HOMEOWNER Dan Rohr decided to renovate his bathroom last September because of mould growth and water entering the wall in the shower area. With gusto, Dan proceeded to gut the entire room, including floors, walls and ceiling. Well into the project life threw an unexpected wrench into the works and Dan had to let the project sit for four months while he recovered from minor surgery. Luckily his home has a second bathroom that could be utilized during the renovation.
“My girlfriend Celia and I had to reconsider our finish date no less than eight times,” said Dan. “I would estimate a specific job timeframe and my girlfriend Celia would just laugh and say ‘Are you sure it’s only going to take x amount of time?’” Dan said that for the most part each job took double the amount of time he estimated.
During the renovation Celia tripped on clamps that Dan had holding the floor joist steady and one of her legs went right through the open floor joists. Dan managed to gently pull her out but she ended up breaking two ribs in the process. Along with being upsetting, Celia’s injury caused further project delays as well. Dan had to maintain the daily house chores that Celia would have normally taken care of. Luckily she’s fine now.
“I was finishing tiling the shower walls when I decided to do a trial fit of the shower valve cover plate and handle. I quickly realized that the shower valve was set too far back into the wall to allow the cover plate and handle to be attached. I cannot tell you the sinking feeling you get when you realize there is nothing you can do except take a hammer and smash in the newly tiled walls you just installed a few days ago. All the tile, sub wall and plumbing had to be redone in one of the most complicated areas of the bathroom,” says Dan. He was able to correct the situation but his oversight caused further delays and additional costs.
“Finally, we were almost finished the bathroom and were bolting down the $600 designer toilet that we splurged on,” said Dan. “I go to flush for the first time and the water just spins in the bowl and doesn’t flush. This goes on and on. I read all the instructions, troubleshooting guide, checked the Internet, and spent the next 10 hours checking everything on this toilet. I realize that if I modify this toilet I can make it flush, so we go to the building supply store for parts to start modifying this thing,” Dan continues. “As luck would have it we ran into a neighbour who just happens to be a professional bathroom renovator (Rob O’Neill from Professional Bathrooms). We explained the problem and he tells me to take back the toilet and get a replacement. Apparently, because these toilets are made from vitreous clay, they can, like anything else, have problems right out of the factory. I guess it’s just bad luck that I got a defective one,” Dan says, frustrated.
More than one unexpected problem can arise during any renovation. This one caused further delays and expense for Dan.
“We go and order another toilet but encounter resistance from the store when we wanted to return the defective toilet,” Dan continues. “At this point you are ready to break the toilet over someone’s head. They told us we would have to buy the new toilet so they can order another and they would then give me a refund when I bring back the defective one,” he says. “Now, I have over $1,200.00 in toilet investments.” Would he do it again? When I asked Dan what he would do differently if he had to do it all over again he said jokingly, “I’d probably just move!”
Dan is actually happy with the end result but of course would have done some things differently along the way to avoid accidents and errors. The bathroom renovation cost approximately $15,000 just for materials. Doing all of the labour himself (with the help of Celia and his daughter Mercedes) saved Dan a lot of money in the end, even with the mistakes made along the way. working great. We didn’t waste a bunch of paper products and it was nice to see everyone including our six year old son pitching in,” she explained. “I used my slow cooker almost every day to cook supper. We also utilized the barbecue and the toaster a little more than usual as well as my electric frying pan. We began the job at the end of February and finished at the end of March.”
The homeowners had a kitchen designer help them with their new plan and layout to ensure they had enough storage and a good working space. Having four school-age children keeps this mom busy in the family kitchen.
She suggested that anyone doing a kitchen renovation obtain samples of a variety of countertop products to see how well they hold up to heat, scratches and food stains. She tested various samples to see if they could handle the daily use before making her final decision.
Having done the demolition themselves saved this family money. They did what they felt comfortable with and left the rest to the professionals. The renovation went quite quickly because of the professional install. All in all the balance of doing 50 per cent of the work on this project was the perfect balance for this family’s needs.
When considering a major DIY project there are a few things to take into consideration. Firstly, know your limits. Do the tasks you are comfortable with and seek professional help with more difficult aspects of the job. Know going in there will most likely be unexpected delays. Be prepared for the stress and additional cost just in case. When planning the budget, don’t forget to include items like tool rentals or purchases, refuse removal expenses, dining out and off-site storage costs. Ensure everyone’s safety during the process, pets included. Paint fumes, construction dust and cleaning products can be harmful to smaller pets (like birds) and children.
Do as much preparation and research you can before you begin to ensure a smooth undertaking. Start with smaller projects to gain experience and confidence. DIY can be a self-affirming process if the outcome is successful.
Dan Rohr’s girlfriend Celia and daughter Mercedes work on the bathroom. The process took longer than expected, and there were a few injuries along the way.
Mercedes and Celia before the transformation.
The bathroom reno cost approximately $15,000.