When I general contracted the renovations on my townhouse (kitchen, master bath, floors, other stuff), it felt like every crew made mistakes every day on every job. I went to extraordinary lengths to prevent mistakes, but still ended up having to physically supervise crews if I didn’t want to be constantly calling them back to fix mistakes.
I am not managing my house build, and I am a lot less stressed because of that. Still, I can’t help but keep an eye on things since I live so close and the house is on my route to and from Kindergarten. I know crews make mistakes, so I try really hard to give things a few days for the people in charge to catch before I call them up.
For instance, during the trim work, I kept expecting the chair rail and shadow boxes to go up in the living room. Then suddenly one day, they did the dirty paint (the first, sloppy coat) still with no chair and boxes. I assumed they would have put in all the trim and used the dirty paint to prime it, so I allowed myself to call my Supernintendo to ask, “Aren’t there supposed to be chair rail and shadow boxes in the living room?” “Yeah, the trim people forgot ’em. I have a whole list of things they forgot that they’re going to have to come back and do.” Of course he does. I used to be the girl with the list, and now he is the guy with the list, so I can back off.
But not in every situation.
Remember when I picked out the new white tile and listello for the master bath? I chose this all-white one, #33, with glass, carrara, and something that looks like maybe thassos random strips. Nice, yes?
So yesterday, I took the kids scootering over to the new construction. We were very excited to see tile had been laid in a couple rooms and delivered to others.
And then I screamed!! Not for delight. It was a full-throated, professional singer supported, there’s-a-rat-in-my-bed scream of horror. I scared my kids. The accent tile that had been delivered in the master bath was this.
Olive-green glass? Beige travertine? Some kind of golden ickiness? Do we remember how I feel about beige? Do we remember how I lampooned people who try to mix beige and grey in bathrooms? Do we remember how excited I was for my cool-toned, mostly white bathroom? Okay, perhaps we can construct my particular feelings toward this
goulash of rejected tiles mosaic.
I was terrified that a) I had somehow okay’d the wrong tile number even though I had scrupulously triple checked everything to prevent that, or b) this was actually the very mosaic I had picked, but the sample size was so small and randomly unrepresentative of the whole that I had been completely misled, and c) I was stuck with this. There are endless things in the house that would not have been my first choice if I had had more money, but I have looked forward to the masterbath as something really great. Now I was going to be saddled with something that was the antithesis of my taste?
HIDEOUS! I lost it. I picked up the sheet of tile and threw it on the floor with all my strength, shattering it into a million tacky pieces, then I stomped on them shouting non-printable words.
Okay, I didn’t actually do any of that. But I had a vision of it in my mind, and it seemed right.
Instead, I snapped and stomped my way home with the scooter brigade, then started pouring over my contract color sheets and photo library to see if this was possibly the right listello. I had a vague memory of seeing a listello on the board that had both golden-beige travertine and faux carrara on it like this and thinking “that is sick and wrong”, but I couldn’t find any pictures of it to check! Having that memory was a huge relief, though, because it helped confirm my suspicion that this was simply the wrong mosaic. I still made Kent inspect my pictures and demanded, “Could that possibly be the right tile?” He said he didn’t think so. At least my color sheets confirmed I had requested the right one.
I sent an email to my builder even though it was after hours and tried to come up with a contingency plan in case I was told this was indeed what I was stuck with. I worked on my contingency plan, shopping and pricing, for a couple of hours. Then I fell asleep and had horrible nightmares that I walked into the house on the day we got the keys and found out they had put Uba Tuba in all of the bathrooms with kitschy white flowers painted on it and little grouted-in pots of bamboo, all of which I started ripping out with my bare hands.
I woke up at 5am and checked my email as one does after a nightmare, and discovered I already had a partial response from an unexpected corner. By morning, Classic said they would talk to The Tile Guy and find out what was going on. By afternoon, I got an email saying,
They corrected the listello and everything should be good.
I didn’t see the new tile when I checked in there today, but I didn’t see the offensive tile either, so that was a relief. I was very impressed with how quickly they dealt with the issue, and that they didn’t try to blame it on me or talk me into keeping that nasty mosaic. (Yes, I’m writing for effect, but honestly, I really, really hated it.)
Home construction is so complex with so many moving parts that some error along the way is inevitable. At least I caught this before it was installed. It’s a hassle and may cause delay to get the right tile, but it will still be much less of an expense or delay than installing the wrong one, then having to rip it out and replace it.