Kitchen Saga Update (long, but need yet more help!)

13 years ago

If you've been following my saga you know that after a quick start in mid-January, we quickly came to a screeching halt and have been at a standstill on our project for almost three weeks now. Issues were/are:

* Several measuring errors (up to 3 now!)

...and the biggy...

* How to vent our cooktop externally

Hood Vent issues:

First, we have no clear bay to run the vent duct through.

Second, the space b/w the ceiling and the floor above it (plenum?) is only 7-1/4" instead of 9" the 8" round duct won't fit.

Third, the main waste pipe for the second floor sticks out further than the KD thought so we cannot both convert to a rectangular duct and make the turn to get around the waste pipe in the space available.

To solve the first issue, we have received 2 very different estimates from 2 different plumbers. I have posted the 2 solutions on the Plumbing Forum, but it seems to be pretty slow over there. So, if you can help resolve this issue, could you please check out my Rerouting Shower Drain Pipe thread? I greatly appreciate it!

Vent-A-Hood and GWers solved the second issue...VAH has a connector connector that will convert an 8" round duct to a 6"x8-1/2" rectangular duct--which will fit in the plenum. ( KD didn't think there was a connector available to convert the 8" round pipe, so she had dismissed this idea when GWers told me about it and I relayed it to her...but now that VAH suggested it along w/the connector, she's all for it!)

The third issue has 2 possible solutions:

* run a 7-1/2"D or so soffit from the interior wall of the kitchen to the exterior wall. Since one such "beam" would look out of place, we could run 2 or 3 more to make it look like it's part of the design...not the best solution...and one my DH definitely does not want to do!

.....Or, we could.....

* Build the whole wall w/the cooktop out 6" to clear the waste pipe and run the duct work in that space since the vent hood will be up against the "new" wall. The problem with this is that it reduces the aisle clearance b/w the peninsula and refrigerator to about 34". Yes, I know minimum should be 42" and this is 8" narrower, but our previous doorway was 33" and it was fine. Note: we discovered a measuring error KD had said we had a 48" aisle which would give us a 42" aisle after the "new" wall. But in reality, the aisle was only 40"...I don't know if my KD actually measured wrong or if she didn't account for the extra depth of the door & handle of the refrigerator...I know I didn't realize it was 31-3/8" deep! Plus, it needs a 1/2" air gap in the back. (I probably should have, but toward the end we were rushing so I didn't verify the refrigerator depth....lessons learned...refuse to be hurried & trust but verify!)

On the upside, if we do build out the wall 6", I can now have a 6" niche built in the wall behind and above my cooktop. My cooktop is 21" deep and my counter will only be 24" + overhang. That puts...

Comments (120)

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks for the support everyone....I have a feeling I'm going to need it over the next few days as I try to get everything resolved!

    Thanks for the link Jetvr. Yes, there are a lot of complaints but none more recent than 12/03 (most in '02 & '01) and, considering their size, I would have expected many more. I'm not dismissing the info, especially since I am having quite a few problems, but do you know why there have been no further complaints in the past 4+ years? Are they being suppressed or has EXPO, in general, cleaned up its act?

    Regardless, it's too late now as I am already contracted to them and I do have all of my product and installation is underway (sort of!)

    Rosie...the EXPO in Columbia, MD. Those solutions, btw, have not yet been presented to or accepted by my KD. I have to wait until after 11am to call today since they have a weekly staff meeting on Wed. mornings.

    Rmkitchen....I haven't been all conciliatory. I've had a couple of intense moments w/both my KD and GC when I pretty much told them that I want more work done to try to find a solution to the hood problem rather than wringing their hands saying there is no solution [not the words I used!] I was upfront w/them that both my DH and I were already very unhappy when they installed the plumbing for the main sink on the wrong side and that the (first) measuring issues have already forced me into a smaller drawer base and all the pantry issues. I further stated that every piece of my design was designed that way for a specific reason & that I had worked long & hard on it. They quietly listened and that's when they started coming up with REAL solutions including bringing in an HVAC specialist!

    It looks like I'm going to have to talk to my KD again, this time about the latest 2 measuring issues (cooktop wall & PR)! [My GC, who confirmed the measurement problems yesterday is doing fine from what I can see...I have no further complaints about him right now--other than he still questions our plumber's assessment of what needs to be done to move the shower drain pipe.]

    Yes, Divamum, these are THEIR measurements!

    Pcjs...thanks for the offer! I can offer him anything I can cook in a MW or toaster oven...but that's it! No kitchen!!! (Or water on the 1st floor since the PR has been demolished as well!)

    Plllog...I'll keep that in the back of mind if things get worse...too bad it's the end of February sweeps when the news channels seem to do more with these types of things!

    Thanks again everyone!

  • Sue Brunette (formerly known as hockeychik)
    13 years ago

    I just can't believe this nightmare you are going through. I would be spitting tacks! You stated that the KD is NKBA certified-I would contact them with a complaint about this designer-is she really certified? I'm sure that is the last thing you want to do right now, but, sheesh, how could they have certified someone that can't even take a proper measurement!
    Something just isn't right there.
    I agree with several who have stated that you need to get your money back from these people and find someone who knows what they are doing. There have just been too many mistakes. I'm so sorry you are going through this and you seem to have the patience of a saint. I hope things get worked out soon. Good Luck.

