Feeling The Heat


Well that would show up in the dark.. no need for a pee light after all?


They’re clever people those German engineers. The tiler’s chosen system for the underfloor heating is first laid down as a mat with these weird orange pillars sticking up out of it. Walking on the stuff is similar, I imagine, to those shoes you can get with the foot massaging insoles. Only on a much larger scale. Between the orange pillars the installer then snaps into place the electric cable which will provide that all important toe warming heat: three pillars apart, two or three away from each wall. A cable suspended in this way can even be attached to the walls themselves, should you be so inclined. Spiderman would surely approve. But the installer, the tiler in our case, needs to have his wits about him. The heating cable is ordered to the estimated required length and can’t then be cut or joined. So if the tiler gets close to the end and finds he doesn’t have enough, or gets to the end left holding a surplus, the poor man has to pull the cable up, revise the layout and start over again.

Our man has clearly seen this movie before and taken due heed, being the shrewd cookie that he is. He would work his way up the room from the door to the far end and deal with any over or under provision in the dead space underneath what will be the bath. It turned out to be the former. And it was a close run thing. See the short gap near the top left corner of the orange mat, above? If the cable had been just a foot longer he’d have had a problem. But one thing’s for sure.. that long soak in the tub that I’m so looking forward to? With all the heat now pumping up from beneath, it’s going to be seriously toasty.



With the cable laid a coat of latex fills the spaces between the pillars, encasing the wire. The floor tiles can now be placed directly on top, apparently a space saving over more traditional methods of underfloor heating.

Space saving was going to be crucial..

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this whole bathroom saga has been the inclusion of a shower. A shower is not the easiest thing for me given my dislike of water but it is quick, efficient, and over the course of holidays abroad I have got used to it. Kind of. For Mike a shower would be first choice every time. And these days, it seems, a shower in a bathroom is almost considered compulsory: we went as far as asking a friendly estate agent for advice. Given that neither of us is going to be sprinting up and down the hillside on a daily basis when we’re in our eighties, future proofing the house for an eventual sale was an important thing to factor in.

But as you’ll have guessed by now, nothing around here is ever straightforward. There wasn’t enough space under the bathroom floor to take the standard two inch shower drain pipe. Plan A had been to take the pipe down through the floor into the dining room below and create a false ceiling between two of the old beams, thus concealing the pipe along its run to the nearest wall. The pipe would then hang a 90 degree turn and be channelled downwards through the wall. From there, via a further 90 degree turn, it was to be buried underneath the dining room floor. The beautiful, original, brick laid dining room floor, currently covered with carpet but that I’d been intending to expose and restore at some point in the future. And was that all? Of course not. Then the plumbers would have had to drill through the two foot thick exterior cob wall to rendezvous with the soil stack on the other side. It was never a plan that I liked.

Our decision, back at the start of the project, was to raise the whole bathroom floor two inches to make room for the shower drain underneath. It’s a compromise. Another one. It means a small step up into the bathroom from the corridor outside. Hence the need to minimise, as far as possible, the thickness of the floor coverings to be placed on top. In an old house such as this there are many different levels and no shortage of steps in unexpected places. What’s one more?



Day 30. Tiles. Lights. And even a shower screen.

It’s coming on.. !


2018-08-30T07:33:38+00:00August 30th, 2018|Tags: |


  1. Christina August 30, 2018 at 10:48 am - Reply

    You make me think I will never do any major refurbishment in my life. Think what your project would have been like with Italian builders???!!!

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 7:51 pm - Reply

      I can imagine Christina. And no doubt you too would have a tale or two to tell!

  2. Denise August 30, 2018 at 11:07 am - Reply

    I thought you’d gone crazy with Lego for a scary moment there, Mrs Duck. It’s all very high-tech and sophisticated stuff, isn’t it? However, I am a tad disappointed to hear that you and Himself won’t be tackling the hill in your octagenarian days. I mean, surely you have time to formulate a cunning plan??

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      I’ve done a full day’s gardening today, the first in quite a while, and the old bones they do ache this evening. I wonder if they make stair lifts for outside staircases. Or a funicular! Now that would be fun. Both might be quite slow though. Would the delivery men wait, that’s the thing.

  3. grammapenny August 30, 2018 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    I am loving reading about the saga.. we have done many remodels and the bathrooms were the trickiest but I think the most rewarding in the end. that first soak (and shower) will be marvelous

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      That first soak will be marvellous. I could do with it tonight after a hard day in the garden!

  4. Marian St.Clair August 30, 2018 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Looks wonderful! I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product…and hope to undertake a similar remodel some day:^) But headed to Budapest this morning, so it’s on hold for now. Maybe you should meet me there?

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      What a good idea Marian. Close the door on the bathroom (wait, there isn’t a door..) and head for Budapest, that would do very nicely indeed. Have a great trip!

