Status Check: Kitchen Remodel (Video)
My house was built in 1986. When I moved in ten years ago the kitchen was original, and not in a good way. I cook quite a bit, so it only got worse. Chunks of tile cracked and fell off. The cupboards became discolored with water stains. To turn the faucet off you had to twist it just so. Finally, when a friend came by and I felt embarrassed by the state of my kitchen, I decided it was time. Let the chaos begin.
The designer at Lowe’s, Paul, had decades of experience. I told him I wanted more counter space, that I hated my tile and the cabinets were falling apart. When I pointed out the cabinets I liked, Paul told me they were the most expensive in the store. He directed me to something more reasonable, and I didn’t mind. Anything would be an improvement. Paul also suggested acrylic countertops. They were on sale and included a free inset sink. I’d never had an inset sink. My excitement grew.
As I signed on the dotted line, Paul told me how amazing the cabinet installation guys were. He said they would be in and out in two days. The countertops would take two weeks. On my way out, I added up the days and figured it would all be done in a month. Ha.
As the day of the tear out drew closer, I emptied my pantry into plastic tubs, stacked my glassware in an extra room and purchased paper plates. When the new cherry spice colored cupboards were delivered and stored in my garage, I peeked into the boxes. I loved the clean lines and the color.
The day of the tear out arrived. Chuck and his assistant showed up bright and early, and filled their truck up with my old broken tile and flattened cabinets. Paul was right, it only took one day. What Paul failed to mention was that when they pulled out the cabinets, the walls were damaged. So, I had to patch and repaint everything. In addition, the plumbing for the new sink had to be installed. Then the fluorescent lighting in the ceiling had to be yanked out, rewired, dry walled and repainted. (Have you ever painted a ceiling? It gives you a terrible crink in the neck.) So, add in eight days of additional work. Then add in another four days before Chuck could come back to complete the cabinet install. All told, I was two weeks into the remodel, not two days, by the time the cabinets were done. First week of April and I was halfway there, I thought. Ha.
Next, someone had to come out and measure for the new countertops. Unfortunately, by this time, my spring break of paint and dust was over. I was back at work and in the midst of state testing. When I called to set up my appointment with the countertop people they were not concerned with my work schedule. Their hours were 8-4. No exceptions, no accommodations, no holidays and certainly no weekends. One of us had to bend. I wanted my inset sink, and so it was me.
Before the measuring man began, we went over everything. I asked for a higher raised edge above my new counters, as well as acrylic over my windowsills. He estimated the additions would cost another $60. No big deal.
A week later I got a call from Lowe’s and the quote for my countertops was $500 over the original estimate. The promised free sink? It was, apparently, not part of any promotion. Never had been. I told Paul I would not pay. In fear of losing a large commission, he asked me to give him a few days. It was more like a week, but we worked it out. Lowe’s would cover $400 of the overage, if I’d agree to pay the additional $100 for the raised edge. I did.
One month in, full steam ahead.
Then, nothing. This was partly my fault. After the first week, I should’ve called. I waited a second week and a third. Finally, I wound up the strength to deal with another conflict. Apparently, not a thing had been ordered. Two more weeks they said. Two weeks later I called Lowe’s again. Not quite yet they said. Next week.
They did call, eventually, and scheduled the install for the following week on a Tuesday. I said yes immediately. It was the middle of May and I was tired of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
When I came home and saw those lovely countertops in place, relief creeped in. This was progress. Everything looked bigger, like a real functioning kitchen. Granted, my faucet wasn’t hooked up and I didn’t have a garbage disposal, but I had counters. Lovely, so smooth I could roll out dough on every single surface, counters. I called my friend Rob hoping he could come that weekend to finish up, but he was out of town for ten days.
Yep. Add on ten more days.
I filled the cupboards with pasta and flour and colanders. Then Rob got home and spent a day hanging my microwave, hooking up the faucet and my new disposal. I invited people over to see how well it all turned out and we had a little party and I thought I was done.
Less than a week later, I ran a large quantity of water through my sink. When I went outside to check on the dogs, my patio was wet. I don’t know much about construction, but I know that wet is bad. I returned to the kitchen and ran more water into the sink which resulted in more water on the patio.
Turns out the line that runs from my sink beneath the house and out to the sewer had a big hole in it. It’s called a foundation leak. So, I hired a plumber to take out my dishwasher, remove tile and spend half a day digging out my foundation with a jackhammer. It was loud and dusty and cost another $2,450.
Everything was finally finished on July 1. I’d first met with Paul in February. A month long timeline, as it turned out, was a bit optimistic.
I must admit, I love the kitchen. The soft close drawers, the angled sink and my new extremely quiet dishwasher. Having such a lovely space has lit a bit of a fire under me. I’m thinking my bathrooms next. And they won’t be so bad, right? What could go wrong in the bathroom?