As I wrote yesterday, after talking and researching, we started interviewing potential people to undertake our remodeling job. That process was helpful because they had different ideas on layout.
Initially, we’d planned to stay within the contiguous footprint of the laundry room and master bathroom.
Quickly it became evident our “wish” list wouldn’t fit within that space. We needed more square footage. Enter our play room. It’s huge and has been a life saver. But in addition to the main rectangular area, the back right of the room jutted out. Games and toys and shoes and bags cluttered the area and gathered dust. When we settled on two finalists, both recommended adding a wall to split the space. The play room would still be big, and finally symmetrical, and the right area would fit both a laundry room and a mud room.
From top to bottom – the playroom before remodel, the worker framing out the wall, and the first phase of the wall installed.
Now, finalizing who to hire. One contractor came highly recommended. He did lots of remodeling jobs for a home builder we knew, but he simply served as the general contractor. That meant all the design decisions would be on me. I had very specific ideas about what I wanted, but I am NOT a designer. Given the amount of money we were about to spend, and the fact I already have two full time jobs between my company and my kids, I didn’t have all day to source materials. The other team were a brother/architect – sister/designer with a high end remodeling company. A neighbor had used them for their bathroom and was very happy.
In came the bids.
I’d already told Bray I preferred the architect-designer team because I wanted both of those skill sets in the job. Their bid came in almost $20,000 more. No go. No matter how much I needed a designer.
We told them we were sorry and prepared to hire the highly qualified contractor. They came back. Apparently, the week before Hurricane Harvey hit, jobs were in short supply and they came to compete. They dropped their bid by $10,000. I lobbied to spend the extra $10,000 for the job because we were getting both an architect and designer. I could just review samples in the evening after work. Bray wasn’t thrilled but agreed.
I’ll never know what the job would have looked like with another team, but I can tell you the process with this team was hell.
There’s no other way to put it.
Brutal. Conflict-ridden. Underdone. Breached promises. Failure at all the levels.
Since we signed the week of Hurricane Harvey, we offered to give the contract to one of our flooded neighbors after the storm. Unfortunately, no one was ready to work because homes hadn’t dried out and claims hadn’t been processed. So the remodel began in mid September. Six week job, according to the company.
Ten weeks later, the primary team moved out. Two more weeks, non consecutive of course, workers doing the undone things. More weeks of fighting over the final bill.
It would take too many words to explain all of the things that went wrong.
First, and this is no fault of the contractor, we lived in it. To get from two toilets to three, we had to go down to one. We took everything down to the studs in the back quarter of the house and we had the entire back half walled off in plastic. That is how we get in and out of our house and also where our play room/t.v. room is. Dust and noise and lack of security because of open walls or doors became our norm for weeks on end.
We couldn’t have done it any other way, but if you’re preparing to live through a remodel, steel yourself. It upended our family routines. We couldn’t find anything. Everyone was on edge.
Our living room became our play room and work room as the play room, laundry room, and new rooms were under construction. The bathroom and laundry room came down to the studs.
Second, and this was utterly the fault of the contractor, NO DESIGN SERVICES were provided. Despite repeated promises, the designer brought one set of samples of white tiles a couple of weeks into the process and that was IT. Mind you, I didn’t actually want white tiles or like white tiles. When I mentioned this, she threw up her hands and said, “I don’t know what you want, I can’t help you, just tell me what you want.” Every single element I had to design. That meant running into lighting and flooring stores on Saturday mornings, with kids in tow at times, while they were open, or finding stores near enough to my work I could go on my lunch hour.
The timing nearly undid me. I am a planner. I’d beg to sit with her and go through designs and she would say “that is weeks off.” Yet then I’d get a call at work, “I’m here with the plumber and I need to know what faucets to install.” WHAT!?!? She regularly wanted spot decisions on finishes for the shower and shelving layout but would never meet with me to go over the remodel-wide design decisions which we had to make.
I sourced every single item in the remodel. For hours, I’d scan knobs and pulls on-line for my master cabinetry to ensure a consistent theme with the faucets. I studied Houzz and Pinterest weeks in advance. Even though I’d sent the designer all my pictures, I’m confident she never even looked at them. When I found supplies, she would then ask me to PURCHASE THEM AND BRING THEM TO HER. I actually did do that for lighting and the marble floor tile in the shower, but I put my foot down for the oodles of tile that would be needed for the shower surround and the bathroom floor.
The only design decision I didn’t make was carpet for the master closets and I absolutely hate it. I told her, fried at the end of the process, to just match my bedroom carpet. The master bath (as you will see) is ivory and gray and we have a neutral Berber in the bedroom. When I came in, I found poop brown carpet in the closets. I couldn’t live with it. I told her she was supposed to MATCH it. So she replaced it with tan carpet with, what appears to be, rabbit poop pellets. She must love poop design. My hope is that when we replace our home carpets in a couple of years I can get carpet that doesn’t hurt my eyes. (In the grand scheme of things, THIS IS NOT AN ISSUE. I know that. Wars and poverty. But I’m writing about the remodel and warning you to do every ounce yourself if you don’t like their design aesthetic.)
Third, everything ran long. Because of the hurricane, workers and supplies ran short. It took weeks and weeks for doors to come in. As a result, we had a mud room and laundry room open to outside for weeks.
Fourth, some of this company’s workers executed a job well and some executed tremendously poorly. Certain walls weren’t textured. Paint didn’t get put everywhere (or it got put everywhere, like the windows). Stains on floors didn’t match. Insets were framed slanted. Grout didn’t match. The inconsistency got a little overwhelming when it came time to put together our punch list of wrap up items. Because all jobs had different subcontractors the close out became a challenge
Finally, we would ask for bids on changes. Some bids never came and the work never got done. We desperately needed a door replaced and they just didn’t do it. Some bids never came and the work DID get done but we hadn’t approved the cost. We found ourselves in a massive war over supplies we purchased which needed to be deducted and work contractors did which we didn’t approve.
I’ve far exceeded my word count, so lessons learned comes tomorrow.