Monday, April 4, 2011

Part One - The Roman Tub Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom remodels, once secondary to the kitchen remodels, have been in the forefront of design makeovers for the last few years. Homeowners are staying in their houses longer and want to remodel one space at a time and if deciding between the kitchen or bath they will go with the bath remodel. It’s been my experience that many homeowners believe that since the bathroom is one of the smallest rooms in the house it will be inexpensive and less complicated to remodel. Well, nothing can be further from reality. While the space may not be the size of your living room, it is a network of plumbing and electrical lines all pulling their weight to insure that all the fixtures in the bathroom are working as intended. What makes bathroom designing different from other rooms is the water element. For this reason every aspect of bathroom design needs to take water exposure into consideration. If during the remodel you discover damage within those walls that is from poor waterproofing then the cost of the project will increase. The unfortunate aspect of this is that you just never know what’s in the wall until you start to tear it down. My advice to homeowners is to hope for the best, but plan for the worst - just in case.

One of the latest projects that I’ve had the privilege of redesigning was the master bath of a 70’s style ranch home. Like many bathrooms of this time frame the toilet and shower are enclosed and apart from the sink lavatory areas. The pictures below show the bathroom before the shower and the lavatory area were remodeled. Let’s go over some of the concerns that the homeowner expressed during the interview process.

On the left is the shower/tub combination that has a rod with a white shower curtain attached. The homeowners main concern with this area was the lip around the rim of the tub before you stepped down into the roman tub. It was a safety hazard because you could easily trip. The next area of concern dealt with the tub and shower fixtures. The showerhead was too low, it sat above the wall tile and they needed additional fixtures such as a hand held showerhead. The third issue they wanted to change was the shower curtain. They wanted to replace it with some type of glass but didn’t want clear glass. The fourth concern was the lack of a place for things such as shampoo and soap.

On the left is the lavatory area with room for 2 sinks. Before this picture was taken there was a mirror that went from right to left along the back wall and as you can see there were 2 lights above the mirror. The homeowners main concerns in this area were to update the look of the bathroom and to increase storage capacity. Within the scope of the project we were also going to replace all the floor tile with the larger size tiles.

Before installation I sit down with my clients and prepare a schedule of events relating to what task will be done on what days. The object is to make sure the homeowners know who and when installers will be in their home. I verify the dates with them first to minimize the inconvenience in their lives. I let them know that I’ll be at the job site everyday to check on things so I’ll know in advance if any issues come up that will affect the schedule. In this project it happened when we removed the drywall in the roman tub area.

The roman tub area is along the outside block wall and when the original installers (20 years ago) built the tub area they did not waterproof the block wall sufficiently. The wall showed extensive damage and had to be rebuilt with new insulation installed and that meant additional cost to the project as well as 3 or 4 additional days added to the project. It’s one of those times when you shake your head and say, “It is what it is.” And go forward from there. No one was happy about this wall.


See  Part 2 - Repairing the Wall
See  Part 3 for The Rest of the Story  


  1. Bathrooms have always been prone to risks as part of the house, so safety should always be the first thing in mind. Also, a good list of working days is a must so the project will easily be finished. Probably now, that bathroom is better than before. :)

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