Refurbishment Case Study – Ensuite makeover, creating a Wet Room

Finished wetroom

Project details

  • Developer – Managed project
  • Property detail – Residential
  • Project detail – Conversion of En-Suite into a Wet Room
  • Location – Hertfordshire
  • Duration – 6 Weeks


Here are the details for a wetroom we have just completed. The old ensuite was in need of a makeover. The shower cubicle was falling apart and there was water ingress between the tile and the dry lining causing mould issues. The thermostatic shower valve had started to give up the ghost and the shower head had split both because of calcium build up and corrosion.

View of old Ensuite from Basin

View of old Ensuite from doorway

View of old Ensuite from WC

Stage 1 – Demolish old Ensuite

The initial part of the project was to demolish the old shower cubicle and remove all the of other sanitary ware. Some tiles were chipped-off to allow the tiled dry lining to be cut away. We wanted to save as much of the dry lining as possible (where it had not been subject to any attack by mould). The water was turned off and the feed pipes into the sink and toilet were cut. The pipes were also capped and taped up to the waste outlets, once the sanitary ware was removed. A scraper hammered in behind the coving allowed it to be prized away from the ceiling without too much damage.

Old shower stripped out

Basin and drylining stripped out

Having pulled the carpet up, a square was cut out of the floor – from joist to joist oncentres in front of the radiator – using a circular saw set to the depth of the floorboards. This allowed access to the plastic 10mm microbore inlet and outlet pipes for the radiator. Having turned off the heating to let the pipes cool down, they were then frozen using an Arctic Spray pipe freezing kit. These pipes were then cut and capped off. The radiator was then removed and tidied-up with ‘dot and dab’ between the dry lining andthermolite blocks – ready to cut the channels for 15mm chrome pipes accommodating the new towel radiator.

Some remedial work was still required on the noggins, which were slapped in by the original builders using one nail bent (and only half way in most cases). Also, a lot of the floorboard screws they had put in had missed the composite joists completely – no wonder the floor used to creak a lot!

Old Radiator stripped out

Sink and radiator preparation

Channels were cut in the Thermolite blocks to enclose the radiator pipes. Battening was then screwed into the blockwork to take the radiator supports and the new dry lining which was applied, taped and filled.

Plastering and drylining installed for radiator area

The hot and cold pipes and the waste pipe were re-routed through the joist using a hole cutter. John Guest Braided 15mm flexible push fit hoses were run-off the old copper pipe and into a plastic pipe with push fit elbows into plastic and out through the wall. The pipes were run up the stud wall using holes cut through the stud wall bottom plate to accommodate them. The waste was run in 32mm solvent weld. The old holes for the pipes were filled and the was floor strengthened by adding ‘glued and screwed’ noggins around the floorboards that were cut. Battening was added to the inside of the stud wall with threaded inserts screwed into the batten. Threaded studs were also screwed into the inserts ready to take the plinth hanging off the wall to carry the glass sink bowl.

New pipes installed for Basin

WC and Shower pipes

A circular saw was used to cut the floor to allow access to the supply pipes for the shower, and to create the opening for the deck former. Battening was added for securing the pipework and to allow the Pioneer twin Concealed thermostatic shower valve to be fixed securely. The existing hot and cold pipes have been cut off below the floor and re-routed in John Guest push-fit and plastic up to the shower valve. Double check valves (Non-return valves) were inserted to prevent crossflow. The valves chosen were rated to 65 degrees Celsius – normal temperature for a hot water tap in the UK is between 45 and 50 °C,  though it can be higher if you wish.

Shower valve and pipework installed

The wall plate elbow for the shower head was then fixed to battening. Some strengthening was also added behind the 15mm plasterboard, in order to allow the shower arm cover plate to be tightened when the shower arm was permanently fitted. This was because there was no room for the shower arm back plate nut to be used in between the wall plate elbow and the dry lining. We knew this wouldn’t be an issue, as the 15mm plasterboard and the strengthening plate we were adding later, would be more than adequate to support the shower head. The arm and head were temporarily fitted, with around 15 turns of PTFE tape on the shower arm thread into the wall-plate elbow, allowing the pipework to be tested and the adjustment of the thermostatic range of the shower valve.

Shower head temporarily fitted

The WC soil pipe was adjusted to repair a fault left over from the original builders where the pipe was under pressure. The cold water supply pipe was also moved to allow placement of the new WC.

