Thursday, July 28, 2011

Remodeling Update -- The Neverending Story

This is taking much longer than anticipated.

As a reminder, I’m remodeling (gutting) three small bathrooms, tearing out two closets in the basement, and painting nearly the entire place (except for one bedroom that was already painted), including ceilings and moldings. I hired a main contractor who specializes in bathrooms and kitchens, and he outsourced the painting to a company he normally uses for painting. His time estimate was four weeks for the whole shebang. At the time, that sounded extremely aggressive to me, but I figured he knew better than I did how long this would take.

So, we are at the end of week five. He’s done a lot of the work in parallel (i.e., two bathrooms at once, all electrical at once, bathroom fans at once, the basement tearing out the closets, etc.), which I thought would be great, but has left me with…two bathrooms that are almost done, a section in the basement where the closets were taken out and the new electrical is in, but the ceiling still needs to be put in, and my master bedroom painted. I’m told that the two bathrooms will both be done by the end of the week, because all they need is the plumber to put in the faucets at this point. Next week they will start demo on bathroom number three. I anticipate the painting will be done by end of next week also.

I don’t so much mind that things have gone over, because the work on the bathrooms is phenomenal. The tile work is perfect, everything looks great, and they haven’t run into any problems at all. (I’m shocked, shocked at this!) I’m also very happy with everything I picked, which is a huge relief. It’s just taken longer than he thought, for whatever reason. Fine, it happens, I’m in no big rush anyway.

The painting started this week, and that is where problems have arisen. When I initially met with the painter, he told me they use Benjamin Moore paints, and that all I had to do was pick out the color and finish and whatnot. He said nothing about paint grade or asked me my preference. When I got the quote, I (wrongly) assumed that it did not include the cost of the paint, and that I could pick whatever Benjamin Moore grade of paint I wanted. I very carefully wrote down the paint colors I wanted in each of the rooms and where (I’m doing some accent walls) and wrote down “Use Regal or Aura Paint” and underlined it. Regal and Aura are the higher end paints, and thus more expensive. I didn’t have a preference between the two, and some painters do, so I left it open for them to decide which one to use. I left this paper on the counter, and they took it with them last week.

On Tuesday they painted the bathrooms and used Regal, so it didn’t even occur to me that there were any issues. However, last night I got home and they had painted my master bedroom. First off, they used my basement wall accent color (La Paloma Gray) on the accent wall in the bedroom. I noticed this right away, and also noticed there were two gallons of the right accent wall color (Plymouth Rock) in the entry to the kitchen. Plymouth Rock is also being used on the accent wall on the main floor…but it doesn’t seem to me they will need two gallons to do that job, and had mistakenly used the basement gallon of La Paloma Gray in the bedroom. Now, the bedroom actually looks fine with La Paloma Gray as the accent (the other walls are Revere Pewter), so I don’t mind, but now there is a ton of Plymouth Rock and I really want La Paloma Gray in the basement. Someone’s going to have some extra paint.

The bigger issue is that they are using Benjamin Moore Super Spec, not Regal or Aura. They have also already mixed a huge freaking vat of the main wall color (Classic Gray) in Super Spec, as well as the two cans of Plymouth Rock, and painted the bedroom in Super Spec. I don’t mind so much that the bedroom is in that grade of paint (or even the accent walls, for that matter), but for the high traffic main floor, up the stairs, hallway upstairs, and basement, I really wanted a higher end paint that is washable and nice. Which is exactly why I wrote on the piece of paper with the paint colors to “Use Regal or Aura Paint” and underlined it.

I confronted the painters this morning, neither of whom spoke very good English, and pointed out the above problems. (I also expressly pointed out again where the Plymouth Rock, Classic Gray, and La Paloma Gray should go. I’m still expecting a cluster fuck of mistakes there.) He called his boss, who I also talked to, and explained the situation. (And pointed out that I had told them what grade I wanted when I gave them the colors. I’m not sure why everyone seems so surprised that I don’t want the cheapass builder grade Super Spec paint.)

I then called my main contractor to explain the situation, and he asked if I had told the painter the grade when getting the quote. I said no, because I frankly didn’t even know about all these paint grades when I got the quote, and like I said, assumed that the paint cost was separate anyway. I also told him that the painter hadn’t said anything about paint grades or asked me what I wanted. I’ll admit that I’m new to the world of getting a painter, but if the grade of paint was important to the quote, shouldn’t he have asked me? The quote says nothing about paint grades. (In comparison, the contractor’s bathroom quote specifies that it is for laying ceramic tile, and stone will cost more, etc.) In fact, the painter said very little when he came by to look at the place and give me my quote. During this call, my main contractor told me that the quote included the paint cost. Color me shocked. That seems incredibly bizarre to me, because the quote doesn’t say that at all, and he never even mentioned the grade. Why would he assume I wanted the cheapo Super Spec?

Given all of that, I’m not surprised the quote is for the cheapest paint. But I find it baffling that he wouldn’t call me up to clarify and/or tell me the extra cost when I expressly stated that I wanted Regal or Aura when I supplied the paint colors. And why use Regal in the bathrooms? Now, he’s plowed forward and gotten a ton of paint mixed in Super Spec that I don’t want. I don’t know who is going to pay for that screw up, but it won’t be me.

So, I’m rather annoyed with the painters. My main contractor said he was on his way over there when I spoke to him this morning, and I haven’t heard anything back from him yet. I don’t mind paying the difference from the quote for the upgraded paint cost, but it’s unbelievable to me that they wouldn’t call me up and clarify if they were confused, before even mixing the paint. Why would I write “Use Regal or Aura Paint” if I was happy with Super Spec? The whole thing is baffling to me. When the bathroom guys were working, they constantly called me to clarify what I wanted and how I wanted it. Why didn’t the painters do the same? In hindsight, I should’ve probably hired painters separately, but it seemed so much easier to just work through the same person.

I’m sure this will work itself out one way or another, but I am so tired of dealing with construction right now. I can’t wait until this is over. Of course, then I have to deal with the carpet installers.


  1. This is so baffling to me. My boyfriend's mom's basement flooded back in, I want to say March? And it is not the end of July and the basement isn't even done being refinished yet. The original contractors threw out a lot of stuff they weren't supposed to, overcharged her for flooring, purchased (and charged her for) 10 lighting fixtures when she only needed 2, and screwed up the paint, leaving streaks & dark patches all over the walls. And when she tried to fire them (they were hired through her insurance company) they submitted invoices to be paid for flooring that SHE had purchased out of pocket and that was currently at her house. Makes me very, very glad to be an apartment dweller, haha.

    Good luck with your remodel!

  2. It will definitely work out because it's the contractor's responsibility. Always an issue when you deal with people who don't speak English well.

    So glad your ideas look great and the tile work is perfect! Yay!

    Yeah, it always takes a week or two longer than expected. Always. Sigh.

  3. This is all new to me, having lived in apartments forever, and to some extent it is fun to see the transformation, but God. You are at the mercy of these guys! Happily, this is the first issue in four weeks of work. Although I didn't hear back from my main contractor, I walked in to a bunch of cans of Regal in the entry, and the vat of Super Spec classic gray is nowhere to be seen, so yay!

    My bedroom also looks amazing. The previous owner had used white, maroon, and gold paint in the master bedroom. Seriously, WTF? Those were my high school colors, which made it even more freaky. Now it is all a refreshing greige and gray. I can't wait to decorate!

    FAE -- you just know the insurance company went with the cheapest bid, hence all the chaos. The bid I went with was not the cheapest, and other than this (which appears to have been cleared up today) I've had no issues other than the time estimate being about half what it will actually take.