The Rub (A Dub-Dub) (July 6, 2012)

We are now 180mm from a C of O (certificate of occupancy), which we need to move into our house as resident curators. You heard that right: A bit more than 7 inches—the distance between these holes for the faucets on our Recor pedestal bathtub, shown again below—are what's holding us back. 

A few weeks ago, we had every reason to believe we’d be moving by July 1st. We had sign-offs from Hamilton Electrical Inspector Robert Brown, Jr., and State Building Inspector John C. Bennett—pending approval from State Plumbing Inspector Scott Padden. Scott had provisionally signed off and needed only to test the kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures once installed. 

The rub? We still didn’t have the tub. We’d purchased it late last winter from F.W. Webb in Gloucester (Best-Laid Pipe Part I: The Master Bath), but Webb had sent it back twice because of sloppy packaging.

When it finally arrived to their satisfaction June 13th, our master plumber, Greg Mahoney, set up a final inspection with Scott, and we gathered three strong guys to help him lug the tub upstairs. Once they positioned it in the bathroom, they noticed the sticker with a measurement in millimeters.

Recor, being a Portuguese company, makes a European and an American version of our tub. They’d sent us the European model.

Because we’re restoring a state-owned property, we need to choose fixtures from a list of state-authorized products (Compatibility Test). It’s a long list, and the American tub made it, but it seemed unlikely the European version would too.

We’d already told our landlord we were leaving by July 1st, and we'd changed our address with the post office. Worse, our six-month construction insurance runs out July 9th. Without a C of O, we had been warned, we might have to shell out another $3,000 to renew it. Construction is finished and we’re ready to shift to a much cheaper homeowner’s policy, but until we have the piece of paper to say we’re finished, we’re not.

One weisenheimer suggested we try to pass off the European tub as the American one. Past Scott Padden?! No way. Someone else suggested we return the tub and demand the American model we'd purchased. The one we’d already waited more than three months for?! Not an option.

Incredibly, the European tub proved to be on the state’s list. So the guys fitted it then moved it to our graffitied, unfinished guest room. Kevin could then finish the bathroom floor while we waited for Webb to find state-approved European faucets that worked with our other accessories.

They eventually found a set and placed an order from Sygma, which arrived last week. Once again, we scheduled appointments with our plumber and the state inspector, and Greg showed up to install it last Thursday, the 28th.

Incredibly, it didn’t fit. Sygma had sent the wrong part.

He was livid. My husband, Kevin, was livid. The state plumbing inspector was flabbergasted—and about to leave for a weeklong vacation, returning July 9th—the day our insurance expires.

Another scramble for parts ensued. I should note here that ordinarily I seek out and make purchases myself, sans the middle man, no matter how elusive the item. Without a wholesale number, however, it’s really difficult to purchase plumbing supplies—which also seem, in our experience, far slower to arrive than other household staples. Please correct me if I’m missing something here.

Before close of business in California that Thursday, Webb found and expedited a faucet from Sign of the Crab in Rancho Cordoba. It arrived this Monday and fit. Our tub, sink, and toilet are set and ready for inspection. 

Our Ipswich landlady, Sydney Phillips, kindly said we could stay on a bit longer. We don't know if Scott can inspect our bathroom Monday, his first day back, but John Bennett and our insurance agent, Tom Walsh, are sympathetic and said they'd do all they could to facilitate the final signoff and CofO. So, preparing for the worst, hoping for the best, we’re moving in all but our bed this weekend. 

That is not to suggest we'll sleep in the tub.


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Reader Comments (2)

I hope I'm not premature in offering you congratulations. The work you've done is staggering! We can't wait to see you guys in your happy home.

July 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I just stumbled upon your blog last night when looking for 1830s wallpaper. You are bringing back memories of when we built our humble little cottage we had planned on building as a new old house. The juggle of plumbing & building inspectors & all the deadlines. Not to mention all the things we wanted to do but couldn't because of codes. It was a learning experience for sure. We too kept getting our move-in date set back. Hoping you can get into your house soon if you are not already! I can certainly sympathize with you!

We have since bought an old house ourselves which we are moving in this weekend if all goes well. It's a brick frame home built sometime between 1830-1850. We plan on restoring it best we can.
Well I wanted to tell you I've enjoyed your blog immensely! Very very educational! Wishing you all the best!

July 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

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