Friday, March 4, 2016

The Great Bathroom Remodel of 2016.....Part 2

*NOTE*  Let me say first that if I use the wrong construction/building terminology I apologize.  I am not familiar with all these words not being in the trade.  But I'll do the best I can making it understandable.*

So after 3 hours of banging and sawing, etc. this was what my ugly bathroom now looked like.....or rather my ugly bathroom became an ex-bathroom and even an EX-ROOM!

Gutted down to the studs basically, even the ceiling left, leaving a lovely view of the underside of the roof.

After the demolition of said bathroom I was called in for a consult.
Well tearing down the walls, floor, ceiling and various fixtures meant exposing lots of goodies hidden behind it all and exposed reasons, as well, why the room had been configured how it was.

The head guy, a delightful young chap named Caleb, asked me, "When did this bathroom get remodeled last?", which I found a strange thing to ask.

To the best of my knowledge this house, built in about 1986, has had only 3 owners including us, in it's whole life--the people who had it built, the people from Iowa, who only lived here 2 of the 4 years they owned it, and Hubs and I.
But the innards of the room told a different story........

That hole in the floor with exposed pipes in this photo is where our bathtub sat until hours earlier.
The worker's bag of tools is sitting over 2 cooper pipes that where capped off to which either a toilet or a shower was attached at some point in the past.  Which means our full bathroom was once either a half bath(sink and toilet only)or a 3/4 bath(sink, toilet and shower).  I tend to think it was a 3/4 myself because why move a toilet across the room?

Caleb also was astonished that these capped off pipes, even though capped off, were extending above floor level?  He couldn't believe that our bathtub(well two of them actually had)had sat above these pipes and they had not penetrated the floor of either tub in the last 15+ years.
These capped pipes were cut down below floor grade and recapped.

Reinforcing that our tub was not original to the bathroom was the fact that the studs on the wall next to where the tub was had been notched severely to accommodate water supply pipes that had not been built into the wall structure such that they were no longer structurally supporting the framework of the house wall and that large blocks of wood had been nailed to what was left of the boards to help keep them together.  Thankfully these boards were not load bearing but still it means that the tub was a remodel, by the previous to-us owners(as why would the original owners design/have a house built and then turn around and remodel it thusly?).

The photo above was taken after the cooper piping which served no purpose had been removed and before those compromised studs were replaced the following day.

Then there was the vent pipe debacle............

Every bathroom has a vent pipe which is connected to your toilet and sink and tub/shower drains.
This keeps sewage gases out of your house and helps the drains drain well.
Pictured above is our vent pipe.   To the right is our toilet fitting(under that ladder thingy)and where the bucket is sitting is where the sink goes.

This vent pipe runs from above the roof through the attic space, down into the bathroom and down to the first floor and eventually into the basement.
Usually a vent pipe runs through the room in the wall.....but not ours!
As you can see below this pipe was running through our bathroom into the room and not tucked into the wall!

This is the only reason they could find why this bathroom had both that lovely soffit built our from the actual wall that housed those potlights and the reason why we had a half or knee wall located behind the sink/vanity......

Half wall behind the vanity area, under the mirror....hiding that vent pipe which came out into the room's interior.......

 Soffit over the mirror....where that vent pipe "u"ed and jutted out into the room even more(like 12 inches out into the room!)before rising above the ceiling into the attic space.

So in order to NOT have to have another knee wall and soffit again the vent pipe had to be relocated inside the wall.
That was the sound of more money leaving our wallet since more supplies needed to be bought to do this and more labor would be expended to get that work done.

But it was so worth it NOT to have those design features replicated in the bathroom again.

You will also notice in this photo above that the vent pipe does NOT connect to the sink drain(behind that bucket on the left).  Caleb asked if our sink drains always ran slow and didn't drain well.  Why, yes they never did!  That's not because they were perpetually clogged up with hair and gunk we put down the sink drains it was because neither sink was connected to the vent pipe and thus not up to code!! 
A drain works best when it's vented, much like when you open a canned good like evaporated milk, if you have 2 holes, air pushes in the second hole to help the liquid escape the can faster.
So now both bathroom sinks(they are oppose each other located on this wall)had to be hooked up to the vent pipe which meant more labor time and money as well.

So a good part of the rest of the work day was spent tucking the vent pipe into the wall......

And bringing the sink drain up to code.