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    From the photos, it looks like the only place you have to work is to the right of the sink. That's a quite small area. If you buy unfinished cabinets to fill the area where the door was, you will probably gain another 30-36 inches or so out to the edge of the tile. A good paint store can help you match the wood finish if you like it. Get drawers, not shelves, in the bottom cabinet. Open shelves would be cheaper for uppers than a wood cabinet with two doors. Matching the wood soffit would be probably more expense than it is worth unless you enjoy doing that kind of thing. Then replace the laminate so that you have a *broad continuous sweep* of area to work. That'll be good for at least five years for less than a couple thousand dollars. The current cabinets above the range do not allow enough space for a microwave/vent combination. Realistically, the cabinet run that has the microwave and toaster oven is not a convenient food cleaning, chopping and preparing area, so I suggest leaving those big things there. Another poster suggested an armoire or shelves which are good ideas, I agree. You might look for space in the dining room for another armoire similar to the one you have. Or use narrow shelves, floor to ceiling, for additional decorative items (of which you have a lot). Last but not least, this really is a small kitchen that can't hold everything you have now. You may want to go through your cupboards to see if there are items you are no longer using. Babies change lifestyles. Try moving the decorative items such as the pretty canisters to shelves; it will give you more room on the counters.
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  • sail_away
    13 years ago

    I have been following your ongoing story but haven't posted because, frankly, I was so appalled I couldn't think of anything to say other than I'm so sorry you're going through this. I was so excited when your renovation started, and I can't believe how much time has gone by with virtually nothing accomplished. (BTW, I wonder if, in the meantime, while waiting to resolve the kitchen issues, they could at least finish the powder room for you. Or, another idea would be for them to install a temporary sink and maybe you could turn it into a temporary cooking/cleanup closet. If that would work, it's the least they could do to make up for the huge delays in proceeding with your kitchen due to the KD's errors.

    If you still feel like you'd like to make it work with Expo, why not go over the KD's head and request another KD. First, a second pair of eyes to take a fresh look at the design and problem solve can often be very helpful. Secondly (and more importantly), you would hopefully have a designer invested in finding solutions that will work for you---rather than invested in making herself look good and covering her butt. It's clear she doesn't want to face up to her own mistakes or take responsibility for them, which is why she has been less than forthright with you and unwilling to discuss how to deal with her mistakes and the problems that come up as a result.

    I think I would print out the excerpt from Expo's website that jejvtr posted above and tell them you want someone who will actually do what this says. Of course, it's easy for me to say what I would do; but only you are actually living in this mess and capable of assessing what the next step should be.

  • divamum
    13 years ago

    Btw, Buehl, while you are contracted to them, you were contracted for competent work according to specifications; since that has clearly not been the case, I'd have thought you had pretty impressive leverage if you do want out.

    I keep checking back to see the developments in this - I'm still incredulous that somebody could make THOSE kinds of errors and not simply be grovelling apologies and doing everything to make it right. Sure, the vent and the overhang I can understand as "construction challenges" that simply had to be solved as the job progressed, but the cabinet layout mistakes are just mind blowing. Sorry to go on about it, because I'm sure you're heartsick over all this already, but I just don't want you to give up and "settle" because of somebody else's incompetence. You deserve better.

    Continued good wishes and solidarity coming your way, lady! (and remind me NEVER to shop at that Expo. EVER!)

  • davewg
    13 years ago

    Thankfully we don't have an EXPO around here, but I won't shop there if presented with the opportunity.

    Buehl - I do think what you have described with the molding will look absolutely fine, so no issues with that plan (or the plan with the pullouts - we have 6" pullouts specified around our cooktop. Ours are going to have fluted instead of plan fronts to give them some detailing, but you could also do turned legs like you show in one of the sample pictures.

    It sounds like you've come up with another great solution to someone else's error (which you shouldn't really have to do).

    But, I understand from the other thread you started there is another wrinkle (i.e. problem) coming.

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    OK...I've hit my limit. First off, my KD called to let me know the cost of bumping out our kitchen wall 6"'s $1,300....all they're doing is bumping out a 180-1/2" long wall w/8' ceiling. That seems a little steep to me...or is it a reasonable expense? I've started a separate thread about it.

    She didn't mention the measuring error on the cooktop wall, so I brought it up. Well it looks like the GC played it down when he talked to her making it look like it's only a 3" problem and that [I'm speculating now] it could be made up on the DR side by extending the cabinets further into the DR where 4-3/4" of the overhang is in the "kitchen" area.

    This probably doesn't make sense so I'll post a pic showing you what I mean.

    THEN she told me that we had to get moving and that no more changes will be allowed. I then told her none of these changes were on a whim and that ALL of them are the result of either the venting issue, which we all knew might be an issue...just not so big an issue, and measurement issues.

    So she next tells me all the measuring errors are the result of our walls not being plumb! Or maybe it's from an old measurement in the machine because we changed our design so many times...what does that have to do with it? The measurements and floor/walls never changed, just what we put in front of the walls (i.e., cabinets, appliances, etc.) These both seem like excuses to me....

    Yes, I know that walls usually are not plumb...I think I would have noticed 10+" out of plumb if that difference was in the first 3' of the wall from the floor (she measured @ the floor and then about 3' off the floor...she never told me about any differences b/w these measurements!) For the cooktop wall, there was only one wall involved, there has never been a wall on the other side.

    I also mentioned the PR measurement issue and I was met w/silence. Then she said "I ordered the cabinet size you told me to" and I told her she asked me what size we already had in there and that's what she ordered. While I'm not worried about the PR since we had the same size vanity & toilet in there before and it all fit (a little tight, but it fit), it just shows she's not willing to admit that these mistakes may have been hers. She's also telling me that part of the the problem is my fault b/c I wanted to use all the wall space. That's partly true in that I told her I needed a lot more counter & cabinet space than I had in the old kitchen but I never told her to use every inch and we did not on the cooktop wall. We have 4-1/2" of empty wall at the left end of the cooktop run and 4-3/4" (that I do NOT want to use for cabinets b/c of the overhang). We also have a step-in pantry that would have been able to absorb reasonable (say 2") mistakes on the sink wall. So not every inch was used up!!! No, I didn't leave a foot or two of empty wall space to accommodate errors like this, but I shouldn't have to for crying out loud...

    Can you tell I'm...

