DIY House

The Kitchen – part 3

So, there I was, about to create havoc in our kitchen.

Cats still need to be fed…

in part 1 of this tale, I talked about how the kitchen first appeared when I bought the house. in part 2, I drew up plans for how I wanted the room to look. Now it’s time to start knocking walls about.

Everything needed to move. The floor would be worked to make it even and finished nicely with ceramic tiles. All the cupboard carcases and doors would be replaced. We’d have new sinks, cooker, and fridge. And we’d have no dishwasher.

Hmm. No dishwasher. We were losing a lot of wall space, which meant cupboards needed to be rationalised; and moving to a double sink and double cooker exacerbated the problem. We reached the point where a cupboard had greater value than a dishwasher – we can always wash dishes by hand, but we’re stuck if we don’t have anywhere to store them.

I should mention, we have a long-term plan for the house, which is to build a utility room as an extension alongside the kitchen. This will mostly be used for laundry, and the washing machine will move out there (so expect lots of blogging when all that work goes on..!) Anyway, we’ll get the space for a dishwasher back when we can do that build – something to look forward to.

Planning Application – a new Utility Room!

On to the work. The first big objective is to move the sink. The sink needs shifting to let us walk through from kitchen to dining room. But to move that sink, a chain of events need to happen in a certain order, beginning with the new boiler, which triggered the whole redesign.

With the old boiler removed, we can take down the boiler room wall and put in a new back door. With the old back door removed, and the cupboards above the cooker gone, we can move the cooker down the wall a bit. Then we will have somewhere to put the sink. As a temporary measure, I would fit the old sink where the new sink is planned to go. The old sink was built into a length of counter-top, which I could cut to suit the available space. The picture below shows how this all looked.

This picture also reveals the absolute mess that results from attempting to rebuild a kitchen whilst also trying to live in it! Cooking, laundry and washing up still continues whether the services are connected or not.

And on the subject of connected services, for the sink to work it needed a water and waste supply. The waste supply was quite straight forward since I could reach the same outlet that the sink had previously drained into. The supply was another matter, however. For that I would need to invade the ceiling.

Originally, the sink was supplied by pipes that ran through the ceiling, then came down the wall to the right of the sink. The bump in the line of tiles (next to the microwave in the picture below) shows where they ran.

Of course, I couldn’t use the pipes in this location, as they would be on the wrong side of the hole in the wall we were about to create. I needed to trace them back into the ceiling and then re-route them to come down on the left of the new doorway, somewhere near the new window.

I took up some of the floorboards in the bedroom above to get a view of where the pipes ran. I was hoping that I could lay the pipes through the floor, and minimise the damage to the ceiling, but unfortunately, the way the existing pipes and water system were fitted, I couldn’t find a way of feeding the copper pipes into place. I would have to have a go up through the ceiling.

(At that time, I had learned how to fit copper pipes using solder joints and compression fit connectors. Since then, I’ve learned a little more about push-fit plastic pipework that can take hot and pressured water. That would’ve been so much easier in this situation, but hey. So it goes.)

Given there would be pipes, lights, extractor fans, wires and other things to run around the kitchen, I decided that the existing ceiling would probably require replacement anyway, so I sealed its fate by cutting three holes along the route of the pipes. One on the right to allow me to remove the original pipes and connect new ones into the supplies, one on the left to allow the new pipes to be fed down to the sink, and one in the middle to allow me to feed the copper pipes up into the space and connect them together.

I decided the new pipes could run down the wall close to the newly installed window. This window was a few centimetres from the corner of the room, and required plastering, so I arranged for the plasterboard on the side of the window frame to extend a little further into the room to provide a cover for the pipes. You can see in the pictures above and below how the plasterboard was cut to achieve this.

So now I have my water feeds in place, and I need to provide connection points for each appliance. I would need valves for the hot and cold sink supplies, a cold water point for the washing machine (which would later suit the dishwasher) and possibly a hot water point for that possible dishwasher. I also thought it wouldn’t hurt to plan for the utility room extension by including short spurs to the two feeds that I could connect into later. Lastly I included isolating valves for both supplies so that I could properly turn off the feeds if need be. (The hot water isolating valve is just out of the picture – I had to allow for the wall of the cupboard that would go below the sink bowls, so moved this valve into the washing machine space to avoid things getting too crowded under there.)

The original cold feed also supplied an outside tap which I wanted to keep. So, I routed my new cold feed back on itself to connect it up. This looks a little awkward, given that the cold feed came down the wall very close to this outside tap. I could’ve just connected it to that tap first, then fed the pipes across under the sink. However, I realised that the outside tap might freeze in winter. Putting this tap at the very end of the line would reduce the risk of a frozen pipe section blocking the supply to the sink.

So, here’s my temporarily fitted sink, nicely connected to the supply and waste points.

One last step is to rejig the cupboards and counters on the other side of the room, clearing the way so that Dave the Builder can knock out the route into the dining room and lay a new tiled floor. Here, I temporarily re-used the cupboard that had been under the breakfast bar, allowing us to keep the all-important kettle and toaster working.

And at this point I’m kicking myself for not having more pictures of this work. There was lots going on at this point, some of which is just about hinted at in that picture. Most significantly, the floor beneath where the sink used to be was basically a crumbly hole, and sloped down away from the rest of the room. You can just see the edge of this hole in the bottom-left of the photo.

We then found a slight slope to the floor across the kitchen that had been caused by a slight subsidence, possibly triggered by the work to add the extension in the first place. You can see a little evidence of this subsidence in a crack in the wall between the two cupboards. This crack ran the length of the wall, starting as a hairline at the end by the hall and being a little under a centimetre wide by the time it reached the dining room.

I was already aware of this subsidence and of the crack, from the surveys conducted before I moved in. Advice from my building surveyor neighbour was that this would be its maximum extents, and the foundations of the house and extension were sufficient and stable for the property. The slope was just in the scree that made up the flooring, and the crack in the wall is from the lowest line of bricks in the interior wall shifting down with the scree. It could be remedied by cementing layers of slate into the gap, to reconnect the bricks and ensure support for the wall above. The exterior walls were all sound and stable, and of course, the wall between kitchen and dining room was actually an exterior wall. We would be good to work on our doorway.

That’s enough words for this post, I think. Imagine until the next post that Dave the Builder is swinging his hammer at that wall, and pouring self-levelling compound across the room ready to lay the floor tiles. Next time I shall talk about the “making good”, with wiring, tiling, new cupboards and all the little details that make a kitchen work.


By nickcnickcnickc

I spend my working life staring at computer screens, so in my spare time I look for things to do with my hands, preferably involving wood. It's a little ironic then that I've now starting writing a blog about my woodworking, and thus introducing computer screens to my main hobby..!

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