Saturday, August 25, 2012

Here Comes the Plumber: Part One

This story starts the day we got home from a weekend in NYC in late July of this year. We stayed on the 31st Floor of the Hilton Garden Inn with a view of Macy’s and the Chrysler Building. Dinner at great places, and third row for JERSEY BOYS—the greatest play I've ever seen. Before leaving, we made a detour to the Fossil store (not my idea) on Fifth Ave., and left with a $300.00 bag for back to school (also not my idea). But hey, why not a little splurge? The dogs were safely at home with grandma, and life was going pretty well. Then, back at home, I saw the leak in the garage. Water pouring through the floor when the toilet flushed or the shower ran. Uh-oh.

Maybe this story really starts when we decided to put our house up for sale this past spring. We wanted to jump the gun, get the 300K+ house in Loudonville with the pool and perfect yard RIGHT NOW! Of course I know nothing great comes RIGHT NOW, but I didn’t care. I was obsessed. So the showings started and life became a treadmill of racing home from work, piecing the house back together, getting the dogs out, then in came the young couple who would soon say, “No thanks” or “Not for us.” We lived on eggshells for thirty days, every universe sign screaming at me: “DON’T MOVE. YOU’RE NOT READY!” Then one May night while sitting on the deck, we came to the joint realization that we weren’t ready to leave. We were happy here, with this, a manageable house and mortgage payment. We didn’t need to extend for happiness. We already had it. Where ever "there" was, we weren’t "there" yet. Something was still holding us in this house. And two months later, on that July night as the toilet water ran through the floor and hit the hood of my car, I realized what that was: Plumbing work and probably lots of it.

I went on Google and found a plumber with good reviews in Clifton Park, and called him up. Yep, trusting total strangers on the Internet. The new referral system. A white-haired guy named Mike showed up an hour later. He replaced my toilet and redid my sink piping for a modest $900.00 dollars. Next his partner would come in and look at the tub/shower. There was no mold, phew, we had some money saved up. So far, so good. Before leaving, Mike, who was a talker, told me he was once an airplane pilot. Of course I asked him, “How do commercial planes NEVER crash?” He explained it to me best he could, the whole it’s-safer-than-a-car thing, but I still don’t understand. Little did I know my financial plane was about to plummet towards the Earth.

The next morning at 8AM, the doorbell rang, the dogs went crazy which meant WAKE UP, and an Italian guy named Marc was waiting to see the damage. He came in, said he could fix the tub/shower damage for $1100.00. That's it? $2000.00 total with his work and Mike's the day before. Great. Cape Cod could still happen. We told him to go ahead. Of course he couldn’t start until the following Monday, which meant my downstairs shower was about to get double duty for four days. And, of course, this double duty helped us to quickly discover that, yep, the downstairs shower leaked too. Of course it did. Cape Cod on life support.

For the next two weeks, starting everyday at 8AM on the dot, Marc’s vans rumbled into my driveway, the dogs went crazy, and his team infested my house. Loud music, sledgehammers, and questions ALL DAY LONG. Why do they have to explain EVERYTHING? Just fix it. By the end of week one, I had been ripped out of bed everyday at 8AM (not the worst thing in the world, I know), half asleep and being told that the estimate was going up, up, up, and I did that thing all guys do, nodding along like you know what this plumber is talking about before finally asking, “OK, how much?” This process was much harder still in my sleeping shorts with bed head, eyes filled with little crusties. “OK, how much?” That became my August wake-up call. Since Marc had a slipped disk in his back, I was also ripped out of bed to move the old tub outside and bring the new parts and pieces inside. I love August.

What happened to NYC and July? Why didn’t we sell last spring!! We were at a whole new shower and partial remodel upstairs, a shower seal for downstairs = $4000.00. By the end of week two: New shower, new tub, new vanity and FULL remodel = $7000.00. Goodbye Cape Cod. Then—perish the thought—the Fossil bag from Fifth Avenue had to go back. We needed Home Depot money. JERSEY BOYS felt like a lifetime before. In many ways, it was, just ask my poor bank account. Enter rock bottom.

Part Two to follow. Spoiler Alert: I spend more money and almost beat up Marc.

Brian Huba


  1. That's why it's always stressful to have any plumbing problem. You have to shell out money just to get everything back to normal. Anyway, it's all worth spending for because ignoring leaks will only lead to greater damage in the future.

  2. Trusting strangers on the internet – it sounds wrong when you put it that way. But that’s how it usually works nowadays, isn’t it? That’s not always a bad thing, as established companies can now be contacted through their website. As for the customer’s end, it’s a matter of choosing the ones they deem best. You did the right thing by choosing the one with a number of good reviews. Anyway, I hope they managed to take care of all your plumbing problems. Have a good day!

    Lovella Cushman @ Perfection Plumbing