13 December 2007

End Game with Kitchen Connection

At long last, everything that has to do with the Kitchen Connection is finished except haggling over final payment.

In Summary:

The contract said 42 working days, which was May 15th more or less.
After a number of delays, due largely to mistakes make by the Kitchen Connection, a hard completion date of June 1st was promised. I did not have working sinks until the start of June 22nd, which I had to organize myself. The granite counter tops were not installed to the original plan specifications until the end of August, and not finished until mid-September (delaying the installation of the range and hood until September 15th). This caused me to incur additional installation expense and the aggravation of a number of other parties, who had to cancel scheduled installation appointments and store the goods while waiting for the counters to be completed.

Thus, I did not have a working kitchen for four and a half months longer than the original estimate, and four months after the revised estimate you gave me (June 1st). Since there was not a working kitchen, it was not saleable or rentable, and I was forced to cancel a number of major social events including a wedding reception.

Additionally, during the entire three month period, I had to product manage the process, requiring many phone calls to either the Kitchen Connection or its subcontractors every week, my being on site for most of the work done during this period due to mistakes made in previous construction, extensive negotiating with Kitchen Connection’s subcontractors, all of which totaled many hours of my time, not to mention domestic aggravation.

01 December 2007


Stephanie and I got married 19 November in St. Lucia, the West Indies.

Obviously we have been busy - more on this soon...

07 August 2007

Tahoe, Kitchen at last ?

We had a wonderful weekend in Tahoe, staying at the cabin of friends, playing with their children, zooming around the lake on their boat. We discovered that if there is some chop on the water, it is a lot bumpier in a speed boat than in a sailboat. We had a wonderful lunch on the South Shore, overlooking the beach - it was a lot like San Diego, but with trees.

Getting out on Friday was difficult, it seemed like there was a great deal of traffic. I read Stephanie Harry Potter on the drive up and it made it seem like it was a very short drive to me, I missed Auburn entirely.

I sent the fax to the Kitchen Connection (may the fleas of a thousand camels infest their armpits) telling them that I was calling bullshit on their insistence that I had not bought enough granite, as the contract shows that I bought 70 sq feet, and a generous measurement allows that there was plenty of granite in that 70 sq feet to build as designed. Plus, I worked out that two median sized granite slabs could be cut to fit the design (only if they used two of the smallest slabs sizes would there be the hint of a problem). So I told them that I had scheduled the granite to be installed on Thursday, and if I did not hear back, I would assume that they would pay for it (and then left voice mail to make sure they go the fax).

So I should have the counters on Friday and the range installed next week. Electrical should happen shortly after that.

Am now gathering photos and documents for www.kitchenconnetionsucks.com

23 July 2007

A fun weekend

We had rather a wonderful weekend. Friday Stephanie discovered that Palo Alto was having some kind of music festival and movies shown out-of-doors so we decided to go have dinner outside - seeing as the weather was particularly fine. I called a couple we had long planned to have dinner with (who live near by) and they met us and we had a wonderful dinner out in the middle of University at La Strada, watching the legion of Harry Potter garbed go by, in addition to all the other people walking around Palo Alto on a weekend night. The food was very good.

Saturday we took Stephanie's mentee and his grandmother sailing (she had never been) as we had promised before she headed back to El Salvador. We took out the Merit 25, and it was blowing, we think about 20-25 knots. We reefed the mainsail and did not bother to put up the jib - so as not to scare the grandmother. We did not make a lot of distance, but everyone had fun.

03 July 2007

The Kitchen Connection Sucks

When we finally got around to getting to my house we discovered that the dishwasher no longer fits under the cabinet.

After much banging around (gently) we determined that there were three four solutions. 1. Rip out the cabinets. 2. Rip out the floor 3. Get rid of the nearly new dishwasher and buy the one or two models that were 1/2 inch shorter. 4. Sell the house and let the real estate agent and the lawyers deal with it. For some reason the drains on the kitchen sink were also not hooked up.

At the moment, I'm seriously considering option 4.

And then registering www.kitchenconnectionsucks.com and paradiseflooringsucks.com. I have lost all hope of getting this project done by Ski Season and at the moment, if I did not have cat living there, would simply abandon the house for three months until the fear of getting within 20 miles of it has passed.

