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What (In the World!) Is Going On at the Two Flat?

This is our real-life rundown of what (in the world) is going on at the Two Flat – from flooding to floor refinishing (again) and why. But first, a note to say that we understand the immense privilege we’ve been given to renovate homes for a living and know that there are issues in the world much larger than our delayed home renovations.

We struggled with whether or not one of us should write this post. Not because we think that hiding away the ‘bad stuff’ is the right answer, but because we do our very best to look forward during a renovation. Dwelling on the frustrations and setbacks has only proven to cause new gray hairs and to chew away at our mental health, which, No, thank you! We’ve been there, done that, and we have come so far in the last year of breathing new life into our Two Flat!

Is Your House Cursed?

However, the Two Flat has thrown us many challenges, so much so that our friends have jokingly asked, But seriously, was there a curse put upon this house? (To which I would laugh if I hadn’t wondered the same thing myself!) I’ve cried over this house. I’ve laid awake at night wondering what we’re going to do. We’ve asked each other if we will keep this house at all – a realization that slowly crept up on us until it became all-consuming. With each hearty helping of stress, we try to remind each other that this is all temporary. The renovation. The pandemic. The issues, one right after the other. When one of us is down, we pep the other up. And when we need a personal day, for the love of Pete, we take that personal day!

What Is Going On?

But I digress. Today I’d like to have a heart to heart with you about the Two Flat. As in, what (in the world!) is going on there?! As we all experience setbacks (in life, relationships, DIY projects!), I think we find community in knowing that down days or weeks or months is a part of the process. And while we’re eager to share and celebrate the ‘ups’, it’s worth noting that the ‘downs’ are a part of this process. No one is immune. You have been so kind and encouraging as we share progress in our Stories, and I want you to know: We appreciate you.

It Takes Two (Baby)

Oh, Two Flat. Several larger projects have had to be completed twice, a result of either 1) damage from a rotating crew of contractors or 2) acts of God. The latter came into play when we noticed a lot of soggy drywall and room-width puddles(!) in the finished den / basement after a night of hard rain. That sinking feeling of seeing rainwater in your home was one we wanted to avoid at all costs. Here’s what we did:

  • After several assessments from the pros, we opted to install a drain tile system, which would ensure that our home was 100% rainproof. This is far from inexpensive, but it was the right decision for the health of the Two Flat.
  • The drain tile system involved digging up a 1-2′ section of concrete flooring, 2′ of drywall, and wall studs around the perimeter of the entire den / basement.
  • New concrete was laid, which our concrete refinisher came back to refinish – again.
  • New wall studs and drywall were installed, patched and primed – again.
  • Doors that had swelled from the moisture were repaired and installed – again.

From start to finish, this set us back a couple of weeks, both with time and financially. But we refused to let that flood bring us down, after all, we had plenty of exterior updates and an IKEA kitchenette to keep us busy! The kitchenette is what we’re calling the mini kitchen in our den, with an equally mini fridge, sink and work station. Things went well until it came time to install the countertop, at which point… well. We have had the kitchenette measured twice, and we have had two attempts at install – but both times, our slab was cut wrong. To this point, it’s still unresolved. We keep telling ourselves: It’s okay! We have plenty of other things to focus on! Do you notice a trend?

The Trade That Almost Broke Us

Meanwhile, we hired a painting crew to paint the entirety of our interior (with the exception of the dining room) – walls, ceilings, doors and millwork. We gathered several quotes, and after getting a full picture view of what we could expect, we hired a team that we’ve worked with previously with great success (for clarity, this is not the same crew that painted our exterior). It’s a national paint service that subcontracts pros around the country, and we were paired with a team that assured us they would take care of our old home.

Foreshadowing: That didn’t happen. Although the job was estimated at 2 weeks, this crew finished in 1! We were spending the weekend at Tree House when we received the call that the crew was finishing up, and so we excitedly headed back to the Two Flat the next day. The following is a very condensed timeline of what happened:

  • June 15 | Painting begins!
  • June 16-18 | We visit the site to have walkthroughs with the crew, and point out areas that are thin, drippy, etc. The crew agrees and marks the areas to tape, promising they’ll touch it up.
  • June 22-23 | Painting crew cleans up and tells us the job is complete!
  • June 24 | We return to find discarded tape and trash, full cans of paint left open, paint on the windows and brand new door hardware hinges, and unopened boxes of our things splashed with paint. There was rust (from washed putty knives) on our new stone window sills and paint spray on the floors and walls of our newly tiled pink bathroom. We were in shock and spent 2 hours cleaning up their debris.

Although unfortunate, I don’t want to dwell too much on the condition of how our home was left, rather, the quality of the paint job. Although we had already walked through the home with the painting crew during the job itself, the problem areas persisted. Everything you can imagine to go wrong, went wrong: Drips. Thin spots. (We suspect that many areas of the home were only painted with one coat.) Bare spots. Gloopy caulk. Clumped, streaky and outside-of-the-lines paint. Our new drywall and millwork looked as old as the home itself, and not in a charming way. Our hearts sank – I felt physically ill! – but we called our assigned project manager with the paint company to explain the situation. As a first step, he sent the lead from the team back to assess the damages. Upon entering the Two Flat, the lead said to us: Let’s be honest, your home wasn’t in good shape before we started.

Mediation vs. Preservation

With the paint service company acting as the mediator, we all – the paint service, us, and the subcontracted paint lead – hopped on a phone call. We agreed that the lead would take a few days to address the problems. But afterwards, we returned to find…

  • … our door hinges were scratched and discolored from harsh chemicals and scouring pads. Some paint was unable to be removed at all without additional damage.
  • … new door hardware had developed a foggy finish.
  • … our refinished hardwood floors were scrubbed to the point that the finish had been worn away completely.
  • … our toilet seat had been scoured, leaving it rough to the touch. (What!)
  • … there were still drips, uneven lines, gloopy caulk and patchy paint on all the walls.

It was at this point that the paint service stopped mediating, and instead, they went into preservation mode. Days would go by without returned calls, a week without a returned email. The job was still very much unfinished, and now we would also need our hardwood floors to be completely refinished again. More or less, the paint job needed to be wiped away and started anew. Here’s what happened next:

  • end of June / start of July | We called and emailed our rep at the paint service and requested a different team to finish our job. We sent them photos of everything, thinking to ourselves, Surely they will agree that this is not well done! (Spoiler: They didn’t.)
  • mid July | The first paint crew had us talk to an insurance adjuster for the floor damages, and the adjuster calls our floor refinisher to triple check the damage. The paint service sends out another crew to see if it’s as ‘bad as we say.’ They also let us know that if the paint looks good from 3′ away, that’s the best we can hope for (what!), and they requested more pulled-back photos. We gladly obliged, to which they never provided a response.
  • mid-end July | We walked through the home with the new paint crew, and the lead agreed that almost everything would need to be sanded down, re-caulked and re-painted.
  • end of July | The new painters take an additional week to restart the job, and they did everything they possibly could to smooth out the walls and millwork, repair the damaged hinges, and remove the paint on our windows, but some of the damage was irreparable. Meanwhile, the paint service charges our credit card for the remaining balance, and they provide us a $250 discount for the inconvenience.

It’s at this point that the original painter’s insurance came through for our floor refinishers to come back in and buff out the problems as well as they could. Again, some areas were beyond repair, such as (suspected) paint thinner stains soaked into the hardwood. They were also unable to use the same matte finish that was applied the first time around, because it wouldn’t be able to hold up to the paint thinner that was soaked into the wood. Instead, we received a satin finish which is quite lovely, although not what we originally designed.

We Needed To Take a Step Back

For almost 2 months this summer, time stopped at the Two Flat. The paint service company wouldn’t allow us to bring other trades on site during the work (going so far as to call the second team of painters to make sure we were following their instructions), causing us to halt on every. other. project. They were in preservation mode, remember? We couldn’t bring anything to the house, because we had to keep the floors cleared for refinishing. Our kitchen shipment, appliances and anything large was held in our garage, in the basement or in our home. The tiller we needed for lawn work was hidden in the yard, but promptly stolen. All the while, I couldn’t shake the echo of the original paint lead telling us, … your home wasn’t in good shape, and I would pause for a deep breath and remind myself (again and again): Everything will be okay.

