Taping and Mudding is Complete!

Diego and his team from Absolute Drywall just completed the taping and mudding! It looks fantastic!! The house is really coming together. Now that there are walls, it’s easier to envision what paint colors will look good. Next up is the priming!!

Time For Drywall!

Now that the insulation is complete, the Drywall contractor has begun! After just a few days of work, all of the walls and ceilings are up on the 2nd floor, and most of the ceilings and the top half of the walls are up on the 1st floor. They installed Durock for the showers, because they’re supposed to be mold and mildew resistant.

With the walls up, it’s really starting to look like a house!!

Drywall Delivery!

Because we were ordering over 500 sheets of 12 ft. long drywall, plus Durock, we decided to take advantage of Menard’s 11% off sale. The drywall showed up on a giant truck, and they took one of the art room windows off, and lifted the 2nd floor drywall sheets right through the window.

The Insulation is Complete!

When it was all said and done, 2 1/2 to 3 inches of closed-cell insulation was blown onto both the walls and the ceiling. After that, over a foot of open-cell insulation was blown onto the roof rafters, for a combined value of R55. This will help to keep the house warm in the winter, and cool in the summer.

The company also put rock wool insulation along all of the bathroom walls to minimize noise within the house. (And yes, I had to ask Joe for all of this information… it just looked to me like a bunch of Marshmallow Fluff all over the walls and ceilings.)

When another sub-contractor came by after the insulation was blown in, he said, “oh, this is really good insulation”, which made me happy!

Say, “No” to Squeaks!

Unfortunately — although I loved the original hardwood floors — we are eliminating a lot of the old walls, and there weren’t matching hardwood floors under the kitchen tiles.  As a result, multiple flooring experts stated that it would be in our best interest to install new wood floors, instead of patching the old.   I was really disappointed, but once we heard this a couple times, I realized that we needed to listen to the pros.

Joe did the painstaking job of cutting out the old floors and has begun installing the new sub-floors.  Apparently, when homes were built in the 1930’s, there were thin wood “slats” that were placed under the hardwood floors.  The problem with this, is that it made squeaking likely as the wood and house aged.   Today, sub-floors are made of wall-to-wall plywood instead of the wood slats.  This helps to make the floor sturdier, and helps to eliminate squeaks.    Joe has been installing the sub-floors, which really helps me to envision what the floors will ultimately look like!!  I’m super excited!


Oh Boy!…Ozinga!

Although the original garage had a concrete floor, because we extended the garage, the back half of the garage floor has just been dirt and gravel.     The #Ozinga Truck showed up this week and John Gavin’s team poured us a fabulous new garage floor! They completed the landing of the back basement stairwell as well.


Now That Would Have Sucked!

Other than blog posts, the only thing I seem qualified to do at the house right now is clean.   Originally, I was using a broom.  Enter: the massive and impressive ShopVac!!  It is now my new best friend at the house.  What a sense of accomplishment I have, as I rip through the house, eliminating all of the residual drill shavings and saw dust that Joe and the contractors leave behind!

Thankfully however, I was paying attention recently, as a toad had found its way into the basement.  I nearly sucked the poor little guy up into the ShopVac, but saw him in the nick of time!   I brought him back into the great outdoors, so that he can find little bugs in his natural habitat!  (Audrey, I know you’re very pleased to read about the happy ending for the little guy. 🙂


A soaker tub + 80 gallons of water + a person = a lot of weight.  We had to install a beam to withstand this weight.   As usual, L&M Welding did a fabulous job making us the beam, and Joe’s cousins, Dan and Lee, helped to get it installed.   Manny welded it to complete the job.   Thanks all!

It’s Electric!

After Joe finished digging the trench for the underground electric, and completed getting the PVC pipes ready, it was time to pull the overhead electric lines from the electric pole.   The lines now come down a pipe that Joe attached to the side of the electric pole, and through the PVC pipes located in the ground.   Once the lines were at the base of the house, the lines needed to be “pulled” into the house, and connected to the main breaker panel in the basement.  Warren, Dan and Bobby were instrumental in making all of this happen, and ComEd and the city inspected and approved all of their work.  Thanks, guys!!


