When closing on our ranch, the most intriguing aspect was definitely getting the second bathroom. Slav and I had always lived with a single bath. Getting ready at the same time in the morning sounded exciting.
So, it might sound like a surprise that we’ve only used the basement bathroom a handful of times thus far. Well, until you see what it looks like.
Hello the future master bath.
It is not a diamond in the rough. It is the rough. We took no pleasure walking into this room, let alone using it. Sitting empty did not do this room any favor either. Over the last a year and a half, bugs and spider webs took over.
We have been wondering about the hole in the soffit above the shower. It turns out to carry an important function: the upstairs bathtub leaks and this hole lets water drain directly into the basement shower. Although unacceptable, you cannot deny the previous owner’s ability of thinking outside the box.
The soffit wrapped around the mirror wall and ended at a weird bump-out above the toilet. By opening the utility room drywall, we learned that the only thing inside the soffit was the fan vent pipe, and the weird bump-out used to conceal the water heater ventilation pipe, which has been discontinued when we upgraded to a tankless water heater.
The first order of business is to assess the room. Although small, this bathroom has the potential to be highly efficient, if we could properly address the following issues:
1. Poor ventilation.
The old bathroom fan was noisy and weak, and the only window in the bathroom does not open. Being the only old window in the basement, it will be replaced with a window that can be fully opened to the outside air. We will also install a proper fan to vent the bathroom efficiently.
2. The nearly-empty soffit.
As I mentioned, the soffit only houses the vent pipe for the bathroom fan, which will be replaced and relocated. There will be no reason for the soffit to stay, and removing it will allow us to raise the light fixture higher as well as install a taller medicine cabinet.
3. Builder grade finishes (of the worst variety).
Popcorn ceiling, heavily textured walls, and outdated aluminum fixtures. Ugh.
4. Direction of the door swing
Currently the door swings inside, which not only blocks the toilet paper, but also limits the usable space in the bathroom. We have discussed the possibility of removing the door completely and reinstalling it at the living room doorway. Moving the door two feet out will not only save floor space in front of the toilet, but also create better flow between the future master bed and bath.
5. Lack of storage
Currently, the only storage in the bathroom is the medicine cabinet. Unfortunately, it is made of MDF and was completely waterlogged. We have been using medicine cabinets for years and really like the hidden storage they provide. Adding a new and potentially bigger one will completely take care of the storage needs in this space.
6. The shower area
To save money and work, we plan to keep the shower area and floor tiles. Some good scrubbing and a new grout job will surely make them look as well as they function.
7. Saving space with a narrow vanity
I actually like the vanity for its narrow profile and the depth of the sink. Unfortunately, it was completely waterlogged down both of the side panel. We are in search of something similar as a replacement.
Something even more bizarre was the back of the vanity was completely removed and so was the drywall behind. A quick and dirty way to finish the plumbing job, like everything in this house. Ugh.
The Demo Progress
After getting on the same page on what to keep and what to get rid of, I took the pry bar and removed the soffit.
It is amazing how much drywall trash this small soffit turned into.
The flexible pipe you see below was for the old bathroom fan. It had been disconnected inside the soffit until we bought the house. This bathroom was used by four children and inevitably, all the moisture trapped in the soffit has led to mold behind the soffit.
The U shape pipe next the fan vent is connected to the upstairs bathtub. It leaks when we take showers upstairs. Based on the condition of the subfloor, we think it has been leaking for quite some time as well.
The medicine cabinet came off without a fight. The hanging metal box housed the broken bathroom fan.
Removing the corner soffit exposed the old ventilation pipe for the old water heater. This pipe goes up all the way to the roof. The current plan is to trim it at the ceiling level so we can re-drywall. But we also have the option of using it to vent through the roof.
The bathroom demo concluded the demolition in the basement, at least for the part that we intended to remove. While the drywall dust settles, we officially enter the planning phase, with home improvement stores to visit and plumbers to call. I cannot wait to come back for another update on this little space, which probably involves replacing the window or fixing the plumbing. The bath will only get cuter from now!