Did I achieve my goal to renovate Mom’s bathroom in 7-10 days? Nope — it definitely took longer

anti skid rubber ducks

I still have several more stories to wrap up my series on remodeling my mom’s bathroom into a 1940s jewel box. But now that I’m back home and slowly recovering from the craziness, I see that the first follow-up in order is to circle round on my first post, which asked, “Could we do a bathroom renovation in 7-10 days?” and make it clear the answer was: “Heck No!” Our GOAL was to get the bathroom done in 7-10 days. But lest you think I am a genie, that was NOT actually possible. While we did go fast — and I took to calling the series my “7-day bathroom renovation” because that was our pie-in-the-sky goal — the renovation most definitely look longer than that. If you’re doing a project like this, I would recommend you plan at least a month — and I’ve had other bathroom renovations take much longer…

I did not take notes on the exact timeline as we went, but here is a rough breakdown of some of the things you are going to need to get done to complete your bathroom smoothly. And even with the best planning, there can be bumps along the way — especially since you may be working with an old house that delivers “surprises” as you open the walls. Please also Do Not consider this list to be a comprehensive guideline — consult with a professional.

What did we have to go through to get the bathroom done, avoiding as much delay as possible:

  • We decided and acquired all the materials and had them ON HAND before we got started: Tile, vanity, countertop, faucets, hardware, lighting fixtures, exhaust fan, etc. Now mind you, normally I would take like 6 months — or forever — deciding such things. Perhaps the most notable thing, truly, about this renovation, is that we decided all the key elements in about 72 hours — and bought everything from “in stock”, no special orders.  As further evidence that having Everything on hand is advisable before you start the job, a story from my previous bathroom renovation:  I remember the job IMMEDIATELY coming to a screeching halt, because the plumber had not ordered the shower base, thinking it was “in stock.” But in fact, it turned out the size was special-order. Day 1: Gut the bathroom. Day 2: Discover the problem related to the shower base, put in the order — and stop pretty much everything to wait two weeks (only slight exaggeration.)
  • We also had to have the various construction materials on hand.
  • Decide ahead of time if you are going to move any plumbing and electric. In our case, we had no changes to plumbing and insignificant changes to electric. You Do Not want to be making changes on the fly. For example: How do you want your switches laid out? How high off the ground? How high off the vanity? Take the time ahead of time to think through Every Detail you want in the bathroom, and how they inter-relate. This is the stuff that drives you crazy, but it will drive you even crazier if you have to make an on-the-spot decision with expensive work crews watching you sweat.
  • Of course, before you start messing with old materials, ensure you are aware of any environmental and safety issues and and you are prepared to use proper procedures. For example, test for bad stuff that may be in the house; plan for how you must dispose of anything potentially hazardous; plan for any required containment, etc. You know me: When it comes to this stuff: Consult with Pro’s. In addition, research and pull permits. As you go, you also will likely need to get inspections – plumbing, electric, etc. Consult with your building inspector on what’s required.
  • In our remodel the actual construction elements went pretty smoothly, as our changes were mostly cosmetic, nothing structural: Gutting, plumbing, electric and drywall all went super fast also because our team was lined up without delay. But, even so, there was a day here and day there when no work went on because something else came up and work people were elsewhere. Most contractors, I am told, do not do just one job at a time — to accommodate, or balance, for the inevitable delays. I understand this. Or, like all of us, they have other things going on and can’t necessarily be on the job each and every day continuously. In my last bathroom renovation, I also remember it took a goodly amount of time between trade professionals — like, we waited 10 days for the electrician because he got stuck on another job. This is a really common remodeling  phenonemon. Fits and starts and delays during a renovation project are the norm — not the exception — I think, and can extend your schedule a lot. You gotta relax and let it flow right over you, or you will go insane; arguments with your spouse will ensue; and you will be left to turn to full pints of Ben & Jerry’s for your only solace, which your thighs will most assuredly hate you for, later.
  • The single work process that took the most time, for sure, was the tiling. We had “fussy” tile. Those hexes are small and needed to be cut carefully. The “mud pan” for the walk-in shower and built-in shelves took time — craftsmanship and patience. Stuff needed to cure. I sure didn’t want to rush the tiler — I wanted it to look fabulous! In all, it took a week to complete the tile work  (Sat. and Sunday off.)
  • There are five other things hanging out there, meaning I can’t say we are truly “finished” even still:  (1) The Rough-In for the medicine cabinet was off. Our hole was too big. If we had had more time, I would have asked the crew to re-do the drywall to get the fit right — this would have delayed everything another day or more. We needed to be done, though. So, it was decided to cover the narrow gaps with some wood trim molding on hand. Meanwhile, this little trim got painted white. I wanted it gray, to blend in. Painter back on Tuesday. In addition, I really don’t like the profile of that added trim. Maybe someday soon, when I have fully recovered from this project, I will personally choose a trim that’s “right” and swap it out and repaint it. Right now I’m at, “It’s good enough the way it is. Let’s move on.” We’ll see. This issue moved me deep deep into the Crazy Zone. (2) The hole for the light over the medicine cabinet was not centered properly. Miscommunication. Contractor thought I had a bar light coming in. I had a sconce. The hole still needs to be filled in and repainted. Painter / Tuesday. (3) Trim got painted with flat paint for some reason. Should have been satin finish. Painter / Tuesday. (4) I ran out of time to hang decorative artwork, vintage-y stuff, of course. Next time I’m at Mom’s, I’ll put these up. Still need one or two little thingies. I’m on the lookout, down in my Basement of Treasures. And (5) Sara added the anti-skid rubber duckies to the Carrera marble shower threshold. The matte(I think that’s what it’s called)-finish American Olean hexes with their relatively big sanded grout line are supposed to be pretty slip resistant. But, we also are exploring some kind of coating to see if we can further amp up the skid resistance of the tiles.

So “all in” — I’m going to peg the remodel at ONE MONTH, and that was keeping things moving. Renovating your bathroom? I hope you have a second one to spare while you’re getting this one done!

How long did your bathroom renovation take?
What caused delays?
Advice to share??

  1. CindyD says:

    Whew! I’m exhausted just from reading your post! I realize your mom’s bathroom was a job that HAD to be done, but it reminds me why I’m so fortunate to be able to save my ’55 salmon pink bathroom!

  2. Ally Cat says:

    Not to be devil’s advocate, but many installers have dealt with such anxiety ridden, wishy-washy people that they have essentially given up on suggesting better solutions. I design kitchens professionally, and these projects are very personal so the customer may be resistant to ideas that aren’t a part of their intended vision.
    Pam, and you loved the results from your honest installer, but many installers are afraid that they will be blamed for any dissatisfaction. One way for anybody wanting to find a good installer is to let them know that you want their honest feedback, and you are open to certain compromises. If the door of collaboration is opened, then both sides can communicate openly. And if you do your project yourself, chances are you can live with imperfections because of the satisfaction of saving money and completing the task.

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