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Make the ugly go away – part II

December 16, 2013

The new subfloor is installed and feels solid. I am a lot more comfortable about the pending tile installation with a solid base under my feet.

Over the last few weeks we finished up the rough carpentry and construction in order to hang the drywall, and make the necessary plaster repairs.

We ripped out the wall that used to be between the pantry and the fridge. As it turns out it housed electrical, plumbing and duct work.  We have done all of the demolition and rough carpentry ourselves, but decided to hire out the electrical and plumbing. The electrician moved the electrical into the exterior wall with no problem, but the plumbing was another issue.


You are not supposed to run plumbing in an exterior or unconditioned wall. Why? The pipes can freeze. If you have ever had this happen you know it is just awful to deal with. It seems to always occur during the night, most likely during a power outage, in the middle of a snow storm, and in an area of the house you can not easily access.

I have experienced burst pipes first hand. My first apartment out of college was in Colorado, and in the middle of the night, I heard what sounded like a roaring or churning river. I lived alone, so it was a scary sound to wake up to in the dark. I made it to the kitchen and stepped in icy cold water. The laundry room was just off of the kitchen and the pipes (which were in an exterior wall) burst and the water was slowly filling the kitchen. Luckily, I live in an apartment and I called the maintenance guy who told me where the water shut off was. The rest of the mess was cleaned up and fixed the next day.

So as you might imagine, the last thing I want is for the same thing to happen in a place that I own, and don’t have a maintenance guy who comes and fixes things for free.

The kitchen pantry and refrigerator are going on this wall, so we decided that we didn’t want to risk a burst pipe behind all of our new cabinetry. Also, we had to move the pipes because we already ordered the cabinets and there was no chance that we were going to try and rework the layout now.

What to do then!?! We were already committed to removing the wall, so I scoured the internet for ideas. We decided to make a bump-out, or rather a wall on top of a wall. There is a cross section or side view of what we did below. The 2nd layer of bat insulation and the plumbing is actually between the studs, not on top of them….it was difficult to shows all the layers without drawing it this way though. You get the idea.

false wall diagram

We built a new wall on top of the old wall to house the plumbing and duct work. We insulated the original wall, and drywalled over the studs. On top of this wall, we studded out a new wall. We laid 2x4s on the flat, so the wall would only be a few inches deep once the sheet rock was installed. In this new wall, we insulated again, and the plumbing and duct work were placed in one of the cavities between studs. This allowed us to keep both systems in an interior conditioned space, and run along the exterior wall, but not inside of it. The cold air from the cavity in the exterior wall is kept out of the conditioned space the traditional way, with insulation, and sheetrock.

This of course added to our budget and timeline – but what is a renovation without a few unexpected problems and dollar signs $$? In all reality, it set us back about $100 and 1 week, since we had to do all this work in the evening and over the weekends.




We hired out the plumbing (we have a great plumber, fair & reliable) and duct work (we don’t have a good HVAC company). We were quoted almost ~$1000 to move the duct work from a local company. This was ridiculous considering the materials were only ~$120.  That’s $800 + in labor! Needless to say I wrote them a bad review on Angie’s List and hired someone else to do it for around $250 total, and he was done in a few hours. More importantly, he did it correctly, and didn’t rip us off. We would have done it ourselves because really, it isn’t rocket science, but we don’t have tin snips and crimpers, and we were already one week behind schedule.  We needed someone to get in and do it quickly during the week while we were at work.

The plumbing and duct work went in before we built the 1st wall which made it incredibly difficult to do, but we did it.

We spent a day framing in the 1st wall which goes behind the pipes, the false wall, and the soffit that hides the 2nd floor landing. We also had to put blocks in some of the large holes in the plaster walls so there was something to screw the drywall patches to.




Next up: plaster and drywall. The messiest and leave fun part of the whole renovation.



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