Tag Archive: DIY

Aug 06

Update… Of DOOM!

I’m writing this on the bus to the airport … I’m about to head off to do the second leg of my summer Theatre tour.


I was at the house almost every day since the weekend, puttering around, finishing things up.  Of course, I’m not nearly close to finishing, but my friend Dave has taken it upon himself to finish all the waterproofing stuff before I get back, leaving only the roof for me.  We’ll see if that happens… it’s a lot of work.


The work on the house is happening quickly now.  I’ll post photos of the construction soon… it’s a shame I’ll miss the next bits.


Some bad news yesterday, though… they ripped out the bathroom walls and the tub and realized that there was a lot of rot back there.  Also, apparently the support posts are missing.  Arg.  Another 130,000 yen…  On top of that, they also discovered that the drain from the bath, the powder room sink, the washing machine, and the kitchen sink all went through the same pipe and drained into an OPEN weeping system that rings the west side of the house before it connects to the city’s sewage line.


Well, that partially explains the mosquitoes.  Fixing this properly would take more than we can afford (in the neighbourhood of 1 million yen), so the renovators will have to rig something.  They can’t just stick a pipe into the weeping trough, because there’s a 90 degree bend in it, which would make it prone to plugging up.  So they’re going to separate the bathroom and laundry from the kitchen drainpipes, but they will still have to drain into the weeping system.  My impression is that they’re also going to cover it up a bit more effectively than it’s covered now (just some slabs of concrete), to reduce the potential smell (grey water shouldn’t be that bad, but why take chances). 


Oh, and a clarification: in Japan ‘bathroom’ literally means the room with the bath in it.  Our toilets are on the other side of the house and drain separately and properly, so the weeping system isn’t going to be full of turds or anything.


So that’s probably another 100,000.




Oh, and a note about how this may have happened: originally, the kitchen was the room that my office is going to be in.  When the first set of renovations were done to the house, probably in the eighties, I think the bathroom was added onto the house.  The contractors at the time re-plumbed the whole south side of the house, but simply didn’t tie the drains in properly.

Aug 03

I Hate DIY

Dust in my clothes, dust in my hair, dust in my eyes..


I spent a good chunk of Sunday working on the rustwork holding up our deck, particularly the decayed side piece.  I was using some kind of catalytic putty (think BONDO) to fill in gaping holes, and then grinding it down with a grinder tool.  Every time I did that, the air would fill with a fine white dust that would get in everything.  What I wouldn’t do for the facemask I wear in 39.


I took care of a fair amount of the roof last Wednesday, but only the lower roof, over the kitchen and bathroom.  I haven’t yet been able to climb up and deal with the upper roof.  It will probably have to wait until I get back from my Canadian tour.


The contractors have already started work on the place.  They’ve ripped out the woodwork that runs along the side of each room, Japanese style.  They’ve also done the primary demolition, ripping out the kitchen counters and shelves, the closet interiors, and the tatami floors.


Although we were going to keep the living room floor in order to save money, we’ve decided that it will look really weird, since there are two areas of the room (bookcase nook and the old hallway), where we have to put in new flooring, and the colour is much darker.  So my wife has contacted URBAN to tell them we’ve changed our minds.  That’s another 十万 down the hole…


We’re trying to decide final room colours right now as well, which is difficult, because I have trouble visualizing a tiny sample of a colour on a card being on an entire wall and ceiling.  So we’re being very conservative, with a lot of whites and very light colours (bedroom is a super light blue).  We’re also a bit afraid that dark colours will make the rooms feel really small.


The living room was also going to be an off-white, but we’ve decided to gamble on a mustard colour.  Fingers crossed!

Jul 27


Yesterday was very productive.


My friend Dave, a man wise in the way of home repairs, drove me to HOMES, the home center, and helped me pick up the items I needed to do my home improvements (the ones I’m saving money on by doing myself).



  • Paint & brushes for the exterior wood, and metal deck
  • Stiff brush to brush the mould off the roof
  • Wire brush and sandpapery stuff for prepping for painting


So, Dave leant me a chisel, and showed me how to scrape the areas on the metal posts that were damaged by rust.  I did the entire lower structure of the deck before I quit last night.


I went back today with the instructions to attack those paintless areas with the wire brush and put a first coat of paint on in preparation for the full painting on Thursday or Friday.


I had almost finished one pole when the URBAN guy, our renovator, came and told me I was using the wrong paint.  WHAT?  We went inside and he looked at the tin, and concluded that it was indeed the correct paint.  But he still strongly recommended that I start with an anti-rust primer.  The difference is that if I use the primer, I won’t have to do this again for 10 years.  If I don’t, I’ll likely have to deal with the deck again in five.




So, stopped working on that until I can get the anti-rust primer.


I figured, well, I’ll go scrape the mould off the roof tiles.  So, I got my brush and climbed up to the roof.  Now, I knew the tiles weren’t traditional Japanese tiles, but I thought maybe brick (due to a shard of brick sitting on top of one of them), and my wife told me later that she was told they were metal… but they seem to be made out of paper!  Or rather, a compressed cardboard thing.  As I brushed the mould off, I was taking off the brick-like finish and exposing the fibres of whatever-the-hell material that is underneath.


So I stopped.


(I found out later that the tiles are indeed a cement/fibre product sitting on top of the tin roof.  Ugh.  Someone want to buy me a new roof?)

Jul 22

Another Week Slips By

Another week slips by, and with it another chance to sign our renovation contract.  I’m pulling some real yuppie shit here right now and I’m writing this in a Starbucks in central Tokyo where I’ve taken refuge from a stinking hot day.


I haven’t kept up with this blog at all, but here are the significant details of the past 7 – 10 days:


  1. My friend Dave Waddington came by to look at the house last Wednesday and give me advice on how best to do the items of maintenance that need to be done.  The first priority is the metal holding up the ‘front yard’.  With Dave’s help, I will scrape off the rust, treat it with rust proofing, and repaint it.
  2. Other items that need to be done, some of which will require Dave’s help to choose the right supplies: re-painting the ageing wood on the window shades, re-caulking a good chunk of the siding, and scraping the green mould off the roof tiles
  3. The price on the tile bathroom is nearly 400,000 more than the unit bath, and that’s without the water heater.  So no go on that.
  4. We visited show rooms with URBAN, and decided on a more expensive unit bath from Noritz anyway (sigh).  Despite the bath being 20 litres smaller than the TOTO, it has cut-outs on the side that make it possible for me to sit much more comfortably without having to necessarily keep my knees together and up.  We’re still waiting for the quotation, but the comfort level is so different, we’re considering that a difference of between 100,000 and 200,000 Yen from the TOTO price would be acceptable.  Gulp!
  5. We’re waffling on the washstand (powder room sink) as well.  The one in the quotation is cheap and tiny and short.  Also, ugly.  So my wife has proposed a different one and we’re waiting on that quotation as well.
  6. We were supposed to sign the contract for the renovations last week, but the bathroom stuff held us up (Kitchen is decided and quoted).  The plan now is to sign the contract this weekend.  This means the move-in date is now pushed to late September, meaning that we’re paying for two residences until then.  Sigh.