Remodeling a Bath in a Tight Squeeze: Part 1

Mark Clement, practical contractor for The Old House Web and host of My Fix It Up Life radio show, shows you what he's up against while trying to remodel a tiny bathroom in an old house. The inherent problems of dealing with a room this small--and installing a new bath, toilet, and sink--are more than you'd expect at first glance.

Before the middle of the 20th Century, many of these old houses never had a bathroom in them, period. The family used a privy or outhouse. Typically, the small bathroom found in these old houses were originally planned as a small storage room or child's bedroom.

Fortunately, this house had a bathroom included in the original design, but it's still way too small to comfortably host a renovation project. Unfortunately, the layout is a mess. The tub is too big; the toilet is in the wrong spot; and the sink is behind the wall in a room that's only eight by six.

Unique Challenges of Old House Bathroom Renovations

First, there are framing problems. Mark simply can't come in a chop up the floor and bust out the joists to begin the renovation. The room is so small that it makes demolition, reigning in dust, bringing in a new drywall, and installing a larger tub problematic. The original toilet was situated in its corner to be near the bump-out, with its vent stack going up and drain stack going down. The new toilet must be placed where the homeowner wants it.

It will all take skill and a lot of planning. And that means Mark will need to get a permit, which is a good thing.

Remember: just because your space is small, it doesn't automatically mean the problems in renovating it occur on a small scale.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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