Remodeling the Kitchen

Letter to The Home Depot

The following is our letter to The Home Depot requesting a refund. I know it’s long, and I don’t care.  We lived through three months of chaos and stress, so they can darn well read about it.  

After all the problems we’ve had the with the countertops we purchased from Home Depot more than 3 months ago, we really thought somebody would call, either from U.S. Granite, who was contracted with Home Depot to fabricate and install the granite countertops, or from Home Depot, who took our money (almost $4000) and contracted to provide the countertops we purchased.  But it’s been over a week now since the third set of countertops was finally installed, and no one has called to find out if we are satisfied with a job that went wrong so many times, we’ve almost lost count. We are not satisfied, and we are requesting a partial refund.

So, let’s run it down.

We sat down with a salesperson and our measurements at the Northtowne Home Depot in Reno in early March to work up a plan for the countertops.  We found some granite samples we liked and were advised to go to the granite supplier, Dal-Tile, and choose a particular slab of granite from which our countertops would be cut.  We did that the following week and chose a slab that Jeanie loved.  We then called Home Depot and sealed the deal with credit card information.  Within a few days, the company who would do the fabrication and installation of the countertops, U.S. Granite, called us to set up a templating appointment. The templater would digitally measure our space and encode it in a program that would then be fed to the cutting machine.

March 29, 2016: Templating proceeded with no problems.  The cabinets were brand new and newly installed, with no old countertops or anything to get in the way.  We were supposed to have countertops within a couple of weeks.

April 15, 2016:  Our countertops were supposed to be installed.  The appointed time came and went.  Jeanie finally received a call from the installer who said he would be there late in the afternoon. He never showed up, after we’d gone to the effort of moving the stove, the cutting boards that were our makeshift counters, and the essentials that we needed for cooking, and we’d covered the floor with heavy paper again to protect it from the workboots that tend to pick up gravel and mud outside and bring it in.  The installation was rescheduled for the following Monday after we called U.S. Granite’s manager to tell him that his installer never showed.

April 18, 2016:  The installer showed up bright and early and installed the countertops.  Not only did he not bring the brackets to secure the dishwasher to the countertops, he also did not adequately prepare to contain the dust produced when he cut the stone so that the sink could be set in the sink base counter.  Because he didn’t use any kind of containment procedure (like tarping) and because all he had to remove the dust was a wimpy shop-vac, we had rock dust throughout the entire house! Even worse, stone chips and rock dust coated our brand-new cabinets and all the contents inside. We spent hours on a step-ladder cleaning the cabinets and removing the contents, which all had to be washed before they (dishes, etc.) could be used.  The installers were wearing dust masks.  We, the homeowners, had no protection whatsoever from that dust, and we are still breathing it because it permeated every nook and cranny in the house.

But Jeanie loved the granite of the countertops.  This is a quote from her blog, written the next day:  “I got so excited when I saw the first top in place, and that was before the dust was cleaned off.  I love the granite I chose with its beige and gray background, black veining, and dark red flecks.” We were so happy with the granite choice.

However, after the installers had left and we tried to put the stove back in its space, it wouldn’t fit.  That was when we discovered that the countertops had been improperly installed, with one countertop overhanging the stove space by about 3/8”, which threw off that entire side of the kitchen.

After repeating ad nauseum to the manager of U.S. Granite what was wrong and what needed to happen next (either moving the countertops or recutting them), we were told another set of installers would come and look at the problem.  In the meantime, during all his measuring to figure out what went wrong and how it might be fixed, Dennis discovered that the bullnose overhang was different on all five pieces of granite.  None of them were uniform.

April 25:  A new set of installers showed up to move the countertops so that the stove would fit.  The countertops were moved, and the stove still did not fit.  Moving the countertop didn’t solve the problems.

The following week, the templater returned to check his program and discovered that the fabrication shop had miscut the bullnose depth on the slabs, and that was why they didn’t fit.  At least 3 of them would have to be recut, but U.S. Granite was hoping to get off cheap by not recutting all 5 of the pieces.

