The next bathroom now in progress (day 1)

Let me preface this by saying….ALWAYS EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED! 

So this is the next bathroom up for reno. This time around I had the common sense to take some “before” shots prior to the contractor ripping everything down.  When purchasing an older home where there has been 2 owners before, you can never tell what lies underneath till you take it down and inspect.  Well 1st off, who puts a brown sink in with blue tile and blue toilet? and wallpaper??  That was my 1st indication something was not quite right.  But we took the house as is knowing that eventually we would do certain renovations and hey, if it works, why break it?

But underneath that nice looking floor tile (8×8) there was that hideous 70’s mosaic tile that I was glad to see be gone.  I wont bother to ponder why the previous owners never bothered to rip it up when they placed the new tile down.  Cost?  Perhaps. But when you are looking at a house that is roughly 40 years old, you don’t want to take any chances.  So I had the floor totally ripped up so I could see the joists and of course all the walls had to come down to see how the studs held up after all these years.  So back to my 1st statement above.  I had already anticipated and expected to see some water damage.  Its a bathroom, its seen its share of humidity and wetness and its from the 70’s when cement board was not around and the builders placed tile on sheetrock.  Not to mention that floors back then only used 3/8th inch plywood.  There was some water damage to the studs and also to the exterior wall plywood and some of the insulation had actually deteriorated to nothing.  Not a good thing for sure and not something that any homeowner wants to hear or see.  But having a good contractor also pays for itself and they will usually come up with an idea to  help you save money and yet maintain the structural integrity of your home.

What you cant see behind the new insulation is a new 1/2 inch piece of plywood running along the exterior wall to help reinforce the main exterior panel.  So the exterior wall is now 1 inch thick with plywood and also had new R-13 insulation.  What you do see is the sister studs that mount next to the existing studs to help reinforce them as well. There was also some additional framing done to help reinforce areas where the contractor thought they would work and that had not been done at the time of initial build.  Of course there was a cost for this extra work.  When planning your remodels, always count in some contingency money for the unexpected above and beyond your parts and labor costs.  I cant stress this piece enough.  Never assume the framing is still intact, never assume the plumbing is still good (next blog will show why).  And of course never assume your electrical will be adequate for your new remodel.  Codes change and what may have been ok 40 years ago wont cut it now a days and your contractor will tell you that you have to update or upgrade in order to meet code.

So today I am just waiting for the building inspector to come and give it his blessing. If there are no issues the contractor is back tomorrow putting the new walls up and will press on with tiles after that.

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Finally a finished bathroom (or also known as Bathroom day 5)

I am a few days behind on posting this entry so forgive me.  I was just toooo busy trying out our new bathroom.  C’mon, have to do quality control on everything to make sure there are no issues.

But I am very content with the outcome and the quality that the contractor provided. As you can see we included a matching vanity with the toilet topper for added storage space. The tub is a deep 20″ soaking tub for those days where you want to play with your rubber ducky with plenty of “Mister Bubbles”.  Not sure I can find a “Fuzzy Wuzzy Bear” anymore. If you have no clue what I am talking about, you’re too young.

We opted not to drill holes in the new tile for a shower curtain rod.  For now its just a tension bar but perhaps later we may opt to go with a perm rod or just go for sliding doors.

The lighting is vastly improved.  We used to have a puny little fluorescent light above the sink that hardly lit the room up.  Now with the 3 bulb sconce lighting and the new fan that includes a night light and 2 CFL bulbs, its so easier to see in there.

What you really cant see too much except for a couple shots are the accessories such as the towel ring by the sink, a double rod towel holder (seen in the mirror) and what you cant see..a robe hook off to the side of the door.

Next up is our master bath. That will be in tomorrows blog.  Its already been started and is still in demo mode but once the inspector does his blessing, we should be smooth sailing for next week.

So…what the heck does this have to do with photography?  Its a bathroom right?  You are probably wondering why I would be posting home improvement photos…Wonder no more…Photography is not just about cute babies, landscapes and portraits or small critters taken with a macro lens.  Its about color, contrast, texture, lines, shapes, etc.  These photos perhaps can help inspire someone later on.  One never knows.

The vanity and toiler topper came from Lowes, the others came from a local plumbing supply company.  Some of the accessory hardware came from Amazon.com which came in cheaper than some other places.  The tiles came locally as well.  I believe in supporting your local merchants but as we can all attest to…sometimes you have to find the better deals online.

