Gather round, my children, and let me tell you the tale of a month-long saga to purchase and install a range, a microwave, and a dishwasher.
First, some background.
When I bought the house, I knew I wasn’t buying it for the kitchen it had, but rather the kitchen it could have, after I had a chance to play around with it a bit:
I’m fairly certain the appliances in that kitchen were around to see Return of the Jedi when it came out in theaters, if not Empire Strikes Back.
Keeping that in mind, I set aside some cash and went over to Lowe’s, which seemed to have the best prices in town, beating out Menard’s, Best Buy, the (Grand Haven) Home Depot, and the local appliance retailer. Nothing I bought was Lowe’s exclusive, and I wasn’t too irritated when I was told that the appliance(s) they had in stock actually had to be ordered from the manufacturer and would take a couple of weeks. I hadn’t moved in yet, and besides, I could survive for a while on salad/fast food/delivery. I normally don’t eat that way, so it’d be sort of novel, right?
Move-in day came about a week after I ordered the appliances.
Move week came and went, with news that my dishwasher and over-the-range microwave had arrived, and would be installed the following Friday (almost 3 weeks after I ordered the appliances). I wasn’t too happy with this delay, but chalked it up to busy subcontractors (I deal with this all the time in my job).
I spent the final day of move week waiting all afternoon for a Lowe’s delivery truck that was supposed to be bringing me my new range, but when the store closed at 8pm, all I had was an apology from the appliance manager explaining that my range was delayed by over a week because Whirlpool hadn’t processed the order properly and the range had to be re-ordered. I was not happy.
On the day of the dishwasher and microwave installation, I learned a couple of important things:
– My dishwasher is apparently on the same circuit as at least half the basement (most new construction would isolate the dishwasher on its own circuit)
– Plumbers, who are not electricians in most cases, can still somehow be assigned jobs requiring electrical work
– The height between the top of the range and the bottom of the OTR microwave was too short by about 4 inches
The last part I knew, but had been assured that it wouldn’t be a problem, and that the contractor can cut the cabinet down to the right size. Except that the guys who arrived told me that, first of all, they were not electricians and could not install an outlet for the microwave, and second, I would need to cut down the cabinet myself. They removed the range hood and left the microwave in the packaging on the floor of my garage with a promise to return at some point.
At least the dishwasher was nice and shiny, and most of all, QUIET:
At 44dB, it was so quiet that Bosch felt the need to put a little red light at the bottom of it so that I had an indication of some sort that it was on. My parent’s Bosch, which is about 15 years old at this point and on it’s second motor after 13 years, is pretty quiet, but not like this. It’s amazing.
The following Monday, Lowe’s finally delivered my new range:
Two down, three to go, but by this point the countertop microwave that had been left behind by the previous owner had arced on me and was sitting in the garage, reeking of ozone and unusable. Lacking the ability to reheat leftovers, which is what I depend on 90% of the time, the need to get my microwave installed had become acute.
I arranged to have a carpenter cut down the cabinet. We took some measurements, and because I didn’t want to try to position the back of the microwave against the partial backsplash, and didn’t want to start tearing out tiles, we essentially cut the cabinet in half:
At this point I would like to point out the most frustrating part of this entire process. A couple of days before the carpenter was supposed to come out and perform the cut down (we had already taken measurements by now), Lowe’s called to say that for an additional (substantial) fee, the contractor would perform the cabinet cutdown. I wasn’t interested in having them do that, but wanted to make sure that if I handled the cutdown on my own or through someone else, that they would still install the outlet and finish the job. The appliance manager didn’t know, so he bounced me to the installation scheduler, who sent me to the contractor, who sent me to the electrician they use. After half an hour of calling people and rescheduling the installation for today, I had my answers and was hopefully all set.
Our tale, fortunately, does have a happy ending: the installers (curiously, the same two guys who said they didn’t do electrical work a week and a half ago) came out, made the cuts for the outlet and installed the outlet (at which point I learned that my microwave, refrigerator, office, and family room all share a circuit), and then installed the microwave.
With that, I had finally completed Phase I of the kitchen renovation project. What I had figured would take a week or two at most took 29 days.
The end result is a kitchen in transition. I have much more extensive plans to redo the kitchen (Phase II) in a year or two, but at least I have appliances I can count on, and that will make the time between then and now worth it.
The biggest lesson I learned from this process, however, is that the installation services at Lowe’s deserve a bit of an asterisk. This is only one story against who knows how many people who buy appliances and installation services from my particular Lowe’s, but I found it incredibly frustrating that after paying installation fees for a dishwasher and microwave (the hookups and conversions meant no free installation by the delivery guys) I was the one left to coordinate, ask questions, and schedule things. A few weeks before I bought the appliances I was looking at cabinets for Phase II and the Lowe’s associate told me, much to my delight, that they had contractors for everything from drywall to rough construction to plumbing and electrical, and they could manage the whole thing for me. At this point, I don’t believe that. The installation coordinator/scheduler/whatever you want to call him evidently doesn’t know what his contractors will and will not do, and when the time comes for Phase II, I’ll be coordinating that myself. I can’t say I’m happy about that; coordinating and managing the implementation of projects is something I spend my work day doing, and I don’t really want to have to do it for this, but I’m not about to let a four to six week kitchen renovation turn into a three month affair because the left hand isn’t talking to the right.
But, on a brighter note, for the first time in a month, I can set about the task of cooking in a kitchen with a well-lit, ventilated range that doesn’t use those awful coil burners, and then wash my dirty dishes in a dishwasher so quiet and so incredibly good at washing dishes that I’m still irrationally excited. It may not be big enough for a kitchen island, but I’m a huge step closer to the kitchen I’ve wanted for almost the last 10 years now.
Coming soon: the paint project!