Alice-Azania Jarvis: Plumbing new depths of domestic upheaval

In The Red
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The Independent Online

Okay, enough with the wedding and the broadband. I'm currently sat (with hat) at the former (or, if not, then at least on the train there) and the latter has been momentarily put on hold for various reasons. Chiefly, that I've had other concerns. Rather pressing ones.

In a spectacular bit of good timing, my bathroom ceiling has decided to crumble. The flat upstairs, it turns out, developed a leak. Under other circumstances it would be no problem but, as some of you might recall, my flat is on the market. Or it was. Given that the plumber who came to investigate responded by ripping out part of the window frame, I had little choice but to take it off the market. No one wants to buy a flat without window frames.

The result is that I'm currently spending about 97 per cent of my time on the phone to freeholders, contractors, insurers and brokers. You'd think it would be straightforward to get the problem sorted but that would be a mistake.

Plugging the leak was easy enough. It's everything else that's a bore. First, I had to wait two weeks for the ceiling to dry out. Only then could a plumber come round for a proper inspection. After a fortnight, said practitioner came round. Measurements were taken, tea was made and off he went to draw up a quote.

A red herring, but while we're on the subject: I love it when plumbers come round. Or builders. Anyone, really, I can fuss over and serve biscuits to while murmuring sagely in response to observations about tile width and ceiling height. I wonder if, spiritually, that was my true calling; the fact the plumber has taken to calling me "Mate" only adds to my conviction.

But of course, in Situations Such As These, things are never so straightforward. Before long, the insurers had informed the brokers who informed the management who informed me that, contrary to my initial assumptions, it was not one quote but two that I needed. So another plumber was located, tracked down, asked to estimate the scale of the damage. And then his quote was dispatched, after repeated calls asking him to get a wriggle on.

And so now it hangs with the insurers. They'll pay, of course, but before I can proceed, I need the full go-ahead – via the proper channel of the brokers who will tell the managers who will tell me. So, you know. Should be done sometime next decade.

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