So far today, the plumber has not called back (so far he is still on my good list since he has done great work so far) the Kitchen Connection did not call, so I called, and they are "trying to get the $1,400 price down for me". If it is much over $500 cost me a dime, I'm really going to have to think about finding a hungry lawyer, or seeing if I can declare them in breach and not pay them anymore. We are a month behind the contracted time.

02 July 2007

Yet more kitchen, and Saling

As usual thing have been busy, so some catching up is in order:

Wednesday's meeting with the granite people (Romarts) was unsatisfying, they want $1,400 to fix the "well most of our customers don't want to spend any extra money, so (for your convenience) we paid no attention to what you wanted when it would have cost $500 to do it right the first time. A rather agitated call to the Kitchen Connection (play Imperial doom music here) got, a day later, the response that there was probably something that could be done, they would get back to me on Monday.

In more fun news, we had a great day of sailing on the Bay. Stephanie's Yacht club has Merit 25s and we took one out. I
t was pretty windy, and we got pretty wet from the waves kicking over the bow and splashing into the cockpit. There was another couple on the boat who had never really been sailing before. (This was a $30 two hour weekend evening cruse - mostly to see if it was worth upgrading Stephanie's membership so we could take these boats out anytime.)

22 June 2007

Little progress, on any project

Busy week at work, long hours. blech.

Slow progress on the Kitchen front - sent a two page fax to the Kitchen Connection, and they talked to the granite people (not actually Trolls, they don't get smarter when you cool their heads)* and sometime next week they will try and fix the counter (island).

As I mentioned earlier I was told to hire a plumber to finish the sinks, they come on Saturday (which given that the wedding cake is already built and eaten, a little late). It is probably another two weeks before I get my range and hood installed, and then the Kitchen - Reloaded project can being.

Stephanie found a new contractor who has worked with the planning Politburo and her house project looks like it is going to take rather a lot longer and be more expensive than we expected, which was not good news.

Cool thing I found on Facebook: there is a new group for graduate students Grad Students: they're Not Bad People, they Just Made Terrible Life Choices I recommend it for everyone who even thought of going to grad school.

Limited plans for the weekend, we need some time off. Maybe sailing on Sunday...

* Obscure reference: Pratchett, Terry, collected works, Discworld

18 June 2007

Two Weddings and no Kitchen

The last two weekends saw two fabulous weddings.

In Kitchen News,
Well, we blew right by all the deadlines, so my friend's dad and his wife had to camp in my house without a working kitchen to construct the wedding cake, but everything seems to have worked out. I waited for 3 hours for the granite people today, but to no avial. The Kitchen Connection (may it rain on their picnics for a year) people told me the hook up of the water was "too complicated" and I should bring in a plumber and they would pay for it (wish they had said that a few days ago).

So, net no progress in the last week.

On the other hand, we had a wonderful weekend at the wedding, and Sunday we worked on Stephanie's house (for a change) got some gardening in, did some shopping, and went to some of her friend's house for dinner. So, all's well that ends well.

Shakespeare tomorrow at Cal Shakes!

07 June 2007

More Kitchen updates

For those hanging on the edge of their seats ...

Our project so far:
90% of the handles are installed, 70% of the shelves are installed. Everything else is on order.
The range (a Viking) arrived and is in the garage.
The granite installers are meant to cut the granite Friday or Monday.
The sinks and dishwasher are scheduled to be rehooked up on Monday(!)
Installation of the Range and hood should, in theory, happen Tuesday or Wednesday (need confirmation on granite to schedule).
There won't be any electricity (in the kitchen) for a while - I don't even have that on the schedule.
It should, in theory, be less or more operation by next Wed. assuming no more delays.

I managed to tidy up the two guest rooms, the living room, and the family room (though by tidy, I mean you can now move around easily without tripping on stuff).
I'm going to try and get Maid service in next week to do the bathrooms, because they are just too far gone to get ready in time.

Oh, and I got the estimate for fixing my retaining wall. Like all other house projects, it's $30,000. I was thinking more like $10k maybe $15. Back to the drawing board.

And tomorrow, early, Stephanie and I are off to New Jersey. I have a wedding to go to, she has a friend from college to see.