May 13: We drove back to Reno and looked at another granite slab, the second slab.  We didn’t like it as much as the original slab we’d chosen, and we were worried about the color, but we were told that because it had been raining, the stone had darkened, and that it would lighten up as it dried out.  It should match up, they said, when it dried out, with the pieces that were being left in place.  (One of those pieces was also miscut, but U.S. Granite  thought they could move it out away from the wall enough to leave it in place, although that would have made it difficult for us to properly set the backsplash tile.)

May 20:  The installers returned with three new pieces, the sink base countertop, the piece that abutted both the sink base and the stove, and the piece on the other side of the kitchen to the right of the fridge.  They installed the piece to the right of the fridge, and our concerns about color were immediately reawakened.  The new piece was substantially darker and browner than the original piece on the left side of the fridge, and it was very noticeable.   “It’s been raining,” the installers said.  “It’ll lighten up when it dries out.”  However, the new sink base piece and the piece next to the stove still did not fit.  The installers took the new pieces out, and we were left again without countertops on that side of the kitchen.  Dennis had to put our old laminate countertop back on so that he could hook the sink up again, so we would have water.

Within a week, the new countertop had dried out and was obviously not a match to the two original pieces that had been left in place.

May 28:  The templater returned to check the measurements once again and brought template cutouts to put down and try to determine the source of the problems with fit.  One of the problems was that U.S. Granite had not cut the sink base and stove section in one piece as had been originally laid out; rather, they’d cut them in two pieces (probably trying to save money), creating the necessity for a seam, and they simply couldn’t get edges and cuts to match up that way.

June 3:  We drove back down to Reno to see another new slab, the third.  This time, the slab had been set up in the fabrication shop at U.S. Granite.  It was dimly lit, and when we compared the piece of the original slab that we’d chosen back in March with the newest slab, we couldn’t tell if it was much darker than the piece that we loved and that we’d planned as the crowning glory of the new kitchen, or if the lighting was so bad, we just couldn’t see it clearly.  But what could we do?  Because of repeated mistakes by U.S. Granite, the countertop installation had been delayed for 3 months!  We told them to go ahead and cut new countertops.

June 6:  The countertops were installed and finally fit.  But to our dismay, the color was much darker than the original slab we’d chosen, with far more brown and beige in the background than the white and gray that Jeanie loved.  We had chosen the backsplash tile based on the original slab with more white and gray tones.  And now the backsplash tile does not coordinate nearly as well with the new countertops as it would have with the first slab we chose and paid for.

During this process, Dennis had to take out and then put back in and replumb the kitchen sink four times.  The dishwasher had to be taken out twice, and it marred the brand new wood floor we’d just installed.  The brand new cabinets were damaged on the top edges where the countertops were pried up twice!  We had to move kitchen paraphernalia so many times, we lost count.  And we are still trying to get the rock dust from cutting two sink holes cleaned up.

Dennis missed 5 days of work to be in the house when the installers and templater were here.  That is a significant loss of income.  We had to make two extra trips to Reno to look at slabs after our original choice was mis-cut and improperly installed.

Jeanie is disabled, and the stone dust mess in the house created by the first botched installation is more than she can cope with and clean up, not to mention the fact that it created breathing problems for days.  We need a professional cleaner to come in and thoroughly clean the house and carpets to remove the rock dust, which will be expensive.

For all of the above reasons, we are asking for significant refund from The Home Depot for our countertops.   This is to compensate us for the excess work, cost, time delays, and stress of this job which was botched not once, but twice.  So much for the dream kitchen; so much for the gorgeous countertops and coordinating backsplash.  We didn’t get what we paid for, and we feel cheated.

We trusted The Home Depot to contract with competent, reputable dealers and installers; in fact, that was exactly why we chose The Home Depot for this job.  We have been sadly disappointed.  Jeanie has chronicled this whole process on her blog (www.gardenforestfield.com), and we hope to be able to report that The Home Depot did the right thing and compensated us for what their contractor put us through for the past three months.  If The Home Depot does not do the right thing, that’ll be reported too, and not only on the blog, but on every review site online.

We hope to hear from someone at The Home Depot shortly about our refund.

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