  • Sue Brunette (formerly known as hockeychik)
    13 years ago

    Good for you Buehl! Stick to your guns. I don't remember, but are you documenting all this back and forth stuff? That could be very important, depending on how things proceed.

  • rmkitchen
    13 years ago

    Buehl -- I am so proud of you for venting! And I am with you 100%. Steam would be coming out of my ears (and lots of four letter words out of my mouth) if I had been there listening to her puerile scapegoating.

    I am pissed for you, and I'm sorry if my previous message (in which I felt you might have been too conciliatory) offended you -- it's just that in all your postings you come across as so mellow that I didn't know and I don't want anyone (esp. the person at fault!) to run ramshod over you. You deserve far better.

    I'm thinking of you!

  • akshars_mom
    13 years ago

    Behul, I am so glad you called the customer liaison rep. I cant beleive KD used the line of walls not being plumb.I can understand an inch or so but all the mistakes she made are much more then that. I hate confrontation too but I would be also on a war path in this situation.

  • rosie
    13 years ago

    A ladylike putting her foot down...firmly.

  • sarschlos_remodeler
    13 years ago

    Buehl, I posted a note in your corner cab thread about dealing with this problem. Didn't want to repeat it here, but wanted to make sure you saw it. Good luck and keep us posted!

  • malhgold
    13 years ago

    Why are you paying the $1300 for the bump out for the cooktop if it was their issue?

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    There was a caveat in the contract stating that the amount quoted for the the installing the vent hood was for a straight run out the back and that if problems were encountered in putting in the venting it could be more work & more money. So for this issue, at least, I think they're covered and feel they can charge me.

    It's the measuring issues that I will take exception to if they try to charge me for a resolution.

    I'd also like some compensation for all the hassles I've been put through, but I doubt they'll do anything. (Visions of Artesia doors keep dancing in my head! but I doubt they'd go that far! Hmmmm...but maybe furniture molding & decorative door ends for the peninsulas???)

    Rmkitchen...I wasn't offended...but I do have a tendency to start out being very trusting and giving people the benefit of the doubt...but I do eventually reach a limit...and I've reached in in this case!

  • kas81057
    13 years ago

    agree w/malhgold; you shouldn't be paying for anything extra at this point

    what ineptness!!!

    it is truly amazing how incompetent some professionals are

    good luck on Friday!!!

    keep your head up!

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Here are the pics I forgot to post in the previous "venting" message:

    Picture 1: Cooktop Wall as Designed
    This picture contains the dimensions of the designed cooktop wall. There are 179" of cabinetry plus 4-1/2" on Foyer end for crown molding (upper & base cabs end at the same place) plus 4-3/4" for part of 15" overhang on DR side (10-1/4" will extend into DR and the LR doorway going from the DR)

    Picture 2: Closeups of Each End as Designed

    Picture 3: Actual Dimensions

  • bbtondo
    13 years ago

    Buehl: I've been reading about all of these problems that you're having and I'm so sorry for you! You don't deserve any of this! Give them H$ll! I am confident that you will get the kitchen that you deserve.


  • divamum
    13 years ago

    Congratulations, Buehl. Being $*&(_#&! angry, determined, and demanding a solution that suits YOUR terms(however graciously and politely) is in this situation entirely warranted and absolutely the right thing to do. They don't deserve the benefit of the doubt any longer because they've consistently failed to fulfil it!

    Here's hoping that this will now move forward. Attagirl!!

  • toddimt
    13 years ago

    How about going back to a previous thought and run the venting now through the MB closet. I think initially the back of the closet was like 14" from the current wall towards the window wall/ Is that right? Buolding this wass will eat up 6" you say. Once you transition the round to rectangular, you should be able to get 45 degree fittings. The restriction is not equal to 1/2 that of a 90 degree it is less. So you should be able to use a 45 and then run a piece of rectangular duct up to get to the back of the closet, maybe to the point inside of this back wall and then use another 45 to straighten the pipe out and then run up and through the closet ceiling into the attic. You then would loose like 4" of depth in the closet. You may loose a little bit of space as well in the bottom of the closet, from where it comes up from the kichen ceiling/closet floor until it hits the back wall and the second 45 elbow. This should be minimal and could probably be boxed out. I am not an HVAC guy but from what I have seen. I think you can use 3.25 x 14" rectangular duct to equal the static pressure for an 8" round pipe. This would allow you to put the while duct in the closet wall. I would think you could use oval as well.

    I have this situation in my master bedroom closet. I had an oval HVAC pipe runing off the back wall. When I re-did the bedroom, I used 45 degree oval fittings to get it into the wall from the ceiling and then did the same thing on the floor into the ceiling register in the room below.

    This also would save the $700 for re-routing the plumbng which you could use towards paying for the wall.

    In my latest project the bathroom sink waste line is connected to the toilet flange through a 2" heel inlet. This is perfectly acceptable. This also is a wet vent for the toilet. You should be ok. If there is a backup its usually within the toilet itself. The 3" or 4" main line would have to be cloged for it to backup into the shower. This is not likely.

  • toddimt
    13 years ago

    I also responded to your plumbing thread with a brainstorm/radical idea involving rerouting the main line all togehter. I would call that $700 guy to get his thoughts.

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Todds...when my DH measured, he forgot that the MBR sticks out approx 3' past the back wall of the first floor. When that was taken into account, it turned out the vent would have to be in the middle of the closet, not the back. It would then partially block our 2' wide closet door. In addition, it would still require going through the roof....which was a significant part of the $4,800 estimate from our GC...that plus opening up a wall and running it to the ceiling and then patching the wall & leaving it paint-ready...and most of that would still have to be done w/this idea as well. (Our closet is only 4' wide, so moving the door & rods wouldn't work as it would still be in the doorway.)

    You know, though...we do have to consider changing out all our flexible gray water piping no longer meets code. I wonder if we broached the topic to our plumber of redoing that plumbing and, while he's at it, reroute the waste pipes. I'm sure it will be quite expensive but if we have to do most of it anyway, perhaps we should just bite the bullet and do it.

