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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Helping Mother - A Comedy of Errors (Part one)

A couple of months back I got an email from my mother. She was going to get her bathroom remodeled and she was quoted $6000 for a room that was no more than 10' X 8'.
So, being the good boy that I am, I volunteered for the job in order to save her several thousand $$$. The job involved putting tile on the walls and installing new bath tub, toilet and sink.

Well last week I went to mother's house and spent 7 of the 12 days working on the bathroom project. Just like at The Old Crack House I managed to under estimate the time it would take to finish the job. When people ask about how I am doing with our house, I generally reply with "I am ten years into my three year project!" If all went well with my mothers bathroom it could be done in 3 days, possibly 5 days. Needless to say, nothing went well. My brother stopped by soon after my arrival and proceeded to tell me that where my mother lives the only water supplied by a main pressure line was the kitchen faucet. The water would then feed into a cistern in the roof that feeds all the other parts of the house by what is referred to as a low pressure system. I put my nephew to work right away pulling up carpet tiles and then linoleum tiles from the floor while I set about looking at the plumbing.

The first thing I had to do was isolate the downstairs bathroom from the rest of the house so that I could remove all the fixtures and still have water supply to the kitchen and upstairs bathroom. After turning off the water to the house I installed two shut off valves. One to the hot water line that came from the water heater and a cold water line that went to the cistern. I disconnected and removed the toilet from the room and turned on the main water supply that was located under the kitchen sink. Well, water started spewing everywhere! Upon close examination I could see that the water line from the kitchen went under the floor and came up behind the bath tub where it branched off to feed the sink, toilet and bath before going up to the cistern. The water line would not be accessible unless the tub was removed and it would appear that a hole had been put into the concrete block wall behind the tub in the past for this very reason.

I learned three things that day. One, my brother knows nothing about plumbing. Two, the water was going to have to remain shut off for at least a day since, three, it was going to take longer than expected simply because where mother lives the shops close at 6 PM and it takes 15 minutes to go 3 miles in a car.

Here are pictures of the bathroom before I got started. My mother and her friend had already removed much of the wall tile before my arrival. You can see all the lovely avocado green fixtures that were popular in the 1970s. However, this bathroom was done around October 1983 if the newspaper stuffed as a filler in some of the wall spaces has anything to tell us. The pages were dated September 23, 1983.

Now before I continue with part two of this saga, I do need to mention that mother lives in England .......


At 10/06/2011 12:54 PM, Anonymous Kate H. said...

In England. I should have guessed that from the radiator.

And from you mother's having an in-house cistern. Does she also have one of those dinky water heaters you have to remember to turn on the night before?

May we take it you're not getting grief from the Dayton paper for taking your "vacation" this year? If so, good!

At 10/06/2011 5:43 PM, Blogger Gary said...

Yes she has the water heaters and a wall mounted shower unit that is electric.
The local paper has a new editor and publisher. All the old editorial board "retired" and the newspaper has changed quite dramatically. Anonymous comments are almost all gone and some of the editors have met with me off the record to try to make amends. I am still a little cautious. Once bitten, twice shy. We have a new government reporter who isn't inclined to make up stories. I am treated more fairly. They mostly leave me alone now. Very few people knew I was away and those that knew the purpose of my visit couldn't critcize because they would look bad. Mayor who helps his mother save money on remodel is not a story that gets them ratings!

At 10/11/2011 1:04 PM, Blogger River Wilson said...

That is very sweet of you to help your mum! Especially with a project as tiresome as a bathroom remodeling. We, too are cursed with the 70s bathtub, though ours is a lovely "harvest gold". Very hard to decorate around. I hope part II of this remodeling went more smoothly for you, and as always, your blog is an inspiration!

At 11/29/2011 11:29 AM, Blogger Deena Smith said...

Great job with your mother's bathroom! I recently just hired a few contractors to assist with my Bathroom Remodeling in New Jersey and I was shocked to find the prices they charge for such a small space! Two bathrooms cost me an arm and a leg! Unfortunately, I do not have any children quite as handy as yourself! You have a very lucky mom! Great job!

At 1/16/2012 4:16 PM, Anonymous Dwane Zelinsky said...

Oh, you are such a caring son that you even volunteered yourself to remodel the bathroom. You can be a plumber too, and your mother's in England. Well, I didn't see that coming. :-)


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