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The 3 Year Anniversary

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We are coming up on our 3 Year Anniversary of our move to Kauai. On one hand I can’t believe how quickly time has passed, but on the other hand it’s hard to imagine how much we have been through, experienced and accomplished in such a short time. Here is a short synopsis of where we have been, what we have done, what we are doing and where we are (we think!) going as we continue our life on this beautiful little rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Newbies

Flashback to 2015. In March of 2015 we had just come to the island to check on our house that we had purchased about 8 months previous. Our renters had moved out and we decided to come out a month ahead of time to bring some basics – clothing etc. for when we made the real move in April. At the time we really thought this would be our retirement home and that we would just pick up work on the island for medical coverage and to pay the bills until we could skid into retirement. But things change.

We lived in this little house on Lahela Place for about a year and a half. I worked from home and Barb settled on a job at the local middle school. We were still getting settled in to Kauai life…   and then we decided we needed a just little more room than our 900 sq ft house afforded us and set out to buy some land on which to build our dream home.

Dreamer. Nothing but a dreamer

Well, we found a great lot and proceeded to go through the exercises of finding a builder and designing a home that we would love. Trouble is, the builders here were/are all very busy building homes. Just getting some of them to respond, much less bid a job was challenging. On top of that, since everyone was so busy, they were charging top dollar for building a home. We found that we would have to compromise so much on the home design that we would have to increase our budget significantly if we wanted to build the home.

Enter the fixer-upper. My own fault. I was looking at Aloha Living (Hawaiian real estate site) and saw that there was a house for sale just up the street from us that had a great view and a swimming pool to boot. Knowing better, I still told Barb… The picture looked good so we called Susie, our realtor, so we could take a look. This house is literally less than a mile from where we were already living so it was easy to just hop up and see it. At the time we still hadn’t given up on building our own home, but we were a bit discouraged so we figured we might as well take a look.

So we tour the house. We love the view and the vaulted ceilings. The home is about 600 square feet larger than our current place and has an unobstructed view of the ocean. The place looked a little rough – in need of some maintenance but not horrible. That came later, ha ha.

We submitted an offer on the house and put our house up for sale. What followed were 3-4 months of the most challenging real estate transactions I have ever been involved in. There were timing issues and back and forth negotiations with our buyers, we found out that there was termite damage to the house we were buying that had never been fixed. The inspection on the new house turned up a myriad of problems from rotten wood to non-code propane supplies to a fireplace that was wicking water into  the walls and causing wood rot. We really thought of pulling out of the deal a few times because we were so stressed and I’m sure we took a few year’s off Susie’s life too.

But finally, in December of 2017, we were in the new house and we could relax.

I’m joking. You knew I was joking, right?

The Horror…

There was no way we could relax in that house. It seemed like everything we touched or looked at that first month either broke if we looked at it sideways, or was already broken. Nothing worked correctly. The little house on Lahela seemed in great shape compared to this place. I had to travel to the mainland for work right after we moved in and Barb called to inform me that we had a mouse sharing the house with us. Unsurprising considering the state of everything. But distressing nonetheless.

Transformation

Fast forward to the present.

It is a year or so later and things have changed. We have repaired or replaced much of what was wrong with the house. I have described in detail many of the improvements in previous blog posts (with lots of pictures!). The house is starting to look pretty good and we really like living here now. We still have a ton of projects ahead of us but we now have a clean, pest free house where everything works.

Here is a list off the top of my head in no particular order of fixes and improvements.

  • Replaced or repaired every screen in the house (ALL of them needed work)
  • Had propane plumbed correctly to the kitchen and laundry room and a propane tank installed.
  • Had the electric supply for the range rewired – the previous owner had run an extension cord to the plug on the counter for the range. (and was running the propane from a BBQ style propane tank)
  • Replaced the range, washer, dryer, dishwasher and microwave.
  • Removed the pony wall next to the range since the new range wouldn’t fit with it still standing. Sealed up THE GIANT HOLE we found inside where they had run a flexible hose from a BBQ type propane tank to the range. Oh and there was a mouse nest there, too. Our pal.
  • Replaced the computer board for the pool equipment that had failed.
  • Replaced the chlorine generator for the pool.
  • Replaced the pump for the pool.
  • Replaced the heater thermocouple for the spa so the heater would work.
  • Removed the garage door opener and garage door rails from the office area where the previous owner had kept them after converting the garage into an office. Repaired the wall where all that had come through.
  • Repaired termite damage in the guest room floor.
  • Refinished the guest room floor.
  • Fixed all the holes and gashes in the walls and painted the guest room walls and ceiling.
  • Replaced the old aluminum jalousie mechanisms with vinyl mechanisms in the guest room, master bedroom and breakfast nook.
  • Remodeled the bathroom – repaired the dry-rotted floor around the toilet, blew out everything else and tiled the floor and shower, and installed a new toilet, ceiling fan and vanity. Repaired the water damaged drywall near the shower and repaired the dry-rotted floor near the shower. Rewired the shower light and re-positioned the wall GFI outlet.
  • Fixed non-standard electrical wiring wherever I found it – especially in the attic.
  • Replaced all the outlets and switches in the house.
  • Refinished the floors in the Master Bedroom and painted the walls and ceiling.
  • Rerouted the cable to proper cable boxes instead of having them come up through holes in the floor. Repaired said holes.
  • Replaced all the casing/molding in the Guest Room, Master Bedroom, hallway and guest bathroom.
  • Replaced the Master Bedroom door with a barn door.
  • Constructed custom built-in cabinets and kitty litter resort spa area for the litter boxes (Master Bedroom). Nothing is too good for the cats.
  • Installed a closet organizer and louvered doors in/on Master Bedroom closet.
  • Living Room – Removed fireplace and old casement windows and installed new fixed windows and patio door in it’s place. Replaced damaged girders and beams that were rotted under the old fireplace.
  • Removed old bamboo trim from around the dining room windows and cased out the windows with modern molding/trim including window shelf.
  • Removed the old shelves in the hallway and the mirror behind them and reinstalled new shelves.
  • Painted the hallway and installed custom lighting to replace old nasty lights.
  • Installed electrical outlet and lights in the “garage” area.
  • Repaired roof structure and shingles on gazebo.
  • Cleared out a crap-load of weeds and cut down a 30 foot kukui tree.
  • Removed numerous truckloads of firewood and other crap left behind by the previous owner.

