Category Archives: bath

Small steps forward

Ron handed the house over to the painters and one of the HVAC installers.

Above, Benito spends his days working methodically around Emerald Hill, room by room, baseboard by baseboard, wall by wall, hunting down nail holes to fill with putty, paint runs to sand and refinish, scuffed up drywall to touch up. Here he is in the kitchen, working in the cubby that will be home to the refrigerator.

DJ from Elite Air Conditioning arrived with baffles, bulbs and grilles for bathroom ventilation. Here he hooks the grille to the exhaust fan in the ceiling of the laundry room -- after first installing the fan module and motor.
DJ from Elite Air Conditioning arrived with baffles, bulbs and grilles for bathroom ventilation. Here he hooks the grille to the exhaust fan in the ceiling of the laundry room — after first installing the fan module and motor.
In the master shower, DJ installed the Panasonic LED light kit and grille.
In the master shower, DJ installed the Panasonic LED light kit and grille.
This is the LED light that DJ will install in the water closet of the master bath. This LED uses a GU-10 base with two pins. The fins on the side are heat sinks.
This is the LED light that DJ will install in the water closet of the master bath. This LED uses a GU-10 base with two pins. The fins on the side are heat sinks.
JD and his successful install of the GU-10 LED.
JD and his successful install of the GU-10 LED.

With Jacquela’s approval, Steven today ordered shades for the windows in the office, master bedroom and library.

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Notes, 26 Jan. 2016

Above, Luis from Landers Flooring is back to remove and replace one stair tread. The balusters for this tread were drilled in the wrong place. Today, Luis removed the balusters and existing hickory tread, then fitted the replacement. At the end of the day, he clearcoated it with polyurethane.

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Mauricio and the team from Gilsa Construction today began to install the heavy steel edging for the deck off the kitchen door.
Mauricio welds the straight metal edging to a rebar post he sledgehammered into the ground.
Mauricio welds the straight metal edging to a rebar post he sledgehammered into the ground.
Joel from the City of Austin inspected the boxes and location for the new residential electric meter. Steven called Dispatch to ask the City to install the meter.
Joel from the City of Austin inspected the boxes and location for the new residential electric meter. Steven called Dispatch to ask the City to install the meter.
Binswanger Glass today delivered and installed the obscured glass door to the water closet in the master bath ...
Binswanger Glass today delivered and installed the obscured glass door to the water closet in the master bath …
and the second door to the shower in bath 2, Jadin's bath -- the panel at right, with the long chrome handle.
and the second door to the shower in bath 2, Jadin’s bath — the panel at right, with the long chrome handle.
The tankless water heater is installed upstairs in the laundry/utility room.
The tankless water heater is installed upstairs in the laundry/utility room.
Ron Dahlke asked Steven to start a "punch list" of items that need attention. Here's the first one -- this is one of the showerhead fixtures in the master shower. It's missing an escutcheon. As a result, the cutout in the tile is exposed.
Ron Dahlke asked Steven to start a “punch list” of items that need attention. Here’s the first one — this is one of the showerhead fixtures in the master shower. It’s missing an escutcheon. As a result, the cutout in the tile is exposed.
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Notes, 25 Jan. 2016

Jacquela and Steven spent the weekend packing boxes. There’s a lot more to go. Steven also began taking down Ikea cabinets that will be transplanted to Emerald Hill — and filling holes in the walls with spackling compound.

Today, Steven delivered to Ron Dahlke the short post for the ceiling fan in the family room — Steven pulled and saved a collection of left-over fan parts from ceiling fan cartons — and the transformer and low-voltage puck lights he purchased late Friday from Lights Fantastic. The puck lights will go into the entry-hall display niches.

Ron and Barry from Custom Plumbing today dispatched Steven to a plumbing supply house to purchase one chrome “Tip Toe” finger-press lavatory drain, one chrome slip joint and one chrome P trap — all for use in the mudroom bath. Chrome replaces the white PVC and dresses up the exposed pipe under the sink. The drain solves a problem — it’s impossible to fit between the faucet and wall the conventional pop-up connector rod that you would pull or push to close or open the drain.

