Saturday, October 18, 2014

Post The 8th - Sticky Situations

Post The REAL 8th
Sticky Situations - Is the Honeymoon Over?

Yes, it can feel that way sometimes, even for me, let's be honest, we're all human, we all make mistakes, I certainly have in the past. Maybe it was forgetting the proper tool needed, a general "what-else-is-going-to-go-wrong" bad day, Tim Hortons was closed, an unsatisfied employee who simply doesn't care anymore, or your toddler puked into your open tool bag that for some reason you left at the front door, and open.  For whatever reason, mistakes happen, however, the specifics of a mistake, in the end, is not the real issue: how the problem is dealt with, is the issue.

When you undertake a larger project, such as a kitchen renovation, there are an incredible amount of details, and only very seasoned renovators are experienced enough to handle one from start-to-finish. Sure, it sounds easy, you know, take out old cabinets and counters, install new ones, throw on a backsplash and you're done. Right? Definitely not. Proper space design, precise measurements, exact fixture location, incorporating new appliance specs, upgrading electrical, sizing venting requirements, are just the tip of the iceberg in a full kitchen reno. There are also, in conjunction, many ways to make mistakes, and one simple measurement flaw, can literally change everything.

For example (and in my pursuit to be honest and transparent, this was a real-life examply), say your fridge is against a wall, and cabinets on the other side. It's not good enough to simply know the size of the fridge, you must also know the opening dimensions and angles, the size and depth of the handle, the interior drawer compartments and their function, swing of door, etc. It would be a terrible thing if you're so happy with the results, work had been smooth, everything looks amazing, the fridge is put into place as the finishing touch, and you come to the realization that when you open the fridge, the door only goes so far because you're hitting the wall. You can't open your vegetable drawer, and you can't take out your ice-maker fully to clean it. What now?  Who's to blame? Who screwed up? The contractor should have known to have had the foresight, the cabinet maker should have inquired, the client should have given the specs. The blame game can be played for years. If it makes you feel better blaming someone, then so be it, but that's not the healthy way to eat the problem.  Here's some tips:

1. Keep calm, take a deep breath, and realize that the fact that your fridge door doesn't open enough to function 100% is a First-World-Country problem and we should all be so lucky that this is the type of problem we deal with in our life. I know, it sounds cynical, but it's true. Only having a $100,000 budget but wanting $120,000 worth of work is really not a problem we should ever be stressing about.
2. A meeting between the cabinet maker, the contractor, and yourself is key, made in a time where all 3 parties can devote more than 10 minutes of uninterrupted discussion (I know, sounds easier than it is, but it's important). Being on-site allows measurements to be made, and full-impact decisions to the rest of the space.
3. Be open to all suggestions. Discuss each option fully (if there is more than one). Most likely, it is the renovator and/or cabinet maker that will foot the bill for at least the labour portion, so try not to go overboard with ideas that could cause a larger change to other areas, don't take advantage.
4. Remember that you are a part of the solution too, as it's you that has to live with it, so be firm in your decision, and make sure you won't be losing functionality elsewhere.
5. Be creative, and open to creativity. In the end, you may actually get something better.
6. Be nice. Renovators and trades deal with amazing amounts of anxieties and stress, it's a very mentally challenging career. The one thing that I value most in a client is the WAY they communicate, much less with WHAT they communicate. This leads to WANTING to solve the problem, rather than HAVING to solve the problem.
7. In business, the adage is that all relationships end the way they begin, regardless of the middle, so how a problem is initially approached, is how the solution will feel for you when complete.
8. It is my job to solve problems and fix things. That's what I do. If everything went perfectly all the time I would be sitting on a beach in Cannes year-round. A great renovator is one that understands that. When issues do arise, it it very hard sometimes to stay calm and cool, so keep in mind we're putting in great effort to have a smile to keep you happy, so it's good to try and do the same in kind.
9. Most important: focus on the solving of the issue as a separate entity from the overall project. There may have been little glitches along the way that you may still remember. Just like in a marriage, one of the worst things you can do during an argument is bring up past problems or feelings that are most likely unrelated to the current argument.  It doesn't solve anything and will make it worse.

Here's how the real-life issue came to a very happy ending:
When the cabinets were installed, the new fridge had been in the living room. It was designed to have the fridge at the end, with a wall on the left, and cabinets on the right. It was the clients who brought to my attention that they had a concern with how far the fridge door would swing against that wall, and what affect it would have. They were correct, that although the door would open 90 degrees, the storage shelves on the door made it difficult to take out the vegetable door or ice-maker to clean properly. So we met with the cabinet maker to discuss options. The solution was to shift the cabinets 6" to the right, which would now allow the fridge door to open farther to achieve the goal.  But now we'd have a 6" gap, what to do? Just put in a filler piece? Sure, that would work, but now there's 6" of wasted space, and in a kitchen, that's a mile. Now, because of the layout, there was not much option to have a nice storage space for flat baking trays and cookie-sheets. So instead of a filler piece, we built a 6" wide pull-out pantry style cabinet, floor to ceiling, that had enough room on the inside to place as many sheets as one would have. This was not the first idea or solution offered, but after a few days of review, this was the best one all-around. The important aspect of the entire process was that the clients approached me in an amazingly calm and relaxed way. At no point did anyone feel stressed about the situation, which lead to a very good, creative meeting which made the cabinet maker and I WANT to solve the problem, which is why the pantry idea came to fruition. This was a perfect representation of numbers 4,5, and 6 above.

Hope this will help you in the future! Lots more to come! Remember to always comment, like, share, tell everyone you know! :)
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