Upstairs Shower Teardown ~ 03/30/16

Dear Fellow Journalers,

I would like to take a moment to thank Denise for sharing her project journal  with us this month. Her journey to a newly renovated home was a long one but as we will read, she survived to tell us the tale! I hope to see her remodeled rooms soon.



March 30, 2016

Since the Contractor hasn’t started in the basement yet, I’ve decided to talk about the teardown of the shower in the half bath upstairs for my last Project Blog.  Of course it’s got a story . . .  That’s where the Project Journal began.

The reason for the teardown to begin with was an ex of mine took out two closets, one from each room upstairs; we were going to expand the half bath to a full bath with a custom-sized shower stall, which did get started, but never quite finished . . . .

The sink got moved to take up the closet space from the room to the left of the stairs, the toilet was re-positioned from facing toward the left to facing straight out toward the stairs and the shower stall was started in the closet area in the room to the right of the stairs.  He never finished it because he got sick, then we went on vacation and he said it was the fumes from gluing the tile to the cement board that made him sick so he never finished it.  Just as well, because . . . .

Occasionally I needed to use the bathroom upstairs while working up there; one day I noticed water stains on the wood floor – the sink valves were leaking so I turned them off underneath.  Next time I was up there, I noticed wetness next to the toilet – called the plumber who said I had one of three options; since there was a crack in the water tank, I could install a new toilet or if I couldn’t afford that, he could fix my current situation or we could just shut the water off altogether for now.  I opted for door # 3.  I needed to wait for another financial windfall.  Ha!  They were few and far between living week-to-week.

I had the sink fixed after Christmas and the toilet fixed after tax refund.  Afterwards, the plumber noted there was no flange on the toilet.  “Wait!  What?  Really?  How’d he anchor it to the floor?”  He also told me he had to move the toilet three inches because it needed to be 15 inches from the wall.

There were already two strikes against what had been done in that bathroom.  As each new issue crept up, I began to contemplate taking the whole darn thing out, rather than continuing on with the project toward its completion.  One night I wasn’t feeling well and while pacing the kitchen floor noticed the discoloration in the ceiling (directly under that bathroom upstairs).  Hmmm . . .   That was the night I made my decision to rip the whole darn thing out and start over.

With family coming to town, I had to move the cat’s litter box upstairs; after cleaning it and using the toilet, decided to wash my hands up there as well.  [That sink didn’t work for so long, I’d forgotten I had it fixed.]  With the contractor needing to see what needed to be done in that bathroom, I’d emptied the shower stall so he could take a look.  While washing my hands I heard this gurgling sound in the shower area.  What the . . . ?  I actually thought it was the toilet backing up into the shower which was kind of gross.  Frantically, I called the Plumber all upset because the downstairs bathroom toilet and sink were still disconnected due to the remodeling going on down there.  Where was I supposed to pee?  Plumber said he’d stop by first thing in the morning.

When he arrived, we both went up to the bathroom; he flushed the toilet, nothing.  He flushed it again, still nothing.  I said, “You know . . . I was washing my hands when I heard it, but I’d just flushed the toilet so I assumed it was the toilet.”, he turned on the water in the sink and the water started rising in the shower stall drain.  Eeeek!  Well, thankfully it wasn’t the toilet backing up into the shower.

Okay, he wanted to check out the basement; we both went down there and that’s when I noticed that the washing machine was soaked.  What the . . .?  And then it dawned on me that I’d had that same issue a few years prior; it was the shower from the 1st floor causing that issue.  He sent me upstairs to turn the shower on; I no sooner did and he was screaming “SHUT IT OFF!”  Back downstairs, “Did you get a shower too?”  “YES!!!”  Ha!  “Oh, sorry about that!”  Plumber says, “Well we can fix this, but it has nothing to do with your issue on the second floor.”  Then he started looking at my pipes and said, “Your pipes are backwards.”  “What?”  “Yeah, look, the traps should be facing the opposite direction.”  I’m thinking they’re thinking stupid woman, they could tell me anything and I wouldn’t know the difference.  “Okay, what’ll it cost me for you to fix the pipes?”  “$600.”  “Okay, do it!”  Plumber says, “Okay, but this still hasn’t anything to do with your issue on the second floor.”  “Yes, I’m aware of that because I had this issue with the shower a few years ago, look, you can see where they used the torch; it scorched the piping.”  Second floor, upstairs?  Turns out the sink and the shower were never vented properly, if at all.  Plumber said, “When your Contractor starts tearing this all down and has the wall to the knee walls open, give me a call and I can scoot over and take a look at what was done and we’ll get it taken care of.  For now though, don’t use the sink up here.”  BIG SIGNS made up, “DON’T USE THE SINK!”

