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Melissa & Fraser's Bathroom Odyssey

The renovations are done and I finally updated with the rest of the saga! Apologies for the delay.
Latest updates ... Plans ...Products ... Pre-renovation ... the (almost) finished product

Bath sticking into floor at a definite angleHere is the bath that went through the floor when Fraser was in it on Wednesday 21st November 2001.

It is a very nice bath except that it has no shower screen so water leaks (which probably contributed to the rotten floor!)
and it is impossible to clean the wall next to a clawfoot bath (hence the big dirty mark on the wall).

It doesn't look like a big problem - just a little hole - but we will have to pull up the whole bathroom floor and get it re-built.

This is the story of our renovations.

See photos of the pre-renovation room and site!

November - December, 2001

Ring around for quotes. 3 builders come, one quotes. We decide we'll probably go with our plumbers, who have given a verbal but not a written quote. I keep ringing to ask when the quote will be in; eventually, their builder injures his shoulder and retires. They no longer do bathroom renovations.

late January, 2002

A big bathroom company quoted on the renovations. They suggested it would cost around $30,000 - then came back 2 weeks later with a figure of $45,000. OUCH! We went with the builder Melissa's parents have used before.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Bruce the Builder brings the plan over for us to see. Melissa makes minor changes. Because that's the way I am :-) And because a laundry trough needs to be next to a washing machine that drains through it!

Thursday, February 14, 2002

(also Melissa's 23rd birthday -- ok, 32nd birthday.) - Got digital camera. No progress on Bathroom. Alcohol Units: 1. (Sorry - couldn't resist)

Friday, February 15, 2002

Melissa goes shopping! Well, looking. We have now chosen bathroom tiles, a laundry trough and tap, shower head and tap (sort of), toilet and vanity basin (use existing if possible). Our friend Paul bought our hot water service for us.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Bruce the Builder rings. He's starting work on Monday. Paul delivers the hot water service. Phew! All set (we hope)

Sunday, February 17, 2002

Final photos before the demolition begins. Clean out bathroom cupboards and throw away icky sticky things that may once have been toiletries.

Monday, February 18, 2002 - Day 1 Photo Update!

View the chaos that was our bathroom (and will be again, I am sure). The builders worked from 8am to 5pm today. Poor Puffy is going to have to get used to spending the day in the study (with kitty litter, water and food, I hasten to add!) - within 5 minutes of their arriving and my explaining that the kitty was NOT to get out the front, I caught her at the front gate.

Our friend Star should be happy - she makes mosaics and her partner collected *lots* of tile pieces for her. I'm thinking I might collect some tomorrow and make a groovy outdoor table to remind us of renovation!Hell.

Highlights of today:

  • The builders are stacking all the rubbish outside our property, on a vacant lot owned by the company on the corner who use it for parking. They haven't been there much lately, but something tells me they won't be happy to find the rubbish stacked there (it's temporary until they can get a skip to pack it all up & take it away
  • We have a big hole in our living room wall. Apparently one of the beams was glued to the wall so it all came away when they removed the beam
  • We have no roof on our bathroom, and the ceiling rose that I was told we could retain is shattered
  • So much for a working toilet - they had to take the cistern off. We can bucket-flush or - as Claudia told me when I got home - "You can wee on the grass, Mummy." (Think I'll pass). To have light for toileting, we've been turning on the outside light.
  • None of the powerpoints in the bathroom has any sort of cover. I wandered around wrapping them in Glad-Wrap.
  • They got the mirror out intact
  • We have no hot water, and are unlikely to have any for a week or so.
  • The entire floor is rotted, but particularly around the bath. It's weird that it went through the floor at the North end, when the South end is *much* more rotten.
  • The house's interior really *was* new when we bought it. The plasterboard is dated March 8 1996 - we bought in June 1996 so the work had just been finished.

The plans for tomorrow:

  • They'll be digging some holes tomorrow to put the new stumps in.
  • Destroy concrete path and dig out room for bathroom foundations
  • Gas!Guy should come to move the gas meter - hopefully round to the side of the house (at present it's propped)

Tuesday, February 19,2002 - Day 2 Photo Update!

Some sense is being made of the chaos - at least, we think so.

