Bathroom Renovation; D.I.O. Doing It Ourselves.
Last week I posted about our upcoming bathroom renovation and the shiny new fittings that spurred it all on (here). This week, I would like to tell you all why I was looking at shiny new bathroom fittings. By that, I mean the real reason.
I figure that I’d rather be an open book with a few crap chapters than a dodgy novel with some pages missing.
If you’ve been following Designsixtynine for a while, you’ll remember that my renovation plan for the house involved moving the main bathroom upstairs in to what was the third (box) bedroom. The third bedroom/studio would then be moved downstairs with an en-suite disabled access shower room.
The tiny bedroom to the far right is the new bathroom
Whilst we still aren’t quite ready to start the kitchen extension, the upstairs bathroom renovation went ahead quite some time ago. To the point of being finished, quite some time ago. Almost. There may be some lessons to learn here, so read on. Or laugh… I’ll leave that up to you.
Before The Bathroom Renovation
Before it all went tits-up, we had a small but useable third bedroom. It never got to fulfill it’s destiny as such, becoming more of a storage dump, much like the second bedroom is now. Here it is in all it’s ‘old lady chic’ glory…
Months before any work had begun, I started planning out the layout. Nothing fancy, just a basic floorplan, measured out on squared paper. I cut out a shower, bath, basin and toilet to scale, then started playing ‘housies’. I would totally recommend anyone who is planning a change of layout to do this as it gives a really good idea of space available.
After some deliberation, I opted for the shower-over-bath layout as this was more suitable for me financially at the time. I never really loved this as it felt like a compromise.
Lesson 1- Never compromise. When it comes to the big stuff, wait until you can afford exactly what you want.
Choosing the Plumber
This is the part I hate. Sorry if you work in the trade but I bloody hate finding tradespeople. Like, really hate it. I’m like Meryl Streep in A Series of Unfortunate Events; I’d go out of my way to try to avoid ‘getting someone in’. Unfortunately, this was more than a simple reconfiguration and required major re-routing of water and waste to upstairs. Way too big for my skills. Even my dad changed the subject when I approached him with the proposal.
Being the sensible (!!) man that I am, I went through a popular ‘rated’ trades search website, getting three quotes from three different plumbers. Only one really stood out as having a good knowledge of the work to be undertaken and actually seemed to listen to what I wanted. The customer testimonials read well too. Sorted. He was pretty positive that his guys would find it a pretty straightforward job…
Then again, you can train a monkey to do pretty much anything. I would have been better off if I had.
Choosing The Fun Bits.
I didn’t produce a rendered plan as I had already chosen the bathroom fittings that I really liked and that worked for the bath-over-shower plan. I say ‘liked’ as I would have preferred a freestanding bath. So, ‘like’ would have to do. It was simple and contemporary. Oh, and in the sale! Perfect!
I know they’re everywhere now, but I really like the aesthetic of subway tile. To be a bit different I opted for a longer version and paired it with grey hexagon tiles for the floor. My trusty friend Ebay, provided the black fittings that I really wanted, all well within my limited budget. It sounds very fancy when I say that the shower is from California and the from Germany. I’m not fancy. Remember, it’s all Ebay guys!
Everything arrived and it all looked fab. I didn’t ‘love’ the knobs on the black shower or the shape of the bath taps… but they were affordable and offered the look that I wanted (see Lesson 1).
The plumbers came in and the bathroom renovation began. After the major re-routing of pipework was done, it was up to me to do the carpentry and tiling, before they came back in to fit everything in place. I boxed in pipework and built-in storage using an old oak wardrobe that I found in the shed. The under-sink unit was constructed from an Ikea kitchen bridging unit, clad in the salvaged oak.
Then The Cracks Appeared
Literally. After the plumbers left on the first day, I sneaked in to inspect what had been done. Not only was the shower control panel on in the wrong position, but the bath was cracked (think of a boiled egg, when hit with a teaspoon). Unfortunately, I had no way of proving that it was the plumbers fault, so went ahead and ordered another. Luckily I was well within budget so had room to do this. It grated on me though; a second bath that I only ‘liked’. FFS.
The following day, I told them I was unhappy with the shower position and about the first bath. My suspicions about the bath smashing plumber were pretty much confirmed by his crimson face as I told him. Being one to avoid any awkward situation, preferring to stew and rage inwardly, I glossed over it and they carried on.
Lesson 2; Address situations where tradespeople are concerned. Don’t be a big wuss like me. GET THEM TOLD!
The new bath arrived two days later and the work continued.
I think it would be easier and quicker to list the things that went wrong with the original bathroom renovation, so here goes;
- The new placement of the shower was fine, but they fitted it at a slight angle. This was only discovered once the area around it was tiled. They were called back and it was rectified. Slightly. Though they managed to chip and mark heaps of the surrounding tiles. Yay!
- The plumbers used their ‘better judgement’ and fitted the bath taps to the side of the bath, instead of the end. So they looked squeezed into the space and were totally inaccessible should anything need fixed.
- Within a day of the plumbers leaving, the toilet seat broke.
- The basin tap has loosened off and the whole basin would need unplumbed to fix it.
- The cistern lid doesn’t sit properly, revealing a raw, unglazed edge most of the time.
- The shower screen was fitted improperly so it can’t be adjusted. It either swings open, or leaks.
- The overflow has come loose in the bath.
- The bath has started leaking (at the taps!).
Should I go on? Because I could…
Just look at the stupid placement of the taps… and the squint shower controls. Eugh! (The chrome fittings were replaced with black).
Fast Forward To Today
After all of this, enough was enough. My new bathroom was a bigger pain in the arse than the original old one downstairs. To make matters worse, the black taps were so high maintenance! Don’t get me wrong, I like things clean… but having to clean and dry them every day? NOPE! And the floor? Plain grey tiles show EVERY footprint and water mark. Sooo over it.
So, a few weeks ago, we made the decision to start the bathroom renovation (take 2). The budget has to come out of the extension fund but it’ll be totally worth it to have a room that we can actually be proud of. The budget is tight so this time round I will be doing the plumbing and all the fitting myself (with the expert guidance and hands on help of my dad). Heads up; we are keeping the wall tiles (but not everywhere!). Some final design decisions still have to be made but I plan on drawing this up, just to make sure we are happy with the overall look… and to help you guys to visualise it.
Watch this space.