26 Mar 2014
Our bathroom refit from hell is proving a little wearing.
I have not blogged much lately. I have not been in the mood, to tell the truth.
After doing up my little caravan to make a kitschy palace, we spent a week making a short film, Cigarette, which the DH is now editing (the caravan was a massive hit, btw, and everyone except him loved it).
The next weekend was spent bringing the caravan home and then on the Monday, in moved the builders and out moved the DH and I. The reason was, there would be no loo, no bath and no sink for the next week as our bathroom was finally being refitted after 17 years.
It needed doing. Our old (avocado!) bath was disgustingly skanky; the shower taps hadn't worked in years; the bath tap dripped hot water - luckily into the bucket that we were using to flush the loo because the cistern had clogged up with mud in the recent rains; and the toilet bowl had a crack in it.
Sadly, moving to a nearby gite didn't prove all that we had hoped. Not that it wasn't warm and comfortable, etc - it was, but we weren't on holiday, we were working, and we couldn't get a wifi connection, which meant coming up here during the day (the gite's only round the corner). The same thing happened when we moved to a B&B - no wifi. And anyway, I had to be back here by 8.00 every morning because of the animals.
I'd expected noise, disruption, people coming and going, etc, but I'd forgotten that the door would be endlessly opened and closed as people went in and out, so there was no point running the heating and I sat freezing as I worked.
Nor can I remember what was the first thing to go really wrong with the new fittings. The lack of a waste in the sink, which meant that the plumber had to order one? The cistern that was found to be in pieces, and the company (hi, Destock.fr) refusing to replace it, so I had to buy another one and pay a second time for shipping? The tiles that weren't delivered? (hi, Bricomarché) The tiles that were delivered broken? (Bricomarché again). The bath and taps that weren't delivered at all? (Bathrooms.com).
I was dealing with five different companies, all in French, and getting the Gallic shrug a lot of the time. The bath and taps, which I'd ordered on January 17 and which were meant to be despatched on 6 February, finally arrived on March 18 at lunchtime, when I was paying the plumber by the hour to sit and wait for them. It will take several weeks to replace the broken cistern on the loo, so the plumber has had to plumb in the toilet bowl on its own and we will continue to flush with a bucket. The sink can't be installed until the bath is in place, so we are back to cleaning our teeth in the kitchen sink. And the sanitation people, who are meant to be installing a massive new water filter, still haven't got back with a price.
Just like on Grand Designs (and this room is minuscule), the costs have escalated madly - a new stud wall to take up the depth of the flexipipe required to splice a French toilet to our British fittings; a new stud wall to create a better angle for the new bath; the floor raised to create a drop from the loo to the soil pipe because the outlet was lower than on the old loo; the ceiling lowered to hide the pipework for the new extractor fan; the bath now taking up so much room that the sink unit I'd bought won't fit, so a custom one will have to be made, and more tiles to cover the lot of it. It will be about 1,000 euros per square metre by the time it's done.
Today, though, I really thought the worst of this would be over. I thought the disruption of living in gites and b&bs, and using a composting toilet in our piggery, and pissing in the garden behind bushes, and strip-washing in the kitchen, and using waterless Nilaqua shampoo would all be done with - our bath was going in. The boys were partway up the stairs with it when I noticed the hole in the fibreglass. None of us had spotted it, nor the blister the damage had caused to the acrylic surface. Completely unusable.
My heart sank. I was SO looking forward to a bath tonight - I am a bath person and haven't had one since Saturday (it's now Wednesday). My hair is full of this waterless shampoo stuff and I don't feel properly clean.
Luckily, I had no arguments with Bathrooms.com, which agreed straight away to dispatch a new bath. But it is a 10-20-day wait. It could be another three weeks before I have a bath in my house again. But friends have been great with their offers to use their bathrooms, and I've arranged to go over to a friend's at 10.00 each morning for a bath (I'll work in my PJs till then).
Then the plumber came in and said the loo couldn't be fitted either as the flexipipe had come apart in his hands. I was speechless, but bit the bullet and went down and cleaned the giant mould monster out of our awful cellar toilet. Meanwhile, the plumber found a temporary solution, so we now have one toilet that kinda flushes but has no seat, one toilet that has a seat (the lid was also broken) but no flush, a composting loo in the piggery, and a chemical Thetford loo in the spare bedroom. And no bathroom sink. Or taps. Or bath. And lights hanging out of the ceiling on wires for the NEXT THREE WEEKS.
Oh la. Worse things happen at sea of course. But I won't be quite myself again until things get back to some sort of 'normal'.