Stripping a bathroom
Took an entire week of holiday to get my bathroom completed, it would be a sprint against time my first job involving stripping a bathroom of all the useful objects it holds. Not too tough a job you may think but no bathroom means not bath and no toilet too. This would not only prove unpleasant for me, not being able wash up after a hard days grind but also potentially harmful for others who should bump into me. The toilet wouldn’t be too much of a problem as I have an outside loo, not the best of arrangements but better than nothing, the lack of bathtub would mean lots of borrowed showers though.
Saturday 28th May 2016
My sister was in town and had kindly agreed to visit early this morning to help carry my new bathtub and shower base upstairs. I got up early to clear a path up the stairs and to hopefully detach the old bathtub in order that we could press on with the move. The house was a tip and the stairs were covered in tools and wood so this took a little longer than I thought, furniture in the living room needed moving too and the pile of tools on the bath tub box needed shifting as well. Once I managed to start with the dismantling of the bathtub my sis’ was already ringing the doorbell.
The tub had to be moved first as it sat in the doorway of the new walk-in shower area, the new tub and shower base were to be temporarily stored in this area before being fitted. It was an old tub out then new tub in arrangement, easier said than done though as the old tub had a firm grip on the bathroom, it didn’t want to shift and I also had no desire to do some plumbing at this stage so the tub needed to be removed while the taps and pipework needed to remain. Anyway a bit of multi-tooling to separate the taps from the body of the tub, some reciprocating sawing to cut the frame, a crowbar to get it started, some pummelling with a hammer and it was on its way to the garden to the bathroom graveyard.
Once done it was first upstairs with the HEAVY shower base, we struggled a bit but between us we soon had it in the shower room. The new bathtub was nice and light and apart from having to remove it from its packaging and twist it on its side to get it through some doors it didn’t pose that much of a problem.
My lovely sis’ was in a hurry to meet her hubby and had to disappear pretty pronto after this work but without her I don’t know what I would have done, the exercise could have involved injury, broken kit or both should I have tried to tackle it in on my own, what’s for certain though it would have taken me hours to do what we did in a half an hour (if that).
Thanks big sis’
Once this was done I emptied the bathroom of every loose object and before I committed to knocking out the toilet I decided to go on-line and get a replacement WC ordered, just in case.
This proved not to be as simple as it sounded, by the end of a couple of hours I’d bought a click clack bath waste and some free-standing waterfall taps for the bathtub but that was it. I’d ordered a loo but found it couldn’t be delivered for ages, I’d cancelled it and then found a replacement but that had a rather expensive delivery charge so I cancelled that too. In the end I had a refund owed that wouldn’t be refunded until the following week and with no money now to buy another loo I returned to my bathroom work.
Anyway I took out my angst on the radiators in the room, I cut the pipes and carried the heavy rad’s out, the newer one was to be recycled and the older one was for the external bathroom now growing in the garden. On the way to the garden a lovely blob of radiator gunk spilled out of one of the pipes and it’s inky goo ran all over my new shiny floor, it took twenty minutes of scrubbing to remove.
Next it was demolition time, the curtains and pelmets were knocked out, the electric fire was removed and its wiring was capped with insulating tape despite having been tested as not having any electricity flowing into it – one cannot be too careful with electrics. I then knocked out the large cupboard that housed the manifold and provided towel storage and once this was done and the wood stored I started on removing the lovely green carpet. Well the lovely green carpet turned out to be two layers of green carpet and another orange one on the base, three layers of carpet, are people insane….
The room was now back to the bare bones, only the sink and WC remained, the plan was to carefully prise up the floor, salvage the wood and use it to make a new floor. This would have been a good cheap and quality idea but on removing the carpet I’d discovered a problem, not only had previous tradespeople cut from one end of the room to the other through all the floorboards – twice – but some of the floorboards had been removed and replaced with thinner shoddier wood, the floor was a mess that the three layers of carpet had shrouded.
I had to find enough floorboards to supplement those that could be salvaged from the floor, I had some that had been removed from the shower base but I still needed a healthy amount to finish the job. So into the garage I ventured, the garage had become a dumping ground for lots of timber, old and new, so I had my work cut out to find good floorboards. A bit of rummaging later and I had a box of bits and a handful of long planks, it wasn’t looking good but it wasn’t too bad.
Gingerly I then tackled taking out the floorboards, I had to salvage as many as I could, I prised, I twiddled, I used all the wisdom I’d accumulated in my previous floor removal ventures but after cracking a third board on removing it I swore loudly and packed in for the day.
Well I packed in the DIY but still cracked on with some research and some on-line purchases, so by 2am I had a huge list of plumbing fittings ready to collect from Screwfix the next time I was passing.
