Epic kitchen renovation – an update

I’m not quite sure how to explain just how badly things went this week, kitchen-wise.

In my last update (August 5th – wow that was a long time ago) we had finally got counter tops installed. It was exciting and we seriously thought we’d have kitchen appliances installed shortly. It all looked so hopeful and we started to speculate that the kitchen reno was nearly over.

How foolish were we?

There were still two wall cabinets outstanding (a 30″ and a 24″, both 36″ tall, this is important later) and the fridge panels. These were all special order things that we were told would take 3 weeks to come and actually took over 6 weeks the first time, when they were finally delivered damaged.

The day after the counter-top arrived, the contractor installed the sink and we finally had running water in the kitchen again. Hooray! He couldn’t work out the clips to bolt it to the counter top firmly, so we were warned that we needed to be careful and he’d get the sink sorted out eventually. Hmm.

He also called the electrician to get him to come in and install the appliances (stove top, wall oven and dishwasher) because everything was apparently ready. The electrician had a lot of jobs on but eventually agreed to come out August 10th.

August 6th we got word that the missing cabinets had finally been located and were arriving in Moncton that day. That’s around 200km away. We got terribly excited for a minute, until the guys at the store told us that there was no way in heck that the cabinets would be here the next day or even the beginning of next week because they had to wait until there was enough stuff ready for transport.

Mum and the contractor threw a bit of a wobbly. He was going away on vacation on Tuesday (booked months ago) and he wouldn’t be able to install any of it until he got back. As we were dawning on the ninth week of no kitchen (I was wrong on my last kitchen post, it was only week eight then), entirely due to the length of time it had taken to get cabinets and replacement cabinets, Home Depot agreed to come out and fit them when they arrived and they would do it for free. Hooray!

August 9th (Monday), still no cabinets.

August 10th came and we were so excited because we’d finally have things to cook on and in that didn’t need to be transported around the house and could cook decently. I got home from work to discover that nothing had been installed and Mum was furious and threatening to go back to England on the next plane. It turns out that the contractor had not done various things and so nothing could be installed. The cut-out in the oven cabinet needed to be extended to fit our oven (this is standard because every oven is slightly different) and a shelf constructed for the oven to sit on. The stove top was supposed to be bracketed to the cabinet and a rubber seal put in to seal it to the counter top. A hole needed to be drilled in the sink base and the plumbing extended out for the dishwasher to be installed on and it couldn’t be installed until the flooring was down anyway. Argh.

Mum yelled at Home Depot about the oven cabinet, although it turned out that our contractor had ‘skipped’ this bit when he was building it. HD agreed to add this to the work order when the guys came to install cabinets anyway. And hey, good news, the cabinets were in so their guys would be in tomorrow. Mum also yelled at the contractor who couldn’t see why the electrician hadn’t been able to install things anyway. Argh. He’s definitely not getting any tip or anything to make up for the work that Home Depot is doing instead of him.

So all of that was a big disappointment and we badly wanted to order pizza that night, but we were good and hauled out the toaster oven and microwave to make a healthy supper instead.

August 10th did not start out well. The coffee pot decided that nine weeks of being lugged around the house was too much and it refused to make any coffee. I went to work grumpy and unhappy due to the lack of coffee and lack of kitchen progress, where I had a big meeting about an evil project that made my day even worse. I got home to find no cabinets installed.

It’s possible that I lost it at that point and began yelling, screaming and throwing soft furnishings.

It turned out that we had received two broken fridge panels, a broken 30″ wall cabinet and a 24″ corner unit. Argh. So the Home Depot guys had to go away again (after noting a couple of places where the contractor had failed to build things correctly argh) and Mum got a bit mad at the kitchen department manager because replacing them would be at least another 3 weeks.

The manager agreed that this was getting silly and put his thinking cap on. It turned out that the fridge panels needed around 6″ trimming off because they were too deep. There were two panels with undamaged front edges so we could salvage fridge panels from those. They also worked out that with all the bits of cabinets we had plus some bits from stock items (thankfully it was tops and bottoms that were damaged, not side panels that were not a stock height), they could construct the missing wall cabinets. So they agreed to come in on Friday 12th August and get everything done.

I didn’t sleep well that night due to all the stress and was rather exhausted on Thursday. Then I had the computer issues on Thursday evening and didn’t sleep well that night either. Mum threatened to tie me to a chair if I tried to go to work (apparently I looked terrible) so I called in sick and spent the day gossiping in our downstairs rec room with my aunt and my mum, popping up to check on progress every now and again. I’d planned to nap but it was a bit noisy! Thankfully the Home Depot guys did a sterling job and it all looks lovely, so at least that’s progress. They even sorted out the oven cabinet, fixed the contractor’s mistakes, put on the crown moulding and put handles onto all the doors and drawers. They went above and beyond for us that day.

Unfortunately, my aunt was there to take Mum to her driving test because she’s been in Canada more than 90 days and can no longer drive on her own. And the test centre called first thing (but after my aunt had left to come here) to cancel the test and rebook it for August 25th. Argh. So despite kitchen progress, we still had disappointments and frustrations.

The contractor will be back from his vacation tomorrow (he arrived back in the province today) and Mum will be giving him a deadline of August 31st when she expects the kitchen to be finished. There’s a lot of work still to do and there is no longer anything delaying him. He won’t be getting another cent until it’s finished.

We won’t be getting the electrician back until everything is ready for him to do, including the under-cabinet lighting which will be one of the last jobs left, so it’s going to be another week or so before we have kitchen appliances. We can’t keep paying him call-out charges to do bits and bobs (or nothing) so we’ll need to get him in at the end to do it all. I wonder whether we can make the contractor swallow the fees for that pointless call out? It’s also likely that the electrician will put no priority whatsoever on coming out to us, which will be annoying but understandable, so there’s no telling when he’ll be here even when everything is ready for him.

Tomorrow our contractor will be presented with a giant list, the order that he will be tackling the list in (his sense of what needs doing before what is dodgy) and the deadline. He’s not going to be happy but as this is now week 10 of no kitchen it’s necessary. Mum and I have reached the stage where we’re depressed each time we go in there and I’ve reached the stage where I expect bad news every time I get home from work. It’s hard to believe that any of it will ever go right at this point and I think that’s why we’re both so short-tempered and stressed.

Plan for tonight involves knitting and watching a Midsummer Murders DVD from the library and we’ll see what the week brings. Good vibes for this week being better than the last nine would be much appreciated!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. EV
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 14:56:25

    Isn’t it so annoying how we, the customer, have to be the project manager for the general contractor? I really don’t understand how that is possible, and I’m going thru it a little bit myself. They always have other jobs going on and that is the problem i hope you have luck with the rest of your reno!


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