Monday, January 17, 2011

Powder Room Progress

I have been ignoring my loyal readers of Project: Nest. I blame the holidays and writer's block (read: laziness). The new, and more frequent, blog posting begins today!

Soon after after Andi's last blog post, we found out that our plumbers were stuck at another job site and postponed the work on our project until after the holidays. I hoped to have fixtures installed before our guests arrived for our Christmas shindig (you know, to show off a little bit). Oh well. Since the plumbing was delayed, we had to delay our electrician as well. Electricians generally prefer to do their work after the plumbing is installed because plumbers are like bulldozers and plow stuff out of the way of their pipes if needed.

Yet there was still work to be done. I demo-ed the plaster on the wall where the sink will be hung because I need to install a backing plate for the sink. (A backing plate is a dimensioned lumber member that spans from stud-to-stud that I can bolt the sink to using lag bolts.) I certainly don't want someone ripping it off the wall in the midst of a drunken escapade during one of our wild parties. Because we have SO many of them. I also installed the door frame, enclosed the powder room in gyp board, and built the bathroom soffit with the help from Project: Nest friend Chris May--our first returning character!

Chris's and my handiwork.
The powder room is ready for wandering Christmas eyes.
Christmas came and went and we had a wonderful time hosting Andi's family. Our apartment proved very capable of handling families during the holiday season and will undoubtedly host many more Christmases and Thanksgivings. And maybe a New Year's Eve party or two. And a Sweetest Day card exchange.

The hired plumbers showed up for work on January 3. After our walk-through of the project, and some exploratory drilling for pipe placement, we realized that we were not on the same page financially as the plumber. Apparently the plumber did not bid the job as we asked him to and we did not understand his quote well enough to pick up on the discrepancy. A miscommunication, really. But we had to part ways with him because his revised quote became significantly greater than the other quotes.

So we hired a different plumber: Nigel Mulgrew Plumbing. Nigel, the charasmatic Irish-born faceman of the company, and Mervyn, the smiley, efficient, Guatemalan plumber, began the work January 12 and are a fantastic team. They (meaning Mervyn and his helper Julio) have done excellent work so far. Mervyn has installed the waste and vent pipes in our unit. Additionally, our upstairs neighbors decided to expedite their own powder room, and Nigel was happy to increase the scope of the project, so Mervyn has installed their waste and vent as well.

The waste and vent pipes in our garage.

Our neighbors' waste line and our vent line in our utility room. Our vent continues up into our neighbors' unit and connects with an existing vent line in their utility room. Their waste continues down into the garage and connects with the existing sanitary sewer.
The waste and vent pipes in the powder room. The rag is stuffed in the waste pipe for the sink.
While Mervyn hung the pipes, I finished hanging the gypsum board in the exterior of the new wall, taped, mudded, and sanded the wall. Not an easy thing to do well, but Andi and I think we did ok (she helped me sand). I installed metal corner strips to protect the delicate gyp board corners and taped and mudded them in place as well.

Feast your eyes on our gyp board finishing skillz!
I also hung the new door. Earlier, Andi and I visited Building REsources (where we also donated our old door and frame) and found some brass screws, hinges and a door strike for the new door. I used a wood chisel to mortise the hinges into the door frame--almost perfectly (I was a little bit off on the bottom hinge so the mortise is a little large). Finally, Andi and I patched the plaster around the new door by installing gyp board inside the gaps between the demo-ed plaster and new door frame and mudded and taped the areas that might not get covered by the new door trim. We made a visit to SF Victoriana, a shop that specializes in Victorian trim and ornamentation, to buy trim for the door, but they don't have our trim in stock. We will have to have it custom made.

Does anyone know of a good carpenter that could make our trim?

The rescued $75 door in all of its glory.
The mortised hinge.Finally, I got the architectural permit! It was freakin' expensive. $382.14 for me to sit in their office for 2.5 hours and have 4 different people look at the plans for a grand total of 15 minutes. This is why the San Francisco Department of Building Inspections gets bad *yelp ratings.

Check out our wonderfully expensive building permit drawings. Now we only have to pay $250/inspection.
Oh yeah, we bought the toilet too.



  1. Gotta love the bait and switch plumber! Dean, as a PM you should write a better contract...One of my favorite acronyms is RTFC. Short for Read The F***ing Contract.

  2. The powder room door looks good!
    I can hardly wait to see the finished product--the floor tile and sink, especially.