Friday, July 28, 2006

One Thing Leads to Another....and Another....Part 3: Brian vs. the Installer

For those of you just joining us, you may want to read part one of this series here and part two here.

Our kitchen floor, frankly, is a pain in the ass. We have about 7 layers of flooring on top of the original sub-floor. At some point in the history of our house, more than one owner decided that it was much easier to keep shaving inches off 6 kitchen doors than tear up the old floor before they put down the next layer. So what we’re now left to manage is a kitchen floor that is 1.25 inches above the level of the rest of the house.

Those of you who have replaced or installed a dishwasher before, know that size ...or rather, height…matters.

Luckily, the previous owners didn’t bother pulling up cabinets when applying the new floor (not surprising). They instead just laid the floor flush with the front of the cabinets. Thankfully, this left us with some additional room to work with if we could just wedge the dishwasher in past the high front edge.

Well Mr. Sears Dishwasher Installer felt otherwise. On his first trip out, he claimed his trusty measuring tape told him it was impossible. His "brilliant" solution was to cut out two feet worth of the excess floor in front of the dishwasher so he would have enough room. Okay I know our floor is ugly, but that would be crossing the line.

I wasn’t convinced. After he left, I unpacked the dishwasher and gave it the old college try. After lifting the sink with one hand and rolling the dishwasher with another, I was able to fit about 98% of it under the sink. The 2% I left exposed was to ensure that I could get the dishwasher back out in order to make the connections. But I was certain it would fit...barely.

At this point I could have, and should have installed it myself. However, I had already paid for installation and wasn’t about to let this guy off that easy. I called him back, convinced him that is was doable and waited patiently for 2 weeks before he made his second attempt.

In the mean time, I went about addressing one of his other concerns….the water and electrical connections under the sink. Apparently I had paid for the “replacement installation” and not the “new installation” which was about $100 dollars more. We did have a previous dishwasher so I really had no reason to believe that my job would be considered a “new install”. Wrong! Apparently our half-assed plumbing and electrical work under the sink would require some additional work.

Now I pride myself on being handy around the house, but plumbing is not one of my strong points. I’m not scared of it. I’ve just never really done much plumbing in my life. I lived in rental properties for 17 years before I bought this house, so it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve learned a lot of “do-it-yourself” skills. To be honest, I didn’t mow my first lawn until I was 27.

Anyway, while working on the plumbing I managed to jar some rusty corroded pipes in the basement which led to a sizeable leak….on a Sunday. I called a repairman who then charged me $150 to fix the problem (bad, but could have been worse for coming out on a Sunday). After three trips to the hardware store and several dollars in parts, I had managed to get the right plumbing connections installed. And did I forget to mention that we also thought it would be a good time to replace the faucet?

We bought a new faucet with a sprayer. The only problem was that the extra hole in the sink wasn’t large enough for the sprayer. That required a second trip to the hardware store for a drill bit that could cut through stainless steel.

We also bought a new garbage disposal since the one we had was old, loud, and not very effective. The problem was that the one we bought worked via a switch unlike our existing one which turned on by turning the sink stopper. This dilemma required us to get an electrical estimate. But of course, we could just get an estimate on the switch. We aslo had the electrician estimate the cost of installing several switches, outlets, can lights and moving some light fixtures in preparation for new kitchen lighting. The estimate came in at just under $1000.

Whoa…..hold on. Lets re-cap.

A leaky dishwasher has so far led to:

$3000 for a new refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and disposal
$1110 in new warranty parts for the faulty new appliances
$40 in plumbing supplies
$150 for a Sunday plumbing emergency
$79 for a new faucet
$15 for a stainless steel drill bit to install the new faucet
$10 in damaged non-stainless steel drill bits that sadly were defeated by our sink
$1000 estimate for electrical work
Not to mention countless man hours, time off of work, gas for redundant trips to the hardware store, mental sanity and poisoning the purity of my dogs by sharing a few choice words that I won’t repeat here.

We set some priorities. Install the faucet, sprayer and the dishwasher. Then we’ll be back to normal everyday operating procedures. The disposal and the lighting are going to have to wait.

That was over a month ago. We’re fine now. Really. Although, we’ve recently noticed that the dishwasher door doesn’t latch correctly….good grief.