Dispatch from the old bathroom

It takes an army to handle a renovation

Sunday, November 1, 2009

We did this once. Never again!

It is human nature to wish to change for cosmetic or comfort reason your abode, and the master bathroom is no exception. What may begin as a simple task can soon resemble the raising of the Egyptian pyramids.

For simplicity, listing the stages of development of the renovation, the stages will be in numerical order.

Stage 1 -- We have a master bathroom. I use the pronoun "we" because this is a husband-and-wife renovation effort. After purchasing the dwelling, spend the next 20 years discussing renovating the bathroom. Each time looking at the decision in terms of pro and con. The weight of the items on the con side of the ledger will register no because: two small bathrooms made into one reduce the number of bathrooms by one, young children still at home cannot share a bathroom and the family budget will not support the cost. When the pro column finally carries the day for whatever reason, begin the advancement to Stage 2.

Stage 2 -- Before this stage, the design is only a figment of your imagination with no real form or shape, only speculation. After lying dormant for decades. your high school drafting class skills emerge to create the first simple master bathroom blueprint. This first effort to create a working blueprint from the guesswork of your discussions reveals the confusion of ideas between husband and wife. Stage 2 to this point has produced bewilderment and confusion. This uncertainty of the design will remain well beyond Stage 2.

Stage 3 -- With primitive blueprint in hand, the search for an army of contractors can commence. Plumbers, electricians, tilers, construction supervisor, carpenters and helpers are all recruits of this army. Every army needs a general, and the search for the general contractor resembles President Lincoln's search for a winning general for the Union Army. Searching for a Ulysses S. Grant, you will interview many a George B. McClellan. Even though the contractor's last name may not be Grant, when he or she appears in the flesh you will recognize the General of the Remodel. The general contractor will require an accurate and exact blueprint if he or she is to understand what goes where and the items to be color-coordinated. As the shape of the new master bathroom starts to appear on paper, numerical values commence to state the monetary cost.

Stage 4 -- When will the renovation start, and when will it end? What will the renovation add to enjoyment of life? Who wants what, and what will each give up for the other? All of the above questions come at you as if fired from a machine gun. You rebel against the onslaught in your mind with the shout: "I don't want to know this much about a bathroom. Will someone please order the tile, and I do not care where the toilet goes!" The answer to the first question cannot be determined until the contract is approved and signed.

Stage 5 -- The Egyptian pyramid work gangs appear at my front door. Even before the gangs arrive, my home has begun to resemble a hardware store. Boxes of tile stacked in the basement hallway, a new toilet on the back porch, new vanity stands and sink fixtures in the master bedroom, and lighting fixtures stacked on top of the new vanities, all of this proclaims, "I'm a hardware store." Lesson 1 is now complete for How to Renovate a Master Bathroom in a thousand easy lessons, and in the future, I will post the remaining 999 lessons as the Egyptian gangs reveal each lesson to me.

-- Carey Ben Franklin,


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