Vessel dilemma--help!

brooklynbabeApril 15, 2013

Hi! I'm a lurker who has been getting a tremendous amount of help from this forum. I am doing a major renovation to my house, and have had numerous bumps in the road. But I have a problem in one of my bathrooms, and am receiving conflicting advice from everyone. i chose and installed a vanity in my teenage daughter's bathroom. I picked out a very nice Robern medicine cabinet, which my contractor set into the wall. I chose a pure white Caesartone countertop. I was undecided as to the sink and faucet I was going to use. My interior decorator suggested I get a vessel sink, and with the help of my plumbing store, we chose an adorable white stainless sink, and chose a beautiful faucet. All was going perfectly, until the Caesarstone guy installed the oountertop and was set to make the holes for the faucet and sink. When he took the faucet out of the box, he discovered that lo and behold, the faucet was too high and I would be unable to open the medicine cabinet after it was installed!!! I went back to my plumbing guy and asked him for a faucet that would be less than 9 1/2 inches tall, since that was the amount of space I had between the countertop and medicine cabinet. He finally found me one today, but was quick to point out that not only was this one double the price of the original one, but that it would not really look that good. The only advantage was that it would fit. He suggested I switch to an undermount sink, and he would attempt to return the vessel sink to the manufacturer (which may incur a restocking fee, which he implied i would need to pay...) I said I would think about it, but needed to ask the countertop guy if he'd charge me to take back the countertop and make a hole for the undermount sink. Of course he said he would redo the countertop if needed, but I would be charged to make another hole for the undermount. I then asked my contractor, who made the original hole for the mediicine cabinet (without asking me where to make it, not that I would've had a clue what to answer) if he could move the medicine cabinet up, and he had a fit and said no, then saying he may have to charge me. Now my decorator suggested I cut down the legs of the vanity so the faucet would fit ( a suggestion I did not like at all). I am so confused right now! All I know is that no one is taking responsibility for this. On the one hand, I purchased the entire bathroom (vanity, sink, faucet and medicine cabinet) from the plumbing guy. Shouldn't he have told me to make sure there was enough clearance for the faucet with a vessel sink ? He had the specs on everything. Or shouldn't my decorator, who had been with me when I met the plumbing guy? Or the contractor, before he made the hole for the med cabinet? Instead, they are all pretty much blaming one another, and the bottom line is I am getting stuck paying for someone's mistake! Any suggestions??

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How tall is the vessel sink?

If it's rather low, one possibility would be to buy a regular faucet, then ask your Caesarstone guy or your contractor if he could create a platform that would raise the faucet up enough to function with the sink, but still clear the cabinet. Hopefully, this will be hidden by the sink itself.

There are some shorter vessel faucets out there, but it will take a little searching. Most of them have the handle on the side rather than on the top. Try Amazon.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 8:52PM
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The vessel is 4 inches tall. The faucet the plumbing guy found was 9 inches tall, which only clears the top of the vessel by 5 inches. This is my teenage daughter's bathroom, and I can't imagine how she'll manage with that little room between the sink and the faucet (I know I wouldn't want to use it myself that way). I just feel that vessel sinks lend themselves to taller, more tapered faucets and this won't work, either functionally or aesthetically....

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 9:00PM
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Here is my sink:

And the faucet:

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:07PM
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I have a vessel sink that is inset into the counter about 2 inches. It is a different look, but will mean that you could use a shorter faucet.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:32PM
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How tall is the vanity you chose? Height of the vanity + height of the sink + height of the faucet all work together in a very precise "dance". If one is off, the whole setup may be difficult to use. That's the only piece of the puzzle we're missing.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:32PM
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As long as the spout ends at least an inch above the topline of the vessel, it should work. She would put her hands into the sink, instead of above it -- this would actually keep splashing down to a minimum. A waterfall/trough type faucet would bring the water out higher, if you want it.

How do you think you think your contractor and plumber would feel about an wall-mounted faucet? Maybe something like this:

Was your contractor aware you were using a vessel sink? If so, he really should have figured that in when placing the medicine cabinet. At this point, your best option would probably be to have him move the cabinet up, hopefully for free. Even if he charges you, it would probably cost less than the other options.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:56PM
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Mydreamdhome, my vanity is 32.5 inches high.

This is my medicine cabinet. As you can see, there's not much space between the bottom of the cabinet and the countertop (which has markings from where the counter guy almost made the holes for the faucet that wouldn't clear the bottom of the med cabinet)

Chibimimi, my contractor never asked me what kind of sink I was putting in. I redid the entire house (5 bathrooms!) and didn't have this issue anywhere else. Who knew I need to ask this question??!!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 11:38PM
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Can you move your faucet to the side of the sink? Probably your easiest solution based on the photos would be to move the faucet enough to clear the swing of the medicine cabinet door.

Based on your narrative, it's you and your designer who dropped the ball when it comes to things not fitting.

You two are the only ones with the "overall vision", or in this case, the "piecemeal vision", since the design morphed along the way.

And with you being the customer and the designer being the "professional", The ultimate responsibility for things not working together falls to your designer. Your designer should have had the awareness to think ahead. Any time a vessel sink is installed, alarm bells should go off with regards to the issues you are now facing.

If your designer didn't have the ability to visualize schematics and figure out fixture clearances, then it's time to contact the builder...let them know you're changing to or are going to use "this" and ask them is "this" will fit.

Unless told otherwise, contractors will build to a certain standard. That's why plumbing rough-ins get set at certain dimensions. Why vanities are a certain height. Why medicine cabinets get framed out at a certain height off the floor.

