Sunday, March 30, 2008


I forgot to take pictures today, but there really wasn't much to see. I went to the house after church/lunch and continued working on the tub surround. I filled the gaps between the pieces of backer board with thinset mortar, and caulked the gap between the backer board and the tub. Jessica had to do a lot of school work again today, but she came over for awhile to prime the cabinet fronts in the kitchen.

Dad came over for a few hours, too. There had been a small leak in the roof over the garage (until Dad found and patched it a couple of weeks ago), and the piece of particle board ceiling under the leak was badly discolored and rotted in spots, so Dad brought over a new piece of board for us to install. We took the old piece down and figured we might as well check to see if he had indeed patched the leak successfully. We took a water hose onto the roof where the leak was and for about a half hour we simulated just about every type of natural water bombardment short of a hurricane; we saw no convincing evidence of a leak.

The plumbers are supposed to come back tomorrow to finish up their work, and the electrician is also scheduled to work tomorrow. I am kind of nervous. I'm not sure they'll all be able to do their work without impeding one another to at least some degree. Thus, I'm worried they may not finish everything tomorrow like they estimated. Also, the part of me that's a little obsessive-compulsive is worried that I won't be able to keep an eye what all is going on and make sure everything is being done the way we want it. If everything does go well, though, I hope to begin tiling the tub surround at some point.

I'd better get to bed. If nothing else, tomorrow is sure to be demanding.


Yesterday was a good, solid work day. Mom-Mom and Papa arrived at around 9:30, and Papa and I were working on the shower wall right off the bat. We put in a couple of small 2-by-4 pieces to reinforce the front wall, then we put up roofing felt with staples. The roofing felt isn't completely necessary, but it's something suggested as just one more barrier against moisture penetration. After that, we installed the backer board for the tile. I bought a product called Hardibacker. It's a half-inch board made of some sort of cement that's meant for use in wet areas like the shower. We cut it with a small table saw and a masonry blade. We secured it to the studs with coated screws (whose holes we had to pre-drill with a carbide-tipped bit).

In the meantime, Mom-Mom and Jessica painted cabinets. Then, after lunch, Wayne and Tammie came by and the four of them went to Home Depot. Jessica bought light fixtures for the living room and the bathroom. Wayne helped install the living room fixture, and it looks great.

Late in the afternoon, my dad delivered some sheetrock (which we'll eventually use to fix the giant hole in the kitchen where the soffit used to be) and retrieved some unused insulation from the attic, then stuck around to help me finish up installing backer board after my grandparents had left.

This afternoon, while Jessica is working on stuff for school, I hope to make a lot of progress on the shower wall. Perhaps this evening I can write another blog entry and thus not be a day behind anymore.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Yesterday, I took the day off work to meet plumbers at the house. There are several tasks I wanted done, and they got about halfway through. They replaced the galvanized pipe running to the shower while setting up the tub/shower fixtures, installed a drain in the tub, and adjusted the position of the supply pipes for the sink. They're supposed to come back on Monday to do the rest of the work. (The electrician is also supposed to do his work Monday; the plumbers said they could make do with battery-powered tools.) While they were working, I worked on some minor adjustments to the front and kitchen doors. Working with locks, doors, and hinges--getting it all to align and work properly--is some of the most difficult and tedious work I've done so far. Then again, I haven't started shower tiling yet....

The completion of plumbing work in the tub/shower means that I can finally start tiling the tub surround. I plan on working on that all day today. Papa and Mom-Mom are coming down sometime this morning. I'm not sure who else might show up, but I think it will be a very productive day, despite the dreary weather.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Week One Ends

Today marks the end of one of the most busy, interesting, and curiously enjoyable weeks of my life. It has been a monstrous deviation from my normal life, and in that respect has been a sort of vacation--an escape from normalcy and total removal from the cares of my job, almost like I was living someone else's life for a week.

