A few weeks ago, Yuki and I hammered out some ideas on what we want to do to the house to update it. A contractor that my mom and step dad use was consulted and we got a fairly decent quote to do the following: clear the atrium and place pavers inside while repairing the deteriorating wood lattice; replace the bathroom, swap out the sliding glass doors in the two back bedrooms to windows, and tile the kitchen, entryway, and bathroom. A separate contractor was going to get called in to lay down some wood laminate. Naturally, we discussed this with Angel and his parents as they are very knowledgeable about home renovations as they constantly do things to their own houses. After some budget crunching and calculations, we discovered that we could add in some canned lighting to the house and add granite counter tops to the kitchen and reach the same quote given by the first contractor. The decision on contractor was fairly simple, and the first week of May, we started to buy and order most of the necessary raw materials. Dry walls, canned lighting sets, tiles, wood, etc. The stuff was piling up in the front living room.

This post will not follow a chronological order as I wanted to group the various projects together from start to finish for a easier view on the changes from old to new. Some projects were interminably finished to help with the progression of other areas.

Yuki and I snapped some pictures at the end of April in anticipation of the major changes that will be happening fairly soon. The bathroom as it has been since I first moved into the place. Still completely functional, just a bit on the outdated side.

Starting on Monday, April 30, Angel’s parents showed up and ripped apart the bathroom, cutting out the old fiberglass shower/tub enclosure, the old medicine cabinet was ripped out, the vanity and sink was destroyed, and the toilet was removed. A small pile of debris was starting to form in the backyard. The bathroom then remained in this state for a few days while they waited for the plumber to come redo some of the pipes.

Last week, they returned to the bathroom and after the plumber did his work, the tub went in, followed by the bathroom wall tiles as well as the floor tiles. The walls were repaired and sprayed with some texture to match the existing wall. With the tiles set and grouted, the vanity and toilet were installed. The tiles sealed and the room painted, we finally got to fully utilize the bathroom this past Tuesday. Quite a bit of an improvement from the original state to it’s current status.

The toilet and vanity were picked up from some Chinese run granite shop off Rosemead. The interesting thing about our little glass sinks are the lack of a overflow drain, which complicated things when it came time to install the faucets and plumbing. But a workaround was found and things are working.

On the first day, after the destruction of the bathrooms, the Atrium was then cleared of the weeds and junk. Weed killer was sprayed liberally over the entire area. Digging into the area, it was discovered that there was a solid cement pond/fountain structure buried in the dirt and mess that was the atrium. Bits and pieces of this were removed. There were also two concrete steps that are part of the actual concrete foundation of the house. These two areas needed to be removed.

Originally, I had planned on graveling setting the artium with pavers. But this seem like more heavy work that it was worth, so Angel’s mom came up with the idea to install a deck. Ideally, the deck boards should come up to where the edge of the sliding glass door frames sit; so the two cement steps needed to go. The next day, picked up the necessary wood building materials and rented a jack hammer for the cement steps. An hour or so of jack hammering removed the steps. We cleared the cement debris and the following day, the treated wood frame was set right atop the ground. Two treated wood frame lengths were first attached to the house’s foundation, which required drilling into the cement, then inserting 1/2″ anchors. Drilling into the cement foundation was damn hard labor, but we got it done. The easy part came once these two main pieces were attached. Some trenching and shifting of the dirt helped level and give the wood a solid surface. The deck will sit right on top of the frame.

With the treated wood frame in place, the quick and easy process of applying the wood planks finished in about an hour and a half of time. The planks were spaced apart and then attached with deck screws. Once the floor was done, the atrium was left alone and became temporary storage for the rest of the on going projects until this past Sunday. With other rooms complete, the storage space was no longer needed and we cleared the area and go to work on finishing the project. Angel and I put ourselves on the roof and ripped out the old wood lattice and rotted wood supports that held the lattice. We evenly measured out four support beams, then cut and laid out wood slats for the top of the atrium. A left over piece of granite from the kitchen project was glued to a piece of plywood the same size and placed on top of some cinder blocks I had, and I now have an instant atrium table. Over the past few days, I’ve applied several coats of clear sealer. This darkened the wood and brought out some of the natural color variances as well as protects the wood. About 100 square feet of living space has now been added to the house.

Since I had already moved my workshop to the large bedroom in the house. It was time to remove the 70’s style wood paneling. Angel also found a small piece of burnt orange shag carpeting. The idea to keep the paneling and fully embrace the 70’s styling was quickly dismissed and the walls were ripped out. The existing dry wall was in fairly good condition, but there were glue marks and tons of little nail holes from the wood paneling. The guy who did the texture in the bathroom as well as the bedrooms from the window project was paid an extra hundred bucks to surface and texture the room. The room was then painted but is currently in a suspended state of incomplete because new carpeting installation is expected this coming Sunday.