Highlights of today:

  • A rubbish skip was delivered today. To the vacant block/parking lot behind our house. Someone is going to be *very* unhappy with us, I suspect.
  • We have no toilet tonight. "Sorry, it had to come out". No idea when it will be back.
  • They've dug out the foundations area for the new bathroom.
  • It's going to cost $1500 extra to rebuild the floor. All the bearers were rotten, and were just sitting on the ground or on piles of bricks, with no proper foundations or stumps. (I'm trying not to remember that the kitchen is supposedly on stumps as well). At least these guys will do it properly, with concrete stumps (they're setting now - glad it was a hot day) and bearers. The floor will just be chipboard, but it doesn't matter when you're tiling.
  • The gas meter has been moved. One less thing to worry about :-)

The plans for tomorrow:

  • Plumber coming in the morning (9-12) to quote on all the plumbing work. We have to lock down where all the facilities will go before then - I'm happy with my revised plan but will look at Bruce's proposal in the morning.
  • Bruce hopes to get the floor (or the frame for it) built.
  • They're buying the tin for the roof tomorrow. It was sad to have to throw out the pieces of 'old' roof (it's only 4 years old).
  • By the weekend, we should have walls. (although I'm more interested in when we will have a toilet again!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2002 - Day 3 Photo Update!

Gaaaaaah. A friend keeps telling me I should watch The Money Pit but I have one of my own (besides, our video is in for expensive repairs).

Highlights of today:

  • The plumber came and quoted. He can probably do the job on Friday (which means we are toilet-free until then, and also not able to move out because our insurance company says until the back wall is restored we're uninsured - so we don't want to leave the house empty). I made an extremely crass comment to my mother about how I was going to celebrate and she didn't even twitch. (How the mighty are fallen!)
  • He said the shower couldn't be sited where it was (I think the doorway was too small). So another redesign has happened. Bruce did most of it but I fiddled with the vanity unit sink.
  • He also said (shudder) that the kitchen currently has 5cm diameter outlet pipes. These used to be legal but aren't anymore. These days, they have to be 10cm pipes. So all the drainage from the kitchen has to be redone (which will involve lifting the concrete path at the back of the house). At extra cost of course :-)
  • The **gas** pipes are too small as well. The builder pointed out that we only run the stove and the hot water service on gas - no central heating - and the plumber is thinking about this. The reason it's an issue is that he has to give us a certificate of compliance for the guarantee and he won't do that if something isn't right.
  • Part of the work involves moving the gully trap (possibly a local term). That's the main drain in the garden - it has a grate over it and also has the garden tap over it. Bruce the Builder knew that he had to move it but didn't realise we wanted the tap on the new gully trap (because our garden doesn't NEED a tap??? I know I rarely water the garden, but still...) [I went looking for gully trap information and diagrams and now know *much* more than I needed to about how they work and why we have them]
  • There's extra electrical work required on the hot water system because it has control pads for bathroom and kitchen. I'd kind of figured this out so am less stressed about it. But *ouch*
  • I think Bruce is planning to reuse the existing laundry trough by cutting off the lip, so I won't get the sexy round one (okay that's not a showstopper but I really really liked the one I'd chosen)
  • On a plus note, we *are* getting a new vanity basin - apparently the existing one is semi-recessed and isn't the kind that can be either fully or semi-recessed. Ah the joys of item choice.
  • It started pouring with rain at 2:30 today so they couldn't do much except cover up and finish. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

The plans for tomorrow:

  • Need to agree on layout. He likes my computer package so much, *I* draw the plans these days :-)
  • Need to order the spa [jacuzzi]. They have a 10 day lead time. Bruce is bringing a brochure tomorrow for the standard one he uses. It's a 6-jet unit.
  • Need to order the shower screen and cabinets. As soon as they've built the room, they can measure up exactly for these. (This will - I think - be kind of exciting. Feels like we're getting into the *real* stuff.)
  • We should have a toilet by Friday. Bruce offered to jerry-rig a temp vanity basin at the same time but we have a functional kitchen sink so there's really no point. My priorities at the moment are toilet and hot water.
  • The house should be at lock-up stage by the weekend.
  • I've asked him to buy the border tiles for the wall, as they were on special and I'm afraid they might sell out.


Thursday, February 21, 2002 - Day 4 photo Update!

Oh lordy, lordy, lordy. I clearly have no patience. I've hit Builder!Fatigue already.

Builder!Fatigue is the odd state where you will do and say anything to avoid having to make any more Building!Decisions.

