Bathroom renovated by RenoCanada, December, 2008: What happens when you cross good intentions with an inability to plan, organize or communicate? A whole lot of rework:
· Heating vent had to be moved twice before it reached its target.
· Vanity mirror was the wrong size and too short for the space. It looked ridiculous, and had to go. The new mirror was much better, but the clips that held it on the wall looked like they were coming off. It turned out the wall was curved.
· All the walls were curved.
· I picked out the sink and vanity cabinet when I was in the showroom. The cabinet they had in the showroom was hacked away to accommodate the sink as the two pieces were not originally made to go together. It was as if a ten year old had done the work. Peter, who was the person managing the project, assured me that cabinet was done in a hurry for the showroom and my cabinet would be done properly. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened the door of my new cabinet after it was installed to find the inside was hacked away just like the one in the showroom. That it very likely was the one from the showroom.
· The disfigured vanity cabinet was also the wrong height. It went back to wherever it came from. Probably the showroom.
· The shower curtain rod was of a style that was too big for the small bathroom, and hung interestingly over the toilet. It had to go.
· Unlike the walls, the window sill was perfectly level. I checked. However unlike the walls, the sill should have been on a slight angle so that the water could drain off (as the window sits above the tub and participates in the daily shower). Peter admitted that was a mistake. He seemed proud of his admission, but didn’t offer up anything in the way of compensation or recommendation, or even an apology. Not even an apologetic glint in the eyes. I weighed in my mind the inevitable daily sponging down of the sill against the onerous task of getting RenoCanada to redo it correctly. It stayed.
· The guys showed up whenever they felt like it. Or followed some secret schedule. I couldn’t tell. The elusive Peter who was supposedly managing the project even scheduled them for December 24, without telling me (when they promised to finish the work before Christmas they weren’t kidding).
· As requested, I clearly marked off the locations for the light switch, towel rack, electrical outlet and toilet paper holder. In keeping with RenoCanada’s Russian roulette approach to design, all markings were ignored. The location of the electrical outlet was at least in the ballpark. It stayed. The others elicited more feedback from the acting project manager which as it turned out was me.
· On the first try, the light switch was installed on the wall behind the door so that you would have to enter the room and grope behind the door to turn on the light. On the second attempt it was installed in the vicinity of the spot I marked off. Close enough.
· The towel rack was too long for the space it was meant to occupy. It had to go. I suggested they move it to the opposite wall and marked off the spot, and it landed, thankfully, somewhere near the markings
· The medicine cabinet was never ordered. According to Peter I never ordered it. We negotiated it into the contract early on and revised the price over the telephone but he didn’t remember. In any case it never made it in the contract and my bad for not noticing. I reordered the medicine cabinet at an additional cost of around $400 and followed up every spoken communication after that with an email. Lesson learned.
· The old severely warped bathroom door had to be reversed so that it opened on the opposite side. The person doing the work spent a long time sanding down the door and frame to make them fit nicely. I tried explaining that the door was going to be replaced, and that it was good enough the way it was, to no avail. He did not speak a word of English. So I gave up and left him diligently sanding away. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference when he was done.
· None of the guys who did the actual work could speak English. All communication was supposed to be done through Peter who was only around when it was time to collect a cheque. He did not have a cell phone.
· The front door was repeatedly left open. This was in December. Heating costs aside, anyone could have walked in. I did. I wandered about downstairs loudly for several minutes while the guys worked upstairs, and no one ran down. Not really their fault. The door is old and tends to swing open if not properly shut. Once the guys finally understood, with the help of my frantic gesturing, the door was never left open again (I spied).
· The tub hot water pressure was half of that of the cold water pressure. The RenoCanada team was unable to fix it. But I am impressed that they showed up and tried (as this was after I had paid in full for the work). Peter said he would investigate with the manufacturer and call me back. He never did. I had my plumber fix it. It was a minor problem that took less than an hour and cost $157 to fix. He also redid the seal around the bathtub tap while he was there.
· Painting was supposed to be done behind the sink and toilet. It wasn’t.
· There was some minor collateral damage to the walls (requiring about $50 to fix). RenoCanada refused to cover the cost. Instead they said they would give me a “gift” as compensation. It consisted of some cleaning detergents, two small candles, and two face cloths with the company name in very large print which delegated them immediately to dust rag status.
· The bathroom vent for the fan was not installed. I was told that they couldn’t get a roofer in the winter. Apparently they couldn’t get one in the summer either as I had to hire another company to do the work at the end of August at a cost of $450. To be fair one guy did show up in the spring. He stared up at the roof and complained he wasn’t being paid enough, then realizing there was no laneway access (it is a row house) lost enthusiasm. I never heard from him, or from RenoCanada, again.
I should point out that while the last four items were not completed by RenoCanada, all other items on the list were.
I received a demand for payment shortly after completion of all but the four items. I informed Sam (the owner) that I was going to hold back $1000 until everything in the contract was done. His response was vitriolic. After some angry sputtering and vague threats, he said he would take care of the outstanding items as part of their warranty. So I agreed to pay the entire amount. I was curious to see if he would keep his word.
He didn’t. I sent an email last month requesting reimbursement for the cost of completing the remaining work (about $957). Sam responded with an offer to send a cheque for $300 in the spirit of reaching an amicable resolution. I accepted his offer, in the same spirit. I was curious to see if he would keep his word and send the cheque.
Nope. Issues aside, it has turned out to be a very cute bathroom. The tiles on the walls around the tub and on the floor were beautifully done. Friends and neighbours were duly impressed. Credit all goes to the guys who did the work under difficult circumstances and to me who designed the bathroom and managed the entire project. We get a 10. RenoCanada gets a 1.
I wish I could flush the experience away.
The $300 cheque arrived the day after this review was approved.