So, as I mentioned in the tour of the downstairs bathroom, we had a two-part plan for redoing the room. Phase one involved ripping out the back part of the room, removing the little shower cubicle, and blocking off interior access to the basement. In a perfect world, we could keep access, but in the world which contains our house, it was the best place to put the washer and dryer, since there was already plumbing in place for the shower. After having stalled out on a bunch of house stuff, we decided enough was enough and we were going to forge ahead with the reno so we could gain laundry in the house. We picked a weekend, girded our loins, and started ripping giant holes in the wall.
Safety first! Tim has worked on a number of job sites that started with safety briefings. He wrote this list on the whiteboard outside the bathroom and gave a little spiel that had me giggling and nodding. My favorite part is the item “patience” which he described as “patience with the project, each other, and ourselves.” It’s really easy to get frustrated when things are not going great or to want to snap at the end of a long day. It was a little thing to hear him say it, but I think it really helped us both to remember that we’re working towards a common goal and it will not go perfectly, but that’s okay. In a future safety briefing, he mentioned a “special condition” of “kitties on the job site.” Since we were opening the wall that leads down to the basement, we had to take extra care to not let them slip down there. You can also see the blue tarp hanging in the doorway, we tried to contain the mess of the plaster as well as possible, so my first step was taping up the doorway and the liquor cabinet (seriously, go look at the before post, it remains one of the things I found most amusing about our house). No need to be dusting each wine bottle after all of this.
Tim also got us these awesome respirators, since plaster is so very messy. (Really, he was taking safety seriously on this project and it’s one of the reasons I adore him.) If this were a better picture, it’d absolutely be on my profile for Facebook. Captain took one look at me when I wore it to clean up in the evening and freaked out. Apparently looking like an alien invader is not cool for dogs.
The stopping point on our first workday was having removed the shower and the trim around the window and door. We had a lot of plaster removal to tackle the next day!
Tim works his way up the wall, destroying plaster. One of the weird little quirks that we discovered was what looked like wooden siding on the inside of our bathroom wall. We figure the bathroom could have been an addition to the house, which wasn’t something we’d figured on. It didn’t change our plans or cause any structural problems, it was just a “…huh” moment.
We cut just past where we planned on installing the new window, since we didn’t want to rip everything out of the room at this time. We ended up tacking plastic over the blown-in insulation, to keep it in the wall as best as possible until we could get drywall up.
Eventually we got everything down and the walls prepped for plumbing and electrical work.
The other wall didn’t have quite as clean a cut for plaster and lathe, but we got things clear of where the drywall needed to be and still ended up with a functioning (if somewhat dusty) half bath. We needed to keep the bathroom door shut for several weeks so none of the animals were tempted to go down to the basement, since the door had been removed.
It was a productive weekend and we were exhausted but proud. After having a few fallow months, it was awesome to be working on a big project which was going to add a much-desired function to our household. I think the next plaster removal we take on is going to be a similar approach: cover as much as possible with plastic and do it all in 1-2 days to get the messiness over with quickly. The next plaster removal, hower will probably be our staircase and front bedroom, which is a BIG job. Tim has talked about renting a dumpster since plaster produces a lot of trash, and while we’ve been able to dispose of it a little at a time, even with the demolition of half a room in this project, the square footage we’re looking at next time is more than we’re comfortable with hauling to the city trash cans in the alley. We’re probably also going to pay a bunch of friends in pizza to help us take it all down. If you feel like wielding a crowbar, let us know!