Steven also purchased a shower fitting that comes with a thick, round, modern escutcheon. We put the shower connector into the parts bin. Barry, Sean and Noah used the escutcheon to cover the exposed copper pipe behind the pot filler at the backsplash.

Barry, Noah and Sean today began to install the Navian tankless water heaters in the mudroom downstairs and the utility room upstairs. There was drama. The blocking behind the drywall is insufficient. Steven suggested “paneling” the wall with 3/4-inch plywood. Ron and Barry purchased plywood. Genius!

Above, Sean applies fittings to the bottom of the mudroom Navian unit.

Here's the upstairs tankless unit, still boxed, with the alcove where it will mount almost ready. Barry and team will add a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood to help serve as mounting and blocking.
Here’s the upstairs tankless unit, still boxed, with the alcove where it will mount almost ready. Barry and team will add a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood to help serve as mounting and blocking.
Gilsa today began busting the wood forms off the concrete pavers. It's almost more work than pouring the concrete.
Gilsa today began busting the wood forms off the concrete pavers. It’s almost more work than pouring the concrete.

Kris solved solved a mounting problem with the air button at the sink that switches on and off the disposal. Working from underneath, he carved out a wider hole in the undermount stainless steel sink to slide the stem of the air button into, pushing the escutcheon for the air button tight against the quartz countertop.

 

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All Cris all the time

There is nothing that Cris from Ranserve can’t do. Framing. Drywall. Concrete. Electrical. Plumbing. Hang fans. Think ahead, plan how to do it.

Today, above, he’s up on the roof, trimming limbs back to clear the route that the City of Austin will use to connect the house to electrical service at telephone pole behind the house.

15 minutes later, back on the ground, armed with multi-tool, Cris has already trimmed drywall away from behind the vanity counter in bath 2. He will inset the backsplash into the slot in the wall. This allows the faucet handles to turn free, without banging against the backsplace if the quartz were mounted against the drywall, instead of inset into the drywall -- an idea that Ron thought of.
15 minutes later, back on the ground, armed with multi-tool, Cris has already trimmed drywall away from behind the vanity counter in bath 2. He will inset the backsplash into the slot in the wall. This allows the faucet handles to turn free, without banging against the backsplace if the quartz were mounted against the drywall, instead of inset into the drywall — an idea that Ron thought of.
Upstairs in bath 3, Cris deploys the multi-tool to cut around the backsplash. He will remove the drywall from this location, as he did in bath 2, then inset the backsplash quartz into the wall, allowing the faucet handles to swing through a complete arc without obstruction.
Upstairs in bath 3, Cris deploys the multi-tool to cut around the backsplash. He will remove the drywall from this location, as he did in bath 2, then inset the backsplash quartz into the wall, allowing the faucet handles to swing through a complete arc without obstruction.
Before Steven arrived, Cris removed one of the two metal straps bracing the horizontal and vertical framing of the new garage door, turned it vertical, nailed it into position -- per instructions from the structural engineer. The City of Austin requires this to prevent uplift when the wind blows strong -- kind of like today, with 30mph wind gusts.
Before Steven arrived, Cris removed one of the two metal straps bracing the horizontal and vertical framing of the new garage door, turned it vertical, nailed it into position — per instructions from the structural engineer. The City of Austin requires this to prevent uplift when the wind blows strong — kind of like today, with 30mph wind gusts.
Heres' the same strapping change at the left side of the garage door.
Heres’ the same strapping change at the left side of the garage door.
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Ikea field trip

Jacquela and Steven arrived at Ikea in Round Rock as the store opened. Steven wrestled two orange, yellow and blue Ikea Family cards from the kiosk in the lobby. Bridgette arrived. She works with Jacquela at Schwab — and is probably just as much a fan of Ikea as Steven; she showed pictures of the closet and desks that she and her husband planned and assembled as we walked the store.

Steven had a shopping list. Long. Detailed.

We configured Pax closets for the master closet and for Jadin’s bedroom. We configured Stuva storage and benches for the mudroom. We picked up the Striberg linear LED lights with motion sensors needed for closets throughout the house.

Bridgette offered to help transport everything to Emerald Hill in her new Ford Explorer. As if we would say no.

Bridgette filled a cart with items on her shopping list.

