Building Work (Week 3) – Steels and an Open Plan Bathroom

The builders started attacking on multiple fronts at the same time this week – the extension, the hall and the bathroom – I’ll go through them one by one.


These little metal strips appeared on the side of the brickwork – I think they are to bind the old and new brickwork together.  The extension will have a brick outer wall and a blockwork inner wall.  I originally asked for the brickwork on the outer wall to be ‘toothed in’ but as the original bricks are imperial this caused a whole world of unforeseen (to me) consequences.  One factor was cost, the imperial bricks were £1.05 each rather than about 22p for a metric brick. It’s not really possible to just use metric bricks with a bigger mortar joint (as the internet suggested) because then the courses take longer to dry so they can’t get as many done in a day but the main problem is, as the blockwork used for the inner wall is metric, you have to have mortar joint line up to put the wall ties in.  You could have an inner and outer leaf of imperial bricks (if you can afford it) but they you have the problem of the insulation also being metric! Needless to say, when all this was explained to me, I agreed to go with metric bricks and a joint down the front of the house.

Metal ties brickwork

At the back – there will be bi-fold doors to the right of this pillar, so they’ve just neatened it up.  Looks good doesn’t it? I like bricks…

Brick end pillar

Steels went in next, by the time I got home from work it was already dark (and the next morning the brickies were working on it) – I think here they’ve replaced the bricks on the inner wall.

Steel RSJs in place

And now they’ve done the outer.  I’m not sure why the needles (which apparently is what the mini steel beams are called) are still there – while it dries perhaps.

Brickwork above steel RSJ


The old door wall between the dining room and the hall has been blocked up.  A new doorway opened up and that old backdoor got put to its third use!

Doorway moved

This is a photo of what it used to look like inside the hall.

original hall

And this is a photo of what it looks like now – the coat closet and porch have gone.

Opened up hall

From inside the living room.  It feels huge now – the builders reckon I should forget the little WC and leave it as it is!

Opened up hall


The door frames were removed from the bathroom and toilet.

toilet and bathroom

The following day the wall came down!  It’s a shame open plan bathrooms aren’t really en vogue….

Open Plan Bathroom

I made a couple of animated gifs showing the progress / destruction to date – because who doesn’t love an animated gif?

Downstairs – Weeks 1 to 3

Downstairs - Weeks 1 to 3

Upstairs – Weeks 1 to 3

(except it all happened in week 3)
Upstairs Weeks 1 to 3

April Showers

It’s been a while since I’ve posted – partly because my webhost made some changes and consequently I couldn’t upload any images but also because I’ve not really achieved much which warrants a post. I’ve been busy trying to get the plans ready for submission but when you’re dealing with so many different civil servants it all drags out a bit – nearly there though, hopefully…

Anyway – I thought I’d post all my various deliberations regarding the shower.

This is my bathroom at the moment:

existing bathroom

I’d like to knock down the wall separating the toilet and the bathroom and remove the airing cupboard and put a lintel in the wall between the toilet and the airing cupboard / bedroom so I can have a separate shower. N.B. that wall is load-bearing.

The width which the airing cupboard will give me is only 660mm so I will need to get a bit more from somewhere to make the shower wide enough. I will need to take some space from the bedroom to make it long enough, so I’m not very keen on taking width from the bedroom as well (it would probably mean I’d have to move the door too – ugh) – so it will have to jut out into the bathroom somehow.

I came up with three options (to start with):

1) A 760mm square shower which juts out 100mm. There’d be three walls tiled and a glass door.

760 square

I think visually it would look “out” of the bathroom so wouldn’t feel cramped but I’m a little worried about knee space around the toilet.  My designer said “760 square might be fine for you but it’d be far too small for me” – and he’s not exactly butch. Dad (who is decidedly more rotund) has a 760×760 shower and has no problem with it but I’m worried that it would feel small too most people with more modern tastes.

2) Perhaps a 900×900 quadrant might work better.

