Restoring an old cottage...

Tag: bathroom

Odds, Ends, and an Actual Floor

We’ve not made much progress since Christmas, but we have done a few odds and ends.

Odd

We’ve been meaning to make a little shelter to sell our eggs from for ages, because otherwise people tend to wander into the garden and walk into Vicky’s office while she’s working.

So we used some left-over fibre roof tiles, some odds of batten, and a couple of chunks of joist, and created a snazzy little egghouse.

Random pieces of wood and a couple of roof tiles ready to make into an egg shelter

Bits and pieces

There’s enough room for an egg holder, some egg boxes, and a honesty jar.

Shelter with egg box and jar inside, and words on the top: Dingle eggs £1.20 for 6

Yum yum

£1.20 for half a dozen eggs, half the proceeds go to the British Hen Welfare Trust, which is where we go to rehome ex-battery chickens.

End

There’s been a gaping hole above the tunnel from the living room to the Rayburn Room for aaaaages.

We finally got around to building a frame and whacking some wood-wool panels up there ready for plastering—eventually.

The tunnel all panelled over with fairy lights

Tidy tunnel

The Rayburn has left the building…

We knew we wouldn’t be using the old oil-fired Rayburn anymore because we recently switched over to gas, rather than oil. It’s not worth converting it, so we’ll probably get an electric Aga when we do the new kitchen.

Joe advertised the Rayburn on Facebook, and a couple came to pick it up—and we got 150 beans for it. Winning!

Manoeuvering the Rayburn using rollers and muscles and hope

Pretty heavy. Rollers were useful.

Looking forward to turning the Rayburn Room into a library, and installing a woodburning stove in the fireplace.

Empty fireplace

All ready for plastering, beautifying, a new hearth stone, and a woodburner

Oh and a proper solid floor

And finally, having spent months wobbling around on bits of shaky plywood and OSB, and wondering if Joe would put his foot through the floor again, we decided to lay a proper subfloor.

We had a little help from Kenda and Mike to get started:

Joe on left and Mike on right, putting noggins into the floor

Men doing manly floor things

The rest of it looks like this only without the gaping holes:

Marine ply screwed to the joists, with insulation visible beneath

The beginnings of a solid floor

And now the whole floor is screwed down and solid, and you can jump up and down on it and everything.

Hurrah!

Walls on Top of Walls

The room that will become our bathroom is on the first floor of the Victorian stone portion of the house. The stone walls have been lime plastered in the past, patched with gypsum plaster, and then skimmed with gypsum, painted, wallpapered, painted again, and generally added to over the years.

As we’ve taken layers of wallpaper and paint off, we’ve had a bit of a conundrum: plaster has come off in places too, which is pretty common in old houses. Plus the tops of the walls, where they disappear into the ceiling, were a right mess.

Old walls with plaster crumbling

Messy messy walls

What to do?

Do we patch the holes and skim over?

Pull all the plaster off and start again from scratch, filling in all the big holes?

Or do we build a new set of walls inside the old walls, leaving the surfaces as-is, and have a more-or-less square room?

Vicky was in favour of pulling the whole lot off and starting again; Joe was in favour of building a framework inside the walls.

In the end, when faced with the magnitude—and dusty mess—of basically pulling down the walls, we decided to batten the walls and put up wood-wool panels ready to take lime plaster.

Battens going into the wall to hold the wood-wool panels

Battens going into the wall to hold the wood-wool panels

Our main concern was losing too much room area by effectively bringing in all the walls by a couple of inches each—but it’s a large room.

How We Did It

We bought a whole bunch of 38 x 18 mm battens from B&Q, and fastened them to the walls as a frame. We measured the frame so that the wood-wool panels from Ty-Mawr would fit neatly to them.

This was actually a monumental pain in the butt because it involved masonry drills and not really knowing whether or not any of our plans would actually work…

Writing on wall reads: Vicky + Joe made this bathroom Winter 2021. It was both fun and a right pain in the arse. S0 WHY HAVE U TAKEN OUR WALLS DOWN?

We really did have a right old time with this

We piloted through the battens to prevent them splitting, then used a masonry drill bit to put holes through the plaster and into the solid stone of the wall.

This proved super-irritating because quite often we’d miss a stone, or it would shift, or the gods of renovations would just be in a bad mood that day. It was a trying time.

Once the holes were drilled, though, we screwed the battens into the walls using 120mm concrete screws. That frame is solid as a very solid thing.

