Eight o’clock on a Saturday morning. Our bell rings. Now we are not exactly morning people and I got up muttering under my breath about how rude this was. Sexy Hubby was due to come home later on during the day so I was on my own with the girls. I opened the door to find my neighbour, living directly below us, standing there, asking me if my bathtub had overflowed. The look of surprise on my face prompted her to explain that there was a brown, damp patch on her bathroom ceiling and therefore the water must come from our flat. I told her that I take mainly showers and therefore had not used the bathtub in weeks but we still walked together into my bathroom, where nothing looked out of the ordinary. We agreed to wait until Sexy Hubby came home so that we could investigate a bit more and she left.
Obviously her mind was not at rest as twenty minutes later she was back saying she had spoken to another neighbour and that we should ring our concierge. If you knew him you would also be of the opinion that this would be a total waste of a call and I suggested instead ringing the company looking after our building. We did and they sent someone who concluded that there must be a burst pipe somewhere. Well, we had guessed that one too, and we were expecting some measures to be taken as a result. This person simply said that he would come back on Monday or Tuesday to look for the leak with the proper equipment without bothering to check whether the water needed to be turned off or not. By then dark stains had appeared in our stone staircase.
Come Sunday morning and I hear some commotion in the stairs. It had got so bad that the ceilings of the three neighbours below us were damaged – in one instance they also had water trickling down their wall – and the cellar where the pipes are was flooded. We rang a different company – not trusting the one that had come on Saturday anymore! – and they came quickly. First thing the guy did was to smash one of the tiles enclosing our bathtub to check for dampness underneath there. Nothing. He then concluded that the damaged pipe was behind our bathroom wall. Great. He said they would have to make a hole in the wall, and possibly also removed the bathtub completely. Better and better. He turned off the warm water – luckily we had been anticipating this and had all dashed into the shower prior to his arrival! – and said his colleagues would be there first thing on Monday to repair the pipe. We emptied all we could out of the bathroom in preparation and resigned ourselves to the damage.
True to what was promised, the team turned up early, the man in charge sporting impressive tattoos and clearly knowing what he was doing. I did however say to him that I hoped for his sake he was right, as I would be extremely unpleased should they rip my bathroom apart only to tell me that they could not access the burst pipe and would have to go through the wall in the staircase instead. This made him laugh, and he was right anyway, they quickly found the leak and repaired it. We were then all given devices to dry our bathrooms but in our case the water must have gone straight down as it only collected drops and we turned it off after a couple of days.
This whole process, including insurance procedures, took two weeks and then Laurel and Hardy turned up… We had been told that a door would be installed to close the aperture and we agreed that this would make perfect sense should a similar problem arise again. I had bizarre, frustrating conversations with Laurel and Hardy and it took me a lot of patience to get my points across to them. Common sense things such as the fact that the insulation, which had been ripped out, had to be replaced completely bypassed them – they could not see the point, even when I explained that the bathroom would get colder in the winter without it and therefore our heating bill would go up. That I wanted the off white door next to my white bathtub painted the same colour as the wall – this was impossible because the door was metal and therefore another type of paint was needed. When I pointed out that with the reference, said paint could be bought they asked if I was then going to go and buy it. And so on and so forth. In the end they came every morning for a week but did a passable job as you can see on the photos. They even managed to cut one of the spare big, white tile I had to match the size of the one which had been smashed. I was mightily impressed.
This all happened at the beginning of Sexy Hubby’s well deserved holiday and to this day I still laugh about the fact that in the commotion on Sunday morning he jumped out of the flat to discuss an action plan with all the neighbours, totally forgetting in the panic that he was wearing his “I’m A Toy Boy” T-shirt!!