Friday, 1 March 2013

Demolition Man Redux

It's time for your weekly dose of Philip. Please note side effects may include nausea, drowning, and Dutch Elm Disease.

Before we get too far, just wanted to point out that we're on top of our banner switch! It's March now which, in Winnipeg, means that spring is here! winter will occasionally tease us with some above-freezing temperatures, but we'll still realistically have snow on the ground when April hits. Which is why our banner is featuring Concetta, our once-busty snowwoman, and our biggest March point of progress, our new blinds (showing off their cool top-down/bottom-up capabilities).

But on to the topic at hand.

If you read regularly, you've heard a lot about our bathroom renovation, and more specifically how it's been stalled. But we haven't taken the time to detail the work that has been done. That changes today!

I titled this post "Demolition Man Redux" in honour of the inaugural Friday Phil, because gutting a bathroom is a lot like gutting a basement.

Well, not quite. I mean, it's close to the same thing, except everywhere you look there's:
  • a pipe you shouldn't dent,
  • a wire you shouldn't nick,
  • a new window you shouldn't crack
  • or a wall you have to tear out carefully so you don't put a hole in the spare bedroom wall next door.
Oh, and when you're working in there with even just two people, it feels like you're working inside a room the size of a milk crate. (Note from editor, some of us young folk don't understand this analogy)
But, apart from those 200 words, it's just like gutting a basement. It comes apart in 6 easy medium-difficulty you're-still-not-done-after-completing-them steps.

Step 1: Getting the water shut off

But seriously; step one was getting the water shut off. Our plumber came by, had a look, and in relatively short order had created a detour so water could be shut off to the upstairs bathroom and not the downstairs as this bathroom didn't have a shut off valve (hooray for not having to pee in a bucket!).

Step 2: Remove the vanity, tub, and toilet

Of these three, the most difficult was the tub. The vanity popped off with only a few nails holding it back. Once the toilet was empty and shut off, it too came off with only a couple screws holding it down. (Pro tip? No matter how much you try, there will always be a little water left in the toilet somewhere, so put it down on a tarp or towel and have some tags ready for drips during transit.) But the tub was a different story. A big metal tub bolted to the studs for 30 or so years does not come easily. With my dad's help, we were able to unhook all the pipe connections (in some cases cutting right through them), pry it off the studs, and haul the thing out our front door. (Thankfully the detached tub wasn't too heavy; definitely manageable for a team of two.) I'm pretty sure all the prying, bracing against the studs took a bit of a toll on our house; since that time a large crack has appeared in the plaster on the other side of the bathtub wall (in our side door landing).

Step 3: Remove the plaster/drywall, deconstruct the linen closet

This was dusty work, made more difficult since the broken plaster/drywall had to be hauled through the house to get it out. Plus, the walls hide these metal corner meshes that they use to put up plaster. They hide and are hard to remove, but when they finally let go, it's satisfying like getting all the glue off a granola bar wrapper. (What, that's just me? Okay, moving on...) Fortunately, taking out the linen closet was simpler, just requiring some elbow grease and a wrecking bar for leverage. Oh, and a hard hat would've helped when the one 2x4 broke and 4 feet of its nail-embedded length caught the top of my head. Escaped without a scratch, but those were a few terrifying seconds.

This is where we were at during this step...and nothing has changed. 

See ya, bathtub. 

Step 4: Replace the ceiling, a.k.a. $#!@*%

If you're asking me why the bathroom isn't
done yet, this right here is why.
So we want to put up a ventilation fan and pot light over the shower. Plus, it looked like there might be some discoloration or even mould in one corner. "Let's just re-drywall the ceiling!" We thought. "Muahahaha," our house laughed evilly.
With the help of my good friend Alan, we started carefully pulling back the drywall, trying not to puncture the vapour barrier behind it. Immediately upon discovering wood-shaving insulation and old, thin (2mm) vapour barrier, he recommended we climb up into the attic and sweep the area above the bathroom clear of insulation. In retrospect, this would have been a real pain (especially working in an uninsulated attic in Winnipeg in January), but would have probably been a faster pain than what we've ended up with.
I decided to try to preserve the existing setup, and lo and behold the wood shaving insulation (and the blown insulation our home inspection has led us to assume is on top of it) collected in the lowest spots, dragging those down further and causing the vapour barrier to pop of the joists in a few spots. Of course, now the shavings have really collected below the joist, and there's no hope of ever reattaching that vapour barrier to the joists.

Step 5: Have your wife sprain her foot and write/direct a feature-length stage production

I didn't quite fall into a burning ring o' fire, but when I write
and direct, I walk the line... Okay, I'll stop.
Just kidding. Don't do this if you want to get your bathroom done quickly and efficiently. (Though I'd fully recommend writing and directing for the stage. It's been a 2 weeks since our production wrapped and I'm experiencing withdrawal. Not quite chain-me-to-the-radiator-June-Carter levels, but close.)

Step 6: Figure out a solution to our ceiling/attic insulation issue

This is the step we're in right now.

What's the solution to our current woes? We're trying to find that out from a few experts, but I you have expertise/input/ideas, we'd love to hear them in the comments below! Of course we'll be updating you as we go, so stay tuned!

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