spruce up our blog a little. You’ll notice we have changed the header picture away from the stock WordPress one. It took a little bit of tweaking to get the bigger image to fit in right. I have also made some small font and positioning tweeks to make it look a little less like a 100% stock WordPress blog. I added a copyright notice and Creative Commons License to our blog’s footer. You can use any content from our blog as long as you properly attribute that it is ours (with a link back here thank you) and you allow your content to be shared in the same way.

Lastly I hacked up my own plugin to add a lightbox image viewer to our blog. Why did I hack up my own? Well none of the ones available 100% met my needs. The plugins either depend on the jQuery or scriptaculous Javascript libraries. I wanted one that used jQuery because I believe it is the better and easier to use Javascript library and I wanted to option to add more functionality based on it to the blog. All of the jQuery based plugins required you to mark your images with rel="lightbox" or some other piece of code. I wanted something that would work out of the box with no intervention on my part. And after a few hours of trial and error coding I got it all working. I am using the jQuery Lightbox plugin by Leandro Vieira Pinho to do it. I am not sure if I am going to release this plugin onto wordpress.org or not since there are already so many others out there.

Now where are those guys with our cabinets?!

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Electrical Fail

The third party electrical inspector, as required by our township, came to do a rough-in inspection of our kitchen. It didn’t pass. But it wasn’t a real failure either. Everything that is in place is OK. I talked to the inspector on the phone and explained what we were doing to the kitchen. I explained that we had two walls opened up, and there was some electrical that was going to be added/changed in the other two existing walls. He stated that he would inspect what was in the walls that were open and any wiring fished through existing walls would be inspected at the final inspection.

One of the stumbling blocks ended up being that we are adding two lighting fixtures to the kitchen, going from one to three. He wanted to see those outlet boxes and the wiring for them in place. I thought that would be covered under the “in existing walls” portion because we are hacking into the existing circuit, one that we are still using for light and that lights other rooms.

Another surprise was that you can’t hardwire dishwashers anymore. That is apparently a recent edition to the NEC. So I have to put an outlet under the sink for it.

The third thing is I had not replaced the wiring for the range yet. I was initially planning on doing this but started to reconsider because it’s expensive. Just the new wire was going to run $200. But since we are moving the range, even if it is just two feet, we have to upgrade to what’s currently required. I am glad I waited though because I based the $200 on buying this wire at Lowes. They sell it by the foot, you tell them how much you need and they cut it for you. I found out that Home Depot sells a 125 foot roll of it for $149. SCORE!

Lastly was a question about the wiring I will be using on our LED under cabinet lighting. I need a strip of wire to go between the two wall cabinets, which are separated by the range. The vendor told me to use 18/2 lamp cord. You don’t need to use Romex beceause the voltage is not the normal 120V AC house current, it is 12V DC. However you can’t run normal lamp cord conceiled in a wall. The cord must be rated as Class 2. He didn’t think I’d be able to find such a beast. After some Googling I think I can use wire meant for the thermostat of your furnace. I’ll follow up once I do a full writeup on the LED lights, which showed up as I was waiting for the inspector ironically.

So I have some more wiring to do this weekend. I was hoping that we could hang drywall by Sunday but we will just push on.

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Cabinets, faucet and inspection..

Finally got the call and scheduled for this Saturday, October 2nd. I wonder if we’ll be assembling them on our anniversary? (the 4th) w00t!
Ikea Lidingo – image courtesy of Ikea

I also got to pick up my faucet from Lowe’s – they had the same price as FaucetsDirect and I had a coupon to make the deal sweeter.

Our inspector is coming tomorrow afternoon for the rough-in. I can’t believe it’s happening! I can’t wait to seal these walls up and put in everything!

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Running wiring in existing walls

Not a whole lot of progress tonight. We cooked dinner out on the grill because it’s supposed to rain the rest of the week. Might as well do it while we can. So we cooked burgers for dinner, chicken for another night, and Irene cooked some sausage on the side burner for another egg bake. We also wanted to watch a little prime time TV like normal people that aren’t ripping apart their kitchen. LOL

What I did get done is more work on our electrical. There will be two outlets in the long wall we did not rip down. One will be placed at counter height to accommodate a future buffet table along that wall. The other will be placed at floor height just to satisfy the NEC rule of an outlet every six feet of wall. I needed to cut holes in the wall for the old work or cut-in boxes as they are known.