The paint service never once offered an apology, instead insisting that our expectations were too high. Ironically, this is a company we had worked with in the past, and we hired them specifically because of our wonderful past experience with them. This couldn’t have felt more different. This process was draining and time consuming and nearly jeopardized several of our working relationships due to hold-ups and delayed deadlines. We felt angry, but mostly sad. We took a step back, allowed ourselves to feel these feelings, and then we began the journey of looking forward once again.

Here’s the Thing

We share all of this because I can almost guarantee that so many of you are reading this and nodding your head emphatically, thinking, yup, been there! Our experience, setbacks, unexpected costs and mounting frustrations are not unique. Yes, I’ve just written thousands of words about a paint job gone (very, very) wrong. Paint. Paint! What do I always say? It’s just paint! And beneath it all, we don’t take lightly this immense privilege of being able to renovate a home. We’re mentally and physically drained, our hearts ache for the trauma our country is experiencing, and these are feelings that can’t – that shouldn’t – be ignored.

It’s Okay to Pivot

All this to say, we don’t know what the future of the Two Flat holds. Our initial plan was to rent Unit 2 as a yearly lease, and Unit 1 would be our fully furnished short-term rental (think: Airbnb style). As we make bolder decisions in Unit 1, we cross our fingers that our vision will unfold as originally planned, but we are also reminding ourselves that it is okay to pivot. There is a bit of a mental back-and-forth, in which we can’t wait to furnish every nook and cranny of Unit 1, and then there’s the other part of us that thinks: But what if we change our mind?

Many of us are feeling these feelings, aren’t we? We’ve all felt the heaviness of this year on our shoulders, and it’s hard. I hugged a friend of mine last night, the first physical contact I’ve had with someone other than Scott and Lucy since early March. It was wonderful, I didn’t want to let go, and it reminded me that everything will be okay. No matter what ‘everything’ is.

Giving you all a good virtual squeeze, today and every day! xx

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  • Deb9.1.20 - 5:38 AM

    Omg. I feel your excruciating pain. Once this whole thing is finished, you’ll feel such peace! It’s a shame you can’t reveal that contractor’s name and save Chicago from them.ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 7:32 AM

      It’s a paint service that’s nationwide! Heartbreaking.ReplyCancel

  • Stacy9.1.20 - 5:42 AM

    Let’s be honest, your home wasn’t in good shape before we started.
    My heart broke when I read that line. I once had a contractor tell me that “maybe you’re just too anxious for home renovation” and that I should only buy new construction in the future. It made me second guess so many of my decisions when I really should have just fired him on the spot. I admire you for sticking it out and giving them the chance to make it right, I’ve dealt with so many bad contractors at this point that something like this probably would have broken me.
    That said, do what you need to do, for your mental (and financial!) health. I’m excited to see what you’ll do with this house, but plans change in this year that has been life-altering in so many ways already. Sending all the encouragement your way, whatever you decide ❤️ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 7:34 AM

      It’s so awful when people use their words in that way. Kindness first, always. Thank you, Stacy.ReplyCancel

    • Carswell9.1.20 - 12:46 PM

      Let’s be honest, your home wasn’t in good shape before we started.
      Oh Em Gee! What the heck was THAT supposed to mean? You have new drywall all over the place, new fittings, finished floors… I would have lost it on the spot. How on earth does that justify just plain sloppy work? It doesn’t of course and they were just offering up a ridiculous excuse. 
      I feel your pain – when my ex and I were doing this place we had one major hiccup with a sub contractor. The municipality had lost its HVAC inspector and was subbing inspection out to the local company we had hired to do our HVAC – unbeknownst to us. When we queried some of the portions of the quote and stated that we would do some of the work ourselves we were told that was not an option and the work would not pass inspection. Can you say conflict of interest? 
      We held firm for 10 days – holding up all other work in the process of course – before we finally relented and just grudgingly went ahead with it. We did register our displeasure at the situation in no uncertain terms to the town though, not that it did us any good. Nonetheless, it was infuriating. 
      I can empathize with your anger and disappointment. Hopefully things will progress more smoothly from this point. ReplyCancel

      • Kim9.1.20 - 12:59 PM

        Carswell, it was when he said that that I felt sick to my stomach and my heart dropped. It felt like a slap in the face.ReplyCancel

    • Abby9.1.20 - 2:21 PM

      Ugh, I FEEL your pain. A contractor once told me that I was over-investing in my home…simply because I chose nicer fixtures than he suggested. That burned me up and I would love to show him my sweet little home now, 13 years later, that I still invest in and love immensely. ReplyCancel

      • Kim B9.3.20 - 1:11 AM

        How could anyone ever be OVERINVESTED in THEIR OWN FRIGGIN HOME??!! What a jack***.  I am so sorry he said that and glad that you are still loving and investing in your home!!ReplyCancel

  • Brenda9.1.20 - 7:36 AM

    Thanks for sharing your frustrating experiences with the Two Flat. It’s important to hear that, despite all your best efforts and experience, things can still go poorly. Wishing you and the Two Flat a smooth road going forward. ReplyCancel

  • Cristin9.1.20 - 7:58 AM

    Kim and Scott, this is gut-wrenching to read and I’m sure to have gone through! We’ve undertaken a (very) slow remodel of our own home and although it’s years longer than if we had hired more of it out, every time I work with a trade, I think, “This was a terrible experience.” We didn’t even end up paying for the asbestos removal on our exterior, they did such a poor job! 😩 All that to say, I’m so sorry and intimately feel your pain!  I hope you get your money back and are properly compensated for the damage done. I applaud you moving forward anyways – it’s hard not to have it cloud the entire project! ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 8:36 AM

      Ugh, Cristin, sorry to hear it! The paint service gave us a $250 discount for the inconvenience… beyond that, we still paid 5 figures and it was painful to do so. (I’m trying to breathe calmly through that last sentence!) Sometimes it’s so hard for us to trust another contractor with our hard work when we know we can do it ourselves, but we also need to be conscious of TIME. It’s tough.ReplyCancel

      • Cristin9.1.20 - 11:03 AM

        Oooh I’m so furious on your behalf!! I would be charging that bill right back on my credit card. My father-in-law is an EXPERT at getting money rightfully owed, you just let me know if you need him to get on the line for you. 😜 ReplyCancel

  • Susan9.1.20 - 8:30 AM

    As an interior paint contractor who owns my own business, my heart completely sank when I read your post. They did EVERYTHING wrong, and you are fully justified in feeling sad about it. It feels like a violation when someone comes into a space that means a lot to you and treats it so poorly. And its OKAY even if you DONT compare it to the larger picture of the pandemic and racial injustice. Saying it hurts to have your space ruined by poor/shoddy work doesn’t have to mean you don’t care about other things or that you are too shallow to worry about anything but a house you don’t even live in. I think your readers and fans already know you 2 have kind and generous hearts about many things or you wouldn’t have this many followers. We don’t follow for the specific projects you do, we follow for the heart and kindness you bring to anything that matters to you. ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 8:34 AM

      Susan, thank you so much!❤️ReplyCancel

    • Kelsey9.1.20 - 1:03 PM

      Yes! I totally agree. ReplyCancel

    • h9.1.20 - 5:01 PM

      Seconding all of this. And thanks so much to you guys for opening up and writing this post. When I was in Chicago and dealing with some really shit contractor work (both in execution and in attitude–why would you add insult to injury by being a jerk when you’ve already damaged someone’s home!?), I would look wistfully at your blog and lovely finish work. It’s heartening to hear that this is something that basically everyone has to deal with from time to time, no matter how experienced, although I’m sad that it happened to you.ReplyCancel

