Friday, January 28, 2011

More Snow!

The snow from Christmas has never really melted leaving huge grey, dog stained piles at every turn. Yesterday's snow just added insult to injury. I can't remember the last time we had this much snow around for so long. I also can't express my gratitude for my Wellies ($15 at Target) and their amazing ability to let me slosh through the slush even when it's ankle high.

Here's Ab posing with the snow!

Our very typical Brooklyn block, posing with the snow.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Dreaded List

The reason I call it my dreaded list is that every time I start one home project I automatically start listing all the other things that need to be done. Some stuff needs to be done, while other stuff is a pipe dream. Unfortunatly, most of the current list needs to get done:

Front Bathroom (Gut Reno)
New tile on floor and walls
New sink/vanity
move toilet plumbing from wall mounted to floor
New Toilet
replace drywall
new light
new storage cabinet
replace radiator

Front bedroom
pick paint color and paint
repair cracked plaster
replace ceiling fan
replace radiator <-- needs to get done
fix electrical sockets <-- should get done

Small bedroom/office
get new desk for husband

replace gross track lighting

Back bathroom
Replace light fixture
recaulk tub

recaulk tile
recaulk sink
repaint ceiling
replace dishwasher

Living room
replace ceiling fan

Roof <-- a whole other story
Fan situation <-- a whole other story

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Everyone appears to be reeling from the snow. We hunkered down on December 26th and watched the blizzard ruin our dream vacation (I just yesterday unpacked my bag). The most striking images of the storm, who's snow is still on the ground here, were the City buses just abandoned in the street. I'm still amazed at the site of a stuck bus at 6 am filled with people who had spent the night in the bus.

We're still not sure what happened but where we are was completely abandoned by the City with no plows, salt trucks, or tow trucks for a long time. In a fit of cabin fever and desire to get out, we literally shoveled our street so that we could get the car out. Abandoned buses and shoveling one's street, not something you think about when you move to Brooklyn. I guess we did get hit with a tornado earlier this year, so I guess anything is possible .

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Money Pit

When we decided to buy a place we considered (for about a second) buying a fixer-upper. I harbored dreams of restoring someplace, of gracing a hulking burned out shell with my good taste and to be learned on the job handiness, and of a type of urban homesteading that someone who is bored with their job can dream about. My husband, saw nothing but trouble and quickly swung our real estate agent in the direction of historic but in good shape homes.

When we bought our place, we knew it had character and that it was in excellent shape and I thought it would remain quirky with cosmetic issues forever. That was very naive of me. In addition to the apartment being over 100 years old, the previous owner was a bit of an urban homesteader, DIYer himself and we're now dealing with those delusions of gradeur in this bathroom project.

It's hard to know what work he did himself and what was done in the 1984 conversion but here are some pictures of our soon to be ex-bathroom:

Here's an overall shot. You can see that we have really nice light in the room from a huge window. There are also very high ceilings. That's about all the nice parts. You can see how uneven the tile is in the bathtub area and how awkward the toilet is as it juts out into the room. The mouldings around the tub are completely rotted and someone painted the grout on the floor at some point and it's now grey.

When the contractor came to look for sources of leaks he pointed to the tub/shower fixtures, cracked grout, old silicone caulk, illogical plumbing on the sink, and the world's weirdest and poorly installed toilet.

The vanity/sink was on it's way to be replaced anyway since the doors are falling off and it's installed in a way that makes it impossible to clean.

The world's most basic lighting fixture and medicine cabinet that was hung incorrectly and now gapes open.

Ah, the toilet. You can see the half-inch gap between the toilet and the wall, the missing bolts, and insulating foam that was sprayed in there to compensate for the fact that it wasn't set into the wall properly. I don't want to blame the previous owner for all of the mess here. The room drops a full inch from the tub to the toilet, a consequence of settling. The plumbing juts out of the wall instead of the floor meaning that any toilet that goes in there will be loyal to the wall and not the ceiling.

The toilet itself inspired one of my favorite quotes "This is the type of toilet you install if you have very serious health problems or need to flush large buckets of golf balls." Given our delicate plumbing, this thing should never have made it through the front door.

There's also no ventilation in the bathroom, which we can fix when the roof is replaced. Did I mention that we need to completely replace the roof?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Worst Case Scenario House

I love our house, I really do, but sometimes it feels like she's out to do us in. First the tornado, then the roof, and now the master bathroom needs major work. People always remark about of wacky doors, usually something like "every door in your house is a different, hideous color!" and I explain to them that the previous owner's painted them to ward off bad luck. Obviously, he took any good house mojo with him.

The bathroom issue came to our attention when our two-stories down neighbor mentioned a drip in his bathroom. Since the neighbor between us had been gone for two weeks, it was obvious that the problem was coming from us. When the contractor came over he pointed out about 10 different sources of the problem including cracked grout on the walls and floors, a toilet that looked like I got really drunk and installed it with foam insulation, an unlevel toilet pipe, and a sink that was falling apart.

We new these things existed but faced with about a month of work to make a not great bathroom look still not great, we decided to tack on another week's worth of work and gut it. A further inspection revealed tons of damaged plaster and drywall, a floor that sloped an inch in four feet, and a radiator that's about 3 times too big for the room.

So in the middle of our extremely busy lives we now get to do a bathroom reno but at least we have two bathrooms! If I could speak directly to the previous owner (which I've considered doing), I'd tell him to lay off the DIY. A love of spray foam and duct tape should be symptoms of not being very handy.