Sunday 29th May 2016
I had my little girl all day and we decided to push the boat out and have a sleepover at my folks. I lost a Sunday of work but had a great time and it was nice to not have to fly home at the end of the day and just have some quality time with my lovely Mum, Dad and Daughter.
Monday 30th May 2016
Didn’t get back to the homestead till the early afternoon, my Mum and Dad had heard my flooring and money dilemma and had very kindly agreed to help me out with some flooring for the bathroom and some necessary cash to keep the project going. My family are pretty unbelievable I don’t know what I do to deserve them.
A bit of researching later and a full floor of engineered flooring was headed my way courtesy of my fabbo folks.
On the way back I’d visited Screwfix and had me a bag of plumbing parts, JG Speedfit for the radiators and HEP02 for the potable water – that’s drinking water to you and me pilgrim.
A quick lunch and then two hours finishing off removing the rubble and debris that had been sealed under the floorboards,. I had also removed the final floorboards, this wasn’t done as delicately as before as I now could afford to waste the odd board or two. Five builders buckets of rubble, wood and rubbish and I was ready to crack on.
The previous crew had also sealed three empty packs of cig’s and a smattering of Sunday supplements under the boards and carpet. All from 1985 the headlines were about Bet Lynch finding love, the Queen Mum’s 85th birthday and Rod Stewart falling in love again.
Next the job I was really dreading, basically the plumbing was a mess, more importantly though the plumbing was a mess that would be sealed under the floor of the bathroom and hence be inaccessible once the flooring was fitted. I needed to sort it out so the feeds no longer took a circuitous route into the bathroom and back out to the thermal store. So without going into detail it involved hours of searching for tools, cutting, wrenching and being sprayed by water but once completed the new pipework looked a treat, much better, much neater and all accessible to plumbers should the need arrive.
I switched the water back on over three hours later and not a single dribble.
A quick spot of food and then…
Toilet and basin out and into the garden.
It’s funny that once you have to go to an outside lavvy that how much it reminds you of being at a festival. Especially first thing in the morning, walking tiredly out of the house, loo roll in hand to the privvy, the sounds of the outside world waking up, it really is as festival memory pricking as the smell of bonfires. It was like a quiet morning at Glastonbury, the only thing missing was the slap of the plastic doors on their sprung hinges. Quite refreshing too 🙂
Once the last bathroom furniture was removed I cracked on with the final floorboards, the skirting boards and then I cut away at all the old radiator and water piping.
Once this was done it was the wee hours of the moring, I was too tired for anything else so I turned in
Tuesday 31st May
First thing I had to sort out my delivery of flooring for the bathroom so the first job was negotiating on the phone for a Wednesday delivery. Next I was sorting out the WC, purchase and some shrewd shopping around later and I had that in the bag too
Back into the bathroom, it took surprisingly long to get the last of the timber out, then more cleaning of debris under the joists led to two more buckets full of rubble and some more kindling for the fire
I didn’t even stop for lunch – because I didn’t have any food in – so lunch was a Coke and a Kinder egg, surprisingly nice too and I had a toy as well.
Back on the job and I has started on drilling holes through the joists for the pipes. This was one of those really nasty jobs, drilling with a large drill bit meant lots of torque feedback and lots of hard work getting the drill bit through the joist. The main problem though was that my battery powered Makita was broken again and I’d not had the time to get it fixed, this meant having to resort to the Black and Decker that seemed intent on killing me and/or my Dad. However once fitted with the correct bit and with a bit of care and attention it turned out to be a revelation, sure it did buck and twist and spit but it got the job done, even when the motor started smoking it still continued to work and didn’t miss a beat.
Once this was done I measured up for the radiators, a bit of surfing on-line and a bit of radiator ordering and I had two rad’s ready and waiting for collection on Wednesday.
A quick visit from Anna and Izzi, I gave Izzi my Kinder toys and some eggs too – there goes tea 🙂 – a tour of the house and a cup of tea and I was back on the job.
I decided I needed food so decided to pick more essential parts from Screwfix and some even more essential food from Tesco.
Once food was hunted and slammed into my car boot I headed back to look after Izzi for the evening, I didn’t get home until 12:30 but feeling I’d not achieved much that day I pressed on and put my shopping away, had a creepy midnight toilet visit, sorted out documents I then emailed my mortgage advisor, wrote up this blog and was in bed for 2am.
Wednesday 1st of June
I was quite conscious of falling behind this week so despite my late night I got up just after seven and was working by 8:20.
