It certainly is good to have no ceiling, especially when it is covered in mould and a certain health hazard! As I have mentioned before, we had a huge problem with water damage to the cottage because of the tree that fell on the roof. A new roof was put on three years before we bought the cottage, but the water damage inside was not addressed. One bedroom had a big problem with mould and we had to make sorting out the mould in there high on our priority list.
After emptying the room we sealed it off from the rest of the cottage with plastic. There are no internal doors in the cottage and we wanted to use the cottage without breathing in mould from that room. It made a huge difference to the smell in the cottage, but it didn’t totally remove the smell until we had removed almost all other things from the cottage – more on that later.
Dressed and masked in a biohazard suit, my husband and a friend took on the dreaded task of removing the mouldy ceiling. They bagged it and it was one of many trips we took to the dump. We were worried what we would find beyond the ceiling and expected the insulation to be black with mould. It was black, but only some of it was mould. You can’t see the detail in the picture, but the black was thousands of dead ladybugs held in place by the layer of plastic! We had been sweeping up dead ladybugs along the back end of the cottage every time we visited. There is a slight gap between the ceiling and the wall there and they seemed to be falling through that gap. Now we knew why. The attic seems to be full of dead ladybugs!
Whilst we were pleased to find that only a relatively small patch of insulation was full of mould and needed to be replaced, we still needed to remove the plastic and all those ladybug corpses. That was another job requiring the biohazard suit!
Putting up the new ceiling didn’t take too long, but it took many weeks of taping and sanding before we finally got to the point that we could paint. We also had to cut away a small area of drywall and replace that because of the mould. Yet again the insulation was fine and this time we didn’t have to do battle with ladybugs.
We finally had a beautiful new ceiling, sanded and painted. It looked great, so what did we do? We cut a big hole in it! The cottage had no attic access and we figured now was the time to change that. Hopefully we won’t have to go up and investigate something in the future, but if that need arises we are now prepared.
Actually we will need to venture up there in the future. It is great that the attic is insulated, but we never did get around to replacing the insulation we had to remove because of mould. It is yet another of those jobs that has slid further down the list. When the floor has no insulation and has duct tape covering holes where we could see through to underneath, there seem little point in working hard on insulating the attic!
Our goal by the end of the year was to have that room totally finished. However, as the temperature started to fall we ran out of time. We did finish painting the walls. We then laid an underlay. We had many debates as to what type of underlay we should install. As I said, the floor is just 1/2″ plywood, so we needed to think about insulation. We also needed to consider that if this room becomes a bathroom, which we are planning to do, we need to think about water management too. Another factor we had to consider is that if we raised up the level of the floor too much, we would then need to take that level into the rest of the cottage or have a step into the room. Stepping into a bathroom, at night, in the dark, doesn’t seem like a good idea. If we raise the level of the floor throughout the cottage we run into issues when we get to the patio door. The level will be higher than the door if we are not careful. We finally decided on a fairly thin insulation that will give us some extra warmth underfoot for now and a plan to add more insulation underneath at a more appropriate time. This insulation has raised bobbles to allow an air gap and manage moisture.
We then laid a subfloor, but we didn’t lay a floor. We thought a vinyl floor might be the most appropriate floor for this room becoming a bathroom. It was late November by the time we got to the point we could lay a new floor and we didn’t think transporting vinyl flooring in a trailer for a couple of hours was a good idea. The cold temperature might make the vinyl brittle and we didn’t want to chance that just so that we could meet our self-imposed deadline. We also need to put trim around the window, but we couldn’t paint because the temperature was now too cold. Finally we need to install a door. We bought the door at the start of the season and it has been an eye sore leaning against the wall for months. I guess we were feeling ambitious when we bought it, but as time went on we realized we needed to wait until we got to the floor stage before installing the door or we wouldn’t know what height we wanted the door to be. So often we find we have to rejig our to do list because we can’t do A without doing B and that can’t be done until we do C. Suddenly A becomes urgent and we have to jump to C so that we can do B and finally A. The nice thing with all this is that when I say urgent, it is a relative term.
We have had many discussions about flipping this room that was originally a bedroom into a bathroom. The cottage has four rooms off one large room that runs the length of the cottage. The first is a tiny room and our “inhouse” and then there are three bedrooms. The tree fell at the far end of the cottage, so it was that end bedroom where the main damage was caused and the mould issue worst. There are a number of thoughts that are driving the idea of putting the bathroom in the end bedroom.
a) The room we are using right now as an “inhouse” is small and if we ever want to add a shower there is not room for that. Also when people use that room to change into bathing suits it would be nice if there was a little more room and a place to store extra towels etc.
b) Whilst the cottage has no electricity, it is wired for electricity and the electric panel is in this small room. Putting an electric panel in a bathroom is not a good idea! When we eventually get solar and electricity we would have to either move the panel or the bathroom.
c) The cottage is built on a slope and access under the cottage is only good at the far end of the cottage. If the bathroom is at the far end of the cottage it gives us room to get underneath. That then gives us all kinds of options for the toilet and water management. If we cut a hole in the floor, we could then move the collection bucket for the toilet beneath the cottage, which I am sure our guests would be much happier with! We could run a pipe from the sink and dig a grey water area for it to drain, so that we don’t need to keep emptying the bucket. If at some time we decide to pump water from the lake, it is much closer to the lake that end.
I know it means sacrificing a bedroom to do this, but we have two other bedrooms and a sofa bed. Most of the time we don’t need the third bedroom. Actually I think there has only been one weekend where we needed to use the sofa bed because we had a full house. We also have our tent, which we can use to expand our capacity and maybe one day we will build a bunkie. Actually, I think a bunkie is a better option than another bedroom, especially for guests. I am sure they would appreciate being kept away from husbands and dogs that snore!