When we bought our home it was only a few years old. Now that we’ve lived in it 34 years, it’s an old house, with old house problems. The tract-house construction was awful to start with, even though it was a Gold Medallion All Electric House (Oooh! Ahhh! Fancy!) Over the years we added the upstairs, added a dining room, remodeled the kitchen, torn out two bathrooms, replaced every door (interior doors, front and back doors, garage door), and every window, scraped every ceiling, changed every floor, and fixed plumbing, electrical and cosmetics. This doesn’t even include the yard: building two decks, a retaining wall, a fence, and putting in hardscape with grass and garden areas. Owning a house is a lot of hassle and money. Still, I’m thankful we are able to own our own home.
One of the last frontiers is a small bathroom. My friend who loves decorating (Hi, Kathy!) suggested I buy a new shower curtain. Which led to a sink purchase. (Our other dear friends bought it in Mexico for us! Hi Mike and Kim!) The project spiraled out of control when the sink didn’t fit in the existing vanity, and it was January and our contractor needed work. So we shopped for a vanity, bathroom tile, flooring, countertop (quartz, maybe?), bathroom fixtures, and a medicine chest. We were so proud of ourselves. We had been able to buy many of the items at great prices at end of year sales, and we were giving someone work. You know what they say about pride…that it goes before a fall.
Every day there’s some bad news. What could possibly go wrong in a room 5 feet by 9 feet? The wiring was a rat’s nest that ran behind the shower faucet and it’s amazing it didn’t electrocute someone. It looked like the ducting had been put in by a seven-year-old. There subterranean termite damage made the wood look like a Jackson Pollock painting. And some of the wood had rotted so badly, only the wood dust was holding up the wall. The plumbing going into the bathroom was rusted out like a can left in the rain. Yesterday my contractor told us we couldn’t keep the bathtub. It had rusted on one side, leaked, and now the wood behind the bathtub is all moldy. Sigh. Of course it is.
Besides the money, hassles, and bad news, there’s the game of “Try to get your contractor to show up.” I love our contractor. I love his detailed perfectionist work. I love his beautiful South African accent. He cleans up after himself well, that most days I come home and am mad he didn’t come, even if he did come. But lots of days he doesn’t show. One day I had left him cookies to take home to his wife and granddaughter. They were still there. Today he didn’t show up. It was raining. “But you work indoors.”
“Right. I’ll be there tomorrow.”
“But what happened today?”
“I didn’t want to track mud in your house.”
“So, every day it rains you aren’t going to come? You put drop cloths from the front door to the bathroom anyway.”
“Well, um, actually, the guy who works for me was on his bike, and couldn’t come in the rain.”
Bingo. The real reason. So frustrating.
The rust hole in the bathtub.
The termite damage on the wood.