I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been working on remodeling my bathroom downstairs to increase the rent of my mother in law suit. Alas, like all good projects we hit a snag! First, we lost the battle with the city inspector and had to call the plumber back in to replace the coupling in the floor. Then we invited my Dad over to give his opinion on how to deal with a junction box in the ceiling…which led him to poke around a bit more and discover that the electrical system in my house was completely jacked. The previous homeowner had wired a 50amp stove to two 25amp circuit breakers instead of a 50amp, which could’ve led to a fire. They mixed and matched wires of different gauges in the same line of a circuit, which meant that one part of the wire was drawing in a certain amount of power, but the larger wire behind it sucked in even more…which could’ve caused it to burst into fire. Long story short, my Dad was amazed that the house hadn’t burned down.
This had a variety of impacts on the project. Cost-wise my Dad was willing to help fix the problem, and since he’s a certified commercial master electrician he did it way better than anyone else. It would’ve cost at LEAST $5,000 to hire anybody else at a fraction of the quality he’s putting into it. As it is, this was an extra $1,000 – $2,000 in electrical parts that I was not planning on.**
It also increased the amount of work we needed to do because my Dad needed to open up some walls and remove some framing in the ceiling to get at the wires and junction boxes he needed. It’s never a good sign when your general contractor starts hyper-ventilating and rocking himself back and forth saying, “I never should have given him that saw…” It was already the most technically complicated space he’s dealt with in his 20 years in the industry, and my Dad’s alterations skyrocketed it further. He plans on taking pictures of the framing afterwards to show off to others, because the framing for the space will be a work of art after this.
Naturally this meant that the project schedule got blown out of the water. We were supposed finish a week ago and instead it’s looking like we’ll finish 90% of the bathroom this week, with part of the ceiling in one far corner to be completed in the future. That being said, we’ve finally plugged the trenches we had jack hammered, had the rest of the plumbing installed, and have gotten most of the framing up for the shower alcove and utility space. All that’s left to do is to put some insulation in the exterior wall to make it more fire resistant, pour more concrete to level the floor, sheet rock the walls, mud and tape them up, and then we’ll be in the home stretch!
** A big part of this occured because the house’s current service panel was overloaded and didn’t have enough space to fit an extra bathroom. We needed to upgrade the whole service panel to add another dozen slots for Arc fault circuit breakers, which required not only a new permit with the city but also brand new circuit breakers to meet the latest code. At $30 a pop for 20-30 breakers, that alone cost me between $600-$900, depending on how many we install in the end.
Here is a shot of the bathroom before we began putting in new framing….
…and here it is again after we boxed in the water heater and furnace, which are to the right behind the cement bags and vent stacks. There will be two doors with vents on the left side of the framing to allow air to flow in to the furnace. I’ll include more pictures of the rest of the framing in the future. Given how complicated the space was, it really became a work of art by the end.
My Dad has ripped this service panel to shreds fixing everything.