As some of you know, a few months ago, we had a plumbing leak that ruined our hardwoods. We got that replaced and went on vacation. When we came home, we learned that a pipe had burst in our kitchen floor as well. Deep inside of a concrete subfloor where it couldn't be seen.
We contacted our insurance company and told them that we wanted to use a construction company that we'd had great recommendations about. We gave our insurance company the estimate of that company and they said that they wanted to send out one of the construction companies on their list to get another estimate for comparison. Well, their company bid in $4000. under our company and they refused to let us use our guys unless we paid the extra - which we couldn't do. In the end, we had no choice but to use their people but did inform our insurance company that their bid was so low that we had the strong feeling that something was sketchy about them. Our insurance agent denied that our fears were warranted.
The construction company started the job and removed our cabinets and jackhammered out the floor. With the company not having taken good enough care to cover everything in plastic, our ceilings and rock wall were now splattered with wet concrete and one of our remaining cabinets was chipped.
After some argument between workers about who was supposed to haul that concrete out of there, the leak was fixed and concrete was poured again. We thought that things were moving at a pretty good pace with just a few annoying glitches. That was when things started falling apart. When the floor guy (who from now on will be referred to as "Mr. Unskilled") leveled the concrete, he left a hump of concrete in front of the sink. that was higher than the rest of the floor. We spoke to him about this and he said that it would be fixed before the VCT tile went in. Up until this point, a good week had passed and our contractor hadn't stopped by or called to check on the job once. We had to call him every day to see what the next step was and who was coming when. And when we did talk to him, he always seemed annoyed that we didn't want to just stay at home 24/7 to see when his people would show up. Like it wasn't our place to question him or to expect him to keep an eye on his workers. They came and went as they wanted with no system of checks and balances and in essence, we'd become the contractors on the job.
Then the cabinet guys came (who from now on will be referred to as "Those Who Wouldn't Know Straight Lines if they Smacked Them In The Sides of Their Heads") and put our cabinets back in. Well, wouldn't you know that after they were done, our cabinets looked like they were straight out of a carnival fun house. The dishwasher no longer could open.
See how the dishwasher is wedged in there?
You can see the hump of concrete there in the left hand bottom corner.
The counter tops leaned backwards towards the wall and were a good inch lower than they were before. Doors that closed before now stayed open. We could see daylight where there was no daylight before and everything was just wonky beyond belief.
See that line across the back? That's where the top of the countertops were supposed to line up again. See that line of wooden cabinet top at the front? That's supposed to be hidden by the counter top so that the sink could go back in.
We knew that our contractor was on vacation so Mister called the company and told the secretary that the cabinets were a mess. She called the cabinet guys and they told her that they did a great job and weren't coming back. Whaaaaa? I'll be damned. And the secretary was SO rude to the Mister. We couldn't believe how ugly she was and the attitude that she gave about how we must be wrong about our cabinets being on the verge of destruction. Her guys said that they did a great job and that's all that she was going to hear.
The Mister told her that our job was stopped and nobody else was coming back into our house until the cabinets were fixed. Thanks to the power that is not getting a paycheck, the manager of the whole company was at our house by the end of the day. One look at the cabinets and his face fell. We could tell that he came in expecting to defend his company but then he just couldn't. He apologized profusely and said that the cabinet guys would never work for him again. He said that he'd send his "best guys" out to do the job right and that from now on we'd never receive anything but the best service from his company. We were relieved to lose our jerk contractor and be on the radar of the head of the company. The next time that we talked to the secretary, she was so sweet that sugar wouldn't melt in her mouth. We could tell that the manager had told her to be nice to us. Things were finally looking up! <-- famous last words.
A crew came out and fixed the cabinets back like they were supposed to be and Mr. Unskilled came back to put leveler on the floors. The Mister kept pointing out the hardened hump of concrete to him and he kept telling the Mister that he'd sand it out before the flooring was done. After waiting ages for the company to get us floor samples that hadn't been discontinued in 2006, The Mister and I worked towards finalizing a pattern and ordered the tile.
(I'll reveal the pattern later if we ever make it out alive.)
Then came the flooring day. Mr. Unskilled and another guy showed up to lay the VCT. Things fell apart from the start. They kept getting our pattern wrong and gluing the wrong colors in the wrong spots even though we gave them a color diagram AND photos of the tiles laid down without glue to go by. In the end, The Mister stood by the doorway the entire day telling them one by one, which tile went where. And they'd forgotten to address the transitions from the kitchen doorways into other rooms. They were now just ugly jagged gaps where transition pieces should have been installed under the VCT tiles. We were less than satisfied. When they left, we noticed that the concrete hump was still under the floor and now under the tiles. When I stood at the sink, one leg was longer than the other!
It's the stuff of legend, I tell ya! My friend Enid even wrote this awesome blues song about it:
(to be sung mournfully and with a plaintive tone)
Woke up this morning
With a big hump in my kitchen floor
Oh, yeah, woke up this morning
With a big hump in my kitchen floor
Now if the Man don’t dump that hump
I ain’t gonna let him near my flo’ no mo’….
I’ve got those wacked-out crazy-installer subcontractor blues…
Mister called the contractor and asked him to come out because the job had been badly done. He also left a message on our insurance agent's phone saying that the job was going badly. Well, the contractor sent Mr. Unskilled ten minutes before he arrived and this guy began to argue loudly with the Mister that we'd had a hump of concrete in our floor BEFORE they even started on our house and that we were just trying to pawn it off on their company. Sigh. Grumble. Sigh.
The above photo shows how much I've aged since these repairs started. I used to look at least half this young. And I'm pretty sure that my eyes weren't made of plastic grapes.
