As we all know there are 2 sides to every story, I feel the need to respond to Bernard as there are many inaccuracies in his account of what happened. I am rather surprised after the excellent service we gave him, to completion, that he still feels the need to attack. I did send in my partner to complete this job, who went over and above to try to make this customer happy. According to my partner, Bernard was very happy with everything, and even invited us out to enjoy the ‘finished product’ over a drink (I assume that offer is null and void:).
The cost of the plumber went up from the original estimate because we added a gas line to the cooktop, installed washer and dryer, new faucet in the laundry room and then had to move a water pipe which was exposed when moving a small wall. These were all additional. The decision to move this wall was made mid-project.
The electrician went up because he did double the work in the owner’s basement (not part of this project) he changed all aluminum wiring and basically rewired the basement as there were a number of issues – this was at the owner’s request. The electrician then added on another $800.00 for things he claims were not on original order (3 way switches, insulated pots etc). I immediately took responsibility for part of this and split the cost with the owner (he failed to mention this).
The carpenter didnt go up 50% or even close to that - but the homeowner knows this.
I sourced and bought all lighting, tile and everything for the kitchen to the smallest detail including cutlery inserts and tray dividers (I was not paid to do this and did this even after I was being treated most unkindly). The owner chose the fireplace surround tile, we cut it and were ready to install then they changed their mind and wanted us to return it. Obviously not an option at this point, they then said they would find their own and use the other, later, on another project. At this point I had paid for about $5000.00 in tile. I spent a full day shopping with the client for lighting, the client approved 2 lights which I then went and purchased, then the client went away for 10 days and asked me to choose and install the remaining 2 lights, they didn’t like these or one that they had approved (which had taken 4 hours to install). They asked me to go back and purchase another light for $699.00, at this point I was feeling less than confident in their intentions (Bernard had begun to send belligerent emails several times a day) and having spent an additional $3000.00 to pay for their washer and dryer which were delivered while they were out of town, I felt it was better for them to purchase any additional fixtures (we uninstalled the rejected ones and installed their new choices ).
I chose not to return to this job and to have my partner complete it as the attitude of the homeowner had shifted after they returned from vacation. It became increasingly obvious by the owners ‘nasty’ emails and my several attempts to explain our side (which were always answered from an attack stance) that a change was in order. As a business owner I made a decision to try to salvage the project/relationship by sending in another representative, at this point more than 90% of the work was completed. My partner went ‘over and above’ while managing the completion of the project. He worked along side the team cleaning out the owner’s garage beyond anything we were responsible for (while the owner stood and watched), he vacuumed out drawers and cupboards and washed floors in areas in which we were not working.
Overall it is an absolutely beautiful transformation, I am very proud of the work that my team and I did. There were issues of course, this was a large project, but we addressed them and assured the client we would give 100% until the job was complete. At no time did we ever imply that we were not there to address issues and finish the job.
I tried to explain the reasons for many of the decisions we had to make while the client was away - I felt inclined to explain, as honestly as possible, why some things came out the way they did. He seemed to resent this and saw it as excuses rather than a basic communication of ideas and opinions.
My costs, besides the personal ones like being hugely disappointed (I really liked this couple and took on this project like it was my own home, I really felt connected and put my heart into it), also included paying for the install of wallpaper chosen by the homeowner which turned out to be defective, I bought and paid for paper, installer and removal. All of these things were done in good faith, all for naught it turns out.
When the homeowner’s demeanor changed (immediately upon his return from a 10 day vacation) and he began treating me with distrust and insulting my integrity and intentions by email I was at first pretty disheartened, I didn’t start my dream business to do anything but enjoy the process and really help my clients realize their dream (homes). I painstakingly tried to get the project back on track by staying positive and solution oriented. To the team nothing had changed we were still moving forward doing our jobs, but on the other side it felt like we were dealing with a different person. I continued to try to rationalize with him and to try to get back to a place of trust and respect, but the ‘attack’ emails just kept coming. It began to take on all the characteristics of bullying, the situation became inappropriate and unacceptable. Finally after the 5th insulting email of yet another demoralizing day, I ‘reassigned’ this project to one of the most capable men I know, my partner Mario. He is a man with great integrity and character; he is the standard by which I measure other men. I am so proud to know he would never behave in this manner to anyone.
I am disappointed to note that when dealing with this particular homeowner, in what is a professional capacity, he failed to maintain a modicum of fairness and good business practice. In more than one way my partner towers over this ‘man’. . . OK I had to lighten the mood a little, we have a great life and I have had some of the most memorable experiences working on these projects, this one has to be chalked up to a very good lesson. Thanks for that Bernard, now I know it is not always the trades in the wrong - two sides to every renovation!
One last thing, this homeowner asked me several times if I had any nightmare clients, at that point I didn’t, but now I am happy to present him with that honor (your plaque is in the mail Bernard) it goes something like this: Homegirl’s Worst Client of the Year Award. Presented to Bernard (last name removed) in the spirit of ‘Never Again’. Good luck to you Bernard and remember in the big scheme of things ‘every little thing is going to be alright’. You have a beautiful home, life is good, enjoy.