The Start of a New (Downstairs) Bath/Laundry Room

So, remember how we really wanted the upstairs/master bathroom to be done so Lynn and I could move into our bedroom and move out of the smallest guest room in the house? We have now been sleeping in the small guest room for roughly two years. By small I mean although it does fit a king-size bed, an Ikea Parsons table, and a set of plastic storage drawers I picked up at Goodwill one summer for $5.00, there’s no room to stand and one simply wakes up and exits the room as quickly as possible.

Well, okay in full disclosure, I also have a luggage rack that’s stuck in a corner. Why? Because I simply cannot stand having suitcases or bags on the floor in any hotel room or temporary abode I’m staying in. (I get really cranky.) Two years ago I stayed at a Hilton in Munich and they simply couldn’t provide me with a luggage rack. I asked various hotel employees where I could find one and some of them had no idea what I was talking about.  It got so bad that I even considered TAKING UP SMOKING to relieve the stress of the no-luggage-rack room but decided to simply keep asking every time I saw an hotel employee. This resulted in me kind of performing a strange SNL skit asking every single employee this, “excuse me do you have a luggage rack, excuse me…” along with a crude sketch of what I thought a luggage rack should look like that I carried around in my purse to show any hotel worker I encountered for the duration of my stay.

But I’m getting away from the story. Perhaps you will remember (I can’t remember if I told you actually!) but our contractor (that would be contractor #2) left us last October with a bathroom that was not finished. This is how he “resigned.”

IMG_2622He placed a set of keys (kitchen door, garage door) and a Lowe’s gift card I had given him if he needed supplies on our temporary dining room table. (PS – There was still $32.17 left on the gift card.) Remember, this is what the upstairs unfinished bathroom still looks like!

IMG_8456At first I was in disbelief, but in fairness, he had been ill and would occasionally say something about going “south” for the winter. I was dreading having to find someone new but I had no choice. I had 3 other people come in to do estimates. One refused to even give me an estimate, the second one said he could do it but then his boss said no he couldn’t because they couldn’t be responsible for someone else’s work and the third, well, the third contractor would only do it if the downstairs bathroom/laundry room could be done first. (Hint: downstairs room was going to be way more expensive to do.)

So, Lynn and I took vacation days from work which resulted in us having over 2 weeks of uninterrupted time up at the Red House. This was the most consecutive amount of time we’ve spent up here since the summer of 2010 when we bought the house. So, third contractor got hired through Big Box Store, contracts were signed and money was paid.  The plan was to start in two weeks.

Day 1. Everyone shows up. Yeah! Debris is hauled away. Old sewer pipe is taken out piece by piece. Plumbing and electrical are installed. This was all done in less than six hours. To say I was extremely encouraged and this new turn (and speed) of events is putting it mildly.

Here’s how the room looked before they hauled all the icky stuff away.

IMG_8932IMG_8940IMG_8936Day 2. Sheetrock is brought in on the back of a pick-up truck and a “helper” is there to put up the rock. It actually takes the “helper” less than 6 hours (including lunch breaks, pee breaks and every half hour cigarette breaks) to drywall AND spackle the laundry room. At this rate I was thinking could I possibly have a new bathroom by the end of the first week?

IMG_8981Day 3. “Helper” rocks entire bathroom before 2:30 p.m. after arriving at 8 a.m. Above mentioned breaks are ditto for day 3. I’m actually quite fond of the purple colored drywall. Maybe we should rethink our preferred color choice of all-white walls?

IMG_8969Day 4. We get a phone call that no one is coming to work today because they have to work on another house. Lucky them.

Day 5. Apparently today is camping day for every contractor in upstate New York. (I just thought it was Friday but apparently I was mistaken.) There is also a very loud and non-stop stream of RV’s, campers and Monster trucks on flatbeds driving past our house and heading up the hill to some sort of Monster Mud Truck Fest 17 miles further north.

Day 6 & 7. (Saturday and Sunday). Lynn and I decide to go up to Vermont.  After all it is the weekend! And the Monster Truck Mud Fest had something to do with it, too. Plus I finally got a reservation at a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try.

Once again, I need to diverge here. Some people seem to think that being up at the Red House is like BEING ON VACATION ALL THE TIME. That is absolutely not the case. While we’re up at the Red House, Lynn is constantly trying to finish some moulding or wainscoting or spackling or painting himself into a corner and I’m inevitably sitting in front of my laptop and working Job #2. (Job #2 pays a portion of the home renovation expenses.)

