If you care to hear our (comparatively shallow and totally myopic) tale of woe, then I invite you to please read on...
Early in May, around the time our contractor had predicted they'd be packing up and heading out, our project hit a brick wall. And just so you know, that particular analogy was carefully crafted to match the state of our kitchen around that time (see below)
Our worker (singular) had removed the wall between the existing kitchen and utility room, torn most of the plaster down, laid sub-flooring...then basically went AWOL.
And so, we waited. First, we waited more than a week for an electrician.
Next, we waited for doors.
We would politely (then not-so-politely) inquire about our kitchen almost daily. When we heard back, it was one excuse after the next. First, the doors were on back order. Next, they had arrived damaged. Then, it was the holiday (Memorial Day). Then, the delivery truck broke down. After that, they arrived damaged. Back to square one. Meanwhile, all their employees began suffering from various illnesses or suddenly experiencing deaths in their families or car troubles. One apparently earned himself a DUI, which I did not take pleasure in learning. The hubs called and texted dutifully once and sometimes twice or three times a day. I emailed regularly and learned that either contractors don't respond to emails or they don't respond to women. For the sake of my sanity, I am operating under the assumption that it's the former. To be fair, both genders in our relationship were met with similar radio silence on many days. At one point, we learned (from the one worker who still came around every so often) that our contractor himself was dealing with medical issues. At this point, I started regularly assuming he was dead.
In fact, the last time we heard from him, he returned an unanswered phone call by texting us that he was at an Urgent Care and couldn't talk.
That was the last straw.
While I pondered what Emily Post would recommend one does in the event that one's estranged contractor has been hospitalized (or has died), my more practical half managed to get in touch with the co-owners of his business.
That's when we learned a few key details which provided us a little insight on why our project had suddenly hit the breaks.
1) The company was broke.
2) It was (apparently) entirely the fault of the contractor we'd signed with.
3) The brothers who represented the other 2/3rds of the ownership (whom we'd not yet met) were in the process of legally removing our contractor from their business.
Let me just pause here and acknowledge a couple things:
1) I have friends who recently renovated their kitchen and experienced something similar during their project. One astutely pointed out that this is an industry populated almost entirely by men (and presumably also a few women) with ADHD diagnoses. I now believe this to be entirely true.
2) I feel it's pertinate to also acknowledge that we interviewed eight (yes EIGHT) contractors in preparation for this project. This is partially why I believe the ADHD statement, I've now met a bunch of these guys. We had no fewer than three (very thorough) initial bids from this man and spoke with four seperate references prior to signing a contract. One reference was our neighbors whom we consider close enough friends to have named them godparents to our youngest child, the other three had a hard time coming up with anything negative to say about the guy. So before anyone can toss any blame our way for this madness, we did our due diligence. Hashtag: giant friggin sigh.
So. There we were. We'd written checks for 2/3rds of our total contract/budget and we,learned the company suddenly had no money to speak of. We still didn't have walls or proper floors. We were (are) still tripping over each other in our makeshift kitchen/dining room; operating out of giant tubs and grilling every meal on the front porch. And then we discover that our cabinets have not been ordered (the ones we wrote a check for more than six weeks earlier) and even worse, those Mother F-ing doors hadn't even been ordered. The goddamn doors; the ones that had supposedly experienced such dramatic adventures and hardships...the doors (rather, the lies about the doors) are maybe my biggest trigger to date.
I am currently raising three insane small people, I can I handle a lot of shit. But outright lying does not fall into my definition of tolerable shit.
So we took a giant breath, secured a partial lien waiver (for whatever that's worth), reviewed the contract, ran down the names of a few attorneys (whom I pray we never need to sit down with...#cautiousoptimism), and decided to place blind faith in a new broad-shouldered, fast-talking ADHD sufferer.
To the credit of the new contractor, he's been (perhaps overly) candid with us. We have been privy now to exactly all the inner drama and dysfunction of the company we placed such enormous trust in over 5 months ago. And thanks to a Facebook friend request (his) we also know that not so long ago, someone slashed his tires. Despite the comments section of his post implying that the culprit was most likely an angry ex, this inspires exactly zero confidence.
Hashtag: what the hell have we gotten ourselves into?
My freind who somehow weathered the storm during the demise of their contractor company likes to say, 'you're half pregnant with them' and she's right. It too late to abort and by golly, we need a kitchen. They have us by the balls, and even though only one of us actually has balls, it's uncomfortable nonetheless.
The really good news is that now, suddenly, there is progress. Actual. Progress. Since our last contractor vanished into the abyss, we have acquired the following:
2. Doors (this is not a drill people, we have actual doors):
4. A completed dining room wall:
EXHIBIT A (a view I was totally over looking at after about a week, but lived with for more like 10 weeks):
...And in the last 6 days, since my new best friend, Sam-The-Finish-Carpenter (who may actually not be Ritalin dependent, or at least if he is, they've got him on a spot-on dosage) has joined the party, here's what's happened:
1. Sweet Baby Jesus, we have CABINETS.
2. And a SINK (whaaaa??)
4. A crazy-amazing built-in bench seat:
Psst: These bad boys have hinges and open into storage. We can easily fit all three kids in there; or possibly one mommy looking for a quiet space and some alone time.
5. Pendent lights: Edison bulbs behind bars!
6. Actual outlets
7. And yes! That's under-Cabinet lighting!
Sam-The-Finish-Carpenter has worked tirelessly for 6 days straight and single-handedly restored my faith in the entire contracting profession...and possibly in humanity (a faith which is undermined daily by a quick glance at the headlines).
This project has displaced us and humbled us. It has also turned us into consumerist assholes and made me hate myself a little. It's challenged our marriage and elevated us to a new level of intermittent parenting failures. We've celebrated a fourth birthday and a third birthday and we've watched our youngest learn to walk and begin to talk. We've got one out of diapers completely and another armed with a sticker chart, a deadline (school starts in a few weeks and diapers will not be an option), and the promise of a stuffed lion. We are in the midst of spending every last penny we've got on new furnishings to re-arrange our entire first floor and create a beautiful new space to be systematically destroyed by two dogs and three boys.
We are zeroing in on the end. Sam-The-Finish-Carpenter tells us he'll have the refrigerator in it's new home tomorrow (our ice maker will be back in action!!) and we'll likely have an operational oven and stove-top soon after. I can't seem to let myself get excited, but we may even be unearthing our dishes and glasses by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, I will focus my efforts on attempting to keep life in perspective. I will see if that's possibly while also actively avoiding headlines about extremist terrorists targeting innocent people and racist sociopaths either unnecessarily killing unarmed citizens or civil servents...or running for president. It's an ugly world out there and our small drama is light and benign. I am anxious for our little corner of this ugly world to be lovely and comfortable...a safe and happy space for my babies.
Peace my friends.