It’s always a joy to see a beautifully finished project with all of the final touches to make it picture perfect. Before the final reveal, however, there is a lot of planning, work, clean-up and inconvenience to contend with. Some projects go better than others but every project will have some unexpected speed bumps that come up that need some quick thinking to stay on schedule and on budget.
“John” was convinced by his friends that it was time to redo the main bathroom in his solid, but dated, 1960’s bungalow home. The old dark brown 80’s tile was falling apart, the tub leaked and the lino was lifting. The oak vanity had seen better days and the robins-egg blue paint had to go.
Spot repairs or partial renovations to a space like this don’t make sense, and trying to tie old into new is always costly. The end result is often less than perfect. The nice thing about a bathroom renovation is that it is contained to one room, unlike other renovations that seem to grow to other rooms.
John had put some thought into what he wanted in his new bathroom but, like many clients, had not decided on many of the details. Most contractors will give great suggestions about practical layouts and necessary building requirements, but fashion choices are better left to a designer. Two hours with a designer and we had paint colors, trim styles, tile choices and a running theme for a matching tub, toilet and vanity.
Once the materials were purchased and on site it was time to gut the bathroom. Bathrooms have a small square footage but can sure fill a dumpster fast. This house had plaster walls and while we had not intended on dropping the ceiling, the wire lath connecting the plaster wrecked the ceiling, so down it came. This made installing the new bathroom fan a little easier and now we had a clean slate to work with, as well as giving the plumber and the electrician better access to do their work.
Unlike many bathrooms, this one only required basic electrical wiring for the GFI plugs, bath fan and more lighting. The plumbing was also straight forward. Replace the toilet anchor, new shut off valves and the shower mixing valves. Install new sub floor, bathtub and drywall and the first week was done.
The next few steps slow down the process. Mudding and taping the drywall always takes three or four days because each coat has to dry no matter how small the space is. John wanted a lot of tile in his bathroom including the floor, tub surround and the walls up three feet. That also took three to four days to set and grout. Then the carpenter installed trim and the vanity and left so the painter could perform his magic. Everyone thinks they can paint but the work of an expert really stands out here. There’s nothing quite like matched colors, and straight-as-an-arrow brush lines. The carpenter went back and installed the remaining fixtures.
Nothing to it; except everyone in the process has to be really good at their job or the results will be lacking. The hardest part is having everyone scheduled to do their job exactly when they are needed. If one tradesman is late, then everyone down the line has to be rescheduled, possibly causing big delays.
Johns bathroom went well. It stayed on budget because he never made any changes after we had started and we never found any costly surprises once we completed the demo. Now it’s the nicest room in the house and something John can be proud of. Maybe next year we could do something about that kitchen.
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