Friday, October 12, 2007

T Minus 3 Days and Counting

Terror and sick to my stomach - those are the feelings I had as soon as I hung up the phone with the contractor after I told him that we'd go with him, and he said he'd be here on Monday to start taking apart the kitchen. Oh yeah, I'm following the Stages of Spending to a tee.

The terror was not as bad, although longer lasting, than the feeling I had when I lost Zack at Albertson's last year when he was two, and when I told the cashier that he was lost she *paged him* and then suggested I look outside because he may have run into the parking lot. That was more terrifying but also temporary.

The sick to my stomach feeling was about the same as the time (yesterday) when I was watching two of my friend's kids all day until her husband came home from work, only to find one of the two I was in charge of sitting on his own front lawn two blocks away from my house on a busy street, chatting up strangers and wondering where the babysitter was. In my defense, the child in question had been playing at another neighbor's house and was told to "go home" at dinner time, and so she did. I had no idea that she had left their house or that she wouldn't have come here to be picked up by her dad. Come to think of it, maybe that sick to my stomach feeling upon realizing what had happened was actually worse than the picking-a-contractor feeling, because I'm still feeling sick about it.

The frustration was not as bad as this morning when Zack was given his choice of a red, yellow, green, or blue straw, decided he wanted orange and laid on the kitchen floor screaming because I couldn't magically produce an orange straw, telling me that I'm rude and that I made him cry. And then insisting that I pour the juice into a different cup. And then not drinking a single sip but walking downstairs. Oh wait, the contractor didn't make me feel frustrated at all, that's a feeling almost completely reserved for the kids.

So on Wednesday I had two different contractors come out and give me bids on the kitchen remodel. We needed someone to tear out the dropped ceiling, move the plumbing so the sink can be in a different location, and do a pile of electrical stuff like new canned lights and a ceiling fan and outlets in some of the cabinets, in addition to tearing out all of the old kitchen and getting it prepped for the new one.

The biggest hangup to getting this done is that the cabinets, which most people would assume take about 4-6 weeks to deliver (they are modular, not custom, which would have been 10 weeks) are actually going to be delivered in about 3 weeks from the day we bought them. So when I called around to have people come in for bids, I had two people practically laugh at me, several turn me down without a second thought because they were too busy, and finally had two people call me back and say a job they had scheduled either fell through or was postponed so they ended up with some free time. I felt so lucky to actually have two to choose from, that they could have charged whatever they wanted, knowing that I had no one else to choose from.

The first guy to come out, Bernie, had been recommended by a neighbor who had used him to finish their basement. He was recommened with the caveat that he had been the most expensive bid, but they had felt the most comfortable with him. He was very professional and cautious about the kitchen plans, almost as if he was afraid of promising too much or guaranteeing that there wouldn't be any problems. Bernie had an electrician come out also and bid out his part also.

The second guy was Dave who works with his adult son Justin. They were much more laid back and casual, Justin playing with Zacky who just ate up the attention. Dave had this "It's no big deal" kind of attitude, in a good way - where Bernie would look at moving the plumbing or the light switches and sound like "Yeah, we can do it, but it won't be easy," Dave sounded more like "Yeah, all we have to do is this and this and we can do it." Maybe that doesn't translate very well into print, but Dave made me feel like I wasn't coming up with all sorts of ridiculous requests that are going to require a surgical team to carry out.

In addition to his "we can handle anything" attitude, he also had one huge advantage over Bernie - he's the only one who caught the mistake on our plans. Here's Life Lesson #1 - just because someone does something for a living, don't assume that they always do it right. As Dave discovered, when Jerry from Lowe's came out to measure our kitchen for the cabinets, he accidentally transposed two numbers in the length of our pantry wall, giving us 132" instead of the actual 123". So we've ordered cabinets to take up that whole space, which means that either we keep the too-big cabinets and they will crowd the garage door opening, or we send the cabinets back and get new ones, losing 12" of cabinet space.

We decided to go with the bigger cabinets and hope that neither of us gains so much weight that we can no longer squeeze through the door. If we get a counter-depth refrigerator we'll essentially regain the space, but this gets added to my list of things that I hope I don't regret once it's all done.

The clincher for my contractor decision was cost. Dave estimated the cost to be roughly $1400 for the deconstruction, drywall, prepping for the new cabinets, and insulation. The electrician would bill me separately, which would save me money because if he billed me for the electrician, he'd tack on 10%. At least he's up front about it. Also, the plumber would charge me $55 per hour for labor, and he estimated the job to take a day or maybe a day and a half. He said that the plumber he works with is a journeyman at BYU, which I think means he's still learning? But also that he was terrific and I wouldn't find a better price anywhere. Bernie, on the other hand, gave me a price of $1800 for the electrician, $300 for the plumber, and $4500 for the drywall, ceiling, etc. So even if the cost of the electrician and plumber are the same for both jobs, we're looking at $3,500 versus $6,600. I almost had to go with Dave just for that reason.

So I called Dave yesterday, Thursday, and told him that we'd like to have him do the remodel of the kitchen. I asked him if he had a contract (I've watched too much People's Court not to have a contract) and he said that he'd put one together and send it over with his crew on Monday, when they would start tearing out the upper cabinets, ceiling, and pantry. As soon as I hung up, the terror and the sick feeling started.

What if I picked the wrong guy? What if Dave is so cheap because he does a crappy job, or cuts corners? What if he turns out to be unreliable? What if (gasp) I get what I paid for??!?

So I'm a little panicky, but we're in too far to turn back now, and to be honest, I don't want to turn back. I just want the assurance that everything is going to turn out okay. Deep breaths, Emily, deep breaths. Think calming thoughts. Picture the kitchen when it's finished and how happy you'll be. Relax, everything will be okay. I think I've given birth too many times, I'm going into childbirth mode! Hmmm...the kitchen will be more expensive than a hospital birth, but take longer. I think time will tell which will be more painful.

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