The saga of the kitchen tiles

I never talked about our kitchen tiles (until last week) and I surely did not plan to write a whole post about them, but here we are. I am sure some of you, who have endured frustrating home repair situations, can empathize, others might be able to sympathize. 

I am not sure if you read my recent post where I shared a little bit about the situation with our kitchen tiles, but I feel like I have to elaborate a little more: when we moved into our rental duplex 4,5 years ago, the kitchen was the least exciting part of the whole house for me. The duplex is older, but generally in good shape. It checked off most of the other “wants” on our list (desired neighborhood, off-street parking, garage, central HVAC, private outdoor space), however, the kitchen did not really meet my expectations. It’s not even the fact that it’s small (I can deal with small, although I’d like a little bit more cabinet and counter space), but it’s just old and ugly. 

I don’t know how you feel about this – but for me, the kitchen is the heart of the home and can really make or break it. The only redeeming features in our kitchen are that it has a seating area (I love when there’s space for a table and chairs) and one of those “pull-out cutting boards” that is hidden above one of the cabinet drawers. It seems like an outdated feature because most modern kitchens are big and have enough counter space, so they don’t need a pull-out board, but for our small kitchen, it’s super convenient. Does your kitchen have a pull-out cutting board?

But I digress.

While I tried to tell myself that the kitchen floor seemed charmingly “rustic” with its large, terracotta-colored tiles, on closer inspection, I noticed that a few of the tiles had cracks. We weren’t NOT going to move in because of a few cracked tiles, but it did bother me a bit. Moreover, the floor seemed uneven, the tiles were not set in a straight line, the joints were of varying different widths, and the grout had started to crumble in places. 

Not good, you’re thinking? Yes, pretty soon, more tiles started to chip and crack and tiles in the high-traffic areas started to move/come loose. I was constantly sweeping and mopping up pieces of grout. The floor looks beyond normal wear-and-tear but it is caused by a poorly done tiling job. There are a total number of ten tiles now that are broken (and I can predict that more will follow). The photo above shows what the floor looks like in the doorway to the kitchen.

A couple of weeks ago, we finally got the landlords to do something about it (oh, it’s only been 3+ years since we first brought it up), but they decided that they just want to replace/reset the broken and/or loose tiles, not redo the entire floor (which IMHO is needed). As you can guess, I am not thrilled about this solution. The whole kitchen needs an upgrade and the floor would have been a great start. 

To make things worse, the guy that they hired to fix the floor turns out to be a huge flake, which now also got me worried about his level of expertise with these kinds of home repairs. (Are these two related? It seems to me that they are because if this guy is doing repairs as a side job – which it appears he is, or why else would he schedule after-work or weekend appointments –  I still expect some level of professionalism.) 

Here’s why I am worried:

It took three attempts to get the handyman to come out and look at the floor. He didn’t show up for the first appointment and when Jon inquired (I was still in Germany), he was told that the appointment hadn’t been confirmed with the landlords. The inspection was rescheduled for a week later, but on that day he texted that he was stuck in traffic and wouldn’t be able to make it. He rescheduled again for the next day. The following day, he texted that he was going to be late. He did however finally show up 1.5 hours after the original appointment time. His assessment was that in his opinion the floor needed to be redone and that he’d talk to the landlords.  (And no, the landlords were not present for this work assessment, which I think they should have  been.)

A few days later, the landlords let us know that the handyman would come on Saturday, April 29th at 9 am to fix the broken/loose tiles only. I was disappointed but not surprised that they had decided to go with a half-ass solution but I was excited that something was going to be done nonetheless (even if it wasn’t the full floor replacement that I had been hoping for). I got up early to get my workouts out of the way and we had breakfast and cleaned up so that we could let the handyman get to work in the kitchen.

At 8:57 am, the landlord texted that the handyman had canceled the appointment because of a migraine. (Look, I know migraines are terrible and I sympathize with people who suffer from them, but if I am honest, for me, this was already turning into a pattern.)

On a side note, if all of this wasn’t upsetting enough, communication has been terrible (a topic for another day, OMG!). There was a group text between the landlord, the handyman, and Jon set up while I was in Germany, but that group chat was not always used to communicate between all parties. For example, the handyman was using the group chat to schedule the initial floor inspection but then on Saturday morning, instead of texting the group, he only texted the landlords that he was canceling and they had to relay that information to us.

