Little House in the Heights #2: Let the demo begin

Blog entry by BillyJ posted 04-16-2013 12:46 AM 12711 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The House Part 2 of Little House in the Heights series Part 3: Demo days »

Okay. So I was off by a few days. I was going to post this segment several days (week???) earlier, but life got in the way.

Back to the story.

As all remodels begin, I assessed what was in front of me. Because the house is small, and I mean, SMALL, there is very little that I can actually do (or so I initially thought). Of course, after anyone looked at the hideous pink-flamingo bathroom (complete with a tub that would never come clean, fixtures that probably didn’t work, and a cabinet that was waiting for someone to carry away), I quickly decided to gut the entire bathroom. Working alone – one day.

Honest – this is the way the previous owner installed the faucet.

See the insulation? I don’t. It was sheathed with a silver wrap (behind the drywall). Nothing else. I know they did not care about the price of gas when the house was built in the 50s, but it looks like I have a little job of insulating the house ahead of me.

And now the bathroom is in the living room! Exactly 1-ton of demo.

Next was the kitchen. If you thought the bathroom was bad, the kitchen was far worse.

While I was demoing the bathroom, I found it quite strange that the bottom plate was completely rotted. Not just water damaged, but rotted. Then it became apparent – a constant leak. Their solution to solving the leak – spraying foam insulation around the suspected culprit.

Yes folks, that’s a 1 1/2” discharge pipe for the washer. No wonder water was everywhere. Oh, and look where it is tied into! Yep, it’s the last one out – not the first. I bet water was flowing out in every direction when the washer was running.

Now, besides the wonderful plumbing work they did, look at how they hooked up the water heater. As I was demoing the bathroom, I couldn’t figure out where a gas line was going. It wasn’t until I tore apart the kitchen until I realized they took a pipe off of an incoming line, ran it into the attic, down through a bathroom wall, and around to the tank. Look at how close the line is to the furnace line.

The red arrow is pointed to the tank, the yellow is the furnace line-in. Needless to say, both lines could have run together and reduced down to 1/2” (there’s about 100,000 btu total, with a total run of less then 15’).

The electrical was not much better. Below you see the power line (yep, the one wrapped in electrical tape) for the garbage disposal.

Besides the fact that any project attempted by the previous owners did not meet code, they did not understand anything concerned with building.

The hole was for the exhaust dryer vent. They did not seal off the vent, rather, they stuffed insulation between the studs.

Next step – put some holes in the floor.

-- No matter how many times I measure, I always forget the dimensions before I cut.

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7 comments so far

View sandhill's profile


71 posts in 5033 days

posted 04-16-2013 02:42 AM

Wow what a mess, you never know what your dealing with till you open it up. The tub spigot should have been a clue.

View chief101's profile


21 posts in 4758 days

posted 04-16-2013 03:08 AM

Pretty ugly Billy. The fun will be the end results.

-- Dale J. Struhar Sr.

View J's profile


70 posts in 3976 days

posted 04-16-2013 04:09 AM

That is good stuff Billy; It’s a miracle more people aren’t killed in their own homes due to this ‘level of workmanship.’

I think your plumber, fitter and electrician have worked in my neighborhood too. It is good to know that a capable craftsman is in charge of this home’s rehab.

That tub spigot reminds me of my last plumbing parts trip to Home Depot – I thought I was going to have to dodge being slapped. My question (to the young attractive woman) in charge of the plumbing asile “I am looking for two 3/4” close nipples, and the box on the shelf is empty, er, I… yeah galvanized.” :-/

I look forward to your updates.

-- I found the board stretcher... finally!

View GaryL's profile


206 posts in 4567 days

posted 04-16-2013 10:51 AM

Oh the joys of uncovering the unknown! Have you had your plumber in to take a look yet?...did he run out the door…... ;^) I’m sure he has witnessed plenty of these diy installs before.
I second what J mentioned about the miracles that keep these homes from burning or crumbling to the ground.
Keep us posted on your progress.

-- The difference between a pro and an amateur, an amateur points out his mistakes

View reedwood's profile


101 posts in 4474 days

posted 04-16-2013 12:18 PM

I would be shocked, if I hadn’t seen stuff like this hundred times before.

It’s not that hard to figure this stuff out people! Geez! You would think the homeowner would ask a handy friend how to wire a switch or Google – how to do plumbing for idiots. Why is it they always choose the worst way?

I gutted a bathroom once and found it wired with extention cords and power strips with breakers, buried in the wall. Isn’t that yellow wire an extenion cord?

That plumbing rat’s nest is right up there with the best of the worst though. The sad part is it was probably a plumber that did the last work, before the foam stop brainstorm, and it was such a mess from the last 3 repairs, he didn’t care either.

The best part about a job like this is you know what you have, a fresh install without having to make do with any of the existing finishes. Everything is updated and you know the mechanicals are right. 95% of the bathroom remodels that we have done were complete guts. Especially if the house is older than the 70s.

You should save that pink tile. who knows? it may come back in to style! You could sell it on E bay! Ha!

J – Dude! you blew it! you should have asked if she had 3/4” close nipples! HA! I know, your such a gentleman.
but you were thinkin it.

-- mark - Grayslake IL.

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


447 posts in 4003 days

posted 04-20-2013 01:09 AM

Well Billy, I touch, gas, electrical, or water, I call my contractor buddy and pay him well for his time. He has kept me out of (or rather IN) hot water. I leave it to you guys. On the other hand, I could do a better job than what’s I. The pictures. Why? I’d ask you guys first.

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

View BillyJ's profile


253 posts in 5037 days

posted 04-25-2013 02:19 PM

Thanks for the comments guys. Yes, a big mess. And yes, it is great to have a fresh start. J – that is too funny about the close nipple. I would love to have been there. LOL. And redwood – I agree – J has to be a gentleman!

Actually, I have a ton of better pictures. Wait until you see the electrical mess. And yes, I have an extension cord running to the garage (but it is tied together with wire nuts – not taped though) that is wired directly into the fuse box.

The electrician and plumber just shook their heads. Both had seen this a hundred times too (just like you redwood). I have too, but it never ceases to amaze me. I agree – if you are going to diy it, then at least get online and look up what it is you are going to do. I worked on my son’s house in MO when he lived there. The county had no codes, and really didn’t care whether you wired your hot water tank with an extension cord to power it or used duct tape to keep pipes together. As was mentioned, my greatest fear is fire, explosion, or a combination of both. Heck – water leads to mold, and that can be as dangerous as anything else. Bottom line – I like living.

I verify best practices every time I do something. Many codes are there for the homeowner’s protection (and ours too). I could not live with myself if harm came to one of my clients because of something I did or failed to do right. About two months ago some contractors were doing work in a suburb and hit a gas line while boring for a new line. Their mistake blew up a house and killed a person. Needless to say, the contracted boring company had been fined repeatedly for previous mistakes and violations. You can never be too safe.

Because the house is so small, my mechanical contractor said it’s not bad, and with only a few minutes worth of work it can be put into working order. That put a smile on my face. Heck, I might only spend a total of $500 on him!

I’ve been up to my neck in alligators and crocodiles, thus my tardy reply. Hopefully I’ll have time to post this weekend. Keep those cards and letters coming. Have fun guys.

-- No matter how many times I measure, I always forget the dimensions before I cut.

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