    My DH will balk, I know b/c of the cost...[OK, I just asked him and he laughed at me!]

    Thanks Todds for the ideas!

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    **Groan** The meeting was postponed until Monday b/c of weather!!!

    BTW...when my KD called yesterday she was very conciliatory...telling me not to stress about my kitchen that EXPO is a big company and they will see that we get the kitchen we want...

    Could this be the result of talking to the Customer Liaison rep? Who knows, but the timing sure seems to indicate so!

    BTW...I've never done this before, so how do I broach the subject of "compensation" for all our trouble? Any suggestions????

  • jejvtr
    13 years ago

    Very factually and tactful -

    Quick scripted idea - perhaps at end of Mon meeting - unless it otherwise presents -

    The outcome of many of the issues Mon will set the tone - you may choose to pull everything, thereby the "compensation" is moot - Or you may be settling for something less than what you CONTRACTED for. You sound wary of broaching this subject as if it is something you are really not entitled to - PLEASE do yourself a favor & find a script you are comfortable with and repeat it over & over until you are OR have someone represent you regarding this.
    This is absolutely your right!!! You have entered a CONTRACT with Expo - they have not kept the terms of the contract - it's that simple. You must view this as a business transaction and you have much greater leverage than they do

    So, the way I see it you have 3 choices
    1. PULL EVERYTHING - at their expense to send all materials back and end the contract - which legally you can
    2. Continue to work with them - but you draw the terms of new contract which would state the conditions and terms that are acceptable to you and your dh
    3. Continue to work with them and allow them to tell you what the acceptable terms are & what your balance owed for said changes will be.

    " After careful thought and consideration we embarked on a kitchen remodel and chose Expo because xyz, At this point we feel Expo has not held up to their end of the contract, has not appropriately responding to our needs, and has proposed changes (due to their errors) that were are expected to not only incur from a design (differing from original) but financial as well. This is adding insult to injury and not the way professionals or organizations should be responding to a customer.

    Here are the initial plans that KD signed off on + the kitchen we believed we were getting. Due to multiple measuring errors we are now having to settle with a kitchen we did not contract for. While we are amenable to continuing to work with you/Expo/designer X - we must have clear parameters and need to agree on terms and conditions we would be willing to allow Exp to continuing working with on this job. That should include: remeasuring the entire space and proposed cabs,appl,elec, plumbing redlining initial drawings w/design changes - they should be signed by both Exp (head dept, and other authority) as well as myself - This will clarify where we were, where we are, and clarify what the final product should be. Additionally, any of the redlined drawings that cause changes to: consruction, cabinetry, appliances, plumbing, electric heating/venting/air conditioning - Expo must agree they will incur any cost related to the above mentioned, due to their initial design errors - The proposed changes and cost incurred must be agreed upon and signed by myself & Exp (name person) before proceeding. I understand there must be clear corelation between the proposed change and associated cost with the...

  • fnzzy
    13 years ago

    BTW...I've never done this before, so how do I broach the subject of "compensation" for all our trouble? Any suggestions????

    You could say something like "you know, is it possible that you could do a little something for us on your price since we have had so many setbacks and we could have easily gone somewhere else?" I'm bad at it too.

  • raehelen
    13 years ago


    I was waiting to hear how it went! But new tone of conciliation is a good thing! :>)

    Nuther Groan,

    Compensation- uggh- not sure if you're aware, but our reno has been one ridiculous problem after another- so I can sympathize with what you're going through. I totally expected my window people to compensate me for the six MONTH delay (which involved over two months with plastic drop cloth for kitchen windows- I kid you not)- NADA - Like an idiot I handed over the cheque (they didn't even take VISA so I didn't even get Air Miles!) In hind sight, I should have asked, What discount are you going to give me for all the delays and problems? (We ended up with two garden windows that we weren't really happy with the dimensions).

    Our kitchen guy has already told us he is going to give us granite backsplashes and window sills (as that is the 'least' he could do- HIS WORDS). We haven't paid our last installment, and have had a custom wood worker in to make/fix the last of the cabinets. We ordered an extra cabinet, and I'm prepared to negotiate that at NC. (Hey, I've had nine, going on ten months to think of this...)

    They've already had to eat any profit on the granite by having to replace three pieces (and two of those being replaced were originally provided at NC), so I weigh that in my consideration. I'm not really good (DUH_ see window fiasco above)at asking for things, but I am learning that if you DON'T ask, then you can't be disappointed if it's not offered.

  • plllog
    13 years ago

    Jejvtr's advice is very good. Especially the parts about practicing over the weekend, and starting from the standpoint that you really can make them take all their toys and leave.

    In negotiating it's important to remain reasonable but insistent. For instance, you already had the tiles laid, and I think the paint done, plus the issues with the pipes/vents were ones you had agreed might cause design changes and additional structural fees. So when these are brought up acknowledge them. But that doesn't mean you have to pay for them now! These are also negotiable. For instance, you've been mightily inconvenienced and disrespected in this process. You might be willing to accept the cabinets mostly as is, with the changes you've told us about to make them work out, but you can ask them to pay for the trades' work in compensation. And if they think that's too much you could settle for them paying for what's necessary to get your range hood in correctly.

    And, no matter what, do not let them hit you with a restocking fee on any appliance exchange. They can easily sell whatever fridge and if you change it's entirely because of their error. Restocking fees are for the company to recoup costs from flakes who can't figure out what they want before they take it home, and to discourage flakery at the outset. In this case it was Expo who couldn't figure it out, so if anything, in theory (won't work in practice, but is a good point to start negotiating from), they should owe you for storage of the wrong fridge!

  • davewg
    13 years ago

    I'll echo one thing that you know and others have said. At the end of the day (or tunnel as it seems now) it is your family's home and kitchen.