French Doors

Today the french doors were installed!

I love french doors, so I selected them to be the doors that lead from the master bedroom onto the rooftop deck, as well as the doors that lead from the art studio onto the rooftop deck.

One more item off the to-do list!


Underground Electric

The original electric lines were overhead, and not only were they ugly, but they were dangerously close to the new above-garage deck as well, so we decided that burying the electric lines made the most sense.

We had to wait an i-n-o-r-d-i-n-a-n-t amount of time for ComEd to come out to look at our electric, but finally they came and approved our request to bury our electric lines.

Joe then rented a trencher from O’Leary’s, and went to work digging the trench.   Thankfully ComEd came out quickly after the trench was built so that he could continue with that project.

Click here to see: Joe using the Ditch Witch

Plumbing – Round 2

We already have the underground plumbing finished.  Now, our fantastic plumber, Joe Moody, is back to do the next round of plumbing.  This time he’s venting the roof (who knew that a plumber took care of that?!), and he’s also putting in the PVC pipes that will be inside the walls.

The Folks From Marvin Windows Came Through Again

Our second shipment arrived from #Marvin Windows.  I have to say, I’m totally impressed.  John the warehouse wizard (not to be confused with John Sampey our fabulous sales guy), has been so precise about when they were going to arrive to deliver the doors and windows.  I’ve become so used to having a 5- 7 hour delivery window with nearly every other product I’ve ever had delivered, that having a one hour window, and making it, is truly refreshing.

John also pulled a rabbit out of a hat, because I asked him to deliver the back sliders a day earlier than they were planning to deliver them — and he came through!   Thank you, John!

I also love the way the new back sliders look!… I love being outside, and having this wall of windows makes you feel like you’re outside, even if you’re not!

More Porch Progress

I feel like if I blink my eyes, when I re-open them something major has changed on the house.

This time when I opened my eyes, the front porch was well-underway.  With the porch enhancements, we solved two things I really didn’t like about the original house:

1.  We were able to get rid of the cheesy scalloped trim on top of the bay window.  (sorry if any of you have scalloped house trim that I have now insulted as being cheesy.)

2.  We were able to hide the fact that the 2nd floor is about a foot larger than the first floor.  Why they designed the house that way, I have no idea.   It almost looked like someone had decided to put an addition on the house, and they mis-measured the original house, but this was how they designed it from the very beginning.  … very odd, but it’s been now masked under a brand new porch!

New Windows

We worked with John Sampey, Joe’s friend who sells Marvin windows, to select our windows and doors. He was so wonderful to work with, and was very patient with my 1000 questions and 20,000 tweaks!

The majority of the windows and doors arrived right on time this morning, and the framers have already begun installing them.  They look fabulous!

Two Wrongs Sometimes Do Make a Right!

Wrong #1:  Joe and the Framer realized that the laundry room window I ordered was going to be too tall for the space.  (Unbeknownst to me, it is necessary to put a 12 inch header above the windows, but in doing so, the bottom of the window would have been below the top of the sink.)  Whoops!

Wrong #2:  The architect had put the washer, dryer, and sink on the outside wall of our laundry room.   However, our plumber, Joe Moody, advised us that you don’t want your plumbing pipes to be on an outside wall, and recommended that we modify that part of the plans.

Solution:   We will move the washer, dryer and sink to an interior wall, which then makes room for the window.   (Thank goodness, because having to order a different window was going to be an expensive mistake!)

Because we were needing to make room for a counter next to the window, Joe had to re-frame up the window.  He worked hard into the evening doing that.

Soffits Installed

One of the things I really didn’t like about the original house, was that it had no soffit (roof overhang) on the front of the house.  It made it look kind of smashed in or unfinished.

Today, however, that was rectified, as the framers added a new soffit to the house.   It looks SO MUCH BETTER!!

They also added additional Tyvek on the outside of the house, which helps to create a vapor barrier.


We Have Ship Lap!

