It was supposed to be a simple, oneweek, in and out bathroom renovation.
As a contractor I have my favourite renovation jobs and this was one of them.
We were to renovate a 30-year-old bathroom in a Vancouver townhome, replacing everything, paint the walls and ceiling, and done.
The standard steel tub was being replaced with a new steel tub, the fixtures would be new, we would replace the vanity, toilet, tile the tub surround and floor, install new lights, vanity top and taps, new grab bars, towel bar, toilet paper holder and so on.
The first day is usually taken up with the demolition and disposal. And, if all goes well, the new tub can go in with new drain and overflow, and the new shower and tub fixture.
Any needed patching or other drywall repair is started as well.
The second day we would install the Denshield for the tub surround and start tiling, and continue any patching and sanding.
The third day, we install the new vanity, top, sinks, and faucets, and perhaps tile the floor, and install any needed mouldings.
The fourth day is taken up with grouting, finished sanding, painting the first coat of paint everywhere, and installing any grab bars and shower curtain bars. The toilet can go in then too.
The fifth day, perhaps the last, is for final painting, towel bars, toilet holder, mirrors, and any light fixtures needed.
If the grout needs sealing or there is any silicone left to apply, it’s done as well.
I always like to have a sixth day for things left undone or in the event of any minor problems.
Now this was supposed to be a clean and simple job, but it certainly didn’t turn out that way.
As is often the case, the homeowner was going to buy most of the fixtures and other materials, including the bathtub, vanity cabinets and vanity top.
They did, and virtually everything was there, but most of it was wrong.
The tub had the drain and overflow at the wrong end, the vanities were the wrong size and style, and there weren’t enough tiles.
The home improvement store, where all of the materials had been purchased, made mistake after mistake.
The job, which was booked for a specific week last year, remains unfinished.
The purpose of this story is quite simple, and is being written for both homeowners and contractors alike, and that is to illustrate the pitfalls of different people taking responsibility for different parts of a home renovation or repair without any collaboration or review.
I made the mistake of not insisting on seeing the orders and other paperwork before the install date.
And, the homeowner made the mistake of thinking that there would be a cost savings by taking care of ordering materials.
It’s true that most contractors will charge a small markup if they have to order and pickup materials. But, as is often the case, things can go wrong and then any savings found can go out the window.
In this case, I am the one who will have to absorb most of the cost of the extra labour and travel time, while the homeowner has had to live with a half done bathroom and weeks of disruption.
I provided a set cost for the labour to install the fixtures and renovate the bathroom, and the homeowner simply doesn’t have the resources to pay more, regardless of who was at fault.
The home improvement store, part of a national chain, has only replaced the wrong items and provided free deliveries, but does not seem ready to give discounts or any money back.
The lesson here is simple, do your homework, be diligent, don’t trust that everyone will do the right thing, and check everything several times before you proceed.
I could have been more hands on than I was, and that certainly would have saved me a lot of heartache later.
The job is also about 40 miles away, adding to my cost and loss of time.
Homeowners and contractors should always work together, whether they are choosing items for the renovation, ordering them, or picking them up.
The job will look and work beautifully in the end but getting there has been a chore.
Do your homework, ask for help, and always let me know your comments and send me your questions.