Improper plumbing & trying to remodel bathroom/laundry

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Some pictures. First up, my friend's "I wasn't asking" wrench: I almost need two hands to lift it.
Right corner of the back wall with some of the boards removed. Some of the studs don't go all the way up and its just a 2x4 on top of another one vertically. Fun times.
More to the center
I added a little drawing and message for whoever pulls these walls later on (if whoever gets it next doesn't just torch it).
Some of these boards I removed were quite rustic looking
The wood is aromatic-- not unpleasant either. I wonder what kind it is. It's tongue and groove apparently-- I could see that on the boards lower down.
Most recent pics. Still need to shim to bring stuff to the same depth as the tub flange though. Didn't think about that until I was already dropping my friend off. I have some plywood lying around somewhere that should help.
Oh, I already decided and marked the wall for it. Where the board is put back is where that bar is going. You might be able to see slightly on the left side where I wrote on the wall to mark grab bar (2nd picture in my above post). The top line is the center of where I want it and I even wrote "grab bar" above it. It's set to install somewhat in the center of the board. For this type of surround, if I need an extra grab bar I can get a suction cup one like the one I took over to my friend's house. I also bought the same type of mat for the tub floor that is nonslip. I got one for my friend's tub because I was always sliding. He loves it and says that it makes showering a lot easier because he's not slipping around. It's a Delta corner grab bar shelf.
Had to get my brother to help to lift the board up on the left because my arm can't go high enough yet. Had some trouble with the crappy driver bit but found a better one and got two screws in the top board and two in the grab bar one before the battery died again.
I went in and took some measurements. I'm trying to decide if I need to add in more studs or just run some horizontal boards for the cementboard to sit against. For 1/2" they recommend no greater than 16" on center spans. First span on the left is actually ~24" but the gap from top to bottom is ~13 on one end and ~12-5/8" on the other. That is the span from the bottom of the top plywood piece to the top of the lower one. Below the lower plywood chunk it's ~15" from the bottom to the top of where I will put a 1x4 plank. The plywood chunks are ~12.5 from top to bottom. From the center of the stud that the lower plywood piece lands on to the center of the next stud is ~17". From the bottom of the top plywood piece to the top of the proposed 1x4 is ~39.5". So, I'm thinking of adding either 1x4 planks or 1x2 strips horizontally directly below and above the lower plywood chunk to span the gap.

I still need to run either furring strips or 1x4s up on the studs between the plywood to get them all to about the same level. I think I have two good chunks of 1x2s left. Third one is warped pretty badly. Adding a visual aid in case my words aren't making sense.
Will the lower plywood chunk help with the reinforcement of the cementboard?
Any suggestions?
I'm not sure I understand your question but the studs or plywood that will be supporting the cement board should all be in line and supporting it all around. Cement board has very little give and tile, or tub surround in your case, needs to be straight.
I'm not sure I understand your question but the studs or plywood that will be supporting the cement board should all be in line and supporting it all around. Cement board has very little give and tile, or tub surround in your case, needs to be straight.
It's ok. I figured out what I am going to do. I will add a 1x4 all the way across the studs starting from the left all the way to the 2nd to last stud on the right. It will be approximately where the measurement lines are marked so the top of the lower cementboard and bottom of the upper cementboard will have something to sit on. The far right corner will have a 1x2 furring strip going all the way up. Shims will be used at the very top where the cementboard overlaps the printed panels.

I was hoping to get that worked on tomorrow, but my friend won't be available-- it's his late father's birthday and he's always too depressed on that day to do anything.
I derped a bit on my measurements somehow and had to adjust my plan.
This is the before pic with the plywood without all the markups on it:
I decided to attach some more furring strips-- some I was able to glue up with Titebond II-- which grabs pretty fast.. Says it takes 5min but it seemed to hold after 2 or 3. I still held pressure on things.
Got the 1x2s in place:
Then added 1x4s:
I put blocking in everywhere that I think I will need to sink a screw for the cementboard. Cutting that with a jigsaw was a pita but easier with a fresh sharp blade, fully charged battery, and a better cutting technique. I learned that if I rocked the jigsaw forward and backwards it would help cut the upper and lower parts a bit better so it could push through the middle more easily. Sloppy work, but hopefully this will work. I put a horizontal 1x2 where the cementboard joint will be.

Next step is to clean up the tub edge again, tape up some plastic to protect the tub, use painter's tape to mark screw locations (saw a cool thing where the person wrote how many inches up the screws were and had a line where they were so no cementboard screws would be driven in to the other screws. Then I need to shim up the side walls. I can see that the left wall is farther away from the tub edge in the back corner. Takes 2 or 3 painting sticks to fill that gap. Only takes one on the front (to match depth of tub flange).I'm going to measure out to where I want to drive the screws for cementboard and glue up some painting sticks as shims.

I do have actual shims to use if the paint stick thing doesn't work. I probably have to use those in the back corner. The right wall is slightly off but not as much as the left wall. I may end up doing the shimming stuff before doing the taping.