Fast forward to last weekend. I mentioned that the work had been rescheduled for last Saturday at 9 am but I am sure you can already guess where this is going. 

I was up early again, doing my workout, when at 8 am Jon received a string of text messages (in the group text). The handyman was at the home improvement store and couldn’t find the right tiles (documenting it with multiple pictures) and said he had to cancel. AGAIN. 

Guys, I am not making this sh*t up. 

Why in the world would he be at the store an hour before our appointment trying to find the material that he needed for the job? Shouldn’t he have acquired the tiles for the previous week already, when he canceled at the last minute? I am absolutely dumbfounded by this behavior. And don’t even think there was any regretful or humbling statement, let alone an apology accompanying his text. It was all in a matter-of-fact “deal with it” kind of tone.

I really wanted to respond with YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME but decided to wait and see what the landlords would do. They did eventually respond but without any resolution. I ended up texting them later to express my dumbfoundedness. They responded that they were frustrated as well and needed to talk to him and cancel the contract if necessary.

Well, it’s been 5 days and we haven’t heard a thing. We do not know when, or if, the guy is going to come back, but I have a feeling that the landlords are also not really looking to find someone else and that we’ll be in this groundhog day situation again where we plan our Saturday around a handyman that keeps NOT showing up.

Seriously, I do not want him to come back (as if he was ever actually here) because I’ve also been worried about something else. Nerd that I am, I did some research on the art of tiling and it is not an easy, everyone-can-do-it type of job. It might appear easy on the surface (no pun intended), but to do it “right”, you do need to know what you’re doing. As I mentioned, the floor seems uneven, and as far as I understand having an even surface is THE most important part before you start tiling because otherwise the integrity of the floor can not be maintained. Tiles shouldn’t break with normal everyday use if installed correctly (hence the broken tiles that we have right now).

Also, we were told (by the handyman) that he can fix the tiles in one day. ONE DAY! Oh, this makes my head spin. From all I read, tile removal is time-consuming and dirty and the new tile adhesive has to cure (24-48 hours minimum) before grouting and then you still shouldn’t walk on the tiles right away. So even if he’s “just replacing a few broken tiles”, it’s clear to me that it’s not going to be a one-day job! But this has not been communicated or planned out in any way.

What if he does come to do the work, but doesn’t finish the job in one day? (Which, I already suspect, is impossible. Unless he has some kind of magic powers, in which case, can he just remodel the whole kitchen for me remotely? Please and thank you.) Will he come back the following weekend or sometime in the distant future when he doesn’t have a migraine and/or he feels like it? This is ridiculous.

There is no point to this post other than giving me a place to vent. Kudos if you made it that far. If you know me a little bit then you know that I am a very patient, accommodating person and that I always give people the benefit of the doubt (sometimes one too many times). It’s usually something I consider a virtue, but even my fuse has gotten shorter with time (and bad experiences). I’ve spent way too much mental energy on this in the last couple of weeks and I think I have to muster some courage and talk to the landlords again.

  1. I’m so sorry you guys have to deal with such flake and that your landlord seems to be too cheap to even consider getting the floor fixed the right way.
    If I had to place a bet: the handyman is not going to show up on time the next time, if at all.

    1. Thanks for letting me vent here and offline ;)

  2. Oh my god does this ever sound frustrating! How annoying on every level. I agree with you that the kitchen is the heart of the home and having constant grout and cracked tiles sounds awful. I’m so sorry, San. I am also forgiving and patient and this would DRIVE ME UP THE WALL. Why can’t people just do their jobs, and do them correctly???

    1. Has this work attitude come out of the pandemic or was it always like this? I can’t wrap my head around how someone can keep a job with this attitude.

  3. This is so annoying. Of course, the landlord doesn’t feel the same urgency and annoyance as you; they aren’t affected by the whole thing. They probably need to stop being so cheap. If landlords don’t or can’t afford to keep their property in good condition they probably shouldn’t be landlords.

    We have rules in Victoria that non-urgent repairs must be done within 14 days, and broken tiles would come under this. We did have what was classed as an. Urgent repair (which requires immediate rectification) was not done at all for the whole time we were there (it was air conditioning, and there were issues with supply), but we were only going to be there for one year, so we kind of just let it go. We did let the new tenants after we know that the air conditioning didn’t work and to make sure it was fixed before they moved in.