01 June 2007


Yes, I know it has been a long time, well, because, not to put too fine a point on it, nothing has happened in a long time.
But at last today the log jam may have cleared.
- Granite arrived and hopefully got installed today. Will know in a couple of hours.
- Tuesday the cabinetry gets its final work through - handles get put on, sinks get connected, rest of the moulding gets attached, appliances get put back.
- Tuesday or Wednesday range and hood get installed.
Dare I say Thursday it might, might be finished?? Which would be good because Friday morning its off to the Wilds of New Jersey.

Tonight and tomorrow, everything goes back into the kitchen, the furniture gets moved back, tomorrow the carpets get cleaned.
Sunday the guest rooms get cleaned.

20 May 2007

Progress, housekeeping, and some TV (!)

Somehow the week seems to have gotten ahead of me, and all the sudden it is gone.
Monday I went home, started trying to clean up the house for Nikita and Lenor's arrival (after I will have left the state) so that its not entirely a dump for them.

Kitchen news:
The floor people have finished, the cabinet people are mostly finished, (still need to add handles, a couple of doors, and fix the damage from the flooring installers hand and foot work. They have installed a new cabinet for the microwave, and it fits!! actually the microwave compartment is a bit too big, but it has room for the next generation of microwaves I guess. Plenty of room for the hot air to escape. Little sign of additional work by the electricians. The faucets should arrive sometime this week.

Tuesday was the end of "Gilmore Girls" a show, not unlike "Sex in the City" I did not start watching and appreciate until nearly the end of its last season. It was a good ending to the show. Sadly this only leaves "Scrubs" and "House" in the stable of shows we watch that are not all in reruns. (Yes I am now, after a 4-5 year hiatus, watching a limited amount of TV again.)

Much upheaval at Stephanie's work, but that's for her mythical blog.

And today, a breakneck day at work, trying to get ready for my trip to Atlanta. It got pushed back to next week, which is sad, because I will not be home for Stephanie's birthday, which I was looking very much forward to, and it messed up the free trip I thought I was going to get out of the company for Reunions. (I'm still flying free on Southwest miles - a symbol of freedom.) (tm)

04 May 2007

Weekend spent cleaning house, painting interior of the bar cabinets, moving stuff around.

House got vacuumed for the first time in months.

Cleaned the Refrigerator!!! Threw out all the food from the previous millennium, scrubbed the interior with bleach, took out all the shelves and bins and ran cleaned them. Looks like new (on the inside) have to take handles off (soak in bleach) and turn door around.

Made a wonderful dinner from the Low Glycemic cookbook (one of our favourites) which we had on both Saturday and Sunday.

Stephanie went sailing on Sunday -I worked on the house. So far yet to go.

I am still hopeful that all the various trades people will all show up Tuesday morning and get everything running.

Tonight and Wednesday - clean out guest rooms.

03 May 2007

More construction news

The Kitchen is still stalled - the flooring contractor is being good about fixing things that, well, his men broke or did not do correctly the first time. Things look bleak for having the house ready for Mother's day - the template for the counter tops won't be measured until Tuesday. Stephanie is having friends in town, her mom is coming in and I was supposed to have a house full of guests. Sigh.

But on the good side, it's supposed to be sunny on Saturday - we are going sailing again on the Bay, this time with Stephanie's mom and her husband. Sunday appears to be unplanned, but will, I'm guessing, involve my kitchen, Stephanie's garden, and a walk.

27 April 2007

This week in construction

First, a Kitchen update because I know everyone is just as fascinated as I am.

The floor, I got a phone report in, is now 80% complete (one small section left because a few pieces of tile got broken when fixing the not level bits) which means appliances can be installed next week!

The electrician arrived this morning and will be wiring up all sorts of stuff - more power to the upstairs, the hot tub, the garage, the wine fridge. I spent two nights moving stuff out of the living room so that he would have room to work. Amazingly clear room now. This cost me a Thursday night with my urban tribe, not a great trade.

Stephanie found on Google what I was unable to find, a wine cellar that would fit on the sides of the stairs so at last those can be ordered. We also picked out faucets.

I finally got all the clutter out of my bedroom and the bathroom mostly de-cluttered (we have been watching home improvement shows about how to reorganize and redecorate, almost as bad as cooking shows - but its helping with the motivation.

The new allergy meds are doing wonders, the runny nose and sneezing and cough are almost all gone. Go go Fluticasone!

