Home Depot rents concrete cutters and of course they have all kinds of plumbing materials. But what they don't rent or sell is the know-how necessary to keep amateurs from causing their house to collapse, either from accidentally digging up the concrete that holds supporting columns into place or from plumbing things in such a way that causes smelly explosions later on.
This left us throwing up the white flag and me quickly putting ads on Craigslist (thank you, Mr. Craig, for your highly functional list!) Within minutes I had too many responses to keep them straight. I think my email account was a great (or sad) snapshot of the times - there are clearly a lot of people looking for work right now. We're not loaded, but thankfully we seemed to have scraped together enough loose change, birthday dollars, and credit card rewards gift cards that we can do this project now AND therefore can benefit from some eager and affordable contractors. If you've got the cash and the desire to do a home project now, I'd say jump on it while all this talent is around!
Anyway, after getting about 3 or 4 estimates for concrete cutting we settled on Jim. Jim's an ex-Union guy who came prepared with all his tools in case we liked his estimate. We did. 5 hours later and with a house reeking of gasoline from his gas-powered saw, we had some trenches!
Again, we got a few estimates and Pete was the winner so he visited us on Saturday. 6 hours later and this time with a house smelling of nail polish remover (from the flux used to connect the PVC) we had drain lines and vents sprouting from the ground!
During demo we learned that the old bathroom was never properly vented. As a consequence our toilet was very slow to flush and drain. Occasionally, there would also be a slight odor. Not going to all this effort just to half-ass things, we concluded it was worth the extra $150 to have Pete properly vent the new bathroom.
And while on the topic of messy things, let's just finish up the bathroom drains by discussing the concrete needed to fill in the trenches. Matt and I hauled in 840 pounds of concrete mix (and not without first worrying that we were going to bust an axel on our trusty Volvo) and went to town mixing it one half bag at a time. Some tips:
- Our smoking drills (yes, plural) demonstrated that the egg-beater attachments for drills cannot be used in mixing concrete (it's way too dense)
- It takes a few batches to figure out the optimal consistency but no need to waste the first few as long as they somewhat resemble concrete - it all gets smooshed together anyway. I only say this because our concrete was not structural.
- A 2x4 remnant works well f0r further mixing the concrete and leveling out the mix once you've dumped it into place.
- Wear goggles and a face mask. The dust is unreal and it WILL give you gross black boogers for a few days.
- Wear long sleeves. When the powder and water first mix, the chemical reaction makes it quite hot and you can burn yourself.
1.5 hours and only 540 lbs of conrete later, we closed up our floor and felt some serious pride!
Careful observes might spy some framing in the background. So riddle me this: what does a 3 day weekend and an untold amount of lumber get you?