Hole in Pipe? Remodel 1/2 the House!


At the beginning of the year, we gave our house a colonoscopy to see why the kitchen/laundry drain tended to back up.

It didn’t go well.

Given that we had to rip out the kitchen island to fix the pipe, which required ripping out the tile, and the kitchen electrical was a bit haphazard, and the lighting sucked, and the position of the fridge was in direct conflict with the door to the garage, and the kitchen cabinets were starting to get a bit tired…. and… and…

… well …

… clearly, we might as well rip the kitchen out and fix it. Including changing a couple of walls.

Once a Closet, Now a Tub Room

And since we were going to be ripping into the kitchen, maybe we should revisit the master bedroom and bathroom, too. The shower really was crap and the master closet was a ridiculous waste of space. As well, Christine really wanted a tub that she could, like, actually be submerged in.

As well, the master bath is at the other end of the problematic plumbing.

Thus was born the grand remodeling project of 2008.

Kitchen, living room, master bath, master bedroom.

We are living in the rest of the house. Our kitchen, including our piece of crap GE refrigerator with a box fan behind it to keep it cool reside within the atrium.

The level of destruction in the house is truly awesome. Not pictured are the multiple 18″ x 18″ holes cut through the foam roof where various infrastructure goes through the roof. Nor can you really tell that cutting that hole in the kitchen floor required cutting through a half dozen or so radiant heat pipes. That’ll be fun to fix.

Redoing the Shower Drain

This is our master bathroom shower. That hole in the floor will be broken out quite a bit more.

To the left will be the drain for the bath tub. The framing over the hole will contain a glass brick wall. A remarkably transparent glass brick wall.

The onus is upon me to plant some exciting vegetation in the side yard or else the neighbors will be getting an eye full! Actually, that side of the house sits about 3.5 feet above street level, with a 7 foot fence on top of it.

It will be nice to have real light in the shower/bath area.

Living Room

The kitchen and living room was originally separated by a wall with a door in it.

The door is being moved a bit and the whole wall is being opened.

However, it will not be entirely open. Instead, it will have display cases and a counter top upon which we can do buffet style presentations or mix drinks.

There will be glass display cases below and, likely, a couple of spots that will fit my tequila aging barrels.

New 50Amp Sub-Panel in Garage

When the house was built, the electrical wiring was a bit of a joke. All of the lines have ground wires, but few are actually connected.

So, we are significantly upgrading the electrical in the process. Both to meet modern code and to go a bit beyond. First, the ancient breaker panel was ripped out of the house and replaced with a 200 amp properly wired panel.

Next, we dropped a sub-panel in the garage. Given that an Eichler has no crawl space or attic, running a feed down the side of the house and into a sub-panel in the garage was a considerably less destructive way to provide power to the kitchen.

As an added benefit, it means I’ll have real power in the garage. Beyond several 20 amp sockets, I’ll also have a 40 amp 240 volt socket near the front of the garage that can be used for a welder or to charge an electric car.

And, of course, we are using Triplex receptacles throughout.

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20 Responses to “Hole in Pipe? Remodel 1/2 the House!”

  1. James Eagan says:

    At least you’re still finding time to brew amidst all the chaos! OOC, what’s in the carboy?

  2. Papa Joe says:

    Bill, think REALLY LARGE BBQ/SMOKER PIT in middle of kitchen!!! HHUGE exhaust fan.
    just put a grill over the opening in the floor.

    glad to c it is moving along.

  3. Scott Thompson says:

    Remodelling… that’s all well and good. But my question is… what’s in the carboy?

  4. Charles Eicher says:

    Oh man, you have an Eichler, and you’re ripping things out and moving them around without an architect? I realize this is your home and you have a right to do what you want, but you might want to consider your obligations for historic preservation. I could probably find several architects that would look over your plans for free or cheap, just to have a credit on an Eichler remodel. A friend of mine in LA remodeled his Eichler and basically put it back to the original design (plus a few hidden upgrades like plumbing and wiring) with the help of an architect, it’s worth it.

