What does the last of the housewives do?

Tag: Bathroom renovation

Unexpected Shower Screen

I know you’ve been on the edge of your armchairs, wondering how the muttering bathroom renovation has been coming along. Are they able to ablute inside yet? Would it be safe to go near them in warm weather?

I’ve been trying not to think about it, because it causes me to clutch at my hair and mess up its perfect symmetry ahahaha. I ordered all the bits early in April. Early in May the kitchen company indicated they were ready to go ahead. I called the supply place, My Bathroom and Tile Centre in Drummoyne, if you’re looking for someone to avoid, who had indicated they’d like a week’s notice. They were getting two weeks. And that’s where it all started to come unstuck.

Well, you’ve heard most of it. Only delivering half the tiles. Forgetting to bring the bath waste. None of the tradesmen turning up at the advised time, mostly late, but some early. Discovering that the existing bathroom drain was actually just a hole in the floor and not even at the lowest point. And the towel rails. Oh, the saga of the towel rails. First they had just forgotten to bring them. Then they were the wrong ones. Then they weren’t ready. I suspect they just forgot to order them, actually. Then it was going to be six weeks, because they were being hand plated by specially imported Irish leprechauns who only worked under the light of a full moon. Then it was going to be another six weeks, because they’d delivered one brand new shiny one and one battered one in a dusty box. Well they finally turned up yesterday, and here they are.

Aren’t they beautiful. And I had an added bonus today. A phone call from My Bathroom and Tile, almost exactly a month after they said the shower screen would be ready in a week. Where was I this morning? Well, a spot of gym, some shopping, that kind of thing. The shower screen people had popped by and were less than gruntled to miss me. I tactfully suggested that as they’d advised it would be installed on Wednesday, that being tomorrow, I hadn’t stuck to the premises like I had on so many other days, waiting, waiting, waiting for that next tiny step forward towards a working bathroom. Stick around, they suggested. Sure enough, miraculously before school pickup time, I finally had a shower screen.

Complete with a five year warranty, in case it explodes in the night like that of a good friend. You hear all the horror stories when you renovate. “Don’t touch it for twenty four hours or it will leak everywhere”, they suggested. What a tease. But it does mean that tomorrow night it will be possible to shower indoors without soaking the entire room for the first time since we moved into this place twelve years ago come Lammas Eve. Or thereabouts.

You know, when I think about it, most of my troubles come from the fact that I foolishly asked for my metal accents to be gold rather than chrome. I live in a house that celebrates its hundredth birthday this year. We have lights that turn on by pulling a string. In two of the rooms we still have gorgeously ornamented gas light fittings. I can’t have a bathroom that looks like something out a spaceship. But I wish they’d warned me that I would pay for being so very difficult, I might have just gone and bought all my fittings off the shelf at Recollections. Be warned. Learn from my tale of woe. Though, on the bright side, I may have a finished bathroom by the end of the week, and then all of the lies and disappointments will fade quickly into the past. First world problem? It’s up there.


Bathroom Almost Finished

What’s worse than tradesmen in your house? No tradesmen in your house, that’s what.

It’s been a full two weeks since the vanity was attached to the bathroom walls and since then, nothing. Nothing nothing nothing. Except a rising level of complaint from a family who isn’t getting used to having to nip out to the frigid back verandah for ablutions. It’s even less amusing in the middle of the night. And why? Well, that’s an excellent question, I’m glad you used your mind powers to ask it. I thought it was because the tapware hadn’t arrived. The bathroom company thought it was because the tapware hadn’t arrived. The plumber thought it was because the tapware hadn’t arrived. After a series of increasingly irate calls to the bathroom supply company from me, Crystal the site supervisor, and her boss, it turns out we were all mistaken. That series of texts I’d had from them referring to missing tapware was actually referring to missing towel rails, the tapware had been on my back verandah under a pile of tiles this WHOLE TIME. I had to check that the top of my head was still attached after that message. So, that whole thing about not delivering the vanity top until the tapware had arrived? Oh, silly customer, did you want the vanity top at your place? Well why didn’t you say so?

Of course in the mean time the plumber had turned his attention to other things, so he wasn’t able to come until today to instal the tapware and toilet.

The kids thought this message was a terrible tease, but he told them they could use the toilet for night time emergencies so long as they didn’t sit on it. The Muffet is visiting Nanna and Poppa for a few nights and I don’t have night time emergencies, so we should be right.

The electrician also came today to put in the first power points this bathroom has ever had. “How do you live like this?” he asked upon his first visit. Tradesmen are very judgemental. And the Scotts finally came back to remove all of the demolition rubbish that has been sitting on our verge for over four weeks now. I’ve been waiting for the council to fine us for it.

It was almost worth the wait to watch them try to remove it. They were supposed to bring a skip bin, but brought this thing which is basically a double sized green bin, and it’s been filled to the brim with concrete and broken tiles. Can you see the problem? To remove it they brought along what looked like a hire van with a tiny little lift on the back which was in no way capable of lifting that thing. There was much rocking the bin backward and forward, then they got out metres of strapping.

Then more rocking. Then they tried lifting the top layer of rubble by hand into the truck, with a bit more strapping and rocking. Then the bin fell over completely, which meant I had to retreat into the kitchen so they wouldn’t hear me laughing. Much cursing as they got out a couple of shovels and transferred the lot into the truck that way. I’ll bet they don’t get their deposit back.