Whew! I’m tired from writing all that. I know we’ve done even more but I can’t think of all of it off the top of my head. Dammit Jim, I’m a consultant not a computer!

And……… here is the stuff we still have left (and this list will increase!)

  • Replace the pool liner (waiting on the pool liner folks right now)
  • Replace the lanai cover so we can protect the lanai deck.
  • Replace the lanai flooring with ipe wood. (Ipe wood is a tropical hardwood that is very dense and stands up to wood rot and insects. It can last 30-50 years.)
  • Remodel the kitchen – blow out a couple of walls and add an island.
  • Remodel the Master Bathroom.
  • New flooring in kitchen and breakfast nook – part of kitchen remodel.
  • Paint the office and replace the flooring.
  • remodel the laundry room.
  • Reconfigure the water heater closet to maximize storage.
  • Move the spa to the lanai when we re-do the flooring.
  • Carport or garage construction.
  • Build a workshop.
  • Clear the embankment of the riparian foliage and plant cool stuff.
  • Replace the rest of the aluminum jalousie mechanisms. (only 5 left!)
  • Refinish the rest of the oak floors – scheduled for this summer.
  • Replace a few of the ceiling fans with nicer fans.
  • Re-do the hall closets – mostly paint and replace old shelves.
  • Repair some old termite damage on the door molding leading out to the lanai.
  • Replace wood on front deck and stairs with ipe wood.
  • Replace the rain gutters with seamless gutters.
  • Replace wood slats along the bottom of the house with waterproof polyethylene slats to prevent future rot.

I’m sure more will pop up as we go along but we are getting there.

Life is but a dream, it’s never what it seems…

The house stuff has been a main focus for us this last year or so but we also continue on with fun stuff as well. I’m still in a band, One Lane Bridge, and we had the opportunity to play at the Waimea Town Celebration last month. A lot of fun and I even got to play some original music there! I’m also jamming with some other local musicians and having a great time doing it – and stretching myself musically a little bit too. Barb is getting some sewing and crafts done as time permits and we love it when we can entertain visitors  from the mainland. We still miss our San Diego friends and relatives but we are also making some new friends here too.

Well, this has been my 3 year update on our Kauai life. In conclusion we are still loving it here and are keeping very busy with our projects which are both frustrating and rewarding at the same time! I hope this post was entertaining to you and that you will check back on my next post.

Until then, Aloha!

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THIS is why we bought our fixer upper.

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Our Kauai Fixer Upper: Living Room, Dining Room, Hallway oh my!

It is said that a little paint makes a big difference. I don’t know who said that, but if no one else takes credit then I will. That being said, it is true that repainting can change the whole look of a home.

This post will include before and after pictures of various improvements that we have made to our Kauai Fixer Upper since my last post in November, 2017.

The Master Bedroom Cabinets – finally finished!

It felt like it took forever because we are novices when it comes to building cabinet doors but I think it was worth it.

Here is the before picture of the area where we installed the cabinets

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Yeah we thought the same thing. Vanity gotta go!

I had posted our construction of the new shelves in an earlier blog. Here are some of the steps in the construction of the doors for those shelves – and a picture of the final product.

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The cabinet frame. No MDF here, just solid wood.

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Drilling the pocket holes in my fabulous cabinet shop.

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The paint goes on – this was tedious…

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Test fitting the top row.

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We used a router to makes recesses for the bamboo sheets. (They are leaning up against our barn door that was still in its wrapping)

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Add a few knobs and…voila! The finished product 🙂

So now the cats have a nice private enclosure to take of business in, and also to contain the cat litter. There is also a ton of storage on those shelves for clothes etc. Much more useful than what was there before.

The Office/Garage Wall Repair Project

This actually happened just before the cabinet project and was not really in our schedule. But when the “soffit” (and I use that term loosely) collapsed where the garage and office connect, something had to be done.

