Overview: Our renovation had so much potential and thus it sucks to have to write a very negative review. I went with an “all-in-one “company knowing the costs would be much higher than independent contractors/big-box store but we wanted a fast renovation, hassle free, and show room quality. Unfortunately, the renovation had numerous hassles and the final product full of defects. I will not use again and have since found better renovations using independent contractors, big box stores, and myself. I paid for showroom quality but got ‘do-it-yourself’ quality. Have had to fix many items myself and will need to redo in the future to get the high-quality finish desired.
The final installation of drywall, floors, lighting, and kitchen cabinets seems to have been rushed or lacked experience or done without care leaving a below average final product which does not reflect the high price paid. Example pictures have been uploaded.
A long and detailed review follows.
Summary: This review is after two years (renovation August 2017-November 2017 with two-year warranty) as I wanted to see if anything broke. On the good side, nothing broke besides a few soft close doors and drawers (they replaced the door hinges and I fixed the drawers myself) but on the bad side I am daily disappointed with the renovations and the poor-quality finishes. All the defects are front and center in my face (vide infra). For me it was not worth the money or frustration. With so many home renovation companies and home contractors to choose from I feel I got unlucky and now must redo in the future.
IWE provided an all-in-one kitchen/partial main floor renovation, but far too many imperfections to be satisfied. Very expensive for the quantity and quality of product/work received, the renovation areas were rectangle, no difficult spaces, and only 20 linear sq feet of cabinets needed in a simple rectangle fashion (one wall, no corners). The big issue is that nothing is level. The floor and dry wall were not installed level, this led to the cabinets not being level and thus there are many gaps and poor line of sight.
The good: All in one service, fast, friendly workers and project manager, OK design.
The bad: Poor quality workmanship, no quality control, expensive, no transparency, quality did not justify price.
The ugly: Many defects in cabinets, drywall, and floor installation are highly noticeable and have made if very difficult to enjoy the product. Not what we expected.
IWE provided a quote for a kitchen + partial main floor renovation, they completed the work within the scope of the signed contract, we honored the contract and paid them in full even though many issues were identified. This was our first time undertaking a renovation and my wife and I had no experience and naively paid top dollar to a renovation company expecting showroom quality. We were unaware that every detail and strict quality control should be included in any contract. We naively assumed that paying over $100,000 would deliver a showroom product. We knew we were paying a premium, but we paid this price since we had no experience and wanted a high-quality product. Since the renovation in 2017 we have learned a tremendous via hands on experience, online research, and discussions with other contractors. Much work has been modified since. IWE was very responsive in looking at the defects but refused to fix anything major.
Scope of work IEW: IWE was hired to complete an entire kitchen renovation and partial main floor renovation. The kitchen was expanded (1 wall torn down) and included ~600 sq feet. The other areas comprised another ~600 sq feet and only flooring, ceiling, and 8 pot lights were installed in this area. The project included partial demolition (I demoed about 1/3 of the main floor myself), reconstruction (framing, plumbing, electrical, drywall in kitchen area), and finishing (cabinets, hardwood floor installation, lights, electrical covers). The project was completed in a timely fashion. The final product looks OK, but there are many imperfections (discussed below). In total, we paid just over $107,000 to IEW for an 70% kitchen renovation with a standard layout and 20 linear feet of cabinets.
What I did myself: Appliances and installation, sink and installation, hardwood purchase, countertops and corbels and installation, electrical panel upgrade, baseboards + installation, paint and painting, blinds, and hanging lights were all purchased and completed by me.
• Professional, clean and friendly crew of tradesman.
• On-time renovation
• All-in-one service (framing, electrical, plumbing, drywall, cabinets)
• Kitchen layout design is functional
• Kitchen cabinet drawers are nice
• Very high cost to quantity/quality/finish ratio
• Below average and flawed hardwood floor installation
• Attention to detail on finishes is lacking. Crooked cabinets, uneven cabinet runners, exposed screws, uneven drywall, unfinished drywall, covered up furnace humidifier wires, doorbell not working
• If not explicitly stated in the contact they will not do the work, thus must ensure all you want done (down to outlet covers, weather stripping, door bell chime, plumbing)
• No detailed overview of exact work carried out, no education on correct way to do things, no insight into potential future issues
• They use your bathrooms, electricity, and water. Should have a clause in contact for this.
• Paid and signed for 5-pieces solid wood doors, received MDF door panel with 4-piece solid wood frame. Learned after the fact that this is how “shaker” style come. Lack of transparency and education of the customer created much aggravation.
• Panel above hood fan installed crooked with smaller liner of sight than doors/drawers thus looks out of place and is a major blemish.
• Runner boards installed crooked leading to uneven lines. Need to be calked by myself to improve look
• Dry wall was not installed straight which lead to large gaps between walls/cabinets. Gaps were filled with compound and strips of MDF applied over the gaps. Very cheap looking.
