Bathroom woes

13 Jun

We moved to this house in July 1996.

On November 21, 2001, our bath fell through the floor. While Fraser was in it.

The Bath that fell through the floor

We got a builder in to fix it and extend the bathroom to be level with the back of the house. And I loved the outcome.

Now this may possibly come as a surprise to – well, to someone who has never met or talked to me – but I can be a bit of a control freak. “An itsy bitsy, teeny weeny bit of a control freak” according to a friend 🙂 And I controlled every bit of that project – chose everything, made sure that we would get the bathroom we (I?) wanted. There were a few teething problems, particularly with the drain in the shower, but Bruce the Builder resolved them.

And at the end of it, I looked on what I had done, and it was Good.

Bath corner

Cabinets (Mirror and toilet seat still to go in)


A year or so ago, we started to have a problem with mold on the grouting and against the wall. Cue expensive chlorine-based cleaning products.

Then, in April, one of the tiles lifted off the bathroom floor. One of the tiles in the shower. Not good at all.

I called Ray the Builder, who had done all the work on the old house, and he referred me to a tiler. “He’s very good,” he said, “But he can be a bit flaky about deadlines.”

Well, TilerGuy came out on April 7th and had a look, and pointed out that all the floor underneath was soaked. “I’ll come back in a week or so when it has had time to dry out a bit. Don’t use the shower.”

Back a week or so later, he had some more bad news. The tiles had been laid directly onto the chipboard flooring, rather than onto cement sheeting as they should have been. “If you are going to sell the house in the next couple of years, you could just patch it up. But if you plan to live here for any time, you need to take up all the floor tiles and replace them, with something larger, with proper cement sheeting between the floor and the tiles.”

He was to call me and arrange a time to start the job.

A couple of weeks later, I called him.

“Ah, sorry, I’ve been sick. I’ll call you on Friday.”

A week and a half or more later, he rang and arranged to come over to check out the bathroom. We’d now been without a shower for around a month. (I should perhaps note that there is a hand-held shower over our bath, we are still washing).

He recommended strongly that we replace the fancy tiled-in shower with a near-flat-entry shower base, and we discussed ripping up all the floor tiles and when the job could be done. As we were to be without a toilet for a few days as well (seated on the tiles), we settled on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend – when we would be at the Games expo – as the best time.

Last Thursday, before we left, he came over to collect a $1000 deposit. He wanted me to go and choose floor tiles but we decided that plain white showerbase and plain white 20cm square tiles would be adequate, and agreed that he should pick them up and do the job.

As he doesn’t have a code for our alarm system, we were to leave it off for the whole weekend (shudder). And we gave him my house key so he could get in.

Now remember the control freak stuff earlier? And the fact that I took digital photos at EVERY STAGE of the renovation? And made grown men cry when they delivered the OMGWRONGCABINETS? And chose Every. Single. Item. in the bathroom myself?

This was a huge step for me. I even managed not to fret too much about what was going on. At least, I didn’t let it impact my enjoyment of the games expo.

Until Monday.

We were at breakfast, around 8.45, when my phone rang. It was our cleaner, who had been warned that she might be joined by TilerGuy and shouldn’t worry if that was the case. Why was she calling? Well, the bathroom had not been touched.

That’s right.

The bathroom that was going to be OMGFINISHED when we got home had not been touched.

I rang TilerGuy, who was apologetic – the tiles would be ready Tuesday, the shower base on Thursday.

Me: OMGWTFBBQ????????

TilerGuy said he’d be in later that day to lift the tiles off the floor. My theory is he had been enjoying the long weekend with his family and had made the decision not to bother – but what would I know?

By the time we returned, the tiles were off most of the floor – and there was the most enormous black stain all over the floor around the shower. Basically, PreviousTilerGuy had not laid the waterproof membrane stuff over a big enough area, and the water had soaked through the tiles and into the floor, causing mold to grow **under the tiles** and causing the floorboard to swell and distort – which in turn caused the tiles to lift, allowing more water to get in. 😦


icky bathroom floor

Tuesday, I left the alarm off for him and he didn’t come in. Yesterday, he may have come by briefly to check how the floor was drying. Today, we spoke on the phone and he says he will come tomorrow and then work all weekend.

Sadly, we will be home this weekend, with commitments that keep us in Melbourne and local. My parents are on standby notice that Fraser and the girls might come over to spend Saturday night there, but I have an early Sunday commitment that I can’t meet at their place, so I am stuck here, unless the serviced apartments up the road turn out to be really really cheap.

We shall see whether it is all done this weekend. Apparently there will be a wait for a shower screen to be made – based on last time, that could be 4-6 weeks. Ugh.

But there is one important thing that I, the control freak, have learned from all of this.

Trusting tradespeople is always wrong.

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Posted by on June 13, 2008 in house


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