Structure: The Sunken Tub

Structure: The Sunken Tub

The ensuite bathroom had what appeared to be a pretty cool feature: a large sunken whirlpool tub.

sunken corner tub
The corner tub.

In reality, though, it was very awkward getting in and out of the tub. And the tub was too big for the space. The floor space between the tub and the wall was only about a foot, so getting to the toilet which was tucked around the corner at the back was inconvenient and dangerous. In addition, there was a switch on the wall that was too close to the tub to be up to code. And although the structure in the basement supporting the tub appeared to be sufficient, the plumbing that had to be re-routed around it was messy . With a desire to re-purpose this space in the future, I decided to gut the ensuite and replace the structure that had been removed.  You can read about this process as it unfolded in real time in the Blog.

To “sink” the bathtub, the previous owner cut out a section of the floor in the shape of the tub. The joists and flooring were dropped down about a foot or two and were supported by a framework of 4x4s and other lumber. Plumbing that would have run in between or along the bottom of the joists had to be rerouted. The result was pretty ugly. And even though the supporting structure was pretty beefy, we never felt comfortable using the whirlpool tub anyway.

sunken floor support removed
Removing the support structure in the basement.

The first step in the restoration was to get rid of the tub and the plumbing. The tub itself was acrylic or fiberglass, and although it would have been nice to salvage it, I was unable to find any interested buyers. I couldn’t even give it away. “Too big” was the comment I kept hearing over and over. It needed a five foot by five foot corner space and it required a LOT of water to fill. It may have seemed luxurious, but the truth was that it was impractical. A reciprocating saw made quick work of the tub. I cut it into manageable chunks and moved them outside. In the basement, I removed the supply lines and the drain, which was not properly vented anyway.

With the tub and the plumbing gone, I was able to get rid of the lowered floor joists and flooring that had supported the tub, leaving the framing structure in place to support the rest of the floor. In the bathroom, I got rid of the tiled skirting for the tub . What I was left with was a shortcut to the basement: a rather large hole that needed to be filled in.

hole in floor
Watch that first step!

In the basement, new 2×10 joists were sistered to the original floor joists using carriage bolts. Where we had to cut one of the joists so we could work it into place, it is reinforced with a repair plate.  To support the edge of the floor, wood blocks fastened to the end joist carry the load to the sill plate.  The blocks and the floor were installed by the contractors we hired in 2009 to address the other structural issues with the house, which will be detailed next.

support joists
Added support for the plywood floor.

Structural Repairs: How to “unbutcher” a house

The Back Dormer: Repairing water damage and fixing framing problems
The Back Dormer:  Adding ventilation and eliminating water leaks
The Sunken Tub
Supporting a house from the basement up
Load-bearing walls