Any thoughts?
That gap on the right bugged me so I slapped another 1x4 on and added some paint stirring sticks as shims.
Still need to do more tweaking of it.
Friend is still in too much pain from his tooth to come out. Gonna see if we can get him to the dentist tomorrow. My left arm is not cooperating so I wasn't able to get the plastic up on the wall-- still need to figure out how to get it square on the sides though. I did measure and mark all of the screws that might get in the way and marked on walls where boards are and where voids are so we won't put screws in those locations.

I put plastic in the tub and taped it up and wrote measurements for screw locations on the tape. I want to get a sheet of cementboard up into the tub so I can put aquadefenese on it but my arm is gimping out and not letting me lift it. I'm going to see if my brother can help later on.

Pics of the current situation:

Cat tax. Sir Hammington likes the old corner shelf thing.
Are you going to do the plumbing before of after adding the side walls?
Are you going to do the plumbing before of after adding the side walls?
Initially I wanted to do it before, but I thought about it and I don't want it to be in the way. I'm thinking after because then I will just put stuff where the holes are after drilling/cutting. I've got enough PEX to allow some adjustment. I've got a hole saw blade the right size for the valve that I will use on the wallset and the plywood. I will score and manually cut the cementboard. Plan is to dry fit cementboard after cutting the hole in the plywood and then mark the back of the cementboard to know where to cut. I do have a drill bit for cementboard that should work for the tub spout rough in. Got a holdrite bracket for the copper piece that will be going in and will be bridged to the valve with pex. I don't intend to use the tub spout that much so I don't care if the showerhead drips a little when running it. I'm too fat to get decent coverage from water in the bath. LOL.

I think it makes more sense to have the holes first and then line the plumbing up with them. The showerhead hole will be above the cementboard and surround and will poke through PVC board. I will probably put aquadefense inside the holes in the cementboard as an added precaution. It will take more time, but I want it to be sealed up pretty well.
The side that is the most problematic for squaring up:
Other side that should take less shimming:
I need to get pics of the level to show how far off it is. The 5 gallon paint stirring sticks are about as thick as the tub flange.
Got the board dry fitted and screwed in place as a test fit. Will take it down once I use it to mark where I need to use shims and such. It should help me get stuff plumbed out better.
I'm glad I listened to Havasu's suggestion about using hot glue. Man, the newer stuff is so much better than the old stuff I remembered. I got a Gorilla mini dual temp hot glue gun. It's nice and compact so I have room to set it down when not in use and it fits my hand very well. No strain when pulling the trigger. I've gone through a LOT of those Gorilla glue sticks. It is so much easier than I remembered and this glue really holds. Grabs almost instantly & then stays put. It doesn't stick to the sink or countertop though so dribbles and strings are easy cleanup.

I bought more paint stir sticks and jumbo craft sticks because I ran out of both. I realized that the right wall has a bow in the middle so it sticks out more there than on the edges and I need to compensate for that.

I really want to try a dry fit of a side cementboard piece but I'm not sure if I can lift the board into place & I don't want to make my stupid arm worse.

I took some pics but the angles are crap. I had a hard time finding a decent position to try to get the right view.

Left side: I'm making a note to not screw through the craft sticks that are sitting on top- they are there to have support for the board. I got it a bit skewed toward the back wall but I'm hoping that won't be a problem. Worst case scenario, I can add in more shims in that area, but I'm hoping that won't be an issue.
Right side- I put sticks around where the hole will be drilled for the controls. I think it's 2-5/8". Need to figure out how to get the pilot bit to attach to the holesaw arbor thingy. I should probably add sticks near the tub spout hole.
Wonky center pic
Need a little advice though: Since the tub slopes down to the right and I had to use 5 shims (but different ends with different thicknesses) on the right side vs 2 shims (which on the left gets me a 1/4" gap), should I shim up the right side cementboard the same amount as the right end of the back cement board? Or should I go with 1/4" gap? Or somewhere in between. I believe the mustee thing can sit flush to the tub edge but obviously it will have to be shimmed on the right side so it will be level. I need to have less than 1/2" gap from the surround and the tub. I'm using 3/4" instatrim to cover the gaps (although it isn't quite 3/4" coverage. The 3/4" is the hypotenuse measurement I think). In the event that the cementboard ends up being lower than the surround on the right side, I'm hoping it will be hidden with the instatrim.

In terms of it being flush/straight etc I'm going to try to remedy any minor imperfections with thinset.
Don't rest the backerboard on the tub. Leave 1/4" at the bottom.
To clarify, I'm going to leave a 1/4" gap below the cement board and 1/8" gap between the boards but the surround itself shows the installation as touching the tub without any sort of gap.

So, my question on the backer board was should I have the right wall piece with only 1/4" gap below or should I have the bottom of that one at the same height as the back wall board's end- which is higher than 1/4" because the tub slopes down.
As long as the edge of the cement board is still inside the tube edge you can move it up if you want to make the bottom edges align. Actually a larger gap is better because it reduces the change of the cement board wicking moisture, but 1/4" should be adequate. Sitting inside the tub edge is to ensure that if any water gets to the cement board, it is redirected to the inside the tub.

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