Saying I had high expectations seemed like the understatement of the year. I could envision what the space “could” be
and my dreams just kept getting bigger and bigger. Picture this: My home, on the cover of Elle Décor
, sitting by the crackling fireplace, drinking a glass of expensive “Olivia Pope”
wine out of a red Wine Glass. Yea…I dream big. I needed to transform my humble abode into a luxurious castle fit for a queen, but my suffering pocketbook was telling me something different. My champagne taste had to be scaled down to a beer budget.
I am single and work a 9 to 5 like many women in America. And I live a moderately active lifestyle. So when I come home my
time is limited but I wanted to be comfortable when I got home from work….well as comfortable as one could be in a home that needed a lot of work. I knew there were certain things that I needed done immediately, or rather, as soon as possible for my own sanity, comfort and safety. I decided to hire a contractor, who could work throughout the day and get some things done as soon as possible and to code. I have to admit I was tempted to tackle the entire renovation project myself. However, I had to be realistic given my time constraints and just how much work needed to be accomplished. I’m not wonder woman after all …although I do look stunning
in anything royal blue, red and gold.
This was not my first home renovation, I’ve bought other fixer-uppers in the past; this was my first time taking on a project of this size all by myself. In the past I’ve had my family nearby to assist me. I could easily call on my father or one of my uncles to come to my aid if I found myself in the middle of a project that required a little more expertise. So I developed a renovation plan. There were tasks that I wanted to delegate to make quick progress and the space more functional before I took on other projects.
On paper, the contractor I chose had a solid reputation and ticked all the boxes:
He came highly qualified (check),
had a seemingly competent team of professionals to back him up (check)
and he felt confident he could complete the project in a 3-4 week timeline (check, check and double check).
My list was not massive, but it was very specific. What can I say…I’m particular. I chose every item I wanted, down to the bar-code, and outlined various sales to achieve optimal buying power. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. My budget was extremely tight.
The requests I made didn’t seem at all unreasonable. What do you think?
We agreed upon the terms that he could complete all of the tasks outlined in the work order within 4 weeks and work began.
Well, 3 chaotic months later, due to crude mismanagement of man-hours and labor, my list was nowhere near completed and my budget was shaky from inadequate purchases. I quickly realized the pre-planning phase of buying materials up front for the job never occurred. As a result, the items I listed in our contract didn’t get purchased in a timely fashion and were no longer at the price that I had worked into the budget, or just out of stock! The competent team of handymen I thought I was getting barely had a working knowledge of how to use a hammer! Okay, that last part might be a harsh overstatement but I was ready for this nightmare to end. The contractor was aware of the shortcomings of his staff and tried to make up and correct any errors after hours and on the weekends. After all in the home remodeling business you are only as good as your reputation.
And I’m sure I wasn’t his average customer. I knew what to look for to ensure I received the outcome I desired. I knew construction/home improvement lingo. So everyday I did a walk through checking their work. I found the walls to have numerous holes and chipped paint. There were unsupported (if not dangerous) electrical outlets. ANNND to top it off his men chipped my BRAND NEW beautiful vanity top, and tried stealthily repairing it with a “clear” sealant. When I
brought it to his attention he said oh well once the clear sealant dries you won’t notice it. Yet, I noticed…..Heck, I still NOTICE IT!
This was like a BAD relationship….but without any benefits. I was tired of coming home and discovering some man (the contractor or team) had used my master bathroom, leaving the toilet seat up and urine-stained seats that could rival that of a training toddler.
If that wasn’t enough, the contractor started screening my calls. The only way to reach him was to call from various phone numbers. I’m sure my friends we’re getting tired of hearing me ask “Can I borrow your phone?”
That was it! I had suffered enough! I needed them gone more than I know he (the contractor) wanted his team to be done. So at the end of the day I decided I was ok with accepting what they had completed. His men did not achieve the desired outcome. But I was willing to accept what they had done to just get them out of my house.
SO Goodbye Mr. Contractor and hello self-determination!
I wasn’t going to let these setbacks get me down (or the fact that my pre-engineered hardwood flooring was installed wrong…a story for another time). Shifting my gears into overdrive, I realized I needed to control my own DIY destiny! Even though I am only slightly ahead of where I started, I must always remember that through the darkest of DIY disasters, I must always let my inner ToolBox Diva shine!
So as I entered my garage, I looked around and thought all I needed were the right tools…..and all I was missing were the right tools. So, there you have it, three months later I was only slightly farther ahead. But I could see my house turning into a home.
For now, thanks for reading about my adventure in navigating “contractor chaos” and as always, let your inner ToolBox Diva shine!