Gutting One Bath to Build Two
A contractor shares ideas for managing complex design/build projects.
My favorite type of customer is a repeat customer because it typically means that we’ve had a positive experience working together and that we’ve already learned each other’s habits and idiosyncrasies. So when homeowners for whom I had already remodeled a powder room approached me about reconfiguring their large upstairs bathroom into two bathrooms, I jumped at the opportunity. Due to the complexity of the redesign, I recommended that an architect create floor plans for the new baths as well as plumbing and electrical plans. My interior designer, Rachel Grace — who also happens to be my wife — then worked with the homeowners to select and specify all of the fixtures, finishes, materials, and decor.
Even with qualified help, a project like this can be complex. And remodeling projects are always happy to throw you a curveball; you never know what you might find when you start opening up walls, floors, and ceilings. I would also need to hire and manage subcontractors for the plumbing, electrical, and tiling. And given that we were designing two baths that would sit right next to one another, they needed to be both aesthetically distinct and complementary.
The existing Jack-and-Jill bath, which served the kids’ bedroom as well as the guest bedroom, was worn and outdated. The floor plan was awkward and contained a ridiculous amount of wasted space. We couldn’t take any space from the adjacent bedrooms, but by annexing some space from the hall and relocating a few doors, I was sure we could make two baths fit.
I often find that there are differences between a designer’s perspective and a contractor’s perspective, so after receiving the initial plans from the architect, I had some minor tweaking to do. Some of these changes were aesthetic, some were out of necessity, and some were to reduce the budget. Fortunately, the homeowners trusted me enough to allow me to make some adjustments to the design without continuing to consult with the architect.
One change that we made to the design occurred after I gutted the space. When I removed the floor, I learned that there was a recessed light directly where the drain for the toilet in the front bathroom was planned. Rather than moving lights in the finished kitchen below, we chose to swap the vanity and toilet positions.
Tyler Grace is a Fine Homebuilding ambassador and the co-owner of TRG Home Concepts in Haddon Heights, N.J. (trghomeconcepts.com). Photos by Courtney Apple and others.