Bathroom Fantasies

Back in 2010, with the kitchen remodeled and the bedrooms made liveable, it seemed time to tackle the bathroom. This room was not going to be so easy. Concrete was going to be poured; a ceiling was going to be raised; a subfloor and joists were likely going to be ripped up.

For comparison, here again is the as-is drawing.

This is the bathroom as it is. It is next to the master bedroom and the office (once the pantry with the kitchen sink before we updated the kitchen). Where the wall notches in at the closet is the source of the foundation problems.
The bedroom closet is tiny, dark, and cold, there is -gasp- only one toilet, and the North exterior wall cuts in strangely and is strangely unsupported.
The bathroom window and the basement door below. Why does that wall cut in like that?

If we are going to fix any of the problems with the bathroom, we will have to deal with the foundation along that short section of North exterior wall which cuts in. Lining it up with the rest of that side of the house gives us an extra 18″ of space in the bathroom. Woo-hoo!

Here is the north wall of the bathroom. The fern is under the master bedroom closet.
Here is the north wall of the bathroom. The fern is under the master bedroom closet.

But if I’m going to tell this story, let’s go back a bit.

I didn’t know the first thing about finding a good contractor. Mike Holmes says you should get, like, 20 estimates before you choose one (I’m exaggerating, but not by much).

Who has the time for that?

 Let me add here that if this blog is going to be useful, I’m going to have to name names: names of people and names of companies I have contacted throughout this journey. There are some great people out there who understand what we’re trying to do. The system needs tweaking but the stakeholders are willing.

So I found a website which is now called and entered what I wanted to do and clicked “Search”. The idea is they match you to a company in your area who can do what you need and has some credibility.

So what were the results of my search? 20 companies?

Nope, just one: they were called A Helpful Handyman  And so in 2010 Dave Gilmore from AHH came out and took a look at our bathroom and furnished us with a quick verbal estimate for a bathroom remodel:

“About $20 000.00”

At the time, that seemed like a lot. (Ha!)

[Well, it is a lot for a standard, basic bathroom. We asked AHH for an estimate on the small bathroom in the rental house we own next door: new floor, new shower, toilet and fixtures, new walls. No raising the ceiling. No moving the walls. Dave said they could do that for $3054.00. It’s a good example because we weren’t doing it for ourselves, but for tenants. This is the basic package that people like us can afford to pay for right now, in the moment. It would attract good tenants who might stay long-term and allow us to get on with our lives. We ended up doing most of the work ourselves, and that is another story.]

Our main bathroom needs more work, but we also wanted to ensure that we would be happy and comfortable for many years to come. We aren’t going to sell the house in five years. We don’t want to throw up some drywall to increase the re-sale value and be done with it. We want a Forever Bathroom.

After he gave us the rough quote, we didn’t talk to Dave for a while. You know how the story goes, one thing leads to another. A contractor says, “hey, if you’re going to pour concrete and move the wall out a little, you may as well move it out more and give yourself some more space” and it gets you thinking.

“Oo,” we thought, “we could expand the master closet, put in a shower and a tub and our dream of a Japanese-style bath would come true! No more soaking in our own dirt!”

We made several sketches.  Here’s my favourite:

It is perfect, no?

If it’s not obvious, notice that the north wall has been pushed out into the yard. That’s how we’re getting the extra room.

One toilet is in the same spot. There is a sensible double sink and a linen closet. But hey, let’s have a separate room containing the bath and shower. Yeah, that way we shower before we soak and never get the water dirty. A la japonais!

Can we fit in another toilet? Why not? Let’s squeeze in a walk-in closet, too, and it can have a secret pocket door into the bath room so we can get to the 2nd toilet super fast! Yah! Because walking out the door and around the corner takes SOOOOO long!

Finally, let’s have a nice big tub–and everyone knows that corner tubs are the most luxurious!

I remember taping out different design ideas on the living room floor so we would know what the floor space would feel like.

Imagine if we had given this to Dave and said, “please build this”.

I can't show you pics of my incredibly cute kids, but I can show you a symbolic Dinosaur in the bathtub
I think he would laugh.

Published by

James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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