    It needs to work for you, not them.
    It needs to meet your needs for the money you are spending.

    This is a business transaction - once complete these people are not your friends, not in your social cicrle and you'll probably never deal with them again.

    One of the hardest calls I've ever had to make was to a contractor we chose not to go with. He'd done a lot of high quality work for us and spent many hours on the estimates for our kitchen remodel. At the end of the day, he was more than $15k more than the contractor we chose. Whatever loyalty I felt wasn't worth that.

    I guess what'm trying to say is that this remodel is for you, not them. They're just lucky enough to have gotten the work. They can make good or someone else can have your hard earned dollars. This is something I always forget and my wife always reminds me of....

    Its YOUR kitchen. Make sure they make it so. And know that all your GW friends are pulling for you.

  • aussies
    13 years ago

    Just wanted you to know that I too am behind you and wishing you all the best for your meeting on Monday. I thought that jejvtr had some great advice on how to approach the meeting and what to say. Sounds to me like you have a very strong position to negotiate from. I'm sure you will do just fine and I look forward to hearing about how it goes ...

  • sherilynn
    13 years ago


    I would caution you to read the contract you signed with Expo before you threaten anyone. I have been there and can attest that sometimes the laws are clear as mud.

    What you think may be legal, right, and justified may be illegal and give the courts cause to not favor your position should this end up in court. That contract you signed was surely drawn up by legal minds to protect both the third party that did your cabinets and HD/Expo. There very well may already be a remedy in your contract for disputes and how to handle disputes.

    Even if things are not being fixed fast enough for you, they have every right to drag their feet if there is not a date certain and financial penalty for delays in your contract. It does not sound fair or right, but everything's legal that is not illegal. It may be immoral to delay fixing your cabinets, but not illegal to drag this out.

    I know I would sit back and plan a strategy to succeed to get what I want. I have a few acid tests concerning complaining effectively and getting results. I have not been successful 100% getting things done my way, however, I've won many wars. Here are some ways I have achieved the fastest results.

    1. Write down exactly what will satisfy you with Expo. Do not 'think' of a solution to their problems, but verbalize on paper EXACTLY what you want Expo to do. If this means they have to take everything out and start over, then so be it.

    2. DO NOT EXPECT TO GET #1, IF YOU DO NOT ASK SPECIFICALLY. If you don't ask SPECIFICALLY, do NOT expect to be satisfied. Simple rule to live and pray by.

    3. When you ASK THEM TO FIX, you ARE TELLING THEM THE SOLUTION to THEIR PROBLEMS. Remember in all conversation to identify that this is a problem because of incompetence, or errors, or whatever. Again, be very specific so any district or regional manager can 'approve the re-do'. Do not make people guess or come up with bones to throw your way. This only frustrates everyone. Make a copy of your scope of work and refer to it in all communications. Contantly remind them that "this is their problem and the only solution make you happy."

    4. Do not settle for anything less than you ask for unless this, too, will make you happy.

    5. Idiom: SQUEAKY WHEELS GET THE OIL. This is a classic, true reality. Put all 'squeaks' in writing, in speech, and in person. Notify local managers, the district managers, and cc the regional manager of exactly what the problems you are having with your local EXPO store and what solutions you are expecting them to perform to fulfill your contract.

    6. Idiom: Familiarity breeds contempt. Oh, my, how they will hate to see you coming. Show up regularly and ask for progress reports. SUCK up the manager's time hearing his explanations. SUCK up the time of the district manager on the phone and the regional manager. My Lord knows how local managers HATE to be tattled upon. District managers hate it more.

    7. Idiom: Loose...

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thank you all for your suggestions. My DH and I have documented what we want to say at our "big meeting". We're starting w/a timeline of events and then detailing each problem we've encountered and what has/has not been done--without pointing fingers or resorting to "he said/she said". We're trying to stick to the facts as much as possible.

    Does this sound reasonable?

    One of the reasons I've been looking for solutions to the problems is that I want a solution that I like rather than them coming up w/what they want to do b/c it may be easier/less effort on their part (e.g., just put in fillers or order smaller cabinets...when I want filler + filler pullout and avoid smaller cabinets whenever possible!)

    BTW...I just got a call from my KD and the meeting has been postponed yet again. She has been unable to get in touch w/the CS rep for tomorrow AM and the GC says he has a product delivery tomorrow AM. Afternoon does not work for us (or the KD, for that matter). Tuesday, my KD teaches a class all day, so she is not available. So the meeting is now WEDNESDAY!!! We're documenting this as well as an example of how delays are not always "our fault". Up until recently, we had not documented phone calls, etc. However, we have begun to.

    BTW, Sherilynn, I was surprised to see a Luke reference! Something I didn't expect here...and very appropriate (Luke is my favorite Gospel)!

  • sarschlos_remodeler
    13 years ago

    Egads, your KD is teaching others?! Very disturbing. :-D

  • sherilynn
    13 years ago

    buehl, you wrote: We're starting w/a timeline of events and then detailing each problem we've encountered and what has/has not been done--without pointing fingers or resorting to "he said/she said".

    I know that pointing the finger is hard, however, if you know for a fact that the KD measured incorrectly, or did not think through issues with your kitchen, failed to understand basic construction for a vent hood to work, or have the wisdom to foresee problems, then by all means, you must identify the weak link. Someone is at fault here. It is not your walls. It is not the installer. If there was a plan and it was executed and elements do not fit, then it is the KD's fault. If the KD works for Expo, then it is their cookie that crumbled.

    If you are being treated unfairly and want just compensation and problems corrected, then it is equally just, fair, and responsible to expect you to be as specific as possible dealing with Expo to help identify any person of blame; including, if necessary, to admit any fault that may be yours. (Not saying that there is, but making a general statement to apply if needed.)

