Monday, August 30, 2010

Into the Depths of Chaos

I've been resisting the urge for the last week to post yet another little lefty rant here, and to propose that at the moment - with both the major political parties effectively on good behaviour bonds and desperately trying to look stable and responsible, while the public service run the country - we're getting the best political governance we've had for a decade and-we-should-consider-just-leaving-things-this-way.

I'm not going to do that, however. Because, let's face it. There's no point.

So, instead, I'm going to talk about bathrooms.

Specifically, our bathroom. Or what remains of it.

It's amazing the way that the loss of one little room can throw an entire family into complete chaos. Until a week or so ago, I wouldn't have believed it possible, but - trust me on this - it's absolutely the case. Even a bathroom which is, let's face it, pretty much a single purpose room.

A while back, we decided to have our bathroom done up. We made this decision for two reasons:

1. Our house was designed and built (along with every other house in our neighbourhood) in the 1970's as a 'Guvvy'; that is, to be used as 'government housing' for either government workers who had to move to Canberra, or for low income housing. This means that the house was built to a plan, a budget, and a certain standard*. When we purchased it, a lot of the house had already been renovated, but not the bathroom. We inherited the original, 1970's bathroom, complete with narrow, shallow, enamel-less bath, peeling water damaged paint, mouldy roof, uneven water-catching floor and permanently dirt-ingrained grouting.

2. The whole room, like pretty much anything built in Canberra in the 1970's, was lined with asbestos.**

So a few weeks ago we bit the bullet, organised some quotes, and chose a nice bloke to do up the bathroom. We picked out new taps, showerhead, tiles... all the usual stuff. We try not to think too much about the dollars involved.

Of course, the downside was that we'd have no bathroom for a couple of weeks, but we consoled ourselves with the fact that we'd booked the renovation in for spring, when it'd be getting warmer, and our respective workloads would be a little under control.

"We'll manage." Min and I told each other. "How difficult can it be?"

Well, quite difficult, as it turns out.

Partly because our bathroom man had a cancellation, and bumped our job forward a month-and-a-half, which put it into the busiest part of the uni semester for me, and the trailing-but-still-bloody-cold final weeks of the Canberra winter. Still, at least we'll have our lovely new bathroom sooner.

In the meantime, though, we're facing down the challenges of a house where all the bathroom stuff (and it's incredible just how much stuff can come out of such a small room - Toby's bath toys alone filled a green bag, which is now sitting outside on the back porch) is crammed into whichever cupboard or horizontal surface will hold it. Then there's the challenge of keeping a toddler out of a room which currently:
  • Has no door and
  • Has drying concrete on the floor, drying waterproofer on the walls, a gaping hole where the shower drain used to be, power sockets hanging out of the walls and a sharp steel strip along the floor where the new shower base will sit. In other words, it's the most interesting room in the house at the moment.
Then finally there's the fact that, well, we don't have a shower. I'll be honest here; I like my showers. Especially in the mornings. It's safe to say that after coffee, a shower is perhaps the most important part of my daily routine. I'm one of those people who doesn't actually feel conscious until I've had my morning shower. At the moment, I'm showering in the bathroom down the hall from my office at work, by which point I've usually been up for hours, and feel like a sort of grotty zombie, and the feeling never really goes away.

It's not all bad, though. For one thing, our new bathroom, when it's done, will be lovely. It'll be the first time that both of us have owned and lived in a house with a really *nice* bathroom. It'll help us pretend we're on holidays in a hotel.

Also, from a personal perspective, I love watching professional tradespeople at work. I'm someone who likes building things and working with my hands, and have had various degrees of success with various projects. Min and I (with help from family) did most of the renovation work on our old house in Perth ourselves, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It also gave me an appreciation for the skill involved in creating and constructing so many of the things we take for granted. Like bathrooms, for example. There's a lot of pleasure to be had from watching people who really know what they're doing, and at the moment, I can't wait to get home in the evenings and see what the guys have done during the day - and because the job started with a complete strip out of the whole room, I get to watch it on a step-by-step basis, which is teaching me a lot, too.

So it's not all bad. Sure, the house is in disarray and we can't park our cars in the garage at the moment (mainly because it's full of tiles and wall paneling), but there are a lot of pluses, too.

And, of course, in a couple of weeks, we'll have the largest shower in Canberra.

Now that's worth waiting for.

** Actually, turns out that this also applies to the toilet and laundry, neither of which are covered in the existing reno, and the latter of which I did up myself last year. Oops.

1 comment:

  1. Ooer, as a fellow reno-addict, pretty please will you post some before and after pics when it's finished? I'll need to live vicariously through you until I can find someone to take on our kitchen for the right number of dollars. :-)



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