Sista Girl With Skills

When you control the camera you don’t get photographed, so in case anyone wonders if I am really putting in “sweat equity” my father took pictures of me while he and I worked on the master suite bathroom.

First up was laying the cement board down in the area that will house the tub.  Simple cuts, only had to work around one air vent.

Today we tackled framing the master shower.  I’m grinning as I write this just thinking about how awesome this master bath is going to be.  The space is larger than my current bedroom.  NONE of my vision would be possible if I were not doing the work myself.  I couldn’t afford to pay a professional contractor to do what I’m accomplishing with the help of my father.

With plumbing rough-in underway I had to commit to a shower design, so the drain location could be planned.  My father sketched out what he thought would be best, I agreed, so today we tackled putting his plan into reality.   The footprint of the shower area is 68″ x 68″.  The back wall (wall next to tub) will be glass resting on a 30″ tall wall that will be covered in ceramic tile.  In front of that wall is a 64″ wide bench at a comfort height.  I can extend my legs fully and not touch the other side.  The small window you see on the left will be enclosed in the shower.  I’ve never lived in a house that had a window in the bathroom.  I’ll have 5 in this one.

I can’t wait to start laying tile.

$240.75 Well Spent

Today I got to go see my stained glass window.  It is beautiful.  The team at Architectural   Art Glass Studio did an awesome job.   I wish I could find a descendent from the original owners of my house to find out the meaning/purpose behind the design they chose.

AAGS is going to store this for me until I’m ready to have it re-hung.  I can’t wait because it will mean I’m ready to move in!

UPDATE ON LEAD PIPES:  I’ve decided to move forward with the City’s contractor and take advantage of the their Lead Service Line Replacement Program (LSLRP).  The supervisor for the program was nice enough to meet me at my house along with a representative from the company that will do the work and answer all my questions and concerns.  Really a no brainer given the cost overruns on this project.  Instead of taking a big hit now, I can spread this cost out over the next 10 years.  I signed the paperwork today, so once processed their crew will start the work.  I should have running water by mid April.  Looking foward to saying goodbye to my Pee Pot.20171009_114514


Original Tub Back In Place

Yesterday was a busy day at my house trying to prepare for the start of plumbing and electrical rough in.  My father has returned, so I expect things will start flying at a rapid 20180317_175615pace now.  Getting the massive cast iron tub out of my kitchen and back in its proper place was the focus his first day back at the house.  Prior to this I had to address the under side, which showed a lot of rust in areas.

One of my favorite new tool gadgets is my Ridgid JobMax.  I have three heads for it now and was able to the impact driver head equipped with a steel wheel brush to scrap the flaking rust. After a wipe down I then applied a coat of Rustoleum Rust Kill.

Before the tub could be moved we had to place cement board on the bathroom floor.  I’ve been studying how to do this for weeks, but knew if I did it wrong the repercussion could be severe, so I waited for my father.  Turns out the process went exactly how I thought, but where he was most helpful was with the intricate cuts, so I had flawless seams and no gaps.  The one thing I would have done wrong actually had nothing to do with the floor, but adding support ledge for the tub to rest on.  I knew to do the long side, but he had me attach to the ends also.  I also would have used 2x4s, but given I had extra pieces of 2x10s lying around he had me use that.  Between the quadrupled cisterned joints underneath, the ledge, and cement board that HEAVY cast iron tub is going nowhere.  I can’t wait to get it reglazed.

With the floor down it was time for “my guys” to return for the heavy lifting.  With the help of Uhaul 4-wheeled and appliance dollies my cousin Cameron and his three friends were able to wrangle the heavy beast out of the kitchen and back in its bathroom home. I didn’t get a lot of pictures and no video of this process as I played spotter and navigator to make sure they stayed safe.

It Takes a Woman’s Thought Process


No offense to the male contractors that have come to my house, BUT lets look at the obvious before suggesting multi-$1000 dollar fixes.  I have many “elephants in the room” on this project and one of them was how to deal with the new location of my down spouts and the proper elimination of rain water from the gutters.