    I would like to gently remind you that no one will watch after your money, or keep as much of your money in your accounts as you will. It is negligent to not protect your interests and grossly unfair to your family. Do not "feel responsible" or try to protect someone that may have performed poorly. It is their lesson to learn and I encourage you to not stand in their way being corrected. You're helping many families that will follow in your footsteps.

    I know we don't know each other and I post here in spurts. Just know that we all understand what it's like to be involved with likeable people that are lackadaisical with their responsibilities. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do for people is to hit them right between the eyes with the truth. Let the chips fall where they may. You should not have to pick them up.

  • patti_bee
    13 years ago

    I have no additional words of wisdom but do feel for you and hope there is a reasonable solution so that you get the kitchen you want -- and soon!

  • berryberry
    13 years ago

    As Sherilynn said - I would caution you to read the contract you signed with Expo before you threaten anyone.
    While I know it is popular for folks here to suggest cancelling the contract at their expense to send all materials back and end the contract but the law doesn't work like that. While jejvtr suggested legally you can just cancel - you should carefully read your contract. It is written to protect Expo and my guess is has some type of disbute resolution / arbitration clause.

    I haven't followed all of your problems - but on the few I know about:

    1. Hood venting problem - you yourself know this was a potential issue and the issue was addressed in the contract regarding if unknown circumstances were discovered in the wall

    2. A 9" measuring error on some cabinets. While I know this seems like a disaster and isn't giving you what you want, no court is going to decalre the whole contract null and void over a minor error that can be corrected thru some adjustments. Now it may not give you exactly what you want but again, I can not imagine any court saying that was enough to cancel the entire contract.

    Now - you can certainly ask Expo for some form of compensation to make this right. I certainly would. But take the cancelling the whole contract idea with a huge grain of salt unless you have someone with legal expertise review your contract for you

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks all! At this time, I am not planning to cancel or threaten to cancel the contract. They seem to still be willing to work with me to find solutions. While I am very unhappy about the fact that I can no longer have a Message Center , I'm OK with the other changes...if they go with my solution instead of replacing w/fillers.

    My DH and I have discussed one change that may or may not go over well...if we do go w/the 6" wall build out, to help make up for the lack of aisle space we were thinking of switching to a built-in refrigerator. We only have 36" to work with, so we're limited in our choices. The GE Monograms appear to be 2 to 3 inches shallower which would give us approx a 36" passage b/w the refrigerator & peninsula...better than a 32" or 33" that's estimated right now. However, can are they really be $2K more + cost of panels for paneled or 3K more for SS than a GE Profile 36" SS CD FD????!!!! [GE Profile only has built-ins for 42" or 48" SxSs and we don't have room for either]

    As to measuring errors: It's not just one error...every single wall that was measured was incorrect...

    * Sink wall by 11"
    * Cooktop wall by 7-1/2"
    * Peninsula wall by 8"...well, that's either a measuring error or appliance error. That wall's measurement is not on the plan BUT there is an 8" discrepancy b/w the apparent aisle size and the actual aisle size...even my KD agreed on that.
    * B/c of Sink wall error, major measurement change on the FR wall
    * Powder room: one direction off by 11", the other wall off by 6"

  • sherilynn
    13 years ago

    Good Morning Buehl! I just popped online and you responded. I can tell you this, our shyster cabinet maker measured ridiculously incorrectly to the point that my hood insert and several appliances did not fit. He built a kitchen that I never signed off on and never saw. NOTHING about the hood is remotely as designed. I had to pay big time for modifications and I could not find anyone that would take the job to do everything I needed done, because everyone was afraid of being part of the forthcoming lawsuit; which did happen. I had to piecemeal out all work on the kitchen and tell trades that "we didn't know what we were doing" to get them to help fix one area at a time. Anytime I divulged what happened, people ran. I guess I seemed a little p.o.'d talking about taking that guy to court. I eventually got a clue and didn't tell subs exactly what did happen.

    My point: Even the judge told our cabinet maker something very close to this, "Her walls did not move. She's proven to me that she bought all of her appliances before she contracted with you to cut the first piece of wood, as you requested of her. Mis-measuring is YOUR CompanyÂs fault. Not using a long enough level to install the upper cabinets and appliances are YOUR PROBLEMS. (On a 25' wall, from one end to the other there was a 3" difference in height. He tried to say our ceilings and walls were not level and it was an optical illusion.) Having to have the cabinets and crown molding on them uninstalled and reinstalled was YOUR fault. All of this shoddy work is YOUR fault and my decisions will reflect these facts."

    Keep reminding Expo at every meeting 'something' putting this on their shoulders. Leave no doubt in anyone's mind that you are not going to be appeased or go away without a fight. Ex. "The problems and errors are YOUR CompanyÂs fault. Coming up with a solution is going to have to make me happy. I came to Expo because you make claims to be professional and I did not want to mess around with novices and ingénues. I expected to deal with professionals that would efficiently execute a design plan within a standard turnaround time. To date, since all of the mis-measurements, etc. All we have received from HD/EXPO are numerous delays, excuses, new problems to be solved from YOUR faulty design, a KD with limited foresight, and frustrations.

    IF you want to create any solutions to make chicken salad out of chicken $hit/crap, then you must not doubt that this work will have to be for MY BENEFIT.

    I believe I need to remind everyone here that we chose to hire EXPO to make a kitchen of my dreams, not anyone else's. We chose Expo because of your promises to provide professionals, etc. As professionals it is fair for us to expect that you will readily accept responsibility for any errors and strive to make all issues of complaint corrected as contracted. It is only right and fair for you to correct, replace, repair, redo, or quit the contract with no financial...

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Well....the only person who showed up at our "big meeting" was our KD. The CS Liaison Rep was ill and I don't know why the contractor didn't show up. On top of that, my DH was called out of town for a meeting in New Orleans...

