Thursday, January 04, 2007

There are mushrooms growing in my bathroom...

I kid you not.

Spouse got up this morning to have a bath and came back with the astounding news that we appear to have some fungal growth underneath the sink.

This news in fact is less astounding when I tell you the story of our bathroom...

Be warned it's not pretty.

We moved into our current abode nearly eleven years ago. We were fortunate to purchase at the moment before house prices rocketed (a year later and we couldn't have afforded it), but the downside was we bought a house from an old lady which was in dire need of an overhaul. The place had to be rewired immediately, and before our first winter set in we had to get some heating in place.

Apart from that and decorating no 1's bedroom we did little else in that first year (oh, we did cover the vile bright orange kitchen walls in magnolia just to make it look vaguely respectable).

In our second year of habitation, though, we really got going with a vengeance. The lounge and dining room were redecorated, the front drive was ripped out and a concrete base put in ready for our pyrotechnical builder's mate to lay a driveway at the point in time when all concreting at the back of the house had been finished (several years later as it turned out, but we weren't to know that then).

In the meantime we turned our attention to the room that has become our bathroom. We were sold the house as a five bedroomed abode, on the basis of this room. Given that is off our bedroom, the only convenient way of using at as another bedroom would have been to put a corridor in our own room and making that much smaller. So we decided to make an ensuite bathroom instead. As this would have been rather large, we also decided to divide it in half and rather pretentiously to make the room between the bathroom and our bedroom a dresssing room. We realised quite quickly this was a silly idea, so now it's actually my office. A bit odd I know, but it does mean I can check my emails while the bath is running.

Anyway, back to our bathroom.

The course of construction didn't run smooth. Mainly because initially we used a mate from our local (generally known as Trigger, so I think you can probably guess where this is heading) to help out. Spouse felt sorry for him at the time because he was out of work. I did too, to begin with. However after watching him scratch his head and ponder problems for hours, that even I could see solutions to (but I am A GIRL, THEREFORE I KNOW NOTHING), I got rather fed up with having Trigger on the premises. The crunch came when he came downstairs and told me he'd spent over an hour trying to work out which way the architrave slotted together. Now call me stupid, but actually although it is the kind of thing you say, oh yes it could be that way, really looking at it logically there is only one way architrave goes. And if you can't work it out, GO AND LOOK AT ANOTHER DOORWAY! My response was to say just go that way, I don't really care, it's for a bathroom door, no one but me and Spouse are going to look at it, but Trigger wasn't going to let me make such an important decision. Heaven forfend. He might have had to do some work. Instead he downed tools for the day and met Spouse in the pub later to discuss this important issue over a pint.

Scroll on a few months and we were ready to get the bathroom fitted. By now Trigger was working with another decorator mate of ours, and together they were going to tile and decorate the bathroom. We got a plumber of our accquaintance in to do the plumbing, and a Sparky we had known a long time to wire up the shower.

First off, we discovered somewhat belatedly that our Sparky who's always been a heavy drinker (ok we did meet him in the pub) has gone severely off the rails since his wife left him, and now shakes rather alarmingly when he's at work. (The DTs are not something you really want your Sparky to suffer from, but we didn't know anyone else at the time). He was also somewhat less then reliable. Spouse was having enormous trouble getting him to the new surgery he had just opened up at the time, and when he did get Sparky there, the light fittings he put in were questionably dangerous. It's a miracle our shower hasn't caused a housefire yet...

Thanks to several non appearances from Sparky, we ended up in a situation where no one could proceed to the next part of the job, because he hadn't fitted the wiring for the shower. The plumber couldn't fit the shower till he'd done his bit, and without the shower being in place the tiles couldn't be done. Everyone fell out and they were all blaming each other. There is no honour among builders...

At one point I was threatening to lock them all in the room and not let them out till they'd finished, but somehow eventually the job got done.

