Thursday, 9 July 2009

Repercussions of reformas

Well, today began, as has become usual, with the sound of banging and drilling as the reformas continue several floors above us. I strolled out as usual to buy bread for breakfast, picked up a free paper as usual and returned home. Then the routine changed and the little drama of the day began.

Before we had even got breakfast on the table – well, all right, we do tend to breakfast a little late – there was a ring on the doorbell. The portero wanted to now if we had any problems with dampness or leaks – the infamous gotera gallega! When I told him we had not noticed anything, he asked did we mind if he and his workman came in and had a look. As I thought, they could find no evidence of a problem either.

It turned out that the people in the flat below ours had developed a problem and they were trying to discover the source. However, we seemed to be leak-free and so we blamed the fuss on the fact that water had been turned off for the whole building a few days ago because of the reformas. Who knows what bits of tubería might have been disturbed during that operation?

In the event we were not far wrong. Early in the afternoon I noticed the sound of running water behind a wall in the corner of the kitchen where normally there is none. We investigated via the well hidden cubby hole that gives access to the stopcock for our water supply. Yes, indeed, water had been running down there but it did not appear to be OUR water. I went and reported it to the portero. A plumber, he told me, would be calling later in the afternoon.

For once the plumber arrived more or less on time. Fontanero and portero ummed and aahed and assessed the situation. They decided that what they needed to do was romper, make a hole in the wall and investigate.

Far be it from us to tell the Spanish what to do, but we did suggest that it might be a good idea to see what the situation was in the flat above. Maybe it was THEIR wall that needed breaking into! But there was no answer at the flat above. This, we were told, was the problem with July and August: people WILL go away on holiday – for weeks at a time! We did wonder quite what was the point of having a portero if he was unable to get into the flats in an emergency or at least have a contact phone number when people were away. Too sensible!

Before anyone took a hammer to the wall, we reminded our portero that this is not actually OUR flat. We were a little concerned about doing anything drastic that might need paying for. However, he reassured us, and later reassured the old couple who live next door, grandparents of our landlady, that all this work was covered by the comunidad, this time meaning the communal insurance policy. All the work would be made good with no charge to us, to our landlady or to the old couple.

As a small hole was made in the living room wall and the decision taken that part of the kitchen wall needed to come down, the story started to emerge. This leak was not totally unexpected. They had been hoping, crossing fingers and such, that nothing would come of it but really they half knew that it was going to happen. On the day of the great water turn-off, it was revealed, someone working on the plumbing two or three floors up managed to drop a lump of stone down the hole between the walls. There you go!

Now, if the flats had remained exactly as they were built in the first place, this would not have caused a problem. However, over the years all sorts of reformas have taken place. As the portero explained, some people want their bathroom or kitchen in one place while others want something completely different. As a result, pipes that once went straight down now have twists and turns, bends and deviations like a map of the old quarter.

Sooooo, when that stone dropped, instead of falling harmlessly down, it bounced off one of the bends in the tubería. And as modern tuberías are made of plastic, a falling stone easily made a hole in it.

But all is now well and we just have to wait for someone to come and repair the damage to our walls. Oh, the joys of obras and reformas!!

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