Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Unexpected master bath project

I've been generally telling you about projects we've completed.  This post is an experiment in blogging ongoing projects.  Really ongoing--I can hear P on the other end of the house using the Sawzall at this very moment.

Most unexpected bathroom remodel projects start with something like, "well, there was this leak...."  That's where ours starts, too.  Except our leak was at some point in the distant past before we bought the house--we're guessing it may have been as long as 15-20 years ago.  And it wasn't a plumbing leak--it was a roof leak along the chimney, which happens to be behind the wall of our master bathroom.

The house took on a lot of water before the situation was fixed--so much that it ran down the chimney all the way from the attic to the crawl space.  It puddled on the floor in the master bath, and degraded the OSB subfloor so badly that the vinyl on top of the subfloor was discolored and cracked.  When you stepped in that vicinity, things felt decidedly insecure.  (I neglected to get a pitcure of this, because who wants a picture of an ugly bathroom situation?)

Here's the sad part--we didn't notice this until the home inspection.  We thought we had done more than our due diligence--we visited the house three times before making an offer, and the last time we even flew P's father in to help us do our own informal home inspection.  How did we miss such a glaring problem?  Here's how:


If there's anything more skeevy than carpet in a bathroom, it's lifting up the carpet remnant in someone else's bathroom to check what's under it.  Ick!  (I really don't think this was placed there in an attempt to deceive us--I think it was for the previous owner's comfort and so she didn't have to look at the vinyl.)

Anyway, it wasn't that big a deal.  I thought about asking the previous owner to fix it, but we agreed not to, because: 1. we were getting the house at a good price, and didn't want the deal to fall through because we started niggling, 2. P thought we could fix it ourselves, so we were just looking at the cost of supplies--subfloor is quite cheap, so the only real cost is 3. the replacement of the vinyl, and we wanted to select the new flooring ourselves.

This situation probably would have topped any normal person's to-do list in home renovations.  We gave it quite low priority.  We're pretty sure that at some point we want to make some substantial changes to the room--the floor plan is not as functional for our lifestyle as we would like--but we can't figure out (or agree on) exactly what those changes should be.  And why put in a new floor, only to rip it out in, say, two years when we finally figure ourselves out?

This gets to what I find the really funny part of the situation--P found himself tearing apart our bathroom Saturday night not because the floor was a death-trap, but because the closet smelled funny. 

Yup, you heard that right.

There's a small closet in the master bath, just to the left of the entrance.  For some reason that completely mystified us, it smelled really strongly of old lady cosmetics.  You know that smell.  Maybe it's cold cream?  It was so strong that we didn't put any of our things in the closet, and never opened the door.  How did the closet absorb that many cosmetic odors?

P decided that if we stripped the wallpaper that covered the interior of the closet and its shelves, the smell might go away.  So he stripped the paper, and, for good measure, threw away all of the shelves a few weeks ago.  The smell might have declined slightly in intensity, but it was still quite strong.  Plus now we could see what we should have suspected--the drywall in the closet was also significantly damaged from the leak.

P suddenly decided to deal with this on Saturday night.  Clearly the drywall would need to be replaced.  Plus, maybe if we removed it, the smell would go away!  I think the first I heard of this was when he decided to remove the ceiling as well.  Then neither of us were happy campers.  I was not at all amused because the house was now open to the attic, which is crazy hot in August.  Not good for the utility bill.  P was not amused because in the process of moving the insulation around in the attic so that it wouldn't fall into the closet when he removed the ceiling, he discovered that--you can see this one coming, right, why didn't we?--oops, some studs and joists were rotted from water damage!

Oh boy.

Then, just for kicks, P got all surprised that the floor had been supporting our weight all this time.  So he took one good stomp, and, what do you know, the floor wasn't supporting his weight anymore!
Water stained vinyl flooring.  And the hole P's foot made.


(And now you see why I don't have any good before pictures--I didn't see this remodel coming.) 
Surprise!  All together now--not only was the subfloor rotten, but the joists under it were too!

I think I left a rotten closet stud off the list.

In the span of an hour or two, we went from thinking it might be a few years before we worked on the bathroom, to needing to do major structural work right now.

P spent Sunday making all of the holes larger.  This meant he got to buy more saws!  I think we now own one of everything at Home Depot.  (P would beg to differ.)  P began demo with the jigsaw and circular saw we already owned.  He used the circular saw to remove the rotten subfloor, since he could set the depth on the circular saw so he wouldn't cut through the floor joists. 

At Home Depot, we picked up a new Sawzall for P.  He's in love.  Demo went much faster once he had it.

Picture borrowed from homedept.com



P standing on the floor of the crawl space.  Usually he complains about how much easier it would be to work on the house if we had a full basement--here's the counterexample!

Tomorrow: we begin trying to put it back together!

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