New hole cut in floor for soil pipe

The dry lining for the sink wall was cut to size with holes inserted for the supply pipes, waste and support studs. Everything was screwed to the wall studs.

Drylining installed for basin area

Shower and waste trap

The shower waste has been installed. The original solvent weld waste was cut back to the 50mm pipe which has a ‘reducer’ down to 40mm. This was then teed off into the shower trap and then continued on via a ‘reducer’ to the sink in 32mm pipe, maintaining the fall back to the 50mm pipe.

Channel drain and pipework installed

Shower deck construction

The shower deck needed to fall towards the Acco linear channel drain at something like 6mm per metre. Pre-formed decks such as Impey and Milano etc. are available to create a ready made shower deck. Pre-formed decks simply slot into a cutout in the floorboards on ply inserts across the joists. On this occasion, the homeowner opted to make their own deck using tapered noggins, plywood, and Hardiebacker board. The fall on the deck constructed is a little higher and was achieved by inserting tapered noggins across the joists giving the fall angle required. As the house was been built using composite joists, modified joist hangers were used to get a good fix for the noggins. The noggins were screwed and glued, for ‘belt and braces’, using Evo-Stik Resin W Polyurethane Wood Adhesive which sets in around five minutes – it’s very strong, but don’t get the stuff on your skin and use in a well-ventilated area as it contains isocyanates. Extra strengthening was also added around the exterior deck area.

The compression fit waste for the drain was connected to a 40mm solvent weld pipe before putting the final ply infill piece down.

The Aco linear channel drain is 700mm long and allows a flat deck to fall into the drain, facilitating the use of large format tiles on the deck surface, as opposed to centre drains, which either use mosaic tiles or angle cut large tiles. 12mm Hardiebacker board was placed over the noggins to create the deck. The noggins were placed at 200mm centres, with 15mm marine ply set in between on battens glued and screwed to the noggins. The noggins were only tapered up to the linear channel drain. From the drain onwards the noggins were level back to the joist. A piece of Hardiebacker was been cut to size with a cutout for the drain and placed at the back. The drain was then screwed into the Hardiebacker. 2 peices of Hardiebacker used to create the fall were glued to the noggins and ply using Bal rapidset flexible and screwed at 300mm intervals using Hardiebacker screws. To cut the Hardiebacker, a P3 mask was used and a Malco Siding Shear attachment for an electric drill which can be found on Amazon…s_sce_dp_1. These prevent excessive dust being created when cutting the boards which contains silicates.

Adhesive was run around the edge of the drain and over the drain screw heads, as well as in-between the Hardiebacker boards, where they join and butt up to the floorboards.

Shower deck laid with hardiebacker board

Stud wall and towel radiator

A stud wall was built to separate the shower and the toilet. The stud wall was chosen because the house is likely to be let and a large glass screen would be impractical, not just because of the safety aspect, but because the water is exceptionally hard and calcifies glass surfaces on contact. A shelf was been built into the stud wall to keep shampoo bottles etc. The wall was built out of 44mm x 75mm studding and dry walled in 15mm acoustic plasterboard, like the rest of the wet room. The remaining dry-wall was put up around the room.

Shower drylined and primed with Mapei primer

Tiling around the towel radiator was completed so the radiator could be fixed into position, plumbed in, and tested before the floor was over-boarded and tiled. Fernox LS-X was used when making the compression joints for the Lock Valve and Radiator Valve, with the chrome pipe and for the threaded joints into the radiator itself. This gives the joints the best chance if the radiator is knocked, or if the joints don’t quite seal properly. The chrome was removed from the pipe where it goes into a 90 degree push-fit elbow. This process was because the chrome was too hard for the teeth of the pushfit joints to bite into, and is likely to pop off, if not removed to reveal the softer copper underneath.

Towel radiator installed


The whole room was then over-boarded with Hardiebacker board and the walls partly tiled. The shower area was tanked using the Mapei wetroom kit. This involves first applying a coat of the Primer G after making sure any gaps are filled, and then applying a coat of the Mapei WPS gum. The joints were then taped with Mapei tape – internal and external corners as well as the pipe collors over any pipes, by applying another coat of the gum. As recommended, 24 hours were then left before tiling.

Shower deck and walls tanked

Tiling walls and floors

The floor was tiled with a black slate effect ceramic tile from using Bal Rapidset Flexible. At this stage, the walls have nearly been fully tiled with a stone effect tile from using a couple of bags of adhesive (Mapei Keraquick, leftover from another property). The Keraquick was mixed with Latex Plus, not water. There is a mozaic being run through the middle of the tiles which was sourced from Wickes.