A little history. The office is actually a converted garage, which itself was a converted carport. However when the garage was converted to office space, about 6 or 7 feet of the front was kept as garage/storage space. The automatic roll-up garage door was also kept along with the automatic opener.

Well, the garage door rails and opener extended into the new office space (the previous owner called it a hobby room). To cover up that faux pas, a soffit made out of a few metal braces, some screen material to keep out the bugs (it didn’t work) and thin wood veneer was installed to enclose the rails and the garage door opening mechanism (except for the actual motor which was not enclosed by the soffit). Rickety is a word that both describes this structure and also insults the word ‘rickety’.

Back in October a gust of wind blew through the open garage and collapsed the soffit. Which meant the top of the office wall was now open to the garage and any critters and/or bugs that would have occasion to visit me. Not to mention all the dust, dirt and dead bugs that fell out when the soffit collapsed.

So with that lengthy preamble out of the way, here are some before and after photos of the repair job.

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Hmmmm.

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I would jump every time the garage door opened rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrroooooooooooooooooooommmmmm!

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The soffit is down with a little help from the wind. On the bright side I could just throw stuff into the garage…

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I framed out the opening. I also routed some electrical from the attic for an outlet in the garage. That is a grandiose way of saying “I ran a wire”.

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T-111 siding was then added on the garage side.

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Next the office repairs. At least the bugs will have to take the long way around now.

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Drywall. Still a ton of ceiling repair to do.

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Taped and scraped.

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This is what it looks like today. Not bad for an amateur drywaller. The office remodel is yet to come, but at least the wall/ceiling repair part is finished.

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And here is the garage side as it looks today. Muy bueno.

The Living Room Painting Project

In my last post I updated all y’all on the living room fireplace demolition and wall o’ windows project. This post is just an update on the next step in the living room transformation. Mainly we painted the walls. But as I mentioned earlier a little paint goes a long way in changing the look and feel of the room. Here are some before and after pics. You be the judge.

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Gratuitous morning rainbow shot before we started painting.

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Getting started. That’s a tall ceiling! Note the mint green walls. I used to work in a CRT (television TUBE!) factory and all the machines were painted this color. I kept having flashbacks of the machines breaking down.

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“Paint or paint not. There is no try”

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The first coat!

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We ordered some new furniture. I think it looks good on the big wall. The white paint really brightens and modernizes the room.

We still have to refinish the floors in the living room (and dining room and hallway) like we did in the two bedrooms. That will be a summer project when Barb is off of work. So it will be even more awesome once that is done

The Dining Room Project

Yes, the hits just keep on coming. Once we saw how good the living room looked we decided to keep going into the dining room. This project would see the last ‘Wall of Green’ removed from the house. The long nightmare would finally be over.

First however, we had to remove the bamboo trim that had been installed around the dining room widows. While I get the idea of bamboo trim/molding in Hawaii, it didn’t necessarily mesh with our vision of the house going forward. Plus it was a place for geckos to hide out and lay eggs. While I love the geckos, I don’t like gecko poop, so removing hiding places for them is a good idea.

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If the picture looks dark, it’s because it is. The bamboo shades had the dual purpose of keeping out light and offering no privacy whatsoever from the outside. You can see the big bamboo trim that came with the house. Bonus.

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The trim has been removed. This is what it looked like underneath. There were a number of pieces of scrap wood being used as shims etc. There was not a nice flat surface to paint or line the new molding up with.

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The painting is done. Now for the trim/molding repair and installation.

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We made a shelf at the bottom because it looks cool and the cats like to stare at the chickens from here. We installed a thin piece of wood around the inside of the windows so it would be a single surface to paint.

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Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures as we were installing the actual trim, but you can see the finished product in these next few shots. The room is much brighter now and just a cleaner look.

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Ta-daaaaa! Sorry that the picture seems dark. It really isn’t dark in there anymore but the backlight from the window screws up the camera lighting.

The Hallway Project

As usual the smallest areas tend to pose the largest amount of work. This hallway was no exception. From patching all the holes to removing the cracked mirror in the alcove to replacing all the door trim and hall lighting, this project took us a lot longer than we thought it would.

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The hallway was painted a lurid dirty-yellow color. Probably the paint was attracting ghosts and lepers. The light fixtures were rusting and the door trim was just not really doing it for us.  In the right house it might be OK, but not in this one. 

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It’s a bit hard to tell from this picture but the mirror at the top right has a chunk missing. The mirror itself was glued to the wall of the alcove and then the trim was glued to the mirror. This was a bit sketchy to remove as we didn’t want it to break and sever any arteries that could lead to one or both of our deaths. But “Danger” is one of our cats’ middle name so we forged ahead. Note: How did I take this picture of the mirror without being in the reflection? You can see the hallway is empty in mirror… (ghosts I tell you!)

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The front door. Again with that trim! also notice the attractive rails used to hold up the glass shelves in the alcove at left. Rust and paint colored.

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We removed the door and the door jamb from the Master Bedroom so we could install a barn door there. That way the door no longer interferes with opening the cabinets in the master bedroom.

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Kind of looks like a party gone bad. The mirror is gone, but much of the glue remains. A lot of the drywall is missing where it came off when the mirror was removed. Clearly we survived the mirror removal…

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Bye bye old trim.