This morning I went to the local swimming pool for a shower. I just couldn't take it any longer. Got back and the builders were there with a message from Bruce - he was on his way, could we give them the new plan please.

Did that and Bruce arrived, so I had to go through it again. He had a plan of a spa [jacuzzi] - 1500x1500 corner spa, all fine, but it looked pretty ordinary. It had a seat in the right-angle corner so you could have 2 people in it but legs would get all tangled. We said okay, if we had to agree then & there it would do, and Fraser went off to work. I got Claudia ready for Creche and Kinder, then decided to drop in to our local Plumbing suppliers on the way home. They had the spa so I hopped in (no water).

It sucked. Tiny, *my* legs were cramped so Fraser (who is 6" taller than me) would be uncomfortable. They had a nice spa but it cost a lot more. I ummed and ahhed, then rang Bruce the Builder - who was at the plumbing supplier, ordering the bath. Big rethink later and I was off to the plumbing supplier, having warned work that I'd be late (well I'm going in to do a presentation on Friday when I *don't* work, so it does even out - but they were very understanding).

I found a nice spa at the plumbing supplier. The basic model was quite a bit more than we had in our allowance, and the "Body Therapy" model was a bit more than that. In the end, I decided that if I was going to get the basic model anyway, the Body Therapy wasn't so much more than that. Flawed logic but like I said, I'm playing the Builder!Fatigue card :-) And the ultra-basic one SUCKED. (and this one has black headrests!)

The new spa is a bit bigger but that just means we may have to make the shower slightly less large (it was going to be quite big). I'm wondering about a bi-fold door for the shower (would mean we needed less space for it).

I chose taps - they'll all be mixers to match the sexy laundry one - and a "water outlet" which I thought was a drain but is actually a spout. Taps can be changed in a couple of years if we need to, I wasn't fussed about them. After blowing the budget on the spa, I didn't dare go for the expensive ones! I also ordered a toilet paper holder - $50 at trade prices - it's outrageous. We're not buying towel rails - mum can get some free-standing ones at the furniture auctions she goes to for work. It's a small saving but makes me feel virtuous.

Then I rang the tile company. The tiles I want had to be ordered from the manufacturer - who are out of stock. They're going to re-print some more for me. I'm going to order them all together in the hope that I can get some sort of discount. Bruce says they're going to start tiling around the middle of next week. We should have them by then, so that's not a problem.

We still have no roof and no walls so lock-up stage is looking like a distant dream at the moment.

Highlights of today:

  • Frame is up.
  • Roof materials seem to have disappeared (unless they are up on the roof of the kitchen)
  • Ordered all plumbing materials
  • I've seen the plumbing approval from the water company.

The plans for tomorrow:

  • The plumber has said he will come to re-connect the toilet, at the least (I am doing the happy dance about this one!)
  • I have to fix my re-enrolment at Uni (nothing to do with renovating but likely to be frustrating)
  • Buffy Lunch Date with friends at work (ditto and hopefully marginally less frustrating - although my Buffy buddies will understand what this has to do with frustration when I say we're watching "Smashed")
  • Meet with Builder to sort out tile order
  • Order tiles


Friday, February 22, 2002 - Day 5 photo Update!

Off to work for the morning. I don't usually work Fridays but I had to give a presentation, then go to Uni to fix my enrolment (except now I have to go back next week to do it).

Got home and Bruce had lined up the cabinetmaker and the plumber to come in the afternoon. Excellent use of time. I had also calculated the rough tileage areas I'd need to buy. (and the cost - *ouch*)

First Phillip the cabinetmaker arrived. He measured up, then it was time to talk materials. We agreed on a laminate top - I have to get back to him with a final colour and finish by Monday. He didn't have any samples.

Nor did he have any pictures of the doors. I said I wanted blackwood doors and he said "No you don't, you want vinyl". Bruce the Builder agreed. When I asked why, they both claimed that vinyl *lasts longer than timber* (can you hear the incredulity?) and that it looks better too (*sigh*). Eventually we decided that I should go to Phillip's showroom (about 10 minutes away) to have a look (and be convinced, was the subtext).

