Monday, November 5, 2007

Still Waiting...

It just keeps getting worse. The counter guy was here to get final measurements, and as he was leaving he mentioned that it would take 7-10 business days to get the countertop here. So we're back to hoping the whole thing will be done before Thanksgiving, a thought that we had laughed off when the cabinets were delivered so quickly. Adding insult to injury, the electrician won't come until the garbage disposal is ready to be wired, which naturally is after the plumber comes to hook up the sink, which is after the counters are in. And it's 10:30 a.m. and the cabinet guy hasn't shown up yet to keep installing the cabinets. I'm tempting fate to try to get him here sooner - I pulled out a half gallon of mint chocolate chip from the freezer and am eating out of the container with a spoon, because surely fate would want someone to walk in on me doing that. The only other thing that would guarantee him to show up would be for me to actually leave, but since Darcey is sleeping, I can't do that. I'll have to shoot for embarrassment.

(Naturally, the ice cream ploy didn't work. The only person who walked in on me was Zack, who instantly announced that he, too, wanted ice cream, but not that ice cream, he wants orange ice cream and he wants it NOW! The ice cream container went back into the freezer but at least I've got a little bit of sugar in me to deal with his orange ice cream-induced tantrum.)

So what was going to be an if not effortless remodel, at least a fairly uncomplicated one, is turning out to be an incredibly long drawn out procedure. One contractor that I had contacted early in the process (the one that told me to order cabinets first, and then have him come over for a quote, only to be told that the cabinets would be done too soon and he couldn't fit me in his schedule) told me to take the estimated cost of the remodel, and add 10%, because you never can forsee all of the expenses that might pop up.

We haven't had too many unexpected expenses - after pretty much doubling our budget in the very beginning because we had an unrealistic number in mind, we've stayed right on track with our spending. I think the only cost that I'm regretting is the under-cabinet lights. I had rushed out to buy them the day the electrician was first here, buying them from a lighting specialty store who only has one model in stock and they are apparently made out of platinum and encrusted with precious gems, and the light comes from lightning bugs and is powered by electric eels. That kind of light doesn't come cheap. As it turns out, they are still sitting in the box waiting for the final installation, so I could have taken my time and found a better deal. But hey, I like lightning bugs, so it's all good.

No, the thing that was surprising was the length of time it is taking to get it all done. The way it was explained to us by Jerry, the salesman at Lowe's, was that the cabinets would be delivered and Dean, the install guy, would be there within a day or two to get them installed. Then the countertop guy would come out to measure, and the counters would be installed a week later. The big rush was in the beginning, to get the ceiling ripped out and the walls repaired and the electrical ready before the cabinets were delivered. Well, we hit that goal, and then sat on our hands for a week waiting for the cabinet install. Now it turns out that the counters will be another week or two of waiting.

In response to my original post bemoaning the extended delays involved in this project, my dad said, "You know, this wouldn't have happened to Betty." Betty is my grandmother, and she is one of the coolest ladies ever. Despite being (mumble mumble) years old, she has the energy and vitality of a substantially younger woman. She's the one I bought my first car from - a 1982 Chevy Camaro. I bought a sportscar from my grandma. And boy, does she have things together. My dad's right - my grandma would never have let this happen. And as Ryan asked me yesterday, when I was contemplating the fact that the knobs we ordered have been delayed by a week, "What Would Betty Do?"

In pondering this, I stumbled upon this interesting theory - I think the reason the cabinet guy is not as responsive to my schedule is that I am not his customer. Lowe's is his customer, or his employer, and they are the ones he has a relationship with, not me. For example, Dave, the contractor who did my ceiling, bought brand-new molding to go around the door to the garage, instead of using the old, slightly beat up molding. Richard, the electrician, put an additional phone jack in the family room when I mentioned that I could use one there, since it wouldn't be too much work with the walls already open. But Dean, the cabinet guy, said that he couldn't put a piece of wood under the pantry where the sub-flooring shows because Lowe's is particular about what he can and can't do.

Not that Dean's work is subpar. He is meticulous and precise with his installation. He is doing a great job of making sure everything is done well and looks good. But there's a different work ethic between him and the other guys, who work for themselves. Dean takes an hour lunch every day, and I walked outside and saw him taking a break in the afternoon on Friday. There's nothing wrong with that at all, it's just the difference between being self-employed and being an employee. If he's the employee, I'm not the employer, and that is making all the difference.

It would have been nice to know that in the beginning, but I think this is one of those lessons that you learn as you get older, which could possibly be why Grandma Betty knows so much now. Maybe when she was doing her first remodel a while ago she made the same mistakes, too. It's nice to think that wisdom like that doesn't come fully formed, that just because I'm without it currently doesn't mean I can't get there one day.

So it's looking like at least two more weeks before the kitchen is done, with the sink being among the final elements. It's a bummer, but it should start getting easier soon. In a day or two the cabinets will be finished, so at least we can reclaim the laundry baskets that currently hold our food, which would also free up our kitchen table. Either I can start bringing our dishes over to the neighbors to wash them or we can pull out the hose and hose down our pots and pans every night. And maybe I can crank up the still and start brewing some moonshine too. At least it will take the edge off.

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