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The Major Renovation: An unnecessarily expensive day

The tub and surround

On Monday, the contractor and I went to that members-only showroom to pick up the tub-shower which had finally arrived on Friday.  We assumed that it would fit in the back of his truck.  We were wrong.

Even though it is a three piece unit, it was assembled for shipping.  We could have disassembled it, but that would have increased the chances of damage during the ride home.  The warehouse guy told us that other customers use pickup trucks to transport these sort of things but neither of us knew anyone with a pickup truck that we could call on short notice.

We could only think of one other option:  call a mover.  I figured that the mover’s insurance would cover any damages that might occur during transport.

The bathroom cabinets

Not to waste the trip, we decided to pick up the bathroom cabinets which had been delivered to the nearby Home Depot about a week or two ago. The forklift driver brought the cabinets from the back and we gave it a quick once-over.  Everything seemed fine so it was loaded into the truck.

Back at the house, the contractor backed his truck up on the lawn as he had done many times throughout this renovation in order to save steps to the front door.  The first thing the other contractor noticed when we swung the doors open was that there was a hole in the box.  Closer inspection revealed some serious damage (think:  shattered) to the front corner of the vanity.  This side of the box had been against the back of the forklift, so it was not visible when I did a quick inspection of the boxes at the store.

After making a phone call, Home Depot agreed to accept the return.  No problem.  The contractor would take care of the return for me, but he had to be back at the store by 5.  He tried to leave around 4:30, but our front yard refused to let go of the truck, thanks to the significant amount of rain that we had had over the past couple of days.  A tow truck eventually had to be called and he was finally on his way home after 5:30.  The trip to Home Depot would have to wait until Tuesday morning.

The costs

Let’s take a look at what today cost us

  • Contractor’s labor rate times 1.5 hours for the trip to pick up the tub.
  • Contractor’s labor rate times 2 hours at Home Depot.   We waited a long time for Speedy Gonzales (or rather, Slowpoke Rodriguez) to retrieve the cabinets.
  • Loss of time on the actual job, prolonging the length of the project.
  • Shipping charge for hiring the mover (about $140)
  • Tow truck was free (auto club) but there is significant damage to the lawn which will require quite a bit of top soil and seed when the weather clears.

How we could have saved our money

  • We could have purchased the tub unit from a local retailer.  In all likelihood, they would have arranged delivery.
  • I should have confirmed the size of the unit before going to pick it up.  We would have known that it wouldn’t fit in the contractor’s truck without wasting a couple of hours.
  • Instead of hiring a mover, I could have rented a U-Haul truck, even though it would have been riskier.
  • We could have called Home Depot ahead of time.  They could have pulled the stock from the back before we got there.
  • After the forklift placed the cabinets in the truck, we should have taken another look at the box.  Had we done that, we would have discovered the damage while still at Home Depot.
  • We probably should have known the ground was too soft for the contractor to park his truck on the lawn that day.

Update:  I never did patch the ruts left in the lawn.  Later that summer, I would step in one of the ruts and hyper-extend my knee, tearing the meniscus.  After a couple of years of pain, I had surgery which required time off work.  Let’s add that into the equation…

The bottom line:  we always worry about the unforeseen complications that can derail a renovation budget.  But the smaller expenses can really add up.   Planning ahead can help mitigate some of those expenses.


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