Monday, March 05, 2007

Hell is Home Improvement

Last week started with a guy coming in to do my bathroom.

I'd scaled down the objectives significantly ever since discovering we were going to Uganda (a tenant won't really give a damn if tiles are genuine Turkish Travertine or cheap bog standard white bumpy 10x8s - just as long as they are clean and not cracked...) but nevertheless things escalated throughout the week.

Initially, we were to replace all the tiles and fit a new thermostatic shower, replace the light fitting and screw in the door strip that the lodger removed in a fit of pique when she stubbed her toe on it.

By the end of the week, he had to also do a shitload of replastering (I had the old fashioned kind apparently - the stuff that isn't plasterboard and just falls off the wall when you take the tiles off, leaving great big gaping holes into the cavity), tweak the boiler settings, fit a new window in the hallway (ok, this is entirely un-bathroom related) and replace the entire loo cistern and pipes because I knackered the flush a few months ago.

Whilst undertaking the last job, he managed to shear off the seized stop tap to the cistern, flooding my hallway cupboard and the shop below in the process. He had to artificially freeze the pipe to stop the flow for 20 mins (god only knows what sort of kit he carries around with him) while he ran around hunting for a replacement stop tap. Of course, mine was an imperial one and hardware stores only sell metric ones nowadays. He ended up sifting through scrap metal at the merchants over the road and found one for £20. £20??? I've googled new metric brass stop taps and they cost £1.75. Either he's telling porkies or the scrap merchant is ripping us both off.

Anyway, what with all the extra work the original estimate of £1,000 was, metaphorically speaking, out the rotten hallway window. The current estimate now stands at £1,885.

I actually shed a tear when I saw the new bill. That's six months wages in Uganda.


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