Home Depot Kitchen Remodel - Beware – hidden costs and delays and be prepared to be your own general contractor
700 REED ROAD, BROOMALL, PENNSYLVANIA -- Home Depot Kitchen Remodel:
Beware – hidden costs and delays and be prepared to be your own general contractor
My daughter decided that her 70’s, 8’X10’ kitchen with cabinets that would not close and drawers that would not open needed to be redone. Although the project extended into the adjacent powder room and dining room and left to DYI relatives, the kitchen was to be handled by professionals with the aim of minimizing the time she would be without a the convenience of a kitchen. She turned to Home Depot (HD) for help. A project scheduled to be completed in 4 -5 weeks took 9 with hidden costs and delays.
When dealing with the “big box store” remodeling services (heavily advertised and promoted in the stores), one might assume that aside from making final design selections, the store will coordinate the work, effectively acting as a general contractor. Not so!
The kitchen remodeling services at HD or Lowes start with a consultation with a designer in the kitchen department. They can, and do, help clients through the design process including selection of cabinets and counter top. And while suggestions may be given regarding appliances and flooring, the shopper is left with meeting the “experts” in those departments and making final selections. This is fine, but one learns that the only communication/coordination that occurs between these departments is via the orders placed. Project coordinators at the stores to whom the projects are assigned do nothing but schedule the subcontractors assigned to do the work. National and/or regional contracts are with a firm that handles demolition and installation of cabinets (they also sub out any electrical work) and with a flooring installation firm.
All this might work if someone was truly acting as the general contractor and if HD were to communicate effectively with the client. After several weeks, my daughter asked for my help. Here is what I learned:
Beware, changes may cause delays and will cost. HD requires all changes to go through them – they tack on a percentage.
Pro - After many hours of discussion and looking at alternatives, HD came up with a design that was pleasing. The associate was very cooperative and it appeared that the project was off to a good start.
Con - The associate failed to communicate the complete process. For example, a granite countertop was selected from the standard small block samples at the store. And while the “advantage” of selecting a HD “sealed” stone was explained, no one explained that the actual color and detail of the stone varies and that you must select the actual stone slab. Nor was the template process explained or the fact that the client may want to meet with the supplier to review template layout. In fact the local supplier was not identified until an inquiry was made. A scramble just before the scheduling of the template date prevented a delay.
Pro - The associate was helpful and a good deal was made on the dishwasher.
Con - No one told my daughter that when you take delivery and don’t have the appliances installed, any delayed installation handled by HD will be at an added cost. Note, as the floor was being replaced, the stove was not to be installed (albeit needed to be in place for counter fit) and, of course, the refrigerator cannot be in place when the floor is installed.
The cabinet installer took care of the microwave, dishwasher, and initial install of stove. We took care of the refrigerator installation.
Cabinet Demo & Installation:
Pro - This work was handled by Housecrafters. They sent a representative who took final measurements and reviewed details of the installation (a definitive contract). The assigned installer was a knowledgeable professional and handled the work efficiently (fast). Overall quality was good.
Con - Communication could have been better off site. New cabinets were installed over damaged walls leaving a more difficult finishing job. (Note I did some of the patching and all of the painting and would have preferred the walls to have been repaired and painted before the cabinets were installed leaving only touch-up to do.) The design and location of the base cabinets required the relocation/installation of a floor vent. Further, complications with the flooring resulted in a shifting of schedules resulting in delays that accumulated in over two weeks of lost time.
Pro - Housecrafters provides electrical work through sub-contractors. The firm on this job was timely and did quality work.
Con - As with any total rehab job, you run into issues, often with electrical installation. A change in location of a light switch required HD approval (and added cost). Existing receptacles had to be moved – no flexibility by the electrician – added delay.
Pro - The sub-contractor was USIG. The crew was excellent. The required demolition was difficult and the crew did a good job cleaning up the mess. They obviously had a lot of experience as installation (tile) was done efficiently and without error. They spent a total of three long days on the project.
Con - This was the worst part of the project and the most poorly handled by HD. They never looked at the job and as such wrote the contract as removal of existing old floating wood floor with replacement (backer board, glue and tile). The outfit that measures the floor is yet another sub-contractor. Due to a change, this contractor was sent out a second time. I asked about the depth of the floor and interference with the outside door (a main entrance to the house). They know nothing. When the issue was raised to HD, they insisted that the job could be done as written. When asked what they were going to do with door when it would not close due to the height of the new floor, they responded “We don’t do doors. That is left to the client.” Further discussions with HD “coordinator” as to why no one inspected the flooring job yielded a response that this was not normally done and that if we wanted it inspected before the installers arrived, there would be a charge. An additional follow up resulted in the conclusion that the USIG would make the determination of what should be done. Two minutes on the job and the USIG supervisor agreed that the old floor had to be removed. Before they could proceed, they had to contact the HD “coordinator”. Surprise, that work would require a change and the add-on fee was not insignificant.
Oh, by the way, the original contract called for applying quarter-round. Of course once it was declared that the floor had to be removed, the baseboard had to go as well. When asked about replacement, HD noted that this was up to the client. They would ask the installers to do – but of course there would be an added charge! I elected to install the baseboard and following additional confusion/miscommunication over the trim, obtained and painted shoe molding which the flooring crew installed.
As a side note, the powder room adjacent to the kitchen was also redone. The flooring installer was to remove and replace the old toilet. This was done except that a new toilet was to be installed. This was technically a contract issue but was done (at least to the point that it was discovered that the feed line would have to be re-plumbed).
There are other small annoyances that are involved with a job of this scope (even though this was a very small kitchen).
In sum, a word of caution: Do not assume that HD or Lowes fills the role of a general contractor. If you do not have the time or knowledge, find a relative or friend who does or price your job through a full service remodeling firm (my experience is that you may still be talking to sub-contractors). Don’t think that just because you have a remodeling contract with HD or Lowes that they will coordinate details between departments or that all costs (including potential changes) have been discussed, let alone disclosed. Finally, realize that a full remodel involves sacrifice and inconvenience. So do allow for contingencies, including a slip in schedule, and, as noted by other reviewers, potential follow-up hassle with the stores if mistakes are made.