Results tagged “renovation” from the vg-r collective

We have finally managed to move in to our apartment in Three Rivers! While much finishing work remains (trim, hanging doors, finishing windows, kitchen storage, etc.), we were able to move essential things into the space and begin staying overnight. How exciting!

A few weeks ago, we finished the floors--including painting the floor in the kitchen. As with so many steps along the way, it felt really good to have such a big piece of things finished. And it was fun to see how different elements we've been working on were finally clicking into place:

Oak, brick and painted floor

The furnace and ductwork were completed in the two weeks after the floor was finished; then our plumbing fixtures were installed. Last weekend we were able to turn our water on for the first time (with a pleasant whoosh!).

Bathroom with fixtures

Moving our things in (and cooking!) started making the place feel like home:

As always, there are more photos available on Flickr.

Unfortunately, we recently had a number of things stolen from the basement of our building--which, of course, doesn't contribute to the sense of security home is supposed to have. Thankfully, the wonderful volunteers and board of World Fare have been very supportive as we deal with the consequences of the robbery.

On a happier note, it is wonderful to finally hang out in the place we hope to call home for a very long time. It's great to spend time in the space in non-work clothes, doing non-renovation activities; we felt we'd arrived the first time we walked on the floors in bare feet.

We've been plowing ahead on our renovation project, trying to get things finished as soon as possible in an effort to bring calm to the housing part of our lives. We're getting very close to being able to move in (next weekend?) and it's beginning to feel less like a construction zone.

With the help of several friends (thank you everyone!), we were able to prime the entire apartment in one weekend:

We painted shortly thereafter and then, in a whirlwind 35 hour work weekend, Kirstin and I sanded and refinished the maple and oak floors. We still have finishing coats to apply to the oak, but the maple is finished and is looking better than we ever expected it to. Here's the oak after the first finish (and the colors of the living room and kitchen):
Refinishing floors - finishing

Our electric contractor finished this past week, so we now have electricity in the space (though mostly temporary fixtures at this point). Our heating contractor should be finishing today and then our plumbing fixtures will be installed early next week. We're hoping to finish the floors--including painting the kitchen floor--so that we can move appliances upstairs this weekend. And then, after all of our inspections are completed, we should be able to move in ... wow!

As per usual, there are more photos available on Flickr.

It's been a good long while since I updated the blog regarding our apartment renovation progress. We've been overwhelmingly busy with moving preparations and renovation work, so I haven't had much time to write about what we've been doing (though I have continued posting photos to Flickr). Anyway, here's what we've done since I last wrote in July ...

  • We framed an enclosure for our stove, which, along with a large movable butcher block, will form an island in our kitchen.
  • One of our contractors finished framing the back and side exterior walls.
  • We installed most of the wood floor in part of the bathroom (don't worry ... it's the part that shouldn't get wet).
  • We had a few work days where a lot of people came out to help with various tasks, including my entire family one day. We cleaned and sealed the exposed brick wall, sanded the bottom of the bathtub, ran media wiring (cable, internet, phone, speaker), stripped and sanded reclaimed beadboard, extended the deck on the back of the store to access the parking lot, and a lot of other miscellaneous tasks that really needed to be done. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who helped on those days!
  • We insulated all of the interior walls (and the new ceiling in the living room).
  • Our rough-in electric work and heating work was finished.
  • We painted the kitchen ceiling.
  • Kirstin painted the bottom of the bath tub and started refinishing the kitchen sink cabinet (it's farther along now than in that photo).
  • Our shower pan was poured and cement board was installed in the shower/bath area. Then, last weekend, Kirstin and her dad tiled most of the room (we're hoping to finish this weekend).
  • Our drywall has been hung and is almost finished. Seeing the space with drywall completely changes things ... it feels like we're actually getting somewhere!
  • We installed railings (built by Charles, our brother-in-law) on our doors to nowhere. These will stay up until we can afford to build our decking on the back of the building--which looks like it will be a long time off yet.
  • Our appliances were delivered, though they currently reside in the back of World Fare (we weren't quite ready for them).