    So, it was just our KD and me. So...guess who did the remeasure...yep! The KD. I looked over her shoulder as best I could and it looks like it is probably measured correctly this time, but she did start rattling off numbers and calculating distances in her head so I'm not 100% confidant.

    So I presented her with what my DH and I came up with (a summary of what's been happening)...but none of it was new to her since she's been in the thick of it all along.

    We talked about options and how we did not want to have to pay another cent on this project. Indeed, I mentioned that we were unhappy about several items in the labor that we were paying for that were not needed...e.g., sealing grout when we have no-seal grout (Quartz-Lock) and sealing our tile w/2 applications when we have glazed porcelain that should not be sealed. Then there was the dumpster that never materialized (instead they brought a cart but left the overflow in our driveway for several days before hauling it away as well) and the so-called dust abatement and protection of driveway, sidewalk, shrubs, etc....none of this was done and the only dust abatement they did was hang heavy duty plastic in two doorways and flimsy plastic that constantly floated around in one doorway and in the stairway. They had agreed to seal off the return air ducts and not even that was done. This is on top of all the errors made!

    Her reply was that the no-seal grout was more expensive than regular grout and that the labor $$$ paid for the more expensive grout...but $895 worth more expensive??!!!??

    She agreed w/us on the tile sealing and will get us reimbursed for that.

    For the's up to the contractor and you pay for it whether they get it or not...I have a problem with that!

    For outside protection...that's just for outside work and we have all inside work...BUT, all cutting has been done on our porch (tile & wood) and our shrubs have been covered with just wasn't noticeable yesterday b/c it's rained a lot over the last few days.

    Dust abatement...she's going to talk to the contractor about it b/c they're supposed to be doing more.

    It sounds like we'll get our other requests eventually but she has to get management approval first.

    I have to say she didn't argue or give me a hard time about anything. We calmly talked about various things and I think that once we get our shower drain moved (assuming we do), we'll be back in business and speeding along to completion!

    Shower Drain Pipe
    We had another plumber (from Washington Checkbook) come out who was utterly clueless (my DH's opinion); so another plumber (recommended by a neighbor) is coming out tomorrow to get his take on the whole situation.

    If it turns...

  • mommycooks
    13 years ago

    Sounds like cautious optimism . . . I am hoping that things start to go smoothly for you. Keep us posted on the new plumber tomorrow.

    Have you gone ahead and remeasured yourself? And checked the figures against hers?

    Here's hoping that "management approval" takes no time at all. If they were smart they'd do anything possible to make this up to you!

    Good luck - we are pulling for you!

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago


    OK...we've decided on a plumber to move our shower drain pipe. For those following the saga, we had 2 estimates w/2 very different prices and approaches. So we got 2 more opinions. Based on comments from both later plumbers, we are going to go with the idea proposed by our contractor's plumber but NOT with them doing the work. They were so far out there price-wise that I suspect they were attempting to gouge us or they didn't want the additional work. For the exact same work, move drain, vent into attic and connect to the main vent that goes out the roof + drywall & paint-ready...the latter two plumber's estimates both came in around $1,500....a far cry from $4,800!

    So, the plumbing work will be next week Monday and I have asked our KD to have the contractor return the following Wednesday to continue the job. [We are also considering replacing the polybutylene pipe throughout the rest of the house...we'll make a decision on that this week as well.]

    So...YES...we will be externally venting our cooktop...Yay!

    We are getting the two 6" filler pullouts from Omega with a filler overlay of the door profile to flank the cooktop.

    Our inside kitchen wall will be built out 6", narrowing our 11'1" kitchen by 6", but since we have 7' b/w the two cabinet runs that's not an issue. We will have a "pinch" point of about 34" b/w the peninsula and refrigerator...but the DR door that was there previously was 33" so we're actually gaining an inch. The refrigerator door & freezer drawer will have room to open fully and we will be able to stand in front of both when they are open.

    The tile floor was finished today w/the exception of an oak transition to the basement stairs that will be done tomorrow probably.

    The Message Center niche so far is a arguments w/management so I hope we're OK with that as well.

    So it looks like we should be back on track by the middle of next week...barring any more problems!

    Thanks for all your support and advice...I really needed it during these past 5 weeks!!!!

  • raehelen
    13 years ago

    Yeah-yeah- the kitchen gods have looked kindly on you this week! I'm just about to phone my carpenter guy to see if the pullouts are ACTUALLY going to be delivered today as promised. Wonder why I'm not holding my breath! :>)

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Maybe this week will be a good one for both of us!

  • raehelen
    13 years ago

    Pooh! See my thread ...drawers came...All Wrong!

    Will be interesting to see what my kitchen place says tomorrow. Sort of reminds me of an old Red Cross commercial that used to be on TV when I was a kid- (some one waiting for a transplant...) "I just want to get it over with"!!!

  • mommycooks
    13 years ago

    Whoo hoo! We'll look for updates next week, but it must feel good to have made some progress on decisions. Thanks so much for keeping us posted!

  • Buehl
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    So sorry Raehelen!!!! It looks like it's not such a great week after all....for both of us.

    Today, the change order was brought to me to sign and guess what...they want me to pay an additional $371 for the 6" pullouts w/filler overlay (the cost over the 9" cabinets). I refused to sign it and called my KD. Her stance is that I'm getting more functional cabinets so I should be willing to pay the difference and that my only other alternative is non-functional fillers. Needless to say, we are steaming!

    I reminded her of our conversation last week when she stated that she would talk to her management about "marking down" the pullouts w/the overlay so they would be the same as the cabinets, but she seems pretty insistent that the best I will be able to do is MAYBE split the difference. None of these alternatives are acceptable at this point. She insisted that I have to sign the change order before she can order the products and that we can't get moving until that is done. She said we could work it out later at the end of the project. HOWEVER, the change order specifically says that we agree to pay the difference so I refuse to sign it b/c I know it will come back to haunt us in the end!