One of my friends, (I think it was either Peg or Lisa!), got me hooked on the HGTV show, “Fixer Upper” — I’m now addicted to it!  Joe likes the program too, so there have been many evenings when we’ve watched it to get ideas for the house.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with “Fixer Upper”, the show participants, Chip and Joanna Gaines, occasionally find ship lap on the houses they’re rehabbing, and they often incorporate the ship lap back into the house they’re updating.

I was really excited when we found ship lap under the old siding on the 2nd floor.   Much of it is still in very good condition.

I was also excited because I was actually able to help today, instead of just take pictures!  I was in charge of pulling out all of the old nails, and then scraping off the residual materials on the back of the boards to get them ready for future use.

We’re not exactly sure where we’re going to use them — perhaps on a wall in the art studio — but they’re ready when we need them.

Front Windows Cut In, and House Under Roof

The Framers have cut in the 2nd floor front windows, and have completed the roof (sans shingles).    I love how the roof is nearly symmetrical when you see it from above.  I think it looks like one of those T shapes on the Tetris game.   (Thanks again to Joe’s cousin, “Drone Dan”, for taking pictures from “bird view” angles!)

The Porch Foundation Is Complete

The folks from Ozinga came out again to deliver 4 yards of concrete.  Joe’s friend, Warren helped to direct the concrete into the forms that he and Joe had previously created, and then he made sure the tops of the concrete were smooth.

Joe waited a until the concrete was dry to pull the wood away from the sides of the concrete.  They look PERFECT!  Thank you so much, Warren!

Interior Updates

Now that the roof is in place, (sans-shingles), the crew has begun working in the rooms in the original part of the house.  You can now see the changes we made to the layout.

Lot’s of help with the porch!

Joe’s great friend, Warren, came over to help with the porch foundation forms.    These forms were placed over the holes that Joe had previously dug with the auger.  Soon they will pour concrete into these holes, and the concrete will support our porch columns.

Apparently jumping into the holes is fun, because Joe’s nieces decided to jump in there too!

More Walls and Floors

More walls and floors are complete.  In the picture above, we’re looking out of the art studio windows towards driveway.

Wojciech Mniszak and the framers from his company, W.S. Remodeling, have been doing a fantastic job on the house!  It has been moving along so quickly.  It’s really exciting to see it all come together.

I’m especially excited about the art studio.  The art studio walls, closet and bathroom are all up.

We have walls

Today the framers worked on the walls of the kitchen/family room. They also added the master bedroom/bathroom floor joists above that. I’m particularly excited for the wall of windows that will overlook the backyard.

It’s amazing how quickly the framers are able to do the framing.   Having the walls and ceilings makes a huge difference.   I can’t wait to see what they complete tomorrow!


Framing the Kitchen/Family Room Floor

The Kitchen/Family Room floor TJI truss joists have been put into place, and the flooring placed on top.

There’s no longer just a giant hole into the basement — now there’s a floor for the kitchen, and a ceiling for the basement.

Joe and I drew out where the kitchen cabinets, island, pantry and refrigerator will go on the floor.   It’s so cool to see it!!



The Framing Has Begun!

After our original framer blew out his knee, we were scrambling to find another framer.   Unfortunately, because the construction market has been incredibly hot here, every framer who would actually respond, projected a potential start date of 2 1/2 months out. (Depressing!)

Thankfully, we were introduced to another framer,  Wojciech, the owner of W.S. Remodeling, and he and his crew have begun to frame up the art studio!  Woo Hoo!!  It’s so exciting to see the progress.

The Lumber Has Arrived!

Al Kern, our fabulous Home Depot Pro Desk consultant, recommended that the lumber be ordered in waves: wave 1 is the lumber for floor 1 and the art studio, wave 2 will be the lumber for the 2nd floor.

Wave 1 has arrived!!.. and wow, that’s a lot of lumber!   Dennis the Home Depot delivery guy pulled it off of the truck with a bobcat and put it in the back of the house.  It’s now ready to be used for the framing!


Getting Ready For The Front Porch


To make sure there is a good foundation for the porch pillars, Joe attached an auger to a bobcat, and drilled holes into the earth at the same locations where we will eventually have porch pillars.

Concrete will be poured into those holes, and that will make sure that the porch is stable.

