For the past month John and I have been working on remodeling our master bathroom. Well, really John has done the lion's share of the work. My contribution was mostly just picking out the fixtures, the tile, the mirror, etc. And making helpful comments like, "That's crooked, better do it over."
Our house was built in the early 1970s so it's badly in need of a face lift. But what we thought would be a cosmetic redo is quickly becoming a major remodel. We're finding that most of the new products we buy to install are designed for the way houses are made now, not the way they were constructed 40 years ago.
Replacing the ceramic tile in the shower required not just removing the old tile, but also demolition of the wallboard underneath, which had never been waterproofed. And when we tore out that moldy old wallboard we found the studs underneath were so deteriorated they had to be replaced too.
The shower tile didn't just slap in place, straight and even, like it does on DIY Channel. You see in old houses, the corners are not necessarily 90-degree angles. Some fancy maneuvering, muttering under the breath, and a lot of broken tiles later, it really is looking great.
When we tried to install the beautiful new brushed nickel shower pipe the old one wouldn't come loose. When it finally gave way, instead of unscrewing, it broke off in the wall. Wonderful!
The new sink base cabinet measured exactly the same size as the old one so we figured it should fit perfectly. Not so. The sink pipes in our old house are installed higher than the way they do them these days, so to make it fit John had to cut a hole in the back of the cabinet and put a new board on the back so it would fasten to the studs. When all that was done, he discovered there was no place for the flexible pipes to connect to the faucet. It seems they just don't make them like they used to. These days they use "smarter" technology. Why am I not surprised?
On two parts of the job, I'm actually doing some of the work: refinishing a wall cabinet and sealing the grout in the floor tile - on hands and knees. Ouch!
I found out very quickly that, just like the house, my knees are not what they used to be. Even though I wore knee pads, the next day I was in major pain. When my knees were still swollen a week later I finally broke down and went to the doctor.
He diagnosed me with arthritis. (I thought only old people got that!) Then, like John, the doctor had to do some major overhaul on this outdated body, extracting fluid and injecting medication. Two x-rays, four shots, and several hundred dollars later I hobbled out of his office. I'm still recovering, but I'm determined it won't keep me from finishing the work on the bathroom cabinet.
This is not the first remodeling job we've ever done. Over the years John has done lots of carpentry and fix-up jobs on all of the houses we've owned (eight to be exact). But it has never seemed like such an ordeal before. The difference is that this house is older, and so are we.
Our daughter and son-in-law recently bought their first house. They took one stab at painting and decided they were just not cut out for it. Since then they've hired painters and plumbers when they needed work done. Maybe that's not a bad idea. Guess not everyone is a do-it-yourselfer.
Maybe they just don't make 'em like us anymore. Or maybe the new models are just a whole lot smarter.