Plumbing Woes

If you’ve been following along with our project, even a little bit, I’m sure you have seen more than one reference to the plumbing issues during construction. I thought I would wrap up the discussion of the construction with the whole ridiculous story.

Everything started out fine with the rough plumbing being installed in a fairly timely manner, nothing jumped out at us as weird or odd or incorrect so we took some pictures and it passed inspection and all was well.

Except it wasn’t. Since our house is on a slab, the contractor had to trench into the floor to install the plumbing. Fine. No problem. Well, the downstairs bathroom was moved from its original location (basically the bathroom and utility closet switched places so it was more efficient for the furnace). This was something that was decided after demo so it required some additional thought by the plumber and the builder. No problem, right? Well I guess that was too complicated because somehow there were several problems that came up and clearly no one had thought them through.

The problems started after the rough inspection passed. Both the city and the bank completed inspections, with no issue. A week or so later we realized that the water meter hadn’t been installed. This was a problem because remember that we switched the bathroom and utility room. So the water was originally plumbed into the house into the old utility room, which was now a bathroom. The other problem is that after the rough plumbing passed inspection the plumber didn’t come back for MONTHS. I am not exaggerating, it really was about 4 to 5 months. We were assured that they (our contractor, who hired them as a subcontractor) would work around it and they were calling daily to try to get them back to the house. I guess I look really gullible?

Anyway, when they finally showed up and installed the water meter (routed beneath the stairs) and closed up the floors and turned on the water…. The water pressure was terrible. Whomp Whomp. After much diagnosing, having the city come out and make sure it was turned on all the way at the street (and a million other things they tried), it was determined that we needed a new line from the street to the house. Our old line was galvanized steel and I’m betting there was a lot of corrosion from sitting unused for months and months. But hey, what’s another couple dollars (x 1,000 😱)?

There are also are now multiple bends from the connections in the new bathroom and the main (original) plumbing line under the house. I guess that was easier than just cutting additional sections of the floor? Whatever the reason, we know they are there now! When we moved in, we quickly found out that there were major blockages (that was a fun text to the contractor on Thanksgiving weekend) that took about a month, several additional plumbers and a camera to resolve. Not to mention the emotional distress of seeing my beautiful new shower tile (which was not inexpensive) covered in sewage and the hours of sanitizing once the problem was fixed (I scrubbed the bathroom from top to bottom 3 times with bleach before anyone used it after that) The culprits? Something that looked like Clorox wipes (cleaning lady, subcontractor? 🤔) and a little further down the line, a big chunk of cast iron. Basically that prevented us from using the drains on that side of the house until it was resolved which included the upstairs hall bath, the bathtub, the downstairs bath and shower, and the dishwasher. We still used the kitchen sink since it was still draining, we just made sure to use water sparingly.

Top: view of kitchen and downstairs bath rough plumbing under floor, Bottom left: view of new bath plumbing, Bottom right: view of area where plumbing connects and turns into main line

On the bright side, since they installed the new line and fixed the drains, everything has been great. Now we just have to have them install some hose bibs outside (on the punch list, I guess they forgot?) and we will be completely done with plumbing. I will say, now that it’s over I am happy with the new bathroom, and it really did turn out well.

Anyone else have an experience like that with a contractor? Please tell me I’m not the only one!

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