We were genuinely worried we were not going to be able to find anything to work on those walls, and that we would end up having to pull all the wall surfacing down and start again. Thankfully, though, the screws held and we were able to start fixing the wood-wool panels thusly:

Wall, battens, and the first wood-wool panel screwed into the bottom of the wall

First panel goes on

These lining panels are simply screwed into the battens using wood screws and big plastic washers to spread the load and prevent the screws being pulled through the panel. They’ll take lime plaster beautifully. The room already looks vastly different:

Room’s looking swish and ready for plastering

Room’s looking swish and ready for plastering

Looking much tidier

Looking much tidier

One of things we’re pleased with is the main window, which was a right mess. The window “ceiling” was pretty much open to the eaves and we were losing loads of heat, so we stuffed a bunch of insulation up there, then built a mini-frame with battens to hold the wood-wool. We had to make wedges because the window slopes backwards, and we needed to leave as much of the oak windowframe visible as possible to allow as much light in as we could:

IMG_6482

Then we fixed the wood-wool panels and now a multitude of horrors are hidden, the wind no longer whistles in, and it’s tidy tidy tidy:

Fully paneled window return

Look at that! Out of sight, out of mind…

We’re pretty chuffed with the result and we’re excited to see how the plastering goes.

The room still feels pretty large for a bathroom, it’s much warmer, much more soundproof, and it’s definitely going to be easier to work with.

We’re getting quotes for plastering to be done for us because we don’t fancy plastering the ceiling and dealing with the loft hatch. The plan is to have softly rounded plaster around the window frames, and oak windowsills, which we’ll need to install before any plastering is done.

Then we’ll be creating a waterproof shower cubicle by building a stud wall and lining it with specialist tiling wall panels and a ceiling panel that are all fully waterproof—then tiling it.

More on that next week…

Oh—and also!

Ken came along and built us a new doorframe:

A wonky old doorframe made from bits of crappy leftover wood scraps

Before: wonky and saggy

New oak doorframe

After: beautiful wonky oak doorframe

You may be wondering why we didn’t just straighten up the top of the doorframe. Which is a reasonable question.

You can see the stonework above the doorframe—there was no proper stone lintel, and we didn’t fancy taking out that structural stonework to make the doorway higher. And to level it below the stone would mean an extremely low doorway for Joe to limbo through. So wonky it remains. Much like the rest of the house.

Then we had a quote for an oak door from the guy who does our windows (who is amazing) and we laughed and laughed and decided a summer project for us would be to make our own oak door because how hard can it be?

Surprise Windows

You wouldn’t think a person would forget they’d ordered—and paid the deposit for—very expensive oak windows, would you?

Well, we did.

Back at the end of June, I got a text message to say:

“I’ll be delivering your windows tomorrow afternoon—will you be in?”

“Um—what windows?” said we.

A little searching of memories and emails revealed the bathroom window order. And lo! the bathroom was on track again.

Side note: our deadline for having the new bathroom done is Christmas 2021. At which point I shall climb into a hot bath and stay there until spring.

So… yeah.

The Stone Room—soon to be the Grand Bathroom—now has beautiful new windows that actually close. And open.

It doesn’t have a ceiling, floor, or respectable walls, but who needs those things anyway?

Here’s what the windows looked like before. They were cheap, ugly, and single-glazed. The little one on the side of the house was so rotted it wouldn’t even close anymore, so this winter should be considerably less draughty…

View of old single-glazed window with platform on roof below

This is the old window facing the back garden

The side window in the stone wall

Side window was so rotted it wouldn’t close

3/4 view of exterior walls showing old windows

The old windows looking shabby

And from the inside, they didn’t let in much light, making a large room rather dingy and misery-bear:

View of the original window from inside the Stone Room

This tiny window didn’t let in much light

As you can see, we decided to enlarge the window opening as much as we could, bearing in mind the roofline below this window. It’s made a big difference.

Enlarged window opening complete with rubble on roof

A great big ‘ole

Here’s the rather alarming state of affairs we found when we pulled the old windows out and revealed the frameworks:

Blank window opening with wall held up by wood brace

Exciting times!

We discovered, on removing the old window, that the rotten old frame was structural. Standard! So Ken and Phil sourced a new lintel for us and fitted it, thus removing the risk of the entire wall collapsing on us in the bath. Hurrah!

And here are the new windows, looking rather gorgeous… and letting in much more light!

View of the new windows from the inside, letting in much more light

More light!

And the little side window is much more sturdy now:

Small window with new lintel above

Looking much sturdier

We still can’t do much in the bathroom because of the bats, but in August we are going to crack on with removing the floor and putting new extra-strength joists in, so it’ll support a bathtub.

Then in September, we can put in a new ceiling, make sure the bats are happy, and crack on with a proper bathroom.

EXCITING EXCITING EXCITING!

Hammer House of Horror: The Bathroom Saga

Picture the scene: wind howls through the gaps in the stone.

Cobwebs like ropes caress the face like grimy ribbons.

And underfoot, there is a 1-inch carpet of mouse and bird poo… plus a dead sparrow.

Nope, we are not in a Hammer house of horror. We are in the space above what is to become our bathroom.

Look at the horrors!

But it’s all FANTASTIC news because we can finally crack on with said bathroom after 5 years of no proper heating and a tiny grimy shower room. Hurrah!