Finished floor from doorway

Down lights and tiling

The ceiling was skimmed and painted with a moisture resistant paint and four down lights were installed. The tiles were grouted with epoxy grout in an Ivory colour. The Granfix epoxy grout was supplied by Horncastle Tiles Ltd and was a two part epoxy. The pot life of the grout, when mixed is about 30 minutes. The tiles were masked with tape to limit the amount of epoxy that had to be removed once applied with a finishing knife. Epoxy grout has been used to limit maintenance and maximize water resistance.

Downlights installed

Finished floor from basin

Epoxy grouting wall tiles

Installing the toilet and the sink

The toilet (Ceramica Genoa Close Coupled Toilet) which was sourced from and the sink (Savona Glass Wall Mounted Basin) which was sourced from have now been installed. The non-standard 30mm chrome waste pipe on the sink was fitted to the 32mm plastic waste pipe in the wall with some Fernox LSX around the joint. Some caulking was also put over the top to hold the chrome pipe collar in place, where the pipe goes into the wall.

WC Installed

Basin installed

Finished wetroom

The epoxy grout has now been applied. The grout used was a two part epoxy in Ivory made by Granfix and supplied by Horncastle Tiles Using epoxy means the grout needs less maintenance over a longer period of time than conventional grout.

The grout is more workable when stored and mixed at room temperature with a pot open time of about 30 minutes – although, it starts to get a slight rubber-like texture at around 20 minutes. Always mask the tiles with masking tape when applying epoxy. This involves a lot of masking tape, but means that larger areas can be grouted with one mix. The epoxy is worked well into the gaps and then once the masking tape is removed, is wiped over with emulsifying pads and rinsed in warm soapy water. Work on all the vertical lines first and then the horizontals. Because the epoxy sets very hard and has very strong adherence, use it to seal the floor and wall joints around the shower area. For the rest of the floor and wall joints use Mapei’s Mapesil in Vanilla.

To clean and protect the tiles, the two products used were from LTP called Grimex and Glaze Protector which you can source from Tile Giant

Finished wetroom from doorway

Finished wetroom from basin

Finished wetroom from WC

Landscaping Case Study – Planting Trees in Back Garden

New trees two years on

Just finished a project to plant four Extra-Heavy Standard trees to act as a screen in a back garden.

The trees chosen to plant were 2 Red Rob (Photinia) and 2 Holme Oaks (Quercus Ilex). Both these types of trees are evergreen to give screening all year round. The trees were supplied in containers – the Oaks in 600mm diameter pots and the Red Robins in 900mm diameter pots.

Red Robin in containers on Patio

Quercus Ilex in containers on Patio

Trees on patio surounded by trugs of dug-out earth

The tree pit was dug to twice the diameter of the containers and the sides and bottom well worked with a fork. A small mound was made at the bottom sprinkled with Mycorrhizal Fungi.The mound was made up of 75% soil taken from the original spoil of the tree pit and 25% Levington Tree and Shrub compost.

First hole dug

Prepared tree pit with Mycorrhizal Fungi

The root ball of the tree was winched into position on the mound so the top of the root ball was level with the top of the tree pit. The hole was then back-filled with the rest of the 75% soil / 25% compost mixture with a small amount of Fish Blood and Bone.

Winching the containers up the garden into the tree pits

Winch used to drag trees up garden

Frst Red Robin planted

First Quercus Ilex planted into newly dug tree-pit

To finish, some bark chippings were sprinkled over the root ball and rest of the back filled tree pit. The tree was well watered in and then the root ball and surrounding area were moderately watered every few days since. The 2 Ilex have been lightly staked as very high winds have been experienced since the trees were planted.

Newly planted trees from dining room window

Newly planted trees from bedroom window

Two years later, the trees are doing well and have put on a couple of feet. The screen they provide is very effective and I’m sure you’ll agree they look as beautiful as they are practical.

Trees two years on

DIY Case Study – Problem fitting Baumatic Ceramic Hob

Beaumatic hob installed

Just fitted a new Baumatic ceramic hob in a kitchen we were renovating. The fitting instructions give the cutout dimensions which do not take into account the screws sticking out from the side of the hob.

Here is our first attempt to drop the hob into the cutout made to the size specified in the Baumatic instructions. As you can see the screws in the front of the hob are preventing the hob from fully seating in the aperture.



