Room Addition & Plumbing

We got the call to do the foundation and rough plumbing on this room addition. The first thing we noticed was that the designer (I like to refer to him as “Amateur Hour Ralph”) showed a drop in the floor elevation for the room addition. A drop of 12″ so the room addition could have a more custom 9′ ceiling height vs the 8′ ceilings in the existing house. Sounds cool enough, however two problems; one is that would put the finish floor 6″ below grade, and two is that the ADA ramp into the room would have to pretty much go through the entire room (really messing up the floor space). It was really quite a terrible design for the situation because it was being built for an elderly person who could barely walk and the whole house was getting setup ADA. So, why in the world would you add long ramps through rooms around the house when you could just keep all the floors level with each other? Not only was it silly to build multi-level floors for an elderly ADA home, but there was also no consideration to waterproofing for the below grade floor. No concrete stem walls shown or anything of the sort. Just 2″x4″ studs going down into the dirt. Just ignorant. Anyway, we immediately brought it to the owner and general contractor’s attention and we redesigned the foundation to keep the house floors all level with each other. We also redesigned the floor plan (wall layout) and added a pantry and mini-office with the space saved from where “Amateur Hour” had shown the ramps. Do I sound condescending? Yes I do. haha But, seriously, we just hate seeing these types of things; people having their money wasted on bad designs, it’s sad.




There were some massive footings shown underneath the existing house for us to put in:


We wondered why? Later when we came back to do the patio concrete we found out why. They were there to support a 12″x18″ glulam beam! Why is that so mind blowing? Because it is a basic little 1400 sq. ft. home with no big spans. What “Amateur Hour Ralph” and his engineer had come up with for the 5′ extension off the living room is to install this massive beam running down the length. They calc’d that out instead of running a 4″x8″ ($10 header) the short way. Pure insanity and thousands of dollars wasted! Truly sad. The plans showed the entire 18″ high beam under the ceiling joists, but somebody (the contractor, framer, or inspector) noticed that would bring the beam height down to less than 6’6″. So, at least they did push the beam up a bit and the bottom is at 7′. Still a totally unnecessary massive beam in the middle of the room.


Amateur Hour Ralph and his engineer didn’t stop there, the simple little room addition was designed with crickets all over; what a mess:



If we had been asked to frame the additions we would have submitted a re-design to the owner and contractor. Giving them the option to save thousands and at the same time end up with a nicer result. We really try to avoid mickey mouse work. We see so much of it. Seems like workers will just do anything and then say, “it is what it is”.  No, it’s what you made it, that’s what it is. 😉

So, here are some shots of the patio concrete:








Back when I first crawled under the house to put in the glulam footings I noticed a sewer leak:



Some “big time” bathroom remodelers had put in a plastic tile liner over the existing tile for $7000. They put in a plastic shower pan, as well as a new toilet. This leak was under their toilet plumbing patch:


They had also done a shower drain patch with the new plastic shower pan. Notice how they ran the 2″ shower drain into a 1-1/2″ line using a bell reducer:


I showed the owner and contractor pictures of the problems. Later, after the contractor’s room addition project was complete he called me about talking to the owner about fixing the plumbing. I went out and we found out she had paid $12,000 for a liner installed through the short main sewer line from the house to the street. We could have replaced that with a new line for a small fraction of that cost. We did replace all of the sewer lines under the house (a much bigger job than the one, easy to get at, main line) for a fraction of that cost:

room-add-concreteNplumb_17  room-add-concreteNplumb_18  room-add-concreteNplumb_16  room-add-concreteNplumb_15

The owner then asked us to re-pipe the water lines; replacing the galvanized with copper; which we did. Here’s a shot under the kitchen sink, if it’s left up to me I’ll generally use a ball valve instead of an angle stop under a sink. I really can’t see why they’re not all done that way:


She told us she’d like to replace the badly cracked existing driveway with a new colored and stamped driveway. Here it is a week after we installed it. After one month the color even’d out and we put a sealer on it:



She had a very narrow apron so we sawcut it wider before pouring and placing a new apron:


She then asked us to replace a Formica top in the new addition with a granite top:


And, to throw some tile up around the ADA tub:


And, we showed her how much nicer it looks to remove the “four side drywall wrap” on the new windows; replacing it with a wood inner frame, wood sill, and wood casings. She told us she’d let us know about doing this to the rest of the windows in the house, but ended up moving out of state to be by family; after going through all this remodeling.



She also had us replace the vanity & top in her other bathroom:


Most of these jobs were small, but she was really sweet and we just wanted to take care of her.