Remodel snafu - who bears the responsibility here?

anajaneSeptember 8, 2012

In a nutshell - paid architect to plot out bathroom remodels, with washer/dryer to be in same room. Several photos were sent to her of washer/dryers enclosed with armoire-style doors, under a countertop. I asked if that could be incorporated into our design, and she thought it was a great use of space. Put plans out to bid, met with all bidders and specifically pointed out where w/d were to go - and how they were to be enclosed with these doors below countertop. And the contractor who got the bid reaffirmed that it would be done as shown in the plans. Skip ahead - time now to 'make the structure' - and now there are questions as to how it could be done. I said I would pay to have the architect draw up the dimensions indicating how these should be installed. We get the detailed page. Formica countertop gets put into place, w/d get put into place - and they proceed to work on how the armoire doors would be situated. When I attempt to use washer for the 1st time, I find I can't open the compartment that contains the detergent and bleach enough to actually pour in the detergent. The countertop is in the way. It appears that the functional design of the machine being enclosed - front-load washer - was not taken into consideration.

We might be able to salvage the work already done here by cutting the countertop over the compartment area to create a piece that I could 'slide' to access the compartment when needed - and then just lovingly drape a towel or place a plant over it when I wished it not to be so bluntly visible.

Now the question: Who absorbs the extra cost for the time to make this adjustment? Should the architect have taken something like this into consideration when putting this in the plans - seeing as the washer becomes ineffective if I can't access it properly to wash the clothes. Does the contractor - having bid on the job with the plans stating how the w/d were to be enclosed - absorb the cost? [He is building it according to the architect's spec, so I don't feel that he should be responsible here.] Or do I absorb the cost because it didn't state in the plans that the countertop needed this unique handling. And I should have done 'due diligence' to know this?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Did the architect see the washer in person, or just pictures?

In other words, how could the architect known about the way the washer works?

Sounds like a typical gotcha that happens all the time because of special parts/pieces/design that is not caught sooner.

That means you get the bill.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 12:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How much are we talking, here? Even a new counter wouldn't be more than $100 - $200, right? And the labor to cut an opening in the existing counter with a fein tool (or similar) would be 1-2 hours at most.

Why not take the existing counter, slice off the back 2" or whatever, and reinstall it? Easy, effective, and preserves the finished edge in front.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 8:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is a contractor issue. Laminate counters are composed of 3/4" particle board overlain with laminate. THe edges are built up with an additional 3/4" to be able to appear to be 1 1/2" thick. If you do not use a build up kit to put that additional 3/4" in height under the body of the counters, you get what you've got, which is the counter body resting on the cabinet and the 3/4" lip overhanging the cabinets, or in your case your washer and dryer. If you have frameless cabinets (or your washer and dryer) the doors then cannot open as the overhanging lip prevents it.

The solution is extremely simple and cheap. Any big box store stocks the build up kit next to their in stock laminate counters. It costs less than $10 and is simple to apply. All that needs to happen is to remove the top, apply the buildup kit and reinstall the counters at the correct height, which is flush with the top of the washer and dryer. Then your detergent dispenser can operate as designed and the contractor will have learned a basic lesson on counter construction that I'm surprised he doesn't already know. In fact, I'm really really surprised that he didn't immediately know what the issue was here and already correct it.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Since you are supplying the washer and dryer it is your responsibility to provide the designer and the contractor with the manufacturer's drawings of the units showing clearances and access requirements. If you couldn't find that information you should have asked the architect to measure the units and note such requirements. The only fault you can give the architect is that she did not ask you for better information about the units but since you sent the photos she could reasonably assume you would have photographed any special requirements.

On the other hand, if an experienced contractor saw the units before construction began, he would have automatically checked for special requirements before enclosing them but it would be difficult use this to force him to correct the work.

On the bright side you can use the fee you did not have to pay the architect to help pay for a modification or replacement of the work.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Make sure you can get the units out for repair and servicing or you will be paying to have the enclosure rebuilt.

Appliance service workers are NOT going to remove them for service.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 10:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can't believe the counter overlaps the machine; that would make it impossible to slide the machine out for service.