The kitchen was a project that I had wanted to do, and with some concentrated budgeting constraints; we got the granite we wanted. Last week, I met up with the contractor at a granite shop he uses. The original quote for the 2 9’X2′ and 1 8’X3′ Verde Butterfly granite slabs was 760 before taxes. I haggled a little about the taxes the lady wanted to add, and came down to splitting the taxes, so the final cost would be around 800. I walked out of the shop to confer with Angel’s dad and the contractor. They told me that the particular style of granite I was focused on was a bit more expensive. But trying to find another shop would have just wasted my time. So I walked back into the shop, smiled at the lady and offered to give her 750 in cash for the three pieces. She relinquished and agreed then started to chat with me, discovering that we shared the same family name, and that she also spoke Cantonese. Angel’s dad immediately noticed a complete change in demeanor, the girl was batting her eyes, smiling, and just flirting with me. Deal done, we walked out and Angel’s dad chuckled at charming my way into a fairly decent deal.

The following day, Angel’s dad calls up the granite place to check on the granite as it had to be ordered from another location. I believe that most of these damn granite places get their products from the same source. But I digress. Angel’s dad calls and mentions my name, as I’m the purchaser. He notes that the girl’s voice immediately softens and exclaims that she remembers me, thinking that Angel’s dad is me; and lets him know that they were not able to get a 8’x3′ island piece but only had a 9’x3′ island piece. And reassured him that he didn’t have to worry, they’re not going to charge me extra. 63 square feet of granite for 750, not bad.

I had originally budgeted 1,000 for the granite, so the extra 250 went to a new black cast iron sink to go with the dark granite. Angel’s mom was all excited about doing a design on the back wall to the stove area, so we picked up some glass accents as well as some tiles and she went to work after getting the kitchen floor tiles done. The kitchen floor tiles are the same as the entry way. The floor tile are placed in an off set pattern. The kitchen looks completely different now. I’m very happy with the new counter tops and the back splash design. A vast improvement on the 70’s stile lime green.

There are a total of 7 sliding glass doors in the house. Seriously, SEVEN! Why are there sliding glass doors to the back two bedrooms, no idea. And the sealing under them are not the greatest which let in water when it rains and allowed the formation of some black mold. So those needed to go. The contractor was supposed to start Monday, May 7, but didn’t show up and get to work until Wednesday – same day as the counter top job. The sliding doors were removed and a frame build and the windows went up. The whole project took about a day. Not too bad. However, I’ve been still waiting for that contractor to return and finish the stucco and paint – for which he was supposed to be done yesterday. I may need to resort to using the plumber guy to complete the job. All the materials have been purchased and are sitting at the house. I’m much happier with the windows over the sliding doors.

In the middle of the first week of the project work, the entry way linoleum was removed and Angel’s mom put in a little design using the tiles we picked out. They were allowed a day to set up, then were grouted. This past Saturday, the flooring guy came and installed the laminate in the front living room. Apparently the general contractor that the guy works for didn’t tell him that I wanted a 45 degree angel to the flooring, so all he was able to get complete was the front room.

The flooring guy came back the following day and knocked out the Hallways. Angel’s mom noticed that the bottom of the hallway walls were darker than the rest of the walls. This was mostly likely because Hugo tends to rub up against and sleep in the hallway. So she decided to do a dual tone paint scheme. The white areas will have a strip of molding.

The dining room became the second staging area. The carpets in this room was ripped out fairly early as we were working on the atrium and tracking mud and crap throughout the house. Eventually, the staging area moved to the family room and the dining room was painted. The wood slats that framed the ceiling inset were also removed and the inset area painted. I originally wanted the the laminate flooring to be set at a 45 degree angel as with the two other major rooms, but decided that straight lengths would look much better as well as facilitate the speed for the flooring.

During all this, the family room has slowly evolved. Returning to the start of the project, with the bathroom taken down, the walls of the main ares of the house were painted. Negating the ever popular white color that the whole house has been painted with, we went with a color that Angel’s mom did for part of her house. Also early in the project was the installation of the canned lighting. 6 lights were added to the family room. The difficulty here was that the roof is flat, and there’s very little space to run wires, so the freshly painted walls needed to be cut so that the wires could be threaded. The lighting was done, so the walls were patched and repainted. The fireplace accents were painted in white to match the door frames and small white accents around the house. The main fireplace column was also painted with the accent taupe color. Angel’s mom wanted to frame the television as well as some of the pictures I had hanging. I printed out some new pictures for the frames. A fairly big change from the old room to the other.

There are some small little areas that need touch up and work, but for the most part, the project is complete. The carpeting is not available until this coming Sunday, so if all goes well, the house will be complete sometime next week. And I can finally get to using the new workshop room for model building. The damn dreissen is so close to completion, the new job and house renovations has thrown everything into disarray. And there’s the damn pod casts that are ready for publication too. So much to do, so little time.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Brian

    Wow, the place looks awesome. Amazing job.

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