I’ll just warn you at the outset – this is a very long story.
Here’s the short version:
It took way longer than we thought. I shed many tears over things that went wrong. In the end, we have a lovely new bathroom.
The long version:
Way back in 2014, we noticed that the caulking around our bathtub and the grout in the pink-tiled tub surround was starting to erode. I wanted to get rid of everything pink (those damn pink tiles are in both bathrooms and the kitchen, and I hate cleaning them) so we decided it was time for a new bathtub, too.
We got this crazy idea that we could update the entire bathroom in just a couple of weeks on our tight budget by doing much of the work ourselves.
I spent almost every evening in July watching HDTV and shopping for bathtubs online. When we found the bathtub we wanted, we ordered it right away and crossed our fingers that it would get here in time. The tub arrived within two days, and sat in our living room for two weeks until we were ready for it.
“Better early than late,” Joel and I laughed to each other. Little did we know, this was just the first in a long line of things not going according to plan.
We started the demolition on Friday, August 22. Of course, we didn’t have anywhere to store the cabinets that we tore out … so they went into the living room with the new bathtub. The cats were very excited about this.
We took a well deserved break and went out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. We were SO tired, but we toasted to the new bathroom and patted ourselves on the back. The plumber was scheduled to come the next day, and the contractor who was installing the new tub surround was scheduled to come Thursday. Our labor intensive work was done, and within a week, we’d be enjoying our new bathroom!
… Or not.
The next day, I was back at the office, excitedly texting Joel “is the plumber there yet? Text me pictures!” and he informed me that the plumber’s van had broken down en route. So we rescheduled for Wednesday. But – the new vanity was delivered, so Joel had plenty to do.
Wednesday, the plumber showed up and got to work plumbing in a second sink. This takes a while. I stopped on the way home from work to pick up some takeout (remember those sheets of drywall? We didn’t have anywhere to store them either, but not wanting them to be in the way of the tub, put them in the kitchen, rendering the kitchen unusable.)
When I got home, the plumber was still there working, and Joel and I still had a ton left to do before the contractor came out the next day to install the new tub surround. We had to get those sheets of drywall out of the kitchen, installed around the tub, and painted!
By the time the clock struck midnight and I was still standing in the tub in my work clothes slapping paint on the boards, I admitted defeat. The rest would have to wait until morning.
The contractor was scheduled to show up between 8 and 10, so we figured we had plenty of time. And wouldn’t you know it, we got the guy who showed up promptly at 8! He suggested that we reschedule the appointment so that the paint would have plenty of time to dry. I was bummed, but it gave us a little breathing room to get to some of the detailed stuff that we hadn’t had a chance to address. We ended up making FOUR TRIPS to the Home Depot that day.
In between Depot trips, we figured out that the new bathtub had been installed incorrectly. So Joel scheduled another appointment with the plumber to have it fixed.
The next week, the plumber came back and reinstalled the tub. It was better, but there was still a weird strip down the center where the floor wasn’t properly supported. The plumber suggested we try hiring someone else.
So we did. On September 7th, a second plumber installed the bathtub for the third time. This time, when the issue with the floor persisted, I contacted the manufacturer to say that we’d gotten a defective tub. This ended up being kind of a long process, too, but they sent a local fiberglass expert to evaluate, and thankfully, it was an easy fix.
At long last, on October 5th, the contractor came out and installed the new tub surround!
Now, at this point, the tub was technically functional, but part of the floor had been damaged when we took out the old tub, so I asked Joel to fix it before we started using the tub. As he was in the throes of midterms, it was another week or two before he had time to get to it.
Once he did, I let him take the inaugural bath in the new tub. It had been nearly three months since either of us had taken a bath! (Before you give me too much credit for my generosity – I used the bathtub in my hotel room when I travelled in early October, so it was only fair!) And when he did (ominous music) the drain leaked.
Now, when the first plumber installed the new drain, there was a bit of an issue because he couldn’t access it from below (as in, through the ceiling of our neighbor’s shower.) He’d had to cut a hole in the wall behind the tub, and luckily, our laziness paid off because we hadn’t yet gotten around to patching that hole. The plumber made yet another trip out to tighten up the drain, but from then on, it’s been smooth sailing.
(Well, smooth sailing of the bathroom project anyway. In the middle of this, we also had to replace our washing machine and all of our heaters. Please, no jokes about the joys of being a homeowner. I don’t find them particularly amusing right now.)
The week before Christmas, Joel finished installing the molding around the bathroom and we decided to call it good. We still need some kind of cabinet or shelving to store our linens, but I don’t think I can bear anymore work or shopping for bathroom furniture.
In conclusion, I have some advice for anyone contemplating a bathroom remodel: don’t.
Okay, fine. If you must, hire a project manager to make all of the decisions and trips to the hardware store for you, and take a relaxing vacation to come home to a finished project.