And then we hit the warehouse armed with “pick lists” and two flatbed carts.

At checkout, Ikea Family saved more than $200 on the bill.

We loaded Steven’s Honda Element to the weight limit. The Explorer got the really long boxes; this is one of the few times Steven misses the old minivan.

We took lunch at In-N-Out, sitting outside. “Vitamin D,” exclaimed Bridgette, showing pictures of the house in Baltimore she grew up in.

At Emerald Hill, Jacquela gave Bridgette a tour, Steven prepped space in the garage, and we built the stack of flat-pack boxes in the photo above and below.

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The clothes rods, baskets and other accessories are stacked neatly in the pantry.

Steven propped each light against a door where it needs to be installed, to help Ron identify precisely what goes where.

Now we need permission from Ron to assemble and install cabinets …

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Glass doors, step 2

Billy and Charlie late yesterday continued to install glass doors to showers.

The glass door to the mudroom shower. Ron Dahlke stuck blue painter's tape on the glass as a visual clue to help prevent people from walking into the glass; it's been so long that we've become accustomed to assuming that the glass is not there to avoid; this will help prevent walking into the glass.
The glass door to the mudroom shower. Ron Dahlke stuck blue painter’s tape on the glass as a visual clue to help prevent people from walking into the glass; it’s been so long that we’ve become accustomed to assuming that the glass is not there to avoid; a simple precaution.
Ron used blue tape to also better identify the glass door and wall panel to the water closet in bath 2 -- Jadin's bath.
Ron used blue tape to also better identify the glass door and wall panel to the water closet in bath 2 — Jadin’s bath.
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Glass doors, step 1

Billy and Chris arrived today from Binswanger Glass to install the glass doors in bath 2 and the master bath. They were not completely successful.

Above, a toolbox full of parts needed to install glass shower and bath doors. Billy and Chris also deployed drills, bits, shims, aluminum, a table saw, a framing square, protective pads, ladders — and a deliberate pace that proves they’ve done this for 12 years, speaking in shorthand.

For the first project, Billy and Chris installed the shower frame for Jadin's shower -- and one of two sliding glass doors. According to Chris, the second sliding door was cut too large and the mounting holes were drilled in the wrong location. They ordered a replacement. It will take about a week to arrive, according to Chris.
For the first project, Billy and Chris installed the shower frame for Jadin’s shower — and one of two sliding glass doors. According to Chris, the second sliding door was cut too large and the mounting holes were drilled in the wrong location. They ordered a replacement. It will take about a week to arrive, according to Chris.
Chris attempts to lever into place the frosted and tempered glass door to the water closet in the master bath. Billy is inside the water closet working the bottom of the door into position. They discover that the glass is about 1/4 inch too wide; it was measured incorrectly.
Chris attempts to lever into place the frosted and tempered glass door to the water closet in the master bath. Billy is inside the water closet working the bottom of the door into position. They discover that the glass is about 1/4 inch too wide; it was measured incorrectly.
Billy, left, and Chris, walk the oversized glass door out of position. After this, they measured the passage several times, using several tape measures, to confirm the glass is 1/4-inch too wide. They marked the correct widths on the glass door, carried it downstairs and out to the truck to take away. Because the glass is frosted and tempered, it cannot be trimmed or cut to proper size. They order a replacement. Chris says it will take about a week to arrive.
Billy, left, and Chris, right, walk the oversized glass door out of position. After this, they measured the passage several times, using several tape measures, to confirm the glass is 1/4-inch too wide. They marked the correct widths on the glass door, carried it downstairs and out to the truck to take away. Because the glass is frosted and tempered, it cannot be trimmed or cut to proper size. They order a replacement. Chris says it will take about a week to arrive.
Back downstairs in bath 2, Jadin's bath, Billy, left, and Chris, right, meet with more success installing the glass panel and door that enclose the water closet.
Back downstairs in bath 2, Jadin’s bath, Billy, left, and Chris, right, meet with more success installing the glass panel and door that enclose the water closet.
Billy braces the glass door while Chris collects shims and screws.
Billy braces the glass door while Chris collects shims and screws.
They screw the pivot into the blocking behind the drywall.
They screw the pivot into the blocking behind the drywall.
Here's the door, left, and panel, mounted.
Here’s the door, left, and panel, mounted.
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$45 x 2 to solve the Toto toilet question

The team from Custom Plumbing is back to continue “top out” — installing all the fixtures.

