About two years ago, we discovered mushrooms growing in the carpet in our basement. Mushrooms. Ick. This was in the outside wall of the house (we have an end-unit townhouse), not far under a pipe to the outside. Of course, we figured it was the pipe. We ripped the carpet up, tore a hole in the wall, ripped out sodden insulation to find: it wasn't the damn pipe. So we figured it was coming from outside. We dug holes, moved dirt, ripped off pieces of siding, ripped up boards off the deck, all to no avail. Still never could figure out where water was coming from. We just weren't ready to call in the professionals, probably due to a large opinion that people are going to take advantage of us if we don't know what the problem is specifically (in our defense, it has happened to us in the past, more than once), so we just let it go and decided to observe it.
A little over one year ago, I was cleaning the shower in our master bathroom when I noticed that the tile in the back of the shower was loose, and water was washing up behind it and little bits of drywall paper were flushing out the bottom. Huh. The basement leak is right below the shower. After we noticed the initial problem in the basement and ripped up the carpet/wall, we never grew mushrooms again, and it never got that wet again, just somewhat damp. We now guessed the leak was caused by the shower, and figured we knew how to get it fixed. We went to DisneyWorld a few weeks later, and turned off all the water to the house. That week, despite fairly heavy rain, the basement was bone dry. We had hit the jackpot.
Thus we began the arduous task of finding a contractor who A. wouldn't take advantage of us, B. did quality work, and C. we could actually afford. This took forever. I mean forever. We interviewed tons of people, most of whom wanted a king's ransom, or at least the equivalent of a year's tuition at a private university, which we couldn't afford. We finally, in October of last year, took out a home equity line of credit to finally get it done. We need a new house, and we can't sell this one until it's fixed. We had someone we thought we would use, but then a friend told us about a friend who had done some work for her, and she was really pleased. In January, he came and gave us an estimate. At less than half what anyone else had asked, and a licensed contractor with good references to boot. He was hired; the downside was we had to wait several months for him to start.
He started last Monday. Within one day, he and his helper guy had cut apart the old shower and taken it away. You see this coming, right?
No water problem. No sign of a leak at all. None.
Now, we needed the new shower anyway. The old one was a nightmare to clean, in fact it never looked clean, even after I had spent a weekend bleaching the hell out of it. We always had a mold problem on the ceiling above the shower, due to the fan issue. More about that later. The new shower is a composite model that is large pieces, and I can already see it will be a piece of cake to clean. Joy, and really not that expensive.
Our bathroom has a double sink, a shower, a separate tub, and the toilet is in a separate little closet by itself. We are having the shower replaced, the sink faucets replaced, the room painted, and new lighting installed over the top of the shower, because the place has always been a little dark. We are also having him address the mold problem. The ventilation fan is in the little closet with the toilet. It has never vented well to get moisture out of the bathroom, thus the mold problem. Despite the fact we didn't have a bathroom door. Well, we had one, we just took it off. More about that in a minute. So our solution, suggested by Wonderful Contractor, was to cut a small vent in the wall between the toilet and the rest of the bathroom, to help the fan do its job. He was going to do this. But in prepping the rest of the room, he took the fan off, and discovered....
It wasn't connected to the ductwork. It wasn't doing squat for ventilation. Yeah.
So, Wonderful Contractor will be fixing that, and needing to cut a hole in the ceiling outside my bedroom to fix it. Instead of cutting up the wall in the bathroom, he put a combo light/fan over the shower.
My bathroom's gonna be pretty.
When the drunks built this house they did some pretty strange crap. One of those things was hanging the door to the bathroom such that when the door was open, one of the double sinks was completely blocked. If it hung the other way, the light switches were blocked. WC got us a new door. It opens into the bedroom, and doesn't block much of anything.
WC will be here probably a total of a month, fixing not just the entire bathroom, but a bunch of other smaller crap all over the house that we don't have the time to do ourselves but must be done to sell the house. He is wonderful. We are so happy we hired him. You hear so many contractor nightmares, but our only complaint here is that WC has a lot of jobs and it is just him and one other guy, so you gotta wait a long time for him to get to you. But he's worth it.
Later I'll explain the whole Bermuda Triangle thing.