The carol of the contractors

Courtesy of Jerseyville Public Libaray

As regular readers know, we are in the middle of a kitchen renovation (whining all the way). It’s not quite the reno from hell but close. We started the process in January and were rejected by several kitchen contractors. We weren’t sure why. Maybe they were too busy or our job wasn’t big enough. We went through five different companies before someone said they would do it in early fall.

Just like hospital staff, time is elastic for contractors. Three days could be three weeks or three months. Right away is within a week or two maybe. Next week is never next week. “End of the month” is a phrase that is bandied about without any real meaning. In this case early fall was mid-November.

Something else odd was that we were the “kiss of vacation.” I know we are the “kiss of death” as every time we like something it’s closes or is discontinued but this vacation thing was new. The contractor went on a two week vacation the day after meeting with us. This same thing happened with the landscape guy. Anyone in need of a vacation should set up a meeting with us. It’s sure to happen.

We are in week six of the project. It was moving along nicely and looked like it might be done by the end of the year. That was two weeks ago and before I realized that we are also the “kiss of disaster.” The carpenter developed a severe knee issue. He was/is on crutches. We lost a week and it’s not looking good.

As part of the job, I’m replacing the window over the sink. The new one is lower so I can actually see out of it. Window was ordered in July (we think). “End of the month” has always been the response to “has the window come in yet?” Every month from September on, it’s been “end of the month.”

Our window guy does great work and has been very reliable on other non-window projects. That is until we became the “kiss of disaster.” He was supposed to be here the second week in December but he was a no show and no communication. I finally reached out and received an incoherent text. It was the kind of text someone sends when their car is hanging over a cliff. I did pick up that his wife left. He is imploding and hasn’t been working. I dusted off my (nonexistent) psychiatric degree and tried to console him. I’m sending him encouraging messages. Yes, I want to get my job done. He had taken out the old window, recut the framing and set the old one back in temporarily. Since the new window is taller, there is an area above the old window that’s boarded up. It’s just a matter of putting the new one in and sealing it up properly. I know his pain. (But yes, I do want the window finished before hard winter sets in!)

To recap, I have two workers out of commission. Other than the plumber for the final plumbing that’s all the workers I have. Truthfully neither one is holding up the job. That title goes to the new sink and the window (that’s coming at the end of a month) but that’s another story. Maybe I’ll write that at the “end of the month.”

68 thoughts on “The carol of the contractors

  1. Pingback: Random 5 for January 23, 2022 – Kitchen, overwhelming, cold, critters, Starbucks | Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

  2. I am happy remodeling days for this house are in the rear-view mirror, not that I couldn’t tweak a thing or two. I tried tweaking the household temperature with the all-house insulation and they trashed the basement and garage and it took every weekend until Fall to clean it up. I’m reluctant to commit to anything as we had our share of remodeling fiascoes through the years, some which I shared with you in past comments. My father did a DIY bathtub enclosure many decades ago. He was ripping out something, stabbed a rusty screwdriver through his finger and he was allergic to horse serum (something to do with a tetanus shot) … so I had to drive him from hospital ER to hospital ER, all which were busy on a 4th of July. They wouldn’t call for us and it was before cellphones. That was the last DIY job he ever did.

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  3. My kitchen reno went smoothly but still took weeks, so I feel bad for you. It’s funny reading about it, but I’m sure it’s not actually living it. I did have to chase the painter around (scheduled between the tear out and the new install so a limited time period), and that was not fun – he was a man of a million excuses and unanswered phone calls, but one night he actually answered the phone, from a bar where he was celebrating a big soccer win. So I caught him in a drunken moment.

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    • Contractors are a different breed. They like to work for themselves at their own pace. The carpenter finished everything he can until the sink comes. I’m a little worried about the heart broken one though. Our good hearted carpenter heard our story and can finish reinstalling the old window if it comes to that.

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  4. We have also been updating our home – new windows (ordered at the beginning of August and installed just last week), new cabinets, back splash, new light fixtures in the dining room and foyer, a new couch was ordered in September and won’t arrive until April, and now looking at a shower renovation. Fortunately, we have been lucky with the contractors and the crews have been outstanding. I hope that luck continues when we have some major landscaping done in our back yard this spring. Hang in there – once it is all done you will be smiling from ear to ear.