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goodbye to the old lights as well. This pancake box was broken into pieces and had to be replaced.

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The first coat of paint – already brighter 🙂

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Our mason jar light above the entry.

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The trim is up on the door – just needs a coat of paint.

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We cased out the master bedroom doorway in preparation for the barn door.

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Varnishing the barn door. The door is made of alder and we went with a clear coat varnish to bring out its natural beauty.

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The backing block for the door rail.

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The rail is up and ready for the door….

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Yes! the finished door

The hallway actually took us about 2 weeks to complete. We still have to install the shelves in the alcove but everything else is done – and that is really just decorating rather than renovating. Now that the hallway is done we have connected all the renovated areas of the house. You no longer have to cross a DMZ of ickyness to get from one improved area to another. Boom.

Next Steps

Our next project will be the office renovation – painting and new flooring. After that we will be refinishing the hardwood floors in the hallway, dining room and living room. The refinishing project should take place in early-mid June. We are also trying to find a contractor to build us a cover for our backyard lanai. Stay tuned on that – it’s a big job.

General Kauai Life Update

Life continues on here – we are pretty wrapped up in the house projects but we also eke out time for work, fake nuclear missile attacks, playing music (our band, One Lane Bridge, plays at the Waimea Town Celebration this Friday – shameless plug haha) and hanging out with the cats. Barb’s sister is coming out to visit in a couple of weeks and we are very much looking forward to seeing her.

Thank you once again for looking in on this blog. Sending much aloha your way!

Dave

 

Kauai Fixer Upper – Master Bedroom edition and… life update.

As usual it has been a while since my last post. But stick with me, there will be lots of photos! Here’s one right off the bat that Barb took in Kapa’a at an orchid shop. I think the gecko is actually posing for the picture.

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First a quick Kauai life update.
Apologies to any of my Facebook friends as I have almost completely stopped posting and looking at Facebook. I just became so tired of political rants and posts from both sides and ads etc. that I’ve just given up on using the app for the immediate future. Probably the only thing you will see posted from me on Facebook will be these blog posts as I have them linked to my profile.

Okay okay, the life update.
We’ve been keeping very busy with general repairs and working on the Master Bedroom Renovation. As usual, the renovation always turns up more issues than you expect and everything takes a lot longer than you think it will. So we’ve been estimating worst case scenarios on how long it will take to do a job and then doubling THAT (haha).

The kitties are doing great and appear to not have a care in the world. They are really good at pointing out any geckos that have invaded the house so that we can capture and relocate them outside. We’ve been calling Mr. Beasely by a new nickname ” ‘lil G”, which is short for “The Gangster of Love” (apologies to Steve Miller).

It’s time for Barb to go back to work after having her summer break (always a downer) and I am pretty much always working so things are pretty stable there right now.

The band is still practicing and playing. We’ve had a couple of private gigs recently. One at Salt Pond beach and another at a private residence in Po’ipu. They both went very well and we are looking forward to more in the future.

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We have more visitors coming to stay with us in a week or two. Barb’s brother and his wife will be with us for a couple of days before hopping over to Maui. We always have a great time with them and are looking forward to the visit.

We FINALLY got our permit from the county approved so we can start work on removing the fireplace and replacing it with a large sliding glass window. Having the construction in the house for a month or two while I am trying to work won’t be fun, but I can’t wait to see the place once that big ugly fireplace is gone and we have a clear view out to the Pacific.

On to the improvements and (more) pictures!

The “Before” pictures of the Master Bedroom.

Here are some photos of the room before the project. These are from our walk-through of the house before we bought it. The previous owner had some big furniture…

The Demo:

Not as much to demolish in this room but we did have those built-in drawers that were thrashed and needed to be removed. Barb gave it the red glove treatment…

We wanted to build in a shelving unit before we started on the rest of the room. We designed a place to put the litter box and supplies for the cats in the unit so it will easier to maintain and to contain the litter.

We still need to build the doors to enclose the shelves, and it is on our list, but it might be a couple of weeks before we get to that part. 🙂

On to the rest of the room

There was a lot of prep to do before we could actually start painting the room.

We had to:

  • Remove all the base board, repair all the holes, gouges and  fix nails that (inexplicably) protruded out from the ceiling.
  • Remove all structures from the closet so that we could paint the inside of the closet and install a closet organizer.
  • All electrical sockets were replaced.
  • A wall switch and associated light fixture above the old built-in dresser were completely removed.
  • The TV cable, which had been installed by drilling a hole in the floor and sticking the cable through, was routed into the wall into a proper box with a proper wall plated to connect to. The hole in the floor was filled and repaired.
  • We removed the old aluminum jalousie mechanisms for all the windows and replaced them with new vinyl mechanisms that seal better and are a bit more secure.
  • Old termite damage around some of the window frames was filled and repaired.

    The new jalousie mechanisms.

    The new Jalousie mechanisms.

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The closet organizer

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Our cat Cali, enjoying the afternoon

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The room from the entrance. Again, Cali is enjoying the day.

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The “new” closet doors. We got these at the local thrift store for $15 per two panels ($65 including tax!)