While Contractor and I were discussing different scenarios with the teardown of the shower stall, his last thought was, “Or . . .  you could open the room up altogether and not make it a closet again.”  Epic idea!  One I had not thought of!  Score a bravo for the Contractor.  “Yes, let’s do it that way!”

First day . . .  Contractor meticulously took tiles off the cement board, cut the cement board out and opened the walls to find some very funky plumbing pipes about waist high.   I’d given him the Plumber’s # and asked him to coordinate timing directly with him.  The following day he called the Plumber and never heard back from him.  That evening he and I both called the Plumber and within moments both got a call back.  Plumber said he’d come in the morning to check it all out.  Plumber calls me at work the next day, “The plumbing in that bathroom is atrocious!”  “Uh huh, that’s why I decided to rip it all out because I didn’t trust what he’d done.”  Turns out it was even worse than atrocious because they had not yet ripped up the flooring where the shower stall was.

Second day . . .  Plumber came, fixed everything, but they left a gaping hole in the floor where the shower stall had been AND they left the wall to the knee walls open.   When they were done up there, they were supposed to block everything off.  I adopted a rescue ‘feral’ cat in December, but he’s still in hiding and won’t come when I call him; I knew if there was a safer, quieter place, he would go there.  When I came home and found the floor wide open with the knee walls open, I totally panicked thinking the cat was stuck in between the floor boards somewhere and at the same time I was totally pissed off because I was so adamant about them NOT leaving everything exposed and open like that.  I called and called that cat to no avail; I looked high and low, in all his hiding places, no cat anywhere to be found.  Then I really started to panic as I remembered when a friend of mine had moved into a house that truly should have been condemned before she moved in; the floors were all slanted . . .  And the floor heating grate was missing in the kitchen.  Val said one night she came around the corner just in time to grab her cat’s tail and pull him out of the hole.  Silly cats!

I immediately called the Contractor who said he was on his way back to my house.  He took a flashlight and crawled into the knee walls; at the last possible moment the cat moved and he shooed him back into the bedroom; I was so relieved he hadn’t climbed into the hole in the floor.  My Contractor proceeded to close up all the holes for me before he left for the evening.  While he worked, he and I gabbed; he said the plumbing was so screwy the Plumber couldn’t believe what they found; said it was so bad they all took pictures of it.

Plumber stopped by that evening to pick up a check; said the sink and the shower weren’t vented at all, told me about the photos they took and said he’d send them to me if I wanted them.  Sure, I’ll add them to the blog I’m writing for my friend’s website.  (Sorry, pics didn’t show up before this printing.)

Day Three . . . .  More teardown in the upstairs bathroom; my ex had left a partial wall that the door kept hitting when we opened it into the bathroom; Contractor said we could take it out totally; yet another epic idea.  Okay!  It came down today.  Plus he closed up the knee walls for good-by adding sheet rock.  Yay!  It’s coming right along.

I decided to move the cedar closet [an heirloom piece from my Grandmother] into that new open space and then have a new closet built-in the opposite room; there’s a great space for a closet in that room.

Day Four . . . .  Contractor started to lay out how the tile would fit in the bathroom; I had bought the sheets of tile back when we first started to remodel that bathroom.  After he laid it out, I found the tile to be too busy in that tiny space; decided to go with the same 8″ tiles we used in the downstairs bathroom and the same grout color too!  The wall where the shower stall was went up today; it’s almost done.  Well . . . it’s roughly done; the wall seams need to be taped, etc, then the walls need to be painted and the tile flooring laid . . . .  Thankfully though, that shower stall is history, the sink has been vented properly and everything works up there again!


Pics of the pock marks on the walls of the basement are below; it looks like someone grabbed a hammer and randomly smacked the walls with it.  I actually think it has to do with the moisture in the basement.  The walls are concrete blocks.  I asked the Contractor about the sturdiness of the foundation and while he wasn’t certain, he did ask a friend of his who noted that the concrete blocks are filled with mortar and there’s no danger of my foundation crumbling due to those marks.  I had actually looked it up online a few years back and found the blocks were made of a certain type of concrete and I wasn’t the only person ever to experience these pock marks.  That was a relief!

Contractor is switching out the current access door for a new bilco door so I won’t continue to get water dribbling down the steps into the basement and he’s going to waterproof the walls for me after fixing the pock marks.

Oh and since he was a Painter before he started doing Remodeling, I’m going to have him finish the painting I started . . . . the ceiling in the livingroom; the wall in the upstairs hallway and now I need my bedroom repainted too because I bought a new quilt and it just doesn’t match the walls.  Uh huh, typical woman!

Always something to be done when you own a home . . . .

D ~

Pock Marks_Cinder Block Walls_2014 Basement leaking_2014This is where it starts_back left side of house_2014Red Sky Morning_03-20-15 127



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