Stuck in a hard place


Last Monday dad and I got stuck into disconnecting a bathroom and rerunning the water and waste services to suit the new layout.

We didn’t get to the job until 10:15am(the builder didn’t want us until then) and we didn’t finish until 5:30pm. Running the services in the stud walls that day meant the builder could start installing the new walls the following day. When you do a bathroom renovation there is a trade sequence. Generally the plumber disconnects the fixtures, the builder demolishes the walls, the plumber then runs the necessary services in the walls or under the floor ready for the new walls and floors.

We hadn’t been to see this bathroom before as we quoted it on a sketch plan so we weren’t sure what we were in for. We were told that there was easy access under the floor to connect onto the existing services. Unfortunately the access we were told about wasn’t what we needed to be able to work underneath.

The basin was being relocated from one corner of the bathroom to the other so we needed to connect onto the waste and water points below and divert them to the right corner. Our downstairs access point wouldn’t let us near that area because it was covered by a fixed ceiling below and there were other pipes in the road. We didn’t know this until we looked underneath.

Before psyching ourselves up for the job, dad and I had an argument about who was going to crawl through the ceiling to rerun the pipes. I said I was smaller and dad said he was more experienced. I retorted ‘but you had a hip replacement’ and he replied ‘you just had a baby by caesarean and you have to wriggle on your tummy. You’re my daughter and I won’t let you do it.’ Hmph.

So dad won in the end.

Dad climbed up the ladder onto the existing work bench and then hoisted himself up into the cavity between the ceiling and the floor above. Poor dad got stuck. There was no way he could get to where we needed to work on the pipes. The space was too narrow.  His feet were dangling up in the air. He was stuck in a hard place and he (and I) had no idea how he was going to get out.

Poor dad stuck in the ceiling. The cord is a telephone line before you think the worst!
Poor dad stuck in the ceiling. The cord is a telephone line before you think the worst!

I was able to get dad to tap his feet on my hands so I could direct his legs to the top rung of the ladder so he could push himself out of the cavity.

When he finally got out he muttered he wasn’t going to let this job beat him. And I chastised him for being stupid trying to attempt the impossible.

We ended up cutting a big hole in the floorboards above to divert the existing pipes to the new basin location. When one way doesn’t work, you have to think on your feet to try a different way. Thankfully our second attempt saw the waste and water pipes diverted to the new position.

Mission impossible became possible.