It's not clear to me what the problem is.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 4:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I *think* the problem sounds like when the little detergent/ bleach/fabric softener tray is slid out so you can pour stuff in them, they are still covered by the laminate counter. At least on my old Kenmore front loader those things don't slide out that far. If I had a counter over my machine it would have to be a little shy of the face of the machine (because the door protrudes).

I suppose if the counter was made so it was as deep as just the TOP of the washer all would be well. But if they took measurements off the manufacturers website that would include the thickness of the door (which bulges out).

That's just a guess, of course, I've been running a lot of laundry today so each time I do a load I think about this issue. One more reason to keep living like its 1965 and leave the washer and dryer in the basement, I guess :)

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 5:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

EngineerChic - I understand what you are saying. If you are correct, then it would be difficult to enclose this style machine with armoire doors, which is what the OP requested. The only way to have armoire doors would be to have the top of the cabinet several inches above the top of the machine.

anajane - Can you post a picture of your machine as well as one of your inspiration design?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you all for your comments.
Architect was sent pics that I had found on of 'enclosed w/d'.
I was trying to maximize use of space and when i saw several photos of enclosed w/d underneath countertop,it looked like a perfect solution for me. Architect thought it would be great use of space. Note: I had never owned or used front-load machines. I had not thought about where the detergent/bleach would go in regards to the set-up.
This is my main bathroom, and I had hoped not to have to have the w/d visible at all times - keep the doors open when using machines / close off the doors when entertaining.
The design calls for frameless doors - 30"wide each - that are attached to these heavy-duty hinges.
The contractor was given the manufacturer's drawings of the units showing clearances and access requirements. The architect did not know which models were going there - she designed for 'front-loaders'. We had several discussions about if this could work - did I have necessary space requirements, etc. I emailed pics [a couple of which are noted above] - and, never having owned a front-load w/d before, it never occured to me that there was a design issue to be considered. Again - lack of 'due diligence' on my part?
I guess what I'm trying to express is when I presented my 'wish list', I expected that I would be given info as to whether it could work, or not.
Thank you, all, again. I appreciate your having taken the time to respond.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 10:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Both of those washers appear to have straight fronts. If you look closely at the first picture, you can see that the detergent compartment does not go all the way to the top of the machine. These two facts make it easy to enclose the machine. If you have a machine like mine where the front is curved and the detergent compartment goes all the way to the top of the machine, it cannot be enclosed the way you are trying to do it.

What machine do you have? Do you have a link to the manufacturer's drawings you provided the contractor?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 9:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ahhh, now I seeit. The counter is also the top of the cabinet. Yep, that would be a problem for some front loaders (mine included).

I thought this was a set up where the washer and dryer were in a closet (full height doors) with a counter installed in the closet as just a counter, not also functioning as the top of the cabinet.

I have a (possibly dumb) idea. Could you use a round desk cord grommet as a quick and easy access to the detergent holder? They make different sized ones (even small ones for telephone cables ... Or bleach). I know this sounds kind of dumb, but it would look clean and tidy (neater than a removable panel cut out of Formica, I think).

Alternatively you could use those Tide pods instead of pouring in detergent in the holder. That's what I might do until I figured out a better solution. Sorry you are having this problem, I know how frustrating it is to have a renovation hit a speed bump along the way. Hopefully you wind up with a solution you LIKE in the end :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Desk grommets

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Brickeyee - Yes, I can get w/d out for servicing. A little tight, but definitely do-able. I can just see if I had to explain to my husband why we had to rebuild the enclosure to make a minor repair. lol That was first and foremost on my mind when this concerpt was discussed -
Dekeoboe - I just purchased my first ever front-loader - Electrolux - and I never gave any thought to where the detergent went. You're right - now that I look closely at the pics. I was just so taken with this use of space that I did not research as well as I normally do. It was a long, hot summer...... :)
EngineerChic - That's exactly what my contractor recommended - the desk cord grommet.....and I'm going to go with that.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 11:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As for "who bears the responsibility here?", the answer is typically "someone else."

You hired a professional architect because you needed professional expertise. The professional should know what info she needs to do the job and ask questions accordingly.

She should be familiar enough with typical appliances to know what has to be considered, or she should ask you for the specific models so she can do the research.

