Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bathtubs... to replace or not replace

I've been thinking a lot about bathtubs lately.
Having a baby, I need a good bathtub. The one in my soon-to-be house has cracked porcelain down the middle and around the drain. This is the perfect environment for bacteria to collect. No good for brand new baby bums.

So... here are my options:
1) Bath fitting cover (I won't name names, but you know what I mean)
2) Re-glazing, aka re-surfacing
3) Try to find a used tub in good condition
4) Buy a new tub

My concerns are indoor air quality, mold control, toxins, and keeping as much stuff out of a landfill as possible.. oh yeah and my SANITY!

I've spent more than 10 hours searching reviews, reading responses to questions posted on Yahoo Answers and talking to my real estate friends. Here is what I found...


1) Bath fitting costs on average $2,500.
I gutted the bathroom in my last property down to the studs by myself. I hung cement backerboard, built a frame for a new whirlpool tub, installed the tub and tiled the whole thing for less than $1,000 (plus $600 for plumber and electrician, but that was because I went all crazy with a new electric line, roman tub filler and tub spray).
Too much money!!!
I read a bunch of reviews that complained that mold was prolific behind the new tub fitting.


2) Re-glazing - $400 for the tub, $1,000 for the tub and all the tile in the bathroom.
The price didn't scare me too much. The glaze can also cover the caulk and grout, sealing it and making it easy to keep the tub clean.
OK, now for the bad news. Re-glazing uses a caustic chemical abrasive and automobile or airplane paint. Reviews said that the fumes were so bad that people had to stay in a hotel for days after the process. More common were reviews that said the new glaze started to peel a few weeks after the process. There are bubbles, streaks, discoloration, etc. It seems like this is something home sellers do just before listing their homes for sale. NOT a long term solution.

I searched and searched for a glazing procedure that was non-toxic and had no VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds). I found some companies in California, but nothing here in the east.
I really wanted to go this way because it would keep a great cast iron tub out of the landfill, but it looks like I would have to rip out the tub shortly after this treatment and that we would inhale some seriously nasty fumes.
Bottom line is that the porcelain on a cast iron tub is baked on in a high temperature kiln. You just can't get the same level of coating with a spray kit.


3) Try to find a used tub in good condition.
I am going to try this. There is a ReStore near me (a thrift store of used home improvement items that benefits Habitat for Humanity).
The main issue I have here is that I need to find a tub with the same dimensions as my current tub so I don't have to rip out tile and/or walls. Augh.
I really hope that works!


4) Buy a new tub.
I might have to go this way, but donate the old tub to ReStore if they will take it (or give it away on http://www.freecycle.org/).
Crap.
The local big box home improvement stores do carry the same sized tubs that would slide right into the space where the current tub resides.


As green as I want to be, I won't let my daughter suffer any ill effects from mold or toxic fumes. I simply will not put her at risk if I can avoid it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Doing More with Less

When I was single and childless, I lived very comfortably. I had season tickets to the symphony. I shopped for new clothes once or twice a month, took trips and ate out at nice restaraunts regularly. I drove a new Saab. I never packed my own lunch for work, and I bought fancy coffee drinks every day - the kind that require making 10 decisions when ordering.

Now that I have a baby in daycare and I was paying 1/2 of the expenses on a big house, I found myself totally broke, dependeding on my credit cards to make ends meet. Despite having paid cash for my new car, I had to refinance it.

Luckily, I am now free of the debt. I can't tell you how good that feels. My next goal is to live my life completely and totally without credit cards. They are a trap! Human nature wants things NOW and wants lots of those things.

A few months ago, I packed up all my belongings and put them in storage. I have been living with very few clothes, and almost no "stuff". I have resisted going clothes shopping (I only need to drop ONE size and I will be in all my pre-pregnancy clothes).

I have been working 2 jobs and squirelling away money to buy the house I am closing on in 29 days. I sell real estate on the side and just sold a house. I got a nice income tax refund. This money is making me feel rich and I am constantly tempted to buy things. Not extravagent things, but lots of little things.

Once I live on a quiet side street, I want to start running again. My old running shoes are dirty and tired. It is tempting to buy a new pair, but my old ones still have spring.

I want to buy new clothes for my daughter, but I've been blessed with enough friends and hand-me-downs that I don't really need to. Oh and the toys... the toys. There are so many that I want to buy for her.

My dog smells a little and needs his nails trimmed. It is so much easier to take him to a GREAT groomer I know at his old Doggie Daycare facility - of course I would throw in a day of doggie day care. Melvin really deserves it for being such a good, gentle, tollerent dog.

I want to go out to lunch and have a fancy coffee drink, the kind that requires I make 10 decisions when ordering.

I want to go to the movies and see a concert and, get new glasses, and buy fancy lettuce that comes pre-washed in a bag, and dye the grey out of my hair, and buy a fat bottle of Bordeaux, and, and, and...

What I have come to realize that all these wants do come with a rush of excitement. New stuff is great. However, that new stuff rush wears off pretty quickly and it really doesn't bring a level of happiness that matches the sense of stress that comes from being broke.

So now I am embracing the simple life. Living simply brings just as much hapiness, PLUS it is easier to keep a clean house with less stuff, AND it reduces so much stress!

Budha was on to something.
I can't believe it took me almost 40 years to figure that out.

Monday, March 1, 2010

ReStore! The shop that benefits Habitat for Humanity

I have known about this place for a while, but only now started to look at it with more interest.
ReStore is similar to the Salvation Army and Goodwill, only it is for home improvement.

People donate things like kitchen cabinets, refrigerators, dishwashers, toilettes, faucets, doors, etc. so that other people can re-use them in their home remodel. Here is the general webpage: http://www.habitat.org/env/restores.aspx

My local ReStore has a great webpage with pictures of some of their big ticket items - bath tubs, chandeliers, sinks, sinks, sinks. I am SO excited! My house needs a new bath tub (the old one is cracking), and a shower stall (I am upgrading a 1/2 bath to be a 3/4 bath). I need all new faucets too.

Not only will I save a ton of money, but this store keeps these items out of the landfill.
In many cases, the older stuff (i.e. cast iron bath tubs) is better than the new stuff (acrylic bath tubs).