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About a year ago we had a minor flood. The line feeding hot water to a jacuzzi tub in my master bath decided to leak. The tub, made of cultured marble, had once been repaired and the repair failed. Cultured marble, we found out, is difficult if not impossible, to repair. We had plans to replace the tub, but contemplating a new tub led to thoughts of replacing our aged shower, then redoing our entire master bath, and quickly, the project became so complex and painful, the tub became a place to put a presorted laundry hamper and we forgot about it. Then, ten years later, the leak.
I never liked that tub.
The leak was just a pin hole, but overnight, it made up for its size with amazing persistence. The insurance company rushed in with a remediation team and within a few days, the shower, tub, surrounding drywall and flooring, and the ceiling below, were demolished and the debris hauled off. For weeks, blowers roared behind flapping plastic partitions. A technician made daily inspections, testing the sills and subfloor for wetness and mold. One by one, the blowers were removed until they were gone. The insurance company sent us a settlement. I pointed out that they had factored our deductible into their figures twice. They sent a correction, and perhaps as a matter of procedure or out of guilt, added significantly to the original settlement even though we’d not complained.
We expanded the project to a complete rehab of the master bath. There was never a thought of calling a contractor. I would handle the project myself, bringing in skilled subs as needed. I got numbers from plumbers, drywall guys, flooring guys. I let my wife decide on plumbing fixtures, lighting, etc.
In late 2020, we ordered a stand-alone tub from a major retailer. Literally within minutes of that online order, we were notified it would be delayed. Then it was delayed again. And again. I was told to call for more information and was given a ship date. That was in May. Delivery was rescheduled for late July. I called in late July. The order would have to be canceled. The retailer no longer carried that brand.
This story was repeated over and over. Faucets – backordered, then discontinued. Sinks, not available. Toilets, no longer manufactured. Shower pan – not currently available in our configuration. We charged forward, found alternatives. My garage is filled with boxes of stuff and my bathroom is still a gutted mess.
I now have two stand-alone tubs. Something got crossed up and two arrived.
In the meantime, I have inspected every single granite, quartzite, marble, quartz, and limestone slab available in the Phoenix market (and many, more than once.) This would be for the counters, of course. I never knew that this would be quite so challenging. As a rock hound, I pretty much love them all. But my lovely wife, not so much. I’m hopeful, now that all the required fixtures sit sweltering in my garage, that the great stone search will soon come to a close.
But just in case you wonder whether or not COVID has really damaged our economy, let me tell you, it has. Tasks that were once just difficult, are now herculean. Home improvement projects take not months, but years. And have you tried to buy a car lately? (I have.) The dealers have to sell something, so new car lots are either empty or filled with overpriced used cars and trucks. The auto manufacturers face the same problems I face with my master bath rehab. Parts aren’t available. Materials are scarce. Production lines can barely be kept operating. Inventory is now an archaic word.
This is madness.
I have good news though. If you are looking for a nice stand-alone soaker tub (they are all the rage these days) I have one available for immediate delivery. Lock in your price now! Otherwise, good luck with that.Published in