To the Former Home Owner, RE: The basement shower

First of all, I will give you credit for space utilization by placing the shower under the stairway. It was probably the best spot to put it in considering the layout of the bathroom.

Next, let’s talk about the cider block walls you used to enclose the space. Two of the three are reasonably square and plumb. That third one though? The top leans two inches into the shower as opposed to the bottom. That probably accounted for how peculiar those brick columns on either side of the shower entry look.

And since I’ve brought up the brick columns? Why? My first thought early on was perhaps they were load bearing as the main floor tub is right above, but no. The are just “decorative” for a very strained meaning of the word “decorative”. Fortunately, you were a poor mason and they have come down rather easily.

And as they came down, it helped take down the plastic shower surround, which I knew was going to hide some things. Above the surround was a decent tile job (even taking into account the non plumb wall) I assumed some cracked or missing tiles and I was not disappointed. From four foot down, it looked like most of the tiles weren’t there once the surround was ripped out. Finding the tiles had been adhered to plain old, paper-both-sides sheet rock was a little surprising, but to top it off by replacing the missing tiles and sheet rock with 1x2" and 1/4" plywood was a true sign of your DI-WHY “creativity”

Oh and I almost forgot. Cementing in the shower fixtures, really just makes me unhappy. When I realized that the copper pipe for hot and cold go into a cement patch on one side and the hot and cold taps are just as firmly encased on the other side, I knew serviceability was nowhere in your thought process.

Sincerely and with some malice,

Current Homeowner


I can just picture it.


That’s good, because I didn’t take any pics. My phone was safely upstairs and once i started in on it I wasn’t stopping.


Our house came with a few DIY goodies, not quite in that class, though. E.g., someone must have said “put a deadbolt on the front door,” so they replaced the single knob lock with a deadbolt. Unlock the door and it wouldn’t stay closed. And it needed a key to unlock on both sides.

They also used the fattest biggest nails to hang up pictures. :roll_eyes:


I have sworn at the previous home owner so much, SO MUCH!
My kitchen shrank under their ownership, as when they re-did the kitchen (so there are no usable counters, why?) they just put new sheetrock up over the old, over the whole room, including the ceiling, and the wall with the chimney in it, so that side shrank by nearly a foot ate half the window frame. The walls are thicker, the ceiling is lower and you have to step up into it because there are at least 3 layers of ceramic tile on what would have been lovely hardwood floors originally. We haven’t torn it all out yet, thats on the list for 2018. Why do people do these things? Why!?


Stupidity? In our previous house the previous owners put a bathroom in upstairs and cut through a joist for a pipe. Not a hole in the middle for the pipe, but a slot cutting half way through from the bottom. Everything sagged a bit, and the leaks started soon after we moved in.


Weird things about our house:

– Hardwood floor had been partially covered in hideous linoleum by a previous owner, then carpeted over.

– There’s a bathroom upstairs retrofitted into a window gable. The ceiling height is about 5 feet, but it has a normal-sized door – at eye level, the door opens to reveal a wall. I’ve injured myself on that thing multiple times stumbling in late at night.

– They were stingy with electrical outlets throughout most of the house and many are ungrounded. But the walk-in closet in the master bedroom has EIGHT outlets.

– The floor of the linen closet upstairs is a vent that looks like an AC return, but it’s not connected with any ducts or other vents; it simply opens into a useless space between walls.

– When they installed a fridge with an icemaker, they ran a water supply line directly above the garage door (which has a gap at the top) and didn’t insulate it.

– The bathroom light switch is outside the bathroom, and when we moved in, the door locked from the outside.

– There are a few electrical switches not connected to anything.


The last place we lived, every single house on that street (about half of the properties) had exactly the same problem. That’s what happens when a bunch of frame houses around/over 100 years old get indoor plumbing for the first time.


…and are all worked over by the same crowd of “handy” people.


My house was built in 1925. We have the original hardwood throughout the house, in remarkably good condition. They must have been covered with wall to wall carpet for years! We are exceedingly lucky there.

The lathe and plaster walls that are also original to the building… make us not so lucky. See also knob & tube.

