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Help! Kitchen remodel mess. Subs messing up Soffit advice,full overlay cabinets.

11060 Views 42 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  tjbnwi
Hi all,

Hoping for some professional advice here.
My daughter is having her kitchen remodeled by a contractor that was recommended by her real estate agent. (203k loan so kitchen remodel is rolled into loan for purchase of the home).
Anyway, the contractor has hardly been there and his subs are messing up left and right.
A wall was removed to extend the kitchen with more cabinets added to the new area. Due to budget, she opted to extend the soffit into the new area as opposed to removing it and opening up a can of worms.
These are Ikea, full overlay cabinets.
They ended up building the soffit 2" too long so now it extends past the upper wall cabinets right a the L where a peninsula was added and just doesn't look good. I really want to make them fix it, but wondering just how hard this would be? (It's already mudded but not yet sanded and finished) Could they just cut out that side 2x4 and set it back to where it should be?
Another issue is that they butted the full overlay cabients right up to the soffit and didn't bother to worry about level and plumb so what starts as a slight gap at one end of the soffit gets quite a bit bigger at the other. I think they should have been installed an inch or 2 lower and filler used to make this look better.
Thoughts? Advice?
What would you do?
They are coming back in 2 days to install the countertops and I'm not looking forward to how that will go.
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Soffit built drywalled & mudded...

Cabinets installed...

Not yet sanded and finished?

There's a glitch in the matrix somewhere...
You might want to bring a level and tape measure with you. Check the soffit, walls and cabinets level and plumb.

Was the starting point plumb and level? What did the cabinet layout show for length? Trim pieces? Did they forget to use a filler so the soffit is now too long?

Yes the soffit can be cut. Not a happy thought but can be done.
What's the contract say? How much has been paid to the contractor so far?
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He who controls the money controls the outcome
Recently I have noticed that some of the realtors are quite chummy with the flipper types. (otherwise known as hacks in most cases)

I still get my share of work from them for home inspector repairs when they need things fixed correctly and a statement at the closing table by someone with a license so I do get work from them still.

If I went into detail about a kitchen remodel that we just completed a couple months ago for a young couple, where the realtor recommended the "contractor" you might get sick. I know I was when looking at this crap.

He also took off after the groom started asking about licensing and insurance. All is safe now and they have a beautiful kitchen that had permits. Their $50K kitchen ended up costing them nearly $70K since we had to tear it out completely.

Lawsuit is pending I hear.

