Goin nuts during this remodel

juleslJuly 2, 2013

Our kitchen remodel started the beginning of June and we have a well recommended kitchen contractor but the communication has been a struggle. I'm being made to feel as if it's my fault and I just want to pull my hair out at this point. So much information is being communicated via email which I think is a big part of the problem. I was excited to have a new kitchen and I thought it'd be fun choosing granite and back splashes but it's NOT fun and we just want the thing over . Anyone have tips or has anyone been made to feel this way during their remodel?

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Annie Deighnaugh

What is your fault? Why is email the form of communication? Are you on sight? Are you making sight visits. Face to face is typically the best approach...and lists. I made lots of lists of things that I wanted done or specs that I needed met. I also got lists from the contractor of what I needed to get and when he needed it by so we both had a common goal and direction.

If you are having difficulty choosing materials, then perhaps you need an inspiration piece. It can be a picture of a kitchen or a plate or a piece of art where you like the colors. That can give you a direction to go in.

Also, be sure to rely on the experts at the places you are buying materials. They have seen a lot of kitchens and can make good recommendations....the tile people, the cabinet designers, the granite suppliers, etc.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 8:41AM
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You don't want your project over until EVERYTHING is done right and done as what you want. You will live with this kitchen day in day out for a long time. Don't rush it.

Most people do not realize going through remodeling is actually managing a project; it requires many sets of skills. We want to have good results, but we have obligation of being a good customer and a good project manager.

In term of communication, it is not easy, otherwise why do colleges offer courses on the subjects? People speak different "languages" in different industries and trades. Women and Men communicate differently. People from different age groups communicate differently. Unless you are very experienced in communicating with many people from different backgrounds, you may need to make adjustments.

Stand on your ground when things go wrong, but give praises and compliments when things are done right. Bat for contractor and his workers when they need your support and help. Positive reinforcement always works. You want to create a happy working environment for everyone on your project including yourselves.

Ask your contractor what are the best ways to convey ideas. Give him and yourself as much flexibility as you can, such as when making phone calls or scheduling a meeting, ask him to pick from 2 or 3 time available time slots.

Take detailed notes and photos when you have phone calls and face to face conversations. I would definitely follow up with emails to summarize what were being said, and ask for confirmation. For important/big work items, clearly identify consequences if things are not done as expected, such as who would pay for re-doing, what is the penalty of delays. Emails serve as documents and evidences should anything goes wrong.

Why " I'm being made to feel as if it's my fault", can you give examples?

Why " it'd be fun choosing granite and back splashes but it's NOT fun", any examples?

Remember, you are the paying customer; this is your hard earned money and your prject. If anything goes wrong the contractor has more stakes in the game than you do, such as his reputation and future business.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 11:46AM
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Well, I guess I'm in a somewhat similar boat in that I'm so ready for it to be over! Ours started early May, and I still have no cabinets in!! Now, I did widen a window (and changed to a counter-height bumped out window), and I did rip out and install new flooring on the entire first floor, and the appliance layout is changing -- so it's a bit more complicated of a project than perhaps just a typical kitchen remodel where the layout is not changing.... but I am so tired of trudging into the garage for the frig, and doing dishes in the bathroom, and "cooking" in the dining room.... My husband just last night said to the kids, "what is today's date" -- July 1st -- and is the kitchen done? No!! [I had told him it would be done by the end of June for sure!]. So we're all just getting a little tired of the situation. We've had no progress in about 2-3 weeks. I'm trying to get an install date for the cabinets - hoping the end of this week, early next week. At least today the window wall drywall is going up, and I was able to get outside and stain the cedar trim around the new window.... I just want my you-know-what cabinets!

As far as contractors -- I actually do like to put things in email so it's in writing, but I do like to speak to the person as well. I think that helps in making sure they understand what exactly you're saying. I just feel like there are times they should check with the homeowner before making decisions on how to do something -- if there's a choice, they should ask. So far there hasn't been anything major, but there's a long way to go!!

Good luck! I just keep telling myself, it'll be done by Christmas for sure!!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 12:05PM
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Holly- Kay

My biggest issue with my reno was lack of communication with the KD. I think that happens, for the most part, because the decisions and the ups and downs of the project are just "another day in the life of" to the designers, contractors, laborers, et al but of major importance and consequence to the home owner who is doing this as a one time project.

At one point I thought I would never in a million years use this KD again but I have come to realize that 50% of the issues came about because I wasn't clear in the beginning about my need for frequent communications. When I ran into the issue of the mismatched granite I was just adamant in what I needed him to do and voila it was done. I now feel that I could do a third project with him but I would have a list of expectations (reasonable) that he needed to live up to and I would insist on a weekly meeting at the least via phone.

It is important for you to call your contactor and express your concerns and as azmom mentioned, be quick to praise and slow to criticize, that way when there is a major issue you will have more credibility. With all that being said there are some very poor contractors out there and it may be that he is one of them.