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    • That is if I’m not in the looney bin. Some good stuff happened. We got the dining chairs we ordered in April but we have them stored in a bedroom until the kitchen is done. Appliances are coming Jan. 7 come hell or high water. Crutches guy is back and almost done with his work. Worried about broken heart guy. He’s done work here before and he’s a nice guy. I hope he can get some help to get through this. His window work will hold up the completion of the kitchen (backsplash) but not the ability to have a working kitchen. You have done a lot of work. It takes grit to forge ahead on projects now.


    • I have been gifted with healthy cats with season. I don’t take that for granted. Hazel passed 3 years ago on New Year’s Eve and it was preceded by two weeks of sickness. My cats only get sick on weekends and holidays when access to vets is limited. Since her death we have had a few new vets open up emergency hours which is great. Nothing (not even a half finished kitchen) can deflate me more than a sick cat at the holidays. Merry Christmas to you and Salem!


    • He will need to go back to work. He has 3 kids at home. I was surprised that he reacted as he did. He did work here this summer and she was talking divorce then so it shouldn’t have been a surprise. They are both pushing 60 so it is really sad.


  5. Definitely makes me count our blessings on the work we had done on our house (granted it was an outdoor job, siding and roof) but it went quickly and smoothly. The bathroom remodel took a little longer than we were told but not by much. I definitely would hire them again to do our kitchen when and if we win the lottery. Merry Christmas to you!

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  6. I’m glad I’m never able to even get hold of anyone so they don’t start and then don’t finish. You may want to Google or YouTube how to put that window in just in case it does arrive. Hopefully it delivers to your house and not his while he is struggling. If not, maybe you need to drive by his house once a day and see if the window is leaning up against his garage.

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  7. hugs to you and we cross all things we can cross for a good end, with the kitchen you like and what becomes THE place in your house . we had the same sh*t, the tiler disappeared and we got someone who did it for us two days before christmas… sadly he was a moonlighter and had to cut all the tiles inside, so o one can see him… with an angle grinder… well at least we all and everything is dust in the wind…. oh my…

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  8. Oh gosh…what a PIA.I miss the good ole days when you could hire people to do a job and they just showed up and did the work. I’m sorry you’re dealing with all of this drama. I guess it will make you appreciate the kitchen that much more once it’s done. Hang in there.

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    • I miss the good old days too. The kitchen without countertops or appliances is looking so much better. I set up an electric fry pan under the exhaust vent (the only appliance installed) and that has improved my outlook. Lots more stories to come. My advice to anyone who has writers’ block is to redo their kitchen. Stuff happens.

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  9. What a game! I sincerely hope your team of workers get over their ailments and suntans, and set to with sorting out finishing the job. We recall a builder taking four years to build a garage as he was doing it ‘between jobs’. When it was finished, it was another eight months before the doors were fitted because it was ‘an unusual size’. Happy holidays Kate.

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    • Today is a better day. I found my sink on Amazon (can you believe that?). Delivery Thursday (can you believe that? We’ve been waiting 3 weeks for the other one). Contractor is doing one last check on the sink before I click on Amazon. We’ve been having good luck with Amazon deliveries during this holiday season. Hope I didn’t jinx myself.

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  10. That’s so frustrating, Kate. But you are handling it well.

    We are also apparently the kiss of death. Our tile guy was mid job when his mother died. Our general constractor got him back on track, but it took weeks. They ultimately did a beautiful job renovating 1/3 of our tiny house: kitchen, dining room, laundry room, powder room. And then our contractor died before starting our bathroom renovation.

    He was only in his fifties.

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  11. What misery! We have a contractor we use who is very good and reliable, but he’s our age or a little older and I dread the day he decides to retire. He’s replacing one more room of flooring beginning of January…we should get the last bedroom and hallway done, methinks, sooner than later.

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    • Aging contractors can get problematic. It’s a very physical job and takes it’s toll. Get him in to do everything you want before arthritis sets in or his joints need replacement. Our window guy likes to work with a helper but he’s been having trouble getting and keeping anyone to do this kind of work. I guess the younger kids want to create video games for a living.


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