One of the things I did not like about the house when I bought it was the location of the down spouts on the front of the house.  One of the positive outcomes of needing to completely rebuild the box gutters is I was able to move the downspouts to the end of the house, their proper place in my opinion.

Henshaw Ave
Downspout in middle of house, between windows.
Downspouts on ends of house.


What I didn’t know when I made that decision is that the City does not allow you to let gutter water drain in your yard.  Moving the downspouts meant my gutters were no longer connected to the underground drains that are connected to the city sewer system.

Drainage Code, Sec. 1105-03.


Every building, except accessory buildings less than 800 square feet in area, must be equipped with gutters and downspouts connected to an approved sewer. Drains from roofs, sun decks, or promenades open to occupancy must be trapped when connected to a combined sewer. If there is no approved sewer, the downspout must be connected under the sidewalk to the street gutter, or the stormwater must be disposed of in an approved manner on the property. Where stormwater pipes discharge into a paved street gutter, there must be at least one length of cast-iron pipe at the gutter connection. The cast iron section must extend from the gutter to the back of the sidewalk or ten feet away from the gutter, whichever is greater. Subsurface water (e.g. foundation drains, sump lines, etc.) shall not discharge to a paved street gutter.


I had contractors talking about tearing up sidewalks, adding dirt to alter the slope of my yard, and running drain lines 50′ or more all with multi-thousand dollar price tags.  The last plumber that came to the house, who was supposed to just give me a quote for plumbing rough-in brought up the gutters and how he was going to address this problem.  When I asked why that was his focus I was told the City would not give me a Certificate of Occupancy and his permit would not pass inspection if the gutters did not drain properly.  WTH, you’ve got to be kidding me!  Not getting a certificate of occupancy started weighing heavily on my mind, so I decided to take a shovel around the area where the drain is located from the original downspout location on the right front of house.

The new location was only 8′ away, so digging down revealed the simple fix of running a pipe from the downspout to the drain, about $25 in PVC pipe and connectors.  I’ll need to build a wall with landscape brick at the end of house in order to hide the pipe curve (aesthetic fix), but I’m still stunned by how simple this was to do.  So simple that I did the same with the rear drain on the same side of house.  My cousin Cameron did most of the digging on this project (what a God send this young man has been for me).  I spent $40 in PVC pipe and connectors on the rear as there was about 10′ in distance.

The left side of the house will be a little trickier.  The drain on the front of the house is actually built into the concrete patio.  The pipe runs into the basement and has a crack in it.  With every rain, before the gutters were repaired, I would have a puddle in the basement, so I definitely didn’t want to continue using it.  I will trench along the side of the house and connect the front to the rear downspout and utilize the rear left drain (my father’s idea).  As you can see from the picture below the drain is less than 5′ from the end of house. That project I will put on hold until I decide to address the “woolly mammoth in the room” the foundation at the rear of the house.20170726_161544.jpg

Even with renting a trencher I will have under $300 in expense and more sweat equity to fix this issue.  Keep it Simple, that’s a DIYer’s mantra!

Finally Finished the Stained Glass Frame

Before Architectural Art Glass Studio could finish the restoration of my entry foyer stained glass, I needed to shore up the frame.  It was pulling apart and needed to be fixed first and that was my responsibility.  I took the frame to my neighbor Bill to see how he would fix it and he suggested 2 part epoxy.  I don’t have a lot of pics of the entire process, but after stripping the paint from the side exposed to the outdoors and sanding the stained side, I injected the cracks with the expoxy and clampped the frame until it dried (about 15 mins and it sets).  The one mistake I made is I used wood filler for the smaller cracks and ended up with visible white lines in the wood as the filler did not take stain.  My friend Chris Petersen gave me the tip of using dental tools to get fine particles of paint out of wood, so I asked another friend, Julie, who worked at a dental office if she could get me one.  She did and I was able to remove all the wood filler and I repeated the epoxy in those areas.