Here is the cutout marked up for the extra cuts to allow for the screwheads. Note also that the instructions state the the air holes in the side of the hob should not be blocked which would be the case given the cutout dimensions supplied so we have marked some extra channels to allow for these.

This shows the cutouts after they have been made. We used a small router and chiseled out the ones which were inaccessible.

After coating the freshly cut composite of the countertop with some evo stick to seal and allowing to dry the hob now fits into the hole.

Refurbishment Case Study – Diary of a property renovator

Exterior rendering

Project details

  • Developer – Owner-managed project
  • Property Detail – Semi-Detached House
  • Location – Barnstaple
  • Duration – 4 Months

Day 1

When we arrived at the house after completion day we found that all the previous owners belongings were still inside so the first job was to clear it. We started this yesterday afternoon and got all the furniture, carpets cupboards etc into the lounge and garage ready for a skip to be delivered first thing today at 7:30am. Hopefully we will get most of it in the skip and then start taking the kitchen and bathroom suite apart and get the tiles off the walls. Here are some pictures taken before we started:





These pictures were taken while we were clearing the house. It took 3 skips in the end and we still have some rocks and overgrown bushes left in the front garden. We will also have to remove a ton or so of shingle and earth from the backgarden before we can grade it and turf it.






Now the house has been reduced to a bare shell we can start to plan out where things are going. The boiler was previously updated and moved to the small bedroom. We are going to move it back into the kitchen. The electrics are currently on one ring. We have started to re-wire into separate rings. Also the garage has been electrified at some time as a spur from the lounge feed and then spurred again for the lights which we will remove and run a sub-main with its own consumer unit and RCD (Residual Current Device). The fuseboard has no RCD and will be replaced with a new Consumer Unit with RCD’s and MCB’s (Miniature Circuit Breakers).

Here is a picture of the kitchen design that we have drawn up. We have had to place the units based around where certain items are or will be situated such as the boiler, soil pipe, and radiator. The kitchen is 3.1m in length and 2m wide.

Most of the channelling and knocking out for the twin and earth and back boxes has now been done in the kitchen. The garden has been completely cleared of rubbish and all the over grown bushes have been removed ready for grading.

This is the bathroom ripped out ready for the new plumbing and electrics t be put in before the tiling and bathroom suite is fitted.

Lounge now clear and ready for floor to be taken up and new electrics installed.

Here is the garden clearance well under way.


This is most (but not all!) of the rocks that were removed from the front garden.

These roots were all removed from the clay pipe storm drains (remnants of pipes in bottom left hand corner of photo) which had to be dug out and replaced.

Part of the new storm drains.


The front and back garden has been totally cleared and we have had a digger in to grade the ground before we add topsoil and turf. Also today we have the plasterers in doing all the ceilings and walls and a roofer to fix some broken broken tiles on the garage roof and to re-do the flashing.



Snow and ice stops everybody getting in on Friday, more snow on Saturday. Looks like we’ve shutdown for Xmas!


The carpenter managed to get in yesterday and installed the garage window frame that he had made up for us along with the door frame and door. The door frame came from Magnets and the door came from B&Q. It has double glazed panes which is a bit of overkill for the garage but it will match as we have ordered the same door for the living room back door.


The window company managed to get out of Torquay despite the well below zero conditions and fit the new PVCu windows today. Also we have started fitting the new skirting boards and architrave and treated the new wooden garage back door and window to protect them from the elements while we are away over the festive season.





Now we are back in full swing after the festive break. The carpenter is in in at the moment hanging the front door. Below are some pictures of the door being offered up on tapered wedges ready to be planed to size. Then there are some pictures of the rebate at the bottom of the door being chopped out with a router. Then finally the hinges and locks being scribed and chopped out with a chisel. It was dark by the time the door was hung so I’ll put some pictures up of the finished job today.







This week the carpenter has finished off the architrave and skirting. All the electrics are now wired so we have replaced the floor boards and made good where we had to chop boards out to run cables. The boiler has now been moved back into the kitchen and is now fully functional so everyone’s happy now that we have the heating on. We have started prepping the walls where conduit has been run and holes have been made etc ready for painting.

This week we have spent prepping and painting the walls in the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen has now been painted with a couple of coats of primer and four coats of Vinyl Matt Magnolia on the walls and Matt White on all the ceilings plus undercoat on all the skirtings and architrave.