  • lak9.1.20 - 8:39 AM

    Wow,  I am so sorry for you guys.  I had my half bath destroyed by a contractor,   I was in shock!  He presented himself so well. and he was recommended by a friend.  In the end he attempted to make a pretty hard physical pass in a scary way!  I paid him for his time just to get him out of the house, told him I had hired someone else when he called a week later. Hard lesson learned.  Bathroom was beautiful after new contractor.  I just hate it when people/companies make excuses for shoddy damaging work.  I sure they didn’t tell you your house was not in that great of shape when they bid on the job, seriously?  So sorry you guys.ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 9:09 AM

      Sorry to hear this, thank goodness it ended well. We’re still shocked that the painting service didn’t offer any sincere apology. I would have been mortified if that was work with my name on it… but alas.ReplyCancel

      • George9.1.20 - 3:34 PM

        And the fact they know you have an audience and could hurt their reputation (if you’d want to) and yet didn’t do what was right. Crazy. ReplyCancel

      • Wilma9.7.20 - 4:39 PM

        Of course they didn’t apologize–that’s admitting they did something wrong. AUGH!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • meredith9.1.20 - 8:58 AM

    There really are no words. I can’t imagine the stress and anger over what happened and then all of the unknown that comes with being in the middle of such a big project. Knowing the thought and intention (and heart!) you put into your work makes it even more difficult to process. Sending you all love!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren9.1.20 - 9:04 AM

    I cried last night over unfinished trim work, a bathroom door that STILL doesn’t fit quite right after … 3… 4? tries, lights that work but don’t work and (what seems like) the ever-so-quickly approaching arrival of baby #2. You’re right, it will be okay. But it’s also OK to have all the feels. We are in this together!ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 9:06 AM

      Hugs, Lauren! And congrats on #2!❤️ReplyCancel

  • Gigi9.1.20 - 9:07 AM

    This made me so furious. You ended up paying in full for this negligent company, you have every right to out them and give them poor reviews on every website out there! ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 9:10 AM

      Our parents agree with you, hahaha ugh.ReplyCancel

      • Rebecca9.1.20 - 9:32 AM

        Have to say, I’m with your parents on this one! I often struggle with the idea of leaving bad reviews, but if they truly did do a terrible job (which this team obviously did!), Then in some ways I feel like it’s important to let other homeowners know and save them from the same heartache. I think reviews can sometimes be weaponized, Which is unfortunate. But, often times they are legitimate reflections on the contractor’s work and important information to save people from the same pain you’re experiencing! I’m so sorry to hear about all of this. We could write a book about our mess of a reno right now! ReplyCancel

        • Emme9.1.20 - 10:38 AM

          I completely agree with you. I try to do my due diligence and I rely on reviews from multiple sources in the process. I read ALL of them so that I can “read between the lines” and disregard ones that were used as weapons. I think it’s important to be honest and fair in order to give others a heads up.ReplyCancel

      • Traci9.2.20 - 10:25 PM

        I know you stated you worked with them before, but may I ask if you partnered with them before? I understand you may not be able to say, but I have a suspicion of who it might be. ReplyCancel

        • Kim9.3.20 - 10:34 AM

          Your suspicion is most likely right.ReplyCancel

    • Justynn9.1.20 - 9:48 AM

      Agreed, you paid in full. I think you need to out them. If for no other reason than to help the readers know they are not to be trusted. ReplyCancel

      • Emma9.1.20 - 2:51 PM

        I agree with this.ReplyCancel

        • Jill9.1.20 - 5:55 PM

          I’m with the last 2 readers’ comments and feel that you should “out” them.   You clearly explained your experience with examples and have photographic evidence as support.  I appreciate reading detailed reviews with clear reference points.  We all take the reviews with name calling with a grain of salt.  An accurate review to guide others is the cost of that company doing business in the manner that they chose.  Holding a company accountable is actually ethical.  ReplyCancel

  • Daisy9.1.20 - 9:07 AM

    I feel your pain. We were doing a reno mid lockdown and when we ended up without hot water in the tub our contractor tried to convince us that it was somehow our fault and we should be fine without hot water… I also felt guilty stressing about it while much more awful things are happening around me. At the end of the day – most material things can be fixed and replaced, and it will be okay! Also I would be interested in reading a round up of advice from experienced renovators on selecting contractors and working with them.ReplyCancel

  • Jenn Ravey9.1.20 - 9:10 AM

    Ugh, I am SO sorry. That was painful to read, and I can only imagine how it felt and feels to have gone through that, especially as you guys do such painstaking work to restore your spaces. 
    I did want to offer a bit of hope on the short-term rental: We had to evacuate from Hurricane Laura last week (only fence damage, so we’re thankful), and we got an Airbnb since we were bringing pets. Our host shared with us that his numbers are actually up 30% from the same time last year! So even though it was bleak at the start of pandemic, I think a lot of people feel safer in an Airbnb. Whether or not you choose to do short-term rental, I thought that was an interesting tidbit.
    As always, thanks for sharing your journey.ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey9.1.20 - 9:16 AM

    Thank you for sharing this. I can’t imagine how stressful and painful this was/is. After doing a full renovation of our upstairs (down to re-enforcing the floor joists) our shower leaks into the first floor, most of the finish work is really sloppy (I’m going through and re-sanding/caulking/painting the baseboards), every new window leaks and the trim all has water damage. It’s so frustrating but I guess helpful to know we are all in this together, and it’s just part of the ups and downs. I think the saddest thing to me was that when I surveyed friends for contractors they trust, 90% said they had horrible experiences and if we find a good one let them know (I appreciate you sharing a name with us). These homes mean so much to us, they contain so many memories we have made with family and friends. And maybe we try to continue to hold that close to our hearts. Charlie told me the other say she wants to live in our house until she dies, that she loves every single part. I’m trying to keep her sweet little words in my head. Thank you again for sharing. Whatever happens down the road for the two flat, you have honored her and given her new life. ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 9:27 AM

      This is so kind of you, I legit got teary eyed reading towards the end. (But I cannot imagine the frustration you’re feeling after the renovation! It’s maddening. So sorry)ReplyCancel

  • Michelle9.1.20 - 9:18 AM

    I highly recommend filing a dispute with your credit card company to get a full refund. There is no reason why this company should be allowed to keep thousands of your dollars.  ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 9:28 AM

      Michelle, we wish. The paint service let us know (while we were in the thick of it) that they’d be fine to go to small claims court. It felt like a threat. The whole experience was awful.ReplyCancel

      • Sarah9.1.20 - 10:09 AM

        You should definitely consider  taking them to small claims court if you haven’t already. Court sounds intimidating, but small claims court is designed not to be. They can’t bring a lawyer and you’d be able to state your side and bring forward your pictures and evidence. If your experience was bad (and it definitely was!), then it’s fair to hold them accountable. Not only for what you paid, but also your lost time and lost revenue from having to wait for this to be resolved before moving forward. It’s not terribly expensive to file in small claims (under $50 for claims up to $12,000 in my state), and honestly, they might settle with you outside of court rather than having to go to small claims. I think it’s worth pursuing unless you want to put the whole thing behind you. And while I admire you for not naming the company name since it definitely shows your strength of character, I kind of wish you would as it can help others in the future know what they may be getting into with this company and again, helps hold them accountable for their service. I feel like you were very fair in your description of them and even with your previous positive experience. It’s not mean or unkind to hold contractors to accountable for their work, especially when they are large corporations and you are fair in your description of their actions. I always try to think about what happens to the next person. People with fewer resources who get the same service might not be able to afford a second paint company, they might not be in a situation to know/ask that the painters insurance cover damage to other areas. I think it’s so helpful to hear you talk about these things. The bad and the ugly of renovating. I felt the same way about the CLJ post where they opened up about insurance and their cabin. 
        This somehow got way too long, and I think you guys are doing wonderful things. Just wanted to give some perspective that I (and likely a lot of others) wouldn’t think any less of you if you choose to hold the paint company more accountable. Can’t wait to see what you do with the rest of the two flat! ReplyCancel

        • Ariella9.1.20 - 2:10 PM

          They absolutely can, and probably will, bring a lawyer to small claims court. I am a civil defense attorney myself with 15+ years of experience and I don’t know where you would have gotten that idea. And the other thing not addressed here is whether Kim and Scott signed a Release of All Claims with the insurance company for the damage to the wood flooring. If they did, the Release probably released the painting company for ALL damages rather than just the paint-related damages (and, if not, then I applaud K&S for their insight and intelligence). 

