Defective cabs, re-order and reality check

aimskitchenMarch 1, 2013

I would appreciate input on the situation we're dealing with on our partially finished remodel. Two of the cabinets - one that runs next to the pantry, and one that is to the right of the cooktop (upper) came mistakenly without the sides finished. The contractor called the KD and without checking with us, ordered a "skin" that when we questioned, were assured by both would be as durable as a factory finish and as good a match. Today, two weeks later, they were installed, and they do not match at all. The whole run of upper cabs, including undercab LCD lights, is installed, and if we take out the one next to the cooktop, at the wall end of the run, I think they all have to come down (am I right about that, or can they slide that one out after undoing the lights?). I am imagining more $$$ and considerable grumbling from the contractor, and wondering if it will damage anything to remove them. We are reordering both cabs nonetheless. This may mean my husband has to finish the work.

We are also wondering what is normal in the construction world in terms of quality and neatness. For the most part his work is good, but not the degree of neatness and perfectionism my husband does himself when remodeling. However, he is not neat at all - left my new base cabs uncovered while he worked and they are filled with plaster dust and even globs of plaster. Countertops being put on Monday and I guess I have to clean them out myself. I am concerned about him replacing the upper cabs with the granite countertop in place - and at this point, even about the tiling being done. Do contractors usually clean up after themselves? Was it normal for him to go ahead and installed the cabs without first notifying us that they were not what we ordered and clearly deficient?

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Could the KD have mistakenly ordered laminate sides? Or, do you have a wood that changes dramatically in the first couple of weeks, like cherry? Skins normally are a fine solution to just that problem. However, double check the invoice to see if the correct color was ordered. Having made one mistake, I'd think the KD would double check everything before submitting an express re-order. (BTW, having unfinished sides isn't "defective". They have to be upgraded to that by the KD. It's inattention to detail on the KD's part.)

As far as neatness, it's usually a goal, but not a reality. I'm putting in a new cabinet showroom, and of the 16 different contractors who have been in and out of here, there have been maybe 3 who cleaned up to my standards, and that's not even that much, as I'd rather pay them for working their job and not sweeping. It's something I always mention to them as a way to improve and set themselves apart. I would prefer that they treated customer's homes better, but it's hard to change old habits. I do usually suggest to the homeowner that they might want to engage a cleaning service before moving back into their homes post renovation. Some would prefer to keep the $$ in their pocket and do it themselves.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 5:04PM
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Did you Ok continuing with their "fix"? If so I don't know what the solution is now that everything is up, but if it isn't as promised I would expect them to make it right no matter what they have to do and at their expense.

We had a similar incident when we remodeled last time. In our case the installer mistakenly used a full length double sided finished panel for one side of our pantry when he was supposed to use a single sided one that was white on the inside. We discovered it right away and told him now you have nothing for the fridge cabinet that is supposed to be finished on both sides. He said no worries I'll put a veneer skin on it. It ended up a gluey mess that we could tell was going to curl up in no time. We made him take it down and all the other cabs that were necessary to make it right. They grudgingly ordered the new materials and redid it at their cost, but it also delayed getting anything else done for 6 weeks. I didn't care because when I found out how much I paid for each of those panels they ruined I almost died!
Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 5:35PM
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The only way you should have to pay another nickel is if you originally were not charged for finished sides or skins there.

If you want neatness, you don't hire a contractor. You adopt an 18-year old blind dog with permanent diarrhea. Or maybe a camel.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 5:39PM
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Live Wire Oak, it could well have been the wrong color - the skins are decidedly different colors from the cabinets. The KD ordered those, and I don't have the invoice, so I'm not sure if it was his mistake. What I do know, however, is that he came out right away to look after my rather-upset-call, and agreed that they weren't right. He offered to reorder both cabinets or give us monetary compensation, and we chose new cabinets to replace the two in question.

Island, I'm glad they fixed your cabinets to your satisfaction. It was hard for us to swallow, too, that they would "fix" something we ordered new and paid an awful lot for, rather than making it right.

Marcolo, your response about contractors totally cracked me up and added some much-needed levity to the situation. We are trying to remain light-hearted and that helped!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 5:54PM
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When our contractor made a mistake on the cabinet order (the KD was one of the partners in our GC firm) they made it right. I agree with marcolo as far as cost - if what they charged you was for unfinished sides, all you should be responsible for is the uprgrade to a finished side.

It is hard to say without seeing your cabinets and the type of UC lights you have, but I'd expect that at most they would have to detach the under cabinet lights and then take out the end cabinet that needs to be replaced. If they do have to take down the whole run, then that's their problem.

One fix if there is enough clearance might be to get a panel for the exposed side - basically that's made the same as a door (without any handle) and covers the side - but usually there is a small sliver of the cabinet side still exposed so if the color is off too much that might not be acceptable.

As far as neatness, both for our kitchen remodel and our family room remodel, our contractors and their subs were very neat. They did any sweeping and vacuuming necessary to clean up the area. Mostly they did that every day at the end of the day. They took care of covering surfaces that were already in so they didn't get damaged if messy work was being done near them.

An employee of one sub left a mess and when our GC saw that he was mad at them and cleaned it up himself. That guy had made some other mistakes and the GC saw to it that a different employee finished the job.

Perhaps we paid a premium for our job to get that service, but they worked neatly and it didn't take them much time at the end of each day.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 6:06PM
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