I didn’t realize that I didn’t take a final picture of the stained (inside) of the frame before taking the frame to Richard, but I gave it a coat of tung oil after the stain.  It looked AWESOME.  I definitely need some epoxy lessons, you can see signs of its use, but all in all I’m very pleased given I had never used the product before.  The side exposed to the outside I put a coat of Kilz on it as a primer.  You’ll just have to wait for the window to be reinstalled to see how it turned out.

Next up……fixing the moulding that went around the frame on the inside.  As part of the demo it had to be removed to remove the plaster.  Well, the wood was soooo dry and fragile that it cracked into about 10 pieces.  I will be absolutely mortified if I can’t put it back together.  I don’t want to think how much it would cost to pay someone that could make a new one.

It’s Getting Real Ya’ll

A major milestone was reached this week.  I filed for and obtained my plumbing (far right) and electrical (yellow) permits!  I was very nervous about this for some odd reason.  I thought I would be grilled with questions I didn’t have a clue about, but all went relatively smoothly.  The electric was approved on the first try.  My plumbing was denied on the first try because I did not bring a drain and vent diagram with me, but a quick call to my father resolved that.  He made one out for me and I returned the next day and got approval.

In preparation for the electric rough-in I elected to hire JTL Electric, Inc, Ohio licensed and City of Cincinnati registered contractor, to install my new, 200 amp electrical panel.  That brings me one step closer to temporary electric in my house.  Unfortunately their work failed inspection due to his hanging the weatherhead piece below the insulator (yeah Greek to me too).  He had to correct this before IBI Cincinnati would send release to Duke Energy.  That delayed power at least two more days, so now I probably won’t have for the weekend as I hoped.  Once turned on, no more lugging a generator back and forth and no more back-up battery changes on my SimpliSafe alarm system, yeah.


My father felt they should have placed a piece of plywood behind the panel before attaching it to the wall.  When I inquired about that I was told code doesn’t require it, but if I wanted it I’d have to pay an additional $125.  Needless to say I won’t be using their services for the remainder of this project.  So glad I pulled my own permit, so I’m not beholden to any one company.  Let this be a lesson to all my followers.

While the electric is progressing, I am bracing myself for another budget hit in regards to plumbing.  I was prepared to have the stolen water meter replaced when I learned I have lead water pipes feeding to my house.  Since a “disturbance of the line has occurred” I am required to replace the lead service line.  Greater Cincinnati Water Works has a cost-sharing program if I elect to use one of their contractors to do the work, up to $1500.  The cost-sharing program also has payment program option that will allow the unpaid balance to be applied to my property tax bill and paid semi-annually over a time period of 5 to 10 years.  Holding my breath in waiting on the return call from GCWW.  With that program, the lead may end up being a blessing in disguise.

1st Floor Bath Pocket Door

With the Master closet door under our belts, Cameron and I tackled the 1st floor bath pocket door.  The only challenge or extra step in this installation process would be cutting the kit, designed for a 30″ door, down to the size of my door, which is only 26″ wide.  Piece of Cake!  I highly recommend Johnson Hardware Co. pocket door installation kits.  Their online videos take you step by step through the process.

The door will slide into the side wall of my office closet, so as I did upstairs I will need to build a wall in front of it, so that the clothes rod can be installed without fear of screws reaching the pocket cavity.  The only thing bad about that is it’s costing me about 9″ in that closet.

In addition to the pocket door frame install we got the floor and wall in the back of the 1st floor linen closet installed , the window wall furred out, and got the last of the old pipes and old water heater out of the basement.  We placed the scrap metal and water heater on the curb in hopes that scrapers will come and take it.  I should have taken a picture of the pile at the curb, but the items were gone the next time I went back as expected.  All in all a very productive weekend.


