Taro (mother2012) wrote,

Well, it's been a week and a half since we got back from New Jersey where we started the process of turning a basement into an apartment for Mary.

Her daughter (C) had assured us that the basement was dry, already had a bathroom, and that they were going to make it into a nice apartment. What she meant was, "If Mom has a life-threatening problem again, we don't want to have to go to Buffalo, New York to deal with it."

In fairness, she thought that the water seepage problem had been fixed. It hadn't. I'm not sure which year they were planning on turning it into an apartment.

Mary has been there since late January. Son went with her to do what he could to get her settled. He installed the kitchen cabinets that she had bought second hand from the Habitat for Humanity Restore and brought along. He cut a hole for the kitchen sink that she also bought, and made it fit. After that, Mary had primed and painted them, and it was all a very good job. Except that there was no water to it.

Originally, I had expected to provide plumbing, electricity, and gas for a stove. But C's husband was leery of letting someone handle the electricity, so we didn't do that. Just as well. There were other urgent things.

We took every tool in the house that I could imagine needing. Drill, jigsaw, chop saw, circular saw, rotozip, multitool, two sets of sawhorses (strapped to the top of the car), 4 toolboxes of stuff, etc. And my favorite folding chair, so I'd have a comfortable place to sit.

The place was rougher than I had expected. Mary had been there only 6 weeks, but I was surprised she was putting up with that jumble as well as she was. She had a place to sleep, a TV to watch, and a refrigerator about 50 feet from her kitchen. Everything else was boxes and bins, much of which wasn't even hers.

We spent the first day shopping: 2x4s, plywood, plumbing pipes and fittings, a major extension cord to run the kitchen appliances with. I thought we'd gotten most of what we needed, but I ended up going back to Home Depot just about twice a day. I put 250 miles on the car while I was there, and it was mostly for getting more parts and supplies. There were two runs in one day to buy materials for wall building - 15 more 2x4s and 10 sheets of drywall, as well as electrical boxes and wire. (You have to build that into the wall, so I did. I just didn't hook it up.)

Then I started finding the water. First under the bed, then under the stairs, then under the bird cage (which is 2 feet by 5, by 6 feet high). Mary and Hubby worked on the water. Hubby scrubbed the entire seam of the cement floor and concrete wall on the high side of the house where it was leaking with a wire brush, then Mary washed it out. Then Hubby went over the whole seam (about 50 feet) with plumbing sealer. When that was dry, Mary painted it all with concrete water block paint. We hope that does it. That cost about $60 and 2 days' time.

Meanwhile, I was building shelves. I built two 'walls' of shelves, each floor to ceiling and 4 feet long, to partially enclose the kitchen. In between working on the projects, we started the plumbing for the sink.

I won't go into the whole details of the plumbing issues. The drain turned out to be reasonably easy, without needing to break into the cement floor or the stack - there was an access that we used. The water supply was harder.

But there is a new thing on the market called a Sharkbite. I call it Magic. With it, we were able to easily cut into the incoming cold water and divert a tube for the sink. The hot water was harder, because the only access to it was a pipe that we couldn't get a Sharkbite for. We used a pressure fitting for that, but it was as difficult as copper has a reputation for being. We went immediately from the copper to CPVC (plastic) which is simple, if you know how.

After adding an 8-foot-long wall and moving in the refrigerator, she pretty much had a functional kitchen. I put 20-amp wire in the wall so that it's ready to be hooked up by an electrician. If they ever get around to it. On the other side of that wall is her bedroom.

Mary spent most of her time moving *stuff* out of the way so that we could do the work.

We built two more walls, one at each end of the living room. Her son (J) had found a wonderful used oriental carpet that was 9.5 x 14 feet, so I simply built the walls large enough to accommodate wall-to-wall carpeting. One of those walls closes off the family's laundry from Mary's space, so increases her privacy, the other one forms a craft room.

I'm proud of it, and Mary will be able to do a lot of the finishing work by herself - plastering the wallboard, painting, putting up wallpaper and a chair rail. If it stays dry, there is space enough.

But what did they honestly have in mind for her to live in? Perhaps they thought she'd be bringing nothing but her clothes and a bed. I know some people don't have or want many possessions, but Mary was leaving a whole house, and besides all the furniture, has a huge amount of craft stuff. Did they expect she was going to do nothing but watch TV? I suppose some people do.
Tags: mary, plumbing, shelves
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