The first job was pressing on with hole drilling in the bathroom, this was becoming a terrible job but it needed to be done. I tried to break up the drilling by pulling the pipework through the holes. This turned out to be even a harder job than drilling the holes, the pipes dragged once fitted through two holes, the snarled when threaded through three and became impossible after that. I pulled in the towel radiator and back window radiator pipes and then I drilled out more holes for the side radiator and stumbled on a cunning plan. After some contemplation I hit on the idea of starting in the middle of their pipe run course, this meant I threaded through three or so in one direction and three or so in the other, it saved my muscles and made it all easier, but it was still murder.. Also a good technique to employ was found by pulsing the drill until it fitted horizontally into the gap between the joists as it was a bit too long, also to just take the drilling easy, none of the burning armature from yesterday. It worked a treat.
Once I’d pulled in the pipes I then terminated them all at the manifold and once that was done I had a quick break to listen to Radio 2’s Popmaster.
A very quick break and while all the boards were up and the manifold was accessible I decided to run a spare pair of pipes into the corridor for a radiator I planned in the future. A bit of drilling, a bit of struggling with pipework and I fitted it to the manifold and blanked off the other end with some pipe caps.
Walking downstairs to check for leaks and I walked straight into the kitchen light fitting that had suddenly slipped its supports and dropped a couple of feet below its normal hanging spot, it was a bit “Only Fools and Horses” if you get the reference.
I then started labelling the radiators on the manifold, a good job to do once it was still fresh in the mind but not one that saw much progress on the bathroom fit out. Anyway the doorbell rang and my lovely new bathroom floor arrived narrowly followed by the bath taps, a bit of work and eight boxes of flooring were safely transported into the house.
Next I decided to do some work on the kitchen light fitting. The old one wasn’t central, it was a mess and needed replacing so I decided to square things up and put three modern pendant fittings in its place. A bit of measuring and drilling and I had three new holes in place, I fitted noggins to support them and I then dropped the old fitting onto a pillow, took out the old wiring, replaced it with some new regulation twin and earth and hooked it into the appropriate junction box. I then labelled every bit of wiring I could find and neatly put it all back under the floorboards.
The week was a mix of doing work, ordering and researching fittings and fixtures and there was even a smattering of paperwork. That afternoon my mortgage advisor rang to tell me the good news that there may be a mortgage company out there willing to take on my debt, this would be a lifesaver but meant taking time out to sort out documents and get them off in the post. Still it was great news and possibly the best expenditure of my time, it still didn’t feel as good as banging a nail in but it was far more important.
In order to arrange the mortgage it meant getting the house finished so with this in mind I sent off a couple of texts and within an hour I had a electrician booked for work the following week, thanks again to my folks.
Evening came and I finally finished off the radiator feeds, once this was done I fitted a small manifold for the fresh cold water and I also plumbed in the hot water for the sink and bath. HEP02 is my pipe of favour for potable water, I really do like Speedfit but I prefer the guarantees that HEP02 is designed to be suitable for drinking water.
Once I’d exhausted my energy for physical work I decided to start hunting for the documents for my mortgage advisor and I found myself up until 1:50 looking for them, photographing them and attaching them to emails.
Thursday 2nd June
Despite the late night I woke up at 5 and couldn’t get back to sleep, so at seven I got up had breakfast and made a really early start.
My first job was to get the house together, I normally tried to keep on top of things, but with one thing and another and being pretty scruffy myself too then everything was a bit of a tip. First thing and bed was a mess so I stripped it and put it in the washer. I then needed to get my tools sorted and look for bank statements so I went room by room tidying each room in turn, nothing elaborate just good enough to live in. It was all good, I felt much better for it and in sorting stuff out I was finding missing tools and materials, I even found stuff I was just about to buy, so it saved me a bit of cash too.
Presssing on with the pipework a lapse of concentration led to a creased a pipe and despite being attached to a HEP02 demountable joint it refused to demount. In the end I had to cut out the crease and use a coupler in its place, in fact silly me… I had to do this twice as I forgot to fit the pipe inserts
A quick job to fit some pipe end stops and then my customary break for Popmaster.
Now on with levelling of the floor, the bathroom floor was very much out of true, the historical movement had not been corrected and the whole floor fell away to one end of the room. I had tackled this before and I knew it wasn’t too difficult to correct, however to do it correctly it took time and effort.
Starting out and spirit level in hand and I identified the highest point in the room, a trip to the garage for some structural timber I’d purchased earlier and I was ready for some levelling. Basically levelling of this first joist was the most important of all the levelling work, this joist had to be pop on as the other joists would use this as a reference point. So lots of levelling and re-levelling later and I had a fresh new joist strapped perfectly horizontally to the old notched and gnarly one. I then worked from this across the room a joist at a time, fixing a new length of timber to each in turn and levelling it off against the previous joist. By the time I got to the last one on the left side of the room it was all a little skewiff, any inaccuracy afforded in any of my measuring was getting worse as one headed across the room. I did manage to recover though but this wasn’t the best way of doing things, things had to improve, I needed it more accurate and quicker.
I had a brainwave.
