Renovation Adventures: Master Bathroom Demo

A year ago, we bought our adorable little 1940’s farmhouse. We love it and we love the area. We love that it’s a fixer-upper. We did quite a bit of work on it before moving in, which you can see here, here and here.

What we weren’t loving was the funky smell coming from the master bathroom. It got so bad that we had to do some exploratory demo to try to find the source of the smell and the ominous dripping we could hear behind the laundry room wall downstairs when we flushed the upstairs toilet.

Here’s the catch. We don’t have the money right now to buy all the things we need to renovate our master bathroom. We can only demo and try to fix whatever the problem is and then put the bathroom back together into our dream bathroom as we can afford it. My friends, we want a big claw-foot tub in our master bathroom. It’s going to be awhile before we can even get to the point where the floor will hold that big, beautiful tub…

Here’s what our bathroom looked like on Saturday morning.

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and here is what it looks like on Sunday evening…

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As far as plumbing goes, we found that…

  • the fixtures are not properly vented to keep sewer gasses from entering.
  • the slope of the drain pipes is insufficient in some areas and actually BACKWARDS in other places (that means gravity is keeping the toilet from flushing and the sink from draining- even causing the toilet waste to back up into the sink drain!!!)
  • there are a few small leaks along the drains and vent stack. Yuck.
  • the main sewage pipe had been punctured by two screws and then improperly patched, allowing toilet water to leak into the wall in our laundry room below the bathroom. Yeah, gag.

Sadly, plumbing problems aren’t the only problems we found.

For structure, we found…

  • our floor joists are insufficient- for a 16 foot span, the joists need to be a minimum of 2X8 and ours are 2X6.
  • most of the floor joists have been notched or have had holes drilled that exceed what can be done without compromising the structural integrity (that means our floor is sagging and could potentially collapse if we were to put a full bathtub and a person in there!)
  • some of the framing has been removed or altered in ways it shouldn’t have been.

For insulation/weatherproofing

  • the insulation is filthy (the black areas show where air has been moving through) and had mice and squirrel nests from the time the house was vacant.
  • the insulation doesn’t have a high enough R-value for as cold as our winters get.
  • The ceiling doesn’t have baffles and there are no soffit vents, so the roof has no airflow. To keep cool in the summer, we need that airflow.

For electrical

  • we found a hidden junction box- big fire safety no-no!!

Obviously, we’ll need to make this room safe before we can make it beautiful and functional again. We’re keeping the bathroom blocked off (no kiddos allowed) until we have everything up to code and fully functional. Here’s our game plan, which will be altered as we find more surprises, I’m sure. 😉

  1. We’ll be properly fixing the punctured drain pipe, then replacing drywall in the laundry room.
  2. All the pipes that went to fixtures in the bathroom will be removed where needed and capped off.
  3. We’ll be sistering up all the joists with 2×8’s to handle the weight of everything that we’ll be putting in there.
  4. Any framing that has been damaged will be replaced or sistered, as needed. We’ll also probably add some collar ties to reinforce the structure.
  5. We are going to add soffit vents, baffels and new insulation.
  6. We’ll run new plumbing (with the proper slope!!!) to where we’re going to have our fixtures.
  7. We will use cement-board so that we won’t run the risk of getting moldy drywall (no AC, so we have to be extra careful).
  8. We’ll put down new subflooring.
  9. We’ll add an exhaust fan, move the light fixture, move the outlet and upgrade it to a GFCI for safety. (Oh, before starting anything else we’ll be dealing with the hidden junction box. Not something you want to leave for later.)
  10. We’ll start on the fun finishes!!!!

Just getting to step 10 will take quite awhile, but it’s so important to do all these things the right way. It’s clear that the person who added this bathroom had no clue what he was doing and it will take us far longer to renovate this house than we expected, since we need to undo and fix most of his work. We are so excited to work together on this and create something beautiful, though! This is part of the fun of having a fixer-upper, right? 🙂

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