Wednesday, July 26, 2006

ups & downs

UP! Yesterday the granite installers came!

DOWN. The countertops were wrong and had to be sent back.

Here's the back story.

Our kitchen is all about right angles. During the templating, the templater, Roger, mentioned that the corners were going to be cut with a ¾ inch radius. I didn't stop to think about what that meant until after I had signed off on the template. As he was driving away, I had one of those awful BOINGG moments when I realized that such rounded corners would look absolutely out of place in this kitchen. DOWN.

I immediately got on the phone and called the project manager for our project, Leticia. She recommended that I call the fabricator and tell them I wanted a ¼ inch radius for the corners. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized what I wanted was square corners with just a tiny bit shaved off so they wouldn't be painful to run into. In effect, I wanted the same shape for the corners that we had chosen for the horizontal edge of the granite. It's called an eased edge.

So, I tried and tried to call the fabricator but didn't get a call back. DOWN. Meantime, H0m3 D3p0t called to say there was a tiny bit more granite in these countertops than we originally estimated before templating, which I would need to pay for before the granite would be cut. (UP! a pause in the process so I could be sure my message about the corners would be delivered.) So I marched on over to the store, paid the extra amount, and marked up my contract documents with precise instructions: "All vertical corners to be eased edge." Jen said she would fax that document along with instructions to Leticia to start the project. UP!

They were amazingly fast. UP! They scheduled my installation for yesterday, only 8 days after my visit to the store. I scrambled to find a plumber to come unhook the plumbing beforehand and hook it up again afterward. I was a bit nervous about whether the corners would be done correctly. And, as it turns out, for good reason. The corners were wrong. DOWN.

Now begins the arguing. Roger is defending himself from the fabricator, because when he left this house there were going to be ¾ inch radii on every corner in sight. He wants me to decide on the spot whether I'm going to accept these slabs or not, because if not he will load them on his truck post-haste and get to a customer who will cause him to be paid. (I'm guessing he gets little or nothing from The D3p0t if he doesn't actually do an installation.)

I'm refusing to make a decision until I talk with Letitia so I can understand the ramifications. If it's going to be hundreds of dollars (and a big fight over that) and another two weeks before I can have my countertops, would I decide to live with these corners? I need to know the tradeoffs.

Letitita has me on hold while she speaks with the fabricator who, believe it or not, is on the phone with Roger right here in my house. We all performed a telephonic ring-around-a-rosie with these faulty countertops in the middle.

Roger hangs up from his call with the fabricator, who then no doubt begins speaking with Letitia while I continue to hold. I explain to Roger what has transpired since he last left the house. Letitia still isn't coming on the line, so I hang up and dial her again. We talk. She puts me on hold for their Quality Assurance manager. I take pictures and email them to her so she can see the corners.

Roger wants to pack up & leave. I ask him to hold on for just a moment, so he and his helper go sit on the back deck as I stay on hold waiting for the QAM. While I'm holding for QAM, I idly pick up the kitchen sink to hold it up underneath its cutout to see how it looks. And now comes what could be considered an UP or a DOWN: the cutout is wrong! And while on the surface that's a DOWN, in fact it is an UP in disguise. Because now we all realize that this piece of granite has to go back, corners or no corners.

The QAM comes on the line, I explain the situation. Believe it or not, she asks me to ask Roger to stick around yet longer, while she goes and talks to someone else and calls me back. I pass the message to Roger, but he is now packing up. At this point, he's on board with this stone being all wrong and is a bit indignant that they didn't follow his template correctly for the sink cutout. He decides to take the sink with him back to the factory, so we label it, package it, and put it safely back in its box, label the box, mark my documents that he's taken the sink, mark his documents that he's taken the sink. He calls the fabricator and they work out a schedule. He's going to be back in the area Friday, so he'll bring the new slab back then. Not bad! UP! He drives away.

QAM didn't call back for hours. When she did, she confirmed that Friday is the new installation date. I called Jen at the store and asked her to photocopy the paper I marked up there with instructions about the corners. I don't think they're going to give me any problems, but I want it here on hand when the new counter comes on Friday.

UP! Friday isn't so long to wait for correct countertops, and they're not talking about any additional charges to me.

DOWN. I sure would like to have my kitchen back. And I'm still not sure they're going to get those corners right.

Things I learned:
  • I need to to pay very close attention to every detail during the design phase (templating) and ask all questions I can think of then. It would have been so much easier on everyone if Roger had left the house on the first day with a clear understanding of the corners that I wanted.
  • Granite weighs 25 pounds per square foot. The slab they schlepped in and then back out again weighed in the neighborhood of 250 pounds.
  • The cutout for the sink causes the granite to be weak at that spot (duh!) and so they have these cool suction thingies that hold a stabilizing rod the length of the slab to keep it from breaking there. See picture above.
  • Like glass, granite travels best on its side.
  • Staying calm in a tense situation works wonders in terms of gaining others' cooperation (believe me, it wasn't easy!)
  • Being persistent when others want you to make a quick decision also pays off.


Kalyn said...

Ouch! Stay calm. Cold drinks may be helpful.

Eva said...

A few more trips to Big Fatty's!

mll said...

Wow!! Great story. Well written as well. Glad things are on an UP, so far and proud of your persistence.

Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

Oh my what a hassle! Hope it gets straightened out soon!

Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

Oh my what a hassle! Hope it gets straightened out soon!