Proud of myself

posted by Mel

Two posts in one day! This one will be a little more empowered than the last. We haven’t posted a lot about the fiasco that is home remodeling. The worst part of the whole thing for me (besides not being able to bake for months) has been the countertops.

When we purchased cabinets and countertops (Vanessa did all of this research really), we opted not to go with a big box store in part because Vanessa read horror stories about working with that kind of retailer. The employees have no or little vested interest in making sure that what you get fits the dimensions of your kitchen; so either you end up with something you didn’t really want or a lot of waste, reordering, and extra time added to your project waiting around for fixes to be made– the cost of which the customer often ends up swallowing. The model with a big box store is that you do the measuring; the store employee plugs the measurements into a software package, and the software package spits out a basic cabinet/countertop configuration which can then be tweaked. Instead, we went with a smaller boutique cabinet and countertop reseller, where we felt we’d get higher grade materials and personalized customer service. We paid a premium to do this.

Someone from the company came to our house and measured. They met our contractors, talked to us at length about what we wanted. We were confident we were going to get it.

The cabinets came in pretty much as scheduled, and they were mostly what they were supposed to be after our contractors finally figured out where everything was. A few pieces were missing, and one cabinet was 3 inches smaller in both width and height than it needed to be. We got them to pony up the extra pieces and decided to live with the shorter cabinet because our contractor could at least build it up to the correct height and make it look good.

But the countertops– the countertops were a nightmare. After the cabinets came in, the company came back out and measured for laminate countertops. They should have been in 2 weeks later. Instead, they came in 4 weeks later, completely stalling the rest of the project because the plumber refused to come in until they were here. This meant no sink, no dishwasher, and no oven (we’re bringing in a gas line) for that much longer. When they finally did come in, the measurements were all wrong. Several of the backsplashes were off size. The piece for the tiny cabinet came in even TINIER than that cabinet– 9 inches instead of 12. The countertop for the bar came in 3 inches deeper than it was supposed to be on one side. The company had made an “executive decision” about the edge on half of the counters because of a weird angle; so half had a rounded edge and half had a straight edge. It looked ridiculous.

If I weren’t already frustrated enough, I called them several times this week and could get no one to call me back– no answers for why the executive decision had been made or when they’d be coming out to fix things or who was going to pay for these mistakes. I was angry and pretty sure it wasn’t going to be us. At the same time, my contractor was talking to someone in their warehouse, not a sales contact like the one we’d been talking to, and seemed to be working things out with him behind the scenes, but I wasn’t sure that the solution he came to with them was going to satisfy me. Finally I got an unfortunate salesperson on the phone and found out that our salesperson was out on vacation and her voice mail wasn’t being checked. Inconvenient for us. This is exactly what had happened the day we’d ordered the countertops. Coincidence? I think not. The unfortunate salesman passed me off to an unfortunate saleswoman who dealt with my nearing hysteria at the amount of hassle I’ve been dealing with and was treated to a rant on the damage fast food was doing to my arteries and the arteries of the baby in my belly because of these continued delays. Wednesday afternoon I wanted just one. beer. so. badly.

As of yesterday afternoon we have about 3/4 of the countertops we need, but at least the ones the plumber requires before he’ll come over are here. The plumber is due in on Monday.

The title of this post is Proud because I just spoke with the district manager for the cabinet and countertop retailer, and somehow I was able to calmly and cogently explain my disappointment in his establishment and my expectation of some remuneration for my trouble. I didn’t rant. I didn’t cry. I didn’t tell him he’s introducing my unborn child to childhood obesity, and in return I think what I heard in his voice was genuine apology and the promise of some token discount. At this point, it’s not the discount I care about. It’s the acknowlegement that this was handled poorly and the commitment to fix it as best they’re able. I also care about getting in control of my emotions around this and reducing stress, which I seem to be doing pretty well with at least today.

And the moral for everyone else who has made it this far: probably best not to take on home remodeling projects while pregnant.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Proud of myself

  1. Io

    Oh man, I knew your project was dragging on, but that sounds awful – these guys are supposed to measure and install countertops for a living? Geesh.
    I’m glad you at least got somebody who you were able to not have an aneurysm talking to and who seemed interested in attempting to apologize.
    Want to come over for real food again soon? Granted, real food around here might be worse for your arteries that fast food…

  2. Aww Mel, you did good, lol. I feel like we’re on this weird parallel. We had a similar incident about a month ago where I ended up hysterical on the phone after 3 weeks of delays and actually cried. I dont know where it came from, but there it was, lol. Great recovery on your part though! Once I’m up and cooking again, I’ll send you out an organic meal 🙂 Hang in there, you’re doing great 🙂

  3. missanthropy

    Ugh. I can’t even begin to imagine how frustrating this is, but my arm hair stood up and I got goosebumps as I read along. I get really upset with people and, while I don’t rant or rave, my problem is that I cry and give up. I’m proud of you for trudging through and getting done what you needed to do. I hope this all gets worked out soon. What a mess!

  4. Katy

    Will you make me a frittata as soon as you have a stove? Yum.

  5. Great job staying in control….I always have trouble with that…I usually end up hysterical and incoherent and frankly, crazy. You will be my inspiration the next time I have to make one of those calls.

  6. Amy

    Remodeling is always hard. I live with a contractor, and he puts in so much time and effort to avoid the things you’ve just experienced, and yet things still do happen. I can’t imagine going through a project with someone who wasn’t so connected to the clients and their wishes.

    It always takes longer, costs more, and breaks in unexpected ways. I can’t think of a single project that went smoothly from start to finish. In the end if it’s beautiful it will all be worth it! I think it’s hardest for people who have not been through a big remodeling project before. Customer service and meeting expectations in contracted projects are always way different than in traditional retail experiences, it seems.

    I hope it works out soon! Plumbers are almost the worst, btw. The only laborers my S.O. has more trouble with than plumbers are roofers.

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