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Bathroom Project Day 3

bathroom day 3

bathroom day 3

So today I get home from work a little early to catch up with the contractor and to see how he made out with tiling.  Gotta say its nice to say a project start to come together.  By the end of the day he had the floor and walls done for the tub/shower.

If all goes well the grouting should be done on day 4 and then the rough painting can begin and then the vanity, mirror, light sconce, toilet and cabinet can go in.  I wont count on the grab bars and towel bars  since that would just be too much for one day.  Hey the paint has to dry ya know.

We decided to go with diagonal on the floor with long tile side going horizontal on the shower wall.  The deco going across the wall really adds a nice touch as well as the stone shelves.  Being brighter as well as having the diag cut on the floor should hopefully give it a larger feel being that its a small bathroom to begin with.

As you will see in later posts, the hardware will be chrome that should accent the tiles and wood pretty nicely.

The best part is that the light we had installed in the ceiling that comes with a 140 cfm fan and night light does such a great job lighting that room up that I wonder how much use we will get with the sconce on the wall above the mirror and vanity.  Will be interesting to see.  Not sure why back in the 70’s they only had one little light above the sink that had no way to shine towards the shower so you could see what parts of your body you were cleaning.  Guess back in those days you didn’t need to use your eyes, just feel around and hope you got all the parts clean.

And just for clarification…this is the hallway bath that is basically the public bathroom.  Our master bath is up next once this is completed…but I have to be careful with that term master bath.   These homes don’t have “large” bathrooms so don’t think its like a Mc Mansion style bathroom by any stretch of the imagination.

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Bathroom project day 2(aka day 15)

bathroom day 2

Bathroom day 2

So you may be wondering why its called day 15…..  Sometimes the space time continuum can play tricks on you.  Day 1 goes great and you find yourself happy that the contractor was able to gut the whole room down to the studs and have everything cleaned up before they leave for the day.  You plan for day 2 being the next day of the week (in this case Tuesday the 8th of Oct) only to find out that you need some work that was kinda expected by you but not so much by the contractor.  I already knew that once they tore down the walls that some floor and framing work was going to be needed.  This was an old bathroom that had seen better days since the house was built in 1974.  Of course there is going to be issues.  So they had to re-frame one wall and put in a new sub-floor (which I actually was glad to see since the original floor was only 3/8ths.)  Now its a nice 3/4 inch.  But….with any change to the original structure comes the dreaded……wait for it……PERMITS and INSPECTIONS!

So now the space time continuum kicks in and I find myself in a void where I have to wait for the permit to come in the mail and I have to wait for the inspector to place us on his virtual calendar that has the makings of a cable call….anytime between 9am and 4pm!  Hey why not just make it 8-5?

So the day comes where the inspector is due to arrive (10/17) and for some odd reason, he becomes a drive by inspector, just waving as he goes by, never stops, never comes in, just keeps on a truckin.  I was not home at the time but my contractor tells me what happens and that the inspection office gets the word that my project was not ready for inspection.  Yeah…right…give me a break!  So with some persuasion by some insiders that I suspect know the inspectors office, we get another appointment for 10/21 (took a week the 1st time around and now it only takes 2 business days, WTH).

This time the inspector is in and out in about 5 minutes and that’s that.  Space and time are now once again in sync. So off goes the contractor on his quest to take up where he left off.

The picture is actually from yesterdays (10/22) work where he got the light in and the walls up.  Some additional tape, spackle and sanding is needed before we can paint but the tub is in, floor is in, walls are up.

As I noted on the day 1 post for this project…you have to be patient and expect the unexpected.  So far the contractor is pulling his weight, knows what he is doing and I expect him to make good on this within the next week.  No we don’t smell…we have a 2nd bath with a shower so this room is available to them for as long as they need to work on it but I am sure they want to start on the next bathroom and move on to another house.

If you are interested in knowing, that is a deep soaking tub (20 inch depth) acrylic (fiberglass shell).  Will I do the bubble bath thing?  I don’t know.  Haven’t done a bubble bath since I was a kid but perhaps with a hefty sub-floor and a deep tube, it might be time to give it a try.

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Monochrome In A Sea Of Color

Fall Color

Mono surrounded by color

Its been a while since I blogged but I didn’t want to go too many days without speaking up.  Fall is Slooooooowly coming upon us here in central NJ.  Sure I could make the trek to NY state or somewhere else but I like staying local for the most part and I just have to be patient and wait for the fall foliage to come to me rather than me driving to it.