At the showroom, he tried again. When I said I just didn't like the vinyl wrap, he took me out to his showroom to show me something very special. Clearly he'd got half the message. I was shown the "timber look vinyl wrap" - yep fake wood cabinetry and doors. Maybe I am psycho!customer, but I rejected that too. After some further negotiation (me insisting that yes I really *do* want real timber doors and returns) I finally got my order placed. "Feature" blackwood plank-style doors - the feature meaning that the knotholes, cracks and other markings are left in. They will be gorgeous with our dark green laminate benchtops. The insides are white melamine, which is waterproof, strong and durable. They didn't have much knob variety so I just got plain white porcelain. Will tinker with those later.

Meanwhile, Walter the Plumber had some very specific ideas about how things need to be done. He's a youngish guy, I suspect, new to running jobs like this, and very anxious to do everything strictly by the rules. While I appreciate this, it was a major pain when he told me that I had to have a "temperature regulator valve" for the Hot Water System - and that I had to have it by Monday (this at 3:30pm Friday). It's the law that all new bathrooms must have a flow regulator fitted, so that the water can't come out at more than 55°. This is a great law, as it takes 60 seconds for a child to suffer third-degree burns at 55° but fewer than 10 seconds at 60°. I'd say it was less relevant, though, when you have a hot water system with electronic temperature controllers that clearly display the hot water temperature.

I opened up the HWS box and found the manual, which said that "If you have the optional 75° kitchen controller, you need a temperature regulator valve" - but that it wasn't necessary if you didn't, as the unit is limited to 50°.

Walter wasn't convinced.

W: "You have 2 controllers there, what if one of them is the kitchen controller?"
M: "Well they're not. There's the standard controller and a bathroom controller."
W: "This just says sub-controller, how do I know if it's a kitchen controller or not?"

Just barely not getting really *really* annoyed at this point, I managed to find the part number in the manual and show him that they are both limited to 50°. I'm still not sure whether he believes me; he may have just given in to stop me beating him around the head with the bathroom controller panel :-)

He very kindly re-plumbed the toilet (he and Bruce both strongly recommended that we buy a new one as the existing one - with plastic cistern) - really isn't the same quality as the rest of our fittings. They un-plumbed (not sure if that's a word) the kitchen sink (our only source of water) but left it connected to a pipe that drains onto the vegie garden.

Collected Claudia from creche, checked tile quantities with Bruce, off to 3 suppliers - the plumbing suppliers to measure the spa (Walter needs to know where to put the taps), the plaster suppliers to order a cornice, and the tile shop to place our order. By then, only the tile shop were open. The gorgeous border tiles that they quoted me $5.50 each on (usually nearly $10) were only available in a limited quantity (less than half the number we need). They have to re-print them, and of course they will be more expensive. The sales assistant was very helpful though, and thanks to the Cuteness of Claudia and many mentions of builders' discounts at Tilemart (their major rival), I got some amazing discounts on tiles. She asked me what price I had for our floor border tiles ($31.90 at Tilemart, $24.50 at their shop) and I told her $24.50; she assumed this was Tilemart's price so knocked 10% off the price. I think I saved about $200 on the total order, even with the wall border tiles being more expensive (or about $600 on the retail prices).

Claudia and I invited ourselves to mum and dad's for dinner and to do some laundry. I was so beat, I nearly just stayed there overnight. If I'd had my shampoo in the car, I probably would have.

Highlights of today:

  • Roof on
  • Ordered Tiles
  • Ordered Really Nice TIMBER cupboard doors :-)
  • We have a working toilet!!!
  • Mum's chicken casserole

The plans for tomorrow:

  • Builders to do some digging
  • Measure spa bath to establish where taps should be placed
  • Get catalogue with cornices and ceiling roses
  • Hopefully get to lock-up stage.


Saturday February 23, 2002 - Day 6 photo Update!

I made it to the Plumbing Suppliers' and ordered the toilet. They're out of stock so they'll have to order one on Monday. As that's the day the Plumber is coming, and the toilet will be fitted slightly differently than our existing one, we may end up with another day or two without a toilet.

That's not so much of a problem any more, though. They came back today and we are now at lock-up stage (ie we have walls again).

I measured up the spa and Claudi had fun climbing in and out. Also managed to get the plasterers' catalogue and choose our cornices (Victorian, 147cm high x 147cm deep).

Highlights of today:

  • Reached Lock-up stage
  • Ordered new toilet
  • Chose cornices

The plans for tomorrow:

  • Rest.
  • On Monday, the Plumber is coming to set everything up.