So ... I think that's everything. We're currently in the process of finishing the tile and painting in the bathroom. The drywall will be finished by the end of the week and we'll be able to prime everything this weekend in preparation for painting. We still have to install plumbing fixtures, finish the electric and heating systems, and refinish the floors before we'll be able to move in. We're hoping everything can happen in the next few weeks, for sanity's sake. :)

With the help of amazing friends and family, we moved out of our home of three years in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Thank you to everyone who helped (Kim, Chris, Kara, Ken, Gail, Michael, Alyssa, Dave, Julie, Cyndy, Duke and Beverly)!

Though the last several months at our house haven't been particularly enjoyable (given the circumstances), it was still difficult to leave. We figured out that this house was the longest place we've lived since we've been married. We'd done work in the yard--creating a stone border for flower beds; planting a rose of sharon twig and caring for it until it finally grew leaves and bloomed this summer--and lived life in the house, trying to be hospitable to friends, students and family. It's strange to still work in Grand Rapids and not be able to go to the house we called home since we moved here.

We are, though, looking forward to moving into our apartment in Three Rivers and calling it home for a long time. Unfortunately, it isn't quite ready yet, so we'll be relying even more on family and friends for shelter over the next several weeks. If all goes well, we should be able to move in to our new apartment in three weeks or so. More on the apartment progress soon ...

We've been busily making progress on the apartment renovation lately, squeezing work days into an already overloaded schedule. The weekend after our windows were installed, we spent a day taking two loads of junk wood to the dump, dropping a load of clean scraps at the cottage for firewood and then organizing the space in preparation for our electrician.

This past weekend, we used some of the oak floor we'd removed for the bathroom and kitchen area to fill in the floor where the stair had been removed. In the process, we de-nailed the reclaimed oak floor and, of course, got rid of a pile. All in all, it felt like a very productive day!

Installing oak floor

While we were on the road for the Eat Well Food Tour, our contractors installed new windows and doors in our apartment in Three Rivers. They aren't quite finished yet (there's still a bit of exterior trim work left to be done), but this is a very exciting step in the renovation process. We have windows! And doors! And they all open!


Back and side:Windows!

Eventually, we plan to build a deck off the second floor and a stair down the side of the building--hence the doors on the back and side of the building. At the moment, though, we'll be installing cast iron bars so we can still open the doors for ventilation.

Back windows (interior):New rear windows

All of the windows and doors were chosen primarily for their energy efficiency; they're all wood windows with vinyl exterior cladding. We intended to use Anderson 400 Series throughout, but they didn't have a window with an arched top sash that was tall and narrow enough for the front of the building. Instead, we used windows from Marvin with similar specifications.

We framed in a new ceiling over the living room and dining room. Unfortunately, the existing ceiling joists were in too poor a condition (and not level enough) to affix drywall, so new joists have been installed beneath the old.

We also exposed the existing beams in the kitchen, as they were in much better shape and quite beautiful. To do so, we installed plywood on top of the beams, insulating above the plywood (there's a bit of space between the ceiling joists and the roof joists. We plan to paint the plywood and leave the beams unfinished (after cleaning them up a little).

As per usual, you can see more photos on our Flickr site, including photos of the ceiling work.

It seems things are moving much more quickly on our renovation now that we have professionals involved (more photos here). This week, Steve and Mike (our carpenters) finished framing the bathroom and utility room, framed the front wall, and removed the rest of the staircase in the back of the store. We now need to do quite a bit of work to make the back corner of the store presentable (plaster repair, building a railing, painting, etc.):

No more stairs!

Our plumber, Scott, installed all of the supply lines and drains this week. Below, you can see the rough plumbing for the bathroom sink, the toilet and (in the background on the right) the tub.

Bathroom plumbing

We hit a bit of a snag with our tankless hot water heater, though. We were planning to use a Stiebel Eltron electric unit, but the power company told us that the maximum load required would be too much for the infrastructure on our block--which seems pretty incredible to me, but there it is. We've already purchased the unit and can't return it ... so, if you know anyone who's interested, send us a line.

