In my previous blog post, I mentioned that we were having some work done upstairs, and that I would write about it when it was complete.
To introduce it, I need to backtrack six years, when we employed a local builder to remove the old-fashioned bathroom from our house and instal a new one, with an extractor fan, better lighting, and an altogether more modern appearance. We were very pleased with the result.
Anyone who is curious to read more about it can check the lengthy post I wrote at the time about our bathroom renovation.
However, about a week after we had been using the new shower regularly, I realised that a couple of the tiles around the tap didn't look quite the same as the rest. I thought I was imagining it at first. Then I wondered if we had somehow bought a box of tiles in a slightly different shade but hadn't noticed at the time. This theory was disproved when a third tile started changing colour. And we found some water on the floor. It wasn't just shower water that had splashed over; this was behind the bath, where there shouldn't have been any water.
And then we noticed some of the paint starting to bubble on one of the walls. We contacted the builder - I don't recall the time-frame, but it was probably some months after the renovation. He came back, and said that the bubbly paint was possibly due to the plaster not having dried out fully before it was painted. He was more concerned about the water and the different shades on the tiles, and he managed to find a joint that wasn't quite right.
He said he had employed a plumber who rushed his work and had made some other mistakes. So he fixed this leaky pipe joint, and said he would talk to his brother - who is a plasterer - about getting the bubbly paintwork dealt with.
Time passed. Not months but years. If we were away for more than about a week, we returned to find that all the tiles were the same colour, but a couple of days later, with regular shower use, the ones around the taps turned back to the different shade. And the patches with bubbly paintwork turned into large patches of bare wall, including one in the wall outside the bathroom which seemed to be getting worse and worse.
The builder and his brother did come and look at the bathroom a couple of times, where the walls were getting worse, and said they would come back some time. But they're very busy with other work, and it didn't happen... and we didn't know anyone else who would be able to do the work. Word of mouth is the best way to find skilled handymen here, but unfortunately most of the people we knew with experience of this kind of thing had been disappointed (or worse). The people we used were some of the best locally.
A young friend who had done some other work for us suggested that perhaps the sealant around the bath was causing the tile problems, and added some more. It looked good, but didn't seem to make any difference to the colour of the tiles.
More years passed, with the pandemic stopping everything from happening, and finally we talked to another young friend, whom I will refer to as L, the son of some close friends who has worked with a builder in the UK, and did some excellent plastering for us downstairs. He doesn't particularly like working inside - his passion is horticulture - but he said he thought he could fix our problems working just an hour or two per day for a couple of weeks.
This is what the wall outside the bathroom looked like when L had removed the radiator, and chipped away the loose plaster. He said the wall was very damp, so clearly there was a problem inside the wall, one which he could only tackle from the bathroom side.
And this is the wall opposite, where plaster had fallen away but it was no longer damp, and it had stopped getting worse. The problem that caused this was that the exterior wall had been sucking in water; a year or so ago L had painted the outside wall, which stopped any more damp getting in.