Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Reluctant Renovator - The Bad and the Ugly

Over the past few weeks I've learned why renovation projects can ruin a marriage. My bathroom flooded and needed to be completely redone. Fortunately, I live in a rental and didn't have to pay for it. I've learned a very important lesson, you should always have enough money in your savings account to pick up and move on a moment's notice. It's been a horrible experience. My walls started out looking like this. Every day they seemed to get worse. I had been asking my landlord to fix my bathroom for a long time. When the bubble developed, I told them it was now an emergency.

Still no response from the landlord.

When the wall caved in, I banged on the door of the custodian and demanded he come look at the wall that very minute. He came reluctantly. When he saw the wall he shit. He put his hand in the hole. The wall came down instantly and water poured from it. Now that I was his biggest fire. That's how it is in an old building. Within minutes it looked like this.

It just kept crumbling. The custodian said it all had to come down. Within about 10 minutes, it looked like this. And it stunk, badly.

He told me he would have to trace the source of the leak, fix the leak, treat the mold....all before new walls could go up.

The first day of the renovation, the ceiling came down. Well, disintegrated actually. There were layers of cardboard under the plaster, and grimy, dusty cardboard particles got all over everything. I was furious when I got home from work because they had not used a tarp to cover the bathroom door. Nor had they left the window open for the fumes. I live in a tiny apartment, there was no escaping the smells. And the grimy, dusty gunk ruined most of the things in my walk-in closet. Clothes, shoes, makeup all had to be thrown away.

And, oh yeah, my tub got ruined in the process.

The custodian assured me the repair would take four days. And in four days I would have a new bathroom. But it was a Pandora's box. The repair just kept getting bigger bigger bigger. Pipes had to be replaced from the fourth floor to the first. Three weeks later, work is almost complete. What a horrible three weeks it's been. It's awful coming home to chaos after a long stressful day. The smells make me want to puke. And, I've had to shower in an empty apartment down the hall. Each day before leaving for work, I've had to part tarps all over everything. Each day when I returned, I had to clean up mud from the worker's boots. And dust and more dust and more dust....

I vowed I would never again go through a renovation project. No wonder it destroys relationships. I'm going to have to design a house, so it is perfect when I move in. No renovations for me.

Like I said, this was Pandora's box. The custodian traced the leak to a hairline fracture in an old pipe. He said it had probably been leaking for years. The pipe had to be replaced from the fourth floor to the first floor. And to get to the pipe he had to put a hole in the wall. Apparently when these old buildings were built, they must have thought the plumbing would last forever. There is often no way to get to the pipes.

Every day they kept promising me it would be done. Every day at work, I hoped this evening would be the last time I had to clean up dust and that I could take a bubble bath. Each day, I breathlessly checked the progress and was disappointed.

I had to move everything out of my walk in closet because of the dust. This is what my dining room looked like. I decided to take the opportunity to organize and get rid of stuff. Even though I try really hard to keep clutter down, I somehow always have too much stuff. I spent as much time as I could away from home, and fantasized about rearranging the furniture, and redecorating.

Saw this Herman Miller sofa and this hanging light at the vintage store. Hmm. Maybe I should add purple to my decor. Love the sofa, but $750.00. Not in the budget. Love the light, only $14.00. Almost bought it, but it was too dusty. I just couldn't bear to clean more dust.

Saw this pouf and standing lamp at trusty Target. Can never go have too much pink. The pouf is actually for a kid's room, but I don't care. And the lamp kinda screams college dorm room to me, but I don't care. It does have sort of a mid-century appeal. The shades are plastic, wouldn't it be cool if they were frosted glass?

The custodian assured me the bathroom would be done Friday. I couldn't concentrate at work, I couldn't wait to get home and clean and organize the apartment. Here's how the bathroom looked Friday when I got home. The walls are perfect.

And there's a beautiful new light fixture.

The workmanship on the tub is a little disappointing, but it is much improved. Most disappointing was that my water was turned off! The landlord left a note saying that the tub could not be used for 24 hours. Okay. But it still would have been nice to have use of the sink. I still had to go down the hall to use the bathroom. And I haven't been able to get a hold of my landlord to turn the water back on. Ahhhhhh. Needless to say I am no longer enamored with old buildings.

Although I will miss the shower head from the apartment down the hall. The best water pressure I've ever encountered. When I design my home, I hope I can find a reproduction of this.

No more old buildings for me. I want clean, modern, simple and new. And oh yeah, I am dying for a bubble bath.

1 comment:

laura said...

after reading this i feel sick for you!! i hate when workers have no respect for people's homes and don't use tarps... how heart breaking to HAVE to throw things out without a choice. thank goodness it is over :)


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