Remodeling a bathroom: it's not like writing a novel

I have been doing damned little writing of late - less than I expected to in October and November (1). Why? Is it because I lack imagination, drive, enthusiasm or dedication?


In late September, an unsuspected water leak caused a section of wall to crumble in my bathroom. This is a "three-quarter bath", a stupid real estate term for a room with a commode, sink and shower. One of the joys of home ownership is that when some part of your home falls apart, you have nowhere to turn. No building superintendent to yell at, no landlord to call up, no fairy godmother to swoop down and douse the problem with sunshine and lollipops until it goes away.

I took pictures of the damage in early October and spent two weeks getting estimates on the repair so I could file a claim for the water damage with my insurance company. In the end, since it was a faulty fixture that did the damage, not a ruptured pipe, I got exactly $0.00. That meant I had to pay for all the repairs out of pocket (see paragraph 3, on "joys of home ownership"). Getting $0.00 to cover the damages meant that I wasn't going to hire someone to fix this, but would instead have to do it myself.

This prompts some self-examination:

Q: Have I ever remodeled a bathroom?

A: No.

Q: Installed a shower unit?

A: Again, no.

Q: Worked with marble? Tiled a wall?

A: Yet again, the answer is no, I haven't.

Q: Given all these "no" answers, wouldn't it be better to hire someone else to do this job?

A: Don't be absurd.

Of course it would be faster and simpler, but when you get an insurance settlement of $0.00, your options are kinda limited. I can read a book, I'm a pretty handy guy, and I laid a tile floor once (well, more of an entryway). There's no reason not to just dive into this project, right? Besides, I have lots of relatives coming into town for Christmas, all of whom are staying at my house. They would, to a body, be dismayed and discommoded to find this shower out of commission. Therefore, this repair & renovation leaped to the #1 position on the To Do list.

I've been tweeting for weeks about my bathroom, and the work I've been doing on it. Specifically, my tweeting has been about:
This is not good. Not good at all.
  • the water leak that ruined the drywall behind the shower insert
  • my diagnosis of the extent of the damage
  • attempts to get my insurance company to pay for repairs
  • disassembling the shower unit
  • demolition, i.e. tearing out the ruined drywall
  • repairing the stud wall
  • insulating and installing vapor barrier
  • installing concreteboard
  • tiling the shower surround
  • reinstalling the shower unit
I'm going to post pictures of this project, spread out over three blog posts: 1) "Damage and Demolition" - the source of the problem and clearing away the old to make way for the new; 2) "Structure and Stuffing" - the structural repairs and installation of the insulation, vapor barriers and concreteboard; 3) "Tackling the Tiling" - installing the marble tile and the re-installation of the shower walls.

All of this has been MUCH more important to me that it could possibly be to you. Since most of my interactions are with writers, editors, publishers, agents and associated literati, my do-it-yourself tweeting might even be less than boring, crossing the line into actively tiresome.

So be it. This is the kind of thing that keeps me from devoting time to my writing, and this is a blog about my writing journey. Besides, if I end up starving as a writer, I can always get a job as a handyman.

(1): Note: while I've been doing less editing of my novel and less writing in general than I wanted to during all of this, I still wrote Roofline; Pumpkin Brains, Forever; Possible Hims For Origin; Chopin Beneath a Starry Sky; Pleasurebot, Parts 1 & 2; Truth, Justice and Natural Philosophy; My Burning Destiny and a blog post about why Klout doesn't suck, in addition to poems, blog posts and some pieces I submitted rather than post. Just sayin'.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. Fixing this pile that I was pushed into buying was the first purpose of my blog. Like I mentioned on Twitter, one of my series of posts comes up the runaway leader in searches. So I'm looking forward to seeing the project in all its gory detail!

  2. I was going to put it all in one big post, but then I figured breaking it up would be better. After all, this is potentially some blogging gold, at least for folks who want to see DIY tiling!

  3. Bring it on! Looking forward to see the pix.

  4. You've seemed a bit despondent lately. I also notice you've had less time to write (although you've still written a lot).

    Maybe getting some hired help might be worth it if you factor in the joy of more writing time?

    Although I should add I may be missing the joy of DIY as I'm about as practical as a cat in a swimming pool. (Well, you get the idea...)

  5. @ Cathy: You bet! Here are the pics.

    @ Peter: While I do hire people for some things, like the more complicated plumbing, the economics of it are such that I'm much better off doing this stuff myself and putting the savings toward other things. As for despondency and angst, that's a bit more complicated.

  6. Nice post,Thanks for sharing this post.I agree with you that bathroom remodeling is not like writing a novel.It is a very difficult work but you can take help of a company which providing remodeling services at affordable price.


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