Along the way, Barry and team also identify punch list items to correct or wrestle.

The last week of December, Steven put on hold the install of the Toto toilets in bath 2 and the master bath to solve installation issues. While traveling, Steven received additional guidance from Jonelle at Ferguson and approved the installations. Today, the fix arrived at Emerald Hill.

Above, Barry shows Steven the $45 plumbing adapter that Toto makes to extend the water line below the tank, through the hole in the porcelain at the back of the tank, to make it easier to connect the water line to the bidet seat. It features a proprietary design that only Toto manufactures. It has to be specially ordered. That takes time. Today, Barry delivered two — one for each Toto. There will be a bill for this …

Why is there a hole in the kitchen ceiling drywall? Why is the drywall splitting apart at the seams? The pipes leaked in the master shower when the plumbers installed the shower heads. Ron assures Steven that the drywall is now dried out -- and the drywall team will be back to repair this with flexible fiberglass mesh, not paper tape, just in case.
Why is there a hole in the kitchen ceiling drywall? Why is the drywall splitting apart at the seams? The pipes leaked in the master shower when the plumbers installed the shower heads. Ron assures Steven that the drywall is now dried out — and the drywall team will be back to repair this with flexible fiberglass mesh, not paper tape, just in case.
The normal install for the kitchen faucet is to place the hot/cold handle at the right side of the faucet. If we do that here, it will hit the gray quartz backsplash when pushed back to full-on hot. One solution is to pivot the handle x degrees. Another fix is to pivot the handle 90 degrees to the front of the sink, as photographed here. A third approach would be to remove the backsplash, slice open the drywall, then inset the backsplash into the cavity in the drywall -- tons of work. Steven has permission from Jacquela to make the decision. Steven decides to pivot the handle to this position -- front and center over the sink bowl.
The normal install for the kitchen faucet is to place the hot/cold handle at the right side of the faucet. If we do that here, it will hit the gray quartz backsplash when pushed back to full-on hot. One solution is to pivot the handle x degrees. Another fix is to pivot the handle 90 degrees to the front of the sink, as photographed here. A third approach would be to remove the backsplash, slice open the drywall, then inset the backsplash into the cavity in the drywall — tons of work. Steven has permission from Jacquela to make the decision. Steven decides to pivot the handle to this position — front and center over the sink bowl.
In the master bath, the plumbers are installing the faucets and drain lines.
In the master bath, the plumbers are installing the faucets and drain lines.
Mike studies how to install the Toto toilet and bidet in the master bath -- and the magic, proprietary $45 Toto pipe.
Mike studies how to install the Toto toilet and bidet in the master bath — and the magic, proprietary $45 Toto pipe.
Barry confirms that Ron needs to install backing behind the fiberglass shower panel if the plumbers are to mount the showerhead bar properly. Ron tells Steven that Mark at Ranserve has decided that Ranserve shall never again install a fiberglass shower/bath kit. Ron's going to have to open up the wall behind the panel, working from the stairwell wall to get to the back of the shower.
Barry confirms that Ron needs to install backing behind the fiberglass shower panel if the plumbers are to mount the showerhead bar properly. Ron tells Steven that Mark at Ranserve has decided that Ranserve shall never again install a fiberglass shower/bath kit. Ron’s going to have to open up the wall behind the panel, working from the stairwell wall to get to the back of the shower.

Barry also delivered the two Navian tankless water heaters and confirmed that the electrical plug in the laundry room must be moved if that tankless unit is to be installed — the plug is located directly behind where the tank needs to mount to the wall, making it impossible to plug in the tank. The outlet has to shift several inches up and over to the right.

In the mudroom, the plumbers will switch out the white PVC drain lines for chrome, dressing up the exposed pipe under the sink.

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Ground Control to Major Tom

David Bowie, 1947-2016. “Check ignition and may God’s love be with you.”

