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Friday, December 19, 2014

“And the walls come tumbling down”

Inagakisan is trapped in a web of wires! Fortunately, he is still smiling. This was a former exterior wall looking in from the former garage.

The old bath is in great shape. So, why tear it down? The stone floor is freezing cold in the winter. The stone is unforgiving if we were to accidently slip and fall. It's difficult to tell if the stone is ever clean. The bath fixtures are severly corroded and cannot be replaced unless the stone is removed (poor design). Other than that...the location of the bath, in the middle of the house, is a really bad idea. Sorry, but its got to go!

We will try to use the hinoki paneling elsewhere in the house.

No sign of rot behind the stone walls after almost 20 years. The builders did an excellent job of moisture protection.

View of the new addition from the former bath.

The baby blue bath tub was never my favorite color.

A ten pound sledge hammer and a pneumatic jack hammer was needed to break the stone walls

This will be a hallway leading to the new additions

A matching baby blue toilet and sink will be removed as well.

The ceiling hasn't been exposed to daylight in almost 20 years. Most of these wiring runs will need to be redone and hidden from view.

This will be the new pantry with a door leading into the kitchen. The 50A circuit breaker box will be replaced and relocated. The circuit breaker box will be replaced with a larger unit to accomodate a new oven and stove.
Hello. The old stone bath is finally gone. This area will be used as the hallway that leads to all of the renovation that has occurred. Demolition continues with the removal of the toilet area and several interior and exterior walls. This transformation dramatically opens up the original floor plan. Even though this house was originally built in Canada and shipped to Tsukahara, several modifications have been done to make the home…Japanese. One modification that has driven me nuts is the addition of a tatami room (not pictured).

Tatami mats are magnets for mildew. Cleaners are available to eliminate surface mildew, but we discovered that mildew finds its way deep into the mat. I completely dissected a tatami mat to find mildew hidden inside the various layers of material. It’s impossible to remove this mildew. Mildew can cause upper respiratory problems. In other words, it can make you sick! We can’t stand the smell of mildew and tatami, especially on those really hot and humid summer days. The solution to the problem is rather straightforward…get rid of the tatami! This will be part 2 of the remodel. I’m hoping Erika can convince Inagakisan to do this part of the remodel before he decides to retire.     George

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to find a lost dog

Time for a brief public service message:

Did you lose your dog or do you know someone who is looking for their beloved pet?Erika and I love dogs. If there is anything we can do to help an owner find their dog, well…

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cabinet Update

It's a little crowded in here! It's hard to concentrate on woodworking with the incredible view outside.

Carcasses are painted

The drawers and faces are made (not pictured), but they will be painted and installed after the cabinets are installed.

Stretchers and face frames are ready for install. The Kreg Pocket Hole Jig (in the background) really made things easy. If you're building cabinets, I highly recommend this tool.
Two coats of Gloss White latex paint was applied over a sealer coat. The paint has a mildewcide added. The paint is easy to apply and sand. I was unable to scratch the paint with my nails so the paint is very durable and easy to clean. Latex paint is safe for the environment, too.
The cabinet carcasses for the window side of the kitchen are painted. I’ll begin assembling the cabinets next weekend. The public schools will be closed for a couple of weeks during the winter holidays. I’ll be taking some time off to concentrate on installing the kitchen cabinets.

The remodel has been progressing, but at a slower pace. Toto has been facing some delays and our unit bath will not be installed until the 22nd. Some of the electrical and carpentry work (drywall, cedar panel ceilings, Toto floor) has been completed, but I’ll save those pictures for later. I installed the wiring for the floor heat in the master bedroom and the utility room so the drywall can be installed.

Inagakisan has been busy with his other construction projects, so we won’t have his full attention until the 6th. I’m not sure, but I think that is when the stone bath, toilet, and sink area will be removed. Those areas are located in the center of the house. When they are removed, the entire house will be opened up…finally.   George
Looks like we're going to have a white Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Things are moving right along

Insulation installed just in time for snow

The areas near the ceiling need to be insulated

Wiring has begun. The dark log used to be located on the outside of the house. It's easy to forget how much has been done in a short amount of time.

Plumbing for the utility sink

Plumbing for the washer

Plumbing for the bath. Note: the tub is below grade. The tub is designed for cold temperatures and is coated with some kind of high tech insulation.

More debris from the remodel. We gave the first set of logs to our friend, Noriko. This pile of logs will be going to?

The plywood floors are being installed. Insulation in the floors and walls are being installed. The ceiling still needs to be insulated and installed. The electrician and plumber are busy preparing for the new bath install which should occur on Wednesday.