          Small claims court IS easy and probably what I would have recommended in this situation, but make no mistake that the paint company’s insurance company would have hired an attorney to fight against the allegations of poor workmanship even though that poor workmanship is not covered under the insurance policy (the damage to the floor was covered because that is considered damage to “other property”, which is considered a covered loss). I question whether the damage to the door hinges, toilet seat, and door knobs should have been covered (probably yes) because the “work” hired to be performed was painting and not work on those items. ReplyCancel

          • Jen9.1.20 - 7:34 PM

            Ariella, this differs by state.  For example, in California you cannot have a lawyer represent you at the hearing in a small claims court case.  In Illinois, however, you can.  

      • Meredith9.1.20 - 11:31 AM

        Just want to echo Sarah—-I would small claims this in a heartbeat.  Big companies don’t want to deal with the hassle and it’s a pretty doable DIY.  It drags this (terrible!!!!) experience on but you could recoup several thousands of dollars which might be worth it.ReplyCancel

        • Rebecca9.1.20 - 1:00 PM

          Not to pile on, but I’m with Sarah and Meredith on this one. I’m a lawyer, and small claims court is actually shockingly user-friendly in a lot of places. And you have a great case. You have been super fair in your assessment of the situation. AND you’ve documented everything really well. I can *completely* understand just wanting to put it all behind you. But, there are options if you want to pursue them! 💔ReplyCancel

        • Kim B9.1.20 - 1:05 PM

          Yes, I think their “threat” of small claims court was precisely to make you wary of going there!  Call their bluff. ReplyCancel

      • Michelle9.1.20 - 4:45 PM

        A credit card dispute is different from small claims court. You fill out a form disputing the charge and the credit card company takes it from there. You have nothing to lose other than an hour of your time completing the dispute form.  It’s a very good tool for these types of disputes and most credit card companies will fight hard on your behalf so you don’t have to do it yourself. ReplyCancel

  • Maddie9.1.20 - 9:21 AM

    This sounds incredibly frustrating! The lack of professionalism is unbelievable and tolling indeed. I had no idea reading your posts that there was SO much going on behind the scenes. There always is though. / I have a quick story to share. My parents are fixing up my grandpa’s house to sell. Painter came highly recommended from co-workers, painter said he could start that week. Yay! Parents bought $800 (as directed by painter) because it was on sale for Memorial Day. 3 weeks later he still hasn’t started painting the exterior – not even prepping!! Fast forward 4 months later and the paint is still in the garage. Other quotes from painters were 2x, 3x the price and it just wasn’t feasible. / Rooting for you!! Currently living in a 130+ year old rear unit in Chicago, dreaming of buying a 2-flat one day. Thanks for sharing your journey! ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 9:29 AM

      Aw, Maddie! That is awful! Rooting for you/them.ReplyCancel

  • Kiana9.1.20 - 9:31 AM

    Kim, I’m so sorry this happened to you. What a terrible experience. I just bought my first home right before the lockdown and I obsess over it. Every little thing. Is the sofa too low? Why is the china cabinet that I bought cream instead of white like it is online? What bulb should I buy to counteract the bright color of this room?, etc.  I think the reason I’m obsessing and losing sleep over this is because this is currently the only thing in my control. There’s a pandemic, I’m worried about my parents and my in-laws, my son is in virtual school and missing his friends, and my daughter should’ve been in her special education preschool group but we decided it was too risky for her to go in person and online preschool for a kid on the spectrum felt like a waste of time.  What I’m getting at is we’re all in this weird, uncertain, maddening, saddening place right now. It’s so difficult to look forward, as you say, when you have no idea what tomorrow holds. So, please, be easy on yourself and on this poor house.  Everything will work out and if it doesn’t, that’s not on you. ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 9:45 AM

      Thank you, Kiana. Giving you a big hug and sending you love.ReplyCancel

  • Hayley9.1.20 - 9:33 AM

    So upsetting to hear about this behavior ReplyCancel

  • Marianne9.1.20 - 9:34 AM

    ahhh we are in the same boat with painters…4 months into it.  MERCY.  Also who is Susan below?  We need her!  ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie9.1.20 - 9:35 AM

    Thank you for this.  I’ve been working through my own home renovations that started with just my dad and I doing all the work.  With him, it felt manageable and doable. Unfortunately he passed a couple months ago, but I was so determined to not pivot (which is a good term to remember) and still do everything myself; it felt like I had something to prove.  The successes felt good, but I also encountered a lot of obstacles and problems that felt crushing.  And then considering the state of the world and how other, more meaningful problems that were being felt by the world, would feel guilty for being upset over something that felt so inconsequential to the world at large.  I guess what I am trying to say is thank you for being honest and for being a peer so to speak that is saying, it’s ok to feel those feelings, it’s human.  It’s also ok to cut yourself some slack and know that things change (sometimes life decides those changes without your input). And it’s also ok to take a breather.  I know our renovations don’t mirror one another’s in complexity or size, but there’s a common sentiment I feel.  Sorry this got really long, but I just want to say thanks and also, you guys are doing a really good job.  Not just with your renovations (although your banquette renovation, the tutorial was brilliant and I was able to pull that one off as my first solo DIY), but just being good human beings.ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 9:50 AM

      Oh, Stephanie. Hang in there, we’re in it together. Feel free to reach out for commiseration anytime.ReplyCancel

    • Julie9.2.20 - 10:44 AM

      Stephanie – I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. I’m glad you still keep him with you in all your decisions and how you work and move forward. I’m sure he’s sooooo proud of you!ReplyCancel

  • Christine9.1.20 - 9:35 AM

    Arg.  I so relate.  We hired someone to do a concrete patio (1200sq ft) and the concrete failed within weeks.  We faced the challenge of paying to pull it out and start over or improvise.  Using concrete forensic specialists we decided to paver over it ourselves.   10 months later and double our budget we are nearing the end of this chapter.  Lots of battle scars but still moving forward (and not divorced!).  Karma…ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 9:47 AM

      Concrete forensic specialists?! What a cool sounding job – but not cool you had to go through that.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny9.1.20 - 9:37 AM

    I’m so sorry that this has happened – bad contractors are such a draining experience. Would submitting a credit card dispute at all fit the situation? We have done that in the past with our credit card company when a contractor did not provide service we paid in full for. We submit a written summary of the situation, and the other party can respond, with the credit card company as the middle man. 
    What my husband and I have always said about these experiences is that you will move on and this will be a distant memory in your past. However, the contractor that treated you poorly will almost perpetually be stuck in these conflicts, treating people negatively, and that is their life. In a weird way, that made us feel better and reinforce that being good to others is the right thing to do. ReplyCancel

    • Scott9.1.20 - 9:47 AM

      We’ve thought about that, but when it’s all said and done, the paint job is complete. The process of fighting any further would only slow us down and keep us from the end goal. Thanks for the kind words!ReplyCancel

  • Jamie9.1.20 - 9:47 AM

    I just want to say that I am so, so sorry that this happened, and while there are bigger things happening in the world, this is a big, bad thing that happened to you all. It’s okay to mourn and be angry for the treatment you received. We moved a few weeks ago during the pandemic and there were things that were supposed to be done and weren’t, and we haven’t heard anything from the realtor we used or the seller. So now we have to eat the cost to fix those problems, and it is disappointing.ReplyCancel

    • Scott9.1.20 - 9:48 AM

      Sorry you’re also dealing with this nonsense! Keep fighting the fight!ReplyCancel