This weekend we are back up to Tahoe for the last of ski season. I'm giving it a 50/50 shot as to our actually putting on skis. Snowpack is at 49% of normal, and Stephanie is not expressing much motivation for skiing on slush. My knees would be happier if we didn't. But the ski cabin must be cleaned out.

24 April 2007

Another Kitchen Update

Since it is one of the main topics of conversation (at home and abroad) here's the latest on the Kitchen Project:
The following have arrived or will be delivered on demand: The sinks and the range. We still have to order: the faucets. (yea! that's it!)
The floor was installed, but the workmanship was iffy - the tiles were so uneven that we noticed the unevenness just walking across them in our shoes.
I am afraid the installer will have to redo over half the tiles, and since there are less than 2,500 sq ft of this tile left in the world, I hope he is able to get enough tile. I am not entirely happy about this...
The last of the cabinet work is ready to go, we are mostly waiting for the tile to be finished. In theory, there is a new cabinet being made to replace the one that is too small.
The electrician is ready to work on the rest of the stuff on Friday - pending above being finished.
The granite is waiting on the cabinet work, so that it can be measured and then there is a two week (estimated) wait for it to be cut and installed.

In related news Stephanie had a cleaning fit, and my room got vacuumed within an inch of its life. I don't blame her - I don't want to go home the the disaster mess either. Tonight I will steam clean the bathroom The allergies are getting bad enough that sometimes it sounds like I have consumption.

23 April 2007

Weekend update

In other news, now back to two weeks ago - Stephanie and I went sailing on Saturday - a 30' catermaran around the front Bay, and under the bridge. We saw two tall ships having a "battle" and managed to get a "cannon ball" through our sails only about once. Pictures on my facebook and on the web site one of these days.

We stayed overnight moored off of Angel Island. It was cool sleeping on the boat - have not done that in years, and we had a good time with Stephanie's sailing friends. Sunday we spent working on my house and then having a wonderful dinner with Wolff and Sarah and Kate (at least I think that's the order we did things, must write this down more often - so many things going on that they are getting jumbled). Had fun playing with Kate - we all read to her before bed. We had a great time with them. Nice to have small group interaction now and then.

The week was a blur - work is running mostly hot and cold - sometimes its crazy busy, sometimes less busy - or at least less urgent. See now.

Last weekend (as in a few days ago) we were going to go skiing maybe but the snow looked iffy (lots on the road, possibly as rain or wet at low elevations, and with really cold nights and warm days which I figured meant icy snow on the ground. And Stephanie was burnt out doing stuff (which we have done practically every weekend for months). So Saturday we slept in, hiked the Dish at Stanford (very cool you must all go and do it). Then about 9.15 I caught a ride to one of my friend's birthday party to save gas. Stephanie and I had previously agreed she would skip the really late party in favour of brunch on Sunday (also in the city). I eventually went home with Adam at 3 AM, the source of much amusement among our friends with whom we had dinner Sunday night.

16 March 2007

Kitchen update

Well the kitchen is fully demoshed, plumber comes money to move a gas line and see if I can put a sink in the bar, possibly not.
This weekend we are going skiing, its about 70+ here, I'm taking the Hawaiian shirts and my shorts.

Here are the photos from the last dinner party, with scenes from the old kitchen, and the first round of removal.

Fully demolished pictures to follow...


14 March 2007

This Old House (improvements 4.0)

The latest version of house improvement (4.0) has begun - the olde kitchen is gone, ripped out by the roots, the new kitchen is in the garage, awaiting installation. The electrician has been hired and I have two bids on the way for the floor.

Saturday we were on the hunt for granite, tile, and microwaves, and good progress was made on all fronts, though the stove hood shop in SF was closed for a special event which they did not mention on their answerphone when we called to make sure they would be open.

Saturday night we drove to Tahoe and spent the night at the cabin - Stephanie's leg was hurt from a Fall on Friday, and it was bothering her, so we sprung forward by sleeping in, bumming around the lake, and testing to see just how far Nevada was from the slopes (and hunting for ski cabins). We had a wonderful dinner in Truckee - I discovered peanut sauce and fish go together really, really well.

Pictures to follow.

18 January 2007

Let me explain, no there is not time, let me sum up...

Things have been busy. Kaiser is going well. There have been trips to New York for new years, trips to Indiana for holidays, and now ski season has happened.

Stephanie and I were at a holiday party for her company.

More soon...