The misses and I like to take walks in the park and this one park we frequent is starting to show signs of color change.  Most, if not all, of the park is still in the green but as we walked the jog path I came across this one tree that decided to defy mother nature and just start turning color while everything else around was still either green or had just gone total monochrome. And that’s what caught my eye this day while out and about.  Monochrome just sitting right up front in the frame then around it the still yet to change trees showing off their greenness and finally right behind that the beauty of color.

One could make a metaphor for how much color and monochrome get along well together and can at times compliment each other.  Now if our cultures could learn from mother nature and just be able to take these contrast differences and allow them to co-exist together in harmony.

Did I do any layering of that tree up front?  Absolutely not.  I could have done my slight of hand with LR5 or CS6 and masked out any colors I didn’t want but this is how I saw it (less the blur and enhancements in OnOne, which I did for focusing your eye on the center of the shot)

In the coming weeks I hope to have more shots of the park in a full array of color, provided the trees cooperate. Taking pictures just to go ooh and ahh is nice but I like to take it one step farther and put a little thought into why shots show what they do and whats the message behind them.  I believe every photo you take not only has an ability to awe you with contrast, color, sharpness, whatever. Yet there is more to it than just that. Many shots have a pure message they are trying to convey and you just have to look a bit closer and it will pop right out at you.

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The golf course

Having lunch outside at Springdale golf club in Princeton. Cool but pleasant.

Published via Pressgram

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A day at the Allentown Harvest Fest

October in NJ brings out the annual harvestfests.  This year the wife and I decided to go to the fest in Allentown, NJ.  Very quaint, old and historic town. Not one of the larger fests, but it has its share of booths and stands that you can stroll by and just look at.  Folks selling food to selling arts and crafts to kitchenware.  Its not just about what’s being sold, but about friends and family getting together and just meeting up and checking in to see how things are going.  You also have visitors from around the area that come out so one has to expect parking to be at a premium.  Fortunately Allentown has that covered and allowed guests to park at the local high school and shuttled folks over to the fest.  Nice perk.

So we parked at our usual location (Heritage Park) and was able to capture a few shots of the military re-enactments happening in the main field.  Unfortunately I did not get a chance to capture the battle or the cannon going off.  Hey, can’t sit around and wait, so much more to see!  The 4H had their display set up and were providing ‘goat cart rides’.  Nice play on words ladies and gents!  I did get a shot of a goat chowing down on some hay.  Not the best shot and the depth of field was too shallow and the focus point was not where I wanted it.  The goat was not going to wait and then pose for me as I anticipated so I had to click off a shot at the right moment and hope it was worthy of posting.

Food was smelling good so I couldn’t go buy without trying something so I opted for the beef gyro.  OK its a harvestfest so one would expect something harvesty…I looked but didn’t see anything so dont judge me!  But for desert I stopped in at Swals Dairy for some pumpkin cheesecake ice cream.  That was so well worth it.

Normally they have a larger lineup of classic cars to display but for some reason this year there was only a handful of cars.  I suspect that since there were other harvestfests going on in and around the area that perhaps the car owners had to spread themselves a little thin.

As I noted earlier, not a very large event but just enough to get out, get some exercise, capture some shots and provide me with something to place on my blog for today.  The gallery I uploaded with tonight’s blog were the best of the shots I had taken today.  The weather was so so with some sun and clouds but more so clouds.  Probably for the best since we had gone around lunch time and having harsh sunlight is not a photographer’s best friend.

Also, as I noted in one of my earlier posts, you just have to carry that camera with you wherever you go since you will never know what could come up that has that ‘wow’ factor of a shot and you are bare handed with nothing other than perhaps your camera phone.  Don’t get me wrong, camera phones have come a long way and can provide some really decent shots.  As I walked around today I saw kids using their smart phones to take pictures, I saw adults using their DSLR’s so I was not the only one with the same idea and that’s a good thing.

Surprisingly enough the leaves have yet to change color in my area of NJ so in as much as I had hoped to get some more colorful pictures today, it was just ordinary.

With that I will call it a night.  But before I tuck in for the night I have to format the SD and CF cards, clean the lens, charge the battery and repack the camera bag for the next outing.  Nothing planned for this week but….ya never know…

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