Rather than work a joist at a time slowly across the room, why not do the first and last joists and get them perfect. Once done simply span two bits of straight timber across the gap between the two new joists. The subsequent joist could then be easily fitted by clamping them one at a time to the bottoms of the bridging timber, really simple, really quick and perfectly accurate.
My impact driver proved to be a thing of wonder during this whole exercise, not only could it drive in a 10cm screw into a joist without breaking a sweat but its battery lasted forever and the hammer action led to little torque feedback to my hands.
Anyway I did three more beams and took a break for lunch
Straight after lunch took delivery of my new toilet.
I then realised my timber edge of the shower room wasn’t square, this needed serious work and unfortunately a substantial amount of the day involved work I hadn’t planned. First I needed to remove the bathtub from the shower area, I needed to get the shower tray out of the way, I then removed all of the top layer of joists, trimmed the edges, refitted them and put the bathtub and shower trays back into place. A pretty huge undertaking it was punctuated by another visit to Screwfix (picked up the radiators too) to get some impact driver bits for my driver as it had spent the day driving huge screws into huge bits of timber but had also been shreading screwbits in the process.
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent on more important activities, I had to pick my Mum up from the hospital where my Dad had been dropped off for some tests. I’d then rushed back and put Izzi to bed and once this was done I was spent and went to bed.
Friday 3rd June
The day started with more levelling of the floor, it had become quite a serious undertaking, I knew from the start that it was going to be a big job but I was now finding more and more that needed doing. For example rather than just fixing a levelling joist to one side of each of the original floor joists I decided to go that one step further and sandwich each original joist (where possible) with new level timber. This meant that the original joist would not be “tipping or twisting” under the force of someone stepping on it, it just balanced things out nicely.
Edges too posed a problem, particularly at the gable end of the floor, here thinner joists had been employed and they required more support to give them some stability in order that they not twist out of shape. In order to cope with this and other sections, various noggins were inserted to further strengthen the floor and it this all took a long time to complete.
I also set to work fixing wood to the edge of the shower area, this would allow me to fix a joist to the side of it in order to support the floor, it was all getting rather involved.
Once the floor was finished and level most of the day had slipped by.
Next on with the insulation and first to do was the pipe insulation. Some may think I’m nuts lagging each of the individual pipes, especially when you realise I’m going to be insulating under the floors anyway, I don’t care I like it that way, belt and braces that’s what I say.
So now all the pipes were lagged it was onto fitting the Knauf Ekoroll between the joists ready for the subfloor, 2/3 of the way through though I exhausted my supply of insulation, retired to the shops for a bottle of wine and had a late night in front of the TV.
Saturday 4th of June 2016….
Why oh why do I drink, I did manage to drag myself out of bed early but I really could barely face doing any work, one bottle of wine and I was ruined for the morning.
I pacified myself with a trip to B&Q, four tins of paint and two rolls of Ekoroll and I then headed back home.
I couldn’t face the day still, so I had a bit of lunch and again afterwards I still felt apathetic.
So a bit of stern talk later and I was cracking on with finishing the insulation, a nice quick job. Next it was fitting the sub-floor, not a great job to do on a hangover but it had to be done.
The floor now level I cracked on with the subfloor, I has some excellent WBP plywood and I with it I worked across the floor securing the flooring carefully to the new beams. This went well apart from a spell where I couldn’t measure for toffee and had to cut a board three times before getting my cuts right, this could have been due to bottle of wine, I really will have to knock that on the head in future.
The plywood supply unfortunately petered out, I’d used some sheets on the shower wall and it meant I was two sheets short. Still never mind it worked out well, I knew that I needed to get the drains in place for the bathtub and if I’d pressed on then I’m sure I’d have had to remove them in order to fit the drains, I was just on a mission, the missing boards were probably a bonus.
I then turned my attentions to a cupboard under the window, well a cupboard I’d knocked out in my demolition phase. For some reason someone had thought it was a good idea to tunnel out a cupboard into the stonework under the back window to use it as storage. This cupboard was rather icky, it was damp, leaked cold, was full of air fresheners and bleach, it just wasn’t nice. I had decided on fitting a radiator here so I now needed a way of filling the hole, supporting a radiator and closing off the coldness.
Big timber was needed along with big screws..
A bit of skilled bashing and screwing later and I had a very sturdy frame secured into the front of the hole, this was then supplemented with some noggins to support he sagging window ledge above, the back wall was then lined with damp proof course and the inside was lined with 25mm PIR insulation.
And that was it my week’s holiday was done, I had dozens of jobs that I’d planned on finishing but the groundwork had just dragged on and on. I hope you appreciate that I’d really put the hours in, sometimes days stretched to 15 hour shifts, my only pleasure was looking after my little girl. To that end I spent the Sunday with her and my folks…. I reckon it’s not long now.