If you have plain drywall this is pretty easy. We have plaster over drywall so it gets a bit more involved. At least we don’t have plaster and lathe! I’ll go through the steps I’ve developed for cutting holes for boxes in this combination of wall materials. I know it’s not-too-common but I know I’m not the only one out there with it.

  1. Start by tracing the shape of the box on the wall with a pencil. I held a small level against the box while tracing to make sure the lines were level.
  2. Place painters tape along the outside of the lines you made forming a box.
  3. Cut the plaster along your pencil lines with a razor to scorethe surface. Three passes seems to do the trick.
  4. Drill two holes in opposite corners of your box. I use a 1″ diameter blade type bit.
  5. Insert a keyhole saw into the holes you drilled and cut out the box using the tape as a guide.

Cutting plaster with keyhole saw

The next step was to run new cable from one of the new boxes to this newly cut out hole. I ran the cable through the basement. This is the easiest way to run new cables through your house if you have one and it’s unfinished or has a drop ceiling. If you don’t have a basement you can run them in the attic. Because I would be crossing the water supply pipes with this cable I decided to drill though the floor joists instead of using running boards (a subject I’ll have to expand on later). It’s perfectly safe to drill a small hole through a floor joist like the 2×8 below. Just make sure you drill though the center, the stresses are the lowest there. An auger bit makes quick work of drilling holes for the wiring. This one is 5/8″ diameter.Drilling holes in floor joist
Cable run through holes.
After drilling a hole through the floor from the basement in just the right spot I had to fish the cable up to the hole in the wall. Sometimes you can just shove the cable up through the wall and it comes out the right spot. Other times you need to use a fishhook as it’s known.

  1. I had to start from the bottom and run the fishhook up through the hole in the floor until I could reach in the hole in the wall and grab it.
  2. Get a piece of spare wire, or a string and hook it around the end of the fishhook.
    Fishhook with spare wire attached
  3. Pull the fishhook down from the basement until the spare wire or string appears. Unattach the fishhook and attach the cable you want to pull to the spare wire or string.
    Attach cable to spare wire or string
  4. Go back upstairs and pull the spare wire or string out of the wall until the cable appears. Fold the cable down to keep it from slipping back down into the wall.
    Retrieve and secure your newly fished cable
  5. Profit!
    Install your cut-in box
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Roughing in the electrical.. one step closer.

Today was back to work for Paul and I so we are back to only getting a few hours work done each night. Paul’s completed some more of our electrical rough in! The cables running from the service panel were rerouted to their new destinations. w00t! He also removed some 4×4 wood posts that were left in the crawl space (we have a full basement that is the old house and the new house is a crawl space) and an old wooden cabinet made from the previous owners which we’re sure someone will pick up from infront of our house. Both were in his way for the wiring.

I also know people like pictures so here is one taken in May of our Cape Cod.

I didn’t mention this before but someone came by one morning wanting some scrap wood and took our sink – fine by me, I was going to post up on freecycle since the sink was in excellent shape. We’ve had other people stop by whenever we’ve put anything out for the Wednesday oversize pickup. Prime time for pickers in our area.

For dinner I rescued a meatloaf gone wrong and made shepard’s pie – meatloaf, corn/peas, little white potato from a can I found and some sweet potato since we didn’t have enough white (it’s suppose to be cooked in 2 loafs, not one, fantastic crust but uncooked middle – can’t believe I overlooked that).

One last note, no call from Ikea to schedule our delivery of cabinets just yet. *pouts*

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Small update on plumbing and color scheme..

Paul decided to solve his plumbing dilemma by turning the trap arm 90 degrees in the wall. That still makes it up to code (he’ll have a more thorough post as soon as he makes it happen this week).

We didn’t get as much done as we would have liked or started any other blog posts about specific parts of our project (sorry, we really had to catch up on F1 racing and mother-in-law’s birthday dinner) Tomorrow is back to work as usual. I’m a little sad, we made so much progress during this renocation. I think I’ll probably blog about cooking/not cooking and some of the other improvements in the house.

Since I can’t help too much with the electrical and plumbing, I’ve been trying to decide on a color scheme. I have very neutral ideas thus far and need color. (black and gray floor, white/gray tone quartz counters, white subway tile, white cabinetry) I also want something different than what I have so far chosen for our house.

I’m not into red/burgundy/wine as a wall color. I considered it after talking with some friends and think for the space of this size (lack of size and lack of light) it would just crowd it rather than make it cozy. Perhaps green?

