Renovation woes

Life is indeed a journey. Nobody forewarned me about the potential frustration and grieve that renovating a home would entail.

Instinct would have told me to pick the easy way out, as I was always inclined to when it comes to things I am unfamiliar with. After all, it is easier to have someone ‘in-the-know’ so to speak, to handle everything right? But after some suasion from the family, I chose the more challenging route. What is life without some challenges to make us grow tougher and stronger… no? It was as if life wasn’t already tough enough that I had to make this choice. On hindsight, we all have perfect vision. However, we seldom have the benefit of hindsight upfront.

My flat’s renovation is probably one of the longest ever heard. What was supposed to be a simple retrofitting of a small apartment became a massive case of project and people management, for me. I suck as a project manager in things that I haven’t a clue about, because much as I am supposed to exercise ‘professional skepticism’ as part of my job, it really isn’t me to question the intent of everyone I meet. I tend to put on rose-tinted glasses and assume that everyone has a good heart.

After what seemed like forever, the part of the renovation undertaken by the contractor/ID is drawing to an end. So the story was that I split up the works, some of it outsourced to a contractor/ID who is supposed to be a friend of a relative, and the rest of it done ‘in-house’ by my dad, the most trust-worthy contractor you can ever find, honest to goodness.

Although this is supposed to be an ID of sorts, what they really did was the carpentry work, and some odds and ends. They didn’t really do much design, as it ended up that in terms of colour scheme, where to do what and how, it was mostly from me. And when they told me that everything is done, this was what we found in the kitchen.On the left of this panel is a set of cabinets overhanging the sink. To the right is where the cooker hood is, and because I have a chimney, I was told that typically the chimney isn’t covered so they just left the top over the hob empty, with the backsplash covering the wall up to where the hood hung. The rest was just the grout-filled-with-grime tiles, offering a stark contrast between the old and new. And they left this panel as it was. My relative insisted to the ID that this is unacceptable, even if the bulk of the work we are getting them to do is carpentry, the cabinets would have involved a bit of design, which covers aesthetics. This was just aesthetically displeasing.

Below was another hiccup. There was a stove top that I had wanted to replace and put in new cabinets, so part of the work of the contractor was to hack away the stove top. I wanted to change the tiles for the whole unit, which the contractor quoted a fee for that my dad deemed too pricey (by his standards). So since that wasn’t rocket science, he got one of his friends to do it, which was eventually completed at a much lower cost and just within 2 days (washrooms and kitchen). Because this task was carved out from the contractor’s original quote, they stated that flooring/tiling is not part of their responsibility, and so whatever resulted or was left behind by them when the stove top was hacked off and removed also was not their duty.
This, they said, was something I had to mend/patch back. Thankfully, my relative managed to pull some weight with her friend (who is the owner of the firm and not the project manager by the way) and they settled it, along with the first boo-boo above where they covered up the offending panel to complement the look of the cabinets.

There were still other things that have cropped up during the renovation phase that made me want to throw in the towel and give up. But what can I do? I couldn’t just forfeit whatever has been paid and get a brand new contractor. Plus the fact that I already had caused some strain within the family because this contractor was supposed to be a friend of my relative. I didn’t want to make matters worse, and for some things, they were deemed ‘OK’ by my relative so I had to therefore compromise…

Lesson learned – I should just have stuck to my gut instinct at the start and got someone else to do the work instead. It might have been cleaner and more straightforward.

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