  • Lori9.1.20 - 9:53 AM

    We just went through something similar (much smaller scale) but luckily they were easy to work with and made it right in the end. But it was so much added stress during a time I didn’t need any more. You put your trust (and $$$) into these trades. ReplyCancel

  • Melissa9.1.20 - 10:01 AM

    Thank you for sharing this. I work at a real estate investment firm and so many people think it’s EASY, super profitable, and quick to update properties for rental or even flips. HGTV, blogs, and instagram can make it seem that way. But it’s HARD WORK. Thank you for your honesty and keeping it real so people understand what it can really be like.ReplyCancel

  • Yola9.1.20 - 10:50 AM

    I have been there (and still own) the money pit that holds so many emotions.  Why are some houses this way?  Unfortunately in our case it has extended forward from the cursed repairs to cursed tenants as well.  Sometimes it never ends! It’s so hard.  I feel you.ReplyCancel

  • Roxie9.1.20 - 10:50 AM

    Ugh, we just went through this in June! I was so excited to get home only to find painted windows, paint on carpet and hardwood floors, drips on doors, painted hardware (that we were told would be removed), paint on keepsakes in our daughters closet from a sloppy trim paint job, bare spots where old paint was obviously showing through, unpainted trim that was supposed to be painted. When our lead came, I was given the “tarps were put down…hardware WAS removed…this has already had four coats” lines. It was nauseating. They “fixed” some things in the hour that they had and we were told they would not be coming back again. On two doors they scraped the drips but then left them unpainted which I didn’t notice until after they had left. To this day I will be doing something in a room and notice something new. I just try to deep breathe through it. All that to say, I feel your pain. ReplyCancel

  • Kate9.1.20 - 10:57 AM

    Agh, I am feeling for you guys! I had night terrors every night for weeks earlier in the summer when our own two flat progress was stalled, but they completely went away when our guys started working again. It’s just more stress on what has already been a stressful and eye-opening year. Just know that everyone reading this so so appreciates your beautiful work and love for these old houses!ReplyCancel

  • KLP9.1.20 - 10:57 AM

    It is gut-wrenching when you’ve done everything right (multiple quotes, references, prior experience with SAME COMPANY), and it goes awry.  We had a similar experience when we had work done in our basement shoring up the first floor, and….the work is so shoddy.  The contractor did a bait and switch–quoted pouring footers, but then switched to a different technique in the contract for the same price.  When one of the columns FELL OVER he said: well, I can’t do anything about that, it’s your house that’s uneven. (!!!) Everything he touched we’ve had to redo, or will have to redo at a future date.  The whole experience was so terrible (think, he was ranting and swearing about us in our backyard to a member of his crew about a difficult conversation we had with him), I refuse to discuss him or allow my husband to say his name out loud–Lord Voldemort style.  The best I can say is that we learned a lot–lessons that we’ve been able to apply to subsequent projects.  We had an amazing contractor for a subsequent, significant reno, and I do not regret one penny we paid the amazing contractor.    ReplyCancel

  • Ling9.1.20 - 10:58 AM

    My heart sank when I read through your awful experience: it’s unbelievable what some people in the trades get away with by claiming *our* standards are what’s the problem! I’m so so sorry this has been your guys’ experience! And I agree with the other commenter who said you are allowed to feel all your anger & sadness & frustration despite the other awfulness happening in the world: you guys have the biggest hearts and these things are not mutually exclusive. Hugs to you guys <3 ReplyCancel

  • Rebs9.1.20 - 11:12 AM

    With such a large blog audience, if I was in your shoes, I would threaten to name the company (even if it’s nationwide, they need to take responsibility for their subs), unless they give you full refund. 
    They either must not realize your audience power, or have really stupid management to have let it go this far.ReplyCancel

  • Rebs9.1.20 - 11:17 AM

    At the same time, I admire your fortitude and positive attitude. You could totally win this (you have everything documented) but you may decide it`s not worth the emotional stress to continue the fight.ReplyCancel

  • MB9.1.20 - 12:10 PM

    Hang in there.  That’s all I can even say.  If you decide to sell the 2 flat, that’s fine!  There’s no shame in saying, “ya know what? This isn’t fun anymore and not what we want for ourselves.”  While it’s fun to watch the transformation you’re making unfold, it’s more important to me at least that you share the reality of what is going on with these projects.  That’s what’s valuable as I consider projects to take on in my own home!  And bad vendors are definitely a part of that.  We’re currently getting quotes to have some electrician work checked.  Everything worked fine for a little while…but isn’t working well about 6 months later.  Do we want to spend the money to just have someone else’s work checked?  Of course not.  But it’s part of the real world of home ownership, that’s for sure!  Big hugs.  Hang in there.  It’ll all move forward somehow.ReplyCancel

  • E9.1.20 - 12:18 PM

    you (clap) are (clap) allowed (clap) to change (clap) your (clap) mind! Pivot if you need to, pivot if you WANT to. It’s your life, you get to decide.  (Am I saying this to you or me? We will never know.) 
    Also yes, been there. That sucks in the BEST of times and with everything going on in the world, just… yeah. I feel for you guys. Thank you for sharing. I think its important and one of the reasons I follow you guys. It’s genuine. Real. I appreciate it. Thanks. ReplyCancel

  • Allison9.1.20 - 12:24 PM

    I 100% think you should say the name of this paint company. You fully paid.. they did a beyond crappy job.. as a fellow Chicago dweller I’d like to avoid them. Plus they’re doing work with the owner of a very popular home Reno blog.. if they did such a bad job for you, what do they do for others?! ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 12:41 PM

      As angry and hurt as I am for the way they treated our home, I don’t want to tarnish their name in a way that may come across as spiteful. I can’t bring myself to do it, but it’s a company we’ve even mentioned on this blog (again, not our exterior painters who were wonderful!).ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer9.1.20 - 12:28 PM

    My neighbors put in drain tile around their leaky basement 16 years ago, and it’s been dry ever since.  Our (unfinished) basement, right next door, is always damp and often has a small creek running from the high side to the low side.  So those drain tiles definitely work!  When we get around to cleaning up our basement I’m planning on using that system.  Even if you won’t name the contractors on your blog, I hope you are summing up your experience on the review websites (Angie’s list, Checkbook, etc) so that others know that it can be a problem.  It’s not only the treatment of first painters (hey–made the national company never should have hired them.) but the fact that the nationwide company then chose to side with shoddy workmanship over their reputation is what really makes me wary.  Having that nationwide umbrella company oversight would have led me to have more trust in the process, to then have that disappear is frustrating.  I imagine the net loss to you is much greater than $250, even if you discount emotional wear and tear.ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 12:39 PM

      Yes, bingo, Jennifer. One of the reasons I wanted to go with this company that we’ve worked with in the past (on this blog even – and again, I want to stress that this was not the team that did our exterior, they were awesome but out of our budget for interior), is because I felt like if something DID go wrong, they’d have protocols in place to make it right. I was so, so wrong. The $250 reimbursement doesn’t even cover a tenth of the items we’ve already had to replace, not to mention our contracts that were put in jeopardy due to their lack of response and timeliness.ReplyCancel

  • Milo9.1.20 - 12:31 PM

    I’m so sorry this happened! It sounds so disappointing and frustrating.  Hope the rest of it goes smoothly! ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Erin9.1.20 - 12:57 PM

    I admire the way you all handled this. As a follower we can see there were setbacks but not to this degree. So frustrating! ReplyCancel

  • Kim B9.1.20 - 1:13 PM

    All I can say is that I am so so sorry you have this rotten treatment from this despicable company, and for all the stress and extra money it has cost you.
    Like others who have commented, I really wish you would name the company.  You feel you can’t do that because it would be spiteful, but it seems to me it would simply be honest.
    Anyway not to harangue you over what you should or shouldn’t do.  The main thing is that you shouldn’t have to have had this horrible experience! It’s very telling that even thoughtful  pros like y’all can end up with a bad contractor. Scary.ReplyCancel

