Silver Linings Bathroom Renovation Plan

Posted on June 11, 2013. Filed under: Home |

Over the past few months we’ve called in some contractors to assess our bathroom situation. To refresh your memory, we have a half bath downstairs that is now in good shape after a few tweaks.


We have a full bathroom off of the upstairs hallway that has had one too many doses of Pepto.


There’s also a funky linen closet in here built over the staircase. It slants. I have to lean in to reach things on the top shelf and almost always lose my balance and catch my fall on the lower shelf. Not fun.

Our master is what people these days are calling a ¾ bath. We have a toilet, sink, and standing shower. The shower is a pretty good size. The rest of the bathroom is not. I shared all the dirty details about our master bath a few weeks ago.

Here’s a very rough illustration by yours truly of our upstairs layout so you can get a better idea of what we’re working with here:

photo (1)

Sorry for the poor quality. The scanner wasn’t working, so this is an iPhone photo of my drawing. I’m high-tech.

Adam and I have had some passionate debates about our bathroom remodel project. For the record, I’ve said all along that we’re better off re-doing what we’ve got rather than changing the layout. We don’t plan to stay in this house forever so we have to be careful how much money we pour into it.

But Adam wanted to explore all of our options and hear from someone besides his wife (with no construction experience) about those options. At first he wanted to combine the 2 upstairs bathrooms since they share a wall. Then we would create a small Jack-and-Jill bath between the two guest bedrooms across the hall. I didn’t think it was possible without some very wonky bedroom layouts and taking space away from an already small bedroom.

Then we discussed the pros and cons of moving our master bath to where our walk-in closet is, using that space and the space from the office’s walk-in closet (it butts up against our closet) to make our bathroom. We would convert our existing master bath into our new walk-in closet.

The pros for this plan:

· Maintain the size and location of hall bath

· We could renovate the hall bath ourselves since it would only require cosmetic changes

· Have a decent-sized master bathroom

· Walk-in closet would become larger

The cons

· Lots of wall moving

· Running new plumbing which would entail tearing up and repairing the ceiling downstairs, possibly demolishing our newly tiled floor in the half bathroom, not to mention making darn sure the drains would drain from over there – expensive

· I’d want to punch out a window or sky light – expensive

· The chimney runs up that side of the house limiting our window options. Le sigh

· Pocket door or moving door down the wall because the current closet door already opens into Adam’s nightstand. This would involve tearing up another wall – expensive

· Taking away a rare 2nd walk-in closet from our mid-century home

· Decreasing the square footage of a rather large secondary bedroom

I agreed with Adam that we should have a few contractors come in to give us some estimates on these crazy ideas before we ruled a major renovation out and went on with a regular ‘ole renovation. To Adam’s point: at least we would know what could or could not be done and how much it would cost before we “settled” on a straight cosmetic renovation.

The first contractor we called was a typical contractor, no offense to you contractors out there. He didn’t show up. Out of the two of us, the more sweet, patient, and forgiving one (my husband), called him to reschedule. He claims his Google calendar crashed. Riiiight. Adam rescheduled. Contractor called 1 hour before appointment and said something came up. Peace out contractor.

We learned our lesson not to find a contractor on Kudzu and sought the advice of friends. Adam’s boss recommended someone who we called, he answered the phone, we scheduled an appointment, he showed up early and knew what he was talking about. Crazy, right?! But the sad news is that after much brainstorming, the only way we can expand our master bath is if we build a bump-out addition off our second floor in the back. This would require a lot of layout changes upstairs and would be close in price to a nice, new luxury car. Oy vey!

So we thanked our contractor, told him we thought it was impossible before we called him but wanted to make sure before we started working with what we have. We plan to call him in a few years when we begin our kitchen remodel.

We are disappointed that nothing can be done except for a large addition. We’re not really surprised though. What is so limiting is that all of our bathrooms are on the front of the house so we cannot add to them where they are unless we want our house to look super weird. Despite our disappointment, I think some good things will come out of this setback.

· Since the bathrooms will maintain their current footprint, we’ll save money because now we can do most of the work ourselves

· The money saved will either allow us to do a kitchen remodel sooner or better

· We won’t have strange men in and out of our house every day for a few months

· We won’t have to move to a spare bedroom for a few months

· We won’t risk investing a ton of money in our house that we may not get back resale

· WE are in charge of our project timeline and are in more control of how long the renovation will take

As project manager (self-appointed), I hope to have some demolition news for you soon. I’m wary that the bathroom tile is affixed with mesh and mortar. If you’ve read this post on Young House Love, you know that it almost killed John to get it out of there. Say your prayers!


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