Make certain that whatever else about it may or may not have been upgraded in the past twenty or thirty years, the plumbing is up to date. And by “the plumbing” I mean all of it, and not just the visible bits.

Our house was previously the property of a couple who had bought it and intended to renovate, but who grew tired of either the project or each other before completing the job. The downstairs bathroom was one of the bits they’d been leaving for later. I can understand why; bathroom renovations are expensive under the best of circumstances, and the downstairs bathroom in this house is jammed into an exceedingly awkward spot, having clearly been installed sometime in the early portion of the last century as a kind of afterthought. Any subsequent upgrades were done on an as-needed basis, rather than according to any master plan, which is why some parts of the household plumbing are copper, some are PVC plastic, and at least one of the waste outflow pipes is still the original lead.

So we’ve been dealing with wonky downstairs plumbing for over two decades now, because we’ve never had the kind of loose change floating around that a full-dress bathroom renovation would require — never mind the ups and downs of the freelance life, raising four kids and putting them all through college is an expensive hobby for anyone — but renovating the downstairs bathroom is definitely one of the items on my Hollywood Can Buy Our Books Any Time It Wants To list.†

(Why did we buy this house, if it had such a problem? Well, because we were looking for a house big enough to raise four children in, that a pair of freelancers could afford‡ with the aid of a VA loan, and our other choices were the one over in Jefferson with the extra bedroom space being an unfinished attic, and the one up in Pittsburg that was heated by three wood stoves, and the one down in Whitefield that had a wet basement, and the one over to Berlin that was, well, over to Berlin, and I didn’t want to live in a town where every street corner gave you a good view of the paper mill.)

Obligatory writing reference!

And another!