It’s a tale as old as time: to save money and prevent potential covid germs from entering your home, homeowner attempts a desperately needed home repair herself. The attempt goes poorly and ends with homeowner calling a professional to clean up the mess.
This is not that story.
This is the tale as old as time reversed.
As long term readers of this blog know, for a horrifying six hours in late June I had zero working toilets. I quickly got one working, but the second is still a work in progress.
To recap: the offending toilet leaked and water rotted out the subfloor. The subfloor needed replacing, then new flooring laid, and only then can the plumber replace the flange and toilet.
Today is the story of replacing the subfloor.
My Dad thought we could do the job ourselves. He’s the best handyman I know, but he’d never done a subfloor and I figured it would cost a lot of time and frustration. To be honest, I was lazy and just wanted to throw money at the problem to have it fixed quickly and without inconvenience.
Oh, the best laid plans.
It took a lot of phone calls to find someone willing to do the job. It’s busy season for construction and no one wanted to waste a few hours on a tiny six- by-three-foot half bath when they have a mile long list of major renovation projects.
I finally found someone through a handyman company and made the appointment. The guy was here for six hours and I will bullet point the key factors to speed our story along:
- I asked for the entire subfloor to be replaced. He ultimately installed a 25×25 inch square board around the toilet area, only replacing the rotted piece.
- He went to Lowe’s—twice—to buy wood and still ended up installing a piece that was a quarter inch thinner than the rest of the floor, resulting in:
- The replacement square not being flush with the rest of the floor.
- He removed my sink—ultimately unnecessary because he didn’t replace the floor beneath it—and informed me that he couldn’t get it to stop leaking when it was reattached.
The non-flush floor is a problem because you cannot install flooring or tile overtop it. And I don’t know about you, but “Rural Outhouse” style flooring does not match my wallpaper.
As for the sink, at least the plumber is coming back anyway.
You know what I did next. I called dear old Dad.
In the end, we ripped out everything and started over.
With a board of the correct width, properly measured cuts for the toilet flange, and a single shim, we had the floor flush and even. It took us two hours less.
The job finally looked professional.
In the end, I paid the professional for cutting a hole in the floor, possibly breaking my sink, and wood that is now scraped and in my garage.
Oh, and the screwdriver he left behind beneath the floor, like a doctor who stitches up a body with the surgical scissors still inside.
I’m keeping it. Even with the company’s partial refund after my complaints, it’s the most expensive screwdriver I—or anyone else—will ever own.
My Dad’s impeccable work cost four hours and a half gallon of ice cream to celebrate.
I guess you don’t always get what you pay for, after all.
A coda: I was wary of having a stranger in my home with the covid spread, so I turned off the air and had all the windows open and fans going to keep the air moving while he was here. It was a hot day and he was sweating profusely.
At the time, I felt bad.
I don’t anymore.