I have not talked much about my kitchen remodel. Not here on the blog, not to family, not to friends.
What started out as the most exciting thing, turned into a disaster. An expensive disaster. One that has cost more than either of our cars.
If you remember, our first contractor disappeared. But, at least he had the grace to disappear without stealing our money or causing us lasting emotional harm.
I can’t say that about the second.
Yes, he showed up. But, after only a few days, we quickly learned what’s like to live with an abusive relationship. To constantly be on pins-and-needles as you wait for what sets him off next.
But you have to be so careful. This person has access to your house, your home, and you have signed a contract to trust them with the single most important room in your home.
So, when he tells you over and over again how much he hates your cabinets, how difficult they are (cabinets he specifically quoted a certain dollar amount over and above because they were difficult – so you’re paying for them), you listen, apologize, and tell him over and over you can’t return them as they were custom ordered.
When he tells you your kitchen designer doesn’t know how to design a kitchen, you plaster on a smile, nod, and promise you’ll work with the contractor along with the designer on the next job.
When he damages a door on your very expensive cabinet, but demands you go get the replacement and he’ll pay for it, you do whatever you must to get the door.
It’s a never ending cycle, and there is always something else he’s angry about and takes it out on you, the one paying him. But he has access to your house, so you shut up and take it. There is never a moment of peace, because even when he isn’t angry, you’re waiting for the next time he is.
Still, through it all, when you get home from work, you see a kitchen forming in the winter darkness. You sneak in with flashlights, as all of your lights were torn out when the kitchen was gutted, so happy for any progress.
Yes, the contractor told you 4-6 weeks. By the time it’s “done”, it’ll be over 14 weeks. He only works 2 hours a day, by the way, from 9am to 11am. He has other jobs, you know. He also doesn’t text or like phone calls. So if you want to talk to him, or he needs to talk to you, either you or your spouse have to coordinate to go in late to work so you can meet with him at 9am.
But progress is happening.
Then, you finally get electricity two weeks before Christmas.
And see your kitchen.
And see this:
You nudge the kick plates on your new counters, and they fall off. So you investigate, and you realize none are attached properly.
The more you look, the more you find. It takes 121 pictures to document it all.
Sucking in a breath, you stare at the second most expensive thing you’ve ever bought in your life and fight back the tears. It looks like you and your husband did it, not a professional you paid more to do it than you spent on your first new car.
You are mortified. You don’t want to step foot in the kitchen and see all the mistakes. You’re losing even more sleep as you now have to confront the abuser in the relationship, but this is your kitchen.
So you and your spouse go into work late again a few days before the Christmas holiday to talk to him about it.
He says he’ll fix it.
Christmas comes and goes.
It’s the new year. Still not fixed.
It’s still not done (the pictures taken above were taken after his “last day”), even though he says his last day is Thursday.
You discuss with the contractor doing a final walk-through on Friday after he’s “done”, and you and your spouse arrange to take off of work on Friday to go through the three page outstanding items list of issues you’ve found.
When you get home on Thursday, he’s left his final bill on the counter along with your garage door opener and a note saying, “Thanks for the work.”
You wonder if that means he’s not coming on Friday. Your fear is confirmed when he texts you (so he can text!) saying he won’t be there, he’s starting on another job on Friday. Then follows with the threat that if you don’t pay him, he’ll put a lien on your house.
Because anyone that does good work follows their bill with a threat about payment on the same day they deliver the bill. Yes, that was sarcasm.
Interestingly enough, if he’d have done a good job, I’d have been overjoyed to pay him and have my new kitchen.
I’d also have told the three people I know who are thinking about doing their kitchen all about him. Oh, I’ll still them all about him…
The good news: the abusive relationship is over.
I have notified him he has two weeks to remedy everything on the list and provided him with detailed pictures of the issues. If he doesn’t fix them by the date listed, I notified he will be in breach of contract and I will find another contractor to finish the job and deduct it from his final payment.
I am forced, by law, to give him the right to remedy. But, he will no longer be allowed in my home on his terms. He will be forced to give me the days and hours during which he will remedy, and I have to agree to them. No more 9am to 11am until he “gets it done”. My husband and I will both be here while he is so there is no “he said, she said” nonsense.
I don’t know if he’ll show. I don’t know what he’ll say when he receives the certified letter warning him about being in breech of contract.
He can, of course, try to put a lien on our house. I’ve researched it a bit, but he never gave us notice of his right to file a lien in the original contract or within 10 days subsequent to starting work. The law in my state says he must, but it’s doubtful that will protect us overmuch.
I hope it doesn’t get to legal action, but it might. Still, I am not sure how the courts could find this complete. I have freaking holes in my window and floors. My kick plates fall off. My trim is cracked, or not stained, or not attached to the wall. It goes on and on.
But, you never know, and it would be an additional expense. I haven’t yet researched if I can make him pay my legal fees if he loses.
I bought him and each of his crew a case of beer for Christmas, but that relationship is over.
I am still eating poorly and losing sleep because I don’t like confrontation or the unknown, but I will not be bullied anymore.
The cycle of abuse ends now.