Master Closet Remodel

Another remodeling project I plan on doing this fall is a remodel of the master closet at the main house. We’re blessed with a very large master closet (350 square feet or so), but it could be a lot better. I plan on installing floor to ceiling wardrobe style shelves and clothing racks, along with better lighting and a nicer lounge/dressing area. Here are some before photos:

Like with the lake house bathroom remodel, I took measurements of everything so that I can size out furniture before really starting the project.

Once I pick out all the furniture, the next step will be ripping out the existing shelving and clothing racks.

Lake House Bathroom Remodel

One of my projects for fall/winter is going to be remodeling the master bathroom at the lake house. Currently, it is a model of 70’s-tastic style. I plan on largely gutting it, and putting in something that fits the mid century modern style of the house but is significantly nicer and more luxurious.

Here is a view of it in its current state:

The first step will be to determine what to do with the shower. I’ll need to find an enclosure and base that fits the available space, or if one can’t be found I’ll have to do some framing work post-demolition to accommodate the new base. Here are the measurements that I am working with:

Flooding in Madison

Yesterday we experience most rainfall in a 24 hour period in the history of Madison. We didn’t get hit nearly as bad in Verona, but the west side of Madison was crushed by flooding, with numerous roads closed, and houses and businesses heavily damaged. Here are a few photos of the chaos:

Thankfully, my house was mostly spared, aside from some water in the basement. There was enough water to soak the carpet, but not enough to damage anything else. Today, my wife and I worked to dry everything with a combination of fans and towels.

It was also enough water to make Mr. Paul the cat concerned, but everything should be back to normal in the next few days.

Lake House Plumbing Overhaul

This past Thursday, plumbers worked all day in the lake house (they finished after 11pm) to replace the old pressure tank, water softener, and water heater. Now that this is done, the entire HVAC and plumbing system at the lake house has been fully modernized and all of the original 1974 appliances are gone.

It took some effort to get everything ripped out due to the space constraints:

Ultimately, the new appliances are fall smaller and more efficient. There is more room in the utility room, and the new appliances will perform significantly better.

Underground Ethernet: Completed

Last weekend, I was able to complete the excavation of the trench to bury my underground ethernet cable, and bury it underground. A week later, everything is still working well and the guest house now has fast, reliable internet!

At the guest house, I added an additional junction box to deal with extra cabling so there is some slack in the buried cable, making it less likely something will go wrong if the buried cable shifts position due to the freezing thawing cycle.

Once the cable was buried, I used the dirt I had dug up to bury it, and resodded grass with the grass I had ripped up.

Ultimately, I was able to get this knocked out in two days for about $200 worth of materials. An electrician had quoted be $2200, so this was a true DIY success.

Lake House HVAC

Usually I try to keep posts on this blog fairly short, but this will be a longer one that covers an intense week of construction. When I first bought the lake house, one of the things I wanted to improve quickly was its ability to serve as a year-round house in Wisconsin. While it technically could due to baseboard heat, it was very inefficient and needed to be kept at a low enough temperature in the winter that all the plumbing had to be winterized. Therefore, this winter I started a project to install full central heat and air. Since this would require extensive propane, electrical, and ducting work, I called in pros from RA Heating and Air Conditioning, as well as Consumers Coop for the LP work. The goal was to get the project done for a budget of $15,000, which they were able to accomplish. Prior to them starting their work, I had to demolish the basement bathroom, as covered in another post on this blog. For a quick recap, here is a before and after:

After that, RA came in and started their work. First, they cut holes in the floor for vents on the second floor.

They also started removing sections of the ceiling in the basement, including the foam insulation.

They did some further demolition to make additional appliance room.

The basement turned into a war zone of construction equipment, trim, and other debris.

They were able to cannibalize existing circuits from the old bathroom to power the appliances in the utility room.

One the prep work was done, Consumers Coop came in and installed the LP tank, and ran a temporary line from the tank above ground to the house. Once the ground thaws later in the spring, they will return and bury a line below the ground.

One of the requirements for getting LP lines installed is that the lines are fully hooked up to the destination appliances, and that a third party witnesses the installation and verifies that there are no leaks. This meant that RA needed to have the furnace in place, and enough venting and duct work ready to go.

After that, they installed the remaining vents to the outside for the exhaust for the furnace.

Next, they installed the vents in the basement to run heat and air to the floor vents upstairs, as well as to the walls in the basement. They did an extremely good job of blending the aluminum ducting with the existing wood beams and trim, in a similar fashion to how exposed ceilings in loft apartments or offices look.

On the last day of construction, they installed the air conditioner outside the house and connected it to the ducting.

They also installed a WiFi enabled smart thermostat that allows me to monitor and control the temperature from far away, which is important since I typically only go to the lake house on weekends.

After meeting with RA and reviewing their work, I stepped back in. I hauled away all of the foam that had been removed from the ceiling, and put the trim into storage for future use.

I also dewinterized the plumbing, which led to an interesting discovery: some of the pipes that had been removed with the shower resulted in a leak. It was an easy fix though, two 3/4″ shark bite end stops closed the loop, and some JB Welding epoxy solved a minor drip from two very old valves. I was able to refill the pressure tank, the water heater, and the water softener, and the house was back in business for spring. The final results look excellent, and exceeded my expectations.

Lake House Bathroom Demolition

Prior to RA Heating and Air Conditioning installing central heat and air in the lake house, I had to rip out a small downstairs bathroom in order to add space in the utility room to accommodate the new furnace and other appliances. Here is what the bathroom looked like before being demolished:

The first step was removing the toilet, which was fairly simple, although it had been grouted into place when the floor was tiled, so I had to do some hammering and chiseling to dislodge it. Once it had been removed, I moved on to the shower. This was significantly more complicated because one of the interior walls had a ton of plumbing (for the shower, as well as other faucets) and a lot of electrical, including light switches and a thermostat for the utility room baseboard heaters. Therefore, I had to proceed fairly carefully with a multitool and a reciprocating saw, removing small pieces of drywall to expose the inside of the wall, at which point I was able to use an angle grinder with a cutoff blade to remove the copper pipes and wiring. With the sensitive stuff out of the way, I was able to attack the remaining sheet rock and shower walls with a sledge hammer.

Once the walls had been taken out, I used a reciprocating saw to take out the (non load-bearing) beams from the corner of the shower, and then used a shop vac to deal with all of the debris. Here was the final result:

I am leaving the floor drains in place for now, since they are still useful in a basement utility room. I also (after an uproar on Facebook) made sure to keep the Wisconsin Badger themed red toilet seat.