Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oh Goody! ANOTHER Remodeling Project!

An unscheduled, unwanted, unplanned remodeling project, but one that must be done.

The other day, my daughter reported that there was water on the garage floor after Delaney had her bath. Weird, I know. We thought, hmmm, hot water heater issue? But it didn't happen when they showered in the other bathroom, so that wasn't it. I told her to call a plumbing company I'd used at least three times in the past. I'd always been very happy with their service.

She's on Christmas break, so she was home when the plumber arrived yesterday. She texted me, told me he was looking for the source of the problem, the tub is in a difficult place because it is on the same wall as the A/C in the garage, etc. I left work an hour early (mind you, still sick as a dog at this point) and headed for the house.

I arrived, introduced myself as the owner, asked what was going on, we entered the house through the garage. The plumber led me in, down the hall to the bathroom. I noticed tools and buckets in the foyer, but didn't really look closely.

He showed me how he'd pulled the shower head off the wall, etc., etc., hadn't seen the problem, but "Here, look at this!" and led me back to the foyer, to proudly show me a large hole he'd CUT THROUGH THE WALL, RIGHT AT THE FRONT DOOR - "Look, see the water running there?" I was truly struck speechless. He'd CUT A FUCKING HOLE IN MY FUCKING LIVING ROOM WALL! WITHOUT ASKING ME, WITHOUT INFORMING MY DAUGHTER HE WAS ABOUT TO DO IT! WITHOUT ANY DISCUSSION OR ASKING PERMISSION!

I pointed this out to him, without the use of all caps or F words, in a strained but obviously angry voice. He said, "I had to do it to diagnose the problem." Me: "So, is the leak in that pipe?"

Um, no.

Actually, he found the leak AFTER he vandalized the living room. When he went back into the bathroom and pulled the seal at the tub drain, it was obvious - the edge of the hole in the tub is actually rusted, and had a gap big enough for water to bypass the drain pipe and drain around the pipe, down under the tub, where it followed the path of least resistance under the wall into the garage.

He showed me this, like a dumb dog proudly giving you your favorite shoe after chewing it. Look! There's the leak! The gap at the edge of the tub drain was obvious. I repeated, in my strained voice, "So, the hole in my living room wall wasn't necessary." Oh yes, yes it was, he insisted. He had to diagnose the problem. Because you know, I"m a woman and I don't understand these complicated plumbing challenges.

I believe at this point I used the word Bullshit. "If you'd pulled the drain seal first, you'd have seen it. I can see, it, it's obvious, and I'm not a highly trained professional." He was very, very quiet. He was dumb as shit, but he did get sarcasm.

A very strained discussion ensued, in which he told me he could do nothing for the problem on this visit and the tub will need to be replaced. He proceeded to pack up his weapons of house destruction, but came back and presented me with a bill for his time, with an extra $30 for the "extra work" - of sawing an unnecessary hole in my living room wall. And of course, he didn't do a neat job and remove a neat square we could at least tape into place temporarily. Oh no, he hacked at the wall like a 3 year old with his first safety scissors wailing away on a sheet of construction paper. He cut it in a half dozen small chunks. The hole is now covered with cardboard salvaged from one of Miss D's Christmas gift boxes, and shiny silver duct tape, because nothing screams, "We have hit bottom and are officially Florida white trash," like cardboard and duct tape covering a hole in your living room wall.

I'm sure it was having been sick all week, I'm sure it was just exhaustion and stress, but I took that hole in my wall like a personal assault. If it had been necessary to repair a leaking pipe, sure, of course, it had to be done. But for no good reason because oh hey, looky here, the leak is in the tub itself and I hadn't checked that before I got out the saw? I was nearly in tears of hot rage and frustration, and this turned into a pity party of fairly epic proportions. I need new eyeglasses, I need to see a dentist, I need so many, many things, but I'll be remodeling something else. Homeownership! I had a very bad evening, and worse, I took it out on everyone around me, and I feel horrible about that.

I am somewhat calmer today. It's New Year's Eve so everybody closed early and I was busy at work, so I didn't have time to call this jackass's company and tell them what happened, but trust me, this is NOT something I'm going to forget. I'll be calling on Thursday. I'm not naming the company until I see how they respond to my story - if they blow me off, I'll be happy to share this story far and wide, including Angie's List, but first, I'll talk to them.

I have just barely enough money to be able to deal with the bathroom, I think, in a home equity line on the house, plus money from my savings - money I really needed to spend on other things, you know, silly luxuries like dental and vision care, but there you have it. I knew those bathrooms would need work at some point, I just wasn't thinking RIGHT NOW. But the leak made it RIGHT NOW, and so I will deal with it.

And, since replacing the tub means pulling out the wall tile and drywall up a foot or so to get the tub out, and of course that tile is 30 years old so forget matching it, the walls would have to be retiled anyway, well, WTF, might as well replace the sink and small vanity and fix the ugly tiny floor area too, while it's getting torn up. It's just a tiny little 5x8 foot standard bath, vanity/sink-toilet-shower/tub combo, nothing fancy, and it's 30 years old. The vanity is cheesy cheap, the sink is small and in poor shape, the lighting is awful, the towel rod fell off the wall recently, it truly looks like hell, and there's no point in just replacing the tub and leaving the rest. The tub is the big expense; compared to that, the rest is chump change.

So here we go again. My balcony will go without tile and new screens a while longer, but a functioning bathroom is a must.

I was going to write about all the plans I have for 2014. This wasn't one of them, but oh well, plot twist! More about the rest of the stuff tomorrow, probably.

Happy New Year!


Anonymous said...

A good tradesman is worth his weight in gold, and that plumber is NOT worth his weight in s--t! and I do not mean soot!
If the company refuses to make good on the damage then yell your loudest.
Why in heaven's name didn't he check the tub first, or was it just easier and more fun to destroy the wall? He must have been able to assess the probable age of the tub from experience alone, and should have known that was a logical starting point.

Gae, in Callala Bay

Catherine said...

He went all around the tub - pulled the faucet and shower head from the wall, checked "everything" BUT the seal at the tub drain. Then he cut a hole in the wall, and after that he went back to the bathroom and pulled the seal and found the source. As I said, I'd have been FINE if there was a leak in the pipe and the hole was necessary to find and repair it, that's life - and I didn't appreciate his mansplaining to me about how he had to do that to diagnose the problem.