Friday, February 19, 2010

A Week in the Toilet...

We started working on renovating our fixer upper exactly two weeks ago today with our primary focus on the kids' bedrooms as our top priority. We stripped each room down to the studs, ripped out carpet, and were preparing to put up new drywall, WHEN... the first major distraction occurred. One of our two bathroom toilets were in need of immediate attention! We knew there was a problem with the toilet leaking (from our general home inspection we had done prior to closing), but we didn't realize how bad until this past weekend. Every time a person would sit down on the toilet, it almost felt like the toilet might fall through the floor; it seemed to be getting progressively worse over the two weeks we had been living in the house. Our thought was, we would hurry and get the kids' rooms done so they could get moved in (we're sleeping in our travel trailer at the present), then gut out the bathroom with the leaking toilet. Both bathrooms in the house are in need of complete gut jobs and could qualify for one of America's Ugliest Bathrooms ever! (I'll post the "before" pictures once we get to the actual remodel)

Our first distraction from the kids' bedrooms happened on Saturday morning (Valentines Day). I used the bathroom and as I flushed the toilet, something caught the corner of my eye. I looked down and this is what I saw (look real close at the base)~

Needless to say, our focus was now on taking care of a scary toilet situation. We spent the entire day pulling out an old toilet and soggy sub floor.

Notice the back of the toilet leaning against the wall? We think this helped it NOT fall through the floor! Actually... it wouldn't fall through the floor because of the floor beams, even though it felt like it would.

A very soft, rotten sub floor. (Kirk isn't in the mood to be filmed.)

Thankfully the floor beams weren't rotten (YET!) and just the sub floor needs replaced. Kirk adds cross braces to help re-enforce our floor since we plan to put tile down during the remodel stage.

We had to set up a fan to dry out our wet floor beams before our new sub floor and toilet can be installed. As of today, the fan is still running and they are pretty much dry! Guess what we'll be doing tomorrow?!

Since our toilet situation happened, our second distraction happened! We discovered this house has most of it's plumbing going into an unknown holding tank/septic (that, as of this week is overflowing any time water is used). This holding tank, or what ever it is, is in addition to the new septic system that was installed in 1998. Apparently when the new septic system was installed 10 years ago, only about 30% of the plumbing was routed to the new septic we discovered through investigation! We had NO IDEA there was an old system next to our kitchen window that a shower, a bathroom sink, washing machine, dishwasher, and kitchen sink ALL drained into! All of a sudden, early this week, we notice a mini pond on the side of our house! After investigation and Kirk digging the area up, we realized what was going on.

We asked the septic guy who installed the newer system 10 years ago to come over to give us his opinion of our mini pond. When he came over, he let on he didn't know what was happening with the mini pond situation, but said, no matter, we need to get our plumbing straightened out to be going into the newer septic. He said we could do it ourselves if we're up for it... the cost of materials would be around $100. IF we hired a plumber, the labor costs alone would be around $1,500 plus cost of materials. Guess what we'll be doing tomorrow/this weekend in addition to installing a bathroom sub floor and new toilet?... you guessed it~ we'll be plumbers, re-routing our shower, bathroom sink, washing machine, dish washer, and kitchen sink to drain into the newer septic system. OH JOY! SERIOUSLY! I'm so thankful this house is a pier and beam, so we can do the job ourselves. When the septic guy was talking about the newer system. he also made a comment in passing about the "old septic" and pointed on the opposite side of the house the kitchen is located. What???... "An old septic over there?" I wondered.... that's not on the same side as our kitchen that has the over flowing mini pond.

With all this toilet stuff and plumbing issues happening, our THIRD distraction for the week happened. Our one and only functioning toilet got major plugged up on Wednesday evening. I guess that's what happens when 6 people are using it, and the kids always seem very generous with the toilet paper. Kirk had to go to Home Depot at 8:30 PM Wednesday night and buy a 40' snake to unplug it. While we're looking for the opening to snake our system, I remembered what the septic guy said about the "old septic". Sure enough we found a make shift cover (a 18x18x2 concrete block) over this hole that was filled with sludge! OH GROSS! We were mad, frustrated and sick! Mad, because when the new septic was put in, the old wasn't filled with gravel or anything. Not even emptied! We were frustrated because this was NOT disclosed to us prior to us purchasing this home. Sick because the thought of our 5 year old boy discovering this block, being curious, pulling the block away, and possible falling in... he sink down and drown. The thought maddens and sickens me. Kirk put a much safer block over the hole until we can get it properly filled in the next couple weeks.

Our week has literally been in the toilet!

Are we having regrets for buying this house... NO.

Are we discouraged about all the work... NO.

Are we being surprised every other day... YES.

My hope is a year from now, we'll look back and celebrate our progress and successes. As DIY'ers we like things done right; we like to save money we would otherwise pay someone else a job we can do. Obviously, there's a lot about this house that hadn't been done right, and we're thankful we're discovering them so we can get it right and be confident in a job well done- plus save a bunch of money.

I reflect on all God is teaching me through this experience. I think about how appropriate it is that God gave me my memory verses for this two week period of time! While the Apostle Paul writes these words of my memory verses, he's imprisoned amidst nasty circumstances, most likely angle high in human waste among other things. I am certainly not going through what Paul went through as he was imprisoned, but the God inspired words he wrote encourage me "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation... I can do everything through him who gives me strength.... And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." The whole chapter 4 of Philippians inspire me as I go through these home renovation trials.

More later~


sister sheri said...

You all are amazing DIYers! I can't even imagine doing all that work... and then blogging about it. But it sure will be neat to look back and see all your hard work.

Traci Eccles said...

Keep documenting the project...I know your sludge will turn into golden memories some day. And I love the feeling of being involved in the journey. Thanks for sharing! said...

Experiences like this usually turn into stories to tell to your grandchildren. And you also save quite a bit of money. Congratulations on your project!