Disclaimer: This post contains saucy language. The giveaway is right there in the title. If you don’t like swearing I suggest you get your DIY fix at MarthaStewart.com instead of reading on and of getting your titties in a twist because there’s swearing in here.
THE PROJECT: Our hideous three-way bathroom was screaming out for a complete renovation. Dating back to the late-70s, it featured an inspired combination of apricot wall tiles, blue mosaic floor tiles, mission brown trim, hideous beige paint and the ever-present stench of vintage urine. It was also chock full of asbestos. We are usually dirt-cheap DIY all the way here, but this time we decided to drop an obscene amount of money on the reno and outsource everything, in the interests of not fucking it up.
Here’s how we did it…
STEP ONE: Find a builder. Or a leprechaun. Whichever is easiest.
The first thing you need to do is find a builder to oversee the project. This is harder than it sounds. Trades are in such short supply that they can basically pick and choose their jobs according to some arbitrary set of criteria that you – as a lowly non-qualified layperson – will never be privvy to. Getting someone to return your calls can be difficult, let alone getting someone to come and do an actual quote.
We had lots of tradies who never returned messages, or ones who came to quote but completely disappeared into the ether afterwards with nary a “Yeah, nah” to be heard. It’s kind of like strutting into a brothel with fistfuls of cash to burn, only to discover that nobody wants to fuck you. Hey hot stuff! NO ONE GIVES A SHIT.
On second thoughts, screw all of that. You’re better off holding out for that leprechaun, because it turns out that you’re going to need a pot of fucking gold to pay for it all.
STEP TWO: Set a budget. Remove head from arse. Double it.
There is a very simple process for effective budget-setting when it comes to professional renovations, and I’d like to share it with you:
- Set a generous but realistic budget.
- Proceed with renovation.
- FUCKING HELL, IS THAT WHAT THIS IS GOING TO FUCKING COST ME!? YOU CANNOT BE FUCKING SERIOUS.
- Double the budget.
- Pat yourself on the back when the project comes in just under budget.
We budgeted $20 000 for the complete renovation of our old three-way, thinking that we were going to get the fully blinged-out Beyonce and Jay-Z of bathrooms. We were so cute. And so stupid.
It wasn’t long before we were forced to revise our expectations once we realised that all of the builders were quoting $20K and upwards just for the labour. So we either had to downgrade to a Kim and Kanye bathroom (still not cheap) or stump up the extra for Bey and Jay (fucking mint).
(For the record, we ended up spending at least $30 000. I stopped counting after that because it made me feel icky, in the same way that eating an entire chocolate baviarian cake by myself during my period makes me feel icky. I know it’s wrong, but it’s an unstoppable force. And yes, there are feelings of actual nausea too).
STEP THREE: Buy fittings and fixtures. Die slowly inside.
Oh, this is the FUN PART. You get to drag your husband and your two bratty children around to a hundred fucking bathroom and tile showrooms while trying to make nice and pretend to all the salespeople that none of this is going to end in carpark screaming matches, marriage counselling or divorce.
Nothing highlights the irreconcilable differences in otherwise strong relationships quite like the pressure of making important design decisions. Thankfully, I’ve spent the last 16 years whittling away every last skerrick of independent thought that my husband possesses, so this for us was mostly a painless process of him agreeing to 99% of my “recommendations”.
And I don’t know how they manage to get everything delivered YESTERDAY on The Block, but every single time we finally, genuinely agreed on something it took all of 3.5 nanoseconds for the salesperson to swoop in and gleefully advise us that that particular item was discontinued-effective-immediately or out of stock for the next 47 weeks.
“Would you like to choose something else?”
NO. Would you like to CHOOSE my FIST in your fucking PIPE FLANGE? Because THAT’S where this conversation is headed…
It’s painful for all concerned.
STEP FOUR: Get bathroom installed. Attempt to get zen.
The one thing we learned from our renovation experience is to expect disappointment and frustration at every turn, so as not to be disappointed or frustrated. I mean, in theory that sounds great but the reality is that your bullshit zen-facade is going to get totally fucked in the arse, and you are going to get frustrated as hell anyway.
I naively left the tradies to get on with it and follow the builders instructions (LOL soooo cute!), but if I had my time over I’d be one of those pushy asshole micromanaging homeowners who was watching like a hawk to make sure that, I dunno, the bathtub and the heated towel rail were installed in the right spot and there weren’t random light sockets and extractors plonked in places they weren’t needed or even asked for.
The plumber in particular was existentially annoyed by me at all times. I never witnessed it directly, but I could feel the seismic shifts caused by his eye-rolling and I could hear him sniggering with the other tradies in the next room after I invariably failed to answer every single one of his many searching questions.
Do you want the diffuser back in the bathroom?
What’s a diffuser?
Do you have a shower rose?
I don’t know. Do I?
What’s the size of your heated towel rail?
How the fuck should I know?
Did you want me to use the capillary connector to run a trap through to your cockhole cover before diverting it to your essex flange? Or would you prefer me to use a thermostatic mixing valve?
STOP ASKING ME QUESTIONS!! I’M JUST A STUPID WOMAN!!
I’d get so flustered that my stupidity became an embarrassing self-fulfilling prophecy, and when talking to the tradies I would blush furiously, drop about 80 IQ points and not be able to answer simple questions like “We’re going to turn the power off for a bit, is that OK?”
Errr, I don’t know. WHAT? Yes. Ok. Umm… maybe. I mean no. What do you think? What do people normally say? I DON’T KNOW. WAAAAHHHHH!
And then they’d all stand around smirking at me like I was a FUCKING MORON. Because I am.
Minor quibbles aside, we managed the chaos and disruption as well as could be expected, and six weeks later we are still waiting for it to be completed.
Remember my earlier meditations on frustration and disappointment? That came in handy (again) when our long-awaited shower screen finally arrived. It took six men five minutes to carry it into the bathroom and two additional minutes for them to decide that it was so riddled with defects that it needed to go back. Rejoice! You now have another ten business days to wait for a new one.
STEP FIVE : Behold your sexy new bathroom. Jizz in your pants.
I finally got my happy ending.
Damn that fucker was expensive, but worth every penny.