Monday February 25, 2002 - Day 7 Photo Update!

Why do tradespeople always think they know better than customers? If I'd been trying to tell them how to dig a ditch, or lay pipe, or wire a room, I would understand it. But not today.

We have a new shower coming. It's on a rail, so you can slide it up or down, depending on the height that you want the shower head. This is important because Fraser is 181cm (5' 11.5") and I'm 163cm so we both need to be able to adjust it. So I explained to the Builder and Plumber this morning that "When you mount the shower, you need to make sure that the highest position for the showerhead is at least 190cm above the ground".

"The head can tilt," said Bruce the Builder.

"That's fine," sez me, "But it still needs to be at least that high off the ground".

After considerable *argument* Bruce finally (grudgingly) agreed to make it so. (Excuse me? Who is paying whom here?)

So this morning I argued for 10 minutes, just to get the bathroom we're building to include a shower that Fraser can use.

What is wrong with this picture?

Highlights of today:

  • We still have a toilet
  • No Hot Water System though
  • Lots of pipes everywhere.
  • The shower *should* be in the right spot
  • Faxed Phillip the cabinetmaker. We can get our chosen laminate.

The plans for tomorrow:

  • ??? Haven't spoken to the builders. I'm guessing finish the plumbing. Bruce mentioned that the plasterer was going to come by today so maybe they are nearly ready to start as well. And maybe the electrician too.


Tuesday February 26, 2002 - Day 8 photo update!

Another day of crises. I'm getting used to these by now :-)

The plumber roughed out all the connections ready for things to be installed, and fixed the gas to go to the hot water service and the stove. Then he checked and found that there was a leak somewhere. They checked all along the gas pipe and it was nowhere to be found - ie it was under the polished wooden floor in the kitchen.

We had a choice (but not really). We could rip up the polished floor (destroying it) to get to the gas leak and fix it. Then try to find a way to make the floor look okay. Or we could re-lay the full length of the gas pipes through the roof to connect them to the stove. This shouldn't damage the house.

The plumber wouldn't give us the certificate of compliance while there's a leak - which is fair enough really :-) I'm not really complaining about his finding or fixing the leak. But suddenly we were up for another $700 or so fixing something *else* we didn't know was broken.

The moral? Rent. Rent forever. Or buy brand new houses with long guarantees and sell them before the guarantees expire.

In the end, they managed to run the pipes through the floor without ripping it up - but then discovered *another* leak (or, my cynical mind suggests, the *same* leak) in the stovetop. So we got home to find the oven in the middle of the floor.

This was the day Mark the Electrician "roughed in" all our electrical connections, including the hot water system controllers.

Second crisis. The friend who I bought the hot water service through rang. We should have a *square* controller and a rectangular one, not two rectangular ones. It's okay, I say, we looked in the box and found a square one in there - so we actually have an extra one. The funny thing is, the square one's part number isn't listed anywhere in the manual. Can I just double check that we *don't* need a thermostat regulator valve? He puts me through to the parts department, where the very nice guy listens to my question and is very confused - until light dawns. There's a *misprint* in the manual. They have printed the wrong part number. So our part isn't listed in the manual but it should be - as something that needs a thermostat regulator valve!

Big Panic and I call the Plumber - who hasn't fitted the valve yet - and grovel profusely. He's going to need to re-plumb the pipes for the kitchen (As far as I can tell, he connected all the pipes up in series where they would need to be in parallel now). Fortunately we have no floor yet.

Get home. I'd spoken to Bruce the Builder *and* Walter the Plumber after they'd left the site. Neither bothered to tell me that they had removed the toilet. Again.

Highlights of today:

  • Plumbing all roughed in (except the bits that need to be re-done)

The plans for tomorrow:

  • Hot Water Service going in (possibly Thursday).

Wednesday February 27, 2002 - Day 9 photo update!

Not much happened today. Inspector from Yarra Valley Water OK'd the drainage so they could cover that up.

Bruce rang Fraser to see if they could use our round table as the base for a temporary toilet. Fraser said he'd prefer they use something else but if they had to then OK.

We got home to find the toilet on the table. Which was a wedding present. And was definitely not built for adults to walk on. It seems to have survived though :-)

Still no hot water.

Highlights of today:

  • Well at least they *tried* to give us a toilet.

