Friday, May 13, 2016

D.I.Y. Plumbing: Budget Bathroom Makeover: Part 1

Spurred on by a scary-expensive plumber's job quote, we decided to tackle our bathroom plumbing ourselves. A canvass of friends and acquaintances revealed a lot more people have attempted this than we'd thought.

First things first:

1.) Advice and planning: The quote from the plumber ended up being a sort of consultation re: what we needed to do. When I called him to tell him the quote was a bit high for us and we might be D.I.Y.-ing, I asked if he'd be open to consulting us if we ran into trouble...I offered to pay for this service. He said call anytime, and did not seem bothered about being paid. (Some people are just nice like that, and are thinking long term: he just won himself two future clients). He talked me through everything on the phone so we could get started. The guys in Lowe's were also helpful, making sure we had the right size pipes, etc. Chatting to (knowledgeable) people about your project is good practice. You never know what helpful tips it might turn up....And there's always the internet. This was a pretty comprehensive online overview:

2.) Getting the town permit: It's definitely worth looking into your area's local laws regarding plumbing/building work. Our town is fine with home owners doing their own plumbing, provided you submit an application, pay a small fee, and keep your new pipes uncovered until the inspector can check them out.

3.) Removing the fixtures: The internet is rife with D.I.Y. plumbing tutorials. This Youtube video was all we needed to remove the tub/shower:
...And the toilet:
The vanity and sink we dismantled months ago. This was a helpful overview:

4.) Replacing and adding pipes: James is downstairs swearing at lengths of pipe as I write this. We had some old iron pipes and needed to add on new PVC and pex piping (drain pipes and vent pipes). This is pretty impossible without removing and replacing a good chunk of iron pipe with PVC. We had to replace several sections, starting in the basement and continuing all the way up to the roof (for venting).

The old pipes removed, with Pips dutifully adding a sense of scale.

New pipes connected to old in our clearly ancient basement.

5.) Extras: With our walls and ceiling gutted, it was a good time to hook up our new combination vent/exhaust fan/heat lamp and light fixture. James did the vent and exhaust pipe, and an electrician came in to wire it in.

So, demo-ing your bathroom is pretty messy.

6.) More extras: When pulling up old bathroom floor coverings it's not unusual to find at least some parts of the floor/subfloor in need of repair. There was mold and rot under our old floor, and we pulled up the entire subfloor.

Pippi attempts to make sense of the destruction.
The wall on the right of the above picture is a load bearing wall resting on one floor joist. This is not the done thing. Normally the floor joists run perpendicular to load bearing walls, so the weight of the wall is stretched across several joists. We added more support to this area by retrofitting additional blocking.

Cutting the new blocking, in what used to be the second living room (the addition).

The additional blocking going in. We added this to two sides of the room 
and down the center, before putting the new subfloor in.

The new subfloor is in and ready to be paw-tested.

Additional extras...Some of our wall studs were crooked and James employed a trick he learned in carpentry school: sawing into the stud where it bows out, and screwing it back in place to straighten it out.

Getting the shower ready: We're building a cedar shower from scratch, and making the shower pan using the handy tutorial we found here:

She 'helps' like this sans encouragement: initiative + work ethic.
Drain fitted, cement poured and curing.

Bits and pieces: While James was busy with all of that, I tied up some loose ends.

I made some stained glass panels to go into the bathroom door. This is an old storm door. We have four of these.
My rule of thumb when scavenging materials is: if the price is right and the item useful/characterful, buy more than
you need. You'll either use it later, or sell it on/gift it to someone who will.

I revamped an old heater cover.

Still More Extras: This is our only bathroom, so we needed to sort out temporary bathroom arrangements. By that I mean a bucket and a hose, with some embellishments.

This is the same toilet we use on the boat: a bucket fitted with a toilet seat we found at the dump.
Fishing boats are no-frills. This is basically a composting toilet--we used kitty litter and saw dust.

We ran a splitter into one hose out of these two taps,
connected to a spray nozzle.
A pallet floor lobster trap shower

Completely irrelevant: During this time we also had to get the lobster boat in the water. Wooden boats dry out if left on land too long: that's a bad thing.

The whole thing needed to be painted... time to be loaded onto a huge truck...

...and driven through town and down to the shore.

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