DIY Diary

Is starting a complete DIY bathroom remodel foolhardy when you’re third baby is due in 3 weeks? Probably. But life got away from us since we discovered loose tiles—and a leak and ruined subfloor—in the very outdated bathroom we were already talking about updating.

Here’s how it’s gone so far.


Neil spent three evenings after work on demo. The idea to work on it after the kids went to bed quickly proved difficult, as the demo (and some of the construction) was way too loud. Their bedroom is right across the hall. Solution? See how far he can get before they get tired, keep them up late because it’s summer, and one night they slept in our downstairs guest room.

During this time the nursery, which was finally clean and ready to go, became the storage place for the toilet and tools. The attic access is also through the baby room closet, so that space is now full of loose insulation. No complaints, though. I want a new bathroom! If the room isn’t accessible before baby comes, I’ll grab the pack n play and stick it in our room. Seven-pound people just don’t need that much space.


The first weekend after demo, Neil put in 2 very looong days wrangling the plumbing and installing the new bathtub and shower. The water was off all day Saturday—he turned it back on at 10:30 pm and that was with a temporary fix to keep pipes from leaking just for the evening. I was filling up water jugs like a maniac because I drink at least a gallon and a half a day at this point.

One downside—if you can call it that—of having such a handy husband is that I have developed absolutely no skills in the DIY area. I’m not even allowed to paint, because I suck at it. I can find things and clean up so I tried to help in that area. But it’s pretty pathetic and even comical trying to do much of anything when you’re nine months pregnant.


The following week saw him installing the subfloor and drywall where it’d been cut for the shower and fixtures, and lots of mudding, sanding, mudding, and sanding. Then lots of priming and painting. We’ve had the A/C on way more than usual trying to dry out mud and paint as quickly as possible. But the bathroom has no windows in or near it and the fumes were getting to be too much, so we had to turn off the A/C and open the windows on a 94 degree afternoon.


The floor—vinyl tile—is going in as write this (at 10 p.m.). Once that’s done, the toilet is next! I’ve never been so excited about a toilet in my life. There’s still a lot more to do; I’m not hoping for finishing touches before the baby comes, but a toilet would be lovely.

Silver Linings

I’m very grateful that we have another bathroom in the basement, including a shower.  I’m also grateful for the expertise of Neil’s brother, and the helping hands of several friends. And while the ninth month of pregnancy wasn’t an ideal time to start this project, there are perks. I’m enjoying more A/C than I’d indulge myself in otherwise. School being out affords more flexibility in our morning and evening schedules, which is helpful when we’re down to one bathroom and sometimes dealing with late-evening noise. And the progress Neil has made is significant—it’s that much to do after the baby is here. Lastly, the bathroom is a nice distraction from “waiting for baby.” As I get more uncomfortable in the final weeks, I’d probably feel more antsy to get this kid out if I had a functional bathroom (and clean nursery) upstairs.

What DIY projects has your family attempted? What have been the ups and downs for you?

14 Responses to “DIY Diary”

  1. kddomingue says :

    The hubs and I have been DIYing since (almost) the day we were married….38 years ago. We’re still using the Craftsman skill saw that we bought 37 years ago. Our first DIY project was turning the coat closet in our 14 x 70 trailer into a pantry. We built a small, screened in porch. Then we moved the trailer and built a much larger porch. Then we bought a double wide home to put on the property and moved the porch from the front of the little trailer to the back of the “big house”. We just recently demolished the old porch and created a covered patio across the back of the house with a new raised porch at the back door. We used the pressure treated 2 x 6 and 2 x 8s from the old porch for the base of the new porch. We built a 12 x 24 outbuilding with help from our then nine year old son. We’ve reroofed the house. We’ve torn down walls, dropped ceilings, laid flooring, scraped almost 1800 square feet of kitty litter textured ceilings and patched, repaired and painted them, we completely gutted the master bath and closet and reconfigured the entire area, we’ve built a fireplace, we’ve built a built in bookcase that spans a 16 wide by 9 1/2 tall wall. We’ve built platform beds and bunk beds, cabinets and tables. We’ve done plumbing and electrical, added windows and doors to the exterior walls of the house, moved or eliminated interior walls…..And the list goes on. There’s not much we haven’t done. The upside? We got exactly what we wanted and are immensely proud that we did it ourselves. We couldn’t have afforded to do most of what we’ve done if we would have had to pay someone else to do it. Plus it’s a thing we enjoy doing together. The downside? It takes way, way more time than it would if we hired out professionals to do it. And, at 58 and 60, it’s getting to be a little harder than it used to be. The last bad storm we had did some damage to the roof. The hubs and I got up on the roof to survey the damage, thought about the month of weekends that it would take us to reroof it AGAIN and decided to hire the job out. Two days and $6000 later and we had a nice standing seam metal roof. Done! The only extra cost was some doggie valium for our 13 year old Labrador, lol!

