Faith & Mike's Master Bathroom: Demolition! (And the Things We Found)

Renovation Diary

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Name: Faith and Mike
Type of Project: Master Bathroom Creation
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Type of building: 1920s, multi-level, single family home

The Renovation Diaries are a new collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

Last week I explained how long it took for us to get from the point of buying our house to actually starting the bathroom renovation. Much of that time was spent making decisions with our architect about layout and materials, but most was taken up by painstaking demolition, since we had to gut most of the house before our contractor could start work. Here's a play-by-play of the demolition of the space that would become our master bathroom. 

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My brother and sister working in the back porch area. When we pulled down the walls we found the frames for the old porch's screen windows. 

It took us a while to get started, as we were focusing on other parts of the house. When we finally tackled the upstairs and specifically the enclosed porch that would become the bathroom, it was with the help of my family. I have five brothers and two sisters, and most of them, their spouses, and my parents came over one afternoon to give us a head start on the demo. My brothers tore through stuff! 

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Pulling down the walls and doorways in the bedroom area. All of this had to be reconfigured for our master bedroom/bathroom combo. 

This awesome first weekend was followed by several more weekends and long summer evenings knocking down plaster, pulling out lathe, and hauling debris away. (We owe our friends so many meals and favors, I've lost count.) We had a big dumpster parked outside the house, and most of the junk went into it. 

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We also dumped out a lot of lathe directly onto the driveway. It was actually cheaper to have someone come and haul this away, as opposed to paying for one more dumpster drop. 

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Bagging up plaster debris in the west bedroom.

Near the end, the plaster covered the floor nearly up to my knees. Plaster is heavy stuff, almost like concrete, and the thought of bagging it up and dragging it out was beyond us. We had finished cleaning up the whole first floor ourselves, over several distinctly painful nights (I personally dragged at least 50 bags of plaster outside) but we gave up and paid some folks to come and bag and haul away the debris upstairs. It was so incredibly dirty, dusty, and disgusting, especially with the attic opened up and old insulation falling down. Gross. This plucky couple came and took it all away, dumping it out of a window using a makeshift chute made out of buckets. 

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In the midst of this month of demolition, however, we made three interesting discoveries. First, this newspaper, pictured above, which was stuffed in one of the walls (may have been insulation, or just fallen down from the attic). 1917 — so, it predates our house, which was built in 1921. 

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Chiseling mortar off brick in the master bedroom.

Secondly, there was a tall chimney that ran up a corner of the kitchen and through the bedroom. Our contractor pointed it out and suggested that we take a chisel to it. It was covered in a sort of thick mortar, and we wanted to see what was under it. Voila — brick! We spent some hours carefully chiseling off all the mortar and now we have a nice brick column in the master bedroom.  

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Last but not least, when we opened up the floor and the wall between the rooms we discovered that the floor joists in the enclosed porch weren't really salvageable. They were slanted, which was intentional and good for a porch, so that the water would run off, but obviously not great for a proper room. In the end, our contractor found it easier to simply tear them out and replace them. So the very end of our demolition looked rather extreme — the whole floor was gone! This view above is essentially our entire bathroom. It's just not there yet. 

Everything had to get worse before it got better — the law of renovation! But this is the worst it got. Now that the debris was cleared away, things could start progressing. Next week — the walls go back up! 

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Looking into the master bedroom, towards the back wall, which had to be rebuilt.

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for #6 of Faith and Mike's Diary.

(Images: Faith Durand)