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Bathroom Renovation: Do You Mean There’s No Hot Water?

Red Pine Mountain logoThree years ago, Mountain Man and I took a rare vacation to the Ozarks.  We fell in love with the beauty of the landscape and the friendliness of the people.  With the population consisting of more cows than people, Mountain Man and I felt right at home and as we wandered the back roads, we wondered what it would be like to live in a place relatively untouched by time.  Our question was to be answered around the next bend.

There it was.  A dilapidated ranch house sitting in an overgrown garden surrounded by even more overgrown fields.  A tattered “For Sale” sign hung from an ancient oak tree.

We walked around the property.  I was busy imagining bringing the gardens back to their former glory.  Mountain Man was eyeing the house.

“What do you think?”  I asked.

“I can do all the work and I can supply most of the materials.  We wouldn’t have to spend much, and we could get away from Vermont for the winters and make some money at the same time.  Let’s find out how much they want.”

Turned out the ranch was at a rock bottom price because of its condition, and we proceeded on with our plan, and hopefully, in the end, we’d sell the ranch to someone who would appreciate it as much as we did.

Little did I know when we closed on the house how one decision would turn my comfortable life upside down.

The old ranch was more than adequate, 1200 square feet to be exact, but when you have seven dogs ranging from a Newfoundland to a Chinese Crested, and all of them are in the house and the entire house needs redoing, that’s not a lot of room.

“How will we live?  What will we do for floor space?”

“We have to make every inch count but don’t worry about it.  I’ll work on one part of the house at a time and block off that section, and I’ll build us a bed and hang it on the wall framing and the dogs can sleep underneath us.”

And here’s how we slept:

Sleeping Arrangements

With the dogs underneath us.  And I, well, Mountain Man built a set of stairs so I could get my short, 5’2” self up in the bed.

My first real shock was when we arrived at the ranch house after a 32-hour drive, stopping to exercise seven dogs and feed and rest a trailered horse. We were all exhausted. All I wanted to do was take a hot shower and go to bed.

Mountain Man said, “You’ll have to wait until I get the fire going to heat the water.”

Me, blissfully ignorant, “What do you mean get the fire going?  What about the hot water heater?”

“There isn’t any.”

That was my first sign this was going to be quite an experience.

As I waited for Mountain Man to build a fire to heat the water, I went into the bathroom.  Oh, it was scary.  There was an old indoor carpet rug on the floor that was soggy with moisture and the floor sloped about 3 feet down from the bedroom.  I hoped with every step I took I didn’t fall through.

Bathroom Carpet

The linen closet was filled with mouse droppings and there were holes in the ceiling.

old bathroom

old bathroom 2

The bath was okay.  Not exactly the shower from Psycho.  I could cope.  A little elbow grease and it would be fine.

old bathroom 3

My desire to be clean and warm overrode my feelings of fear so I took a deep breath, hopped into the shower and waited for warm water to wash over me.  And I waited, and waited and waited.

old bathtub

Finally, I heard a noise, whir, clang, bang and a big sputter.  Bam, small pebbles started hitting me all over.

“HELP,” I screamed for Mountain Man.  “There’s rocks coming out of the shower head.  OUCH!!!”  You think I would have jumped out of the way but I was so surprised, I just stood there.

“I guess there is a problem.”  My Mountain Man said.  Nothing like stating the obvious to a tired, irate woman.

“I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT HOT WATER.”  I was glaring at Mountain Man as if it was somehow all his fault.

“Don’t worry.  I’ll fix it.”  And he did, but it took days.  Mineral deposits had calcified throughout the old water lines.  Good thing Mountain Man prefers a natural smelling woman because I reeked, and I was fuming.

Finally, he got the shower working, but every time I turned it on, the house filled with sewer smell.  EWW!

Mountain Man discovered the plumbing wasn’t vented properly and every time I ran the water, the smell from the septic tank came back into the house.

I finally got to the point where I’d tell Mountain Man to start the fire, then I’d throw open all the windows (never mind that it was 20 degrees outside), run into the shower and stay long enough to get clean.  We couldn’t keep living this way so Mountain Man turned his attention to building a new bathroom.

First he had to frame the new bathroom space and put in the walls.  The old bathroom got ripped out to become part of a new master bedroom suite.

framing bathroom

Next he installed the new bathtub and toilet and after that he ripped up the old floors to install a drainage line that actually went to the septic tank.

pipe to septic

He built the cabinetry from ash wood logged from our farm in Vermont.

ash cabinet

We purchased the vanity but when we got it home, it didn’t fit the opening.  No problem, Mountain Man just planed it down to the right size.

planning vanity

Mountain Man planes the vanity to fit.

At last, I had a beautiful, new clean bathroom complete with hot water and no sewer smell.

Finished new bathroom

And now I know true love means making sure your sweetie never has rocks falling on her while showering.

Let me know if you enjoyed this Ozarks adventure. It’s one of many that changed both Mountain Man and me forever.

darry
6/26/2014 6:38:14 AM

I have to confess that I am impressed and at the same time inspired by your determination. You people know your business and I can only learn from you. Before reading this I thought I cannot install my http://www.europeansinkatlanta.com/category/bathroom-fixtures.html by myself, now I feel like everything is so much easier to handle if you put passion in it. Keep up the good work!


mountain woman
6/17/2010 1:42:24 PM

Hi Nebraska Dave, Coffee and hot water; two necessities for sure. As to the traveling farm concept, Mountain Man has that under control. We traded in the RV and MM is designing us a new animal/utility/people trailer so the entire farm will come along because I can't bear to leave anyone behind. Multi tasking trailer he calls it. Yes, I'm definitely in a different season of life and I so enjoy my elder years. It's amazing to me that so many women weren't interested in MM because of the way he lived. I sure came along at the right time and I think we were meant for each other. He lets me be myself and I cherish him for his heart and his love that shows through in the way he takes care of me and our animal family. Maybe if we roll through Nebraska, we'll stop and visit and enjoy your beautiful patio. Thanks again for the kind comments.


