When good projects go bad…

Well. It’s been awhile. And there is a reason for that. We had a malfunction. Pretty major actually. And it completely threw us off our course.

We had a bad contractor experience. And it soured us on the entire project.

I am talking about our Master Bath reno of course. That we started about 9 months ago. It’s been slow going. But we knew that. With doing most of the work ourselves and the fact that we both work full time and my husband works two jobs, it was going to be a “Free Time” project all along.

We knew that we did not want to tackle the shower project ourselves. It was just too much and the worry of getting everything water tight was high. The shower had leaked pretty much for the last 30 years as evidenced by the stains on our basement ceiling. We knew it was a gut job and not one we wanted to tackle as our first major DIY.

So. Even though we are members of Angie’s List we tried a new approach to find a contractor. We used the app “Nextdoor”. This is a wonderful app that links you to your neighbors. So we posted a “Contractor recommendation” post and several names popped up. These are local guys who other neighbors had used and liked. Low risk, right?

This was mistake #1.

We had two of them come over for estimates of the project. We also had a third guy come over as well. Three estimates. We went with the cheapest.

This was mistake #2.

I don’t want to go into a ton of detail about this because I actually have filed a complaint with the State of Ohio. But the gist of my dispute is this.

  • My final bill arrived more than DOUBLE my estimate and not once in the process was I told things were taking longer or costing more. I never got an updated estimate. I was never talked too, or texted that things were not going well. We bought almost all the supplies so all we were basically paying for was labor and expertise.
  • Walls were removed without my knowledge or permission and the aesthetic mess that made was left to us to fix.
  • While the interior tile work is beautiful, when I voiced my concerns about all this to the contractor he could not understand why I was upset nor did he take any responsibility or offer any solutions or apologies.
  • And the time frame he gave us of 3-4 days ended up being about 8–9 days over a month. We never knew when he was coming. We never knew when he was leaving. His communication skills were non existent.

So. This is what we started with. And what we ended up with.

5 Please take note of those little walls that jut out. These held an old nasty shower door that was NOT going to be reinstalled. The shower base was solid terrazzo. We tried very hard to save it. This was one of the unexpected charges.

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Shower had to be gutted. And it took him a VERY long time to break up the terrazzo. It was about 5-6 inches thick. He said he had to remove it because the top had rusted out. He was the expert so we trusted him. We had to go purchase a new base. Again, our expense. But when we came home that day we discovered in order to get the terrazzo base out, he had also cut through and removed the little walls. This changed our design plan significantly as prior he was to just tile the inside and I would do the outside. Well, I had a natural stopping point in those walls. Without them, I didn’t really have a plan. And apparently, neither did he.

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As previously noted, I found NO fault with the interior tile work. Its beautiful.

But this was his finished project. Yes. This is what he left us to deal with:

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Where the walls once were he left ruts, uneven surface, and the tile came up off the wall as much as a half inch in some places! And you can see how uneven the top was.

We were sad. Devastated. And simply unprepared as to how to deal with someone who felt this was his best work. The little walls were going to be framed with tile making a nice stopping point and visual impact. Without them it looked like complete shit. Seriously.

So what to do? Rip it out? Start all over? Pay another contractor to come in and build new walls for us? After spending twice as much and already wayyyyyyy over budget on this project we just couldn’t. Maybe we will regret that some day. But after having a few friends over and all of us making multiple suggestions we do believe we have a cheaper fix for this problem. I will reveal it when done.

Is it the best solution? No. That would have been to have someone come and build new walls. But, its a workable solution. And maybe the next owner of my house will hate it and rip it all out. And that’s fine. I will be long gone then.

So work has started again on the bathroom. We are still sad. And in hindsight I really wish we had just spent the money and had a professional do the entire bathroom. Because laying tile in an old house with uneven everything has not been the “fun” DIY project I thought it would be.

This would be mistake #3.

Until the big reveal, here is a little teaser for you:

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About drbininger

Early 40- something gal (VERY EARLY!!), living in Ohio, exploring the world of Craft Beer, Delicious Food, Travels, Animals and fighting the Weight Loss battle of her life...And now...Renovating a 1959 Atomic Pink Stucco Ranch....
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