Hot mop, HVAC, Electrical and a healthy dose of distraction

This month started with a bang…really. A huge bang to my head or ego or whatever.

I’m 30.



The last couple of weeks we have been working on the house, shopping for Christmas and trying to squeeze in a little family time.

And Elfie time

Can you believe this is our neighborhood? And you think we’re crazy…
december2_second_story_addition december_second_story_addition

We’ve also been steadily working towards our combo inspection and took one day off from that to work on our lath inspection (since that one is tomorrow).

See the paper on the front? That’s what’s going underneath our Hardi board.

The plumbing is officially done, thanks to So Cal Shower Pans who hot mopped our shower.

While Mike was at work I replaced the flapper on one of our old toilets because it wouldn’t stop running (high five to me and my old lady wisdom) and we are now back to using the in house toilet and shower.  Unfortunately, during demo, we must have cracked the tank in the toilet in our old master bedroom and soon to be guest room (sorry Evie, I’m just not ready to let you be all alone downstairs…maybe one day).

Now that toilet will need to be replaced cause it is officially decommissioned (special thanks to the Captain who finally did it in).

Check out the fancy shmancy light switches though! Mike says you can tell a pro diy (oxymoron?) from a regular diy if they “clock” their screws.

I also stained the treads we are putting on the stairs and painted the wood for the risers (cuz I am super anal about finish work being pre-finished before it’s installed). I also bought myself a nice new random orbital sander for the job (happy birthday to me).

As I’m writing this post I’m sitting in the livingroom, drinking coffee, in my pj’s with the heater running cuz Mike is awesome and he did the whole HVAC downstairs by himself (I was there to take pictures and hold his tools). We still have the HVAC to complete upstairs, but for now this will do.

And a little close up:

And the ducting:

Can you see my Halo?

Then Mike and I moved on to finishing all the electrical circuits. I nailed in all the can lights (there were 30), fixture and electrical boxes and Mike wired them up. We now have all of our lighting circuits complete throughout the entire house and some of our outlet circuits. Including the sconces (makes me feel so hoity toity to say “sconces”) in our stairway and master bathroom.

I am able to cook in my kitchen because, thanks to running gas, electrical and plumbing, it is now functional again! I’m serious! My outlets, lights, microwave, refrigerator, garbage disposal, gas stove and electric oven all work.

Look how happy pepper is for me!

Today I’m going to finish nailing in some straps and A35’s and some truss clips while M’s at work and the girls are at school. Tomorrow our drywall is being delivered. It’s like slow rewind through the demo phase!

Tankless Water Heaters are Awesome…

Mike likes to work a lot like a computer processor. He works on one task then goes to another before completing the first, then another before completing the second, maybe a fourth before completing the third, then eventually makes his way back to the first one, works a little bit on it then goes to another one – never really finishing any of them. He says he has to work this way to minimize his trips to one of the big box stores. I think he works this way because he can’t decide which project he wants done first. The last few weeks Mike has been lucky to have a very experienced plumber come and work with him on plumbing our house. Forcing him to complete one project: getting us hot water again. In order to have hot water you have to have a heat source – our heat source is natural gas.

So there was a whole lot of this to run:
plumbing2_second_story_addition plumbing3_second_story_addition

And then this:

To get this:

And that last one? It’s my favorite. (That’s the G rated one, I withheld the re-creation of The Titanic pic).

At the beginning of the project a lot of people asked us if we would be changing to tankless gas. And we were like:

Honestly, we were secretly wishing we could, but outwardly against it. Tankless gas water heaters have pretty mixed reviews. People seem to either love them or hate them. We pretended to hate them because originally changing the water heater wasn’t even an option. Our old one worked fine. However, when we made it to pre-wrap we realized we had no way of venting our old one.

Well, I gave Mike some options but he was like:

You can vent our tankless through pvc through a sidewall – no chimney, b vent or hole in the roof needed. See how we vented it?
plumbing5_second_story_addition plumbing4_second_story_addition

With the second story directly above the old one Mike said it wasn’t, “aesthetically possible to vent the old one.” I think he found his loophole to tankless.

He’s using my words against me. Aesthetically. That’s my word.

It’s big enough to run multiple showers and appliances at one time. Supposedly. I ran as many as I could: one shower, one washer, three sinks, all without a hitch. All those people who don’t like tankless probably just don’t have a Noritz NRC98-DV – or one that is properly rated for their use. There is a slight delay to getting hot water, but we had a delay before because of the long copper run. We ran a separate line for a circulating pump to ease the delay, but we won’t be adding the pump unless we find it necessary later.

