Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Let me Stuff that 12' Roll of Linoleum into your Car

The foreman for the project showed up one morning, gave me an invoice that called for a big check, and asked, “So, when are you having the stuff delivered?” “Stuff” referred to bathroom stuff: a vanity, medicine cabinet, sink, light, faucets, shower spigot. Stuff.

This was a surprise to me. I took great care not to read the contract carefully so that I wouldn’t find these surprises. Right, it wasn’t specified. He explained to me that if I bought the stuff, they wouldn’t add a 20% surcharge to the items, you know, for driving down to Home Depot, picking them out, delivery. If I did this amount of work, I could pick it all out and save myself some money.

Contractors must make assumptions about their home owners. (1) They love to shop. (2) They love picking out colors, materials. They just loooove the touch of that nickel-plated finish on the faucet. (3) They all own pick-up trucks to transport the stuff. And last, (4) They know their way around Home Depot.

Um, strike all four of those in my case. I really wish I had these skills. I have other skills (you’ll have to trust me here), but I’m not a maintenance technician, I’m not even a shopper. I’m not your stereotypical woman who loves colors and textures. I like function. Function -- like hire a contractor and they will do all of this work.

So, despite my fears and misgivings, I found myself at Home Depot one afternoon, pushing an empty cart. I went down my list. The shower valves were the hardest. The foreman told me that I had to get the scald protected faucet for the shower. I saw a lot of other language like “temperature protection,” but I wasn’t sure that would satisfy the inspector. I looked and looked at the 40 or so choices, and only about 5 mentioned the anti-scald language. So I finally picked one from those choices.

Shower bars. Not much of a choice, and nothing matched. I finally settled for one chrome two-foot bar (but couldn’t find a matching 18-inch bar).

I added in a faucet for the sink. I found a medicine cabinet (I sure hope it fits) that had a mirror surrounded by white wood. And then I located a vanity cabinet that matched the medicine cabinet in looks – I jotted down the number so that the foreman could pick it up later (it wouldn’t fit into my car, I was sure). I even found a little tiny robe hook and added that to my basket.

The light, however, was another difficult choice. I found what I wanted, with drooping lights coming out of it, but the kits were hidden behind a piece of Home Depot equipment, and I couldn’t get my hand through to grab one. I found a HD assistant, and he said, “I’m off work. See that other guy over there,” who was headed in the opposite direction. So I settled for the same type of light fixture that’s in my other bathroom – it was within easy reach.

I delivered all of this to the house. The foreman advised me a day later, though, that the vanity would not fit into the space in the small bathroom. But he promised to pick out something similar.

A week later, as I’m heading out the door, the foreman asks me when I'm going to pick up the linoleum. Linoleum? My God.

I went back to Home Depot, and after spending an hour there, I ran screaming from the place. I did learn, though, that linoleum is also called “plastic vinyl siding.” And that a 12-foot roll will not fit into an Acura. And that Home Depot people hate customers.

So, the next day I went to a more local shop, Anderson Carpeting and Floor whatever, and found someone who could actually answer questions and smile while doing it. He told me the differences between linoleum and plastic vinyl flooring, differences too numerous to list here. But as soon as I heard the words “cheap” and “just as good except that vinyl only lasts about 10 years,” I picked out a nice gray pattern and asked how I was going to get it home. I heard the magic words: We Deliver.

Hallelujah! It’s a religious experience, but more having to do with the seven layers of Purgatory than with Paradise. Please, please, tell me there’s no more shopping on this job!!

No comments: