When the air conditioning installation man fell through Bonnie Krois' ceiling -- luckily without injuring himself -- it should have been enough.
But, it was just another in the series of mishaps the Connecticut family suffered through while renovating their house. It was a slow process that began eight years ago, one project at a time, during which they endured ceiling collapses, floods and a bunch of other surprises they would love to forget.
"If you're home and you hear, 'uh oh,' from the plumber or electrician," said Krois, "it's always $2,000 or more. We've heard plenty of those." Theirs, she said, "is truly 'The Money Pit' story that is beginning to rival the movie."
Join the party. Mention home renovations, and just about everyone has a nightmare to recount. From nerve-racking sagas spawned by spinmeister contractors and construction blunders to major annoyances linked to minor jobs -- we've heard it all.
Certainly, the Krois family's hole-in-the-ceiling stories rank up there in home refurbishing horror lore.
The first happened a few years back, when the family had central air conditioning installed in their home. One of the men was upstairs sawing something, when, said Krois, "I was walking by and all of a sudden, he fell through the ceiling -- with the saw still running."
Still attached to his belt and swinging in the air, the saw was about to lop off the new handrail adorning a brand-new staircase. But much worse than that, "I thought it was going to saw off his legs," she said, adding, "Thankfully, nothing happened. I was so worried about him, and he was certainly shaken."
Although this calamity should have made her a seasoned veteran, Krois was unprepared for the next one, which occurred during the renovation of her son, Eric's, room. A Plywood floor had been laid in the boy's room, which is above the kitchen, except for one area that was covered only by Sheetrock.
"I hear a crash and Eric went right through the kitchen ceiling dangling by his legs," she recalled. Luckily, again, there were no injuries. Soon their cat, aptly named "Lucky," made the hole "a cool place (around which) to play. In the middle of the day, you would hear this yelling, and it was the cat." The hole was eventually patched up, but at that point, "we didn't care," Krois admitted. All they could wonder was: What next?
Which is probably the question Cora and Doug Thomas asked themselves while their 3,000-square-foot Greenwich, Conn., house underwent a complete remodeling job.
Among the experiences etched in their memories is the water leak Cora discovered in their family room just after it had been Sheetrocked, plastered and had a new ceiling installed.
"The funny thing," said Doug, "is that the head of the contracting company came over and said, 'I want to tell you that something like this is a good thing. You want something like this to happen now and not down the road.' " That man "could spin anything," Doug said. "He could spin cotton into gold."
(It turns out the leak was caused by one of the workers who had driven a nail through a water line.)
The travails of a Stamford, Conn. woman began with the remodeling of a family room -- which triggered the need for additional lighting. The room was situated on top of her garage. Thinking he'd be able to install new fixtures by connecting them to existing electrical lines, the electrician began drilling holes in the family room ceiling. When the connection didn't work, he started making more holes, now going downward into the garage.
"Not only did we have all these holes in the family room," she recalled, "now there were a zillion holes in the garage as well. It began to look like a Swiss cheese house. I was ready to connect the dots."
What started out as a project to install two simple lights "turned into an absolute nightmare ... and a lot more expensive," she said. "There were holes in my pocketbook by the time we were finished." But, again, after all is said and done and the holes patched up without anyone being the wiser, the woman admits, "I love the end product. It's absolutely beautiful."
And finally, the story of a woman whose nine-month kitchen renovation was far more than she ever bargained for. Although she warned the remodeling contractors that her '30s house had crooked walls, which would likely prevent a one-piece countertop from being brought in, they wouldn't listen. "I didn't mind a seam, but they wouldn't think of it and made this big deal about it," she said.
"The countertop came, and of course, they couldn't get it into the kitchen," she said. "They were screaming at me because it was my fault. It's never their fault." They finally cut a piece of it to get it into the room because the walls weren't parallel, she explained, noting that they had to cut off about a 3/4-inch piece along one wall to fit it in. "It was awful," she said.
But, that was not the end of it. Their "ace plumber" installed copper pipes that developed pinhole leaks within the year. "They said, 'That's what happens with copper pipes, they don't last forever.' I told them they should last a year," she said.
"What did I know about copper pipes?" After bringing in another plumber, she learned that the "ace" had used discarded pipes. The second plumber told her to expect pinhole leaks "for the life of the pipes." Since then, she's had some of these pipes replaced.
At the end, the contractor wouldn't return to finish the project until she paid him. One kitchen cabinet was crooked, another cabinet door wouldn't close, still another didn't match in color. In addition, one of the new electrical switches didn't work.
"I think that's how life works," she said. "It's the lame excuses. These people are the ones who control the world. They get a lot further than someone who uses rational speech and get nowhere."
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