It’s pretty ironic that while all the gas lines have been run in the house I still have to deal with no heat in the trailer. Last night I dreamt I had fallen into the ice cold ocean waiting to be rescued and awoke to a cold trailer because we had run out of propane. With Mike gone, I had zero energy to grab the propane tanks, get the kids in the car and go fill the tanks. So, I did what any normal person would do: I grabbed my hair dryer and blew it under my covers. First world problems.


How to lath your house…

On November 5th we passed pre-wrap and that night Mike and I boarded a plane to the Dominican Republic. For an entire week neither of us thought about our house. It was heaven.

Well, mostly.

Funny thing is, even when we are on vacation we can’t escape a diy project.

That’s Mike fishing my wedding band from the bathroom sink we dismantled, then put back in place. So gross.

We booked this trip back in February, way before we began this crazy path to self destruction addition.  I’m glad we did, because neither one of us would have planned this trip after we started our project. It felt soooo good to sleep in a bed where I didn’t have to duck and climb over Mike to go to the bathroom. The uninterrupted shower was nice too. But by the end of the week I was really ready to go home. I missed cuddle time with the girls and I missed our trailer. For reals. I missed our home.

We weren’t very surprised when we got home and not a single thing was done. Deep down I was hoping some magical fairy would come and finish our house…or my dad would drop in and lath it. Not so much.

I once worked on an Extreme Home Makeover, it’s pretty amazing what can be accomplished in a week with unlimited resources and funds.

So not our story.

One week of doing absolutely nothing makes it really hard to go all out on the house. I felt like a VW bus at the end of Sunday fun day trudging up a steep hill back home. Friday and Saturday, our friend came by and helped Mike finish our rough plumbing. My dad came out on Saturday and Sunday and directed a couple of loaner lather. Yes, The Captain did make an appearance.

By Sunday night our house was looking more and more complete. And what did I do you ask? Not much. I thought about nailing in all the truss clips that needed to be nailed in, but that was as far as I got with that assignment. In-fact, I’m pretty sure the girls did more construction this past week than I did.

Like the house they built for their “pet” beetle?

I made a solid attempt at plumbing some pex/shark bite connections. That crimping tool is really hard. I look pretty ridiculous trying to crimp those rings. I wouldn’t let Mike take a pic – no one wants to see my poop face.

I made no less than three hundred trips to Home Depot. The great news is: while at Home Depot I ran into our inspector (doing some project of his own – apparently he too suffers from the same disorder as we do) and he said we could call for lath inspection before combo as long as the drywall was loaded in the structure! “Ok,” you say, “so what’s the big deal, I don’t even care what lath is?” That means that we can put up the siding and trim on the front of the house. That means I will finally have a job again. The trim job is my job.

What lath actually looks like – a big black and silver Christmas present:

The back views:

The front:

The front is going to have lap siding, so we will just be putting paper on it, The Captain is coming out this weekend to help us.

Interior before and after lath:
lath6_second_story_addition  lath5_second_story_addition

Lath is the first stage of stuccoing a house. It starts with a wire that is strung in a zig zag pattern along exterior studs that do not have shear wall for the paper to back up to. Then, paper is applied over the wire or shear wall with staples. This paper has to be a specific poundage based on the job’s unique needs. Next can either be more wire or sometimes foam and then wire. We chose the to go the OG route and have paper and then mesh wire. There is even paper with wire attached already this is called Grade D. Did I lose you yet? I’m boring myself…


So how exactly do you lath a house? Well, I’ll tell you how I do it. I call my dad and a couple of local lathers who all get together and do it for me. If you are really good at wrapping really big presents, you may be able to lath a house. However, IMHO, and as the daughter of a plastering contractor, have a pro do your lath/stucco job. This is the outside of your house and the most exposed part of it. It should be done right by someone who has done thousands, and in my dad’s case hundreds of thousands of jobs. Aside from paper poundage there are special pieces of metal such as L metal, J metal, rib lath and corner-aid that all have specific spots they need to go – and that is just the lath part…don’t even get me going on the plaster. Remember how I said in construction sometimes you just get lucky? Having the right connections is part of that, I’m just lucky The Captain is my dad.

The key to any diy job –  particularly one as large as ours, isn’t so much doing everything absolutely all by yourself, it’s using everything you have at your disposal to get the job done…whether it’s as small as a text to your close friend the electrician for advice or a drop in by your friend the plumber who works for pizza and beer and the occasional trip to La Cocina. It takes an incredible amount of trust in the people around you that they will help you out and a great deal of knowledge that the job is getting done right. Do I have all that knowledge? No, but I’ve got a pretty awesome husband and google.

