The Surprises of Remodeling

I recently posted a blog about the joys of my DIY bathroom remodel I’ve undertaken.  It’s time for an update with some of the not so joyful surprises I’ve run into. 

  • The floor was rotted out at the two ends of the tub, as well as the wall above the floor, and the joists below. 
  • I’d long since forgotten that the supply lines came up through the floor under the tub (what will be the new shower floor, so that’s a problem), not through the wall, which has a double joist under it, so the supply lines can’t come from directly below.  Time to think outside the box for creative solutions.
  • The good news – I can reach plumbing from above, since I’ve already torn up roughly a 1/3 of the bathroom floor due to rot damage.  The bad news is I can’t put the new floor down until I get the old plumbing rerouted and out of the way.  Even more bad news is that I can’t connect the shower drain without the floor in place, but I can’t reach it to connect it once the floor is in place.  It’s doable, by putting the floor back in two pieces instead of one, but that requires a plumber and carpenter working in tandem and the plumber usually comes after the carpenter is done.  In this case, I’m both, so it all works out.  Similarly, I can’t finish framing the valve wall until the floor is back in place, but I can’t do that until the plumbing underneath is done.  Trip charges by tradesmen would eat me alive, but “luckily” I’m doing it all myself.
  • To avoid any surprises, I decided to turn off the water to the old tub/shower valve with the 2 valves I installed 20+ years ago.  As I reached for the valves, I thought to myself, “This is a bad idea, these valves are really old and my experience is I have a 50/50 shot of creating a leak by touching them at this point”.   The cold side worked fine.  The hot side started leaking.  I had to shut off the water temporarily to the whole house and cut out the old plumbing beneath the valves and cap it off for now….on Thanksgiving Day while Stephanie is in the kitchen cooking and cleaning.  Luckily that only took 5 or 10 minutes!

So far, this adventure has been a valuable experience.  I honestly don’t mind doing the work.  I find it somewhat cathartic.  The surprises have been a bit humbling and serve as a good reminder as to why the trades (or at least the ones who know better) charge significantly more for remodeling work than they would for new construction.  This is also part of the reason why new construction prices from contractors can never be fairly compared to remodeling prices.  Even outside of the above listed surprises, I keep finding myself thinking “this would be so much easier if this was all new”.  The basics of construction are the same whether it be new construction or remodeling, but remodeling easily requires 2-3 times the amount of effort.

I’m still all for people tackling DIY projects, IF they know what they are doing, are prepared for setbacks and surprises and know how to deal with those setbacks and surprises when, not if, they arise.  Otherwise, projects of this magnitude should probably be left to a professional.

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