The plumber was raising his voice and kept saying, "What do you want ME to do??" while the Mister and I yelled out in unison, "YOU tell US! You're the flooring guy! Not us!" He then said that the hump would go down over time. You know, like concrete does. Of course, we're such fools! The hump will just melt away over time. Then he changed his strategy and kept rubbing his hand across the hump and acting like it wasn't there. It was totally weird - like he thought that he could just smooth it out like one does a wrinkle in a bedspread.
Being the "I'll show you!" type, I went and stood on the hump and showed him how the leg that wasn't standing on the hump dangled over the floor. I even brought his wife into the scenario, asking him if his wife could do dishes with one foot higher than the other. The contractor showed up in his usual jerk mood and kept taking phone calls while we were trying to talk to him. Mr. Unskilled lied right and left and said that he'd offered to put nice transitions in our doorways but we told him not to. Because, that seems like what we'd do, right? Tell a floor guy NOT to put smooth transitions in our doorway? Mr. Unskilled kept going out to his van and slamming our door and acting like a four year old. Mr. Contractor never even touched the hump or looked at it. And only barely glanced at our gaping transition areas. He was taking Mr. Unskilled's side and there was nothing we could do about it.
The usually calm Mr. Kitsch began to lose his cool.
The argument moved out to our driveway where the Contractor kept saying, "He'll come back tomorrow and fix it. THEN WILL YOU BE HAPPY??" He said that over and over - "THEN WILL YOU BE HAPPY??" like we were fools for wanting our house to be put back together right. It took all that I had not to sucker punch that guy. While we were standing there, the Contractor looked down at his phone and noted that our insurance agent had just called him. A few minutes later, the insurance agent called me and I told him that we were in the middle of arguing with HIS guys and that I'd call him back when we were done. RED FLAG ALERT: Now did anyone notice that the insurance guy called the contractor before he called us...his clients? Later in the day, when we called him back, he let it slip that the owner of the Construction company had worked at the insurance company for twenty years. There you have it. That's why they were hired even though they looked sketchy. The insurance company has ties with the Construction company! Twenty year ties! Oh Mylanta. I think that steam started to seep out of my ears at this point. Our insurance agent kept acting like things just couldn't be as bad as we thought they were.
The next day, we were almost five weeks into the job that was supposed to take a couple of weeks. Mr. Unskilled came back alone and after the Mister discussed with him precisely how the transition pieces should go, the guy set to work. He hammered and grunted and threw tools around. He cursed to himself loudly and beat on our transitions and slammed doors. Occasionally, the Mister had to go out and point out tiles that he'd put in backwards or that were the wrong color. Or to discuss how the transitions still weren't looking right. Now, we're not ones to usually hover over workers but with this guy, we were not taking any chances. At the seventh hour, The Mister went to check on him again. At this point, he had glue smeared across our hardwood edges and metal transition pieces were wedged in and dented. Tiles that before had been perfect were now gouged and scratched. And he hadn't even begun to address the hump of concrete under the tiles in front of the sink. Cast your wondrous eyes on some of his handiwork:
Pretty smooth, huh?
Can you see all of the shattered edges of tile sticking up on that pasted in piece?
The pattern in these two tiles is supposed to go in the same direction. D'oh!
It's hard to tell here but that metal edge is bent and sticks up in the middle.
We were on a sinking ship. The Mister told him that he was done and wanted him to leave. Mr. Unskilled began to beg for us to let him come back the next day to "fix things right". It was entirely stressful and awkward and uncomfortable. The Mister insisted that he leave and he gathered his tools and left. We vowed that he would never come into our house again and stared sadly at the mess that he'd made in our kitchen. While worrying that he'd come back and knock us in our head in our sleep. We knew that we'd already gotten the cabinet guys fired. Would he be next?
This morning, Mister called the manager of the construction company and was told that Mr. Unskilled was out getting more materials to come back to our house to finish! Even though we had to force him off of our property on Saturday! And the manager who before had been so very nice and promised us that his company would do right by us wasn't nearly as nice this time. He treated the Mister like we are too demanding and said that everything is going wrong because our pattern is too complicated. He said that his floor guys "aren't artists" and can't follow our pattern. Which had nothing to do with the hump in the floor and the jagged transitions. Not one thing. He said that he'll have to "research" to see if anyone in his company knows how to do VCT and will get back to us. He refused to come over and see what had been done and every time that the Mister tried to tell him what had happened, he kept cutting him off and wouldn't let him talk.
At this point, we're stuck between a serious rock and a hard place. The insurance company doesn't have our back, the construction company is made up of the worst bunch of nary-do-wells that we've ever met in our lives. And five weeks in, we're left with a humpy, scratched kitchen floor and are completely sick of eating microwave food and washing dishes in the bathtub.
Though admittedly, the kitties do think that washing dishes in the tub is the best thing EVER. They congregate and watch the dishes soak in the dish pan. It's the hit of the kitty cat club circuit, I hear.
With all of the awful workers that we've had through the years, this is our worst experience EVER. We don't sleep at night and only lay there in the dark exchanging comments about what's happening. If things don't get rectified, we're on the verge of having to go higher and get involved with complaining to the corporate offices of our insurance company AND the construction company which we know is going to be an uphill climb. We just want our kitchen back. We don't have the money to just hire our own person and tell the insurance company and construction company to go jump off of a steep cliff. And of course, it's the principal of the thing - we pay insurance fees every month so that we're supposed to be covered and well taken care of. And it's really not asking too much for workers to be skilled, polite and timely. We know these things as facts and of course, onward we'll trudge.
And that is what's going on at the ranch.
Until next time,
x's and o's,