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A view back towards the room entry.

You can see we still have a lot of finish work to do. We need to install the baseboard but we can’t do that until after we refinish the floors. That project will happen in about 3 weeks. Then we can finish everything up and get to decorating the room.

Other projects.

The outdoor shower next to the pool had no enclosure so we decided to enclose it with bamboo so we can use it as a real shower. Taking outdoor showers in Hawaii is one of the singular pleasures of living here. But you don’t want to aggravate the neighbors with your birthday suit so an enclosure is required. 🙂

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Then we built a door out of re-purposed wood and bamboo sheeting to ensure privacy while showering. We had to stain the wood and varnished the bamboo to protect the door from the elements. I think it looks pretty good.

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We still need to figure out something to hold soap and shampoo and hang towels and clothing but in the meantime we have a small table inside to set the shower supplies on.

Well that’s a wrap. Considering all the work we went through to get these projects done, this seems like a pretty short post! But probably better that way.

Aloha to everyone and see you later!

Our Hawaii Fixer Upper, Project #2: The Guest Bathroom

Our second renovation project is the guest bathroom. This is a small, but not tiny, bathroom that is next to the guest bedroom that we previously updated. We have guests coming to stay with us on May 31 so we had a limited time to get everything done. And believe me when I tell you that this was pretty much a gut job. There was almost nothing that we would keep from the original bathroom.

First a few “before” pics of the bathroom in its former, uh, glory.

Sorry for the bad angle on the shower. The enclosure was corroded and the walls were Corian sheets that were just glued to the wall. Not really watertight.

The cabinet for the sink was full of water damage and had been harboring mice at one time. Note the position of the outlet on the wall. Not even enough room for a full sized wall plate.

If you look at the base of the toilet you can see way too much caulk that was used to mask the cracks in the tile. The tiles were cracked because the subfloor underneath was rotten from water damage. The picture doesn’t do justice to how tilted the toilet was because of the failing floor. I’m just glad no one fell through!

At least the window was OK. 😊

Demolition

So the demolition began… everything came out. We took the shower area down to the studs, removed the cracked and degrading shower pan and removed the old tile which had cracked in many places. Essentially stripped the place down.

The Shower Area

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This is after we removed the Corian sheets from the wall. They had just been glued over regular drywall – and not very well. I was able to pull the pieces down by hand. They peeled right off. At the bottom right you can see that the drywall had degenerated from water damage. It was very soft at the bottom. This damage extended to the floor underneath the tile and shower pan.

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Yes, ugly like the other side!

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Surprisingly, there was not as much water damage behind the drywall as we thought there might be. The wood was solid and not soft at all.

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The shower pan is out. The flooring is 3/4 inch oak, which is used as both the floor and sub-floor in this 1979 house. At the corners where the shower pan ended, the floor had rotted almost all the way through from water damage.

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It doesn’t look that bad here, but when we started scraping away the discolored wood on the floor it went almost all the way through. You can also see that the tile was laid directly over the old linoleum.

The Toilet Area

Under the toilet we also found water damage. Prior to the demo the toilet leaned to one side and the tile on that side was cracked due to a soft floor underneath. There must have been water leakage going on for a LONG time to damage it that much.

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Yeah, not a pretty sight. You can see through the floor to the ground where I pulled out the loose, dry-rotted flooring. All of the flooring in the immediate area around the toilet ring was badly damaged.

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This is a view from underneath before we started the demolition you can see where the dry-rot had gone all the way through all around the drain. Another fun fact: When they installed the drain they cut right through the joist and never bothered to support it anywhere. I believe this was the reason for the floor bowing so much and the tiles cracking in this area. Too much flex.

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Yeah – just kind of hanging out there in space!

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We cut out a large area around the drain to make sure all the bad wood was removed, and to allow us to access two more joists in order to support the 3/4″ plywood we were going to patch the floor with.

The Sink Area

The sink/cabinet was a Home Depot unit that was in reasonable condition from the outside. But the construction is mostly particle board which has a short shelf life here in Hawaii. Once moisture gets into particle board it starts to expand and come apart and this cabinet was doing all of that. It had to go.

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You can see the wall had some raised spots behind where the cabinet sat. We found that, for some unknown reason, there were cardboard shims stuck on to the drywall there and then covered over with joint compound. Its still a mystery to me. You can also see that the linoleum did not continue under the cabinet and the tile had been glued directly to the oak floor.  Removing the mortar from that area was not fun, but we wanted a nice flat surface before we started  installing the floor. We also had remove all the baseboard and the trim around the door.

Rehabilitation

Prep work: Now that we had all the bad crap out, it was time to start prepping the area. We had to patch the floor around the toilet drain and install cement board on the floor and in the shower stall.

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First, we wanted to support the joist where it had been cut to accommodate the toilet drain. I used some 2 x 4’s nailed to a wood base to give them better stability and supported those with cement block and termite barrier.

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Here is the 3/4″ plywood patch that we applied. the wood is green because I treated it with termiticide before installing. Also a brand new toilet ring/extender was installed.

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Next the cement board went down for the flooring. We used 1/4″ Wonderboard Lite for the floor. This would keep the floor from flexing and cracking the tiles that we would later install.

