The Project from Hell is Done!


We love our new house — it’s been 16 months already! — but the list of projects is long and growing. This week we finally finished Número Uno: a new shower in the Master Bathroom. A new shower is a pretty simple, basic project. Every home has one (or a tub), right? Easy! 


I’m not sure how we missed it during our several walk-throughs, or how the pre-sale inspector missed it. But we did. Shortly after moving in we noticed quite obvious water damage around the base of the shower. It had been there a while.

We already knew the big ugly pink jacuzzi in the second bathroom was leaving, and our discovery bumped that task to the top of our list. We ripped it out in June and installed a new bathtub & shower. Excellent! Now we’ll replace the shower and we’ll be done.

First we had to rip out the leaky shower. That was easy enough but, of course, where there’s been water a long time there will be mold. No matter. A few weeks later we had that all cleared up. 

Great! Let’s go buy a shower! We looked around and found a nice unit we liked at Loews. The manufacturer was Sterling. We ordered it and waited. It arrived on time. Good sign. Then our contractor came to install it and discovered a tiny crack. Small setback but the next one will be OK.

We ordered the same Sterling unit again. Again, a defect. Third time’s the charm, so we ordered again. And again, a defect. This time Loews had two of the same unit so we checked the other one. You guessed it! Defect. 

There was never any damage on the cartons. These things were shipped defective from the factory.

Four bad showers. Time for a course correction. So we went to a high-end home decorating/contractors supply store with a beautiful showroom. We found yet another Sterling shower, but much nicer and fancier than the one at Loews. We ordered it and waited excitedly. It arrived and… Eureka!! It was in good condition! Too bad it wasn’t the size printed on the box — well… unless you looked at the really small print.

Five bad showers. About this time we started to think perhaps this project wasn’t going to go as easily as we expected. Undaunted, we charged ahead. After all, they say, if at fifth you don’t succeed…

Next we selected a really nice shower where they come measure, custom cut and build the unit from scratch at the house. I sold my body to science and we placed the order.

From here things started to look up — well, except perhaps when the custom installers cracked a few tiles on the bathroom floor while putting in the shower base. But I digress…

Next David picked out tile to install between the shower walls and ceiling. They looked great, but those little fissures that created such a pretty look would let steam and water seep through. That didn’t seem like such a good idea, so David picked up some other tiles instead. 

Long story short… We installed a new shower! It was a breeze. Piece of cake.

It’s done now, looks great, and even the tile floor worked out. The installers came back and did a repair that looks terrific. (I’m almost glad they damaged the floor!)

The real hero of this story is Dietmar, the ‘European Handyman.’ We found him years ago on Angie’s List and he’s done dozens of projects for us since, big and small. He’s a godsend! We don’t know how we ever got by without him. He was going to install everything until we had to get that custom shower, but Dietmar still did all the rest. 

It was his attention to detail that caught the small imperfections in all those Sterling showers that would have ultimately leaked. As long and arduous as this has been, it would have been worse to rip out an old leaky shower only to replace it with a new leaky shower.

So, that’s our new shower. Next I’ll write about our project to…. No…. I won’t put you through that!

I will never forget moving day, December 7, 2012. The movers are called Two Men and a Truck, but I think it was more like 12 men and 6 trucks! It was worth all the stress, though. We love the house, the neighborhood and the neighbors. Carol from next door was right there to welcome us. I think we were too tired and overwhelmed to do more than grunt “Thank you!”

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