Our first room renovation has finally gotten off the ground!
Friday night, after chattering to Todd over dinner about where I though we might start, I noticed he wasn’t exactly jumping for joy at the prospect of a weekend spent tearing down walls.
Jenn: Am I being annoying?
Todd: No, not really.
Jenn: Am I micro-managing?
Todd: Maybe a little.
Jenn: IsÂ that annoying??
Todd: Maybe a little.
In his defense, I was trying to put together a week-by-week plan to make sure we could meet our proposed deadline. It went something like this:
- Week 1: Take the room down to studs
- Week 2: Build new wall*
- Week 3: Electrical and plumbing**
- Week 4: Drywall and painting***
- Week 5: Sink/commode-side tiling****
- Week 6: Sink/commode installation; tub-side tiling
- Week 7: Install tub
- Week 8: Finishing touches
But he must have gotten into the spirit of the project because he got up and wiggled some loose clapboards out of the way, just to see what things looked like inside the walls. And on Saturday afternoon we started working on the wall in earnest. Before I get to the what all those asterisks mean, here, have a video!
(Direct link for the feed readers: Gingerbread Diaries 2.3: Downstairs Bath Renovation, Week 1)
*A New Wall, Where Once Was Hall
So, my big idea a few weeks ago was that we could put a pocket door for the bathroom and it would a) be cool, because pocket doors are automatically cool, and b) save some usable space in the hallway since that door is usually half-open, unless the room is occupied. I have Yellow Brick Home to thank for that mini-epiphany–they were talking about an impending barn door project, I believe, which led me on a short path to pocket doors.Â Then I had the idea that we could gain a little more elbow room in the bathroom by bumping out the wall to where the pipe chase extended. It’s only about 6-8″ so it won’t impact the hallway in any huge way but I think those 6 inches will make a big difference for anyone washing their hands at the new sink.
This does mean, however, that we have to build in support for this wall by adding joists under the house. Thankfully this part of the house is 3-4 feet off the ground, so Todd’ll have room to work under there no problem, but we do have to cut into the existing floor to make it happen, so, yeah. That won’t be happening on a week night, it’s definitely a start early Saturday morning sort of project.
**Electrical and Plumbing in Stages
Everything in the room is moving, so almost all the supporting elements need to move, too. There’s an air vent under where the tub will go that will be re-routed to under the window, and an electrical outlet just above it that will move over to the new wall, under the light switch and next to the sink. I think. Then, of course, there’s the plumbing lines that all have to be moved.
Which ties into…
***Piece-meal Drywall and Painting
One thing we learned when we opened up the ceiling is that we do have room to raise the ceiling, at least on the hall-side, and slope it towards the exterior wall. This will make it feel less cave-like. There’s one pipe in the way, a big cast iron deal, that is the current commode’s vent. Because it’ll need to stay where it is (same with the vertical stack behind the current commode) until the new toilet is in place, that means the ceiling will need to be done later than the rest of (most of) the drywall. This is an inconvenience I can live with in exchange for higher ceilings.
Here’s a question–would you do the drywall and painting before you tile, or after? I think before, that way you’re not slopping paint over freshly laid tile and grout and have to be less careful. Not to mention this would also be before the fixtures go in and less funny angles to work in and around. Todd says it’s usually done the other way around. I suppose it doesn’t matter tremendously, since we’ll be doing things in a somewhat wonky order, anyway.
****Tiling Half the Room at a Time
Now, my one requirement for this project is that the room remain essentially functional for as long as possible. Which means that I don’t want the current toilet removed before the new one is installed. This is why half the room will be completed (walls, tiles, etc.) before the other half. Normally I’d want to be as efficient as possible, knocking all the drywall out at once, all the tile, all the painting. This is also a nod to Murphy’s Law, and a hedge against unforeseen delays, etc. I’d rather have guests using a half-finished bathroom downstairs than make them go upstairs, should we not make our deadline.
Ideally we’ll be able to work on smaller projects or tasks during the week, but I don’t want to depend on that too much since I know how our evening hours often find us drained or trying to take care of normal day-to-day stuff. And there are a few things that I can take care of on my own like fixing the window (more on that, later) and repainting the tub and painting and so forth when the time comes. At this stage of the game, though, it’s mostly Todd’s department since we’re dealing with structural stuff that I’m not as familiar with.
As far as budget goes, if you read the earlier post on the bathroom plans, I guesstimated about $2000 for the whole room, and we’re right around $400 spent so far. (Though that does include the reciprocating saw and blades, something that’ll be in use for far more than this one use, so give or take ~$100.) Still plenty left for drywall, tile, paint, and fixtures (and who knows what else).
While tearing down the walls we learned a few things:
- The braintrust that built this room appears to have used floorboards for the walls. We thought it was beadboard, but that was just the “creative” spacing of the floor planks. It also meant that instead of removing panels, the walls came down one stubborn board at a time.
- There’s evidence of fire damage in some of the studs and braces. Now, we know the upstairs caught fire in 1939, and the abundance of square nails in the framingÂ leads us to believeÂ this room might have been enclosed before the fire and suffered some damage during it. Whether it was a bathroom back then or not is anyone’s guess.
- There’s a good chance that every time I ask Todd “Would you normally use <insert material or technique>?” Todd’s answer is going to be “If you’re going cheap.” This was the case for only putting a vapor-barrier on half the ceiling (of course the half that didn’t have the leak!), using quarter-round in front of the exiting baseboards (our stellar contractor’s option), and using larger quarter-round to “fill” an interior corner, among other things.This room was definitely the best first room to tackle in many regards!
- We really need a shop-vac! (And a second pry-bar would have come in handy; you might notice in the video we keep trading the hammer and pry-bar depending on what section of wall we’re working on.) Dust masks are a must on this sort of project and my gel knee pads saved me when I was crawling around removing quarter round and baseboards. I have a feeling they’ll be a lifesaver when it comes time to tile!
That’s our progress so far! The next update (I hope to be able to do these weekly as the project continues) will include framing the new wall and installing the pocket door.