The plans for tomorrow:

  • ???

Thursday February 28, 2002 - Day 10 photo update!

Through many unforeseen delays, I was still home when Bruce arrived around 8am, looking frazzled. He'd left his diary at our house the night before, and had to call the Plumber to cancel. Which meant (as the Plumber is going to the Grand Prix <spit>) that no more work could be done until around Tuesday of next week. Bruce was going to cancel the Plasterer as well.


The taps we'd ordered hadn't arrived yet - they were on a plane somewhere. And mixer taps have to be installed in the walls before the plastering is done.

"Can you cancel the order?" I asked

He didn't understand.

It took 10 minutes of careful explanation and repetition before I got through. There is a plumbing supply shop not 5 minutes' walk from here. I could choose different taps. Problem solved.

We went down together. Bruce told me to go look at what I liked but I had a rather more practical approach. I went straight to the woman working in the showroom. "I need mixer taps," I said. "Four of them. What do you have in stock?"

She explained to us that we didn't need all four, as the vanity basin and laundry trough taps are mounted on the cabinet not in the wall. Bruce was a bit worried, so I told him he could come back and buy "this tap and this tap" if he needed them. We saved around $80 a tap and 5 days' work. Fraser bought me flowers - for the third time in the ten years we have been together! I'll have to be proactive more often :-)

Fraser also had a really good point. The builders took out the trees to build over where they had been - but did they really, or did they just chop them down? I caught Bruce just as they were going to lay the floor, to discover that they hadn't taken out the stump and couldn't now. I sent him to the nursery. They drilled holes and tipped in 250ml of RoundUp Concentrate. I don't think that tree will be growing again any time soon. (I owe Fraser a pressie for this pick-up)

Meanwhile the shower doesn't work in our shower recess, as it will rotate on the rail but can't be tipped up or down - so you'd need to stand about 1.5m in front of it to shower! I have to return it tomorrow.

Still no hot water.

We went to the Laundrette. Claudia enjoyed it :-)

Highlights of today:

  • Floor and walls are in. Shower base is made (and slightly larger than we had anticipated)

The plans for tomorrow:

  • Me to return shower, buy ceiling rose, choose handles for cupboards
  • Plasterer coming (hopefully to fix the lounge room wall too!)

Friday March 1 2002 - Day 11 photo update!

Plasterer has put in walls, ceiling and rose.

Plumber is at Grand Prix.

Highlights of today:

The plans for tomorrow:

Wednesday March 6 2002 - Day 17

I have officially lost any scraps of dignity I ever had.

I'm tired, I haven't had a bathroom for weeks, we're not going to have hot water until probably the middle of next week, and I got to spend time this morning washing cat vomit off my daughter's feet.

Highlights of today:

I ordered our spa 2 weeks ago (February 21st) and they said it would take 8-10 working days. Today they rang to say it wouldn't be here until *next* Wednesday.

The builders can't do any work until the spa arrives, so I laid into the plumbing supplies guy. He made the mistake of mixing up his dates and telling me I had missed *my* deadlines. Unfortunately for him, I had my diary in front of me.

10 minutes later, I got the word. Spa coming tomorrow as arranged.

My theory is that they tried to give *our* spa to someone else and bump us down the queue. A lot of talk from me about "serious movement on your price" apparently did the trick. My builder is now impressed :-)

Thursday March 7 2002 - Day 18

The Wishful Thinking Award goes to... :

It's looking like we might be nearly finished the whole renovation by the end of next week.

Highlights of today:

Spa arrived. Ha.

Plans for tomorrow:

We may not have plumbing by the weekend, but I'm less worried about that. It's a long weekend, and we're going out to a friend's birthday party on Saturday night. Claudia is sleeping at my parents'. Then on Sunday, I'm going to take Fraser and Claudia down the coast somewhere (wow - we can stay at a motel and *have a shower* - LOL). Poor Claudi hasn't been to the beach at all this Summer (it's been a lousy Summer), so it would be fun to do.

<big gap with no updates - sorry! We do have pictures somewhere.>

Thursday March 14 2002 - Day 25 photo update!

Highlights of today:

Day 25 of the renovation that will take 3 weeks. *sigh* -- still no hot water or washing facilities.