• Green tape left under kitchen island. Took me a while to remove it with tweezers
• Silicone calking finger prints on several cabinets. Only noticeable under low light, but clearly stands out.
• LED strip lighting (copper color) stuck on with tape and silicone and has a unfinished look. No casing. Very noticeable.
• Shelves are standard particle board with veneer which have already started to delaminate in areas
• Area where fridge goes is un-level. The fridge needs shims to properly level and prevent wobbling and acceptable line of sight. Use of levels is a pain when moving fridge in/out to clean. A real big pain.
Hardwood Floors Not Installed Appropriately (they were professionally inspected, with full report, confirming issues):
• Subfloor not leveled and/or cleared of debris prior to floor installation, NO underlayment used – this created numerous bumps and depressions in the floor. The floor slants downwards from walls to middle of rooms. Unlevel floor has led to dozens of very lose boards and floor noise. Baseboards are not level on the floor with gaps upwards of 1 cm around most of main floor. Kitchen cabinets not flush with floor in several places. Where there are bumps the hardwood appears stressed, not sure if this will lead to wood breakdown sooner than expected.
• Floor installed too tight – this has led to no less than three areas that bow upwards in in the spring/summer when humidity rises. The areas have significant flex and squeak.
• Defect floor boards installed – numerous boards with checks, cracks, and off-sizes were installed creating a less than desired look and the need for wood filler to fill in large gaps. Wood was inspected and determined defect boards were within manufactures threshold and should have been discarded/returned rather than installed.
• Uneven/crooked cuts made around furnace vents and ducting not secured – nearly all the cuts around the furnace vents were uneven creating many splinters. The cuts also make removing/adding the vent covers difficult as the covers do not fit. They came back to adjust but still not right.
• Significant flex in many boards causing large creaking noises.
• Poor use of custom nosing – 28 ft of stairs was measured. 32 ft of custom nosing was purchased at $20/ft. I informed IWE of the high cost of the nosing and asked to be extra careful. All nosing was used up and they were 3 ft short. This left the entry to the garage unfinished. Luckily it was the garage and an alternative could be used, i.e. a metal transition. IWE installed a featureless L-shaped piece of aluminum
• Excessive use of finishing nails. Very noticeable in many spots. In some cases the nails are above the floor.
• Poor Edging – Around the fire place and stairs there was no thought given to aesthetics. Floor was laid directly to brick fire place hearth (see picture) without consultation or consideration of making a wood boarder which seems to be very common. At 3 of 5 stairs a floor board was cut thin to meet the size rather then extend out the stair leading to unattractive thin boards (see picture).
Initially we thought there could have been an issue with wood, thus we put in a claim with the Box store where it was purchased, they opened a claim with the manufacturer. The manufacturer had the floor professionally inspected. The inspection reported indicted the wood was fine and the issue was with the installation.
Ultimately the uneven floor has been a disaster. Cannot walk in certain areas of floor as it feels strange. Many of the large bumps must be covered with rugs to hide the site and dampen the feel. I can no longer wear bear feet on the floor and must wear slippers/crocks to mask the non-level nature of the floor. A simple you-tube search shows many videos details how to install a floor, having the sub-floor level is the number 1 point. Either IWE was inexperienced and did not know this or they did not care and wanted to maximize profit. Either way it shows a lack of professionalism with the company and thus I would never use again. Our floor costing over $10,000 is unwalkable and once our finances are in order will have it replaced.
• Initially we had commissioned IWE to supply and install quartz countertops. Heard last minute that the island would be two pieces. Quick internet search revealed that jumbo slabs were common and thus could have a one-piece island. I called and complained as no options were given and was never presented a template for approval. After much discussion IWE agreed to remove the countertops from the work order.
• We then had to source our own which was easy, it just added three extra weeks to the renovation but glad we did as the one-piece island countertop is very nice. No seams!
• Of note, the countertop company we worked with had me sign a template showing exactly what size of stone (with number of pieces) was being installed
• Main floor door bell was removed and thrown out by IWE during demolition.
• They installed a new door bell which rarely works
• Issue is the transformer on electrical panel is too small
• They gave me the “bigbox’ store part number and said to do it myself
• One furnace died during the renovations (we were not living in the house)
• Unfortunately, we had nothing in the contract about such appliances breaking
• Not clear on why or how the furnace broke
• Replaced the furnace after renovations completed. Turned out IWE covered up the wires for the humidistat, only leaving three, thus had to add humidistat next to furnace in basement
• Furnace company indicated that any renovations should include running 7 wires so can use modern thermostats
Drop down ceiling: Original kitchen had a drop-down. We 100% asked to have it removed. Once the demo was done IWE informed us plumbing had to be adjusted and they asked us to pay $1000. This shocked us as we had asked to have the drop-down removed. Lesson learned. Do demo first, then work with a contractor and develop a detailed contract.