Ideally, we would have simply signed up with one contractor to redo the bathroom. Somebody with carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and flooring crew all on one sheet – come in, rip it out, replace it, and be gone in a day or two.

As I said, ideally. It’s not what you typically encounter, especially in an older house. Want an estimate? Everything depends on the unknown terrors hiding behind the walls or under the floor. Surprise, surprise.

What we found in practice as we set out this time around was that the plumbers were in an uncommonly busy period, compounded by a heart attack or two. And suddenly the flooring crew was flush with assignments. What should have been a two-week undertaking expanded into two months – over Christmas, at that. And that fell into just the bathroom part of a bigger campaign. As my wife learned, you can spend a lot of time playing telephone tag.

We’re not even talking Martha Stewart. We’re talking real life where we live. (Who knows how they do this in Europe. Or South America. Or Asia.) At least we didn’t have to consider bribery or physical violence.

A bathroom, after all, is the height of civility.


My poems on the challenges of renovations, repairs, and relating as a husband are collected as Home Maintenance, a free ebook at Thistle/Flinch editions.


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