Lowlights of today:

I ordered my kitchen cabinets on February 22nd. Quoting from above: --- After some further negotiation (me insisting that yes I really *do* want real timber doors and returns) I finally got my order placed. "Feature" blackwood plank-style doors - the feature meaning that the knotholes, cracks and other markings are left in. They will be gorgeous with our dark green laminate benchtops. The insides are white melamine, which is waterproof, strong and durable. They didn't have much knob variety so I just got plain white porcelain. Will tinker with those later. ---

Perhaps I should have got the hint when the cabinet maker asked me again *twice* what kind of cabinet knobs I wanted. The cabinets arrived on Thursday. They've given us the wrong damn doors. Instead of the plank-style doors I ordered, we have a very standard style of cabinet door -- they have an arched pattern routered into plain pieces of feature blackwood. No planks, and no square shaping either.

Friday March 15 2002 - Day 26

They got everything right except the styling of the cupboard doors - right wood, right benchtops (they're a very gorgeous dark green pattern), just that I wanted planky square styling and I got curvy arched styling on the doors.

Monday March 18 2002 - Day 29

Highlights of today:

They put the taps in today and I was struck by how much *better* the vanity basin tap I wanted would have looked if only I had argued with Plumbing Supply Guy who Knew Better than Stupid Customers. Mea culpa for giving in. The one we got is too short - water splashes behind the sink. We needed the bigger tap.

Tips for successful renovating: If you find something you like, insist on it. Meanwhile, get everything in writing, and keep a daily diary of what the builders tell you. It's worth the time you'll spend.

The big rant:

I have lost all perspective where builders are concerned. I suspect I have turned into psycho!bitch!customer!from!hell - but I also suspect it's justified.

The cabinetmaker says when I specified door #17 he thought I just meant I wanted feature blackwood, which is the wood #17 is made from in the catalogue. He didn't ask about the pattern, and assumed I wanted what "95%" of his customers want, the arched routering. He claims that I am at fault because I didn't specify I wanted the square shaping.

I say if I order door #17 (which only comes with square shaping) then I want door #17, not door #3 in a pattern that door #17 doesn't come in anyway.

We let them install the cabinets on Thursday, on the basis that we wanted them to replace the doors (so we put no handles on them).

The cabinetmaker rang back that afternoon to say that door #17 was no longer available. We said we'd think about what we'd do next.

The cabinetmaker came round and installed the handles on the doors this morning. He says he won't re-order the doors or replace them for us, or even drop his price, because it was *my* fault for not specifying that I wanted door #17 in the door #17 style and the square pattern that is the only pattern available for door #17. (Can you tell I'm bitter?)

At this stage, I am ready to send him a letter asking him to make good, either by replacing the doors with something suitable (and agreed by me) or by dropping his price on the doors significantly. (I *really* don't like the pattern, but would be prepared to live with it as part of a compromise.)

If he won't do that, I am intending to pay my $25 to take him to the Small Claims Tribunal (Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal). I don't know which way VCAT would rule - there's no written evidence at all, other than my description of the cupboard doors on our website (which I will not update at that location, as I need to keep it as an evidential record for VCAT).

He didn't make any written notes about it. I know I showed some friends the brochure with the door #17 picture in it, that's about all I have - but he has nothing either. I think I would feel better about the situation for following it through.

I think Fraser thinks I am being psycho!bitch!woman for following this up. Fair enough - as long as it has a bath and a shower and something to keep things in (and green and white tiles on the floors), he doesn't care what the bathroom looks like. I *do* and have spent lots of time choosing all the various pieces that need to go together to get the room I want.

My subconscious took me shopping on Thursday afternoon to help me cope with my stress (I realised after I'd bought $100 of toys and clothes for Claudia that I was having a shopping!therapy moment. Fortunately they were things she needed (dressing gown, new warm top etc) and things that could be put aside for birthdays) I imagine you can tell from this post that I'm still pretty upset about it all. It's not a lot of money - we paid $350 or $400 extra to get the doors we wanted. If he will waive that, I will deal with "the doors we got".

I'm so het up about this I can't even be funny about it. (well not intentionally, anyway)

On a lighter note, Fraser is amused that I hate the "girly" doors that were delivered, when I usually like girly things :-)

Fraser's comment:

Actually my stance is - I don't mind them, but they're not the ones Melissa ordered so she is free to follow up on getting the ones she wants and ordered, just like I had to reinforce the fact that I wanted the shower connection to come out of the wall at 190 cm or above and that having it lower than that and being able to tilt is was not acceptable.