The carpenter has completed the fitting of all the internal and external doors and door furniture. The three external doors have been treated with a clear wood stain and the internal doors have been primed with undercoat.

The outside decorating contractors have performed the first stage of their prep taking down all the unwanted fixtures like satellite dishes and aerials which are no longer used. These holes have then been filled up along with the old boiler pipe holes. They have painted the soffits, barge boards and front door frame and undercoated the up and over garage doors and made good where the new window and door was put in the garage. They will return to spray with anti-fungicidal treatment, smooth off any holes which have sunk in and re-bracket the guttering where the fixings have broken or been removed before giving all the render two coats of paint.

Yesterday we tiled and grouted the kitchen floor with a black slate tile.

The kitchen units have now been fitted all bar the wall units. The Kick boards (plynths) and some of the doors have yet to be fitted and the cut outs for the hob and sink in the counter-tops will be jig sawed out next week.

The bath has been set up and fixed to the floor and wall and a frame has been put round it ready for the plywood to take the tile. The floor has been tiled with the same slate tiles as the kitchen.

All the walls have been prepped and the bedrooms have been primed and painted with matt magnolia on the walls and matt white on the ceilings and the skirting boards and architrave glossed white.



The tiling in the kitchen is now complete and the cooker, hob, cooker hood and sink are in. The taps need to be fitted which needs some cutting around of the panel behind the sink unit. The thermostatic controller for the boiler can now be fitted along with the rest of the electrics in the kitchen. It just remains for the radiator to be painted and the walls finished off around the tiling and new taps fitted for the washing machine along with cutting the access holes in the wall panel. The pull handles also need to be fitted to the doors and drawers.

The bathroom just needs a couple of tiles where the hot and cold feeds and waste pipe extend out from under the bath but this cannot be done until the sink is in. Some remedial work, to allow the tiles to sit flat and perpendicular to the wall, needs to be performed around the window where the double glazing fitters cemented a bar which protrudes out beyond the aperture of the window.

Work has now been completed on the outside walls of the house. The guttering has been re-routed at the back of the house to accommodate the back garage door and a third coat of exterior paint has been applied on the render and second coat on the garage doors. The rest of the internal walls in the house are being prepped and painted and work has started in the garden to remove the old shared fence and replace with feathered edge.




The basin has been installed and plumbed in the bathroom with a splash-back matching the rest of the tile. The tiling has been finished around the sides of the bath and the water feed and waste pipes and the bath panel has been cut and fitted. Anti bacterial caulking has been applied around the bath (when filled with water) and the basin and around the ceiling. Remedial work has been carried out around the inside of the bathroom window. There is some making good to do for the grouting and around the walls and the shower head to fix up along with the shower screen, which will finish off the bathroom work, all slated for Tuesday of next week.

The finishing touches have been applied to the outside of the building fabric with just the turfing, fencing and threshold construction to complete.

Carpenter Tony Dumbarton has been on-site finishing off dry lining, door drip caps and skirting boards in the cupboards where brickwork had been exposed and pipe work had been re-routed.

The exterior render has been finished and also all the making good on the inside has been completed.


The bathroom is now finished. The kitchen is almost complete. Just waiting for the consumer unit to be moved which is scheduled for next Thursday. Then the last wall unit can go up.
Work is busy around the house painting the walls, skirtings and architraves. There is also activity outside removing an old boundary wall and concrete fence posts ready for the new fence and top soil to level the garden up.


Holes for the fence posts have been dug out, concrete gravel boards put down and the 6 foot feathered edge panels have been mounted in between the posts in the back garden. The first part of the back step has been constructed.

4 tonnes of top soil have gone down mostly in the back garden to level the ground and make sure the turf falls slightly away from the house. Then the turf has been laid and edged with plumb slate stone. Now we just have to keep it well watered for the next couple of weeks.





The house has now been carpeted through out in a lovely warm oatmeal carpet and adds the finishing touch to the interior.

The refurbishment works are now all complete and the property looks like a show home. Now we wait for the valuations from the estate agents.







Site alert – Possible development site near Keith, Banffshire

Barn at potential development site at Keith, Banffshire

Went to a possible development site today near Keith in Banffshire. The site consists of 3 plots. A farmhouse and 2 steadings. There is existing planning permission to convert to three 3 bedroom houses. The site also comes with 8 acres of arable land.

Barn at potential development site at Keith, Banffshire

Barn at potential development site at Keith, Banffshire

Looking out over land with barns at potential development site at Keith, Banffshire