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Here is where we had torn off the shims that had been stuck to the wall. We spackled and textured the area to improve its uniformity with the rest of the wall.

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We framed out an insert for shower goodies.

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After mortaring the joints we applied RedGard as a moisture membrane to keep the shower water tight.  You just roll it on like paint. Pretty cool stuff!

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Unfortunately all the demo and prep work was not as easy as it sounds. It was grueling work to get it to this point. There were other tasks that I didn’t get pics of  – like relocating the power outlet and rewiring the light in the shower, etc. But now we were finally ready to start the finish work….

The Finish Work

Our next tasks were to install the tile on floor and in the shower. We had tiled floors before but not a shower so we knew we were in for a fabulous learning experience. We went with large grey tiles for the floor to give this small bathroom a larger feel. For the shower we went with 16 x 4 white subway tile and a stone accent strip.  We used grey grout to better define the white tiles. The walls were painted with white semi-gloss paint to keep it bright in the small space.

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We were worried about getting the insert done, but it turned out to not be as difficult as we thought it would be…

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…and we think it turned out pretty well!

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The pictures look good but it actually took us 3 full weekends of tiling to complete the shower. The floor we knocked out in a few hours. Grouting the shower took 3 days to complete even with the pre-mixed grout. But we are first timers for the shower part and we were learning on the job. Our next shower will benefit from the knowledge we picked up on this project.

The Final Product

The fun stuff. We had ordered a bathroom sink/cabinet from IKEA. Since IKEA doesn’t ship to Hawaii, we contracted with a firm that specializes in shipping IKEA items to Hawaii. You place your order through them and they ship to the port here on Kauai where you pick it up. The shipping is pretty steep but even with that we were able to get a nicer wood (not particle board!) cabinet and sink for less than buying (a decent) one at Home Depot. We also ordered a ceiling fan appropriate for wet areas from Amazon and installed it over the commode. The LED light fixture was a Costco buy. The mirror we found at Home Depot by accident and it perfectly matched our cabinet (Score!!!!).

We are still going to install a glass enclosure for the shower but we haven’t settled on what we want yet – and we had to wait until we were done tiling to get good measurements before ordering one.

Anyway, here are the photos of the bathroom that I just took a few minutes ago. I hope you like the final product!

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The Cost of it all

The final cost of the project to this point is about $3,100. That doesn’t include the glass enclosure which we estimate will be another $700. So an ultimate cost of $3,800 for a full bathroom renovation. Plus about 2 months of our time from start to finish. Everything in this bath down to baseboard, door trim, wall plates and electrical switches were changed except the medicine cabinet, which was repainted and re-used (and a cool little ceramic fish knob added).

Well, that’s it – I hope this was interesting to you. Our next project will probably be the Master Bedroom – although we are hoping to get the living room remodeled shortly as well.

Aloha!!!!!

 

June on Kauai

It’s June and I’m late for my monthly blog post. Usually they come out on the 7th since the anniversary of our move to Kauai is April 7th. But I’ve been a little stressed with work and house stuff which has kept me busy and I’ve neglected the blog.

Hawaiian Worof the Day

The Hawaiian word of the day is ‘Kuleana’ (pronounced Koo-lee-ah-na). Kuleana means responsibility for something. Such as “It is my kuleana to make sure the bills get paid on time”. I was first introduced to this word by our realtor, Susie, when we were going through the process of buying our house here. I had a lot of kuleanas!

House Projects

We have gone into “maintenance mode” on our current house since we are going to be selling it to build our new house. It is not officially on the market because we are still in the process of designing the new home. I’ve also been so busy with work that I haven’t wanted to deal with all the kuleanas that come with getting the home staged properly. The last thing we did was to finally replace the old screen on the carport bathroom. we now have a shiny new white screen door to replace the old brown one. It was the final piece of the bathroom update out there. Exciting right!?

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The Plants

We have our first papayas from our papaya trees! It took less than a year from seed to fruit – the trees are probably 9 or 10 feet tall now. We are finally able to be fruit GIVERS instead of takers. Seriously, we have more papaya than we can eat – and we can eat a lot of papaya. Here are our first 3 that we harvested. Both trees have a lot more where that came from.

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The rest of the plants are also doing well – with the exception of the lime tree – it isn’t really growing, its just kind of sitting there. Both the orange and tangerine trees have had their spring growth spurt and are looking good. The pineapples are growing but haven’t shown any fruit yet, and the avocado tree is COVERED with avocados. That’s a lot of guacamole on the branch!

Work

Work is keeping me very busy. It looks like one of my projects will be extended for 3 or 4 more months as some requirements have changed, so that’s good for me – but I am also a little disappointed that we will miss the deadline that we set up for the end of this month. My other clients have kept me busy with some custom programming projects and have had me waking up in the middle of the night thinking about solutions to nagging programming issues. My geek certification has been re-upped for the foreseeable future. My beach visits have taken a hit in favor of keeping hot on the programming trail but I’m sure I will catch up on those on the weekends.

Barb is on summer break so work is going GREAT for her.