One room had original lathe and plaster work on curved wall to ceiling bit, gorgeous, but some plaster had fallen off so they built a box and covered it all up. Because that was easier than just getting some poly-fill and filling in the holes? We tore it down and I repaired the plaster work because all the handymen said it wasn’t possible, and I was all “I can ice a cake, I can do this” so I did and its gorgeous. :slight_smile:

If I have the space heater on in the basement I cannot use any appliances on the 2nd floor.
We have two circuits in the entire house. One for the main floor, one for the 2nd and basement. Oh and the basement used to be a stand alone apartment too, good wiring guys, well done!


Let me tell the story of the master bathroom here in our townhouse.

As backstory, you should know that the entire place is notable for being an example of how many hundreds of building code violations can exist in one structure without it falling down. Also, no door, window, or hallway is regulation size, and the basement door (which they put in) was barely over 5’ high and was a hollow plywood door that they had cut off AT THE BOTTOM to make fit. (That, we had to replace, thanks to the constant flooding.)

So now, the bathroom. First of all, there is no door. The people before us created this bathroom and a (small) walk-in closet from what had been a second bedroom, but did not bother putting any type of door on either. You walk in, and 2’ in front of you is a 4’-high wall. If you turn 90º to the right, you’ll see a 2’ hole which is the only way to access the tub (the plumbing is all the way inside, so you have to actually climb into the tub to turn it on) because other than that 2’ space it’s surrounded by ceiling-to-floor drywall.

If instead you turn 90º to the left, there’s a 2’ space where you can get around that little wall to find a long vanity, 3’ off the ground (previous owners were normal sized), with only a couple of small drawers and a mirror (not mirrored cabinet) above. It runs parallel to the tub. On its left side is another 4’ high wall, and on the far side of that is one of those ring towel holders for a hand towel. It was the only towel holder in the master bathroom. Again, another 2’ wide space to get behind the vanity, where the shower stall is backed up against the tub.

And at the end of your maze-like journey, there is an outdoor-quality metal security door with a proper deadbolt lock. What’s inside? A toilet and a phone jack.

/drops mic


Dude, do you live in my house? We have one of those! Because they built a mudroom out of cinder blocks off the basement walkout, but didn’t build it high enough, so they just cut the bottom off an interior door and called it a day.

That bathroom sounds amazing! I literally got lost following you through it!

Y’all know about Terrible Real Estate Photos right?


Some of our house’s walls are plaster with wire mesh. Wifi mostly works but cell phone reception is… interesting.

The bottom end of the handrail for the basement stairs was screwed right into plaster and not a stud. It’s still attached to the plaster, but that circle of plaster isn’t attached to the rest of the wall.


To the former owner of my home, re: the terrible decision you made

Thank you for installing heat and hot water in the home. I appreciate that. I REALLY wish you hadn’t:

a) Put it in the entry way of the house
b) destroyed the walls of the fireplace to do it
c) chosen not to install any kind of door or surround to these beautiful, functional items, giving my entry way that “industrial chic” vibe of exposed pipe and wires

Thanks for some really good decisions that are really tough to undo.


Homo habilis?


Lights, fans, ozone generators for the smell; it’s not like you can safely run that many watts from a dollar store extension cable…


Or NON-habilis in this case. Perhaps Homo omnipollici. Can someone help my dog latin?


I do now…thanks!


I’m moving to a new place, where I’ll be living in a temporary rigged bedroom while I help the property owner’s son build a new second story on their home in Tijuana. One side is going to be an apartment for me.

Having seen the place, there’s going to be some interesting photos for you soon…


Wow, I don’t know how I missed this thread when it first showed up. I feel everyone here will get a kick out of the Home Inspection Nightmares feature on the This Old House website.

There’s also a link-friendly blog version:
Mini Water Heater "This light bulb was found in a pendant fixture with no globe. The filament had failed, but current was passing through the water, making it warm. 

"A faint arcing noise was...

“This light bulb was found in a pendant fixture with no globe. The filament had failed, but current was passing through the water, making it warm.

"A faint arcing noise was present. When removed, there was no opening in the base of the bulb and no water leaked out. Hard to explain!”