Confused Mother

What happened to “communication”?

As I write this, my husband and I are trying to work with a contractor to get our bathroom renovated. The house was built back in the 1980s, and we're fairly certain that it's the original cabinetry and other bits. The taps and shower head were changed out back in 2005, along with a new shower door, because that is all stuff that my husband and I did back when we bought the house. But now that we don't have "little ones" anymore, it's time to get rid of the dinky bathtub and give the room a bit of a facelift.

So, new shower, new vanity, new toilet, and new GIB on the walls and ceiling… along with new lights, new fan, new heater…

You get the idea.

Well, this entire experience of working with the contractor has opened my eyes to how contractors do business—or more appropriately, how they shouldn't do business. And my biggest gripe: Lack of communication.

Let me give you a bit of history here, so you can see why I'm really getting miffed about this "lack of communication" issue.

I need to warn you now. This particular post is more "ranty" than usual.

The Bathroom Renovation Saga To Date

Back in January 2024, my husband reached out to someone he knew from Scouting days, who owned and operated his own business for kitchen and bathroom joinery. It was a conversation to get the ball rolling, so we knew what we were in for, and could go to the bank to get the financing for it.

With several missed phone calls and missed emails, we finally connected in mid-February. And someone came out to look at the current bathroom and to get a sense of the job—take some measurements… that sort of thing. At that time, we were told that it would take about a week to get the quote.

Two weeks later, no quote. A month later, still no quote. And at this point, I was wondering if this guy was worth the effort.

But hubby convinced me to set aside my concerns and to just keep asking for the quote. So, I sent an email asking where this quote was. And we had already gone to the bank with a rough number, and had the extended mortgage approved. All we needed was the quote, so we could get started.

Then I got a phone call saying that the builder who was going to do the work wanted to see the job before a quote could be issued. (Mentally, I was asking why they didn't sort this during the month prior, but hey, I'm just a logical person. What do I know?) So, that appointment happened… I met the builder… And still no quote.

We hit March, and I was still chasing the effing quote. But I couldn't go anywhere else to get another quote, because the shower door was going to be an issue. ALL other contractors wanted to install a swinging door on the shower, where we were insistent that we have a sliding door. Only the contractor that we were working with (the one that we were waiting for the quote from) was able to give us the door we wanted. So, I continued to push for the quote.

Mid-March, and the quote finally came in… only it was missing quite a few vital items… like taps and a shower head. There was no mention of light fixtures or heating in the room. There was zero mention of the doors that needed replacing. And the vanity color was specified as "white", which I would have never chosen. Let's just say that we had to get the quote revised.

We met with the contractor, and we were told we would have a revised quote by the end of the week. End of the week came… You guessed it, no quote.

Mid-April, and I felt like I was emailing everyday asking for the new quote. One finally got sent the day of my son's graduation from university… And the quote we received… It was the original quote we rejected. And even worse, the email had "sent from upstairs printer" in the subject line of the email. WTF?

Hubby took over at this point because I was getting angry with all of this. And the only reason we continued with this particular company was because of the bathroom door.

We finally got the new, revised quote at the end of April. And we hit the "go" button. We paid the deposit and started asking when the work would start.

And crickets. I got pushy. Hubby got pushy. And the original builder was no longer available to do the work. So, a new builder was sent out mid-May to look at the job. Only to discover that certain things that we were told were on the quote were NOT on the quote. Like the doors that needed to be replaced, and the removal of the molding ceiling panel in the toilet area. (They had it on the scope to just put the new panel over the top of the old panel… because the old panel has stippling that contains asbestos. I don't understand their logic about this. Why would we have ever agreed to leaving a moldy panel in the toilet that would cause more issues later? Who cares if it costs more money? Do it right the first time, and it costs less money in the long run. Duh!)

Oh, my effing god.

The builder understood my perspective, so he went back to the company about all of this.

And suddenly crickets again. Instead of emailing, I started phoning on a near daily basis. And I finally get told that the quote needs to be redone—again—because of the missing doors… and now we need to get a specialist company to come in regarding the ceiling panel.

And what was supposed to be a job that was supposed to happen in March is taking place in June—in the middle of the effing winter!

But the part of my last conversation with them that irked me the most.

"The builder said he can start next week, but you wouldn't be ready for that."

My response: "Next week is fine. We are more than prepared for that."

My mental response: "If you would stop making assumptions and actually communicate with us, then we wouldn't have had all these delays."

And that is really what I'm more pissed off about than anything else. The lack of communication.

I get that builders and contractors are busy. There is no shortage of work for those types of jobs within my home city at the moment. But just because you're busy is not an excuse to not communicate with your client. There is zero excuse for lack of communication!

The Lessons for Me in this Mess

There are few lessons for me in all of this. One of which is to never work with this particular company again. When we finally get around to updating the kitchen, we will be going to a different company… one that actually communicates.

But I'm also seeing (witnessing firsthand) what a breakdown in communication can do to any working relationship. In truth, the fact that I'm having to chase stupid things like a quote and a start date is making me fearful of what I'm going to have to chase at the other end. This lack of communication is eroding away trust.

Within my work as an editor and writing coach, I am a contractor myself. I have already written several posts on the Black Wolf Editor's Blog about how important those initial communications are to forging a good working relationship, including how if the initial communication comes across as a demand, that is going to leave a sour taste in my mouth.

But given my most recent experience in trying to get this bathroom renovation done, I'm now seeing how important it is to have ongoing communication, too. The contractor involved in my bathroom saga won the contract (mainly because of the shower door issue), but we could still pull the plug on the whole thing because they aren't communicating on when the job will happen.

Communication is the key to every relationship: working and personal

It's overwhelming to think about the number of disputes that could have easily been resolved if people would just communicate with one another.

From relationships with my family and friends to relationships with clients, it all comes down to communication.

Where are we meeting for lunch?

You want me to drive you where?

Did you get the email that I sent?

I sent you a quote. Are you interested in contracting the services?

You haven't booked in a mentoring session yet. When would you like to do that?

Seriously, with cellphones and emails, it's not that hard to keep those channels of communication open. Yet, some people, even contractors, don't seem to understand that communication is the key to a happy life.

Regarding this bathroom renovation... The work starts on Monday morning, starting with the asbestos removal team. And assuming that goes all well, the builders start the demolition on Wednesday or Thursday. (And I will share before and after photos on my social media. Because I can.)

To get those dates, it took me turning into that annoying client who called every day for an update. I didn't like doing it. I hated the type of person I became because of the stress involved. But I did it because I'm not a pushover.

These contractors are not going to take my money to do a half-assed job.

And I'm going to damn well make sure that they understand the consequences of their lack of communication.

Copyright © 2024 Judy L Mohr. All rights reserved.

This article first appeared on

Posted in Random and tagged , , .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.