  5. Jeffrey J Hoover says:

    Wow. I won’t tell my wife…

    Have you looked into smarthome.com for their Insteon stuff?

    Looking forward to hearing more.

  6. Papa Joe says:

    charlie, charlie, charlie,….y would u think that architects and engineers were not consulted and plans r being carried out under their auspices?

    for shame… so eager to criticize.

    remember when u “assume” things

    you make an “ass” of “u” and “yourself”

  7. bbum says:

    We are keeping the outside of the Eichler the same and largely preserving the internal layout. However, we are not restoring the kitchen to its original layout.

    Mainly because the original layout sucked. It was designed for a time when the Microwave oven was to be the end-all be-all one stop food preparation device. It was a also a design where the kitchen was considered to be a space that you and your guests would spend as little time as possible within.

    No thanks. As brilliant as the rest of the Eichler design is, the kitchen layout was impractical, inefficient and incompatible with anyone who actually enjoys cooking.

    Overall, it’ll still feel very much like an Eichler. Unlike our neighbors, we are preserving the atrium (though it’ll likely grow a bit of a sun / rain shade, while still maintaining open air). And we certainly aren’t putting a bay window on the front like these people did (http://tinyurl.com/4sq7oo). Yuck.

  8. corbin dunn says:

    When the house was built, the electrical wiring was a bit of a joke. All of the lines have ground wires, but few are actually connected.

    How funny, that is just like what my house was like! What were they thinking? Especially not grounding outlets on the floor in metal boxes. Worse, they were rusted out, a clear indication that someone had spilled water on some of them.


  9. Peter says:

    Why the triplex outlets, instead of the much more common quads? The triplex ones look interesting, but are they a standard width? Replacing covers won’t be fun with those.

  10. bbum says:

    The triplex outlets fit in a standard sized box. They require a different cover, but the existing covers were beat anyway.

    In a dual gang box, the triplex fit together such that there is no gap between and will offer 6 outlets in the space of 4.

  11. John C. Randolph says:


    Even Frank Lloyd Wright made some major mistakes. Bill and Christine own the house, and have no obligation whatsoever to limit alterations to those meeting your approval.


  12. bbum says:

    I’d love to go all LED. Unfortunately, LEDs are silly expensive in comparison to CFLs, to produce the light needed.

    The investigation shall continue. A blog post is in queue.

  13. Charles says:

    jcr, Bill seems to (mostly) agree with my sentiments towards preserving the Eichler design, and note I did acknowledge he has the right to do with it as he sees fit. All I’m saying is that it is easy to make a small design change that seems to work on paper, but doesn’t quite work out the way you intended, especially when you’re working with a structure designed by a great architect. That’s why I suggested an architect to check plans and harmonize the remodel with the existing structure. Builders aren’t up to that task, they’ll build anything you want (like that stupid bay window).
    Anyway, good luck with the remodel Bill, hope it works out well for you.

  14. Rochelle says:

    Ah yes, the famous scope creep! I got new stove which lead to oh so much more…..

    Good luck on the remodel.

  15. Houman says:

    What are you going to use to heat the water with? Keep the existing, or are you going to swap that out as well?

  16. bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Eichler: No Walls, On A Slab…. Run The Wires (and Water) On The Roof! says:

    […] tearing into the slab to fix pipes is a gigantic pain in the ass, a former owner simply ran the hot water pipes over the roof. The pipe couldn’t be run along […]

  17. bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Damned Fine Camp Stove says:

    […] the past couple of months, our real kitchen has either been full of holes or otherwise under […]

  18. Eichler says:

    The result looks fantastic although it looks like you guys went thru quite a bit of pain to get there! i’m assuming the in-floor radiant heat was de-commissioned / non-operational with all of the slab work that was done?

  19. bbum says:

    Nope — the radiant heat was restored to working order and is wonderful under the slate floor!

  20. bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Solar Install Part 1: The Madness of Eichler Roofs says:

    […] a part of our ongoing home improvement adventure, we are installing solar panels. Between the state and federal rebates, the increasing cost of […]

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