900 quadrant

Having held a tape measure out though I think a 900mm seems rather excessive. I’m also worried that it will make the bathroom feel really cramped (imagine a glass enclosure on top of that footprint)

3) A 760×900 quadrantoffset quadrant

I’m not sure a 760×900 quadrant shower would feel bigger on the inside than a 760×760 square and I think with the extra fuss of the enclosure making the room feel smaller it’s not ideal.

So then I went to B&Q to see if there were any enclosures of the above sizes which I could stand in to see how they felt.  They didn’t have many showers on display though, there were no offset quadrants and no 760×760 squares.  I had a go in each of the ones there and this is what I thought:

  • 800×800 square – felt about the size of the shower I currently use in my Dad’s house (I actually think that’s a 740 square) – it’s small but not uncomfortably so.
  • 800×800 quadrant – did feel too cramped even for me
  • 900×900 quadrant – noticeably larger than the others but didn’t feel spacious

Then I noticed something weird – although the sizes were given as I’ve described above none of the shower enclosures went anywhere near the edge of the trays. I borrowed the sales assistant’s tape measure and discovered all the 800×800 trays had 760×760 enclosures.

Like this:


Mad isn’t it? So a 760×760 tray in an alcove would be pretty much the same size as a ‘standard’ (800×800) shower.

I went to a couple more bathroom showrooms to see if a curved enclosure which is partly set into an alcove was even possible – the consensus was basically ‘no’.  Therefore a 760×760 square (option 1) looks like a my only viable choice.

Next, I set about trying to convince myself there was enough knee room.  I did wonder if the protruding part could be made out of glass rather than a stud wall to reduce the space used – but again, the salesmen weren’t convinced.  I considered switching the basin and the toilet (non-starter because of the pipes being on the front wall and it’s a conservation area etc) or a corner toilet (ugh).

So basically, I’m just going to have to go for it – if it feels too snug on installation day – I’m going to have to move it 100mm towards the basin – seems you can do that with one of these offset pipes.

Unless anyone else has any genius ideas?

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men…

I’ve posted the original floor plans already, this about what I plan to do…. maybe.

proposed downstairs

  • I’ve reconfigured the hall to put in a downstairs WC – there is a decent amount of space below the floor and a manhole right outside the front door so I think this location should be ok.
  • Sadly I’ve lost the vestibule so I’ll have to get a door with a high energy rating and have parcels delivered to Dad’s or work.
  • I’ve moved the door into the extension between the (current) vestibule and the kitchen – unfortunately that wall is load bearing (it holds up the purlin in the roof) so that might be tricky.
  • I’ve made the extension fully openplan – so will need one massive steel.  I tried just about every configuration to keep part of the wall but none of them really worked.
  • The back of the house is south facing so I wanted to keep the kitchen on north wall.
  • As there is no downstairs shower room I’ve gone for a combi boiler and put it pretty much where the mains pipe come in, between the kitchen and as close as possible to the upstairs bathroom and new WC.
  • I can’t have bi-fold doors all the way along the back as that would be a beam on top of a beam but I’m hopefully going to have the extension as light as possible – probably with some skylights in the lean-to roof.
  • Of course I’ve put in a ridiculously large dining table and sofas but as only the kitchen is fixed there lots of scope to move stuff around.


proposed upstairs

  • No more wall between the toilet and the bathroom.
  • The hot water cylinder will be removed as I’m having a combi (and a new one wouldn’t have fit in that cupboard anyway).  In the space where the cylinder was (and a bit more borrowed from the little bedroom) I’ve put a shower but as that wall is load bearing (it holds up the purlin) it will need a lintel (yes, that’s the same load bearing wall I’ve put a lintel in downstairs as well –  eek!).


proposed footprint

  •  A driveway between the tree and the oil tank (that involves putting an opening in the stone wall in a conservation area, getting approval from highways and protecting the tree roots for forestry).
  • A new shed 🙂
  • Oh, that bullet hole at the top is a firepit – I’d forgotten I’d put that there.

Anyway, this is where I got to on my own but as much as I love plans I realise I need to get a pro on the case.