I think you, like most of us, who are in the throes of a reno have battle fatigue. Just know that in the very near future it will be a completed project and you will be able to pat yourself on the back and think you did your job well.

Good luck with your project and know that we all wish you well.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 12:25PM
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Holly- Kay

Seos, I really do empathize. I too was just sick to death of tromping up and down the stairs to the fridge and washing up dishes in the BR. Our children are grown and gone so we ate most meals out but boy that gets old quick too.

We did a whole kitchen reno including new flooring in the dining area, living room and kitchen area so it sounds similar to your reno.

Once the cabs are delivered it still takes a long time unless your contractor focuses on your job exclusively. My cabinets were delivered five weeks ago and almost all were installed shortly thereafter but there has been delay after delay. They are supposed to finish everything today but I will believe it when I see it. I want it done but want it done right. No more delays please!

Good luck Jules and Seos. It will be done eventually!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 2:17PM
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I second the recommendation for making lists and taking notes. I have a notebook that I have used just for this project. I make a daily list and post it in the kitchen. I usually go over the details with the guys in the morning just so that the people who are actually doing the work know what needs to be done. Of course, issues arise...boy do I know that! I think it happens with any big project.

I'm finally able to use our kitchen, but we still have things to be completed. I'm in a waiting pattern right now, but thankful that I can actually cook now :)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 2:23PM
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Thanks for your responses, I guess misery loves to know I have some company.
As far as "my fault" goes, an example is that we were told the electrician would drop off some LED lights so I could see what they look like inside my old glass cabinet doors. He never did drop them off and I asked the contractor about it 3 times. Day of tear down arrives, I remind the contractor that the electrician was going to drop off the lights. The contractor turns and says "are you sure you didn't misunderstand?" Nope, my husband heard the same thing I did. So, then the contractor acted like he was frustrated with me__whatever!

Other examples, I'm told electricians will be here to work on two different dates and they don't show. I've made arrangements to be home so our dog doesn't get in the way __ it's been frustrating.

I know mistakes are made and I'm pretty flexible but I do think people should do what they say they're going to do or, at least, communicate a change in plans.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 10:34AM
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I'm right there with you! Going nuts daily!

I think you we're given some great advice. Just remember to breathe, it will be worth it in the end. ( so I tell myself daily).

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 11:18AM
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Holly- Kay

Honestly does anyone take pride in their work anymore? I know the answer is yes because my installer is a talented craftsman but he and my wonderful floor salesperson and installers have been the only shining stars in the whole process.

In the end the kitchen will be fine but a few of my cabinets, imo, are just not up to snuff. The granite had the horrible mismatch, the appliances were delivered on 2 separate days as they forgot the double oven, the measurements for my oven cabinet were off, my KD gave me the wrong count for my hardware. It really has been an on going litany of problems. Now that I am at the end I realize that most of the things were minor annoyances. The granite though was major.

Here's hoping that we all have smooth sailing from here on out!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 11:48AM
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I know that it is frustrating, but hang in there. Keep all of those emails as you may need them down the line to show what your expectations were and agreements made. I created a separate folder in my email program and placed all of the incoming emails and my responses.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 11:53AM
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I am finally done so I can take a deep breath now and realize it was worth it, BUT I was a bit of a crazy woman for the last few months. We started in late March and just put the finishing touches on this weekend. I felt so blessed to be able to renovate our kitchen, I hard time complaining to anyone but DH. My subs showed up on time and did what they were supposed to do, albeit very slowly sometimes. I felt like I was living in a fog just like when I brought my newborns home from the hospital. I was TKO because I was so afraid I was going to miss something and screw it up royally. It was exciting to begin and then reality sunk it and it stunk!
I think you are in good company. I don't know too many people who enjoy renovations.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 6:47PM
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I too understand your pain. We started in April and we are just starting to use the kitchen. We too have had some issues, the fridge drawers don't fit in the space designed for them. The carpenter is on vaca, so we are waiting for him to return to finish. Like Holly, our appliances were delivered separately so the wrong electrical was put in and had to be rewired which cost us money. The KD ordered the wrong doors for glass, so they had to be sent back. Our first delivery of our cabinets were actually the wrong doors and when they left after the delivery our dog got into the truck and they didn't know it, by the time we realized she was gone they were in another state, I can go on and on. Our KD/GC was a nightmare, acted like he never GC'd a kitchen reno before. I felt like the GC and that is the mindset I would suggest you take. Take control and manage it yourself, be on site as much as possible to over see it all. Yes it is exhausting but it helps get it done and done right. Stay a step or two ahead, asking questions of when the plumber or whoever is needed is coming. Be assertive, it is your future kitchen and your money, don't feel like you are nagging, you will be happy you were a PITA. I am sorry you are so frustrated, but what you are dealing with is not uncommon. And even though we aren't 100% done yet, I already feel it was worth the sacrifice of my time.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 11:03PM
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