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A Small Leak (AKA ‘Bathroom Before’)

 |  Home & Garden

Back when we moved in 2018, we discovered a leak in the downstairs ‘bathroom’ (amongst many, many other problems which I ranted about across two separate posts: Appearances can be deceptive [..] and Moving Tales: Part 2) I said, on making that discovery:

the leak appears to be coming from the shower, which is a lot easier to fix than if it were e.g. coming from upstairs

So you can imagine how much I laughed and laughed when 6 months after having that fixed, water did actually start leaking through the ceiling from upstairs. (Spoilers: did not actually laugh)

We thought, at first, that we knew where that leak was coming from. The upstairs shower cubicle door was slightly warped so didn’t close properly; we thought that the water was running off the bottom and through a small gap in the floorboards where some of the central heating pipes came through. We blocked the hole with a rag as necessary and continued to use the shower.

Bad idea. The problem got worse.

Because of the weird construction of the shower cubicle (recessed backwards over the stairwell, with the cubicle some ~2ft in the air and complete with badly constructed step) I had to start dismantling parts of the bathroom to try and see where the problem lay:

partly dismantled shower cubicle and step

But the more I dismantled, the more obvious the extent of the leak became. There was extensive water damage to the vinyl flooring, the chipboard underneath (which appears to be standard loft boarding instead of the water resistant stuff they recommend for use in bathrooms) and the framework that the shower sat on:

water damage to bathroom flooring

rotten floorboards in bathroom

The problem was obviously a long-standing one, as the joists that support the floorboards underneath all this are completely rotten have some water damage, but it’s not as bad as we first thought – woohoo! One step in the wrong place and the floor sinks by several centimetres under your feet. It’s probably nothing short of a miracle that the ceiling hadn’t come through.

Still, when life hands you lemons, the only thing you can do is make lemonade. I’ve come to terms with our house purchase and am practicising being stoic about the work involved to put it right (how am I doing?!) It’s an opportunity to turn the room into something more useful to our wants and needs.

For example, the old bathroom had obviously been designed for short people, with a small bath along the narrowest wall:

original bathroom floorplan

However, when you’re 5 foot 8 inches (10 feet tall in Gaz’s case… something like that) tiny baths are entirely useless, so we’re using the opportunity to refit an ‘extra long’ shower bath. This means we can keep the actual shower unit exactly where it is, and still fit a nice bath in the room.

Combined shower/baths aren’t for everyone, but prior to this house it’s all I’ve ever had so it doesn’t feel like a hardship. The new floorplan should then hopefully look a bit like this (with the shower over the left side of the bath):

updated bathroom floorplan

We’re keeping the same style of wall tiles (‘metro’, which seem to be everywhere) in the hope that we can then replace fewer to keep costs down, as well as re-using the same sink, under-sink cupboard and taps etc — all being well. That should leave us in a better position for our next project at the end of the year (ooooh~)

So… the plumber is upstairs removing rotten wood and damaged tiles as I type. If you could cross your fingers that he doesn’t discover another layer of issues that we have to deal with before the above can be completed, that’d be great. And hopefully my next post will be a glorious ‘after’!

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

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