The New House Project

We have contracted with a friend and neighbor of ours who just happens to be a home designer. So the house plans are under way! We have decided to have him design in an ADU (additional dwelling unit) for a couple of different reasons: Our plan is to build the ADU first and move in to that unit while the main house is being built, This will give us a place to live and make it easier to sell our current home while the main home is being built. It will also give us a source of income once we move into the main house as we can rent it out. That’s the plan and we will see what roadblocks await us…

Fun Stuff

Yes, there is actually fun stuff happening here too! We have been driving up to Hanalei on the North Side every couple of weeks. It’s just beautiful up there and hanging at Hanalei Bay is the best. We’ve also had the opportunity to get together with some of our friends form the North and East sides and that is always a great time.

This week we met with a couple of friends of my sister who were visiting the island. We were able to meet them and have a couple of dinners and had a really great time. We hope to keep in touch and see them again soon.

The Weather

Rainy and sunny, rainy and sunny. The weather has been great in my opinion: plenty of rain and plenty of sun and a green, green island!

The Band

We have 3 gigs next week. One at the Hilton in Wailua and 2 parties on Saturday. So I’m keeping busy with that too, what with learning new songs and such.

Politics

Haha. Not even going there! It’s my kuleana to keep this light and fun.

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13 Months in Paradise

Hawaiian word or phrase of the blog: Pau hana. Pau hana means ‘finished working’ or ‘after work’. So there are a lot of places that incorporate this term into their name or advertising because who doesn’t want to be done with work and ready for a little pau hana time?

Prologue

So here is the update. I got back from the mainland last week with a little visitor: A cold virus that hitched a ride in my throat and has now blossomed into the full glory of a cold. So I am writing this blog under viral duress today. I’m pretty sure that’s a thing.

Progress on the new house

Well, no actual progress on the house itself, but we are scheduled to close the deal on the land this Wednesday. We will then be proud owners of 10,200 square feet of Kauai real estate. Our first step will be complete, and we can now start work with our home designer on our new digs.

This Old House

The house we are in now will need to be de-cluttered as we will have to put it up for sale PDQ. Fortunately we threw out most of our belongings before we moved here, so it shouldn’t take too long to have this one presentable for potential buyers. The fly in the ointment is we are looking for a buyer who is willing to rent back to us until the new house is ready so this could get tricky. A rental unit somewhere close by is not out of the question, but we have 3 cats so finding a rental could be tough.

So if any of you are looking for an investment property on Kauai with built-in renters with good credit for a year or two, give us a call 🙂

Work

Work is keeping me very busy. I am putting in a full 8 hour day or more every day now. The project that keeps me traveling to San Diego will be winding down soon. I expect that to be reduced drastically by the end of June. So it’s all good. Still.

Island Stuff

The island is just beautiful. We have been getting rain nightly and the trade winds have been great. Whenever I drive to town I still can’t quite believe I live here.

I thought I would have more to say, but I’m not going to bore you too much more by just writing junk. I’ll blog at you again soon. When my cold is gone.

It’s pau hana time anyway.

 

 

One Year on Kauai

Today is our 1 year anniversary of our move to Kauai. We’ve had  our ups and downs, but honestly mostly ups. So today I will look back on our genesis of life on the island.

We arrived on April 7th, 2015 (with cats in tow) to our new home in Kalaheo. It’s a cute little yellow house.

 

Our belongings arrived two days later (much to our surprise!), including our truck and car. We were very happy to have all of our things come across so quickly. We had done a lot of planning (particularly with making sure that all the cats’ paperwork was in order) in order to make sure things went smoothly. For the most part they did. 🙂

Expectation and  Reality

As you can imagine, we did a lot of research on island life and we had some expectations of what life might be like (good and bad) before we moved and some of those things are what we expected and others were not rooted in reality.

  • Expectation: We were going to have to change our eating habits drastically because the food we ate was either not available or too expensive on the island. Reality: We have been able to find most of everything we like to eat here. If we shop at Costco for the main stuff the price is only slightly higher than San Diego. But if you shop at the ‘regular’ grocery stores you will pay a higher price. The fruit has been free for the most part because we have neighbors who periodically leave us fruit and veggies on our doorstep. there are also the fruit stands that people set up around the neighborhoods where we can get bananas, citrus etc. for very low prices. Papayas grow wild around here and its not too much work to walk down the street and pull one off a ‘volunteer’ papaya tree. I definitely eat more papaya than I used to! Definitely there has been some adjustment because the produce for things that aren’t grown on the island like broccoli, cauliflower and iceberg lettuce  are quite bit more expensive.
  • Expectation: Gasoline is prohibitively expensive on the island. We are really going to have to cut back on driving. Reality: The gas prices have actually been less expensive than what we were paying in San Diego (if we get it at Costco). Plus the lower speed limits mean we get better gas mileage and everything is closer (we are on a small island!) so we actually spend a lot less per month on gasoline here than we did on the mainland.
  • Expectation: Utilities would be very expensive on Kauai. Reality: The electricity is quite expensive here. For the first few months we were very frugal about our electricity usage – the price per kilowatt hour was about 44 cents. We ended up installing solar panels on the house to reduce our utility bills. Water on the other hand is very inexpensive compared to what we spent in San Diego. Cable TV/Internet is comparable in price to San Diego.
  • Expectation: Bugs, bugs and more bugs!!! Reality: Not that bad. Yes there are plenty of bugs here and some do get in the house. The mosquitoes love how I taste. But honestly it’s not a big deal.
  • Expectation: Life would be simpler and more laid back. Reality: Yes and no. It is definitely a simpler life here and things just move slower. But the process of finding our way kind of negated the laid back part. Plus we are both busy with work and my travel to and from the mainland keeps me pretty busy. Plus we have a new big project we are working on. More on that later