Unless the contractor is made aware during the framing stage that a 9" high faucet will be used and is specifically told to frame things differently, he's going "standard" so to speak. Standard elevations. Standard dimensions, etc. If he was given a set of plans and did not frame to those plans, then it is his responsibility.

Your plumber simply plumbs. He installs what you give him.

Your sales guy, had everything been ordered at once, sure, it would have been nice if a red flag had been waved. It would have been a courtesy to wave the red flag anytime anyone asks about a vessel sink and a tall faucet. But your seller's responsibility? To sell you what you ask for.

It's your designer who is in charge of the overall vision. Your designer needs to understand the ramifications of change on the other trades.

One caution to raising the medicine cabinet would be the height of the bottom edge of the mirror versus the height of the user. Would the mirror still be functional? Or would the mirror be so high that your daughter only sees her forehead? If that is not a factor and you want to raise the cabinet, your contractor should have no problems with moving it, but he certainly should be paid for the change. But yours will be a messy change due to the wall covering, it's not a simple drywall repair.

In installations such as yours, sometimes I'll recommend having a fixed wall mirror behind the faucet and sink. Then I'll shift the medicine cabinet to a sidewall, in your case, to the right of the sink. But I see in the mirror reflection that there are a couple of junction boxes on that wall. You do have the option of moving the medicine cabinet to a completely different wall in the bathroom. That's not uncommon either.

But my first choice based on you already having everything on hand and most of it being installed? In your photo, the countertop is not yet core drilled for plumbing. So consider relocating the faucet to the side of the sink. It's a fairly common thing to do with vessel sinks. It does depend on the direction of swing of your medicine cabinet door.

And a caution: While it looks like your vanity can accommodate a lateral shift in the faucet location, drawer interference does depend on the length and structure of the faucet's plumbing stems; their length, and if they are rigid or flex tubing, etc.

If you'll still have interference by moving the faucet to the side and you can't move the medicine cabinet due to the cost of relocating it the difficulty of repairing the "tile" wall finish, then it's time to consider changing your fixtures.

If you want to keep the faucet and keep that style of sink, consider a wider vessel sink. Getting a wider sink might allow the faucet to be relocated further to the side, enough to clear the mirror.

Other than that, anything goes with regards to other faucet/sink combos.

When all is said and done, thank the "Caesarstone guy" who did not drill the holes. You have no idea how many guys just "do what they do", collect their checks, and go to the next job. The fact that he recognized the interference and brought it to your attention? That's a good thing.

In the end? I'm sorry for your difficulties. Frustrating for sure.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:05AM
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I had a vessel sink crack shortly after installation and had a terrible time finding a replacement that would fit. The original was only 3.5" high, and we had wall faucets that wouldn't clear anything taller. I found this sink that is only 3.5" deep, plus it can be installed 1.75" into the counter, which might not interfere below your cabinet and would have the total height be only 1.75" - giving you more clearance for the faucet. I love this sink. Don't know if it would suit your style, but I'll post a link, if you think it might be a solution for you. There is no splash out, even though it's shallow.

Here is a link that might be useful: shallow vessel

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 11:27AM
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What about this faucet? We installed it in our bathroom. It's low profile and looks similar to the one you originally chose.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fresca Isarus Faucet

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 3:44PM
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OK, here's an update. I showed my contractor the vessel sink and faucet. When he put it up against the medicine cabinet, he said, hmm, the medicine cabinet is a bit low. Maybe we can raise it up a few inches? (!!!- his suggestion, not mine:) ). Now for the next issue-- we have a vanity light about 6 inches above the med cabinet, so we can only raise the cabinet around 4 inches. So this particular faucet will still not work. I went back to my plumbing store, where my new best friend said he would take the faucet back, and i could order a faucet that was around 11 to 12 inches tall. Thank goodness, there seems to be a larger selection of faucets at this height. I was hesitant to ask him to order me anything , lest the contractor made a mistake, or changed his mind. I asked him for a sample of a 12 inch faucet to borrow, and took it back to show the contractor. If we raise the cabinet 3 inches, it looks like it can work!! The contractor said he will let me know for absolute sure if he can raise the cabinet by tomorrow, so i still haven't ordered, but hopefully, I'm closer to solving my problem.
Fingers crossed!

Chibimimi, thanks for the suggestions. My walls are already plumbed for an undermount or vessel sink, so a wall-mounted sink would not work (although that would have definitely solved the problem).

Mongoct, I also thought of moving the faucet to the left, or even the right side. The right side would not work because the door of cabinet would hit it and we'd never be able to open it fully (and my daughter is not the most delicate-handed person, so it probably would be broken in no time). And if we placed the faucet on the left side, it would take up any small amount of counter space that was left, aside from looking a bit awkward.

And I do agree with you that the designer shares some of the blame for my pieces not working together. I have learned since the beginning of this job that i should not leave any of the major decisions in the hands of others, and i should ask questions if something does not appear right or practical. But there is definitely a learning curve here, and I never considered the height of the cabinet while making my decision.
As far as the height of the bottom of the med cabinet, it wont be a problem for my daughter, who is around 5 foot seven, thank goodness. (If she was a puny 5 footer like me, there would be a problem!)
And yes, Luis, the Caesarstone intaller, is the hero of the story. He was smart enough not to just make the hole and run (especially since i was not at the job site at the time he was doing the work and would problably not have notice the problem until the fixtures were installed).
At this point, it's all up to the contractor to make this work. I will need to replace the tile, but this bathroom has white subways, so it will not be a problem. He has not mentioned charging me for this, but I will need to confirm that there will be no charge (he is doing the entire build, so this is a minor change within the scheme of things...)
Stay tuned and thanks for your input!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 6:12PM
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