Home Improvement

Well That Escalated Quickly

Let’s talk about knocking out a few walls and framing a few new ones, shall we?

For two weeks we had virtually no progress in our laundry area, except for rethinking our approach and considering contractor bids. So by comparison, things happened so swiftly over the last few days that it nearly put our heads on spin cycle. What started out looking like this…

…is now looking a bit more like this. Yowza.

Let’s rewind to early last week, when it clicked that maybe we could do more ourselves and sub-contract certain jobs out instead of relying entirely on one contractor and his team. As you may recall from this post, Option 4 is our goal:

We put together a to-do list for all of the tasks ahead of us and decided to take this approach: do what we’re capable of and when we get to a line item that’s outside our comfort zone, call in a pro. Here’s what that list looked like (I added an asterisk to the items we’ve hired out or are considering hiring out):

You already saw that we moved the appliances, so let’s talk demo – which started on Tuesday, with a careful prying off of all of the baseboards and trim so that we can hopefully reuse some of it.

Next came drywall demo, which only involved the cased opening at this point (we were trying to leave the walls to the storage room intact as long as possible to keep the A/C in).  As for the actual demo-tools I used, I knocked things out with a rubber mallet and pried things off with a crowbar.

As for clean-up, I have been sweeping small stuff into garbage bags and collecting a pile of the big stuff in the attic. At some point I’ll get either a small dumpster or another Bagster (I very much look forward to hurling things out the storage room window into the trash bin below – although we can reuse some items, like some studs and trim).

Next on the demo list was removing the old cased opening framing.

This probably required the most brute force of anything – lots of hammering at 2x4s and prying nails apart. Slowly but surely things came down.

Once that was all out of the way, we removed the upper cabinet so the space was officially empty.

Demo was not just limited to walls, though. I also had to remove some of the hardwood flooring since the framing for our new laundry room wall needed to be attached directly to the subfloor. It was a little weird to be tearing out floors that we had laid just last year, but whatchagonnado?

Since we used Elastilon to lay our floors (basically a big adhesive sheet) it wasn’t the same process as prying out nailed planks. I managed to pry off the first few pieces with a flat-head-screwdriver-turned-chisel (that Elastilon is ridiculously sticky) and then it started to lift up in sheets.

At that point I was able to separate it enough to get my knife in and slice through the Elastilon layer underneath, and eventually I could remove the exact section I needed. I also removed the particle board subfloor so that the plywood was ready for framing. Looks awesome, no?

The process of removing the floor confirmed one change to our plan that we had been contemplating for a few days: bumping the frosted door to the storage room (aka: future bunk/TV room) forward a bit. So rather than it sitting in the existing back wall, it will be framed to go right where the hardwood floors end. Not only does this save us from having to extend the hardwoods (we’re thinking we’ll do carpet in the TV room) but it also shortens the already-quite-long hallway a smidge. Thirdly, it will create a small vestibule at the entryway of the TV room for the door to swing into (rather than into the middle of the room), which may make furniture placement in the room easier down-the-line.

My last demo step before framing began was prying (and cutting) out the single attic step that was in the way. I’ll rebuild it on the other side of the platform later.

That was as much demo as our framing guy recommended doing before he arrived (we used David of Chicas Construction, who helped us raise our sunroom ceiling last year). Obviously there are still more walls that need to come down, but we all agreed it would be best to leave them up for as long as we could (again, to keep the hot storage room from overworking our AC). The last half of the framing couldn’t be completed until the plumbing and electrical was moved anyway (which couldn’t be moved until the first part of the framing had been completed) so we always knew framing would be tackled in two parts. So it just made sense to do demo in two parts to go along with that.

On Wednesday morning it looked like this…

…and less than three hours later we had two new walls thanks to David.

After observing him work his magic, I’m pretty sure it’s a task I could’ve managed, but it definitely would’ve taken me MUCH longer. And since he was so speedy, we were able to have the plumbers (Scott & Mike’s Plumbing Services) out just hours later to disconnect the old hook-ups and add new ones.

It only took them about 3 hours to make the change, especially since all of this sits above our garage – giving them easy access to everything without making a big mess inside the house. Of course, they still had to cut out a big section of our garage ceiling, so we do have that repair on our to-do list. But we have been talking about drywalling the whole garage (two big side walls are unfinished anyway) so we might try to get it all done at once.

Having that area cut open actually made life easier for the electricians (S J Ryan Electric), who arrived the next morning. They were able to move the laundry outlets in a flash, but there was still lots to be done in terms of moving light fixtures, switches, and outlets.