Ripping Stuff Out

Here’s what the Stone Room looked like just a few short days ago:

Joe stands in orange overalls dismantling the old immersion heater cupboard

Goodbye horrible old cupboard and immersion heater!

And look at this amazing 80s wallpaper 😀

Orange, brown, and yellow patterned wallpaper

Incredible 80s wallpaper

Last Monday, plumbers came and disconnected our hot water. They took the water tanks out of the loft space, emptied and removed the immersion heater, and left us to it for the better part of a week.

We had some sponge baths with boiled water from the kettle, and I washed my hair with water so cold it gave my entire head cramp. (Try it: it induces brain freeze the likes of which you have never experienced.)

Then the chaps came back and fitted our very first condensing boiler. Ta da!

The new boiler all plumbed into the corner of the room

Ooh fancy! Hot water AND heating…

We now have hot water on demand and A WORKING RADIATOR! The Rayburn Room is warm again!!!

(Side note: the Rayburn Room hasn’t had a working Rayburn for a year and is to become the library, that radiator is temporary because I want cast-iron ones, and there’s still a ton of plumbing to do.)

The plan is to eventually move the boiler downstairs into the utility room, but we won’t be able to build the kitchen and utility room for a couple of years yet. So for now, we’re building an airing cupboard around the boiler and plastering up to the board it’s fitted to.

And now all the gubbins is out of the Stone Room, it means we can start the long and disgusting process of turning it into a bathroom.

Things we have discovered so far:

  • The Stone Room floor joists are 3 inches deep by 2 inches wide, with notches for plumbing pipes. For those not in the know, that is Not Big Enough to support a floor. It’s amazing we haven’t plummeted through it.
  • Creative plumbing decisions.
  • Absolutely freaking terrifying ceiling joists that gave me the horrors climbing up there.
  • Horrifying wiring: bare wires nestled warmly into the fibreglass insulation.
  • A dead sparrow 🙁
  • A LOT of mouse/bird/squirrel poo. Like, piles and piles of it.
  • Birds’ nests.
  • The world’s most epic cobwebs, but no spiders, oddly enough.
  • Water running down the stone wall, which was nice.
  • Plenty gaps in the roof: much fresh air, which was nice I suppose.
  • Ceiling panels made out of cardboard. Also panels made out of that plastic we used to cut up in CDT classes at school.
  • Roof braces held on with old hinges.
Cobwebs and a pile of mouse/squirrel/bird poo on the stone wall

Lots of cobwebs, a nest, & a big pile of poo

Horrifying wiring junction buried in insulation

Honestly I’m amazed we haven’t had a fire

Water trickling down the inside wall above the ceiling

The leaky roof. Which is nice.

(Side note: fibreglass insulation is evil stuff and I am SO BLOODY ITCHY RIGHT NOW. And yes, I was wearing gloves and mask and eye protection and overalls and a hat and PPE up the wazoo and IT GETS EVERYWHERE. There’s a special place in hell for the person who invented fibreglass fuzz.)

Because I weigh less than Joe, I was duly shoved up through the hatch with a clamp lamp and a plastic bag. I set about rolling up the insulation and passing the tidy bits down to Joe, who bagged them. I bagged the scraps and bits and pieces up in the loft to prevent too much crap raining down on Joe.

Vicky’s feet dangle out of the loft hatch

Making my way into the unknown

We filled six huge bin bags, which Joe later hauled to the tip.

Black bin bags full of old insulation

All this came out of the loft space

I also removed several dustpans full of poo.

And lots of bits of paper, plastic bottles and canisters, scraps of insulation, tarry stuff that was coming away from the rafters, and pieces of MDF that were lying around looking like things to put weight on, but which were NOT for that at all.

Once we got rid of as much of the insulation and general rubbish as possible without falling through the ceiling, we started ripping the ceiling panels off and creating a big, big hole.

View from under the ceiling, through the holes, to Joe doing some wiring

Joe makes some wiring less scary

Oh, and unwiring some wires that didn’t seem to do anything anymore.

It’s been quite a day…

But at the end of it, we got to have an EPIC shower powered by our new boiler, with frankly quite alarming pressure, and so it wasn’t all bad.

Next in the Stone Room: continue removing the ceiling, sweep and hoover and make as tidy as possible, repair the leaky roof and the holes under the eaves, and hurl some lime plaster at the rough loose stone to make it a bit tidier and sturdier.

After that, we’ll pull all the old plaster off the walls and put in new oak windows (which we’ve just ordered), then take the floor up.

After that, we’ll replace the ceiling and the floor — at which point we can start actually creating a bathroom! And deciding whether or not to have underfloor heating…

UPDATE

Having done some searching of images on the Google, we now have a suspicion of bats. So we have a local batman on his way to do a preliminary survey. All work in the roof space has stopped for now, and the next thing we’re going to do is focus on the walls below the ceiling line and replacing the Stone Room floor, and stripping out the Rayburn Room.

Then we shall wait and see what the batman says and do what needs to be done.

© 2022 Project Dingle

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