We got a lot accomplished today. Mom-Mom and Papa came down to help for the third consecutive day. We are enormously grateful to them; without their help we would be far behind where we are now. My father-in-law Wayne helped us get the bathtub set into its place, then Papa and I worked on the tub surround. The existing studs were a little out of plane and were set too far back from the above wall for my tile job to work right, so we screwed new lengths of 2-by-4's alongside them, defining a new plane to which the tile backer board will be secured. We then worked together with my dad on installing a sort of frame for sheetrock that will create new wall and ceiling sections where the soffit used to be. These were all very tedious and time-consuming tasks, and I'm very glad they got done today. I owe a lot of thanks to Dad and Papa for helping with them. Mom-Mom and Jessica trimmed some shrubs in the front, and Wayne and Jessica worked on the kitchen-to-garage door.

There's still a lot left to do, and some of the work is quite intimidating, but I had fun this week and I'm looking forward to making more progress, although after tomorrow we'll be returning to our real jobs and of course we'll have far less time to work on the house. It will be aggravating to have to go back to work knowing there is still so much left to do at the house. I figure I'll try to work a couple of nights each week, and of course on the weekends. We need to have the house move-in-able by the end of May, and we hope to have most everything finished not too long after that.

This may be the last post for a few days, but keep checking the blog for exciting new updates on our plumbing!

Friday, March 21, 2008


We closed on the house this morning, and we are now officially homeowners. It feels good to have that taken care of. After we left the title company's office, we went out and bought a new bathtub, toilet, a pedestal sink, (Actually, we only bought the pedestal part of the sink; the pedestal top was out of stock. The only other Lowe's in the area that had any was in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, which is quite a drive away. Fortunately for us, Jessica's parents were on their way back from Atlanta this evening, and they were nice enough to swing by the Fort O. Lowe's and pick up the top to our pedestal sink. Quite a parenthetical statement, eh?), and fixtures for the shower and sink.

While Jessica and I were out spending money, Mom-Mom, Papa, and my mom were out at the house working again. The mother and grandmother painted cabinets yet again. Yesterday, Papa and I were looking at the kitchen island and noticed that its supports were damaged and falling apart, so today he worked on reinforcing (and, in some cases, replacing) them.

Tomorrow, I plan on tackling the bathroom. I want to get the tub put in and start working on getting the tub surround prepared for tiling. Jessica has to do some school work in the morning, so I'm not sure if anyone else will be working with me, but even though I'm tired I feel very motivated to get some major things done before I return to work on Monday.

Lastly, Jessica took a picture of some bushes that were outside the title company's office this morning and she wanted to know if anyone out there knew what kind of plant it was. She wants to find out because she thought they were very pretty. The picture is below. Any guesses? (You can click on the picture for a larger view.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

More Progress

Mom-Mom and Papa did come down this morning, but they decided not to bring their RV down. Mom also came by later. The ladies continued painting cabinets, while Papa and I did assorted other tasks. We worked on the front door latch/lock; finished cutting the tub surround wall in preparation for tile backerboard; took down most of the kitchen cabinets in preparation for patching the "hole" where the soffit was; and various other small chores.

I spoke with our realtor and our bank guy today, and they tell me that everything is in place for closing. The title company has finally worked everything out, and we are meeting at 10:00 tomorrow morning to close on the house. It will be such a relief to have it taken care of and be able to focus purely on getting work done. After the closing I think we're going to celebrate by buying a new bathtub and maybe a sink.

I've uploaded a few pictures from today. All the house pictures can be found on the same picture site, and I've provided the link to this site in a few previous blog posts, but now I've also added a permanent link in the margin on the right side of the page. You can use that link to check the pictures page at any time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I'm through with the "Renovation Day #" blog titles; they're very dull and not very useful. Today we worked on taking out the soffit in the kitchen. I had never even heard the word before, but Jessica said it had to go. For those of you unsure of what a soffit is, see the pictures. (I've uploaded new pictures of tub removal and cabinet painting from yesterday, as well as soffit-removal pictures from today.)

