The Long and Winding Road: Our Journey with Contractors

First the good news: the project is finally completed. When our last cat Kirby died in March we realized this was probably our best opportunity to get some projects completed in the house. Our home was built in 1969 and has been well taken care of. The previous owner sank a great deal of money into the kitchen and that was one the things that attracted us to the house. We were, however, a little puzzled that the master bathroom had not been touched and had all the original fixtures. We’d known for a long time that we wanted to update it.

We also thought this was a good time to replace the flooring. Most of the house (except the kitchen and bathrooms) had hardwood flooring and while we like not having to care for carpeting, it was time for a new floor. We like the look and feel of bamboo flooring and also like that it is “green” (ie, more renewable than other hardwood floors).

We also had a good contractor in mind. They are friends (actually she is Nancy’s brother’s ex girlfriend, but “friends” is an expansive term). That meant we trusted them to work on our house when we were on vacation the beginning of May. We realize what a gift we had that we could leave town and know the job was getting done. The original hope was that they would start work the day we left and by the time we were back the floor would be complete and the bathroom would be mostly complete. We expected it to take 2 to 3 weeks.

We should have known better; it’s finally finished after about 5 weeks. In the interim it’s been a comedy of unforeseen/unforeseeable delays and errors on the parts of some of the suppliers. The bathroom pretty much went as planned and that wasn’t the problem. The flooring, on the other hand, was a different story.

Here’s how it went from my memory:

  • The first part of the job was to remove the old flooring. That’s normally a pretty easy process as there are standards on how floors are laid in the beginning. However, whoever laid the original flooring used some kind of glue or cement that I can only describe as Kryptonite that went directly on the slab under the house. The guys who were doing the job had to literally jackhammer the old flooring off. About the time the floor was supposed to be completed they were about 75% of the way toward removing the old floor.
  • They underestimated the square footage of the flooring they needed to order. We asked for some decorative work to be done just inside the front door and this threw off the estimate. This meant that when they were completing the job they ran out of wood with only 2/3 of the spare room done. The whole thing had to stop while more flooring had to be ordered and shipped from the East Coast.
  • Here’s where it actually gets frustrating: Ordering more of something that you’ve already ordered should be a fairly simple job. But the flooring people (and let’s be clear here, not the contractor) ordered the wrong stuff three different times. Each time it had to be sent back and the new order had to wend it’s way across the country. Oh yes, and when the correct stuff did arrive, it needed to “season” in the house for 3 days before it was installed.

Again, the end result was excellent and we are pleased with the flooring, but exasperated at how long it took. What was supposed to be finished around May 10th wasn’t done until June 5th. And again, to be fair, we were thrilled with the contractors and highly recommend them (let me know if you need a reference) and they have learned to stop using these flooring guys. Also, I was clear that I’d rather have it done right than fast and didn’t accept any suggestions of shortcuts.

We’re glad it’s over. Next step: a new cat. Stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “The Long and Winding Road: Our Journey with Contractors

  1. Sorry to hear about your trials but at least you’re happy with the result. I hope you and Nancy will have a good baseball season together. I will be in Portland for a few days this summer and hope to catch the Beavers at least once. They are a Padres affiliate. Keep writing!

    • Hi Jim:

      Glad to hear you’ll be back in the US for part of the summer. The Padres are having a tough season so if you see anyone who can hit, let us know.

      For anyone else who reads this blog, Jim and I have been friends since our 8th grade days at Fred M. Lynn Middle School in Woodbridge, Va. In February we saw each other in San Francisco for the first time in nearly 20 years.

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