Day 8. Monday morning. 8 a.m. rolls around with no contractor in sight. By 8:30 a.m. I’m on the phone with the contractor who says we need to go to the Big Box Store with him because he doesn’t want to use most of the items the sales person included on the installation sheet (that would be cement board, mortar, grout, etc., etc.)  We meet at 2 p.m., get the new stuff plus insist on delivery of the tile for the floor, the washer, dryer and very important – the toilet that has no exterior curvy lines. (Remember this is the ONLY toilet Lynn says we are allowed to have in the Red House.)

IMG_7235Day 9. Subcontractor of contractor shows up to tape and spackle bathroom side of room. By noon, we have to suddenly leave to go to Albany to put a down payment on a car* we bought in Syracuse. I’m prepared to leave subcontractor a house key but he’s already finished!  Could I possibly still be in the running to have the bathroom finished by the end of the week? He tells us to leave the fans on in the room to “speed” up the drying process and we even open the skylight for the first time in 6 years.

IMG_8980*We had to go buy a used car ASAP because our VW TDI is part of the diesel emissions scandal and we don’t want to drive it anymore seeing how EVENTUALLY (think late fall) VW is going to buy back our vehicle.

Day 10. Subcontractor and sub-subcontractor both show up at 7:50 a.m. to tell us spackle is not dry and to get another fan in the room if possible. We keep both fans on high for the next 24 hours.

IMG_8979At 2:00 p.m. Big Box Store shows up with a delivery of the tile for the bathroom, a bag of grout and two bags of mortar.

IMG_8995Basically stuff we could have fit into the back of our new (used) car. I inquire about the “big” stuff – mainly the washer/dryer and toilet and they have no “record” of that having to be delivered. I convince delivery guys that they need to call whoever they need to call to have washer/dryer and toilet delivered by tomorrow (that would be Day 11). They tell me my wish is their command. No they don’t but they do manage to arrange for another delivery same time tomorrow and then they just get in their truck and drive away.

Before they left however, I did offer to make them cookies if they returned with the missing items in the morning. Luckily, they didn’t take me up on the offer since as you know I detest baking but before we get to Day 11, the delivery guys and I had to have a conversation about chocolate chip cookies with or without nuts. (They prefer without.)

Day 11. Subcontractor and sub-subcontractor have an early morning job and can’t get here until 3:00 p.m. I realize while we may have had an excellent start to this summer bathroom  project we will most definitely NOT have a completed bathroom by Day 12. That would be tomorrow. They did however install hot and cold water pipes for the washer/dryer that I’m still waiting to have delivered.

IMG_9031Finally, right before lunch, I also got the washer/dryer and toilet delivered. I really should go out and play the Lottery at this point.

IMG_9025IMG_9027Day 12. It’s Friday. We’ve been here exactly 2 weeks. We have to drive back to Long Island today. Contractor showed up to go over the “plan,” and to do some touch-up work. A wall he built is going to be torn down because he realized the Jacuzzi I want to put in wouldn’t fit. I kind of liked the wall, oh well.

IMG_9033They rip out the wall and we exchange phone numbers to  monitor the progress of the renovation. Lynn and I are in a rush to get back to Long Island because we need to grab a plane out of JFK in 2 days and need to do silly things like laundry (too bad I couldn’t do the laundry at the Red House, hint, hint) and repack. Thing is as mentioned in Day #6-7 when we drove up to Vermont, we were gone for a mere 24 hours. Since we haven’t been on a “real” vacation since our aforementioned luggage-rack barren trip to Europe in 2014, we decide to go to the Charleston, SC area for an entire week! (It’s also my birthday.)

Let me segue back shortly to the night of Day #11. The night before we left the Red House we saw a moth that landed right by our patio door. He or she had a yellow and brown coat with what looked like some sort of King Arthur sword tattoo.

IMG_9041Seeing how King Arthur’s very famous Excaliber sword was bequeathed upon him to give him an unbreakable blade as well as magical powers, I can only assume this was a sign that we, too, shall need some sort of magical intervention to finish this bathroom!

Stay Tuned.

PS. I had luggage racks in EVERY SINGLE HOTEL ROOM we stayed in in South Carolina!


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