Mom-Mom and Papa are coming back down tomorrow. This time they're bringing their RV and staying the night. We got a lot done with their help yesterday; we'll be glad to have them here again.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Renovation Day 4

Mom-Mom and Papa came down this morning, my mom arrived soon after, and we all got a lot accomplished. We're very grateful that they came. Mom, Jessica, and Mom-Mom worked on priming and painting kitchen cabinet doors. Papa and I worked on several things. First we got the old bathtub out of the bathroom. This took quite awhile because the tub is made of iron and weighs a few hundred pounds, and because it was very neatly enclosed in its spot on the floor. We then cleaned and flushed out the gutters; it is supposed to rain tomorrow. Lastly, we went back to the bathroom to discuss walls and tile underlayment. Later, Kent and Laura (Jessica's brother and my sister; my brother-in-law and Jessica's sister-in-law; and Laura's boyfriend and Kent's girlfriend, respectively) dropped by and helped with the cabinet door painting.

Mom brought over a crock pot of "white chili" for lunch. It was made with chicken, chicken broth, salsa, and pepper jack cheese; it was absolutely delicious. Thanks again, Mom.

We heard from our realtor who had spoken with the title company and got more affirmation that indeed we should be closing on Friday. I hope this time it's the real deal.

We took a lot of pictures today, but I won't be able to upload them until tomorrow. Goodnight, finally!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Renovation Day 3

We were supposed to close today, but it didn't happen. It's a long story, but basically we're still waiting on SunTrust, the leinholder, to complete whatever correspondence with the sellers and the title company that they need to, and we likely won't close until Thursday or Friday. I'm sure things will work out just fine, but it's frustrating to keep being held up.

Below are a few pictures, and the last three show today's projects. The first one was taken yesterday and displays the results of my dad's hard work taking out the tile in the tub surround (and me taking measurements). The second one is of the door that Wayne and Jessica put in today--the door leading from the garage to the back yard. The third shows some cabinet doors after being sanded. Jessica wants to paint the kitchen cabinets white, so we're going to lightly sand them all first so they'll hold primer/paint better. Last is the mailbox that I mounted and put numbers on.

My grandparents (hereafter known as Mom-Mom and Papa) are coming down from Sweetwater tomorrow to work on some things with us. We're really looking forward to having them here; their company and their help will be much appreciated.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bring Your Money!

I have never spent so much money in my life. It feels crazy to save all of my paychecks for seven months and then spend it left and right for three days. Today I bought all of our appliances. Dad was an amazing help in the whole process. He has skill in getting deals. I am totally thrilled with what we got. H. H. Gregg just opened in Chattanooga this weekend, and they were serious about making deals. I bought a Whirlpool fridge and range and a Maytag dishwasher, and stayed under budget, even with delivery! I can't wait to make my first cheesecake in my new oven. I'm glad that we were able to work all weekend even though we are not closing until tomorrow. I can't wait to actually be the offical owner of this house! After this weekend, I think it's going to be killer when it's done! I wanted to thank everyone for all of their help before I sign off. The amount of help has been unbelievable. Without it all, we wouldn't have bathroom tile gone, tools delivered, cabinet doors off, sanded floor borders, clean walls, curtain rods taken down, clean windows, new locks, a new front door, and plenty of other things that aren't popping into my mind. THANK YOU ALL! We love you very much and deeply appreciate your help.

It's been a long road finally getting here, but I feel like God has really taken care of us through this whole thing. I was devastated when we lost the first house we were trying to get, and I could not understand why we didn't get it. Now we're working on the one that He had planned for us all along, and I couldn't be more happy. Nathan and I feel so blessed.

Renovation Day 1

I was going to blog last night, but it was quite late when we got home and my brain was too tired to come up with things to say. It did indeed rain for most of the day, but it was really only an annoyance; we got quite a bit of work done.

I'm sure the neighbors were surprised to see six vehicles parked in front of a house that hasn't been inhabited for three years. All members of our immediate families were there in their entirety (minus Evan, my brother) working at some point during the day. Jessica and her dad, Wayne, worked on putting in our new doors and locks, and I started demolition of the tub surround. It's almost time for us to leave for church, so for now I'll let the pictures do the talking. A few of the pictures are shown below. The rest can be seen here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Work Begins

The weather is really blah, but we're heading out to buy materials and begin working. It's a very interesting feeling. Jessica said it's like Christmas.

