In 2013 as I chronicled the rebuilding of our house after it burned in a wildfire, I wrote in my blog entry Throwing in the Towel, Bathtubs of 2013, about how difficult it was to find a bathtub for the replacement house we were planing to build. Today I am writing about how hard it is to find a bathtub in 2014.
As it turned out, the tub I searched for in 2013 was for our replacement house never got built. After months with struggling to rebuild on the site of the fire, we decided it was not in the cards for us to rebuild there. We threw in the towel and just retired a couple of years sooner than we had planned. We moved away from the town in Idaho where the fire was. We retired to Northwest Montana. We are literally a few weeks from finishing this, our actual replacement house. A year and a house later I can write about how difficult it has been to find a bathtub.
Bathtubs are shockingly expensive. There is a class of perfectly serviceable tubs built by Bootz, Kohler and American Standard that are all below $500 in price. In fact, we have one of the American Standard ones in our guest bath. I, however wanted something cool for my bathroom. Cool tubs run from thousands upwards to $25,000.
My bathroom is at the end of the line. We had purchased a lot of building materials for the house we did not build. Among the pile we have tons of finish things light fixtures, bathroom hardware and wallpaper. When we moved we bought all of our stuff with us. This house that is almost finished is a very different and smaller house. In an effort to save money, I have worked hard to find places for all of the stuff we have.
All of the rooms in this smaller house are designed and the “brought with” items are snugly settled into the interior design. My bathroom, however, is a hodgepodge. Whenever our contractor says, “Now what is the light in your bathroom going to be?” I shrug my shoulders and say, “When everything has been delegated to a room, I am going to sort through what is left and make a bathroom for me.” He rolls his eyes and reminds me by his look that he cannot tell the plumbers how to rough in the bathroom without information from me. The tile guy has patiently explained options to me while trying to get me to sort out what my bathroom will look like.
One thing I am sure of is what my vanity base (not counter top) will be. When I was buying on-sale unfinished cabinets from Lowes, I accidentally got one cabinet too many. That is in my bathroom. I put the same furniture quality finish on it as my spouses since I had the stain and topcoat for his and just used the left overs on mine. It is a fine color and I am happy with it but it was the end of thlly line.
I do have my sink faucet and it was not at the end of the line. It was special, just for me. It is just like the one that burned in our old house. It was a treasured piece and it took me months to find another. I wanted a special bathtub. We had decided I could pay a bit more for it than the bland ones but I wanted something cool to go with my special faucet.
When it came time to get the fixtures for the bathrooms there suddenly arose a time crunch. I knew what was going into the other bathrooms but not in mine. At the end of my huge shopping list of toilets, sinks, showers and tubs I had to deal with mine. I just said, “send me a toilet like my spouses and just give me that American Standard tub that was in the reasonable price range.” It was a huge compromise from the tub I wanted to be the show piece in my bathroom but it was a very serviceable tub. We had one in the house that burned and it was nice.
When the tub arrived it was still perfectly serviceable but was it was not the tub I dreamed of, I reminded myself over and over that it was a fine tub. One night I was feeling particularly sad about not having a replacement house we could live in yet I went and sat in my tub. My face was to the wall and the rest of the bathroom to my back. I had put the plumbing on the wrong end.
The plumbing ended up on the wrong end because my bathroom was at the end of the line. I had designed my spouse’s bathroom then lined up the plumbing for my bath by just taking the closest route from his to mine. I lay there in my too short for a soaking bath tub and just cried.
After a bit I dried my tear, got out of the tub and put on my problem-solving mindset. How could I change the direction of this tub without making things difficult. It was at that point I realized how close my tub was to my potty. When I had said, “Just send me one like my spouses,” I had ended up with something that did not fit well. My bathroom was at the end of the line and I had created problems by letting it get there.
I cried again. Then I put back on my problem solving mode and realized the only way to solve the problem was to toss out the present tub, and change the plumbing from a left drain to a right drain. This required new tub and tearing up the floor to redo the plumbing. It would be more than $1,000 even if I did the demolition myself. And we would end up with an extra tub that was not returnable.
I dried my tears and with red puffy eyes, went down stairs to our basement apartment and told my spouse what had happened. After discussion, he said, “I think you should get the tub you want.” I confessed my distress and my knowledge that I put us there. As always he wa empathetic. We worked on how much it would cost to change and I was right. I let it languish as I anguished over it. I shopped and was as always shocked. I did figure out that a lot of the soaking tubs had center drains and we might be able to pull the pipes above the floor rather than having to tear it out
That made my tears dry right up. My pragmatic side was satisfied. I got to help do the demo of the old tub arrangement and I had done the legwork to understand that we might be able avoid tearing up the floor. My new bathtub will be here tomorrow. I can hardly wait to see it. Here in 2014 it is going to be a very appreciated tub.