For example, if I ask an architect to design a house for me, she needs to ask appropriate questions and be prepared to guide me through things I may not be familiar with. It would be silly if my 30" range didn't fit because she allowed only 24". It would be just as silly if my 42" range didn't fit because she allowed only 30" -- the architect needs to ask the questions so she knows how much space to allow.

It shouldn't be up to you to figure out what info the architect needs... you hired an architect for the very reason that don't have the expertise to figure it out yourself.

If the installer did not follow the plans, the installer should fix it.

If the plans were followed, IMHO, the architect would be wrong to deny responsibility based on you not volunteering details that she should have requested. If the plans were faulty, it sounds more like a lack of experience on her part, and she probably won't make that mistake again.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 12:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Michgeo: Thank you. I too believe that if I'm paying someone for their expertise, I should not be the one leading the way as to how it could be done. In retrospect, I suspect that I should have clarified with her which field of architect was her specialty. I 'assumed' when she met with me to discuss bath renovations, that she was proficient in function/design. I now think that interior work was not her forte. I would have been better served going with an interior designer specializing in bathrooms / laundry rooms. Lesson learned, on my part.....

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 2:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

>>> "The contractor was given the manufacturer's drawings of the units showing clearances and access requirements. The architect did not know which models were going there - she designed for 'front-loaders'." I'm going to backtrack a bit on this. Did you select the appliances before the design work was done, or after?

If before, I'll stick with my earlier statement. The architect should have asked you for more info. No need to read further.

If after, you'll probably have to accept responsibility for selecting appliances that didn't fit the space.

For example, if I ask an architect to design a kitchen and I don't yet have a range and I give her pictures that show 30" ranges, and my answer to any questions about a range is that I want something like in the pictures... she may allow for a standard 30" range. If I then go out and buy a 42" range, I can't fault the architect when it doesn't fit.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 3:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think your contractor dropped the ball here if he is the ones that figured out the measurements. If not it is your architect if she provided the measurements for it. She should have found out what w/d you were going to use and done the measurements based on that.

I think you can solve this by adding some height to the cabinetry on the bottom. Maybe with some adjustable feet similar to what is under the w/d so if you ever buy another w/d with slightly different dimensions you can adjust.

The other option that I assume you've already tried is adjusting the feet on the w/d to their lowest position.

Any chance you can return the units and getting another brand?

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 10:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Michgeo: I agree with your rationale - but W/d dimensions were not the issue here. All involved had discussions about the h/d/w of the machines. The problem was no one, me included, factored in how the detergent gets into the washer. Not having any familiarity with detergent tray location on front-loaders, I just never gave that any thought.
Lyfia - what we ended up doing was installing a desk cord grommet - over where the bleach would go - and it's working out just fine.
Thank you all for your responses. This has been quite the learning experience.....~~

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 12:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with handymac on this one: "Sounds like a typical gotcha that happens all the time because of special parts/pieces/design that is not caught sooner."

Every renovation has these unexpected issues. At this point I would not dwell on who to place the blame on for this weird situation. Just focus on the best solution and move forward.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 5:23PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
I need help with making a decision to paint golden oak wood or restain
I have a 28 year old view home with dark bronze aluminum...
Dog Grooming/Bathing Station, show me your pictures, please
I really need to include a bathing/grooming area in...
I live in BC, so I realize the answer may not be the...
Moving window vertically
Hello - we are purchasing a house and trying to think...
Pocket door questions
I am considering a butler's pantry/scullery addition...
Sponsored Products
Burns Chair - Key Largo Ruby Red
Joybird Furniture
Nora 7" Wide Chrome and White Recessed Cone Lighting Trim
$17.91 | Lamps Plus
Set of Narrow Vases
$19.99 | Dot & Bo
Cox Dining Chair
| Italy Design
ECR4KIDS Softzone Watch Me Go Climber - ELR-12614
$426.99 | Hayneedle
Solid White 100-percent Cotton 6-piece Towel Set
BAZZ Recessed Lighting Single Cube 4 1/2 in. Brushed Chrome Halogen Recessed
$22.99 | Home Depot
Queen Quilt 88" x 90" - TURQUOISE
$190.00 | Horchow
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™