When the Ship Hits the Fan

Obviously the headline has been modified to be PC (politically correct) however it’s my guess that you know what was meant. And I’m not alluding just to bathrooms. Challenges (we don’t call them problems anymore) are inherent in remodeling and rear their ugly head at the least opportune time.

The truth is that the odds of accomplishing a major bath or kitchen makeover without the slightest problem (whoops!) are slim. Very little in life goes perfectly, and if you keep this in mind when undertaking a remodeling project your experience will be much more pleasurable. These projects involve almost every tradesman there is; designers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, cabinet-makers, etc. There are countless areas where challenges (phew!) can develop, ranging from discovering framing that’s not to code to cabinets arriving damaged or in the wrong color. So, how do you minimize the tribulations ahead of time and what do you do when something goes wrong?

Over the years I have found that most contractors truly want to please their customers. A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders found that 64% of a contractor’s jobs come from friends, relatives, and neighbors of their previous customers and 20% comes from repeat business. That accounts for 84% of their new business; too large a number to risk not doing satisfactory work. But, what is the definition of satisfactory work?

Most licensed contractors are aware of the “Industry Standards” that pertain to the type of work that they are performing. These are the acceptable tolerances regarding the installation of new or replacement products, and with these guidelines there is no question as to what is acceptable and what is not. But there are problems that can arise that do not have clear-cut measures of performance.

The most disappointing problem is when you envisioned something very specific for your project but the contractor did not grasp what you were trying to describe. This can be very difficult to problem solve after the fact so it is imperative that you carefully review all plans and drawings ahead of time. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions regarding the plans, until you are sure that they accurately reflect what you had in mind.

Problems of damaged goods can easily be rectified, but patience is necessary. Occasionally something may arrive from the factory damaged. Cabinets and counters must first be manufactured, packaged, and then shipped by one or more carriers. Truckers do not always realize just how important your materials are to you and they are not always as careful as they should be. And even the most careful workman can make a mistake on the job, they’re only human. It’s realistic to expect that there will be some unforeseen problem, but being aware of this will make your experience less stressful.

If you chose your contractor carefully, (see the December Kitchen Insider©), when the “ship hits the fan” they’ll be happy to address any issues, on a timely basis. But be patient! If something needs to be replaced there are time restrictions that cannot be changed. The remodeler wants the job completed just as quickly as you do.

In the rare instance, when a problem cannot be amicably dealt with seek out the help of an arbitration board. This is a service offered to mediate between parties and render an impartial finding. Fortunately, if you’re working with a licensed, professional remodeler, it is rare that you would ever have to go to this extreme. Just talk to your contractor; describe your concerns in detail, and try to come up with a solution.