Monday, August 21, 2006

Week 9

Dear Bathroom Remodel,

Ah, Bathroom Remodel. As The Husband and I enter our tenth week living with the chaos you have inflicted upon our lives, I find myself looking back with a knowing, condescending smile on the naïve optimism we displayed in June when this all started. Back then, we thought you would be finished by mid July, leaving us plenty of time and money to also replace the kitchen walls by August. I know. We were so cute.

Yes, we gave up on the pipe dream of new kitchen walls about a month ago. And I have to admit that it was a not insubstantial relief, as the thought of dragging out our construction-zone living for any stretch of time was making us feel almost physically ill. Because we are no longer naïve, Bathroom Remodel. For even though replacing the kitchen walls with help from our generous friends and family should, in theory, take only one or two weekends, we now know that theory is for suckers. We fully expect to find wiring that dates back to before electricity was discovered, and bringing it all up to code will take two months.

Yes, the electrical work has been our rate-limiting step, Bathroom Remodel. It was also the most frustrating of all to witness, because, even after hours of hard work by The Husband and the electrician, nothing ever seemed to change. Work was being done, but I couldn’t see it. Equally frustrating was the electrician’s hesitance to give any kind of estimate of how many more days the work would take. So we were just waiting in a sort of limbo until we heard the magical words, “We’re ready for the rough electrical inspection.”

And, oh! Bathroom Remodel! When the electrician spoke those words last week we nearly danced for joy. We scheduled the inspection for the following Wednesday, and as an added bonus, the inspector allowed us a variance on the bizarre requirement that any electrical fixture has to be at least eight feet away from the top of the tub. Eight feet is a very long distance, Bathroom Remodel. So long a distance that my father thinks it is a typo in the code. I know of a great many bathrooms, not even particularly small bathrooms, where such a requirement would prohibit any light fixture in the bathroom at all.

But we got the variance, the inspector cleared us for further work, and we were able to schedule the rough building inspection. We passed that as well, leaving only the rough insulation inspection keeping us from finishing the room. Yes, I said “insulation inspection.” Bureaucracy is a crazy thing, Bathroom Remodel.

Still, The Husband installed the controversial light fixture last Friday, and he and the carpenter put up the ceiling and the walls on Saturday. Walls, Bathroom Remodel! You have walls! That are solid! It was a red letter day for us all, Bathroom Remodel. And tonight, The Husband plans to hook up… The Dishwasher. Oh glorious, glorious day. (He would have hooked it up on Saturday, but it turns out dishwashers do not come with electrical cords. No one told us that. You just expect electrical appliance to come with cords.)

Soon, oh so tantalizingly soon, the pantry cabinets can be rehung and we will be able to clear the dining room table of the piles and piles of plates, bowls, and pans. Then the tile guy will work his magic, and the sink, the bathroom sink, can be installed. And the shower head! We’ll be able to shower!

As painful as this process was, the finished product, the completed Bathroom Remodel, will be worth it. And we’ll never have to do it again. You will be so beautiful, Bathroom Remodel. I may never leave the room.

An interesting result of a major home renovation project, Bathroom Remodel, is that the “To-Do” list of home renovations gets much shorter for two reasons. First, the completed renovation project gets crossed off the list. Second, two or three other planned renovations get crossed off the list because the homeowners have reevaluated their priorities. When we bought the house, we planned to finish the attic, Bathroom Remodel. Not so much anymore.

Because, if we did it right, we would have to install a second bathroom.

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