“Please,” I hear you crying, “I don’t want to remodel a bathroom!” No, wait. Maybe that’s me.
So here’s your escape clause: don’t buy a house. Lots of people are lifelong tenants, even in countries that use phrases like “pride of ownership.” In exchange for not having pride of ownership, they never have to waste time shopping for rain gutters.
If you still want to buy a house, or you’ve already got one, then you probably won’t be able to avoid remodeling a bathroom. But you don’t have to do it alone, because I’m here to guide you.
Let’s start remodeling!
- Do not attempt this process with a one-bathroom house. If that’s what you’ve got, sell it and buy a two-bathroom house. I say “buy,” but if you can manage to inherit one, so much the better. You’re going to need all the money you can save.
- Evaluate the problem bathroom.
- Ask yourself, is it really okay to use “problem” as an adjective? Sure, lots of people do it, but does that make it right?
- Acknowledge that delaying your project by fretting about the word “problem” is in itself a problem. Tell yourself, “I’m a mature person, albeit one who’s now talking to myself. I’m capable of making every decision that has to be made regarding this problem … atic bathroom.”
- Check out the bathroom again. Wouldn’t it be easier to just rip everything out and start from scratch?
- Hire someone to rip everything out.
- Write a letter thanking me for step 1. Just how fucked would you be right now if you’d bought that one-bathroom house? Consider making a donation that will help fund my next blog post: “How to reconfigure your computer.”
- I won’t try to tell you what to do with the weeks, months, or even years that lie between steps 6 and 10. I don’t know your life. You might want to buy some books (especially mine), learn a foreign language, or do some role-playing with your partner. (Tell him/her that you’ve always fantasized about having sex with a plumber. With luck, your partner will get excited enough to learn how to plumb, and that’s one less person you’ll have to hire.)
- This step is optional and not recommended, but if you own a cat that has the misfortune to get attacked by dogs, and after surgery for a herniated intestine she has explosive diarrhea for three weeks, you’re going to be very grateful for that empty bathroom. Cover the floor and walls with cheap plastic shower curtains and put the litter box on the floor. Later, when you’re throwing away all that plastic, apologize to the planet and promise to plant a tree.
- OMG, guests are coming to stay! Take a tape measure, a pen, and a notepad into the bathroom and write down the measurements.
- Go to the nearest Home Depot/ Barn/Shed/Warehouse and look at showers, bathtubs, toilets, tile, linoleum, faucets, pipes, and valves.
- Call these people who want to stay in your house and tell them that your cat is suffering from explosive diarrhea and it might be best if they stay in a hotel. If they fall for this but you feel the need to have them over for a meal, put a diaper on the cat to add verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.
- Whew, that was close! But your next guests might not be so accommodating. It really is time to come to grips with the bathroom. Can you handle another trip to Home Whatever? No, of course not. So hire a contractor.
- Tell him or her, “Anything, as long as it’s not orange or lime green” (or whatever your least favorite colors are).
- Give the contractor your budget.
- When the contractor stops laughing, say, “Well, I guess I could afford ten percent more.”
- When the contractor has accepted 50% more, but before you have to pay, get a second job, or have a garage sale – I mean, literally, sell the garage – or kick out your deadbeat partner who wouldn’t go along with your plumber fantasy and find someone richer.
- Once the bathroom is finished, invite some people over to see it. Practice saying, “Well, orange with lime-green accents was the contractor’s idea, but I think it makes a statement.”
P.S. If you followed step 9, remember to plant the tree.
Sure, I’d be glad to tell you the status of my problematic bathroom
Day on which everything got ripped out: September 3, 2011.
Complete list of contents as of June 4, 2013: tile samples, linoleum samples, litter box, two bags of litter, and a plastic jug of Anti-Icky-Poo. But I have planted my tree.