We now have a bathroom we can bath in, clean our teeth in and shower in if we don’t mind getting water all over the toilet. We’re waiting on the shower screen, the towel rails, some little glass shelves, the toilet roll holder and a soap dish. I have to call the bathroom supply place for the shower screen, but I need to spend another few hours breathing deeply first.

Bathroom Progress

It’s not like it’s a complicated bathroom. It’s a straight rip out, reinstall stuff in exactly the same spot only new. Yes, we did discover that the floor waste wasn’t at the lowest point in the room and just emptied under the house anyway, and we did need to cut the giant architrave around the window to accommodate the shower screen. But why does it feel like this may be the first bathroom this team has ever done?

I get that there’s a lot of tradesmen involved. I’ve met Terry, Stu, Andrew, John, Sam and Alfio. I didn’t quite catch the names of the demolition team, but I think they were both called Scott. And Crystal, the site supervisor, has popped off for a week’s holiday, the slacker, so that doesn’t help. But I’m up to my fourth schedule version in this three week job. They’re not even bothering writing them down any more. At least today’s revision involved an acceleration.

I was expecting the carpenter, he was the one finally tasked to remove the window architrave after the demolition Scotts and the renderer passed on it. He actually arrived in the expected window between seven and seven thirty this morning. “Where’s the plumber?” he asked. What an excellent question. He was supposed to be here too, putting in the bath so the carpenter could build a frame around it. Fortunately he appeared while I was dropping off kids. “Where’s the bath waste?” he asked. It was a day for excellent questions. A text to Tony the bathroom supply chap brought it by express delivery half an hour too late. They managed to insert it anyway.

I was just stepping out of the house for a delightful lunch with friends when my mobile rang. It was Sam the tiler. “I’ll be there in half an hour” he said, not on Saturday as advertised. I put the keys in the tiny safe attached to the front door and advised him of the code. I arrived home to the distinctive smell of polymers cross linking. It’s been a while, so I can’t pick the exact chemicals, but I’m feeling like its an acrylate of some sort. I’ll have to check with the husband, he’s the one with the PhD in polymer chemistry. Anyway, he’s put a fan in front of the bathroom to help dry it and to push the pong out the denuded bathroom window. “Where’s the tiles?” he asked. I knew that one, out on the back verandah. “Ah yes, but where is the capping?” Cursing a little, I texted Tony again. “Where’s the capping tiles?” I texted. “And also, peeping into Chapter 2, is the vanity ready?”. Trying to preempt further snappy texts next week. It’ll be arriving tomorrow lunchtime. I wonder if it would have without any nifty phone work?

As I farewelled Sam, he paused to criticise the key safe. “Three digits no good”, he opined. “Any teenager, half an hour to get into it. Four digit much better.” I removed the keys from it immediately. That’ll show those teenagers.

I thought it prudent to close the dogs out of this bit of the house. I can just see them both up to their furry little ankles stuck in the waterproofing. I have enough going on without having to call in a dog extractor.

Goodbye Bathroom

I know my limits, sometimes, and I know I don’t do renovations. I’ve lived through my parents’ renovations and my Nanna’s renovations and it’s not for me. My neighbour nearly had a nervous breakdown doing hers and a friend said her renovation was far worse than having cancer – speaking from experience – and had permanently warped her view of mankind.

I only renovate when the house portion in question has actually stopped functioning. A couple of years ago it was time to bid goodbye to the old kitchen and bathroom. I had to send my husband to Afghanistan for six months to get it done with the least discussion. I got in a kitchen and bathroom company and told them to tell me what I wanted. I agreed, with the proviso that whatever they installed had to be extremely hard wearing. I don’t want to have to do it twice.

The inside bathroom had a toilet which had been condemned by the last plumber as being unrepairable, a rotting vanity, a peeling bath and a completely unworkable shower curtain arrangement.

A couple of chaps turned up this morning to remove it. “Expect them between nine and ten” said the bathroom company. Which, as you all know means that’s the exact time of the day they’re guaranteed not to turn up. They arrived at ten forty eight, with a gripping story of flat tyres and bent axles. “Are you keeping the bath?” they asked. What, the cast iron one with the wobbly feet, the chipped enamel, that sucks all the heat out of the water? No way. “Put it out on the grass, and I reckon someone will come past and take it”. It lasted less than ten minutes before it had a new and grateful owner. Sucker.

One of the practicalities of a renovation is stopping the dogs from escaping. I stayed with them out on the back verandah. Harry’s normal tactic for removing an obstacle in his path is to sit beside it and determinedly lick it. He went one step further with the cardboard box I’d put up to block the dog door.

To entertain myself, I went on with my black and white necklace. I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped.

After much jack hammering and smoko breaks and the fire alarm going off and wheelbarrowing, the old bathroom was evicted.

Apparently the tiles had been simply glued on to the original hexagonal tiles underneath, explaining why the bathroom floor was higher than that of the rest of the house. I was slightly tempted to keep some of the original tiles, but what would I do with them? They’re just octagonal and terracotta coloured. Let them go.

And now I must call the bathroom fitting company who were going to deliver my new bathroom last Friday. Then Monday lunchtime. Then how about Wednesday? No, I said, I really need them Tuesday at the latest. Oh all right, you can have it Tuesday. I called them at lunchtime to check my bathroom was on its way. “Yes, the truck will be there a bit after four”. Here it is dark, the children full of sausages and gone to tennis and nothing to fill the aching void of bathroom. This is why I don’t do renovations. Look out, I’m putting on my terse voice.