We want to get new front and back doors/locks put in today, and maybe a mailbox. Since it's a rainy day, it would be a good time for me to investigate a roof leak that we have over the garage. I also will probably start demolition of the existing tile tub surround. I plan to rebuild the tub surround from scratch, unless what's under the existing tile is in perfect shape. I hope we can remember to take lots of pictures so everyone can see what we're up to. More to come soon!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Carrying On

Despite the frustration we both feel (as demonstrated in Jessica's post below), things are still okay. We have been told that closing will most likely occur on Monday, and that we may carry on with whatever work we wanted to do this weekend. So, pragmatically, things haven't really changed. We're even keeping our plans for celebratory dinner. :-)

Renovation begins tomorrow!

The Deal does NOT Go Down

I am writing this, my first blog ever, as a highly irritated and exasperated non-homeowner. We were supposed to close this afternoon at 4:00, but there was a senseless hang-up. The lien holder on the house asked the current owners and their bank for more money than originally agreed upon. One would think the problem would be that the borrowers would not agree to the lien holder's new terms, but this is not true. The problem is that the lein holder has to acknowledge that they do, indeed, want more money, but they are apparently not in a hurry to do so. The new hope is to close on Monday. My faith in that is quite slim right now. I may never move again once we get into this house. The process has been so stressful.

The Deal Goes Down

We are closing on the house today at 4:00. Dad and Mom have very generously offered to take us out to a celebratory dinner afterwards; we're very excited about both events.

I'm taking today off to get some stuff done. My friend and coworker Russell has let me borrow his truck (Jessica's is very ill and should probably be put down), so I took a bunch of tools to the house and dropped them off in the garage in preparation for the first big work day tomorrow. I stood there in that old cluttered garage pondering the innumerable, unfamiliar tasks that lie ahead, and for a moment I thought, "What in the world have I gotten myself into?" I then reminded myself that all big projects seem insurmountable until you actually get started. I'm sure that (or, rather, I'm praying hard that) by the end of tomorrow I'll feel confident, encouraged, and motivated.

I've spent a lot of spare time searching for tile this week. After making innumerable phone calls and driving all over Hamilton county, we found a shower tile. Ironically, it was one of the first and most readily available shower tiles we looked at: a simple, white, 3" x 6" ceramic subway tile from Lowe's. We were going to go with porcelain in the shower because of its superior resistance to water absorption, but the cost was prohibitive; it was almost twice as expensive as the ceramic. The tile is like that pictured below:

Now, we need only select bathroom and kitchen floor tile.

It's supposed to rain all day today, and they're predicting storms for most of tomorrow, which is a real bummer, but it will only really prevent such jobs as putting in a mailbox and repairing the chimney and gutters; there will be plenty of other things to do.

Next week, Jessica is on spring break and I'm taking the week off. We're hoping to knock a sizable dent in the house work. Starting tomorrow, blog posts will be lower on the priority list, but I'll do my best to relay the important stuff consistently.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Granite and Reality

Yesterday we went searching for tile and granite for the kitchen and bathroom. We found some granite we like for the kitchen counters. Below is a picture of the granite pattern; the picture doesn't look exactly like the granite does "in person", but it's close enough to give you a good idea.
In coordination with this choice, we think we've also decided upon kitchen tile, as well as wall and cabinet colors. More to come on these items soon.
The reality is setting in. I borrowed a truckload of tools from Dad yesterday (Thanks again!). I've made an immense list of finely granulated tasks, and now we're actually sitting down and deciding the priority and order of each one. Then we're going to (*gulp*) make a shopping list of tools and materials.

Less than two months ago, this kind of work was the farthest thing from my mind; now we're diving into a full-scale project whose outcome couldn't have a greater impact on our future. We're definitely excited. For me especially, this sort of challenge is very inviting. I look forward to sinking my teeth into it.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Barring some unforeseen incident, we'll be homeowners is less than two weeks, and we're excited. We're very eager to get started on all the work to be done. (I wonder how long this energetic enthusiasm will endure...) We attended a brief tiling clinic/workshop at Home Depot on Saturday, and I got to hear everything I'd read on the internet about tiling confirmed and pseudo-demonstrated by a real person who at least appeared to know what he was talking about.

We're very thankful for the opportunity to buy this great house and to fix it up the way we want, and we feel very blessed to have such loving and supportive families who have already shown such willingness to help out by giving advice, lending tools, and offering to help with the actual work. Thank you all!