nebraska dave
6/17/2010 12:39:47 PM

MW, you truly have transitioned into a totally different season of life. I really enjoy hearing how you have come from one life style into another. I have accomplished the same with my life. You have moved into such a wonderful time of life with totally different goals and needs. I think it’s totally awesome the goal of restoring a broken house and neglected property. However, your animal menagerie has grown to prevent easy travel to enjoy the new property for the Winter, but it truly appears that doesn’t matter and the whole ordeal is about the prevention of the demolition of a quite salvageable house. You have become quite content where ever Mountain Man resides. That’s as it should be. His talent to fix things in a very timely manner is quite rare in the male species. I know that you appreciate it. You have indeed found a diamond in the Vermont wilderness. I am always fascinated with your stories about modern day wilderness living. Your style of writing leaves me with anticipation of the next post. Keep up the posting and hey, I like a hot shower after a sweaty day too. See ya next time.


mountain woman
6/17/2010 8:59:13 AM

Shannon, Thank you so much. Although our house in Vermont is very simple, I realize how much I do appreciate all the modern conveniences after living in the old ranch house. I'll never take running water and heat for granted again. It's been a learning experience for sure. Thanks for coming to visit me.


s.m.r. saia
6/17/2010 7:58:34 AM

Wow, that is really an adventure. What a fixer-upper! You're both very brave for taking that on. But I'm sure it's got to be unbeleivably satisfying, and as each thing gets done you probably appreciate the little things (like hot water!) even more. Those cabinets that MM built are beautiful. I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing more about the transformation!!!!


mountain woman
6/17/2010 7:35:59 AM

Thanks Cindy, No, I don't sing in the shower cause my voice would scare the paint off the walls. We both love old houses and hate to see them get ripped down. So much history and so many memories. Two very elderly people pulled into the driveway last time MM was there and they were owners of the ranch way back when and they were telling him the history of the place. House actually had to be moved because it was on the "corps land" on the water. They were happy to see it being repaired and just made it worthwhile, rocks on the head and all. Thanks for visiting and I won't sing for you any time soon unless you have bears to scare but that's a story for another day :-)


mountain woman
6/17/2010 6:57:14 AM

Hi Andrew, MM has a gift for this stuff that's for sure and he never ceases to amaze me. He started working with his hands as soon as he was walking I think and it's been a life long love. He taught shop back in the days when schools still had shop programs and he loves to tinker. Me, I'm a klutz so put the two of us together and it seems as though he's always fixing something I broke or making something better for me. I'm very, very fortunate to have him in my life. He's building the kitchen now for the Ozarks place. It's going to be of maple and he's logged some beautiful maple complete with tap holes. We're hoping someone will love their Vermont kitchen in the middle of Missouri. He's going to bring the camera this time and I have lots more adventures of when we were in Missouri last year. It was quite an experience. I try to stay optimistic and positive and sometimes I don't succeed but I've think I've learned over my many years is that there is always something to be happy about and even in the deepest of sorrows, there is joy because I still have life. Thanks so much for your compliments. They mean a lot to me.


cindy murphy
6/17/2010 6:50:58 AM

Mornin', Pebbles. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) It's one thing to have no hot water, but to have pebbles showering down on your head, is quite another. Did you sing in the shower? You'd have been an instant rock sensation, I'm sure. I love stories of renovation, and taking on an old dilapidated ranch house like you two did, I bet you have many. Hope we get to hear more; you've got a wonderful way of retelling your adventures with Mountain Man. Enjoy your day.


mountain woman
6/17/2010 6:46:44 AM

Howdy Heather, Thanks so much for visiting me!!!! I love our bed. We even have one in Vermont because we live an odd kind of life with our 7 dogs in not a lot of space. MM had to build a ladder for me to get into the bed and it keeps me in shape going up and down ladders. Luckily, I have yet to roll out of bed. I can't do anything with my hands at all and I'm a true klutz so I'm very thankful to have MM. Thanks again so much for taking the time to visit me.


anotherkindofdrew
6/17/2010 4:38:04 AM

How am I supposed to enjoy the whole article when halfway through you tell me MM saw the pebbles coming through the shower head and then knew what the problem was? Who knows that kind of stuff? I am just amazed more and more by MM and more and more by your optimism and storytelling. I hope we get to see more pics of the place. I can't even imagine how much hard work y'all have done and how it has transformed the once dilapidated ranch. Thank you, as always, for sharing with us!


heather h:)_1
6/16/2010 7:23:40 PM

Oh I loved this post...this was funny, sweet, romantic and practcal. Who knew I'd learn a little bit about home renovations :) :) :) Oh I want that bed...seriously...It reminds me of something straight out of the old tv series "Christy" If I could build something like that for myself...I would...I would use the space underneath for storage...so my room would look less cluttered. I love the blanket/quilt. Oh, I was intrigued by the photos of the bathroom too. Especially those storage shelves with the itty/bitty cabinets up at the tippy top. Those have character and style. Keep those :) :) :) I'm sorry you were pelted with pebbles while trying to take a shower. I'd be a little "fuming" too, probably...I'm so thankful Mountain Man was fixing up the place and tried to make you as comfortable as possible!!! Oh...this story makes me want to find a Mountain Man of my own who can build stuff :) :) :) so excited that you both found this wonderful retreat. I pray it'll bring you lots of joy :) :) :) Greetings from Oregon, Heather H :) :) :)