Have I Said Lately How Much I LOVE Restoring This House

It was a productive week at my house.  The master suite is ready for plumbing and electric.  My cousin Cameron and I got all the furring strips up, installed the pocket door kit in the master closet, inserted all the fire block stops, and most impressively, if I must say so myself, laid the floor and added the wall to create the linen closet.  Cameron and I make an awesome team.  We don’t dialog a lot, we just work hard and well together.

The pocket door kit was challenging, mainly because neither of us had ever installed one and the directions weren’t super clear.  The YouTube video the company put out was more helpful.  We actually hung the sliding strip backwards initially, but thankfully Cameron caught the mistake before we had nailed it down completely.  I figured out that I had to build a false wall inside the closet to create an anchoring point for the clothes rods.  Without it the nails would probably embed in the door or prevent it from opening completely.  We have one more to do for the 1st floor bath, which should run smoothly given our learning curve.

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I have been avoiding the linen closet floor ever since I patched the floor in the bedroom area.  I know the proper way to repair a floor is to stagger the pieces so two ends aren’t next to each other.  The space I’m turning into a closet was never intended for that purpose so the original builders ended the floor randomly and near the same joist or not on a joist.  I finally decided to get over striving for “correctness” and worked with the joist that were most accessible, which meant seams ran next to each other on four consecutive boards.

The boards I used in the closet came from the boards I removed to lay subfloor in the “wet” area of the bath.  Directly beneath that section is the first floor bedroom, which showed signs of fire damage on the walls.  Based on the charred underside of some of the boards it’s obvious the fire went beyond the baseboard, wall and window.  I’m fortunate to have this opportunity of restoration, which makes me appreciate the process even more.

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The Budget Took Another Hit

Cincinnati has been experiencing epic rainfall, the worst in 2 decades.  With the box gutters in working order my basement has been staying relatively dry (no major puddles), so needless to say I was shocked when I went upstairs to discover water stains on the wood floor.  I raked my hand over the exposed rafters above the stain and felt more moisture.  The house supposedly has a new roof with 30 year shingles.

I called Dan Shepard, Shepard Roofing, who did the tuck pointing on the chimney.  He discovered that the flashing around some of the dormers had been left off.  This explains why I could see outside at the corners on some of the dormers.  He also said whomever installed the roof most likely used a nail gun to attach the shingles, something he warns against.  He will only hand nail a roof.  I know nothing about roofing, so I took him at his word and accepted his $700 price tag to stop the leaks.  He also agreed to install the dryer vent for the master bath laundry room.20180227_16434220180227_180435

While he was fixing the roof he discovered that my box gutter company, Fusion Roofing, failed to nail down the three rows of shingles they laid while restoring the gutters.  I was floored by this news and pissed.  If we experienced significant winds, those shingles would have easily blown off.  Dan agreed to nail them down for me at no additional cost, but I also put in a call to Fusion Roofing.  The owner, Kevin, returned my call almost immediately and even faster disputed the findings.  I had Dan’s staff member stop nailing until Kevin could arrive and investigate for himself.  He confirmed Dan’s findings.  Randy Rupp and his crew only tucked the shingles and did not nail them down.  He said he was going to fire Randy Rupp.  I truly regret giving him so much positive exposure with the video I created.  At my earliest opportunity I will be revamping without any reference to…..what’s his name.

I’m often asked why and how I’ve learned to do the DIY projects I tackle.  It’s situations like this.  I just don’t trust contractors, especially when they are not referred by someone who’s opinion I truly value.  You take people at their word and hope they possess some resemblance of ethics or a moral compass.  During the box gutter work the awning above my back door started to fall while they were hammering away.  They braced it, then used it as scaffolding, but Randy said he’d re-attach it once the gutters were complete.  They did not do it in the three days they worked on the project, but he said he’d return to do so.  Granted we had an extremely frigid January, but once the weather broke I called and texted asking when he’d return.  No response.  Kevin said he’d fix it.  We’ll see.

I guess it’s time to learn about roofing and box gutters.