Remodeling the Kitchen During a Pandemic

April

It all started with the mystery wet spot in the carpet next to the kitchen. It was about 4 inches in diameter and had no apparent source.

May

On May 2, a post on Reddit’s home improvement sub led me to check under the dishwasher. I found water steadily dripping from one side of the dishwasher because an $18 valve had been leaking.

The water inlet valve

We removed the subfloor under the dishwasher and replaced it with plywood. I replaced the valve and began to wonder how extensive the damage had been. I imagined there was an under-floor stream that went from the dishwasher directly across the kitchen to the wet spot in the carpet. It was obvious that we would probably have to remove all of the wood laminate flooring but we had been planning that for some time anyway.

The river under the floor highlighted in blue. The original wet spot is circled in red.

After some rudimentary attempts to facilitate drying, on May 26 I posted on Reddit asking what else I should (or could) do. One helpful user told me to call my homeowners insurance company. This advice changed our lives.

June

Our insurance claim was accepted on June 9 and two weeks later our kitchen was entirely enclosed in plastic with dryers and dehumidifiers running 24 hours a day. Everything had been torn out including the floor, subfloor and all the cabinetry. We had to move the contents of our kitchen and dining room to the nearby family room.

We packed most of the contents of the kitchen and dining room into our family room.

The temperature inside the house peaked at 93º despite the “bubble” surrounding the dryers. This went on through the rest of the month.

Dehumidifiers and dryers. The kitchen was over 90º at night.

July

After everything was dry, negotiations between contractor and insurance company stretched over three frustrating weeks. Our original estimator left the contractor company shortly after our project began and the new estimator struggled with the regimented process required by the insurance company. On July 23, we signed a contract to have our kitchen rebuilt from floor to ceiling and it seemed like we would soon be done eating take-out on the picnic table on the deck outside and washing dishes in the laundry room.

August

Because the moisture had touched all the adjoining rooms – dining, family, living room/office and entryway – we got new floors for five rooms. We elected to have the same vinyl planking installed in all five. The contractor crew installed vinyl planking in all five rooms from August 3-6. They also put in new baseboards and repainted the kitchen.

Planking underway

No further work would be done in August as we awaited the cabinet maker but on August 11 we were able to move the stove back into the kitchen and return to eating at the dining room table. We were still stuck using the laundry room utility sink, though.

We temporarily reassembled the kitchen as best we could.

September

The new cabinets were installed on September 1 and 2 but we did not have counters yet.

Cabinets but no knobs, pulls or sink.

Tina had purchased the sink of her dreams from Wayfair after we cleared it with the project manager. Unfortunately, he had made a mistake because the sink required granite counters but we had decided to use the less expensive laminate counters. After we considered an upgrade to granite, we decided to send back the sink and go ahead with the laminate. It seemed that we were close to the finish line when a strong, dry wind blew into Oregon on September 7. Two days later the sky began to darken.

Rotating from northern view to western and then southern view.

Eventually the smoke from nearby fires would blanket Portland and the surrounding area for over a week. Our contractor was incommunicado during this time, further delaying the project. Eventually, we realized that they had been evacuated due to their close proximity to forest fires. The smoke cleared by mid-September but counter installation was delayed until the end of the month. In the meantime, they installed our new over-the-range microwave and moved the refrigerator back into place.

Finally, the counters were installed along with the new sink.

We had to wait a few more days for the dishwasher to be installed due to a part that had gone missing.

There should be a rubber gasket around this part.

October

Five months after discovering the source of the leak, our new kitchen remodel was finally nearing completion. During the first few days of October the dishwasher was installed, the backsplash was put into place and the finishing touch was the addition of door knobs and drawer pulls.

Our glorious new kitchen
Reverse angle of the completed kitchen

Epilog

I began shopping for a new refrigerator in November and found the perfect deal shortly before Christmas. The deal was so good that the model went out of stock for two months. It was finally delivered in February.

Whirlpool French Door in black stainless steel

Vital Statistics

Bike miles in 2021: 0

Aches & pains: subconjunctival hemorrhage

Current reading: Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe

Recent listening: Paul’s Boutique by Beastie Boys, Hidden Brain, Making Sense with Sam Harris, Women and Children First by Van Halen

Recent viewing: Young Wallander, Wallander, The Crown (season 4), Hinterland, Evil, Manhunt, The Professor and the Madmen, Star Wars (episodes 1-9), The Mandalorian (season 2), The Flight Attendant, The Undoing

Recent playing: n/a

Recent events: Election Day, Thanksgiving, mortgage refinance, shaved, Xmas vacation, fitted for hearing aids, bought Apple Watch Series 6

Recently accomplished: survived 2020, replaced living room couches, bought a new refrigerator (delivery pending), replaced CPAP machine, dryer duct inspection, roof replacement estimates, installed standing desk, gave away most of my books

Imperative To Do: finish unpacking boxes, transfer IRA to Vanguard, finish office re-organization, finish laundry room re-organization, finish the kitchen story, ride bike

Vital Statistics

Bike miles this year: 93

Aches & pains: right foot and ankle, right pinky toe, right elbow

Current reading: n/a

Recent listening: The Chicks, Station to Station by David Bowie

Recent viewing: Umbrella Academy, Lovecraft Country, Westworld (season 3), Ted Lasso, Away, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

Recent playing: n/a

Recent events: kitchen cabinets installed, Oregon wildfire smoke with AQI over 500

Recently accomplished: lawn care, composting, step count increased to 6000, installed new switches and outlets in the kitchen, boxed up unread books, financial aid modifications

Imperative To Do: Clean roof and gutters, finish lingering projects, finish unpacking, replant back yard grass, turn compost

Vital Statistics

Bike miles this year: 93

Aches & pains: right foot and ankle, right pinky toe

Current reading: n/a

Recent listening: Hank Williams, Sweetheart of the Rodeo by the Byrds, Ugly Is Beautiful by Oliver Tree, Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg

Recent viewing: Halt and Catch Fire (season 1), Perry Mason, Westworld (season 3), Worlds Most Wanted, Connected

Recent playing: n/a

Recent events: nearly 8 weeks with no kitchen but floors are done, Graham and Kate moved out, new glasses

Recently accomplished: lawn care, packed and moved five rooms, replaced utility sink plumbing, mortgage loss draft, put all my compact discs into storage, composting, increased daily step count to 5500

Imperative To Do: Clean roof and gutters, finish lingering projects, finish unpacking, box up books, replant back yard grass

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 2500
Van odometer: 154003
Weight lost (in pounds): 0
Aches & pains: left shin (scab gone), lower back, all my muscles
Current reading: My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk, Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy
Recent listening: The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Box)News from Lake WobegonScience FridayCoverville, DrugMusic
Recent viewing: Olympics, Democratic National Convention, Republican National Convention, The O’Reilly Factor
Recent playing: Chain Factor, Spaceward Ho!
Recently accomplished: Upgraded DSL, cleaned cat boxes, setup VPN access for work, office cleaning, office moving, office remodeling, cardboard recycling
Imperative To Do: Craigslist items for Thomas/Graham, install Tina’s bike computer, get rid of office junk, freecycle, activate new Tivo, oil change for van, weeds, clean garage, moss