Saturday, September 26, 2015

Master Shower

I could not WAIT for the master shower to take form. It sat empty for the longest time.

The tile installers were excited to get to it. This was going to be their masterpiece! I knew I could not tackle a shower because there is too much risk in errors and future leaks. There are certain things you have to do.

First off, the shower pan had to be moved. The plumber purposefully built it wrong for inspection because he did not want the tile installers to use it and later blame him for any troubles. I understand his logic! It just had to hold water for inspection. Then it would be the tiler's job to re-do the pan and then it falls under him for warranty purposes.

Once the framing was moved, the shower pan liner was in place and green board was installed.

Once the green board was installed, the waterproofing material went over it. Green Board is a waterproof drywall, but it is not totally waterproof. You need another layer of protection. And Green Board is a slang term. I originally bought backer-board to use and thought it to be the same thing, but the old tile guys wanted the green board. I originally bought the backerboard from Lowes and they were great to deliver! I had it returned and bought green board. Those tile guys quit on us, so we then had the original tile guy come back who requested the backer board, but he was great to work with what we had since we had already gone through the trouble of exchanging it.

I bought a marble hexagon to use on the shower floor. I bought it online for a great price. My friend, Ashley was building an addition to her home and shared the link with me. She thought they had great customer service and great prices. She was right!

The shower walls, would not be marble. I didn’t want the hassle, but I wanted the look. I picked out a ceramic that had a marble print. It had great reviews of looking like the real deal, but easy to work with.

I requested them to lay it in a brick pattern offset in thirds. They did half the wall and offset it by half. I was not ready to have them start over, so I am living with it and it's not bad.

The tile went all the way to the top.

We needed the shower tiled before we could have the shower door installers come take measurements. Lead time on that is a couple weeks. I’m ready for doors and a window to help keep the heat inside the shower.

Mr. JCrew and I both wanted a bigger shower. The one we had before was so small. 

I’d say this one is definitely bigger!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Wow! Cabinets are known to be the things that holds up a closing date. I have never heard of cabinets being on time.

I thought I was going to be a lucky one. I had everything picked out and was trying to find a maker. Finding one was not hard, but finding one for the right price was. My builder had a cabinet guy that could do awesome work at a great price. I had been warned that he took a LONG time and held up jobs, but I knew that I could get him to perform. However, getting him to meet me was a challenge. He stood me up three times! Literally stood me up, where we agreed on a date/time and I show up and he doesn’t. Twice, he just wouldn’t take my calls and once he answered but said he just couldn’t leave the shop. I moved on… actually, I ran. That was already off to a bad start. 

During the early stages of building, lots of contractors leave their business cards around. I found one for cabinets and laughed out loud. But after being stood up, I gave them a call. They were so nice and professional and strived to give me what I wanted. I didn’t want to appear too picky, but he made me at ease. The price was great and I was good to go. I signed a contract and paid a 50% deposit on May 1st.  On May 19th, I was already getting invitations to browse at an online photo album of my cabinets as they were being built. 

So much progress had been made, that I knew we were going to be ahead of schedule. They said six weeks, which set us at June 18th. However, we were not ready. Trim had delayed paint, and we really wanted paint before cabinets. I really wanted flooring before cabinets, but I needed to get cabinets in, so we had them set the cabinets and we would tile up to them.

On May 22nd, the rep at the cabinet store informed me he was leaving the company and I would be in good hands with his replacement. I was hopeful, but that’s where it went downhill. By June 9th all cabinet boxes were built. They started painting them on June 18th. I had picked out a door style for the cabinets back when I signed the contract, but on June 22nd I was asked to pick out a door. That was not a good sign. This meant my doors had not been ordered, let alone built and painted.

I picked out the door based on a picture only. I never saw the door in person. This made me nervous but I had confidence it would turn out okay.

On July 9th, the cabinet installers wanted to install the white cabinets. I again, was not ready and held them off. However, in hind-site I wish I would have. I thought if I waited, they would have everything ready and deliver at once. That was not the case.

Delivery was then set for July 20th. They were a no show. When I checked in, they said they were waiting on a crown piece and they wanted to paint it first. I was semi-okay with that. The white cabinets were delivered July 23rd. No crown came with that delivery, so their excuse was bologna!

I was still excited to see it all. I have a lot of white cabinets, so that was a lot.