I’ve also been inspired to consider wall paper as an accent after seeing this Ikea kitchen on ikeafans.com (member lailaras1) I wouldn’t choose anything this dark but it made me think of all the possibilities if I chose something good. I also know that if you install wallpaper properly, it should not be an ordeal to take down to replace down the line when I get tired of it.

So many choices and possiblities, I could really go in any direction. Do you have any inspiration for me?

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Plumbing woes

Today one of my goals was to rough in the plumbing vent and drain into my newly built wall. The drain/vent is basically just a vertical run of pipe with a special tee called a sanitary tee where the pipe from the sink connects to it. This is how it should have looked (the tee would be lower and a pipe coming out of the top in real life).

Intended Plumbing Vent Arrangement

Unfortunately there is a floor joist where I wanted to put the pipe. 🙁 I would just push the pipe over to the left but the edge of the under sink cabinet is an inch to the left of the pipe and to the right is the window. It was already going to be a tight fit with not much margin for error but this joist just screws my plan up.

Floor Joist in the Way of Plumbing Vent

I spent a good part of the day reading though my plumbing book, Googling, asking on DIYchatroom.com and thinking about my options. Normally you would just bore a hole through the studs on the left of the window and run the pipe though it. If I had used 2x4s I could do that but the hole needed for the pipe is just about as wide as my 2×3 studs. We used 2x3s to minimize the space lost by building these walls. 🙁

Time for an alternate plan. Option 1 is to keep the tee where it is and use two 45° elbows to move the pipe to the left when it goes though the floor. The potential hitch is that I don’t have the room to pull this off due to where the tee comes out of the wall being only 14 inches above the finished floor (lingo alert: above finished floor is often abbreviated as AFF). Option 2 is to move the pipe over to the left and turn the tee to face right and have a short segment and then turn 90° out to the sink. Potential issue here is that all the bends in the trap arm would be a place where clogs would form.

Alternate Plumbing Vent ArrangementAnd the last options would be to add some 2x4s to the wall so that I could bore through them and bring the pipe out underneath the window. This is the least likely option due to the extra work involved.

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Paul has begun running the electrical. Besides adhering to NEC code (outlets every 2 feet!), I had a lot of decisions to make – task, accent (we aren’t doing) and general lighting, do I want a fan? and what kind of lights? Paul figured out the guidelines and I picked the styles.

Task lighting. This is often confused as ‘accent’ lighting under cabinetry but this is some of the most important lighting in a kitchen. It lights up everything you are working on. We’ve decided to go the LED route without a dimmer – less power, lasts longer and the price is a bit cheaper than even ikea task lighting. It’ll be controlled by one switch. You might want to consider a dimmer if you have an open floor plan since it’s very pretty (then it becomes accent light) but ours is separate so I didn’t think it was necessary and something I could live without. We went with the middle of the road model from Elemental (http://www.elementalled.com)

General lighting. I decided on a fan and 2 track lights. Fans are really not ‘popular’ but we don’t have central AC. I really enjoyed the fan we had for a few months during summer and missed it when it died. We plan on air conditioning but that is as costly as the kitchen renovation so that has to wait a few years. I have had to make a few ‘function over pretty’ choices but that’s how I think most people should do it. The aversion to a fan is the whole ‘it’ll get greasy’ – that doesn’t happen when you have a good range vent that really ventilates to the outside and has enough power for your space.

Ikea Leding ($19.99 each)

Home Depot Hampton Bay 44 In. Hawkins in Brushed Nickel Finish ($59.97) We actually have this in our bedroom – don’t worry, it has white fan blades. It’s really a nice fan – Paul thought the construction was better than the name brand one in our guestroom which was significantly more.

He needs to cut into the other wall to run 2 more outlets on that side and move the outlet where the ‘coffee bar’ use to be for our fridge.

Our timeline is looking good. He has plenty of time to finish the electrical and plumbing, inspection and putting up the drywall before our flooring even arrives (sometime the 2nd week of October as long as it’s really filled on October 4th) Monday Ikea will be calling us about when we should take delivery of the cabinets. Paul is thinking end of next week. The sooner the better so we can inspect, get possible replacements and build. I still need to figure out new trim pieces for windows and moldings for the cabinets.