Commencing countdown, engines on …

Welcome to the Monday launch window at Emerald Hill. Ron and Steven set aside time this day to walk the house together for the first time since Steven returned from ShowStoppers @ CES in Vegas. That was the plan. We did work through a long list of open items — garage lights, framing, electrical, plumbing, pending inspections, drywall seams opening up, why the drywall is cut open in several locations.

10 …

Then the install crew for the countertops arrived.

9 …

At first, Miguel, Saul and Luis buzzed through the to-do list.

They mounted the undermount sinks in the master bath to the countertop with silicon and screws, trimmed the 4-inch deep gray quartz shelf to length and glued it into position behind the vanity ...
8 … They mounted the undermount sinks in the master bath to the countertop with silicon and screws, trimmed the 4-inch deep gray quartz shelf to length and glued it into position behind the vanity …
They mounted the sinks in bathroom 3 upstairs ...
7 … They mounted the sinks in bathroom 3 upstairs …

6. Ron left Emerald Hill for a meeting …

They came back to the master bath to install the gray quartz backsplash ...
5 … They came back to the master bath to install the gray quartz backsplash …

4. Matt from Ranserve removed the protective foam from the island countertop …

3. They slid the 5x10-foot slab of quartz off the base cabinets while Matt, at right, watched ...
3. They slid the 5×10-foot slab of quartz off the base cabinets while Matt, at right, watched …

2. They carried into the kitchen the custom-made L-shaped steel support brackets that the countertop maker requires we use to support the quartz as it bridges the two ends of the island …

1.  Miguel and Steven talked in great detail through how to mount the brackets, where to mount the brackets …

Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare …

Saul routes into the cabinet a wider channel to seat the bracket into while Miguel preps ... the wide
Saul routes into the cabinet a wider channel to seat the bracket into while Miguel preps the undermount bracket at the east side of the island. Plans call for 4 brackets spaced across the width of the island, to disperse and support the quartz, protecting it from collapse and breaking. 

And the stars look very different today …

Steven stepped out of the kitchen to talk with the structural engineer inspecting the garage framing, came back into the kitchen, and stopped the work.

Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong …

This is the cut to the cabinet where Steven stopped the adventure.
The install team sliced into the shelf cabinet at the end of the island — and through the cabinet. This is the cut to the cabinet where Steven stopped the adventure.
This is the slice from underneath.
This is the slice from underneath.

Can you hear me, Major Tom?

Steven called Ron. Twice. Texted a photo of the damaged cabinet. 30 minutes went by. Ron called in from his truck, 20 minutes out from Emerald Hill. We waited. MIguel called Austin Stone, supplier of the countertop. Ron arrived. He put the bracket install on hold pending inspection of the cabinets by Aaron, the cabinetmaker, aiming at tomorrow/Tuesday.

In the interim, the install team removed the brackets, placed the countertop back atop the base cabinets.

Here am I floating ’round my tin can …

Next, working with Ron and Steve the electrician, Steven and Miguel measured precisely where to locate the Haefele electrical outlet that will pop up through a hole in the countertop slab. Steve the electrician doublechecked the outlet and electrical supply. We measured one position five or six times. Steven walked around it, thinking, testing the length of the reach from the end of the island. Too far. We shifted it closer to the end. Steven approved. We triplechecked the position. Again. Steven approved it. Again.

Miguel drills the countertop for the electrical outlet while Luis suctions away quartz dust.
Miguel drills the countertop for the electrical outlet while Luis suctions away quartz dust.

Which is when Steven left, making sure that Ron would continue to supervise.

And there’s nothing I can do …

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Catching up, planning forward

In this special Sunday edition of the remodel that is almost done, Jacquela and Steven discovered that the dishwasher is installed. We missed it, distracted by all the other bright shiny distractions.

For the first time, we are able to confirm that we will in fact be able to stand at the sink, alongside the dishwasher, pull open the drawer for plates or cutlery opposite the dishwasher, then easily unload the dishwasher straight to the drawers, just a short reach away — almost like we planned it.

The other big activity for this visit … Jacquela and Steven measured the interior of each drawer in the kitchen and all the bathrooms. As a result, we believe we need 230 linear feet of shelf liner to protect the drawer bottoms.

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