    Next, she tells me that the contractor thinks the Message Center niche in the pantry wall won't work b/c there won't be anything to attach the inside pantry shelves to. First of all, they aren't putting in the shelves, we that's not their problem. Secondly, I explained to her that we already know how we're going to handle the shelves and they will be more than strong enough. So now she says she has to talk to the contractor again.

    So, with all this happening today, I got on the phone to call the Customer Rep who was supposed to be at our meeting last week but was too ill to attend. It turns out our KD told her that we had agreed to pay the difference...I told her that was definitely NOT the case and that we had said we did not want to pay another cent for our cabinets. I also explained that we have now lost 21" in base cabinetry plus our Message Center, and that b/c our pantry is now smaller in the one direction that we now have a smaller FR doorway than was planned or wanted. I pretty much unloaded all the problems we had. She now wants to talk to our KD and KD's manager and plans to come out Friday AM w/the contractor to see what's up. She told me she thought we only had two minor measuring problems. turns out the Customer Rep is actually the Zone Manager.

    I'm hoping that my refusal to sign the c/o will give me some leverage since it appears it is holding up the project. They REALLY want to get moving. I have had it now...and I am now on the warpath (so to speak) more "Mr. Nice Guy" (my DH's words!)

  • holligator
    13 years ago

    I'm so sorry that you're still dealing with so much nonsense and incompetence. You deserve so much better! I sure hope that the customer rep can make things right for you.

  • bob_cville
    13 years ago

    Unbelieveable. The KD has now gone beyond simple, total incompetance (seemingly unable to measure anything correctly) to misrepresenting the facts (ie. lying) to the rep to hide her incompetance, and stating you agreed to pay for something when you hadn't (which is now seeming to border on fraud)

    That would really be the last straw for me. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, I accept that people can (and often do), make mistakes, but lying to her company rep certainly can't be considered an honest mistake.

    My position at this point would be that the KD be removed from your job, and that any and all money (fees, commissions, etc.) that was to have gone to the KD for her services, instead be used to fix the problems that were caused by the KD's incompetance.

    I really do wish the best for you. You've been extremely helpful to everyone here, and you really don't deserve this.

  • raehelen
    13 years ago


    That stinks! Maybe there's only so much good luck to go around, cuz looks like my problem is going to get solved. The carpenter has admitted his mistake (though he TRIED the ol' 'that's the way I was told to do it' routine). I am happy that I'm getting what I asked for, but disappointed in the lack of integrity on the part of the carpenter. He phoned this morning at 7:30- I didn't answer and waited a half hour or so to return his call, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that they're coming by today to pick up the drawers.

    Though I KNOW how you're feeling about being taken advantage of for being nice, my personal take on all the crap, is that I am remaining calm and nice , but very firm and honest. AND you can never have too much in writing. It sounds like you have an ally in the zone manager- keep your comments about the KD honest and neutral as possible, but let her know how frustrated you are, and that you want; and trust that they also want, everything to work out.

  • davewg
    13 years ago

    I think its great that the customer rep is the zone manager.
    That person should definitely be able to grease the wheel.

    The KD ought to be fired (as others have said) based on her actions.

    Glad to hear that the plumbing and vent issue is resolved.
    Don't get why the KD feels she needs to involve the contractor in your decision to put up shelves in the pantry. Just tell him to do the niche and move on.

  • mommycooks
    13 years ago

    I'll chime in here with FIRE THE KD. And how in the world can the company use her as a teacher? Makes me wonder about the company . . .

    I am glad you are sticking to your guns on the change order, and it looks like it is a good thing the customer rep is getting involved, finally.

    What is the loss of 6 weeks worth of kitchen use worth?

    Good luck.

  • nuccia
    13 years ago

    buehl, I just read your thread and am completely outraged on your behalf. I hope things have gone better since your last posting.

    The only times I have had unresolved solutions (to me, not to the contractor) to problems has been when I chose the contractor based on price and I just wanted him to "go away" rather than have to deal with him any longer.

    You did not choose the low bidder and deserve the kitchen you contracted for, or an equal or better solution at no charge to you.

    I personally have found that if I have not made progress via personal conversation or phone contact, I begin to take copious notes and regurgitate the conversation in the form of an email or letter, copying supervisors and/or corporate bigwig. The email might go something like this: "Dear KD, I'm writing to confirm our meeting (conversation) of this morning. You came to my house and remeasured the wall, getting a measurement of yyy inches rather than xxx inches which was on the plans from which cabinet dimension decisions were made and materials ordered. I first notified you about this discrepancy over over xx weeks ago and mentioned it on every subsequent conversation. You assured me that everything was fine and that the issues could be worked out. You are now telling me that it will cost an additional $zzzz.00 to solve the problems created by your measurement error, ... "

    If you send her a note or email after every conversation and meeting, you can believe she will start moving fast; if not her supervisor will. The last thing they want is for their boss to find out that (1) they screwed up, (2) they refused to admit it, and (3)once they finally had to admit their mistakes, dragged their feet and/or did not resolve the problem adequately. People at the store level rarely think in terms of lawsuits, but the corporates do.

    My friend's husband is a VP in charge of customer relations for a Fortune 100 company. He has told us many stories about the poor ways the lower level managers handle problems, and how he has had to go in and clean up their messes. You are not alone in this respect.

  • afr66
    13 years ago

    Gosh, reading through this I'm appalled at your treatment. What a fiasco. If it makes you feel any better, you aren't alone. Some friends of mine went through hell with EXPO when renovating their luxury bathroom. Not only did they grossly overpay, but countless errors were made and it took 9 months (that's right 9 months) to finish the job. In other words, it isn't you and, sadly, I don't think your case is unique. Keep their feet to the fire. Like most big companies they'll balk at negative publicity.
    HOWEVER, in the end my friend's bathroom was beautiful as I'm sure your kitchen will be.