Episode 2: The one where we rough the second bedroom in

When I last wrote, our second bedroom had a floor but not much else.

Here’s what our condo looks like, all the way from when we originally bought it until Friday night:

It was also looking likely that it would stay this way for a while. My Uncle Mike, who’s installing the second bedroom for us, was busy this weekend. I was busy for the next two weekends, and he was busy for the subsequent two. This meant that we wouldn’t get the second bedroom roughed in until late October. (For those like me that have no idea what “roughed in” means, it’s when the floor joists, plywood floor sheets, and wall studs are installed.)

This past week, I was worried about this. Most of the remaining projects, like the electrical work, installing drywall, painting, and installing trim on the second floor can only be done after the second bedroom is roughed in. To further complicate things, some of those jobs require coordination with contractors, which nudges the difficulty of their scheduling into “hellish” territory.

Take the electrical work, for example: we need an electrician to work on our condo twice before we’re finished. The first time he visits, the second bedroom needs to be roughed in but without drywall so that he can route the power through the studs without having to cut open and then patch drywall, which would be more time consuming and therefore expensive. The second time he visits, all drywall needs to be up but not painted so that he can do his finish work: cutting holes and placing the canisters for recessed lights, adding the switch covers, and so on. In total, he estimated this would take about a day and a half.

At the estimate, the electrician told me to call him when he could come out for his first visit. If I called him in late October, and it took a week for him to come in, and then we put up drywall, you can begin to see how vanishingly unlikely it was that we could hit our target move in date of early November.

So, you can imagine my relief when Uncle Mike texted me on Friday asking “What time in the morning”. I worried that if I acknowledged that I thought he was busy this weekend, he might agree that indeed doing anything sounded better than working on Saturday and instead decide to go to the park with his dog. So instead, I just replied “Is 9 too early? I’m not picky”, and we settled on that.

On Friday night, my Dad graciously helped me prepare for Uncle Mike coming on Saturday by ripping out the upstairs trim. One thing I’ve learned so far is that, if you’re relying on a skilled tradesperson with a tight schedule to help you out, try to do as much of the menial work beforehand as possible. It ain’t glorious - boring cleaning and running around may not feel like real work - but much of it would take the skilled tradesperson as long as it’d take you, and their time is a heck of a lot more valuable.

So thankfully, Uncle Mike was able to start working shortly after he arrived yesterday morning and boy did he get a lot done. While I acted as an extra set of hands - holding the tape measure somewhere, moving materials, tearing out drywall that he cut, cleaning, keeping him well fed and hydrated - he roughed in the entire second bedroom. This includes a closet with a “step” in it, an idea I stole from our neighbors across the hall, giving a bigger closet and providing sufficient clearance while walking down the stairs. The amount of work that he got done in a grueling, 10.5 hour day was truly impressive, and Erin and I are incredibly appreciative of his work.

He also showed me how to cut trim with his miter saw and install it. I think I got the gist of it, but have no doubt that I’m going to run into some trouble based on his many sentences that started with “Obviously” or “You can see here” when in fact the point he was making didn’t seem obvious and in fact I couldn’t really see there. I asked lots of questions when they seemed important, but also realized that a lifetime’s worth of experience installing trim couldn’t be summarized in 45 minutes to a nincompoop who had never used a saw before. I figure that I’ll have to make some mistakes for myself before I can truly appreciate the more nuanced points, but I’m at least now confident that I can use the miter saw without losing fingers. I even managed to install the new casing on a door and a half and can already feel myself moving faster.

Lastly, my Dad stopped by to help even more. I’m going to try to paint our cabinets (more on that later), so he sanded down the doors of the cabinets we’re going to replace in order to give me a few to practice on. He also ripped up the hardwood floor covering half of our second bedroom and knocked out half of of a wall between the second bedroom and the stairwell, which will allow us to more easily install the new drywall.

Here are a few pictures from the day:

All in all, we made a ton of progress, and I’m relieved that we’re able to call the electrician now to schedule a first visit. In the meanwhile, there are a lot of projects that I can make progress on - learning to use the paint sprayer, painting the cabinets and windows, priming the first floor walls, installing the first floor trim- that thankfully don’t rely on the second bedroom being installed.

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