Bath Renovation #1: Basement Nightmare

Project by mmh posted 03-08-2009 06:36 PM 4398 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Our circa 1950’s home came with all the interesting features a rental home could offer: Cheap paint covered nail holes in the walls, single pained drafty windows, uninsullated walls and roof, worn out plumbing fixtures, and out of date electrical units.

Being that the full basement would become a wood workshop for my husband, our first upgrade was to install a heavy up for the electrical needs that the workshop equipment would require. I also had fears of electrical fires started from the heavier usage of appliances such as microwaves, toasters, oven, coffee pots, etc., that were not considered in the current wiring, last upgraded in 1964.

We purchased this home with the full intent of DYI. The time frame, however, was a lot longer than first considered, but that makes the journey more interesting.

The kitchen and two baths both needed major work, but we started with a smaller project, the basement bath, as this was not going to be missed while out of commission and would be our initiation to home improvement.

The original sink and toilet were basic porcelain. The sink did not have a support pedestal, but was the basic 50’s style that bolted to the wall. After years of abuse, it was cruddy and slightly tilting downward from lack of proper support. The shower stall was an absolute nightmare, as it was fiberglass with a metal ceiling and it was rusty and cavernous looking. I could imagine bats feeling quite at home. It worked, but I don’t even think I used it for fear of contracting a disease.

I had a pro help me with this project, as it was more than I was knowledgible on, and I wanted to see how he approached the tile work. I had been doing a few small jobs on my own and took a 3 hours class at The Tile Shop which helped me understand the proper alignment of tile. I was actually a bit disappointed in his work, as the layout was not what I would have done, but he did a good job despite this. He also had to install walls for a new tiled shower stall. I wanted to use tile, as if we decided to sell this home, a tiled bath would bring more to the table than a fiberglass one and there were more options on design.

The Tile Shop was my source for tile, I could have gone to HD, but the selection there is not as wide or as high quality and for the money, I think I got a better product. I still managed to get a lower cost tile and used a few higher cost accent pieces to get a quality, classic look that I hope will last for many years.

I purchased some of the fixtures online and got some deals. A real, solid alabaster light fixture was only $60. online, and I’ve priced it at $360. locally. A small 4mm chip/dent was the reason it sold so cheaply. The sink was also an online purchase and the unusual shape made it an interesting accent. The tile are large, for easy installation and I chose a porcelain product with faux stone finish for durability and cost. The floor tile is also a heavy porcelain with a stone texture so that stains can not be readily seen. I also used the same tiles for my second bath, as left over stock could be used to also save money and the continuance of design would bring the whole house together. The shower base is a prefab fiberglass product because it was much cheaper than a tiled option and I did not want to deal with possible tile or mortar cracks in the future. It’s also easier to clean.

Upon demolition, my bath pro found that the shower was an illegal addition. The original construction had the toilet and sink installed, but the plumbing was not made to code for a shower or bath option. In the event of wanting to sell the home, I opted to go with code regulated construction, so he had to dig out a 3 ft hole and install the correct plumbing. It doubled my expenses, but with my frugal purchases, minimum labor expenses and sweat equity, I kept my budget reasonable. I estimate I saved about 50% or more by rolling up my sleeves.

My husband did the cabinetry, these photos don’t show it completed. It’s basic, not fancy. We can upgrade it when the opportunity presents itself, but for now it works.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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5 comments so far

View ShawnAllen's profile


11 posts in 4440 days

posted 03-08-2009 11:22 PM

Nice work! Good call on the tile vs. fiberglass route.

If you are interested, there is a forum dedicated to the DIY tiler:

It’s not rocket science, but I have found that the pros do know how to make the finishing work look good!

I don’t suppose the shower models hang around when the water starts flyin’ !

View rantan's profile


12 posts in 4424 days

posted 03-08-2009 11:56 PM

Good job. I use my basement as the workshop also . . . lot’s and lot’s of tools, but no bath as of yet. Don’t know if my ceilings are high enough, so I’m jealous! Enjoy the fruitage of your labor! It looks like the cats are.

View clieb91's profile


12 posts in 4754 days

posted 03-09-2009 06:08 PM

Nicely done. Like the accent pieces. Good work finding the bargains online. We do a good portion of your shopping for items at the local Re-Store in order to support the local Habitat for Humanity.

Look forward to seeing some of the renovations.

Shawn, thanks for the forum, I am going to pass it on to my wife as she does all the tile work.


View EvelynBrewer's profile


2 posts in 1479 days

posted 03-25-2017 03:36 AM

House renovation is the great idea to improve your house beauty. The number of people is wanted to renovate their house for them they have to hire some superiorpapers professional. That bathroom has an attractive design and also latest idea it is.

View cathyA's profile


119 posts in 289 days

posted 11-23-2020 06:12 PM

I really loved to see the bath renovation ideas mentioned here. I think you can construct these kinds of works with limited cost and also the work looks really beautiful. I want to see more earthquake emergency kit such bath renovation ideas. Looking here for more updates.

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