Monday, August 23, 2010

How Can One Bathroom Remodel Go So Wrong?


by Kate

Ah, let me count the ways. And the days. And the red haze -- of anger over my eyes. All because I’ve had a dream for years to have a travertine floor in my bathroom. Talk about a dream turned nightmare!

Our first mistake was going to a “big box” home improvement store. You know those lovely commercials on TV? Don’t fall for them. We had a local flooring guy do another room a few years back, so we had a basis for comparison, and trust me, there was none.

So Big Box contracts the job out to an installation company who contracts the job out to a floor company in another city. So that would be a sub-sub contractor, right? The Sub-sub sends their guy to measure and work up a quote.

Mistake number two was believing that this guy knew what he was talking about. First that it would take 3-4 days to complete. Then: “Don’t put in a heating element under the tile. They always go bad. We always have to rip them out.” Well, he seemed experienced and knowledgeable, so we scrapped that dream even though our bathroom floor gets icy cold in the winter.

Then he bad-mouthed the big box store, saying that their bid would be way higher than the local guy, almost as though he was trying to scotch the job. I still believe that was his motive because I heard him telling his helper later that he “hated these home remodels” and preferred “new construction.” Probably because there weren’t any owners to watch over him.

Mistake three: Letting him back in the door to do the job. Same guy, same cocky, know-it-all attitude. Here is a summary of the damage he did: Gouged walnut banister, damaged wool carpet runner, badly scratched wood trim on the staircase, berry stains from trees on painted doors, half inch gaps between the new tile floor and our bedroom carpet, white powder, followed by brown dust, on every surface of at least 4 rooms because he would open doors and not shut them, globs of grout on newly painted walls and in all corners, and hunks of setting material left to harden on the tiles which he sealed over. He put plastic runner on the upstairs floor, but not up the staircase, which he and his helper traversed at least one hundred times.

He started late and finished early. He cancelled several days’ work, forcing us to reschedule the painters and the carpet cleaners. We complained to big box, and directly to his employer, who said he was no longer working for them.

Then three days later, he showed up to finish the job. He put three brown tiles in the middle of all of the light colored tiles, as in the photo. He left knives open on the floor. And last but not least, the day he finished (day 14) he asked my husband if he could put “a few scraps” in our garbage can. When my husband went to roll it out to the curb, it wouldn’t move. Seems Mr. Know-It-All had filled it with a 60 pound tub of mud, all the pieces of the heavy tile left over, wood trim that had been ripped out, and every other item he’d decided to discard. It was all crammed into a plastic garbage bin instead of into the back of his pickup.

Needless to say, this has soured us on any further remodeling, and for sure we would not use a big box home improvement store for anything other than buying nails and paint. I’m wondering if this was simply an aberration, or if any of you have experienced anything like this.