Renovation from the dark side (long)
Hi, I am a normal, reasonable person, or at least I was. Then we embarked on remodeling our home using a contractor. In the course of my work, I regularly contract various professionals to handle work, so we thought I would be competent to hire a contractor.
Prior to starting the kitchen project, we completed five rooms of our circa 1916 house ourselves, including completely replumbing the bathroom, and completely rewiring the house because it had all of 60 amps for the whole house when we started. I will grant you, we started out complete idiots. Now we are just certifiable. Thankfully our building inspector has been very kind, and we learned along the way.
We saved up and also got some money, and decided to treat ourselves to having the kitchen done by professionals. I guess hope springs eternal in the minds of nitwits. It was originally a porch and was taken in probably during the depression, so the walls are about an inch thick with the doors and windows protruding into the room. The plan called for reframing within, treating the walls as the outer layer, and everything from there in new. It's been a nightmare from beginning to now and no end in sight. First off, we called about 25 contractors asking for bids. Two showed up.
One gave us an astronomical price and told us he couldn't even start for five months, if then. The other gave us a price only slightly higher than we'd guessed, and he came very highly recommended whereas we knew nearly nada about the other guy. We were a bit uncomfortable with the guy doing it on a drawing on a napkin and a handshake, and insisted on a fairly detailed contract and set of drawings. We carefully specified everything important to us in this.
Im sure you know where this is going. From day one things went south. Windows and doors were very clearly specified, and what we got was nothing like what was specified, and in several cases no way to fix save replace them. He was unhappy with us for this, and he hid out for days apparently hoping weÂd decide to drop it. The framers didn't put headers over windows and doors. They mumbled something about it being "non-load bearing" when we politely mentioned hey the inspectors will never pass that, we think you'll have to fix it and left. After we spent four days repeatedly calling the contractor and not getting any answer he finally showed up wanting a check for the framing. Naturally they wanted us to pay for the time spent fixing.
We have the money right now to hire the rest of the work done but I can't see doing it. We are pretty sure this contractor has no more desire to work with us anymore than we want to see him in future. I'm sorry, but I can't see we are unreasonable. We expect the contractor to know the code, see that everything is done to meet it, and do exactly what was specified in the original contract, unless there is some specific reason it can't be so. In that case come to us immediately and say why, so that a solution can be arrived at, not let his people leave and hide out from our calls until he wants money. Every problem we have had would have been a non-issue if the contractor had just lived up to those simple expectations.
My questions are: Does everyone go through this much garbage for a simple renovation? How exactly do you not end up like this? I've posted along as this was going on, and people laughed and said oh this is how it goes with small jobs. Is this serious? No wonder diy is such a popular thing now. We would really like to just give someone the specs for the new bath addition and say call us when it's done, but we have no confidence we can get there from here. I guess the reason things go so well on TV is they know the whole world will be watching.