After meeting the actual cabinet maker, I started contacting him directly and avoiding the middle man. Bad idea, as this upset the owner big time. I called the cabinet guy to check on the door delivery. He said they were coming Monday and he’d paint them and be back out. When I called that Tuesday, he was still waiting on doors. I pushed him a little to say I wanted the job complete by July 31st. He couldn’t commit. But said he could be completely done by August 4th

On Friday the 31st, the remaining cabinets were delivered. The green cabinets are in the boys’ bathroom. 

And the kitchen cabinets were delivered. I was so excited to see them! I saw the doors on the island and was instantly relieved. I loved them!

The boys loved playing in the cabinets.

That weekend, I put the appliances in. 

The electrician and plumber still had to hook them up. I used all the old appliances. They are black and they actually aren't bad. All we had to do was buy a dishwasher.

I was still waiting on doors and drawers, but they were finally delivered on August 12th

We were still missing Mom’s bathroom cabinets. We needed them so that the countertop people could take their measurements. 

But those came on August 12th as well. Just at night. 

The cabinets are everything I could want. I had the hardware picked out a long time ago too, because I was warned that they would charge me for a separate trip to install them if I did not have them ready. I was limited by their choices, so I picked my own and didn’t go through the cabinet maker. 

The hardware really finishes it. I am so happy!

But the cabinet guy messed some holes up! (see picture above). He took the drawer fronts off to the five drawers that were messed up and patched them. You can't even tell now.

Our cabinets did end up being the long-lead item. I had all the boxes in, but it was difficult for me to get them back out to finish the job. They needed to do things like adjusting doors and adding hardware. My mom ended up doing the hardware. They were very disorganized. Things were piece-milled and it's not how I think it would have been most efficient.

The cabinets were not officially complete until September 14th! We had seven doors left to install. Four of those doors had wire inserts. Again, I picked these based off a photo. I took a chance, and they are so pretty!

I think we could have closed with those doors still missing, but I'm just glad we finally can say we are through! YAY! This has been the longest "Six Weeks." Felt more like 18. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Tile Flooring

You got to see that I used Brick pavers for some wet areas in the house, but I didn’t use brick for everything.

For all the bathrooms, I selected a 12x24 tile I found at Costco. Home Depot had the same tile for the same price, but I went with Costco. 

I also put it in the laundry room.

The tile guys were on a roll one day and started putting brick in the laundry room. 

Luckily, my mom took a mid-day trip to check in on them and told them that was incorrect. They then saw the stack of tile outside the door to the laundry room. Just goes to show you that you can do a lot in the way of dummy-proofing projects and it still won’t help. I try so hard to make it easy on people.

Upstairs, we had to lay quarter-inch backer-board over the plywood. 

I originally bought a durablock type backer-board that had Styrofoam balls in it. Lowes luckily returned it and I ordered James Hardie Backer-board. It actually has more cement in it. Stay clear of that stuff. Hardie board is the way to go!

We used the Red Gard over the Hardie Board and started tiling. You can used thin set to adhere the Hardie Board to the plywood or you can just use screws. We used screws. 

Next up was thin set and tile laying.

With large tiles this size, staggering half is not recommended. The tile is not strong that way. I was told it needed to be offset in thirds. I really liked the pattern it created. 

It’s a grey tile with hints of brown in it. Helps soften up the gray colors and ties it in with everything.

Bad grout job done by a professional

Now, our tiling adventure sounds smooth, but it was anything but that! I wish the story was different because it was painful. We found a tile installer that was extremely good, recommended and fit our budget. He put us in his calendar to start July 16th. He calls me on July 9th and says he’s running behind; asks would July 20th be okay to start. I tell him that was fine, as long as he was okay with the wood floor people getting a head start and possibly working at the same time as him. He said that was fine. July 20th comes and he is a no-show. I text him at lunch time to ask if I was going to see him today. He calls me and apologizes. He lost his planner, bought a new one and tried to remember everything he had booked. He wrote us down as August 20th.