    • Teresa Baker says :

      That’s so inspiring and great memories to have as a couple!! I want to do some remodeling but I’m not adept and my husband is but his health is not strong. I want to try my hand at what I can and enlist some younger friends. We will definetely hire out when it comes to the roof too. Love the metal roofs! I remember having one as a child listening to the rain.

    • kddomingue says :

      Oh! Enlisting young friends created a wonderful trade-off! Your young friends get to acquire how-to knowledge from someone with experience and the hands-on working experience with a mentor right there to help them along. Your husband gets to “do the thing” without undue physical exertion and gets to pass on what he knows to another generation. And you might find that you’re a bit more adept than you give yourself credit for as you work with your young friends. AND y’all get the “thing” that’s exactly what you wanted instead of settling for an off-the-shelf thing that isn’t quite right.

      The hubs and I have often laughed over the fact that some of our best design elements are the ones that were created to cover up a screw up that we made, lol! I’m not as adept as he is at building things. He says that I’m the one that can see things in my head and decide if they’ll work or not which he can’t do. He’s the one that can take my vision and turn it into plans on paper which I’m not good at. We work well as a team. We each know when to let the other one take the lead….he’s better at figuring out construction and I’m better at things that require attention to details (like tiling for example). He doesn’t know one end of a sewing machine from the other but can help with the heavy lifting and stapling when I’m reupholstering something. Nothing that we ever do is perfect but we sure take a lot of pride in the fact that we did it ourselves and did it together.

      Wishing you much luck with DIYing with your young friends….have fun with it!

    • Kalie says :

      I’m sure there will be projects we need to hire for as we get older. Getting help from friends is always a great idea if they’re up for it!

    • kddomingue says :

      At some point you simply have to decide to put pride and ego to one side and accept help or hire certain things out. You also need to consider how much time a thing will take. At 58 and 60, the hubs and I have more years behind us than in front of us. We weigh the value of our time against the money saved by doing it ourselves. We spent $16,000 a year ago to have the house reroofed, a 64 x 12 foot concrete patio poured, a patio cover built, a covered deck at the front door and gutters installed. Had we tried to all that ourselves….well, we’d still be working on it, lol! Instead, we got to do some camping, built a porch, built an office for my husband in a corner of his shop and worked on a couple of indoor projects in the house. We still do most things ourselves but we carefully weigh what it will cost us in time. 🙂

    • Kalie says :

      Wow, sounds like you and your husband are pro DIYers!

  2. Diana says :

    I can’t wait to see the after photos!

  3. Linda Sand says :

    We were replacing the only bathroom in our house when My husband had to go out of town for a week long conference. HE could take a shower anytime he wanted. Our daughter and I checked into a motel one night so WE could take a shower. Also, during the time we had to use a bucket to flush the toilet, my father and his second wife came to visit on their way through town. When I told Dad his timing was not good he assured me they knew how to flush using a bucket.

  4. David says :

    In the USA you can do your own plumbing but have to get it inspected
    by a licensed plumber after? That’s the way it’s done in canada

  5. Prudence Debtfree says :

    That photo of your daughter “helping” is great! It certainly says at least a thousand words. This is great for your kids to witness, and the fact that they are put to some inconvenience is also a good thing. You’re showing them that problems can be addressed head on – in a roll-you-shirt-sleeves-up kind of way. I know that if that had happened to us, there would be a fair amount of grumpiness happening. I get the impression you’re all withstanding this episode with good grace. Well done! And fingers crossed for toilet installation before baby #3’s birth.

    • Kalie says :

      I hadn’t thought at the benefits for the kids. I’m glad they’re seeing the DIY solution. Maybe because they’re young, they don’t seem to think twice about the inconvenience. My daughter always stops by the bathroom to compliment her daddy’s work!

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