The Garage Wall

Building code stated that we had to have an extra wide wall built with a 4-hour burn time.  Because he had done such a great job on our previous brick work, Joe asked Rafi Chocolocowicz to help get that done.

To complete the job, Rafi built a wall with blocks, and then added rebar and concrete to complete the job.   It looks great!

The I-Beams are Installed!

Now that the foundation has been poured, it was time to get the posts and I-Beams in place.  Thankfully Joe had some beams already, so he was able to use them. The great folks at L&M Welding helped us again to get them perfect, and to get them installed.  And we can’t forget to thank Joe’s brother, Larry for helping get them installed as well!   With all of these beams, I think the house will withstand any earthquake or tornado.



Next up on the agenda was to get the initial underground plumbing completed.   We found Joe Moody of Moody Plumbing, based on reviews on Angie’s List and we were not disappointed.  Ironically, we also saw him at one of the local restaurants after Joe had interviewed him.  (Small world!)

Joe (Moody) and his team installed the sump pump and the injector pump.  We’ll have him back when we’re ready to do the next round of plumbing work.

Changing Up The Water Service

Because the house was built in 1939, the diameter of the pipe to the city water service was too small to comply with today’s code.  The pipe to the water service was only 3/4 inch and Chicago code requires that it be 1 1/2 inch.

We called in the fabulous guys from B&T Underground to get the job done, and they didn’t disappoint!  We had previously been told that the water service was across the street, which would have been incredibly expensive.  But thankfully, it turned out that the city water service is right in the parkway at the front of the yard.

When B&T  dug a trench from the house to the city water service, we could see reminders of the big front yard maple tree in the ground, as there were TONS of tiny roots that they had to cut through!    B&T put in the pipe from the house to the parkway, and then they worked with the city to connect to the city water service.   The water service is now 1 1/2 inches!   Let’s hear it for good water pressure!!  Thank you B&T Underground and Chicago Water Department!!

No More Front Steps

Because we will need to pour the foundation to mount the new front porch on, Joe had to take out the front steps.  Thank goodness we’re both tall and can still step up through the door!

Sadly, there was a little chipmunk who had apparently been living under the front porch.  I think he was lost without his home, and kept running back and forth, likely thinking, “My house was here.  I think my house was here!   Where is my house?   I swear my house was here!”     Poor little chipmunk.  We nearly called our Dr. Doolittle friend, Audrey Cooper, to see if she’d take him in.



The Backfilling Has Begun

After the foundation walls finished curing, Joe put in pipes around the periphery of the interior of the basement floor, which will work in conjunction with the sump pump to pull any water from the basement.  He then lined the external perimeter of the foundation with 2 1/2 inch thick pink foam insulation boards to insulate the basement.

Although the weather hadn’t been cooperating, we finally had a few non-rainy days, so Joe got back on the Bobcat to backfill the earth around the foundation.  He started by filling the bottom portion with sand, because it helps to draw water away from the home.  He then began taking the original dirt to backfill the rest.  He was lucky to have some helpers along the way!!

Joe was able to use the Bobcat to compact the earth … and worked exceptionally long hours doing it!

And Now We Wait

The forms have been pulled away from the foundation walls, and the walls look great!   You can see where the notches were created at the top of the concrete where the windows and doors will be.  The damp proofing is also completed.  Damp proofing seals the footing and foundation against moisture.    We don’t want moisture!!!

Now we have to wait 2 weeks for this all to cure.   Which leaves me time to update this blog and source subcontractors!

The Foundation Walls Have Been Poured

Although I’d like to think that the whole reason the Ozinga trucks were at the house, was for me to get my picture taken in one of them, they were really actually there to pour the foundation walls.   I had to keep myself at a distance though, as I was worried I might shout out in my best Marge Simpson voice, “be careful, you might fall from there!”, because the guys would balance themselves on the top of the 9 foot tall form boards that were no more than an inch thick, and wield shovels to push the concrete along.  Impressive.

Depending on the consistency of the concrete, they would add water as well as spin the truck faster … so cool to watch!  But before they even pour the concrete, they spray a release agent onto the inside of the forms, so the concrete doesn’t stick to them.

Video of the:Concrete Being Poured