For instance, putting a ceiling light in the laundry room (with a switch at the future laundry doorway) and moving some of the storage room lighting & switches. Sherry and I brainstormed where we wanted everything to be moved ahead of time (time is money when people work by the hour) and were able to come up with a nice solid plan for relocating everything so it makes sense. For example, now we have a light above the attic stairs, an outlet in the future laundry room to plug in our iron, and a fixture box in the laundry room that will be centered in the room after we add upper cabinets (if we hadn’t been thinking we would have just centered it in the room but after the upper cabinets were hung it would have felt off-center since it would be closer to them than the other walls).


That was all done by Thursday afternoon, so we called our framer to come back out to finish framing on Friday buuuuuuut… he had food poisoning. He’s like the nicest guy ever so he was saying he would come out on Saturday or Sunday if he was feeling better, but we told him not to worry. We wanted him to focus on feeling better and, well, we had other messes to make over the weekend. The good news is he’s here this morning (feeling much better) to finish everything up so we can hopefully start hanging drywall soon!

With the plumbing and electrical stuff relocated, it was time to proceed with the second phase of demo, so I had some fun with that over the weekend.


First I bashed down some drywall, which fortunately came down in pretty big sheets for the most part (hence my growing pile of trash/reuse items that you can see near the window). Speaking of the window, here’s our first peek at the daylight we’ll be getting into the hallway now.

I could also take down a bit more of the framing too – namely the old wall with the storage room door in it, which would give us our first real feel for what the new laundry room will be like. Don’t mind the dangling outlet boxes. The electricians added them in a way that makes them easy to be set right into the freshly framed wall that David is working on right now for us.

Here’s the same area with the framing down (and white lines added to remind you where the last wall will be framed in). It’s feeling ever-so-slightly like a room.

I could also take out part of the other wall, since the area with the old washer hook-ups will now just open into the storage room. The plumbing was all disconnected already, but the plumbers left the old pipes in the wall for me to remove during demo. All it took was some cutting with my reciprocating saw and it all came down…

And that, my friends, is how we got to the picture that you saw at the beginning of the post.

The next step construction-wise is going on right now, which is getting those remaining two walls framed – both the one to close off the laundry room, and the one for the frosted door into the storage room. I whipped up a little GIF to help show what I mean (David does it almost this fast):

I realize that’s still not crystal clear, so I’ll make one last attempt by showing you an updated version of the floor plan. I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to change the “Current Laundry” label to “Former Laundry.”

Once framing is complete, we’d love to hop right into drywalling (which we’re going to give a go ourselves – although our mudding skills could use some practice) but we need to cross of some other little items first, like rerouting the dryer vent.

I’ll leave you with the last shot I took before taping up a few big drop cloths to keep the hot attic air at bay. It’s some glorious, glorious natural light that’s finally shining on that end of the hallway.

Oh, and we owe you a cost update too. Maybe in our next post once we have the final bill from the framer? So far his estimate, plus the totals for the plumbing and the electrical help are looking great compared to the line items in our two contractor estimates.

What did you guys do this weekend? Did anyone else wield a rubber mallet and tell some drywall who’s boss?



A Little Less Conversation, A Little More…

After much deliberation, our laundry area is finally seeing some action. Well hello there, washer…. shall we take this to the bedroom?

No literally, we took it to the bedroom. JEALOUS?

Seriously though – it has been a busy week around here (mostly with unrelated book stuff) but we’ve managed to get some dust flying upstairs too. Long story short, thanks to a lot of thought (and a lot of encouraging comments from you guys) we’ve decided to do more ourselves, while managing some pro sub-contractors directly.

Our second contractor estimate (after the initial $5,000 one) came in at $3,300, which was a more digestible number, but he had an impending vacation – and actually encouraged us to do a lot of it ourselves. So we called some people we’ve worked with in the past – the framer who helped in our sunroom, our go-to electrician, the plumber we worked with for the showhouse, etc. – and many of them were able to come out this week! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a team. Sherry wanted me to add some Team Sonja joke here about mystics and dog psychics but I REFUSE TO WATCH REAL HOUSEWIVES (ok, the leg scene made me look up for a second, but that’s it).

With the pros lined up, it was time to kick off demo. WITH MY BARE HANDS. Okay, not really, but a few walls have come tumbling down.

In an attempt to keep things moving (there’s work going on up there right now) we thought we’d break down what (and how) we demoed on Monday, along with everything else we manage to accomplish by then (fingers crossed that also includes framing, plumbing, and electrical updates). We didn’t want a week to go by without a quick laundry update, so my apologies for the brief check-in today, but we hope it means more progress to share on Monday. Speaking of brief, this house is on an underwear ration until further notice. #nolaundryproblems