The Saga is an ongoing process. I’ll be adding to this and its sister page as time goes by. Please visit those pages as well. Thanks!
I have oodles of pictures, observations both good and bad, & some nitty-gritty details to add. Please stay tuned!
Before I go any further, I need to clear something up (and get out of the dawg house). My husband is the best thing that ever happened to me. I have to say I have exaggerated a bit for humor’s sake in the following description. He was busy in the early years being the sole supporter of a family of four and didn’t have the time to take on the major remodel job that 98 needed. He was fully aware that something needed to be done, but just the thought of taking the task on himself was (and I agree) overwhelming. When he was single living here, the urgency to make drastic changes wasn’t there. He was happy with his clean, uncluttered Boar’s Den. Then he met me. There were a few monetary windfalls that actually triggered the whole project. So….(always with the disclaimers! but that’s life).
It began with the bugs. Tiny little waspy things that appeared while taking a shower. I couldn’t tell where they came from but that didn’t stop them from flying right towards my face while I was trying to rinse my hair. There’s no where to run, no where to hide while naked in the bathtub.
Or it could have begun with the floor. A hole. It was just a little rotten place in a corner by the tub and wall. Barely noticeable, about as big around as your fist. No problem, I covered it up with some indoor-outdoor carpet and double sided tape. Everyone knows carpet in bathrooms ain’t the most brilliant idea, but it was something I could do to cover the hole. A person could easily see varmint skeletons under the house from that hole, and I wasn’t too keen on viewing them while brushing my teeth.
Then again it might have been the sink. One of those from the 1930’s with horrible plumbing underneath (for all to enjoy while sittin’ a spell -ahem). It was cracked, limescale encrusted, and hanging on the wall by a thread. The hot water came out of the cold knob and the cold came out of the hot. Nothing serious. The stopper was long gone (it was of a mechanical nature in its’ glory days) and there was a very unpleasant smell wafting out of the black slimy drain hole.
Perhaps it was the tub. Rust stained, chipped porcelain, lopsided (maybe because of the hole?) Its’ stopper was gone as well, but that’s okay, no big loss (see article on shower curtains about how I feel on this subject).
No, it wasn’t any of those. Not the single light bulb in the ceiling, the white with gold flake Formica half way up the walls (and bulging because of adhesive failure over the years), the linen closet with no door, the paneling (everyone knows how I love paneling) on one wall where the sheet-rock had an accident. It wasn’t any of these factors that made us decide to remodel our bathroom. The single most outstanding win-the-prize-on-need was the potty. It was in a class by itself. It ran ran ran, then it wouldn’t run at all. It flushed just fine, then it would overflow. It could not be trusted to take care of business. The supply hose coming out of the floor was so stopped up it took 45 minutes to fill the tank after a flush. It was a chronic victim of LFSS. It was the poster-boy for embarrassment when company came over. I scrubbed, bleached, limeawayed, CLRed, chipped with a butter knife, poked with a coat hanger & did just about everything short of blasting caps to get the hard water build-up off so we could squeeze a few more years out of it. But it finally gave up. Thankfully so did we.
The bathroom was in a part of the house that was added on (indoor plumbing!) in the 30’s. The whole house was on pier and beam, and we like it that way. Of course there is the occasional skunk burrow (more on that later) but usually it’s a good way to go. There was an old bedroom on one corner and the old kitchen (replaced in the 50’s with yet another addition) was on the other side. Sandwiched in between them was the 9′ by 8′ bathroom along with a hall. It was an awkward layout with 5 interior doors and one “back door”. That’s a lot of doors in 350 square feet! Old houses are funny that way.
It took many hours of braintime, and many bottles of refreshing adult beverages to try and figure out the best layout for the “fix”. It was impossible!
That’s when our new best friend the contractor came in handy. Tear it off and start from scratch. Hey! Why didn’t we think of that? And that’s why they are paid professionals.
After the decision was made to destroy (I mean lovingly disassemble) the old part, the floor plan process was so much easier. It’s surprising how starting from scratch on a project can breathe new life into your marriage. Gone was the “Dang that floor will have to be replaced” and “Do we have to keep these windows or can we get new ones?” & “What about the siding, change it too?” “Walls? Can we move them without collapsing the entire structure?” And then the roof… can we change it so we can insulate it between the Texas Summer sun and our heads? (it was flat tin and 7 foot from the floor.) All those concerns that strangled the process in the beginning just melted away like ice in a cocktail glass. It opened doors that we hadn’t considered. Total newness gave us both Royal Jollies.
It’s safe to say both me and my husband were in Stage One of NPS (see article on NPS for full description). The giddy, happy, nothing-bothers-us, all-will-be-glorious stage of New Project Syndrome. Love was in the air!