So Day 1 ended with the room gutted, pipes removed and/or relocated and stuff brought up to code.
It was such a mess in there I didn't really see how this was going to get finished up in the short time frame the contractor gave us.  True they are now going to be at this a day or two longer than planned due to the extra work but I was weary that room would ever be presentable again at this point.

*I just want to mention here that our contractor, who came to look in on the job and talk about things on Day 1, told us that our house, even with these issues, was becoming a dream to work on, and compared to other houses in this area that he has worked upon, it was practically a brand new house.
I suppose he was talking about houses in the older areas around here, like in Wilkes-Bare proper, where housing on the whole is quite a bit 1910-1940's older compared to our 1980's abode.  Back in the earlier part of the 20th century houses were not built to anything approaching current building codes(if there even WERE building codes! lol)and many were slap dashed together and have not stood up to the test of time.
Just our little bit of a taste of remodeling/renovating one bathroom has me rethinking any plans to retire somewhere and buy an older house that "needs work".  The only exception might be a house that needs total gutting down to a "shell"and renovating it totally.

Day 2 began the rebuilding of the bathroom.

New wall studs put into place(they left the old compromised ones as well as the blocks that had been added as there was no point in removing them, it would have cost more time and money)and the old piping was removed.

The new bathtub was installed!

And wallboard began to be put back up, first on the ceiling so the room wasn't open to the attic/roof which kept the room a bit warmer for working in.  That's the base of the new ceiling fan too.

So Day 2 I don't have as much to talk about and nothing else to framing goes up, old pipes removed, tub installed, new piping installed in the tub area, a new ceiling installed and the ceiling fan.

Day 3 and 4 will be discussed in the next installment.



  1. Interesting! I've never lived in an older house (we always bought new/almost new ones) but my house here is 18 years old and could use an update. Too late for you now but I was going to recommend a big walk in shower instead of a tub. Those seem to be what folks want these days- according to my daughters and sisters! I have a walk in shower in my bathroom but it's not big and I have a nice soaking tub I never use. My sisters just have a regular tub/shower in the kids/guest bathroom. At least you will get to enjoy the BR a few years yourself.

  2. Progress! Even new homes have crappy things, although you are right, and older home that you need to remodel is a can of worms waiting to happen. They did a lot of whacko things in the 1980s...

  3. Thank you so much for sharing. So sorry you uncovered things you were not planning on fixing. We have remodeled each house we have lived in and as soon as the walls are open you may or may not find a can of worms. ( Or an empty potato chip bag and coke can as we found in one house's walls) We have had issues sometimes and sometimes not, but it seems our 1st house built at the end of WW2 had much better construction and materials than our houses built in the late 60's -80's. I think we have just 1 more move left and we will either do a full gut pre-move or new construction. I don't want to inherit anyone else's house issues again.

  4. I am afraid what we may find once we start the upstairs bathroom. It is so oddly configured,to have this vanity thing in our bedroom, and in the end, it was a rush job, with builder going bankrupt.I live in another woman's dream home (at the time) and she never got to live there. I've hated the vanity since day one and would rather have had a bigger bathroom. Can't wait to see your next posts.

  5. I'm glad your bathroom is getting up to code. It sounds like you have a good contractor. Our house in PA had some weird stuff going on too. We had light switches that didn't turn on anything and they ran TV cable through some very strange places. I do miss my big pretty house and yard though. Right now my entire backyard here is just dirt.

  6. DX and family were contractors, I understand your pain!

  7. Having lived through many renovations I cough at the word drywall. The results will be worth it, no doubt. We live in a Sears & Roebuck house so no surprises, eccept what the previous owners did. (A basement full of empty Downy jugs) I wish you good luck and much return on your investment.

    1. I live in a Sears & Roebuck home too. We have the actual catalog that our home was ordered from. It belonged to my husband's grandparents. We're only the second owners so no surprises here either. Not even the money that his Grandma had hidden all over the house (his aunt apparently found it all before we moved in).

  8. Don't you have the word "BORING" in your blog title?
    Geesh, NOTHING is ever boring with you. You don't even have to leave home to find an adventure! Wow!!!

  9. I am finding this all very interesting as I look forward to a bathroom remodel in the next year or so. As far as I know all the pipes are where they are supposed to be...!!

  10. What a miserable and expensive mess! That add on to the sink would have made me nuts.

  11. This is awesome! I've been trying to do some bathroom renovation , and this gave me some great insight for things to try. Thanks for sharing!


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