Up Went the Roof and Down Came the Rain!

Mike and I couldn’t be happier that we subbed out the roof. After spending several days on the roof tearing it all off in the searing July summer sun this was one job I was not looking forward to. For one, the new roof is 10 feet higher than the old roof and two, it’s absolutely miserable work (and I might have a slight fear of heights).

However, watching professionals do it, who do it every day for a living, was one of our best days. We were able to sit back and enjoy someone else working on our house. It made us wish we had a bigger budget because this whole addition thing would be soooo much nicer if we were just casual observers rather than hands on lunatics. I can’t count how many times Mike and I looked at eachother and said, “I wish we could just pay someone else to come and finish this whole thing.”


But we can’t. We promised eachother and ourselves we would stick as close to our budget as possible and at the rate we are going we are dangerously close to only going over a little bit – and to be honest our rough estimates were ridiculously low (we knew this though so we were mentally prepared to go over).

Things we didn’t budget for that we are glad we splurged on:
1. Upgrading our existing HVAC with new ducting and an entirely new system that matches our new one for the second story
2. Bit the bullet and went with a tankless water heater because of venting issues
3. Replaced the retrofit window in the girl’s old bedroom because it leaked
4. Pulled off all of the stucco on the south/west wall (thanks dad there you go “selling” your product)
5. Re-wiring/plumbing the old house to be more cohesive with the new

Things we have re-used:
1. The beam over the old porch was reused for the beam that goes across the new porch
2. The insulation in the garage attic and walls were re-used for the garage walls and by the ac wall
3. All the old trusses were cut up and the wood was re-used for fire blocking throughout the house and to build the pony wall in our shower and a few soffits around the house.
4. The old bathroom air vents
5. Most of the old copper lines
6. Some of the old electrical wire we pulled out was able to be re-run  and the electrical boxes for lights and switches and outlets were able to be re-used
7. Our front door
8. A few of the recessed lights we had to remove during demo will be re-used

Things we saved by buying on discount or on Craigslist:
1. Recessed lighting 20 can lights for $80. #winning
2. Bathroom vent/light normally $100 bought it for $20
3. Friend who sells Milgard $1200 for windows
4. Bro-deal on the roof: 2k for labor + materials
5. Tempered glass for our shower: $200
6. Pedestal sink for Jack and Jill bath: $40
7. Bath-tub in the J & J bath from a ding/dent store: $75
8. Home Depot sale on American Standard: Master Bath bath tub: $470
9. Loads of stuff from OSH on clearance because it was going out of business: 30-50% off cost.
10. Lots of friends who work for free (or at a loss when they have to go to the ER and get stitches)

Things we plan on doing ourselves still:
1. Finish plumbing
2. Finish electrical
3. Drywall (although we plan on paying someone to tape and texture it)
4. Building our own vanities for the Master Bath and the downstairs old Master (maybe Evie’s room – the jury’s still out on if we are letting her have the downstairs room)
5. Re-running the HVAC and installing the new HVAC
6. Tiling/flooring
7. All the trim/millwork/stairs and railing
8. Exterior finish work: siding/trim
9. Decking on balcony and railing
10. Re-landscape the front yard

That list is a little overwhelming. But, I think we can do it.

And now for a round of picture updates!

Before the roof went on Mike and I had to finish “boxing in the the eaves”. These 2×4’s give us something to adhere the lath to for stuccoing our eaves, they are 2′ OC. They went up pretty easily but took a couple of days to complete. The gable ends were the toughest. And no, we didn’t pound them into place with a hammer, Mike was just putting the 2x in the right spot, we used a nail gun.

Before the roof Mike and I finished putting in all the windows and doors, it felt soooo good to use my key again!

The roof going on. The delivery was $35 and this included them loading it onto the roof. Totally worth it.

Papering the whole roof:

The transition between the old roof line and the second story wall. This is called a “cricket”. Mike built it with 3/4″ OSB, then the roofer papered and torched it then covered it with custom flashing. Because of our roof shape, a lot of water can pool here during rain, so Mike built this to slope away from the wall and roof to prevent the water from pooling and destroying our wall/roof.roof1_second_story_addition

Up close view of all the vents we had to put through the roof before the roofers could come:

The finished roof, almost ready for pre-wrap this Tuesday!

Before our pre-wrap inspection, anything that is going through the exterior walls has to be in the walls like the AC lines:

Climbing to the second floor is so much easier now that we have temporary treads in:

And just as the roofers finished up it started to rain. I’m happy to say the roof worked, there were no leaks!