As always, the last 10% of the project ends up taking 90% of the time. Also, quite a lot more money involved too — I'm not even going to total it up because holy cow. (Let's just say that I'm certain that I've spent more on this kitchen update than I paid for my car.)
When we last heard about my kitchen rebuild, it was "almost done" and there were only a couple of minor things left to do. This was, of course, a month ago.
Since then, the following ridiculously aggravating things happened:
- The original tile installer decided that he didn't like his subordinates and fired them all. Instead of hiring a new team he decided to retire, leaving me in the lurch without a tile installer.
- The general contractor found another tile installer who had some free time that week and some glowing recommendations. So we had him come on board.
- The new tile installer installed the tile. He did a very good job of installing the tile. He also completely ignored the design and common sense. Some aspects of it were okay enough that I could overlook them, but other things were quite ridiculous. I don't even want to get into it right now because holy crap it makes me angry just thinking about it (in the end it looks good, as long as I don't look at a couple of aspects that bug the hell out of me; fortunately one of them is hidden behind my microwave, but the other one is right in the central focus of the remodel, so it's hard to ignore).
- One of the bigger things that wasn't entirely the tiler's fault but should have been raised before it became an issue was that one of the countertops was 3/8" higher than the others. Rather than raise this as an issue, the tiler just cut tile to go around it. Of course, this countertop was one of the ones adjacent to the stove, which meant that the backsplash filler piece would not have been able to be installed correctly.
- Of course, the reason the backsplash piece wasn't installed to begin with is because the original tiler and the general contractor saw that I had a freestanding range and decided that I shouldn't have the backsplash piece because it would make the stove "stick out," never mind that I made it clear that I was going to upgrade to a slide-in range and that when they put the freestanding range back in, it was still further away from the wall than the thickness of the backsplash piece. The additional cost to cover this extra installation is $250 (even though it was part of the original work order).
- Today the stone installers came out again to install the backsplash piece. However, they no longer had the original backsplash piece, and the cabinet guy had told them it was to be 30" exactly, rather than it being the slightly-larger-than-the-opening thing they were supposed to do. The opening is actually 30¾". (So they will come back later after they get a correctly-sized piece.)
- Also, when the stove does arrive, it turns out that it needs the counters to be at least 36" high for a flush installation. They are 35¼. So now I'm going to have to get some additional shims made by the countertop guys. Which is going to cost a lot more as well.
- There were also some issues with the electrical inspection; the original inspector decided that the scope of work was much greater than what it was (because he thought that all my cabinets were new, rather than just the actual new ones, which I specifically did not replace because of the electrical inspection requirements). At one point it seemed like I'd have to get all the electricity in my apartment upgraded, and have the tile removed and re-done to add more outlets. Instead, we just got a second inspector out who was told what had actually happened to begin with, and he charged an additional $150 for this new inspection. On top of that, the electrician charged $240 for his time and involvement in this second inspection as well. (The invoice line-item: "remove & re-install all kitchen outlets, test & label all kitchen circuits @ panel for second inspection")
- Also, getting custom transition strips fabricated for the now-ridiculously-thick kitchen floor vs. the rest of the place was a harrowing experience that required a lot of iteration, re-re-re-explanations, and finally settling for something that isn't too bad, except it shouldn't have been necessary to begin with.
Basically all of these issues boil down to miscommunications — things that the general contractor should have been on top of. Many of them are also ripple effects from how the floor was installed. If I had known that the tile installation would have caused the floor to go up by about an inch, I'd have gone with a different flooring option, but I didn't know about this until it was too late. I had made it clear to the first tile guy that I wanted the new floor to be flush with the rest of the house, and he said he'd "see what he could do." When he couldn't have done that, he should have told me he couldn't have done that, not just gone ahead and installed things in a way that screwed everything else up.
All along the general contractor had been blaming the subcontractors for not listening to him, but at one point he actually did take responsibility for one particular issue (which he'd previously blamed on someone else), and in doing so slipped up with a bit more information that told me that other things were also quite distinctly his mistake. Since then he has gone back to blaming everyone else for problems. I had previously used him on two other jobs which is why I went with him for this third one (when the original contractor I went with backed out unexpectedly). After this I will not be recommending this contractor to anyone else.
Also, advice for anyone who wants to install tile on top of linoleum: Don't use a backer board. Instead, use a tile that can have a floating installation, like SnapStone. I haven't used that myself but it just seems like a lot less headache/heartache/hassle, and if you decide you don't like it, changing it isn't all that hard either. SnapStone would have been perfect for this project... but I didn't know about it until it was too late. (Of course I found out about it the day after the tile went in and I was already unhappy with what the installation had involved.)