The First 3 Months (April – June)

I won’t lie to you. The first 3 months had some challenges. Here we are – 2 people on a new island. We have left behind a life on the mainland that we were familiar with, quit our long-time jobs and left our families in order to move here. We also went from living life in the city to a life in the country on a tropical island to boot. We also had the hurricane warnings/watches and had to prepare our home in case on hit. It was amazing to see how fast the plywood flew out of Home Depot! As you can see below, it wasn’t looking good for awhile there.

Here come Kilo

5 day forecast showing Hurricane Kilo

On the good side, I was lucky enough to have secured some clients to work for remotely and we had stockpiled a bit of cash as backup in case we couldn’t find work right away.

There were some times where we questioned whether we had made the right decision, but we had promised each other that we would give Kauai two years at least before we gave up on it, and we determined to to do just that.

The Second 3 Months (July – September)

We started settling in, trying to find a routine. One of my projects on the mainland began to require me to fly back every 3 weeks or so. My first trip back was very challenging as I had caught a sinus infection the week that I was to leave. At this point we didn’t have health insurance yet, but I was able to get some antibiotics from urgent care. Unfortunately the antibiotics side effects were insomnia and a general feeling of aaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh!  I had to cut my first trip short because I felt so crappy and return to the island. Not to worry though, my client was very understanding and once I was healed up, I was able to resume travel back to the mainland for the project.

Meanwhile, we had been working on the yard and the house. We planted our papaya, orange, tangerine and lime trees as well as a continual planting of pineapples (eat one, plant one).

Here are some then and now photos.

We also worked on projects around the house such as the carport bathroom upgrade. Here are some more before and after photos:

 

The Third 3 Months (October – December)

Finally we are settling into somewhat of a routine. Barb is getting used to her job at the school and I am getting into a routine with the work travel. I still am not that fond of traveling this much but it is part of the deal. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to do work that I like and am good at and also to be able to touch base with my friends on the mainland periodically.

For Thanksgiving, my Aunt Justine and her daughter Monique and family were on-island. We had a lot of fun with them on a kayak/hiking tour and we ate a low key Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant near Kalapaki Beach. At Christmas, we traveled back to the mainland to be with family for the holidays. We stayed with Barb’s brother, Dave and had a great time visiting with everyone. I was worried that Barbara would want to move back after visiting her friends and relatives in San Diego, but it turns out that we were both anxious to get back to Kauai. While we wish we could spend more time with our old friends and relatives, we couldn’t wait to get home. A subtle change had now made Kauai ‘home’ in our minds. We missed the green, the slower pace and (believe it or not) the humidity that envelopes us on the island and keeps us from drying out.

The Last 3 Months (New Years’ until now)

We spent New Year’s Eve at Poipu Beach to watch the fireworks with our neighbor’s Jan and Rodney. It was a very good time but next time we will bring our own food. It was a mob scene at the food places. The fireworks were excellent!

We finished up building a new enclosure and gate for our outdoor shower. We also installed pavers as a pad to stand on instead of just the gravel. The gravel itself is now contained behind a low rumble stone retaining wall. Much cleaner, private and nicer to use than before. I actually prefer to use the outdoor shower over the regular indoor shower.

In February, my sister Tammy and her husband Kent came out to visit. Our first house guests! It was a lot of fun to have them around and the house seemed kind of empty after they left. We were able to see some whales from our lanai while they were here so we want to thank all the whales that were so instrumental in making that happen.

In March we had our second set of house guests. Jon and Debbie came over and stayed at the house for a bot 5 days and then we all hopped over to Oahu. We went to Pearl Harbor and had Easter Dinner at the Disney Aulani Resort. The resort itself is phenomenal but very crowded. But that is what Disney is. We actually weren’t staying there -we were down the street a block or two at the Marriott.

Some great sunsets from Oahu!

Again, it was good to get back home from Oahu even though we had a great time there.

The Present

OK so now what? Well, we are in the process of buying a small lot up in the development of Kakela Makai in order to  build what will become our dream house. The view from the land is amazing – ocean views from Poipu west as well as mountain views. We have been meeting with builders and architects in order to get something that falls within our budget. This also means that we will be selling our current home. Hopefully we can find a buyer or investor who would be able to rent back to us while our new house is being built. So we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we hope to be in the new house inside of two years. So stay tuned to this blog as you will get to ride this new roller coaster with us.

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And now…

So I have been writing this blog for the last year or so. Many of you already know me but some of you don’t. I haven’t really posted any pics of myself and have kind of kept my name out of the posts. But I feel like we are old friends now 🙂

My name is Dave and I am a Kauaiaholic.

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