Our contractor told us that moving doorways in what what left of the house after we took off the addition would be easy. (He told us lots of things “would be easy”) That helped. I have always been a fan of houzz.com and now I was obsessed with finding just what my mind’s eye saw. I surfed that site into the wee hours of the night/morning. I put a zillion photos into my “ideabook”. My imaginary design had to be there, surely I wasn’t that unique. After searching just about every photo on bathrooms they had, I stopped. I couldn’t find it anywhere, so the next step was to try to describe my ideas to the boys. Yikes!
I drew a prelim plan that included what I thought would work best for us. We wanted a master bathroom with a walk in shower. 9 foot ceilings. Glass block walls. Big closet. Simple lines. I wanted transom-like windows above the functioning windows to someday replace with stained glass artwork. I swear I could walk into this bathroom in my mind’s eye and see it all (with the exception of the tile~ more on that later). I tried to draw a floorplan accordingly. We also wanted a “powder room” (that’s what the contractors called it) just inside the back door for emergency sprints from the yard. And a laundry area that wasn’t in the dining room (where it was at the time). I was going to lose my stained glass studio with the tear-down so I wanted a new studio as well. All that could be fitted into 350 square feet, right? Right?
We got it drawn and figured out with the help of the GC (swanky term for General Contractor). He was good at listening and telling us what would and wouldn’t work and why. We decided to add a few more square feet to the plan. I’m glad we did. We were ready.
This was one of the most satisfying experiences of my lifetime. If you have ever had the opportunity to destroy something that really really needs it, (with no consequences) then I think you might know how I felt on Demo Day.
Actually it took a week, but it was better than a Disneyland vacation. We opted to do it ourselves and save some money, plus we wanted to Reuse! as much of the old lumber as we could (we need a new chicken house). The builders weren’t interested in sorting lumber. That’s okay. I was.
We wanted to leave the potty and shower functional for as long as we could, so we demo-ed the other parts of the old addition and waited until our GC said he was ready to start before we called in the Big Guns to finish it off. I put a call into my brothers and nephews and promised them the moon if they would gang up and drive the hour and a half to our house and help us tear the rest of it off. They were excited to get to destroy something (almost as much as I was) so they dropped their important life plans to come help Auntie Sis. We also tricked (I mean asked kindly) hubby’s son and his dad into lending a hand, and back, and legs, and arms, and muscles in general. It was gonna be a great day.
Everyone showed up at 98 early on a September Saturday morning and immediately started ripping, tearing, prying, sweating (it got to 103 that day)and laboring like there was no tomorrow. We had the tractor haul the sad old bathtub across the yard to the dump trailer. My Mom even came along and made lunch and took pictures of her family in action. Our lifetime supervisor didn’t make it (my Dad) but we had Daddy-In-Law to take his place. He did a grand job coordinating all that grunting. The finest moment I must admit was when they yanked the toilet out of the floor and tossed it into the dump trailer. I was giddy with delight to see that old relic being manhandled and cast aside. I did later attack it with a sledge to prove a point, but that’s in another post.
It felt really good to pull that down. We sorted lumber for later use, and filled three trailer loads with materials we couldn’t use. Everyone got to take their frustrations out on our house. We had lots of laughs and a few scary moments when a wall tried to take out my nephew, but all in all it was a great day. Especially for me. I worked very hard, but I cannot say I endured the agony of a laborous day’s work like these gentlemen did. They all went above and beyond my expectations and had it all down and the area cleaned up way before dark. We couldn’t have done it without them, and their price was right! They worked for food and beer. It was my pleasure to supply them with both. Mom was an angel making tea and sandwiches and my Mom-In-Law brought over cake and ice cream. We discovered a few varmint skeletons and what my step-son recognized as his childhood pet kitty’s remains, but other than that and a few scraps of metal (and a zillion razorblades in the dirt) no important or valuable artifacts were found to make it a profitable venture for anyone. I had promised the guys they they could keep anything they found but I didn’t have any takers for old worn out skulls or rusty antique razor blades.
Hubby dodged the picture as usual. I can never repay them for the kindness I received that day. But they might like it if I tried!?
My in-laws graciously loaned us the use of their camper-trailer for the duration of the project. It is a cadillac of a camper. The bathroom is bigger than our old one and the shower was a walk-in. It had all the amenities of home, plus heating and air conditioning if we needed it. It was parked in a nice shady out-of-the-way spot that was handy to the house (for midnight potty runs). It was a very convenient thing to have considering we would have nothing in the way of bathroom from Demo Day until Halloween (that was the target finishing day). Little did we know that darling Camper-trailer would be our facilities for quite a while longer. Quite a while. More