Thursday, October 16, 2008

Removing the wall

With sections of the dividing wall removed you can see that the ceiling is of a block and beam construction. 

This exposed section allows you to see the orientation of the beams and whether or not they present an obstruction to the cable run for ceiling mounted lights. 

The damage to the ceiling evident in the photograph also meant that plaster work would have to be repaired to unify the ceiling in the combined rooms.

Tile removal

The wall construction is of a waffle style of brick tile, easy to cut with a trowel whilst laying them, and allowing wires to be fed through the chambers making up the waffle. A strong render was applied over the brick tile before the ceramic tile was applied using a ‘dot and dab’ technique. 

If you look at the pattern of tile adhesive marks on the cleared section of wall, you will see that the material has been applied as a dot in each corner and a dab in the centre very much like the pattern on a playing card such as the 5 of spades.  So if you are faced with the removal of a single tile to effect a repair you should follow this procedure.

  • Cut through the grout lines around the tile.
  • Strike the tile to be removed at the mid points on each side.
  • Remove the broken pieces of tile.
  • Use a small chisel to remove the dab of adhesive in the centre.
  • Now remove the dots at each corner carefully avoiding damage to the surrounding tiles.
  • Brush out the debris from the void where the tile was removed and ensure the floor / wall is level.
  • Fix the new tile using dot and dab method.
  • Grout the joints.
  • Admire your handy work.

Los tubos

The presence of pipe work ‘los tubos’, just beneath the tiled surfaces confirmed that a toilet and bathroom suite of some sort had originally occupied this space. 

Our design meant that the toilet would be relocated to the far end of the new bathroom; though the relatively easy access afforded by the under build would allow us to connect to the original water and soil pipes. That would save some time and a little money.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A different perspective

The dividing wall between the old pantry and the utility room presented us with two possibilities, by retaining the wall we could site a W.C. in the pantry; and place a shower cubicle against the other side of that wall and a wash basin between the shower and the window, separate rooms An alternative layout was to demolish the diving wall and brick up the door of the pantry creating one larger room which would provide enough space to put in a full bath and shower. We toured the DIY outlets measuring the units on display as well as sourcing the materials, and decided that we would take the single room approach to installing the bathroom. 

Now it was time for demolition to begin, we were fairly certain that the dividing wall between the two rooms was non-supporting. We had opted to employ the same firm that installed the heating and other bathroom suites and they confirmed that the wall was a non-supporting structure and could be removed. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


When we returned to the thoughts of updating the utility and pantry we began by measuring up the spaces. It was in the process of drawing a scale plan that we had examined evidence of pipe work concealed in the walls and floors of the two adjacent rooms. 

It became quite evident when we looked into the void which is the under-build of the house; that the waste and water supply pipes were still in position from what had been a ground floor toilet in the space where the pantry was presently located. There was also a water supply and drain in the utility room which had been utilised by us for the washing machine and dishwasher.

 A ground floor toilet was an obvious improvement on the current layout in our eyes; even better a ground floor bathroom was now a possibility. It had potential as they say. 

Another fine mess

As a temporary fix we decided to clean up the old utility room by painting the tiles white. Carol, having watched far too many ‘television make over shows’, was eager to take responsibility for the painting task. She also decided that she should paint the pantry which was almost as badly decorated as the utility room. The chosen paint contained a toxic mix of paint and glue, and the fumes it gave off badly affected both of our respiratory systems. The result of this ‘makeover’ was that we had a clean looking if still shabby pantry and utility room. It was obvious that new shelves and storage units would be a waste of money if we didn’t change the tiles. 

We would live with the reality of what we had for the time being; though that sense of acceptance of our situation was tested, when I stored a tin of black paint in a box on the top shelf of the pantry, only for the paint to spill and form a huge black stain on the newly painted walls. Design feature it wasn’t

Monday, October 06, 2008

That was then....

Only four years ago large retail DIY stores were unknown around here, recently our choice has been expanded. In those earlier days there were many ‘designer’ or ‘boutique’ style suppliers of bathroom and kitchen fittings, keen prices however were much rarer.

It was whilst pricing materials for one our earliest projects that I set out on a quest to find sanitary ware and shower fittings. I had already selected the Roca Giralda model toilet I wanted from a brochure and knew that it would be widely available. The shower mixer I wanted was not so common, that was a ‘Grohe’ mixer unit with a thermostat control and one of their higher priced models.

On entering one particular establishment the guy on the first counter took me to a display of the items I wanted to purchase, none were priced. Quite reasonably I thought, I asked Counter Guy for the price of the unlabelled products and which, quite unreasonably I thought, he was unable to tell me. Instead he instructed me I should go to a first floor office and speak to a Technician. Counter man placed the products back on the shelf and pointed me towards an industrial style stairway which allowed me to climb to Technician world. The Technician operated a computer and had a catalogue of products with their specifications. Not particularly technical I thought but maybe I was just nit picking. El Technico printed off an electronic version of the catalogue pages he referred too, and then used his yellow highlighter to highlight the product price including a 25% discount. This I considered was only marginally more technical, though he in fairness seemed quite pleased with his own work. Having then agreed a price for two of the ‘Grohe’ shower mixers, I pulled out my wallet to pay them, but I was again thwarted in my quest because El Technico was unable to take payment for them. Instead I was directed to Cashier world in an office down the corridor. If you are still with me you will not be surprised to read that La Chica – Cashier Girl could not accept credit card payment so my remaining cash was handed over, in return for a receipt which I had to take back to El Technico who in turn sanctioned Counterman, down in the warehouse below, to supply me with my goods.

Now we have modern retail units with longer opening hours, extensive displays, transparent pricing and self selection of merchandise, and far greater customer choice. I know where I’ll be shopping.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Somebody should do something!

If there was one particular room in this house which cried out for attention it was the so called “Utility room”. Our or rather their Utility room was located on the ground floor of the house and it was adjacent to the kitchen on one side and a small walk in pantry on the other side; though with so many recent demands on our budget it had slipped down the list of our priorities. Decoration in the utility room was bizarre. Though neatly tiled, the walls of the room was displaying what can only be described as the odds and sods of left-over, blue coloured or patterned tiles from the previous owners of the properties many projects of long gone days. In the corner of the room was a precast concrete sink with an integral washboard.

 After expressing astonishment at our Gaudi-esc tile patterns, our kitchen supplier had told us that the sinks were an old favourite of Spanish ladies; and that even younger people were installing them in their properties whenever they had space. Personally I think that was just one of many points he stretched, others included the timetable for the kitchen installation and an estimation of when the small unfinished details would be completed. Still we persevered and alls well that ends well. So we decided not to break the sink, it would be useful in the garden or stable area we thought, it was after all big enough to bathe a small cow in. 

 The ‘Paleters’ (builders) who had installed the steel frames required for the double glazed windows, were absolutely delighted when I press-ganged them into helping me carry the ‘Spanish ladies favourite’ from the house to the stable