HOUSE · PLUMBERS

Work on the new, accessible bathroom begins – AT LAST!

FINALLY … On 21 January 2019 our usual plumbers started to dismantle our main bathroom (after many wasted discussions with supposedly ‘specialised’ accessible bathroom installers – specially adapted for disabled people – throughout 2018, which only highlighted their flaws and inability to cope with the basics of design, design drawings, provision of professional quotations and the fact that they ‘sort of’ quoted impossibly high costs). Anyway, after lots of frustration and nothing happening, we decided that it was about time to contact our ‘usual’ plumbers and see if they could handle it – “of course” they said and in retrospect we should have just contacted them in the first place!

STEP 1: Delivery of a skip to our substantial parking area (compared to our neighbours anyway) through the narrow-ish gap between the two, protected trees guarding the entrance – when I say ‘protected’ trees, they really do have a preservation order on them, meaning that we have to notify the Council and get a skilled, tree surgeon to carry out their bi-annual pruning. Now, I know that they must be used to it and we were only having a medium-size skip delivered, but the lorry driver’s ability to reverse his lorry down our narrow, one-way street and manoeuver the skip into the corner of our parking area – thus still allowing us room to park our car – was really quite impressive. (Sorry, no photos or video, but you really had to have been there to appreciate the skill of the skip lorry driver.)

STEP 2: The plumbers arrived at 8 a.m. sharp to have a “smashing good time” removing the shower, bath, toilet, sink unit arrangement & old tiling. And this is when the fun really started, as they uncovered what a truly horrific job had been done when the old bathroom had been installed – it’s no wonder that the previous shower leaked and the radiator in our adjacent en-suite bathroom just didn’t work. Here’s a bullet list outlining the horrors (there’s just too many to go into in detail):

  • The tiles over the bath were attached to a sheet of plasterboard, that had in turn been attached atop some old woodchip wallpaper by the occasional dab of plaster.
  • The underlying wall wasn’t sound either – random bits of timber but not enough studs or noggins to stop the wall flexing. So bodge on top of bodge. The wall needs rebuilding and at the same time building out, so there’s space to run the myriad of pipes behind the new wall.
  • The old plumbing was of course insane – we already knew that from what we could see under the bath, but it doesn’t make any more sense now the bath is out and you can see clearly where everything is going. There’s just a mess of different pipe types and materials and bores and connectors where the whole thing has been done and redone and re-redone and the en-suite spurred of it as well, to boot.
  • The wiring is pretty silly as well, with a fused spur unit hanging around looking bored & buried within one of the stud walls. Presumably at some point there had been an electric power shower, but when that was removed the wiring just got stuffed inside the wall.
  • The final amusement was the floor. Smashing up the files and lifting the sub-floor revealed … a rather pretty, very expensive and rather well laid Amtico floor, still in immaculate condition. So somewhere between the original 1980 conversion (which was a bodge), and the 1998 renovation (which was also a bodge), someone spent some money to do the job properly. Go figure.
This is what it looked like when they removed the old shower, bath and tiles … you can see the wood-chip wallpaper that was underneath a layer of plasterboard underneath the tiles.

What you can’t see from that picture is that there are no studs at all in over a metre section of the partition … clearly the builders responsible for this had previously been working on the Pinewood film lot, building stunt walls so your action hero can come crashing through the wall unencumbered by anything approximating a structure …

The original pipework, exposed after removing the bath … some creatively curly bits of copper in there:
Charlie inspecting the Amtico flooring discovered underneath everything:

 

Now, I’ll just pause for a brief moment to allow the aforementioned horrors to fully sink in!

Just a brief aside: Chatting with the plumber, Kevin said that he must see worse … his comment was no, not really. This is about as bad as it gets.
End of week 1 – now all the pipes are in the right place, together with all the wiring. Boringly straight really … at least the radiator in our en-suite next door now works properly, for the first time since we moved in:

Bravo to the plumbers and electrician, who have worked extremely hard to dismantle, destroy and rework the pipework and electrics. I think their rebuilding work (week 2) deserves a separate post!

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