  5. derrickjknight August 30, 2018 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    Perhaps a wee bit less scary

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      I can imagine it a bit more as a room now. Having walls and a ceiling helps.. 🙂

  6. Mary August 30, 2018 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Heated floors – a lovely luxury (with a price to match, no doubt). This part of the bathroom ordeal make’s me think of my aunt and uncle’s London flat back in the 1950’s where the bathroom was so cold in winter, the curtains used to freeze to the window when you took a bath. No heated floors. No heated anything. Don’t even think the water ever got very hot. Happy to see that will not be the case in your new bathroom. Looking good, even though it is wearing you out in the process.

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to the cold. Actually, more than a bit. So the creature comforts are important. People must have been a lot hardier back in those days. Even more so when the house was built, maybe they didn’t even have glass in the windows. Brrrr.

  7. Peter Herpst August 30, 2018 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    The work is progressing nicely and looks like it will be finished in time to enjoy the heated floors during the cold months. As always, your vision and hard work are inspiring!

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 8:31 pm - Reply

      At least we have the heating in the rest of the house connected up again now, it wasn’t for a couple of weeks. It’s getting colder already!

  8. justjilluk August 30, 2018 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    Cannot believe how sane you sound!

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 8:36 pm - Reply

      It’s all an illusion. Built on denial and Pinot Grigio.

  9. Kris P August 30, 2018 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    I find the idea of heated floors a fascinating, if utterly foreign, concept. At least your movement all seems to be in the forward direction – that’s something to be celebrated! On my end, we’re STILL waiting for the geologist’s report to submit to the city with yet another check before we get approval of our basic plan to push out our kitchen wall 5 feet. Then we have to fit ourselves into the contractor’s schedule…

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      This project has been over a year in the making too. Some of that down to our indecision, but also waiting for a slot in the contractor’s schedule. It seems to be fairly normal in this neck of the woods to wait months for anything. I’m already considering booking someone for the next project and we won’t be starting that until next Spring.. at the earliest!

  10. LINDA from Each Little World August 30, 2018 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Once it’s done you will be amazed at how quickly all this frustration fades away. You will revel in the beauty and utility of your new space.

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      It’s true that the frustration is quickly forgotten, even when a new project presents itself and we launch in again with all that initial enthusiasm. It takes about a day before we’re asking ourselves “just why are we doing this.. again?!”

  11. Virginia Atkin August 31, 2018 at 8:11 am - Reply

    It’s looking great Jessica! Just you wait – a heated floor is heaven! I find trips to the bathroom in the middle of a winter’s night a whole new level of experience since we had the bathroom remodelled. But do make a copy of the programming instructions to keep in the bathroom. We turn ours off for summer and finding where at the bottom of the cupboard the instructions are hiding is a bi-annual challenge.

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the tip! It appears we will have a ‘mission control’ in the cupboard alongside the bathroom. All the wires lead to there (and dangle there unconnected at the moment). But it may well be in my interests to read the instructions so that I can make sure the timings are set correctly as it were.
      We’re likely changing the grout colour to light grey, following your advice. Thank you Virginia.

  12. Jayne Hill August 31, 2018 at 11:55 am - Reply

    Gads, you are made of sterner stuff than me. What you are going through makes the few renovations we’ve done to a 1967 bungalow absolutely pale into insignificance 😊

    I used to think I would love to live in an old property such as yours . . . note the past tense . . . I think you might be curing me of any fantasies I might have harboured about “quirky, unique and idiosyncratic” little cottages!

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      Just make sure you find one that is already done! If I ever did this again it would have to be the sensible way, we’d need to be able to afford to live somewhere else while the work was ongoing. The only advantage of living with it is the inbuilt excuse for doing no cleaning at all. It would be entirely pointless.

  13. Linda P August 31, 2018 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Mr P reads your blog posts about the renovation work with interest. His jobs have always been practical ones and for years when we came back to the UK he was a dry liner on new builds as well as renovating historic buildings. Our Italian house took ten years at least to build from scratch with the help of relatives who were also in construction. It’s always a learning curve working everything out as you would want it when you have to adapt to the situation of an old building, which I think you’ve done before, so not too daunting. Way to go, but it’ll be wonderful when everything is done in your lovely cottage. When it is – enjoy it – and the garden!

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      You’re right, it must be so much easier to build from scratch and how lovely to have the opportunity to have a house exactly as you want it. There are always surprises when renovating, some good ones, but quite often finding that what you wanted to do isn’t possible for some reason or another. In many ways we are making it up as we go along. The broad plan that we started out with has had to be changed as the structure behind the old bathroom has gradually been revealed.

  14. offtheedgegardening August 31, 2018 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Heated flooring, how lovely. When I first saw the header I thought it was lego, I suppose that isn’t as daft as it sounds, everything clicking together. Keep the faith my dear, you will get there in the end!

    • Jessica September 1, 2018 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      I hope so Gill, thanks. September sounds like it might be good for gardening – plenty of opportunity for a bit of distraction away from plumbing!

  15. snowbird September 4, 2018 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    It is all coming along nicely! A heated floor eh? That sounds the business! My kitchen floor tiles were warm once, I was a leak, the hot water was running beneath them!xxx

    • Jessica September 5, 2018 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      Hah! That happened to me too, shortly after we moved in. One of the central heating pipes in the kitchen sprung a leak and I had an inbuilt foot spa.. warm water on top of the floor as well as below.

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