And the update:

As expected, I never got around to chasing the guy through VCAT. These things just take more trouble than they're worth. The doors aren't what I wanted, but at least they're the right wood. I did write the evil threatening letter, but never had a response. Obviously, I've now updated the website so that evidence is gone. The lesson here really is "Get EVERYTHING in writing, even the things that any sane person can reasonably assume". [Goodness -- apparently I'm *still* bitter about it]

I mailed this rant to several friends, all of whom were overwhelmingly supportive and many of whom suggested unusual and creative ways to feel better about the doors.

<another big gap with no updates - sorry! We do have pictures somewhere.>

On the 21st or so, I had a call from the tiler who wanted to send a guy to do the screeding for under the shower. I wasn't home (or even nearly home) so we arranged for him to come at 5:30 the next night.

I hurried home, but by 6:15 there was still no sign of him. Turns out he'd gone to the wrong address (*sigh*).

Claudia was excited by the flat sandy surface, but was very good about not walking on it.

Unlike Puffy, who had walked through the blue waterproofing agent, leaving a train of tiny blue footprints across the floor.

Tuesday March 26 2002 - Day 37

Highlights of today:

I'm all cheerful because the tiles are on the way to finished.

I'm excited again because it looks so good - except for the tap with the too!short!outlet that I am going to have to replace (I mentioned it to the builder and he said "yes it *is* much too short -- so why the **** did he install it for me so I can't return it??? Grrrr! Arrrrgh!)

When I got home, one of the border tiles was upside down, but I got it put straight :-) The tiler told me he'd run out of them and some panicking was in order before I found them hiding in a little box.

We need more wall tiles. *sigh*

Plans for tomorrow:

There's no grout between anything yet (it will be white not dark), and nothing on the floor (should be happening tomorrow), but you can see what it will look like.

Wednesday March 27 2002 - Day 38 photo update!

Highlights of today:

We need more floor tiles. *sigh*. The tiler spent almost all day doing the flat tiles on the bath steps. They look great, but were apparently a huge amount of work, as each tile had to be individually cut.

We have no toilet again today, which is okay because we're not allowed to walk on the tiles tonight anyway. (We sort of had warning this time).

Plans for tomorrow:

grouting (finally)

Thursday March 28 - Day 39

Highlights of today:

We have a bathroom! We have a toilet! (Which is lucky because tonight we - well, Claudia - also had a babysitter - and I didn't fancy telling her that she couldn't use the toilet!)

The tiler found more floor tiles so it's all done.

Friday March 29 2002 - Day 40

Highlights of today:

I have a washing machine! After 40 days and 40 nights, I can finally get things clean.

It's sad how excited that makes me.

Sunday March 31 2002 - Day 42 photo update!

6 weeks and counting...

Thursday April 4 2002 - Day 46

Highlights of today:

I am on holidays. I needed a break from work, and some time to catch up on study, so I've taken a couple of days off around the Easter weekend to relax. Instructed the builders *not* to come.

So 7:30am, there was a knock at the door. There are my builders.

"Hi. We've come to paint the bathroom today." No warning - but I know never to send tradespeople away.

The plans for tomorrow:

Now I hear the plumber is coming tomorrow. Now *this* I don't want to wait for - he's (finally) hooking up the toilet.

The big fat whinge:

I find it stressful having these people in my house, and I don't want them here. This is the first extended leave I have had since last July (when I ended up in hospital having surgery - not much rest there) and if I want to have a long shower I should be able to have a long shower, dammit. Or use the toilet. Or do some of the mountain of laundry I wanted to do today.

It's not like I was planning on having a super-decadent day. Do a little study, read mail, do some laundry, have a shower. Maybe even a sleep - but I don't feel entirely comfortable just going to bed and having a sleep with these people here.

Pardon my big whine. I just hate it when people interfere with my plans, especially when they are plans for a "mental health break".


Wednesday April 24 2002 - Day 66 photo update

Highlights of today:

We have just finished. There are still a couple of things need to be done (toilet paper holder etc) but the shower screen is *in*. It's enormous.

Still to do:

  • Towel rings/rails (done)
  • Toilet roll holder (done)
  • Soap dish and toothbrush holder (done)
  • Light fitting