My point is that it's time to check out these "contractors" and STEP IN DAD!
Stop right there!, before you go any further, Get a Second opinion. And yes its a meat loaf line
Well during the 203K process you will have plenty of options not to pay until its acceptable...
It's called the golden rule, the guy with the gold rules.
Shellbuilder said:
He who controls the money controls the outcome
Creter- Glitches everywhere in this mess! I could write a book!....– I brought up thee need to extend the soffit on day 1 with the contractor, before the loan ever a “yeah, no problem” .
Olozo55 – My level and tape measure have been with me from day 1, and my thoughts are that these guys must not have bothered to check the walls plumb and level (in a house build in 1950 with plaster walls, they aren't going to be, but the cabinets are!) Layout showed everything we had, but thinking that no one is bothering to look. Tempted to cut that extra 2” out myself & tell them to fix it like I'd wanted it because I'm getting that sick of having to argue with a GC who is never there and these guys won't do anything without his ok....Tired of the waiting game!).
ArtisanRemod – They have been paid ½ upfront – per 203k requirements
Shellbuilder – Thats exactly what I'm hoping but there is more to be concerned about (see following saga).
Relectric1 – I'm afraid this is turning into a very similar situation so hope you'll stay tuned!
Proposal showed the new floor plan with the wall removed with a breakdown of allowances & labor charges, new cabinets, counter, kitchen floor, sink, disposal, & faucet were submitted with the loan app. The 1st page of the proposal also stated that " this quote includes all misc components necessary to complete this project..Exact quantities of "materials" will b adjusted with field verification at time of layout...Permit fees included".
At closing, 1st check was cut, payable to her & the contractor for ½ -his responsibility to buy the materials (Not how I would typically handle things but thats how the 203k works).
We met him at the house to give him the check & go over the plans again & talk materials after closing. There were no appliances, so it was easy to see what (Here's when things start going wrong). We pointed out a few things to make sure they were included. One of the biggest being the fact that the soffit needed to be extended out into the new space for upper cabinets. There was also a light fixture that was in the center of the room that we wanted to be moved over about a foot to center over the peninsula. His answer to both was “Yea sure...not a problem” Due to the limited budget, she chose Ikea cabinets. (He even commented on that being a good choice, even though we later found out that he has no experience with Ikea cabinets which come flat packed & require). We used Ikeas program to provide him with exact measurements & a complete set of very detailed plans to work from. We had to build the cabinet boxes, they were to do the install. The plans show all pieces that are part of this project but my daughters plans didn't show the soffit so unfortunately, the discussion about extending the soffit was all verbal. (I told her several times that she needed to get a more detailed work order to protect herself so there's no problems later, but she didn't listen, trusting that the realtor (again, a friend of the family) wouldn't steer her toward a bad contractor. (She's learning the hard way).
It took about a week for him to find time to meet us at Ikea to buy the cabinets, (kept apologizing about being so busy and having a big school project that is his “bread and butter”. When I brought up extending the soffit again at Ikea, he said it wasn't included in the proposal so that would be extra (here we go)..I said “are you kidding me? We talked about that when you did the proposal & you said it was no problem as if that was a given!” (Clearly if there is a soffit on one side of a wall that is coming down & cabinets are being extended beyond then it's needed)! I asked “How much more are you talking? Mumble,mumble....I pay my guys $98.50 an hour, at about 2 hrs....blah, blah! After we left, I find out from my daughter that she had talked to him on the phone a couple days prior about this and he told her that sometimes people put lights above the cabinets or vases and decorative things!.... How friggin stuipid would that look? I was stunned....In other words, suggested having the soffit above most of the run, but having it stop halfway, then nothing above the rest! A couple days later 2 guys show up to start no GC. I was pissed because he is supposed to be overseeing this project. I won't bore you to tears because there is so much more, but these guys started to hang the uppers. When I asked about extending the soffit first, they said that they didn't even know that was part of the job and they didn't have the 2x4's to do it. (Are u frigging kidding me)? I called GC on that & he told me what he had proposed to my daughter about not extending it. I told him exactly what I thought about that idea. I can't even believe it was suggested. The next day, the guys came to work on the soffit &, about an hour into it, the GC shows up with another guy, introducing him as “the guy who usually handles my 203k jobs” and within 5 minutes of being there, this guy points out about 4 different things that “weren't included in the proposal that she needs to be billed for, amounting to about $550 more, beginning with the soffit. Another was 2 switches that were on the wall that was removed (which obviously had to be moved and, in my opinion, should have fallen under the part of his proposal that said “ " this quote includes all misc components necessary to complete this project.” Am I right on this or what? Moving those switches is “a necessary component” so do I have a leg to stand on here?

I also overheard the word “code” come out of the new guys mouth when he was telling the GC that we hired about needing to add a dedicated outlet for the refrigerator (another added charge)....I said..”speaking of code, you guys did pull the permits right”? The new guy told me that permits weren't needed for Reno work! Does he think I'm an idiot? (A hot water tank was replaced before any of the kitchen work started)! I pulled my daughter aside on this one, to see what she wanted to do. With this loan, I wasn't sure if she could end up in trouble or just them for not pulling any but knew they were wrong. Tired of waiting for them to start and trying to live in a house with no kitchen, we just let it go for now since I knew (and they know) that the bank will be sending someone out to inspect the work before the final check for the other ½ is issued. (Any advice on what can happen here?) I'm still worried that this could result in a city inspector finding a bunch of other things that may have gotten by the initial inspection to purchase the home and cost her way more but it's hard to find any good info on the 203k. (I know it's the contractors responsibility to pull them but is likely the homeowners responsibility to make sure he does).