  • Mirror9.1.20 - 1:27 PM

    Pretty sure it’s Paintzen. I just googled them and the top result was their ad promising 100% satisfaction guaranteed. 😒 
    We have so many terrible contractor stories too. Currently dealing with an issue with our brand new home being built. Why is it so hard to find decent people?!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca9.1.20 - 1:37 PM

    Oh goodness, I think I just found the company by searching “Painters” on your blog, assuming this is the company you partnered with around August 2017. I literally just reached out to them last week about a cabinet painting job in our old lady brownstone. Needless to say, we will definitely not be proceeding with them now!   
    I so very much admire your heart and spirit in not wanting to out them or be seen as spiteful. I would just say gently one more time that customer experiences and honest reviews (the good and the bad!) are so incredibly valuable to other homeowners and renovators. Sharing your experience objectively and truthfully is not spiteful; it feels more like accountability to me, and they should be held accountable! But, I get that everyone has different comfort levels with that kind of disclosure. We love you guys so much, and we’re just glad you’ve come out the other side of this. I’m excited to see what happens, even if you pivot. We should all learn to pivot more often anyway!  
    And, thank you for  dropping that hint about the company. You may have just saved us quite a bit of heartbreak as well! I don’t think our little old brownstone could withstand another blow right now… R   ReplyCancel

  • Darcy Clark9.1.20 - 1:48 PM

    I feel this so deeply. We just found out that our tiler made our shower too small so now our glass door doesn’t fit and we honestly spent 2 days just wanting to sell the house. He similarly blamed us for his mistake and is now ignoring emails. This post is such a good reminder that it happens to everyone and I need to stop feeling like I’m the one that messed up. We’ll get through, it’s just a shower. Hugs to you, you’ll get through too!ReplyCancel

  • Nahyun9.1.20 - 2:02 PM

    You guys got this!!! Those struggles are definitely a challenge for you guys and it’s so difficult when you trust a trade and you are disappointed!  So sorry about this but I’m happy you guys are taking care of the two flat and giving it the attention it deserves! ReplyCancel

  • Sara9.1.20 - 2:27 PM

    I have some PTSD reading this story, and also feel companionship knowing that this type of thing happens to other people.

    On our last renovation, after  I pointed out multiple issues, our contractor told us that our “budget didn’t allow for high quality work”. I almost drop kicked him through the door. Can you imagine?! I told him that I didn’t realize the company prided itself on low quality work but that I’d be sure to pass that along. A year later, and we’re STILL dealing with it.

    The lack of ability to take responsibility for things when they go wrong (and they do! None of us is perfect!) is unbelievable. ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 4:33 PM

      Oh, no they didn’t! That’s so insulting, I can’t even.ReplyCancel

    • h9.1.20 - 5:09 PM

      Holy crap, that is a LINE. What on earth.ReplyCancel

  • Valerie9.1.20 - 2:31 PM

    I’m SO sorry that you had this experience and were treated this way, in the midst of a pandemic no less. You guys are so creative and inspiring, and I appreciate you sharing this journey. We had a bad experience with our kitchen remodel but the more I hear about what other people have been through the more I feel lucky that it was just a 2 month ordeal and ultimately the end product was good. If you need a recommendation of painters for a future project, the small team we’ve hired on multiple occasions is really wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • Tara C9.1.20 - 2:32 PM

    Oh no! I’m so full of anger and sadness just reading this; I can’t imagine having gone through it! Thank you, thank you for sharing the real ups and downs of your journey. You are not alone. I’m so sorry that this has happened to you both and to your beloved two-flat. You just want to do a good thing! To bring life into an old home! The work you are doing is good, and it will continue to be good. Sending all the love and encouragement possible through the interwebs. ReplyCancel

  • Arli9.1.20 - 2:35 PM

    So very sorry that you’ve had such horrible experiences renovating the two-flat. It is such a difficult and stressful time in general that I can’t imagine adding to that with all these issues. My heart breaks for you. Have you thought about renting out both units for a year just to give yourselves a break, and see where the short-term market is after that?ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 3:28 PM

      That’s definitely an option and something we’ve talked about.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah Gokie9.1.20 - 2:36 PM

    I am so sorry for all of this you’re dealing with, Kim & Scott! What a horrible thing to have happen. My husband and I are DIY-ers by budgetary restriction, but for the first time last fall we decided to splurge to pay someone to do something in our house by having them install new carpet in our basement. *Very* long story short: they had to rip it all out a month later and completely re-install. It’s so frustrating to pay more to have a professional do something and then not end up with even halfway decent results. (Also, echoing other commenters who think it’s completely within your rights to take the company to small claims court. I know not everyone feels this way, but I feel more guilty when I *don’t* let other consumers know issues I’ve had with companies — especially if the company makes nearly no attempt to make it right with me. I wouldn’t want to be the cause that someone else ends up in the same situation that I was in.) ReplyCancel

  • thelady9.1.20 - 3:24 PM

    Hmmm…did they paint your basement apartment? Cuz if you had a promo code and everything back then …and they treated you like this?? I admire your restraint. Most people with an Instagram account and 3 followers would call our anyone for anything !! LOL but I understand the desire to move on!! Those of us who are NOT handy at all have to deal with this so much- I hate to be the Construction Karen but I am so naggy every single day a trade is in my house. I mean polite, but naggy. Until it goes south!! Thanks for sharing !ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 3:26 PM

      Yeah, we worked with them on our garden apartment and had a wonderful experience. This couldn’t have been more different, from beginning to end, especially the way it was handled once things went south.ReplyCancel

      • ChrisO9.1.20 - 5:38 PM

        I’m not sure what kind of agreement you may have had in place for the 2017 post but to protect your own brand I would add an update to the end of the older post explaining that you did not have the same experience the second time you used the service.  ReplyCancel

        • Thelady9.1.20 - 10:14 PM

          Good point – and in  this way it’s not spiteful but simply stating the facts and people will read their name. ReplyCancel

        • Kim B9.3.20 - 1:18 AM

          This is an excellent point about doing this to protect Kim and Scott’s brand?  ReplyCancel

  • Clara9.1.20 - 3:58 PM

    Reading this just broke my heart. It brought me instantly back to a year ago when our next door neighbor (shared wall) had a fire and we had smoke damage throughout our entire house. The stress of the fire was miserable, but dealing with our horrific contractors was a thousand times worse. Nothing – and I really mean nothing – was done unless my husband and I were supervising their work, every. single. day. At one point we had them rip out and redo all the work they had done when we found they hadn’t cleaned the soot and smoke damage behind the walls (the entire purpose of the construction!). The worst was that they ran the AC full blast while working and sanding drywall so dust was circulating throughout our entire HVAC system. It took us a year and thousands of dollars in cleaning fees to get to the point where we don’t start coughing as soon as we walk in the house. We second guessed ourselves so many times, wondering if our expectations were too high, or if we should have fired them and hired someone else outside the insurance network. A year later, the sting has finally worn off, but your story instantly brought back memories of all the tears and frustration. Now the only reminder is that our bedroom was painted with a different sheen on each wall (I still can’t figure out how or why – I mean, that takes effort!). I know we need to repaint it; we just can’t motivate ourselves to do it quite yet. 
    Bottom line: it’s not you!! Keep reminding yourself that, as many times as you need for it to stick. And with a bit of time and distance, it gets better. Promise. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 4:30 PM

      I am so, so sorry to read that you went through that! How terrifying, I couldn’t even imagine. xxReplyCancel

  • peppysfriend9.1.20 - 4:07 PM

    Maybe you won’t say it, but I will – PAINTZEN! Other consumers need to be aware that they are not vetting their crews regarding skill and integrity. And blaming everything on the beginning condition of your house and your overblown expectations????? Mansplaning. Gaslighting. You need to hold their feet to the fire. That’s why small claims court exists! I can’t believe you won’t recoup SOME money there.ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 4:28 PM

      At one point, I did tell them they were gaslighting us (the continual need for more photos and the overuse of ‘not that bad’), to which they gave no response.😔ReplyCancel