Instead, we'll probably go with a tankless gas model, most likely a Bosch. There are a few negatives with a gas model that we were trying to avoid: 1) gas tankless water heaters are more expensive initially and, 2) they require venting (which increases installation cost). This changes our plans a bit, as we need to figure out where to vent the unit, but I think we can figure things out in the end.

I also got up onto our roof for the first time ever, in search of two spots that seem to be leaking. I think I found them and I'm pretty certain I was able to patch them with some nasty black goo. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take the camera with me, so we don't have any photos from or of the roof. Maybe next time!

After officially receiving permission to spend funds--which took a bit longer than we last reported--things are (finally) progressing quickly. We are very, very excited to see things taking shape!

We decided to contract out some of the framing we had planned to do, in part because we needed to jump-start the project if we were to move forward at all before summer--though the very reasonable bid we received certainly helped. This week, our contractor lifted up the sagging floor in the bathroom, framed in the bathroom and utility room, removed an extra door to the shared hallway, removed part of the stairway from the second floor to the main floor, and installed a floor where the stairway had been.

Repaired floor joists:

Repaired joists

Bathroom/utility room framing:

Utility / shower framing

New floor:

Standing where we couldn't before

A lot can happen now that the bathroom and utility room are framed in. First, all of our plumbing lines can be run--which should actually be happening later this week. Second, we can have a gas line run for our furnace, dryer and stove. Third, the electric from the new meter outside to the panel in the utility room can be installed. Finally, our furnace and ductwork can be installed. Seeing as all of that work requires expertise, we'll be hiring various contractors to complete it. And that means that a lot of this could be done in the next month or so. How exciting is that?

If you're interested, you can see more photos on Flickr (scroll to the end for the most recent photos).

We were hard at work again on our renovation project in Three Rivers last weekend. First, we managed to build our first wall! Using the 2x4s we salvaged from the previous walls, we attempted and (mostly) succeeded in building a straight wall. The 2x4 that frames the corner is more twisted than we thought it was when we installed it, but we'll have to figure that out later (and count it among the joys of reusing old materials).

Our first wall

Next, we set about preparing to build the walls for the bathroom and the utility room. First, we removed the existing wood floor that covered the area for the bathroom. We'll be reusing this floor in the back of the apartment to fill in when we remove the interior stairs to the first floor. Then we took up the subfloor to allow the plumber access to run drainage plumbing and to eventually put down a more appropriate subfloor for the bathroom. Finally, we removed the old cast iron plumbing with a sledge hammer.

Subfloor gone

In the process, though, we ran into a pretty significant issue that kept us from beginning the walls for the bathroom and utility room: five of the floor joists had been cut almost completely through when the plumbing was last installed. The only load-bearing walls in this building are the side walls, meaning the joists that span between them hold all of the weight of the floor and the ceiling. So, when five joists in a row are cut as badly as these, the whole floor/ceiling in that area is structurally weakened. Thankfully, though, the joists have only sunk about an inch, so we may not have to jack up the entire section before sistering in new joists for strength. We need to wait for an expert opinion before moving forward ...


As per usual, you can see more photos of our progress on Flickr.

Last weekend was a bit quiet on the renovation front, due primarily to family gatherings and delays of our own making involving permits. We did manage to do some important managerial duties, such as contacting an old friend who may be able to help with our heating system and finally meeting with the building inspector. Both were very productive conversations, with the latter resulting in a building permit--which means we can start building walls next weekend. Yay!

We also managed to remove all of the cast iron pipe from the old boiler heating system, most of which ran the length of the building in the basement. When we were finished cutting it out, we hauled about 1,800 pounds of scrap metal to a scrap recycling center and had a much cleaner basement.


Pipes 2


Pipes removed

You can keep track of our progress through more pictures by checking out our 37 N. Main Flickr set. Thanks!