At the same time our bedroom was being decorated, so we were in the spare room next door. By now I was heavily pregnant with no 2, and the chaos caused by her arrival meant it was some months before we got back into our own room and started to use our lovely shiny new bathroom.

The first problem we discovered was that the shower didn't work. It was still within guarantee so I called the man out to find that far from it not working, the bloody thing had been fitted so close to the tiles that the switch didn't work properly. The buggers charged me a call out fee as it wasn't covered under guarantee. Of course by now it was too late to get Trigger and friends to pay for that, besides which none of them would admit responsibility.

Problem two was that the taps on the sink are at such an angle that when you turn them off, the last drip runs back down the tap and pools on the top of the sink. If you don't turn the taps off incredibly tightly the sink ends up overflowing onto the carpet (now are you surprised we have mushrooms in our bathroom?)

We checked with the plumber who said it was the fault of the manufacturers. They claimed it was the way it had been fitted. The decorators claimed it wasn't their fault. So we were stuck with it.

To add insult to injury within weeks I dropped something heavy onto the side of the sink and smashed a bit off, ensuring when the leaks occurred they quickly became a flood. The cold tap developed a permanent leak which couldn't be resolved except by shutting it off. We live in a hard water area and Spouse is constantly changing the washers on the bath and the sink.

We also made the mistake of buying a spa bath - Spouse got excited by using one in a hotel we had been in. It was fiercely expensive and is actually a damned nuisance. The pipes get clogged up and we hardly ever use it as we're both a bit paranoid about it harbouring legionnaire's disease (I swill it out from time to time with bleach, but still...)

A further problem ensued when we realised how cold and damp the room is. None of our helpful builders had the wit to notice there are no party walls on the outside, so within weeks our lovely shiny paintwork was peeling off, we have damp in the ceiling which we have dealt with about three times now, and I have come to hate the room with a vengeance.

Rip it out and start again, I hear you cry. Well, yes, I agree, that's what it needs. But to do it properly we have to smash up the tiles and properly insulate the walls and start again. Ok, the sink is a nightmare and needs replacing, but the bath is perfectly ok (legionnaire's disease not withstanding). I appreciate I am probably out of step with today's throwaway culture, but I balk at replacing a bathroom which is less then ten years old and still works.



In my bathroom.

I think it's time to throw principles to the wind.

Bathroom shops, here I come...

In the meantime I have a mushroom outbreak to deal with.

Suggestions anyone?

Oh ... and a happy New Year to one and all. Do hope yours has started somewhat better then mine!!


Bec said...

Really, I think it depends on the mushrooms.

I mean, you haven't mentioned yet whether or not they are the edible kind... because if they are, my dear, I'd be putting my Pollyanna hat on and researching funghi recipes!

(yes, I;m back and thanks for checking!)

Jane Henry said...

Hi Bec,

Glad to see you're back in the land of the living!!

I did wonder if they were the magic kind, so I could enter some hallucinatory paradise where my bathroom is sumptous, beautiful and self indulgent instead of having mushrooms in the floor and black bits on the ceiling (as Spouse commented, if we lived in a council house there would be an outcry). And, as it's you Bec, I should fess up that I still haven't looked under the kitchen sink. God knows what's growing there by now!

Luckily, mushrooms were removed fairly easily, and carpets and underlay came away with no trouble. So now we have a nice wet bit of hardboard drying out under the sink and the bathroom looks that bit... worse.

Time to bite the bullet methinks!!!

LBA said...

Great story -

I love renovations, even when they go off the rails like this ( note to you: next time, no blokes from the pub ! )

A bathroom will probably be our next project, although our tabulations exceeded our wallets. I would be mighty peeved to pay so much and have shoddy work.

Go down to the pub and cause an unruly scene and kick butts.

You will be the crazy, ranting banshee-woman of lore, but at least you will feel better ....


Nic said...

Tip for the spa bath - every now and then, fill and run it with a dishwasher tablet/powder added - clears the nozlles nicely!

I want to do my bathroom out and you're giving me nightmares!

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