    On a side note, when I go to your blog homepage it displays weirdly and down the bottom it says “There has been a critical error on this website” but if I navigate to individual posts and they are fine.

    1. Thanks for commiserating, Melissa. I appreciate hearing your own experiences (as frustrating as they sound as well).

      And thanks for letting me know about my blog… I’ve been having issues with the RSS feed and “tried” a different theme and that seemed to make it all weirder. I am looking into this, but thanks for the heads up!

  4. This all sucks so much, San. I would be so frustrated and angry. You’ve waited so long and now to be constantly having to pursue a solution – and even knowing the “solution” is more of a temporary fix AT BEST – ugh. I am so sorry, friend.

    I really, really hope there is a positive resolution to this story ASAP <3

    1. Thanks for the empathy, I know what you’ve had your fair share of frustrating home repair stories as well. I’ll keep you all posted. Ha.

  5. Wow, this is frustrating. The handyman obviously doesn’t care, and the landlord probably cares a little but not as much as you do, since you’re the one who has to live there. I always find it stressful to have people working in the house- or, even to plan to have them there. You’re clearing your schedule for the day and the guy doesn’t show up multiple times… that ruins your schedule for the whole morning. Well- I hope it gets resolved soon! Give us an update.

    1. Thanks for the empathy, Jenny. It’s been a truly frustrating couple of weeks – and I am hoping for some sort of satisfactory resolution. I’ll keep you all posted ;)

  6. UGH. This is SO frustrating, San. I have had to deal with unreliable service workers before and it is awful. Especially when you feel like you don’t have another option (and sometimes you don’t). No advice or magic solution unfortunately, but I hear you and this is legitimately infuriating. I hope the landlords cancel his contract and find someone more qualified for the job.

    1. Thanks so much, friend, I appreciate your empathy. I’ll sure give you guys an update.

  7. Aw, man, this situation sounds so frustrating!
    I wish I had a solution for you!!

    1. Thanks so much your sweet comment – it helps even if you don’t have the solution ;)

  8. Ugh, I am so sorry to hear this. This seems to be how things go with handymen and similar professions. There is so much demand for their services so they have the upper hand right now. We are so glad that Phil’s cousin is a handyman that can help with things around our house. Otherwise we’d be in the kind of situation you are in. Phil had a super frustrating experience when he tried to hire a tree trimmer. When he got bids, some people just didn’t respond and then when he chose someone, the company he hired was so unresponsive. It was really really frustrating! Plus when a couple of our neighbors heard he was hiring someone, they wanted to go in on it and have the company trim trees on their property, too. So then Phil felt kind of responsible for the experience the other neighbors would have – even though it was never his idea to manage this process for 3 different houses. He was so glad when it was behind us!

    1. Ugh, the situation with the tree trimmer sounds terrible. I think you’re right – it’s really hard to get realiable and professional skilled craftsmen right now… they guy our landlords first hired was definitely NOT a professional.

  9. This is such a frustrating situation, and I’m sorry that you’re still dealing with these cracked kitchen tiles. What a horrible handyman they picked! How do you just NOT SHOW UP for your appointments? How do you wait until the very last second to pick out the tiles?! I am just appalled. It’s even more frustrating as you have to go through your landlord as a middleman, which is just making the situation more annoying. I hope you have a solution soon!

    1. Renting has a lot of perks, but this situation is really frustrating right now. Thanks for your empathy!

  10. Soooo frustrating! I hope the situation clears up soon and the landlord finds a more reliable handyman.

  11. Holy cannoli, San. Wow. Just… wow. I can’t believe the length of time this saga has been going on. Your landlords do sound cheap, unfortunately. Sigh. I’m a renter, too, but not from an individual, so I have not yet had to deal with these sorts of things. I did in other rental properties (a/c went out in the summer in Philly one time, which was… not fun…) and while things were delayed and never done when *I* wanted to have them done, they did, well, get done eventually.
    Hoping hoping hoping that there is an update soon (I’m super behind, even more so than usual…) and that the update includes a picture of new tiles, new grout, and (this might be hoping for too much) an apologetic handyman. (I’m clearly reaching, here, friend… :>) Hang in there. <3

  12. O my god I have no words. What a nightmare. The landlord obviously is cheap and delegates all the organizing to you. And dont get me started on the handyman. Wow. I bet you would do a better and faster job watching some YouTube videos and doing it yourself. Amazing. I hope this will be resolved soon.

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