Well 2012 is almost over and we are not as far along with the guest house as we would have hoped, but for 2 people with intense full time jobs who are doing everything themselves and learning along the way we are definitely making steady progress and getting fantastic cosmetic results. Sure the pros would have done it faster but we are saving a lot of money this way and using it for a dry run for when we do the main house. We are also figuring out what's work doing ourselves and what is worth hiring people for. For instance, one time dry walling was enough – next time we are farming that work out!
Plumbing was another tough one that slows us down, mostly because the guest house is on a concrete slab and there was a lot of jack-hammering and concrete leveling to do. I would say never again for this as well but the main house is not on a slab so we shouldn't have to deal with this again. But man, that was hard stuff. We will definitely call pros in if things need to move significantly but in the upstairs bathroom for instance, everything will stay pretty much in the same place do we can do that ourselves. Just working with wood subfloors will be luxury!
Electrical also took some time, but was well worth it. We've got the whole place wired exactly the way we want to with just the right fixtures and switches. Considering how much electricians charge per point we saved a bunch here as well. Of course for any circuit upgrades or panel work we would hire out. We are not stupid! But things that involve 3-4 wires, we can handle that.
Reframing, not too much of this to do, also time consuming but doable. We'll do most of this ourselves in the main house as there is not much more to do, but we are removing a half wall in the kitchen which is structural so that will need to be subbed out. My guess is that the old owners already removed half a wall incorrectly and we will need to beef up the structure – this is NOT a DIY project at all and we expect to pay hefty amounts when that time comes. But no point in upgrading your house if it crashed down on you, right?
Cubbies, nice storage options – we were going to go pre-fab but wanted something to hit right in line with our 15 inch glass mosaic tile so building our own box out of cement board made the most sense. Also notice no cement board in the rest of the shower because…
Waterproofing! Meticulous work but very DIY friendly. We bought a kerdi shower kit from Schluter – prefab pan with all the waterproof membrane. We did learn the hard way that the pan was not ideal, so we chucked that and made a custom pan, but the membrane/drain/curb was prefab and worked awesome. Definitely will be using again.
Levelling – huge pain in the ass, even with the self-leveling concrete. We've got a bit more to do in the guest house kitchen but other than that, it should be smooth sailing with the main house's wood subfloors.
Tile mosaics – man, they look good but they are time consuming and lots of math is involved! We will still do these ourselves but we have a better idea of how long they take. Maybe not so many different types of tile in one room going forward – definitely raises the difficulty rating! Also nothing is ever square, even on new construction so there is a lot of compensating and working to "trick" your eyes into things appearing square. It took some trial and error – dry cutting and mapping before setting the tile is absolutely paramount.
Border tiles – a bit of a challenge since they are slightly shallower than the main tile, so we needed to compensate with thinset and later with grout so that this feels okay under bare feet. Mosiacs look so nice but damn, they are not easy to install!
Wall tiles went up pretty fast, again mosaics are hard and if any wall is even remotely off level it causes an issue. We did some tile borders to break up all the beige and tie into the floor. Love that little brown tile, hard to tell in the photos but they actually look like leather – very big impact with tiny, inexpensive tiles.
Finished wall and floor – totally worth all the work, definitely will DIY again since we have a lot of tile in the main house and some more in the guest house kitchen. Saving money on installation means we can splurge on some nice product in small doses.
Finishing touch, rounded tile cap rather than a chair rail just to keep things it simple. It was a pain to find one that matched the tile exactly – this one really doesn't but we think its close enough. Plus when some paints goes up above it (probably a light coffee-colored paint) it should even it all out.
Tiling the shower floor pan with brown marble hex tiles – they have a very natural look to them, almost like pebbles but without the rounded texture. You can also see here all the schluter edging we did, both around the shower pan, up the sides between the shower and walls and between the wall and floor tile all around – in some place we got beige color to match the grout, in other like around the shower we got bronze metal accent colors to give a pro finished look. The stuff is very nice, much nicer than caulk in the corners, but man it was pricy! Now we have a better idea of the finishes and the profiles – we'll definitely use again in our main house bathrooms.
Finally, bring us up to date, here is the glass waterfall in the shower – they will eventually also go into the cubby as well for a contiguous look. We also have the 6x12 beige porcelain tiles starting next to them which will complete the rest of the shower and really make the waterfall pop. We wanted rectangle tiles but man they are expensive! Our solution was to find a cheap 12x12 without beveled edges and simply cut them in half for the right look – we'll be stagger each row like vertical brick. This picture also shows the 4th schluter edging we got around the cubby, this time in a brushed nickel which will match all the bath fixtures and finishes.
Stay tuned in 2013 for more DIY and hopefully a complete guest house – Finished Bathroom! New kitchen! Wood floor! Walls that are not painted yellow! Cannot wait…