Station Progress: Let’s call it halfway.

Since we decided to hold off on breaking ground on the actual house, we’ve put all of our energy into turning the station into a livable space.

In the last year we’ve:

  • Put on a new roof
  • Torn out the old concrete floor and bathrooms
  • Put in a new concrete floor
  • Torn out the ceiling, nearly collapsed the roof, and then re-supported it
  • Taken out old windows and framed in new ones
  • Installed one of the new windows
  • Put in new plumbing

Not necessarily in that order.

For sanity’s sake MysteryMan and I have been dividing up the projects among us, even if he hasn’t fully realized that’s what is going on yet. The problem is, I’m half the size of MysteryMan… and when he gets a friend or two over, it’s not exactly efficient to have me hauling things around or trying to hold things in place when someone twice my size can do it in half the time. Probably with less blood. And I respect that. I hate it, but I respect it.

I also realize this is why women hate construction projects. Because if you aren’t doing it totally on your own, you get relegated to “tape measure holder” or some other such job that makes you want to poke your eyeballs out with door shims.

I fell into that trap for about a month and then I just started taking over projects and prefacing them by saying “Don’t help me, don’t offer suggestions, and don’t say anything about how this turns out other than that is the best concrete step I have ever seen in my life” and then gesturing menacingly with my hammer to anyone that comes withing 5 feet of my project.

So in the last couple of weeks we’ve been simultaneously working on 1.) Prepping the new doorway and installing the exterior door, and 2.) Framing in the bathroom.

My Project

I charged myself with the new door opening (after the professionals with big saws cut the opening).

It started with framing and pouring a new concrete sill for the door.

Love That Mud
(It was the tag line of my family’s ready-mix business for a decade.)

“Poured” so to speak.

Note: tap the shit out of the side of the frame with a hammer to make sure the concrete settles. I didn’t do it quite so much as I should have because I was avoiding mixing more concrete, and this was good enough for our rustic gas station home.

Here’s where things started to get a little wonky. First, we bought 2×8’s to frame in the doorway, because, hey, 8″ block, right?

Wrong. (Not because block are actually 7-5/8″ either.) Wrong, because we’re furring the walls out with 2×3’s on the inside.

So, we went back and bought 2×12’s and ripped them down to 10-3/4″ or thereabouts, and can I just say something about 2×12’s? Those are some bigass pieces of lumber.

Something I love is the 12″ jamb for the door, though. If I could have them on all the doors in the house I would.

The second part was prepping the stock door to work in a 12″ frame. This is the part where I want to give a huge shout out to Johan, who works in the window/door department at Lowe’s.

1.) He embodies the perfect mix of “there exactly when I need to ask a question” and “not standing over my shoulder freaking me out so I feel rushed to make a decision”

2.) A lot of times when I start talking about a project in a home improvement store, people start talking real slow and give me the “why would you do THAT?” look. When I said, “Johan, I want to take one of these 4″standard doors and make it work for a 12″ frame” he launched right into all of the possible ways it could be done. Not, “you’re crazy, lady,” but, “sure, you can do that.”

He also helped me out with windows a few months ago, and here’s the thing about excellent service… I’m going to buy 5 expensive doors and a house full of windows from Lowe’s, because when it comes to making big decisions and spending a lot of money, I want to work with a guy like Johan.

Taking Johan’s advice, I removed the trim from stock pre-hung door.




Then I measured the door again and realized, hey guess what? The door is 4″ too narrow! That was definitely our bad, as we got so caught up in finding a right-swing door with a screen window in it that we forgot to check the width. This is what happens when we do things without help.

Sidenote: Once we were driving up North with our bikes strapped to the roof of my big yellow SUV, and the gas meter dropped down below empty when we were in the middle of nowhere. The only sign was for a town 50 miles away. We finally found an exit with a gas sign, only to find out the gas station was literally 10 miles down the road from the highway. And the car starts to sputter a bit. And I’m cracking up because I’m pretty sure one of us is going to actually have to pedal a bike to the station to get gas. This is not the end of the world to me. It’s a problem with a very easy (and kind of fun) solution. By MysteryMan’s reaction you would have thought we were stuck on the moon with no oxygen. Or beer. He still doesn’t see how that situation could be funny, and I still don’t see how it could be anything but. (Even though the car DID make it to the gas station, thankyouverymuch.)

This illustrates one of the fundamental differences about how we view life, and pretty much sums up our reactions to the door being the wrong size. Me: chuckling at how I’m going to tell the entire Internet we have three college degrees and two professional certifications between us, and somehow cannot manage to buy the right door. MysteryMan: END. OF. THE. WORLD.

Thankfully, I managed to replace the trim and exchange the door, and similar to the gas story, the world did not stop spinning on its axis. In this one area at least I hope over the next 50 years or so I have a much bigger influence on MysteryMan than he has on me.

Hey look! It’s a door.

If any of you catch me on twitter (@kitliz) you’ll know there was one brief moment of sanity in this project when I remembered to remove the nails holding the door in place before actually installing it in the frame.

Of course it still needs to be painted and trimmed out, but holy hell that was one beast of a task to accomplish.

Meanwhile, back at the batcave…

Not My Project

Three men, two plumbers, one framing nailer, and a lot of beer went in to getting the bathroom framed in.

Going in to the bathroom

Future site of the toilet (straight ahead) shower (back right) and urinal (front right)

You’ll have to excuse the lack of color commentary here as I was doing other important things like pouring a concrete step at the time. I’m pretty sure the only exciting thing that happened was that MysteryMan almost got shot in the head with the framing nailer.

Don’t worry. He’s got a thick skull.

Future site of the sink (inside left), and exit:

Also my mom might be throwing a gang sign in this picture. It’s hard to tell. (Oh, she is SO going to make me take this off the Internet.)

Bathroom and closet from the outside. (Also good friend Dave, NOT throwing gang signs.)


I mean, Labor Day takes on a whole new meaning here, doesn’t it?

And that’s not even half of what we’d like to do in the next three weeks. Along with putting Garrison up for sale. Goodbye sleep, that’s for sure.

I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.