Las Vegas is an interesting town to live in. We like the weather, the sunshine, the tourists, all the fancy casino/resorts (that’s what they like to be called now) on the Strip and most of all the way other people look at Las Vegas. It seems to be a popular destination (well, that is basically the only reason Vegas is here) and subject of many movies and television shows. There is a new TV show advertised for the upcoming season based on two Vegas attorneys, which looks like it might be interesting. There are several shows currently based in Las Vegas, the most prominent being the original CSI (not CSI NY or CSI Miami), which we also like to watch. There was a recent CSI episode repeated that involved bowlers and someone’s head rolling down the ball return which looked to be in a familiar setting.
Somehow my wife started volunteering to work at Habitat for Humanity. She has helped build several homes around the valley over the past few years, and we also get calls to help when Habitat is donated things to sell in their store or use on their projects. This did enable us to get to see the Design Center when vendors at a big show donated furniture. The Design Center is a large complex of tall buildings located near downtown, and is usually only open to people that work in the furniture or home design industries. It is full of the newest stuff which is just being shown for the first time and not yet appearing in stores. Well, that’s the purpose of the Design Center, for manufacturers to show off new things to store owners and interior designers.
Another donation project we worked at was the dismantling of a large bowling alley constructed inside of the Cashman Convention Center. This was built for some world bowling championship series, and was used for quite a few months last year by a lot of bowlers. This bowling alley was the one used by CSI for that episode, and a lot of time was spent inside the facility. I guess the producers look around for interesting sets to use, and then the writers come up with a story that involves the location. Sometimes writers come up with stories and the producers have to then create the sets to match, but when big things come around they adapt. Anyway, we were called and showed up one day to help take down the lanes. There was a lot of plywood and lumber that Habitat was able to reuse in their home construction, and it took crews almost a week to take the place apart. My son is a union carpenter and frequently discusses construction projects, and I would bet that a union crew built this place, as the construction work was quite good. (meaning – a heck of a lot of nails to pull out when we took it apart)
This is what the place looked like when we showed up. We weren’t able to make it to the first day of disassembly, when the carpets, hardwood flooring and a lot of other stuff were removed. The lanes were still there, and crews from the lane and equipment companies were taking those apart. But we pulled up all the plywood covering where the bowlers walked and sat, along with a lot of lumber underneath holding it up in the air three feet. I think there were fifty or so lanes across this space in the convention center. The big displays across the ends of the lanes were working, and assorted bowling related videos and advertisements were running while we worked.
The red and blue areas were tiles glued onto a thin wood base, and had to be pulled up and thrown away in order to get at the wood underneath. This took big pry bars and a lot of work to get off.
The plywood was held down by a lot of wood screws. Good square headed screws were used at one end (probably the first section put down) and these were fairly easy to remove. But it seemed that they ran out of the good screws before finishing and switched to cheaper Phillips head screws further down. Most of these were stripped, or the heads stripped easily, and the heads broke off being removed as well. All we could do after that was to pry up the plywood and use pliers to unscrew the shafts from the wood afterwards. That was a lot of work.
We had a crew of six, and for some reason I ended up being in charge of the group. But they were volunteers not being forced to work, so it was fairly easy to ask somebody to do something. Most of the women worked with the screw guns and two big guys carried the lumber off and stacked it. When we first showed up they said we had to wear hard hats, but after a bit of trying to keep those on your head while bent over we just piled the hats in the corner.
At home we have our own construction project going on. Our house has three bathrooms, and the front one is shared by the two bedrooms up there. This is where our daughter and granddaughter E stay when they come to visit. There is a bathtub in there, and a small shower stall that I put in when we first moved in (my mother moved with us, and couldn’t lift her legs to get in the tub to take a shower so I had to put in a stall with lots of handles to hang on to). E is the only one that took baths and we found that the water filling the tub was rusty, probably from age and little use (we use the big shower in our bathroom). Prior to E’s summer visit (she loves the big pool with the nice warm water – did I say its 33c?) B suggested we fix the tub so that E wouldn’t have to sit in rusty water.
Well, that involved taking off some of the tile to get at the pipes. B has never liked the tile in there, it looks like the 70’s tile that it is, small pink squares. Since I had to take tiles off for the fix she suggested we just pull all the tile down and replace it. Ends up the rust in the water was caused by a small (about 10cm – yes, I’m trying to convert to metric here, keep up) piece of iron pipe. Most of the plumbing is copper, but for some reason the original plumber that put the bathroom in use a little piece of iron pile to connect the tub valve to the spout back in the 70’s when the house was originally built. So this little piece of pipe has led to our current construction project. It seemed simple, just open the wall and replace the pipe. Then the ‘let’s replace the tile’ part.
And our daughter suggested that as long as we were tiling why not pull out the plastic shower stall and tile the shower area. Which has led to the need for a new shower pan, as the plastic kit pan couldn’t be used for tile. And since we had the walls open why not put in some of those in wall shelves to hold shampoo bottles and stuff. (Do you know how hard it is to tile those inset space? No? Take some advice and pay somebody else to do all that stuff)
Since we watch so many home improvement shows on TV I decided to use the Kurdi shower system I’ve seen on so many recent shows. (Holmes on Homes uses it a lot). It’s a plastic wrap and Styrofoam kit used to waterproof the walls and floor and properly slope the shower floor so it will drain. Only one place in Vegas sold that stuff, and it ended up being a rather large tile store as well. When we went to order the stuff E walked around the showroom and fell in love with one of the tile styles. It ended up being 24 inch (not metric, live with it) (OK, 60cm) square tiles. We eventually tiled around the tub and in the shower and were laying out the floor when I (for some stupid reason, don’t ask why I don’t know) I suggested the large tiles were so nice we should pull out the old vanity and tile the whole floor.
Unfortunately B was listening and said OK, so this has led to ripping out the other walls to put in lumber to support the floating vanity she wanted so that the tiles could be seen. And more time spent trying to find exactly what would be nice in there, and more money to buy the one that was found on line. Overstock.com has some nice stuff, and with only $2.95 shipping eventually a truck showed up with a big pallet holding several boxes and several hundred pounds of vanity, counter, mirror and sink. Unfortunately the sink looked too big for the small room, so another round of internet searches has led to a loverly sink and faucet (why do the nice things cost so much?) which has been ordered and is on the way. At least I hope it’s on the way; my credit card has already been hit.
So, one little rusty pipe ended up with all the walls stripped down to the studs for application of concrete backer behind the tub and shower and installation of support beams for holding up the floating vanity; plumbing changes for the new sink; electrical changes to put lights over the tub (already put one in the new shower) and move the light over the sink since B wanted an offset on the counter design. The only thing staying is the tub, fortunately it was white and in good condition (and being old is cast iron, heavy, and a lot better than the new fiberglass ones). New low flow toilet to go in, but that plumbing wasn’t moved. We have concrete slab floors, and the moving of any pipes that go under things becomes even more complex with having to break up the concrete, so glad we didn’t have to do any of that.
Today you get pictures of the in the middle of construction as I haven’t put up shots of the tile work. The walls are all done and grouted, but B just read an article on tile grout and decided she didn’t do it right and is regrouting as we speak (well, as I type). The one wall behind the sink is dry walled and awaiting taping and texturing, the walls will then be painted and the floor tiles then applied. After that I get to hang that big vanity and put in the sink and over counter lights, which B hasn’t picked out yet. So be happy with in progress shots, and more to follow as I get them up.