  • Tanja9.1.20 - 4:09 PM

    I feel so sad for you. I cannot imagine how sad you must have been seeing all your hard damaged by bad painters. Thank you for sharing your experience. ReplyCancel

  • Alexis9.1.20 - 4:13 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing what was happening behind the scenes.  I read every word and every comment.  We are converting our own two flat in North Center (Chicago) to a single family right now.  This post RESONATES with me in two ways!  First, I have had many moments during our renovation when our contractor or a sub-contractor makes me feel like I’m being too picky or “high maintenance.”  I actually feel the opposite.  I let SO MUCH of the little stuff go!  But when (for example) a wall isn’t straight or an HVAC duct is in the wrong place . . . that needs to be fixed.  I generally really like our contractor but I think he is so focused on the moving pieces and “big picture” he sometimes misses the details.  I do hate feeling like I’m “difficult” for pointing out obvious errors.  It messes with your head!  It’s also very frustrating to pay so much for work that is done incorrectly.  And second, I want to show your post to our parents.  They thought us buying our old house and the renovation was a bad idea in the first place.  Now, when the slightest thing goes wrong they make me and my husband feel like it’s our fault because we should have chosen a different contractor or avoided the whole mess and moved to a new house in the suburbs.  It is really comforting to see that bad contractors just happen sometimes – even to really experienced people like you guys!  It’s not your fault or my fault when someone we’ve hired does something wrong.  We hire them because they are . . . professionals.  I try not to share or post anything negative to avoid the “must be nice!” comments.  And I am 99% excited and grateful!  But your post is like a safe space to acknowledge that it’s sometimes hard and people who haven’t done it don’t get it.  So – thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Erin9.1.20 - 4:19 PM

    My heart goes out to you! We had a similar experience with our new front door. It took 1.5 years for the “best door company in our town” to actually install what we ordered after sending the wrong colour, frosting etc then damaging everything when they tried to correct it, only to find out the parts were still not correct! This went on three to four times. So disheartening for those that take pride in our homes. So happy you are staying positive. That’s the best medicine ❤ReplyCancel

  • Megan Powell9.1.20 - 4:24 PM

    OH MAN! What an adventure! I have never done any major home renovations and can’t imagine the stress of this on top of an already stressful situation. Thank you for your honesty about how renovations actually go. I don’t think anyone can do a case study on a “perfect one”, there’s always mishaps or unexpected things. I feel like so often we see bloggers talk about projects, but maybe leave out a lot of this kind of stuff. As much as it sucks, I appreciate posts like this! 
    Let’s just say I am so thankful my father in law owned a painting business for his entire career, and I never have to worry about a situation like this. ReplyCancel

  • Kelly9.1.20 - 4:26 PM

    I have only had bad experiences with contractors honestly. I am soon getting all the windows in my house replaced and hoping for a smooth project. I feel you guys.ReplyCancel

  • Julie9.1.20 - 4:56 PM

    You are a very talented writer. I am so sorry for your renovation angst! Your positive outlook is admiring…it will all work out. ReplyCancel

  • Barb9.1.20 - 5:42 PM

    We built a small bath/closet addition off of our bedroom in March. We started right before COVID hit and when our state shut down non-essential business, our construction was put on hold for weeks. No siding or even windows to protect it. To make matters worse, our contractor never called for the required inspections and when I finally called, it failed. The footer was not deep enough. The inspector wanted the contractor to tear the addition down and rebuild it but we opted for an engineer to propose a plan to make it frost stable. That required a four foot deep trench of solid concrete and rebar all around the perimeter, which meant our contractor had to tear out the brand new patio we built when we thought the construction was finished. It took the contractor six weeks to fix the problem, which delayed drywall, tile, plumbing, etc. And we’re still at least two months out from completing the addition. ReplyCancel

  • Kristy Pedersen9.1.20 - 6:48 PM

    I’m frustrated for you! I can not believe how unprofessional some contractors can be. No matter what happens, there is no world in which saying that to you is ok. Not on a personal level and certainly not on a professional level. Sending you strength!ReplyCancel

  • Mallory9.1.20 - 8:08 PM

    Your story made my tummy turn. I’m so sorry that this happened to you. It will be okay – take care of yourselves. ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth9.1.20 - 8:49 PM

    What. The. F@&$???????
    I am SO MAD on your behalf. The truth is that we hire professionals to do a job assuming that at the very least, they won’t make it worse, but in reality, they can do a lot of extremely expensive damage. And then to defend the damage they did to your home by belittling the condition of the home you’ve poured hundreds of thousands of dollars and months (years?) of your life into?!  And then to make the process of fixing their mistakes such an incredible inconvenience? That is a betrayal of your trust. I hope that company gets what’s coming to them.

    Speaking of pivoting, a high school friend of mine had the best saying: “Quitters finish first.”  Quitting gets a bad rap, but if there’s something that isn’t working for you anymore, hanging in there can be a form of masochism. It is ok to let things go sometimes. Quitting can be an incredibly freeing experience. 

    I hope something great is born of all this frustration. Whatever you do next, I’ll be reading along. XoxoReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.20 - 9:50 PM

      Quitters finish first… I love that, if only you could convince my enneagram 1 self! ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Kathy9.1.20 - 9:10 PM

    Wow! People can be so awful sometimes! This was painful to read. You guys are incredibly gracious in how you both handled everything and told the story. Thank you for sharing the realities of renovating. And I’m grateful for the rec you’ve passed in to me!ReplyCancel

  • Jen9.1.20 - 9:19 PM

    This made my stomach turn, and I’m so sorry you experienced it.  My brother hired a contractor to do exterior renovations on his home.  He paid half the contractor’s fee, and for doors and windows that were delivered to the contractor to store until needed.  The contractor disappeared, along with all the materials.  Turns out he’d declared bankruptcy, leaving multiple clients in the dark and in the lurch.  Why are these kinds of terrible stories so common?  Is it because being a part of a trade used to mean something in a way it doesn’t seem to now; the training and apprenticeships, the pride one took in learning an art, even if the medium was plumbing?  Now it seems sort of like, throw any marginally capable person onto a crew and send them out.  We want fast, cheap, housing and that calls for fast, cheap labor.  Housing is just another commodity to mass produce, quality be damned (no anchor can keep a towel rack up on the bathroom wall of my mom’s 1990s-built house because the drywall is just that cheap).  How do we bring back a sense of value and pride in the work and materials, and still create housing that is affordable to all of us?  No answers, just a lot of questions.  ReplyCancel

  • Jen9.1.20 - 10:36 PM

    Comments like Let’s be honest, your home wasn’t in good shape before we started. Are so infuriating. 
    My engagement ring is vintage almost 100 years old. I took it to a national diamond store to inquire about getting it re-sized and they point blank said ‘Eh, this ring has seen better days, maybe you want to look around at some others’  I was equal parts sad and furious. I still get mad anytime I think about that day, and that rude comment. 
    I’m sorry the painters and the company  treated you that way, and that they couldn’t admit they made a mistake and do the right thing. Thanks for sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. 
    Love for old homes (and rings) just ain’t for everybody. Their loss. ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany9.1.20 - 11:16 PM

    I don’t think I’ve ever actually read every comment on a post before. BUT, like most of the commenters here I can relate to this post so much (which is terrible for all of us, but it seems to be sort of soothing to have so many of us in this together). Tomorrow, actually, is when we get to meet with the contractors for our basement remodel to see if there is a place of agreement we can come to for the work they “finished” and think they deserve final payment for. UGH. It’s just the pits when you are a nice homeowner and want it to work out with the professional you hired an they just suck. No other words necessary. They SUCK at their jobs. 
    I’m sorry you went through this but thanks for sharing and giving all your readers a space to air their past/present grievances with the contractors we’ve hired. I’m guessing most of your readers are similar to me in that we all dabble in DIY which makes the hiring process all that much more of a pain point as the feeling of “we could have done it better ourselves”  feels extra gut wrenching. 
    Also, congrats for getting to the other side! The two-flat is beautiful and I’m excitedly following along on all your progress!ReplyCancel

