Jan 15

The Bathroom Remodel Episode.

In my year end review for 2015 I mentioned that the biggest project of the year and biggest headache was all part of what I now refer to as the Bathroom Remodel Episode. It all started with the idea of getting a new washer and dryer. That idea then grew into adding a shower to my second bathroom. It sounded so simple and oh, what a convenience it would be for visiting guests to have access to a shower without the need to walk through the master bedroom to get there.

The first indication of a problem was during the costing process. A plumber, who I’ve had occasion to use in the past, was slow getting his numbers to me and that should have been a clue for me to find someone else for this job. I pressed on. Immediately after my return from China in the spring, I persisted in trying to get a firm number from the plumber on the cost of this job. I had chosen the washer and dryer unit and found a good sale price, but I needed to get the project underway and inform the appliance company when to deliver. I was anxious because I had already unhooked the older washer and dryer and was now forced to do my laundry at the closest laundromat – 18 miles away! Aside from the added cost of paying to do my laundry, it was a tremendous nuisance to have to spend a hot afternoon or evening in June at the laundromat.

The old washer and dryer removed and walled prepared for shower installation.

The old washer and dryer removed, the plumbing relocated and just before changing the windows out.

The plumber was central to this project because the initial phase required first, removing the drain lines from the old washing machine and then reinstalling the water and drain lines to the opposite side of the room to accommodate the new stacking washer-dryer units.

After this phase of the project, the window needed to be removed and replaced with one half its size. I was warned that having a window in the vicinity of a shower (or other water source) could cause structural problems in the future if moisture went undetected in an outside wall. I insisted on a window and we agreed on style and size. I wanted air circulation and natural light. After having seen the final room with the small window, I am convinced that without a window the shower, indeed the entire room would be much too dark and I would have to add lighting somewhere in that small space. It is amazing how the smallest bit of natural light can brighten up a room.

So, the old washer and dryer had been out for a month and the weather had been dreadful with rain coming down sideways. Mild rain can be cause for slow-downs in construction projects, but week-long downpours with driving rains bring all outdoor construction projects to a standstill. This was the case during the BRE. There was no point in opening up the backside of the house to remove and replace a window in the pouring rain. It would be a tremendous nuisance for the workers. There was a strong likelihood that we would get water inside the house and perhaps into the basement causing a mess that would require a lot of mopping-up…..and so we waited for the rains to pass. By the time the weather settled enough for the project to proceed, I was already a bit peeved at the delay but could not blame it on anyone. Funny how the weather can make or break a good plan.

So the fellow who was sub-contracted by my plumber showed up one fine sunny day and began the process of removing the existing window. Simple enough. However, when he presented the replacement window, it was not what had discussed. Not the window I had told him I wanted. Not the correct style of window. Not what we had agreed on. How does this happen?

I was annoyed. So, he tried to assure me that he can find a window that will work. He called the factory to contact some alleged “connection” he has with this big shot so and so in a nationally recognized window company with a local outlet. I was not impressed with his self-promoting gibberish about connections and contacts in the right places. I just wanted him to get the window so we may go forward with the project that had already incurred a one month delay. Well, Mr. Big Shot at the window company informs his well connected plumber friend that the window we need to fill the space we have is no longer in stock and would need to be made as a custom order. Custom orders take 4 – 6 weeks. I was informed of this and it added to the frustration. I expressed my frustration and annoyance at the incompetence of the carpenter. The window he intended to install was completely unacceptable. It was a window of much lesser quality and value than what we had agreed to. He was trying to slip a sub-standard window into this project and save himself some money on the deal. This is one of the sneaky things some contractors will try to get away with. So, my frustration led to a bit of anger at not getting the right window in a timely manner. The carpenter then made another phone call to one of his connection. This time he comes up with a score. The window available was not exactly what I wanted, but it was available and at a decent price. It sure beat waiting a month or more for what I wanted. I absolutely could not go another month doing my laundry at the pay laundromat! I went and picked up the window which allowed the carpenter time enough to repair the damaged siding we had discussed.

When I returned with the window, it began to rain again. Not a good sign. After an hour the rain subsided and work resumed. The new window was installed and all the damaged siding was replaced. It was a simple job but made complicated by this contractors shadiness. I will never use his service again and I give a poor reference for such sneaky business maneuvers .

Now that the window phase was complete the remainder of the inside work could go on. The wall needed to be rebuilt where the old window had been removed and where the old water lines were. Additionally, the wall for the shower stall needed to be erected and the new plumbing installed inside that wall. After the wall was built, the floor of the shower had to be fitted and the drain installed. Once the shower stall was in place it would be tiled and finished. All of this, I was assured, would be completed within three days….three days turned into 9. I was not happy.

My unhappiness with the contractors I was dealing with led to greater unhappiness when, I measure the wall that the plumber installed for the shower. It looked longer than we talked about. In fact, it stuck out 8 inches farther than what we had agreed to! How does this happen?

This miscalculation was cause for great concern. Why?, you ask. Because, the dimensions of the washer and dryer are such that the machines will not fit between the existing vanity/sink with cupboard and this protruding new wall. The plumber informed me that he would have to charge an additional fee if I want him to reconfigure the vanity. I argued that the reconfiguration would not be necessary if he had properly measured the wall and installed to the dimensions of the plan we set forth!….much noise between two grown men ensued and none of it was pleasant. I directed him to complete the shower and the plumbing by the end of the day. I left him to complete the work and returned after I run my errands. Upon my return the plumber is nowhere to be found. The shower and plumbing are complete, but he had left a huge mess of debris from the project in my garage. His assistant had also left a mess under the house where he had accessed the piping among the floor joists and insulation.

The new washer and dryer were due for delivery tomorrow. The project was way behind schedule and not yet finished. The new kink in the plan involved the reconfiguration of the vanity and I felt, I will be damned if I will pay this idiot anything extra for a mistake of his own making. My sense at this point was that this clown is already being over-paid based on what I have witnessed in terms of shoddy workmanship and his poor work ethic. The most recent mistake, by the way, was only one of many I endured during his contracting of the plan. At that point, I was quite disgusted with the entire project. I had put up with delays due to weather. Delays due to contractors not showing up when they said they would be here to begin the work. Delays because of the wrong materials, and now, a delay because this idiot didn’t take a proper measurement! I called and left a message on his voicemail to come by tomorrow so I could cash him out.

The newly reconfigured vanity and new medicine cabinet.

The newly reconfigured vanity and new medicine cabinet.

He arrived the next day and inquired what I was going to do about the vanity issue and the washer dryer. I told him that I had hired another plumber to reconfigure that, because I was sick of his nonsense and I would not allow him to do another bit of work in my home. I further stated that his work style was appalling and his constant yelling at his inept assistant was annoying to listen to. I suggested that he hire quality help at a decent wage and he wouldn’t have to annoy his customers with all the yelling and scolding the ignoramuses that he employed. Finally, I told him to clean up the mess he made and get out!

The stacking washer/dryer is a real space saver. To the left of the washing unit and behind the wall is the new shower.

The stacking washer/dryer is a real space saver. To the left of the washing unit and behind the wall is the new shower.

The next day the washer and dryer arrived. As I expected they would not fit properly into the space. So they were installed initially sticking out of the corner and looking quite dysfunctional and ridiculous. But at least I could wash my clothes at home again. The new plumber came a few days later and fixed the issue with the sink and vanity. He had a very economical way of doing it by cutting the existing vanity in half and just replacing the sink and counter top. That saved a couple hundred dollars at the end of a project that had already gone way over cost.




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