After our upstairs bathroom inspection, we now have a green light for putting up drywall! We had always planned on putting up a plain plastic vapor barrier, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized we need to 'pad' the drywall forward by at least 1/4 inch so that it doesn't leave a gap between the drywall and window trim. (the old plaster/lath was thicker than the new drywall that goes in it's place) To solve the gap, the simplest way is just to nail some lath to the studs before putting the drywall up, but this would actually create an air gap directly behind the drywall - a perfect chimney through which warm air could circulate. I don't much like the idea of uninsulated air being free to convect around behind my walls, so we opted for something a little more sensible. Instead of a plain plastic sheet stapled to the wall, we bought some 1/2 inch foil-faced polyisocyanurate insulation, and are putting that up directly behind the drywall. The foil face will act as a vapor barrier, while the foam gives us an additional R3.3 on all the exterior walls and ceiling. Since this house is already pretty drafty, I wanted to make absolutely sure the air we condition stays exactly where we want it - in the house, not the wall cavity. Update Oct 13, 2010: I installed some backing blocks (2x2s and 2x4s) in the corners to support the foam behind the sink, and extended the sink's vent line into the attic. The last sheets of foam will be up shortly and we can buy drywall!

The wall, before the foam insulation
1/2 inch of foil faced polyiso
More insulation in the cramped construction zone
Had to move the elec. boxes forward to accommodate the additional thickness of foam and drywall (total 1 inch)

We passed our inspection! Framing, plumbing, and rough electrical is DONE! The inspector will have to walk around with an outlet tester when the walls are drywalled, but he gave the go-ahead to 'close it up'! Yesterday and today, I pulled all the electrical boxes forward another 1/2" to accommodate a layer of foam insulation on the exterior wall. Our new bathroom will be toasty warm this winter. I then hung 2 of 6 sheets of the insulation. Our goal is to have the drywall complete by Christmas, when Z's parents are visiting.

After four years of on and off (mostly off) building our bathroom upstairs, the time has come to have it INSPECTED. We have scheduled an inspection for this Wednesday morning! That leaves us 2 evenings to get as much of the following list done before the inspector arrives!

  • Find and post the building permit (oops!)
  • Reinstall the handrail in the stairway
  • Replace the broken cord that is supposed to raise/lower the basement hatch
  • Locate/map the breakers in case I need to shut off the system I don't have to guess which switches to throw
  • Install fire stops and fireblock foam to fill the little gaps/holes that have accrued in the flooring
  • Double-check that the attic insulation is where it should be
  • Properly support the PEX supply tubing in the basement to prevent the 'power line' dips that look so awful
  • Tidy up the basement, which is a complete mess at the moment
  • Install smoke detectors or at the very least choose locations for them
  • Connect plumbing vent lines to the main stack
  • Install hammer-arrestors on the washing machine and dishwasher supply lines

Not all of the above needs to be done, especially since a couple of them will take a whole day of work by themselves, but as deadlines have a way of accelerating the work process, I thought I'd make an optimistic list.

UPDATE 11/1/2010 - I added check boxes to the items we actually got done before the inspection (which we passed with no problem!)

We recently went to England for a working holiday. We spent about 80 hours in one week fixing up a flat (apartment/condo). We painted all the walls, tore up the carpet, then sanded/refinished the parquet floors!!

It was absolute hell, but it didn't hurt so bad after the first few days.

Here's a list of things we learned about our own house while we were there.

  • It's incredible what you can do with a hard deadline
  • Our trim should be gloss white (not satin) and desperately needs repainting
  • We should re-create the fancy original base moulding in the rooms that don't have it - consistency counts
  • We need to expose and refinish our hardwood floors! They'll look amazing!
  • We need to impose deadlines and stick to them. Amazing things can be accomplished under a deadline.
  • Matching crown moulding throughout the house looks very nice
  • Trim consistency is key - our bathroom trim is all wrong, needs to be painted (not bare oak) and should match the rest of the house
  • We want a longer, wider bathtub with an overflow placed high enough to soak in - ours is crummy
  • Built-in cabinets, trimmed out with quality hardware are elegant, and cupboard vents can be attractive and functional
  • There is more space in a room than you think - get creative with your storage systems
  • Instead of replacing everything with new, reuse/refurbish what you have (especially if it's made of wood)
  • Open windows are not evil - they promote air exchange and reduce stale smells, even if they do waste a bit of conditioned air
  • Crumpets are super awesome and tasty
  • Brass isn't always hideous. Modern brass plating IS ugly, but cast, solid brass is beautiful and elegant - especially for door hardware

I've attached some photos of the flooring in the flat. It came out beautifully!

Before
During
After

Back in August, 2010, we took down the wall in the back hallway/mudroom that previously separated the basement stairs from the back hallway itself.

Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
Took down a wall in the back hallway/mudroom
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