Monday, June 11, 2012

Righting the Redneckery

The D-R circus is going to be packing up our big tent and performing monkeys and moving on to another town in about a year when Dylan finally captures that doctorate (an elusive and enigmatic beast, that doctorate). So, we've been looking around our little yellow castle and seeing what needs sprucing up so we can fleece some poor unsuspecting folks into paying way too much for this pile o' sticks.

Our search for a spruceable space was very short. There was only one option as to where to begin sprucing: our master (hellhole/pit of despair/health dept. citation waiting to happen) bathroom. See, our house is a 3/2, but it was built in 1945 as a 2/1. The main part of the house has good bones and the general run-of-the-mill old house problems - cracks in the ceiling, old, narrow cast-iron pipes, that sort of thing.

The addition, on the other hand, consisting of our master bed and bath, is a hodge-podge of pure half-assed redneckery (and if you think whole-assed redneckery is bad...). Basically the nitwit who bought the house from the previous owner (we like to call him Uncle McShoddy) was like, "Hey Bubba, I bet we can flip this daggone house with about $35 and that ol' toilet yer mama has sittin' on her back porch and we can trick some fancified Yankee into payin' way too much money for it," which is exactly what happened. Props to Bubba and Uncle McShoddy.

Being the green, naive, fresh-faced first-time homebuyers we were and facing a market filled with homes displaying various obvious signs of redneckery (anyone looking for a place with a window looking from the kitchen into the master bedroom? Because I know where you can find one...), we chose what we felt was the least 'necky option. Unfortunately, our house is like an undercover redneck. It's like a redneck with some learnin' at a fancy party. He's got a nice suit on and he knows how to pronounce the "g" at the end of "-ing" words, but get a couple of drinks in him and he's shooting empty beer cans off the balcony in two seconds flat.

In our house's case, it took about three weeks in our new house to discover that something was very, very wrong. For one thing, as inexperienced as we were, we were pretty sure the water's supposed to stay in the shower when you're showering. For another, we were also pretty sure that the water from the washing machine isn't supposed to back up into the shower and cover your feet with lint and cold water while you're showering. Also...erm...the toilet's not supposed to leak all over the floor...right? And that medicine cabinet installed upside down? It is! It's upside down!

We dealt with this problem by ignoring it. We stopped using the shower and did most of our bathroom-type activities in the other bathroom. And then the hot water heater exploded (no, literally, it exploded) and flooded our crawl space and yard and we discovered that much of the "plumbing" in the addition was actually refrigerator tubing. In case you were wondering, refrigerator tubing is not an acceptable substitute for, you know, pipes.

A real honest-to-goodness plumber came out and fixed that problem and replaced the refrigerator tubing and did what he could to right the snarled-up mess of back-ass-wards "plumbing" under the house, but as we looked around a few weeks ago, it was pretty clear that we needed to do some major work on the bathroom before we could hope to scam another fancified Yankee.

Yay! Water damage! And hey, Bubba, go grab you the cheapest plastic piece-of-shit register you can find on sale at the Wal-Marts and don't bother installing it properly or anythin', 'cause then the Yankees' dog can't sit her fat butt on it and break it.

More water damage! 'Cause y'all know, you don't need to make sure the floor under the toilet is level or anything...

You know what would be fun, Bubba? Let's put the toilet paper holder waaaaaaay far away from the toilet. Make them Yankees stand up to reach it. Ha!

So, we called contractors. We spent two months looking for contractors. One of them finally called us back. We set up three separate appointments with him and he stood us up each time. Once he did bother to call 10 minutes before he was supposed to be there and say he couldn't make it. Once we called him and he said his cat was sick. The last time, he just didn't show and we didn't call. I still haven't heard from him, but I halfway expect him to show up some evening, smash a hole in our bathroom wall and ask for $2000.

After that last time I spent two hours deep-cleaning the hellhole for NO ONE, I'd had it. Dylan and I looked at each other and said, almost in unison, "What if we just did it ourselves?"

And thus, we have embarked upon our first DIY journey as a couple. We are almost certainly insane, but every time we discover a new piece of wrong, wrong redneckery during our bathroom demo, one of us says, "Well, we can't do worse than this!"'s not like one of us has shattered the glass shower door all over ourselves while trying to remove it or anything...because we have far too many college degrees between us to whack the crap out of the metal trim of the door with a chisel trying to remove it without realizing it would almost certainly result in sharp, glassy death...yeah...that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
There were more fun surprises after we finished the demo:

See those pipes? They shouldn't be there...but what fun would it be to put them in the wall where they belong?
Yay mold! You don't have to take the shims out before you put the baseboards on. Life is more fun when you share your bathroom with a possibly toxic lower life form!

The biggest surprise of all? The dorky poses he gleefully struck with his new tools. And yet I still love him...

Honestly, though, we bought a lot of books and we're doing a lot of careful research and I think we're going to be just fine...if I can remember to stop going into the bathroom at night and falling on my groggy butt when I try to sit on the toilet that's no longer there...


  1. Oh my word. And it passed inspection before you bought it?!?!?!

  2. Well, here's the thing. Uncle McShoddy apparently knew he did something wrong and locked the crawl space before the inspector showed up so the inspector couldn't get under the house to look at the plumbing. We were out of state when all this was happening and the real estate agent was supposed to get the inspector to come back after the rednecks unlocked the crawl space. There was a miscommunication between the real estate agent and us, we thought the inspector had come back and he hadn't and meanwhile the deal went through, money changed hands, and we were the official suckers, I mean owners, by the time we realized anything was wrong, lol.