(or, Welcome to The Bathroom Renovation Death March, or, Plombieren Macht Frei.)

This is where things got bad. I was running out of time and the to-do list just kept getting bigger as I discovered step after intermediate step that I hadn’t planned for.

The plan was to finish up the framing, including framing in the hole where the old closet door was and building the stub wall to go at the foot of the tub, then to run the electrical back to the breaker panel, then tap into the existing feed lines and run PEX to the faucet, bath and toilet. Didn’t even come close.

First off, of course, is that I didn’t even get to the house until after 3pm, what with having to run around and pick up supplies, including my busted Craigslist Special circular saw from the repair shop way the hell up in Kirkland (about fifteen miles out of my way). Then I ate a sandwich and finally got to work about 4pm. I called the city and county and scheduled all the inspections for the following day. I was committed now.

Finishing the framing was the easy part — mostly. I filled in the doorway with 2x4s and cut a patch for the 2nd bedroom closet wall where we had to tear it out to get out the old galvanized tub vent pipe. Then my saw up and died — there was power all the way to the handle but no action when I pulled the trigger. Hundred bucks worth of dead plastic and metal. Dammit.

Luckily, I’d purchased a hand saw the day before to make a cut after Nate’s sawzall died, so I got to work manually cutting the studs for the stub wall and the floorboard patch. I think I finished the framing at about 7pm.

Then I turned to the electrical. Now, the whole original part of the house is run off knob and tube, even if there’s romex spliced into it to feed a lamp or whatever. There was a rat’s nest of K&T above the ceiling, so I turned off the power and climbed up the ladder with a flashlight to start figuring out what went where and what could be removed. A whole lot of clipping and wire-nutting later, all the lights and switches were disconnected and the exposed splices and stub ends were safely enclosed in nonmetallic boxes (that I’d bought on Nate’s advice). That was about 10pm.

Wiring the new circuits was complicated. I already knew the breaker panel was full up, and figured out the easiest, cheapest way to extend it. I’d discovered that the breaker panel had a 40-amp double pole breaker for the old electric water heater that wasn’t attached to anything (we have a gas water heater now). Earlier that afternoon, I’d bought a little 60-amp Siemens main lug panel with room for two full-size breakers, a 50-amp breaker for the old box, and a piece of 6-3 wire to connect them. So I pulled the 40-amp breaker, put in the 50-amp breaker, installed the Siemens box on a piece of plywood next to the main box, and ran the connecting wire. (All without ever disconnecting the main power, because Federal Pacific Stab-Lok breaker panels don’t have a main breaker. Jeezus!)

Then I drilled the remaining few holes in the bathroom for the wire (I’d got most of them while Nate was working), put in the boxes for the sconce lights, ran the wire inside the bathroom between the fixtures and the switches, and plotted out the route between the bathroom and the breaker panel. OOPS.

Guess what? Running the wire up and down the walls used up about forty feet of my hundred-foot roll, and I needed about 75 feet to get both circuits back to the panel. So I drilled the necessary holes in the joists and went ahead and ran one of the circuits.

At that point it was 4am and I was dying. We’d brought over a foam pad for Thekla to roll around on when we had her at the house, so I took all the gear out of my pockets and laid down for a three-hour nap.

I woke up freezing at 7am, geared back up, and headed to Home Depot for more wire. I got back about 8am and started running the wire for the second bathroom circuit. Jen arrived about 9am and got right to work on getting the carpet off the stairs, while I got all the ground wires connected together in all the switch and receptacle boxes.

That was it for the framing and electrical, so I got right to work on the PEX. Instead of running multiple parallel lines like you would for a manifold system (which is what I want eventually), I ran a single line and T-ed off it for each fixture. At that point the next step was to shut off the water to the house and cut the lines to tap into them. Unfortunately, the old corroded-together galvanized lines proved impossible for me to budge, so I was in a quandary because I needed to break them back to a fitting to attach an adapter.

At that point the plumbing inspector showed up.