Half-Bathroom Renovation: Days 1 through 3

Our half-bathroom is finished, but before we get to those satisfying before-and-after photos, I’m going to subject you to a few renovation progress posts. They’ll be heavy on pictures and light on narrative – I just want to document all the work that went into this tiny powder room.

I hired a contractor to do this renovation job. I considered doing some of the work myself (such as plumbing and beadboard installation), but ultimately chose not to because the price difference was negligible and I don’t need to be a DIY hero. I thought it would be really nice to simply write a check and have it be done in 3 days instead of 3 weeks (or, more realistically, 3 months). Turns out I wrote a check AND did a lot of work myself. This project was not without some hurdles and disappointments, but it all worked out in the end.

Let’s dive in!

Day 1

On Monday, the contractor I hired (Patrick) and his two crewmembers arrived. Patrick and I went over the plans and his guys immediately got to work. They put down canvas drop cloths for their walkway and then put up a plastic airlock in front of the bathroom.

Tarps on Ground.JPG

This prep work effectively contained the construction dust and mess, which I really appreciated.

Plastic Airlock.JPG

Meanwhile, the cats were confined to the basement, with their pet door locked shut.

Basement Cats.JPG

Patrick left, leaving his crew to do demo. I expected this because demo doesn’t require skilled labor; I did not know, however, how absent Patrick would be for the majority of the job (I’ll talk about this more later).

The crew removed an exploratory tile to see what they were getting into, and then fully demoed the wall tile and drywall.

Tile Demo Begins.JPG

I left a “KEEP!” note on the sink (seen above) so they wouldn’t forget my plan to reuse the sink. I didn’t want them to damage it when they removed it or to accidentally discard it. I wish I had done this on two plinth blocks that they mistakenly removed and tossed – learn from my mistakes, dear reader!

Tile Demo.JPG

Despite a language barrier (they spoke little English and I don’t speak any Czech), the crew and I bonded over this huge praying mantis one of the guys found in our yard.

Praying Mantis.JPG

By the end of Day 1, the floor tile was gone, the new drywall was up, and the mantis was back out in the wild.

New Drywall.JPG

Day 2

Day 2 was more dirty work. They installed the new ceiling fan.

Fan Installation.JPG

They taped and mudded the drywall, and put down new cement board on the floor.

New Cement Board Floor.JPG

Newly-relocated switches next to the door:Electrical Switches.JPG

Newly-flat ceiling – see before photos in my previous post:New Bathroom Ceiling.JPG

They wrapped up Day 2 with some exciting progress: laying the new hex tile.

White Hex Tile.JPG

I know that installing tile is a doable DIY but, you guys, I just didn’t wanna. I would have fretted and taken forever and I’m very happy I handed this over to someone else.

Newly Laid White Hex Tile.JPG

Day 3

Day 3 began with even more exciting progress: grouting the tile.

White Hex Tile Black Grout.JPG

Wipe on:Black Grout Wipe On.JPG

Wipe off:Black Grout Wipe Off.JPG

There’s not much else to show for Day 3 because, as the grout was drying, the guys worked on a couple of other projects elsewhere in the house. They finished the day by slopping some paint on the walls using an unnecessarily thick 3/4″ nap roller (the kind intended for painting masonry), which led to a lot of paint runs like you see here.

Paint Drips.JPG

While I had been happy with their work up until this point, this paint job was the first sign of trouble.

Patrick came highly recommended by someone I trust, who has a lot of renovation experience. Unfortunately, I had a different experience than they did. (This happens – I referred someone to a friend who painted their room pink, which was not the color they requested…)

See, Patrick unexpectedly left town mid-job. His crew was nice and hardworking but when left unsupervised, they cut corners and did sloppy work. They were muscle, not the skilled contractor I had hired. Womp womp. It’s water under the bridge, and this post is overly long, so I’ll stop now and return tomorrow with the second half of this renovation story!

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