When we bought it fifteen years ago, the realtor kindly referred to our home as having a lot of “deferred maintenance.” In Southern California speak, this meant, “Honey, it’s a tear down.” We didn’t care. The house is on three acres of land, ten minutes from the beach—absolutely perfect for three rambunctious children, the four Scottish deerhounds we had at the time, a couple of cats and other assorted critters. Most importantly, it was a place where we could keep our horses at home, and from our own driveway access the miles and miles of horse trails in our little town. The boys, sometimes in play and sometimes in anger punched holes in the cheap hollow construction doors; the new puppy chewed right through the drywall in the garage; the roof leaked constantly during our brief winter rainy season and any hint of dampness caused the eau de long gone cat and dog to rise aromatically from the worn carpet. It was our little piece of paradise.
But even in paradise, you can only put off repairs for so long and eighteen months ago, when traces of mold began ominously to appear between the rafters of the vaulted ceiling in the living room, we knew it was time. We hired professionals to get rid of the offending black stuff, then we hired roofers, then a painter and then one thing led to another. After listening year after year to contractors who insisted that there was NO money worth putting into the old place, and that we should tear it down and rebuild on our lot—never mind the fact that we were putting three children through college by then—I took matters into my own hands and hired a handyman, recommended by a disappointed contractor who insisted that the $65,000 that he was asking to redo the kitchen was a bargain we should be grateful for.
Buoyed up by what a fresh coat of paint and some decent hardware did for my old kitchen cabinets, I decided to attack the hallway bathroom next. For those of you who have been here, this is the 1960’s bathroom covered in orange and yellow flowered tiles on a brown background. Despite the overwhelming urge that I felt to sing the chorus of “Let the Sunshine In” from the musical “Hair” every time I sat on the toilet, I literally took the plunge and hired Bath Planet. The salesman was good, very good. He convinced me that all I had to do was pick out a fake marble pattern from his handy notebook computer, and he would take measurements, and my new bathtub and surround and new countertop would be fabricated custom, just for me, in a factory somewhere outside of Chicago and when it arrived, all in one piece, the installers would drop by and just pop it in right over the old tub and ugly tiles. He said it would take about three weeks to receive my new bathroom, and just a few hours to install it.
That was nearly six weeks ago. The installers came Wednesday, two hours late, with what looked like large sheets of plastic. It took them the first three hours just to “prep the bathtub.” The prefab liner fit, but when they went to install the side and back wall of the shower, they discovered that the back piece was cut two inches too narrow. Apparently the salesman was not good with a tape measure. The orange flower tiles peeked out hopefully from behind the fake marble. We stared incredulously and it was not a pretty sight. The plastic pieces were shipped back to the factory today and there are gaping holes in the walls where the tub faucet and shower head are due to be installed. No one can tell me when they will arrive and whether they will fit when they do. And, oh and don’t you know, the shower doors have to be fabricated separately, by a shower door guy, but that can’t happen until the surround is in. It looks like we’re in for a long haul.
My mother used to say, “You get what you pay for.” My husband says, “The nicest thing about our house is our beautiful pre-fab barn.” They both always told me, “You are SO gullible.” Right on all counts!