The floor heat is posing a challenge. Instead of increasing the floor thickness to accommodate the thickness of the floor heat wires, I have decided to route a groove in the plywood flooring for the wire. This will take much longer to install, but the floor will be a lot stronger. Later, I’ll post step-by step photos in case someone else runs into this problem. Why not use mortar like everyone else? The mortar required to complete this job is not available in Japan. That's the problem with using materials brought from the states. To ship the mortar from the U.S. or China, it would cost almost $3000+. I think I can afford to improvise. Shhh...besides it will give me a chance to use my woodworking tools.

Speaking of woodworking...the carcasses for the sink, stove, and drawers are almost complete. They have a sealer applied and hopefully this weekend I can paint the cabinets. Assembly "should" be easy since pocket holes were used in the construction. The challenge is to get the garage warm enough for the paint application. I had to wait until noon before the heated garage reached 5C. The paint cannot be applied at a lower temperature. 

Inagakisan is doing everything he can to allow us to stay in Tsukahara during the remodel. This includes moving the sink area and plumbing for hot and cold water. Erika is trying to cook a couple of weeks worth of meals before the gas is removed. She is experimenting with a portable, single burning propane stove in case the cabinets are not completed in time. Inagakisan is also trying to coordinate the install of the new bath with the removal of the old bath. We are very grateful for his extra efforts.      George

Erika and the dogs are patiently waiting for a ride down the hill.

Up next: interior walls and door framing

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Living in a tent

It feels like we are living in a tent. The only thing that is keeping the freezing cold air out of the house is a blue tarp. Erika has been busy keeping the wood stove full of wood. With the tarp, stove and Erika, the house has been a comfortable 20C.

Here are some pictures of the work that was done yesterday. The work pace hasn’t slowed despite the weather.

This view is the outside looking into the former kitchen.
This is the inside of the house looking out. The gaps in the tarp were closed as soon as we found out how much cold air was seeping through.

The cooktop and sink are out in the elements. It's very difficult for Erika to cook anything in the freezing cold. It's ironic. When we moved here, it felt like we were camping. Now, it REALLY feels like we are camping!

Some of the debris leftover from a busy day

The roofers are installing a seamless galvalume roof. The roof installs over the existing shingles. This results in a roof that will not leak and it's quiet inside when it rains. The installation saves time, leaves the existing roof intact, saves money.

Plenty of flashing over the logs to prevent rot. I need to install a gutter as soon as possible to protect the lower logs. The house was not designed with an adequate roof overhang. That's one major factors as to the cause of all of the rotted logs.

This used to be an exterior wall

View from the master bedroom

Tools of the trade

This corner will be removed as soon as the electrician pulls some wires.

The pine flooring sits on top of plywood that is only 1/2" thick! The entire first floor will require at least 1 1/2" thickness to support the tiles. The pine flooring is glued and nailed. Another layer of plywood will be added to the top of the existing floor. Nails will be used every 6 inches.

Wiring mess

Hard to believe this transformation was accomplished in one day!

Former outside wall

This wall leads into the existing bath. The wall will be removed and the stone bath will be demolished. The sink, washer, and gas heater will be removed.

Vapor barrier was quickly installed to help keep the cold air out, but the blue tarp in the kitchen did the trick. The lower roofing runs vertically because the pitch of the roof is shallow, The upper roof will have the roofing run horizontally because of the steeper pitched roof. Lots of scaffolding will be needed. This will have to wait until next year. Scaffolding is expensive!

The roofer is finishing up. The camera's exposure shows a bright sky,  but it was quickly getting dark...and cold.
Up next: Plywood floor? Stay tuned...           George

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

It's cold and it's getting colder

It snowed last night. The high for today is -1C and with a wind chill factor, it feels like -10C. Despite the frigid temperatures, progress continues with the remodel. The outside walls are framed. The windows and doors are installed.

We wanted to have bright white windows installed to match the other windows. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get bright white windows in Japan. YKK and Lixel did not have them. Instead of spending a fortune to have them imported from the states, we settled for a cream color. I purchased the same color windows and door on the new garage and they blend in well with the beige and walnut color scheme.

Master bedroom

Bath tub and utility room. Beige colored walls are in the background.

Entry to the utility room. This entry will be used everytime the dogs are walked. The propane tanks, piping and meter will be removed as soon as the electric water heater is installed.


This year, a metal roof will be installed over the entire lower section. Next year, when we can afford it, the rest of the roof will be completed. Yesterday, the roofer took measurements and gave Inagakisan an estimate. I think the roofing will be installed next week?

Up next: demolition of the interior walls...time to move to Hasama?