Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bathroom Renovation

Was it back on March the 19th that we started renovating our bathroom? Was it back then that we started taking baths Korean-style in the laundry? I think it was. Oh, so long ago.

We decided to remove the old Roman bath and shower setting that had been in our house for centuries. Well, maybe I exaggerate by a few years. It was old and not comfortable if a long, thin, gangly bloke like myself wanted to have a bath. The decision was made, by the lady of the house, to renovate and install a bath.

Just finding a tiler was a job in itself. Quotes ranged all over the place and then some of them didn't want to remove the existing tiles, instead expecting us to do that backbreaking job, and others were just in it for the money. We didn't choose the tiler with the lowest quote. We chose Jason, a young guy who had spent six years doing up his own house and had the photos to prove it. Seemed like a decent chap.

First snag. We spent some time visiting bath shops in Osborne Park searching for a standard acrylic bath. Prices weren't too bad but when you included the $60 or so that they wanted for delivery it became a bit unreasonable. Bunnings had a suitable bath on display and so I ordered it. This was two weeks prior to the tiler coming. Some 10 days later I finally got in touch with a person at Bunnings who could assist me with how my purchase was progressing only to be informed that the bath I had ordered was obsolete. "Well, what about the display unit?" Miky asked. Nope, health and safety meant they'd require a cherry picker to remove it so the bath would stay on display. Desperate to obtain a bath I purchased another model, unseen. Size seemed alright though. All the time there were phone calls back and forth with Miky and Jason. Delivery was three days away - after Jason was due to start. It meant that he had three days with no work. I felt bad as I put the guy out but he was happy to have the time off to catch up with paperwork and look for another worker to assist him.

Received the call from Bunnings that my bath was ready to be collected. I hired a trailer from Bunnings to get it home. Asked the gate attendant to check my lights and it turned out that I had no brake lights. So I drove the car home using hand signals. That weekend was spent going back and forth to the auto parts shop obtaining brake lights and it appears that all three of the lights, including the central one, were blown. Even went to the extent of checking whether or not power was reaching the brake lights. Finally fixed that problem. Because we were late with the bath we had to wait nearly two weeks for Jason to have a slot for our job.

Shower - pre-renovation

This is the Roman bath and shower pre-renovation. Not the most comfortable or eye-catching you would agree. We'd put up with it for five and a half years but no more!

Shower - end of day one

Most of the tiles were removed on day one. Gee, I'm glad that I didn't have that job. Even though the bathroom door must have been closed for the majority of the time the house was covered in dust. According to Jason it was pretty hard going. But we had plumbers coming first thing on the Monday morning so he was back on the Saturday to finish removing the tiles.

Shower - all tiles removed

Starting to look like a blank canvas.

Prior to bath installation

Bath being installed

Bath installed

I spent Monday morning at home to supervise the plumbers. Couple of young blokes who spent too much time talking and working slowly for my liking. I wasn't too pleased considering that I was paying a discounted rate of $88/hr for each of them! The initial plan was to have the bath about 150-200mm out from the wall and brick it up. But the plumbers thought that it was best that the bath be mounted slightly into the back wall. The taps had to be raised for the bath but they would be slightly off centre. Slightly being the operative word. I didn't get out of there until nearly 12pm and ended up working until half past eight to make up for lost time. One of the guys even called me up to see if I was ok as my boss, whom I'd told on Saturday that I would be in at about lunchtime hadn't informed anyone. It's nice to know that I was missed.

When Miky came home she was on the phone to me straight away. The taps were not in the right place and, honestly, they weren't slightly off centre but markedly off centre. And the bath was too high. Well, the plumbers were the best judge of how high the bath should be mounted and it was determined pretty much by the pipework leading to the drain. Not a lot I could do about that. I decided to let her deal with the plumbing company. Talk about a catfight ensuing. Miky told them that the bath was too high and we have a little boy. If he should fall and hurt himself then we would sue them. Wow, did that stir them up. I had a 15 minute phone call to the plumbing company with the woman who organises all of the jobs and had to call her on her mobile at home because of all the stress caused. Phone calls all afternoon.

Miky organised for another plumber to move the taps. They came first thing in the morning. Now, why was it so difficult in the first place to find plumbers? That put the tiler back another day in his job. I'd have to say that Jason is a very patient man.

Bath bricked up and ready for tiling

The wall has been rendered and the bath bricked up. Doesn't look like much at the moment but the finishing touches have yet to be added. It wasn't long after this that Jason realised there weren't enough tiles to complete the floor and he was worried about the number for the wall as well. We'd already had to purchase more mosaic tiles for the vanity unit. I think the floor tile shortage was a combination the bath being against the wall which accounted for one row of tiles and it was higher than expected which meant another row of tiles. Managed to scrounge enough spare white tiles left over from a previous job.

Of course the tile shop didn't have stock of the colour we wanted (actually we wanted blue/grey not light bluey grey originally) and had to order them in. That was another three day wait. Jason had another job to do at this stage and couldn't come back until Good Friday.

