Waterfall from the Ceiling

After returning from a 10-day trip to Pittsburgh over the 4th of July, I spent my last day of vacation at home doing laundry and preparing for the week ahead. On my fifth and final load, I heard water flowing, but didn’t think much of it. My mistake. A hose had burst off my second-story washing machine and water had seeped through the floor then poured through the kitchen ceiling, dumping what ended up being at least 1/2 inch of water on the kitchen floor. At least 1 inch of water saturated the laundry room floor. The space between the floor and ceiling was soaked and water damage was spreading fast. I watched drywall turn yellow and cracks spread by the inch. After a frantic call to my insurance company, emergency cleanup workers appeared at my home at 10 p.m. on a Sunday, ripped up flooring and tore down ceilings and some wall. So much for a relaxing final day of vacation.

During the past 17 months, I’ve spent a lot of time writing about remodeling but have never had a firsthand taste of it until now. After interviewing a couple contractors, I decided on one who a friend recommended and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Chris organized each step of the remodel process impeccably. He arranged for the electrician, plumber and painters to come in in a timely, efficient fashion to speed the process. (I chose to use a separate company for the flooring replacement that he willingly worked around.)

He also made several improvement suggestions I acted upon, such as replacing the cracked tile hearth in front of my fireplace with a granite slab and replacing leaky, high-water using toilets with more modern, efficient models.

Every element of my house was done with the utmost precision. The laundry room floor that was ripped up was vinyl tile and I chose to replace it with a different vinyl tile. The before and after difference was astonishing. Chris laid it so the lines were even and professional looking, unlike the previous floor that looked crooked and off center. The electrician who installed the recessed can lights in the kitchen spent the majority of the day ensuring each wire was perfect and hooked up just right. I spent several days throughout the process working at home and enjoyed watching and listening to how Chris and the subcontractors proceeded.

Although I’m generally a level-headed person, I felt my stress and panic levels rising some days, like the day I had to attend jury duty (and was picked) coinciding with the one night the main bathroom and shower was completely inaccessible and the powder room and entire downstairs was covered in plastic and fine drywall dust. Even during times of extreme inconvenience such as that, Chris ensured the steps proceeded quickly.

On the upside of the unexpected remodel was the chance to make changes I had thought about making anyway. I never liked the flooring in my kitchen – it was too light of a color and the boards were too wide to look anything but very fake. I also didn’t like the dark walls. I opted for a cherry-look laminate floor with light walls that give the room an open feel. I also had Chris knock down a little wall dividing the kitchen prep and dining areas to create a large, open space that makes the entire downstairs seem larger.

After the flooring was laid, the paint smell dried and the new stove put into place, though, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the finished result.

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