They did not come off without splitting and I was being careful *sigh* I am not entirely upset since they are newer than 1954 but I am kinda hoping we can get the same style since we didn’t take trim off of the other window. Anyway, here are some shots of today. Tomorrow we won’t be getting much done since it’s Paul’s Mom’s birthday dinner and I don’t know how much we’ll blog since we’ll be working in the evenings after work. This whole thing is slowing down for sure but I hope we can still have some good content to share with you.

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Walls: DONE! Onto electrical and plumbing.

Holy crap! This took way too long. For serious! We now, finally, have walls! I was the ‘leveler’ and Paul was the ‘builder’. I tried the building but I didn’t think I was strong enough to do it quickly enough without moving the piece of wood. The level task worked great.

Now that the stud wall is up (and Paul has learned enough to make a separate post to help you), electrical and plumbing can begin! We want to start out by saying we are indeed doing this ourselves and we did get a permit the very first time the drawings were submitted. Paul used AutoCAD to create our electrical and plumbing schematics. He looked into other programs we could use that were free/readily available but most were overly complicated for the task of simple schematics and Paul uses AutoCAD at work. If anyone has a good tutorial and/or experience with other programs for this task, please let us know so we can add a helpful link. Paul will get more into what helped him (mainly books, forum reading and of course the NEC code) later.

Before we finished the walls, we stopped by our township building to update our plumbing drawing. The “code guy” looked over our new drawing and approved it pretty much right away, much to our surprise (you can read about why we needed the change in the previous post). As we waited, Paul found a previous ‘owner’ of our house was on the Board of Supervisors for our township. I say owner loosely, he is a brother to the official owner but for some reason, he and his wife are listed on our deed in the mid-40s. I have no idea why, I’d like to read up more on how deeds work and why they could be listed.

Shortly after we got home, we took delivery of our Bosch dishwasher. That was interesting. They came an hour early (hoozah!) and also had some plywood with them. Plywood? Turns out the guy who checked us out labeled those 2 at the end of the ringing out, right after our dishwasher was rung up, marked as a ‘delivery’ item. It was funny how the delivery guy was confused about why we had strange looks on our faces when he was placing the wood. We promptly rejected it and talked to the delivery supervisor about what happened.

Later we went out and bought just about everything we needed to get started on plumbing and electrical (the super expensive oven wire could not be purchased because our home improvement stores were OUT of enough length for us, dang! It’s $200 so I was hoping to save some cash on that thing with a coupon, uhh!) I also got to order the faucet. So excited! It was a splurge (not a complete one, the stainless version would have been crazy).

We didn’t work as long as we have over the last week, we took much needed time off for dinner and drinks (with real plates and cutlery!). Tomorrow, Paul gets started on plumbing & electrical.

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Walls… Day 12

Oh stud walls… how deceiving…. on every page about building stud walls, it says it’s the easiest part of construction as long as you measure, level and know the pythagorean theorem for making corners. A nice guy on youtube has some even more helpful hints (you can’t make your walls too tight or it lifts your structural pieces http://www.youtube.com/user/HomeRemodelWorkshop)

It is much trickier when you haven’t started with an empty space and don’t want to rip out EVERYTHING. All of the online tutorials don’t cover what you should do for a corner joint. Most don’t cover the fact that the distance to the first stud is 15.25 not 16 inches. None cover what you do when the wall is longer than your baseplate.

None of the basement wall tutorials covered how to handle windows. And although there are tutorials on how to frame out a window opening they assume you are installing a brand new store bought window, not trying to frame around an existing one.

We aren’t ripping out the ceiling, the floor joists are a funky 12″ not quite on center and there are just a lot of things that add up to a lot of tweaking. Paul is frustrated but I think that today, Friday, we will finish these walls!

Hopefully that means our Friday night will be consumed with electrical and plumbing shopping (including my Grohe faucet! I have a 10% coupon, yippeee!)

The other thing on our plate, besides our bagel sandwiches this morning, is we’ll be stopping by the permit office to make a change to our plumbing permit. Originally we were going to use 2 inch drain and vent for the sink. Why 2 inch? Because we have 1.5 inch now and bigger is better right? Paul figured the larger size would help with our 80 foot run from the sink to the waste stack. We also thought we could do this because where the existing line connects to the waste stack is a 2 inch PVC connection. There is a rubber tube connecting the PVC to the original copper drain pipe. What Paul didn’t see is there is a reducing bushing inside the 2 inch connection brining it down to 1.5 inch. And since it is all PVC it can’t be taken apart. We would have to cut into the stack and put in a whole new one and deal with a bunch of little splice joints. We don’t want to do that.

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