After they left, the guys asked where I wanted the soffit to end. I told him flush with the end of the wall cabinets so it didn't extend over the peninsula which might look bad from the living room side of the room. I later found out, when I noticed it was too long, that the “new GC” in charge told them to do it that way. (Would have been nice if someone had mentioned what I had said I wanted, or told me what he told them to do if unsure, since I was there every time they've been working!).Fast forward to the cabinets being hung...once they'd left and we hung a couple doors, I also noticed that, since the soffit is a couple inches deeper that the full overlay cabinets, what starts as about a 2” gap (on the exposed underside of the soffit)grows about ½ inch over the fridge side)...also, the edge of the soffit isn't level either so there's a gap that gets bigger above the cabinets too. When I started to see all of this, I realized that they hadn't installed the “deco moulding” as ikea calls it (in the plans). That's when I grabbed my level and saw that the upper cabinets weren't hung level. AHHH! Haven't these guys heard of shims? (After much debate, I have since got the new GC to agree to pull down the uppers to do things right with a plan to fit the moulding in above, which they are coming on Monday to do. But since other issues about plumb & level came up, I didn't even think to mention the call on the extra 2" that I didn't want. (Damn me!)
Here it is a Saturday and, since he so kindly :rolleyes: agreed to eat the cost of pulling down uppers to install moulding to get things looking as right as possible (as he should) I'm not sure what to do about that 2". Should we just live with it or should I do what I'm tempted to do & cut it out myself and have them fix it on Monday?? (WWYD?)
I'm really hoping that inserting the moulding above (maybe a little proud of the cabinet doors) can make this look good in the end but need some professional advice here.
I'll try get photos on by tomorrow but having problems doing that right now.
There have been so many more problems but I'll stick to this one for now or this post will be even longer than it is...If you care to hear, just let me know cuz I've been documenting it all!
Thanks guys!
What was your question again?

It sounds like your daughter's contractor hired a bunch of subs and didn't bother to have anyone there to supervise the job. Now you are the supervisor and you have little control over what his subs are doing. If I were you I would give him an ultimatum, I would tell him either him or a competent person has to be there all the time making sure everything is done correctly or he's fired. Him telling you he's busy with a school project isn't an excuse. If he doesn't have time for your project then he shouldn't be doing it, he should be at his school.
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How much larger is the soffit than the depth of the cabinets?

If it is a 14" soffit with a 12" cabinet, I would make the end of the soffit balanced to the front of the soffit.

To begin with, we would do it right the first time.

I think you should have other concerns, like was there a permit for that job... they did remove the wall.
Was the electric done right and additional outlets were added per code.

Everything else you mentioned is minor stuff, it can be fixed in no time, not to mention the final payment wasn't done yet, and you being contractor I'm sure you suggested licensed trade did the job and there is a contract.

Like others said, you still have the balance to pay, so before you do, make sure final inspection was done and everything else completed to your satisfaction, and if you think a soffit should go back because it doesn't look good , then a soffit should go back.
What would you do?
They are coming back in 2 days to install the counter-tops and I'm not looking forward to how that will go.
OP, Please learn to use the carriage return.

All I can say regarding the OP is have your daughter fire the guy and hire someone competent.
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OP, Please learn to use the carriage return.
Nearly everybody has a cell phone now a days. If you have a problem with the crew understanding something, call him or have them call him.

Start a punch list. You should know that it contains a list of final adjustments to the work before final payment (unless there was some other agreement.) Take a picture of the soffit and send it to him and tell him what needs to be done. Have him confirm with the crew. Same with any other issues. Now it's on paper and perhaps in your phone messages in case you need it later.

Stop stressing. He only has 1/2 the money and you have a functional kitchen. It will get done.
Where/what is a carriage return:thumbup:
OP, Please learn to use the carriage return.
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I've got 10 years on TNT but I laughed out loud at that and don't know how he knew about that old technology.

It's a typewriter feature back several decades where you would push the bar and it would allow you to begin typing the next line on the paper.

Yes I am really that old! 48! I learned on one of these in high school.

You young whipper snappers don't know how easy you got it!:laughing:

He was referring to the lack of paragraph spacing which made it a headache to read.
Where/what is a carriage return:thumbup:
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Now I remember what that is? I learned that in school also, pushing 50 here
rselectric1 said:
I've got 10 years on TNT but I laughed out loud at that and don't know how he knew about that old technology. It's a typewriter feature back several decades where you would push the bar and it would allow you to begin typing the next line on the paper. Yes I am really that old! 48! I learned on one of these in high school. You young whipper snappers don't know how easy you got it!:laughing: He was referring to the lack of paragraph spacing which made it a headache to read.
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