Guest Author: Tee Conroy
Everyone is now jealous of Tee’s two new bathrooms. Though it must be said, she is generous with allowing visitors to use at least one of them.
The morning after that troubling call, I headed downstairs to my laundry room with a load of dirty clothes only to discover construction debris from the demolition everywhere and bits of my old bathtub inside my washing machine! I soon learned the first problem was when they removed the bathtub, they discovered rotten subflooring! Next, they found a vertical stud behind the shower wall that had been sawed in half. This mistake had probably occurred when the house was built almost 60 years ago. Fixing these items would be an additional expense, ugh, however, they also found, behind the bathtub, 10 inches of empty space which could be added to the length of my shower! On day two demolition continued with the removal of three layers of sheet vinyl in the guest bathroom. They left the toilet.
On day three the framing in the main bathroom started. They replaced the subflooring and framing in the shower and laid some sort of orange plastically looking square stuff that tile likes to adhere to. Meanwhile, the master bedroom became a storage room for my bathroom sink and under cabinet, and a big cardboard box that contained my new toilet. The workmen had to stop and pet the dog every time they went out to the porta john or the truck for supplies. Cricket was very happy about this.
The days started rolling together a bit at this point. Because of my busy schedule, I really didn’t spend much time watching every move the workmen made, but I was surprised at how fast they were progressing on this job! Before long the plumbing and wiring had all been done. Then new walls and subflooring appeared, and at last the tiles started going up. It looks beautiful, even better than I had hoped. I’m glad I opted for a few extras that the builder suggested. I knew I wanted the borderless shower entry and possibly a glass wall, but I got a faucet handle for the shower that is on the back wall of the shower, meaning you don’t get wet when you turn the water on! I also found out I could have a doorless shower and glass that was especially treated so you don’t have to squeegee it every time you shower. David, the builder, also found a fancy assed shower drain underneath which is a hair-trapper basket!
Next came my night without a working toilet. I must say that the builder offered to temporarily hook up the old toilet in the master bathroom just for one night, then unhook it the next day and reinstall the new toilet. I hate to see wasted labor like that. I do have a downstairs toilet, but middle of the night trips to the bathroom down in the basement area could be an invitation to a nocturnal hip fracture. So, I removed the plastic grocery bag liner from my bathroom trashcan and got a roll of toilet paper and placed both in the hall outside my bedroom. I’m proud to say that in the middle of the night I hit the mark, not spilling one drop on the floor! The next morning, I used the downstairs toilet, then after breakfast, went to the YMCA for a dance class followed by a leisurely shower. When I arrived home that afternoon, the powder room toilet had been installed on the new tile floor. It looked so good. Yay!
I started to get questions and had difficulty deciding where and how high I wanted towel racks, did I want hooks, a shelf, a cubby for towels and many other things I have never had to consider in my lifetime. In the house that I had built years ago, everything was installed without these questions. But now that I had to choose each thing, it suddenly became important. So then, I’m realizing that the next thing coming up is the builder asking me what colors I have selected for the walls. Help! A friend steered me back to Lowe’s to look at colors, select some I liked, and purchase tiny cans of those colors and paint them somewhere to see how they looked. I bought 5 colors, painted 5 patches, then telephoned family and friends to come over and give their opinion. I wasn’t sure of my choices, but I plunged forward and picked colors of light green and seafoam blue with white trim happily ridding myself of the gloomy gray/ dark blue gray and embracing lightness!!
After the second week, the walls were painted and dried. David said I was ready to take my first shower. I would just have to put up the shower curtain for now. The next morning, I walked in and preheated my bathroom for the first time. Wow! I keep my house temperature at 65 and that warm bathroom felt mighty fine. Then I tried to put up the old shower rod but couldn’t make it stay up because the inner spring got lost in the construction debris. I stole the rod from the guest bathroom and installed it in my new, now overly hot bathroom, then asked my Amazon Alexa to loudly shuffle one of my playlists. I cracked the door so I could hear and possibly dance in my new shower, then striped off my clothes and turned on my faucet on the back wall of the shower.
I immediately got soaked with cold water! I saw that the shower head was tilted up and directly spraying the back wall of the shower, ricocheting off the tile onto the rest of the bathroom floor! Fortunately, I’d brought extra towels and tried to build a dike of sorts to mop and hold the water. Then I headed toward the shower head and tried unsuccessfully manipulating it to point downwards. Since I was already soaking wet, I decided to go ahead and shower, but make it fast. Meanwhile I was noticing that it was taking a while for the water to warm up. I reached back to turn the water to hotter, but realized it was already set on the maximum heat! Quickly I rinsed all the soap and shampoo out, turned off the water, grabbed my last dry towel, stepped out and saw that all the towels on the floor were soggy with water. Now, I was worrying, wondering if my basement is flooding and my new subflooring is wet. I left my drying towel on the floor to help soak up the water and ran naked to my hall linen closet where I grabbed an army of dry towels. I tossed all but one on the floor and proceeded to mop up the tsunami, then wrapped myself in the remaining towel.
Once warmly wrapped in towel and bathrobe, I decided I’d better finish mopping up the floor. I had to keep squeezing water out of the full towels and use them again. Once finished, I began to hang the towels over my towel rack, support bars, shower head, and dump the rest of the towels in the bathtub in the guest bathroom!
Next, I proceeded to get dressed!! The deodorant was in the new bathroom, but the body lotion was in the guest bath. I traipsed back and forth, ending up in the guest bath with my hair dryer, thinking I was very smart not to electrocute myself on a wet floor. I cranked up my blow dryer and in about a minute all the electricity in the bathroom went off. What new hell is this? I headed to the downstairs garage, where the electrical box is located, and was shocked to realize that all my downstairs lights were out as well! I grabbed a flashlight, headed down again and flipped on the guilty breaker. Upon returning to the upstairs, I decided to blow dry my hair from a kitchen outlet. I finished dressing, took my dog for a walk, and awaited the morning’s scheduled visit by my builder and the job forewoman to talk about what little things needed to be done and to make another progress payment.
David arrived and said, “Did you love your shower?” and I recanted my tales of the morning while he and the forewoman echoed “Oh no!” like a good Greek chorus. The easiest was the shower head. I just didn’t know how to adjust it. The matter of the cold shower was resolved when she took the handle off and discovered that these new shower handles have governors built in them to prevent children or addled seniors from accidentally scalding themselves. Evidently, the default setting on these things is lukewarm. She adjusted the shower. The electrical was a more difficult matter. It would require a separate breaker switch and an electrician. In the meanwhile, I could dry my hair in the bathroom, but would need to turn the heater and fan off. I did test out the new shower head angle and the hot water before they left, and it worked perfectly!
So, it’s been a couple of weeks now and there are a few minor things that need doing, like the breaker switch, some paint touch ups, and the shower glass, which may take another 2-3 weeks to be installed. Despite this, I am in love with my new bathroom! Showering is a joy; the grab bars and towel bars and shelving look good and are in the correct places. The color on the walls is mood-boosting. The ultimate shower day was when I took the dog in the shower with me, and we both got clean! I seriously look forward to showers now. The other bathroom looks nice too, with its tile floor and paint job. I’m proud for my peeing guests to use it! I’m only inviting my closest friends to shower though.