  • Katy9.2.20 - 7:18 AM

    Honestly, it’s terrible, but even though I love renovating, this is what happened to us with our first big renovation in our house (kitchen plus new flooring and paint throughout the house). I’m still scratching paint off my floors, I had to re-edge the entire house, touch up spots on the ceiling where they’d smacked their paint brushes, and the tile around my fireplace needs to be scraped down and repainted entirely. The rough spots where they sucked at finishing drywall still make me mad when I see them, and as much as I tried to fix them, it’s the kind of thing that just doesnt disappear. Their response was “what did I expect for that price?”. We need to do our basement and I just….can’t. I smile reading how you guys push through, and even though it’s been a year since our smack down with contractors, I haven’t found a way to do that just yet. It’ll come! ReplyCancel

  • Michelle9.2.20 - 7:41 AM

    What a shame and I’m so sorry for the expense, stress, and heartache this has caused you both. As suspected, I’m reading and nodding my head vigorously. Among other poor experiences, I hired an electrical contractor that held up my kitchen renovation for 40 days after he had previously worked on our bathroom renovation and I thought he was qualified/good. The fights and stress I had nearly broke me and in the end I did what you did and paid him to get him done and out of my life.  I work in construction management for a living, which I never tell a contractor when they meet me (I’ve had guys literally turn and leave the house), so I know what I’m asking for and what quality work should look like. You both renovate enough to know enough, so working with you can be very different than traditional homeowners and you still got treated this way as well. Honestly finding good contractors who care is so hard and can take the fun out of it. In the end, I stopped blogging about our renovations or keeping track of our journey with this house… it doesn’t change that I love this house, but bad experiences did take the wind out of our sails and I was just so worn out and exhausted. I’m glad you both keep sharing, even these terrible experiences, and hope that you find joy in the two-flat with beautiful changes you’ve done yourself.  ReplyCancel

  • Meg9.2.20 - 8:36 AM

    We are renovating a mid-century fire station and I have experienced everything that you are going thru! We had a dumpster fire last week because the flooring company didn’t dry out their rags before discarding them and they combusted. Luckily, no one was hurt and there was no damage to the structure and our contractor just laughed. We can’t even fire him because our construction loan says we have to keep him. Then the next day, we drove by to check on it and the keys were left in the door. It’s so frustrating. I am counting down the days until we can change the locks, rip out the worst trim work I have ever seen, and start to do our own work there. ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer9.4.20 - 9:10 AM

      Wow, an actual *dumpster fire* in a fire station renovation.  Most people want to claim their renovations are dumpster fires–but you definitely get bragging rights.  Of course they’re bragging rights to something that no one wants…a dumpster fire of a renovation saga.  Good luck getting through your renovation and getting back into control of your own house.ReplyCancel

  • SLG9.2.20 - 10:04 AM

    Kim & Scott, thank you so much for your honest look at a situation that went terribly, terribly wrong. It’s easy to look at renovation bloggers and wonder “How does everything always go great for them??” and it’s reassuring to know that we all deal with this. Thanks for your honesty, and I’m so sorry you are dealing with this terrible situation!
    Have you considered contacting the Better Business Bureau? I had a truly terrible horrible situation created by a contractor working on a bathroom in our house — it was so bad in so many ways that it took a full year to resolve. Like you, I took photos along the way, so I had full documentation. After getting blown off by the contractor repeatedly, I finally contacted the BBB. The immediate difference was shocking: the BBB contacted the contractor on my behalf, the contractor became completely apologetic, and it all ended with the contractor bringing a check to my home for a full refund of what I had paid them plus extra “to take yourselves out to dinner.” I think they were terrified of having a ding on their BBB rating. I’ll never use that contractor again, but at least I now know the power of getting the BBB involved.ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.2.20 - 10:48 AM

      We did consider it, and in hindsight, I wish we had.ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa9.2.20 - 4:29 PM

    Ok, I am not problem solving here at all, just guessing that though you hired a “painting company” to do this work they hired “a couple a guys off the street” and gave them no training.  There really isn’t any certification for painting, landscaping, tiling, wall papering, putting up fences, caulking or floor sanding.  Most of the people doing those jobs are hacks – and I can include myself in that description.  But I often feel that me being a hack is no worse than them being a hack and I am free.  You should have seen the last plumber I hired, and he was licensed!  
    I am so sorry about all of that, it sucks, but don’t let them get you down.  ReplyCancel

    • Kj9.4.20 - 9:05 AM

      Try finding a painter through a professional association website. Any company that bothers to join will almost certainly be worth it. For example, there is a Painting Contractors Association that has a “Find a Painter” search function. A lot of their members are commercial, multi-family only but with a little poking around you may find one in your area. For example, I have to expand my search area by 10-20 miles to find the smaller companies.
       https://pcapainted.org/
      There are similar organizations/associations for most trades.ReplyCancel

  • Laurel9.3.20 - 10:36 AM

    This was so frustrating to read! We’ve paid for a lot of work to be done around our house with generally good experiences, but one story sticks out in my memory: we had a sprinkler system installed a few summers ago, and we asked the crew if (for an extra charge), they could haul away fill dirt that had piled up in our backyard as we dug out our basement windows. They said sure, hauled away half of it, and re-spread the other half! They undid all of the leveling and grating work we had done, spread rocky dirt throughout our garden, and we were so shocked that we didn’t say anything. I’m still kicking myself for not demanding that they come back and finish the job. Fast forward to this summer and we had to have a tree removed, and asked the tree contractor if there was anyway he could haul the dirt that we had, for the second time, piled up in the backyard. He did, at a well-earned extra fee, and we have finally closed the book on this chapter. But we’re out thousands of dollars – over dirt! How?ReplyCancel

  • Anne9.4.20 - 8:48 AM

    I nodded as I read this (stomach in knots for you!) The feeling is all too familiar. 
    So many of us have had these awful situations, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I’m sure you are worn down from the frustration, exhaustion, and heartbreak (yep, it breaks your heart to see a place you love and pour time/energy into… treated like crap). Thanks for sharing this story. Sending positive vibes to you with hope the curse is lifted!ReplyCancel

  • STEPHANIE HARRIS9.4.20 - 12:26 PM

    It truly makes me sick reading this!  I have been there a few times, but the worst was a home we thought we would renovate and make our forever home.  We were going to just take our time removating (like we had our previous home), but that did not happen.  I’ll spare you the details, but at the time it felt like that home was “breaking” us.  Financially, physically (our entire family ended up being sick for most of the renovation) and most importantly emotionally.  It took such a toll on us that I truly ended up hating that house!  Then a miracle happened and a couple from out of town wanted a renovated home in our neighborhood.  SOLD!!!  We were out of the house that none of us liked, we sold it for more than it ever would have appraised for, and we upgraded to a much better lot in the same neighborhood.  Hang in there…you never know what is right around the corner!ReplyCancel

  • jessica9.6.20 - 1:56 PM

    Oh my gosh! My heart literally stopped at one point as the story kept getting worse and worse! I can’t imagine how bad that felt to have your trust betrayed and your home damaged. It looks lovely in the photos though! Better days ahead…right?! xoReplyCancel

  • Sarah Springer9.6.20 - 5:20 PM

    I really don’t think you should be apologetic for being upset about this experience. That is awful and compounded by it being just an overall awful time for it to happen. I’m so sorry you’ve had such bad setbacks. ReplyCancel

  • […] Yellow Brick Home has a cursed-feeling house and bad subs, too. […]ReplyCancel

  • Dana9.23.20 - 7:53 AM

    Thank you for sharing!! We too have had an awful experience like this. And not only is it painful to go through, when seeing such perfect renovations on blogs/IG/SM, while you’re going through such a rough time, it can make you feel very lonely that you somehow are at fault/not as capable. SO thank you so much for sharing not only the ups, but also the downs. It is truly helpful……and I’m so glad you’re (hopefully) sticking it out! The 2 flat is going to be MAGIC when it’s done.ReplyCancel

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