This story was hard for me to believe since I had just spoken with him. I didn’t understand how he would think we were that far away. I couldn’t wait until August 20th, so I went looking for someone else. I found one company that was highly recommended! However, their price was three-times my budget! I had to turn them down. I found someone but he couldn’t get out on site to give me a quote until the following Monday. In the meantime, my builder found someone that could start Monday. He was more expensive, but not three-times my budget expensive. He came Monday but all he did was move the tile around to the different rooms. It was he and his son doing the labor. It would take them three-weeks. I was to pay them weekly. Most tile companies want 50% down. My builder told the contractor I was good at paying people each Friday, and we wouldn’t put 50% down.
In the middle of week one, the ant-crack membrane I had bought was not being installed under the tile. I made a note and asked them to use it. They came back with a cost to apply it. I thought that was in the original quote. We discussed and I decided to apply it myself. It wasn’t that hard! Next up, I had bought cement-board for the shower and they wanted green-board. They wanted to charge extra for the “extra-labor” to install cement board. I declined and switched out the cement board for green board. They then tried to say there was more square footage than I calculated. That was their fault they used my calculations and not their own to write their estimate. But we caved and agreed to split the difference in labor. Turns out, I have five and a half boxes a brick paver left over! If I only bought 5% more than the square footage I calculated and they used some of that to replace the cracked ones, then the square footage I calculated was NOT off.

I paid them at the end of week one. They were kind of a third done. There were some small slivers of areas that I thought they could finish in one day. However, it took them a whole ‘nother week and they wanted another check for 1/3 job done. 

Mr. JCrew and I met with them and our builder to discuss. I did not want to pay them. They were finally at what I considered was 1/3 job done. But I knew I had to pay some for their time. I was willing to pay half. There was some miscommunication. I arrived late to the conversation and our builder had agreed to pay the other half since I was unwilling. I was under the impression we would pay the builder back, so if that was the case, why not I just write the whole third payment he wanted. I just split the payment into two checks, dated different dates. This was all under the impression he would finish that day.

I get a text from Mr. JCrew that he was notified the tile guy left after two hours. He was frustrated with grouting the brick and was going to bring a grouting expert with him on Monday. I thought what he did do was perfect!

The grouting expert he brought Monday was a teenage boy! Really? They moved fast and the grout was complete on Wednesday. They then started on the laundry room. The grout was bad and the tile was uneven. I approached the men about the bad job and asked that it be fixed. By noon, I could not find them but suspected they might be at lunch. By the afternoon, I noticed all of their tools were gone. They were packed up and left. They quit! And they cashed my checks! They did 1/3 the work and got paid 2/3. That is my fault. I even put a stop payment on the checks after he left early that Saturday, but I reversed them on the Monday. I never should have. I wish I wouldn’t have. 

We knew it would be a while before we could find someone that was available, so Mr. JCrew and I read up on Youtube and learned how to tile. We started in the spare bathroom. We made sure the tile was level and straight.

We put down as many pieces that didn’t need cuts. 

We started at the front of the room and laid one piece for each row until we got to the pack and then worked our way outward. We knew we couldn’t start from the front and trap ourselves in the room, but as newbies, we wanted to verify things lined up.

We were so proud of ourselves. We used the tile scorer for simple cuts.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. 

We got as far as we could and then we moved onto the next room.

I really was so tickled that we were doing it. It was not that hard. Mr. JCrew argued at the beginning on the right constancy of the thin-set. I didn’t have my measuring cup there so I eye-balled the measurements. That drives and engineer CRAZY! But my female eyeball is pretty accurate. 

Our drill was not powerful enough for the mixer so we did it by hand. I wasn’t willing to waste what we had just mixed, but he thought it was pointless and wanted to give up. I’m not a quitter, and if you want me to quit, it pushes me harder to finish.

Once we got going, we got in the groove. Mr. Crew would mix the thinset; I would lay it down, he would cut the tile. We had our roles and we did good.

Luckily, the cement board was already down and I consider that the hard part.

I am so proud of us!

We didn’t finish the tile job. We both work fulltime jobs and we were already taking work off to clean the brick and do other jobs we needed to do (like spread mulch). While we were doing yard work, a random man stopped and asked if there were any jobs for him to do. I showed him the tile, he gave a good price and he was able to start in four days. We said, “Yes.” I thanked God for sending this man to me. He and his wife came and did a wonderful job. It was such a great experience compared to some others. 

He was a lifesaver!

We tiled the area above the fiberglass showers. We had experience with water rotting the drywall so we wanted to avoid this and tile where any water would go above the shower insert.

For the normal tile, we used epoxy grout. It's premixed, ensures color consistency and resists stains and cracks.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out!

The only thing not perfect is the master bath floor. I think he got in a hurry and forgot the 1/3rd pattern. It's more of a random pattern. I don't think I will notice.

I'm just excited we can finally say our tile is done and everyone can finish! The finish line is near!
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