Bath tiled

Shower installed in the bath

Talk about a horrible job - installing the taps. And this took the best part of a week and a half. A man has to earn a living and the little woman does too. The special taps that Miky bought just let the water through. It didn't matter which way you turned the handle there was no way to turn the water off. I tried again to install it a couple of days later with the same result. Miky knew that one of the dad's from school was a plumber. He agreed to come to our house to help out but he was expecting a shipping container to come from South Africa with all of his family's furniture in the next day or two so we would have to wait. And then when the container turned up much of the furniture was damaged and required repairing which put us a few days further back in the queue. When he did come around he did pretty much the same job as me for exactly the same result. Not seeing that anything was wrong with the existing pipes he said the taps must be faulty. Looking through the tap we could see that it would leak at any point in its operation. He did recommend installing an adapter though.

Back to the bath and tap shop for Miky. The guy swapped them with little fuss. Come Saturday afternoon I had to stay home and install the taps. Talk about a frustrating afternoon. Journeyed to the nearest hardware store after they said that they had male and female adapters. Having just called eight or nine plumbing supplies stores and not receiving a single answer I was already in a bad mood. Arrived at the store and the assistant realised that he was thinking of a different tap altogether. I installed one of the taps and after turning the water on it was quite obvious that the same problem existed with the replacement taps. I then tried to remove the tap. The extender that I already owned just loosened off and left the rest of the tap there. Had to go back to the hardware store and purchase a tap spanner. As soon as I arrived home I discovered that the newly bought tap spanner was the wrong size.

So I travelled to another hardware store as they had more tap spanners on offer. Purchased a multi-sized one but couldn't obtain a different spindle for the tap. The new tap spanner worked well except for the fact that it only removed a cover. Luckily I was able to put an adjustable spanner on the spindle to remove it.

To say that I wasn't in a good mood by this stage would be an understatement. Two hours or more of my life that I'll never get back. I could have strangled the tap seller if given enough of an opportunity. Luckily he was closed on Saturday afternoon.

Come Monday and I went to work early so that we could all go to the shop before it closed. We exchanged the taps for something a little more ordinary and I spent a few hours installing them. Managed to get them to work but there was a gap behind the tap for the bath which means we can't use the shower until I grout it up. Very little swearing involved with Monday nights work.

Finished shower

Finished bath

Finished product doesn't look too bad, does it? Still need to install a shower screen which should be a nice touch. Jason, who finished work about 6:30pm on Easter Saturday, left the cleaning of the tiles and sealing of the grouting up to me. I can see why he did this because it was about a three hour job spread over two days.

Vanity unit - pre-renovation

I did the original tiling. One of my better efforts I thought.

Vanity - end of day one

What has happened to my beautiful tiling job?

Vanity - all tiles removed

Vanity half tiled

Vanity tiled

Finished vanity

Talk about some exquisite work. This guy could be a master. He was patient with us and we with him some I'm very happy with the job. He's probably gone a little over the top with the mosaic tiles but they look brilliant. I didn't envisage that the finished product would come out so well - just look at the edges.

I have Jason's contact details should you wish to utilise his services south of the river in Perth. He has black coffee with two sugars and doesn't say "No" to a good feed. I'm sure that you'll agree he does a great job though.

What did Murphy say?? Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!!


Susan Ham said...

Funny how you remember things. I thought your bathroom was much wider. The bath must be very long like Yu-JIn said, so you can stretch out in it. Lovely finish.

Anonymous said...

It looks great!!! Annette

Back2life bathrooms said...

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North East Factory Direct said...

Wonderful information, the transformation of bathroom is very glorious. thanks for sharing

Furniture Store Parker said...

beautiful. Such a really good job you have done for your bathroom, thanks for sharing with us

Poulin Design Center said...

Looks beautiful! You all did a fabulous job and the bathroom looks terrific.

Lola C. said...

I do not know whether I would laugh or cry as I read your bathroom renovation experience. Laugh because of the humorous way your post is written or empathise with you because Murphy's law is so relatable and trying for one's patience. It is evident that the problems all came about because of the original plumber's "service". Having a bit similar chaotic pile of challenges with plumbers before, I have learned to call a plumbing company for a qualified technician for help. Their services may seem to cost more, but they saved me from the frustrations, the back and forth buying and replacing of materials, the time wasted and not even having the desired outcome. I think the convenience offsets the price of hiring a pro.

Hammy said...

Hi Lola. We did employ professional plumbers, except the boys they sent were apprentices and not yet tradies. I wouldn't have a backyard boy to do a trade job. Especially anything to do with plumbing.

Md. Abu Zafor Fagun Ahmad said...

This is a article from 2008 but still now ideas are amazing. I liked the Vanity tiled of your bathroom. Can you suggest me any well known bathroom renovators in Melbourne?

Hammy said...

Sorry, no experience with bathroom renovators in Melbourne.