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 It seems like an outdated feature because most modern kitchens are big and have enough counter space, so they don’t need a pull-out board, but for our small kitchen, it’s super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.