If you’ve ever renovated anything, whether a kitchen, a bathroom, or – god forbid – an entire house, then you’ll be all too painfully aware that at times things don’t go according to plan. Last year we decided to renovate our kitchen.
We’d been thinking about it for more than a year and then finally, I’m not sure why, made a decision to just get it done. As far as renovation experiences go, overall it was fairly straightforward. A few things weren’t done correctly and had to be fixed but, as I say, overall things went smoothly.
That is, except for the sink.
Everything but the kitchen sink
We bought an IKEA kitchen and then hired a recommended company to remove the old kitchen, install the new one and setup all the necessary services (electric and water, having done away with gas). This process involved providing IKEA a list of all the pieces we needed (a list drawn up by someone else) and then, two days before installation would begin, IKEA gremlins pick them out and deliver them.
We were in Victoria, driving along the Great Ocean Road, when IKEA rang to say they were gathering our order. They didn’t have a few things in stock, one of which being the kitchen sink. Their last delivery of this particular sink had met with misfortune, the stock being rendered useless, and they couldn’t tell us when another delivery would come in.
‘Would you like to choose a different sink?’
Umm, no, no we would not. We liked that sink. We chose it because it went with everything else we’ve chosen. How could you not know when you were getting stock in? Does IKEA just deliver whatever it wants to Australia whenever it wants? Bizarre.
‘Can you get it delivered from another store in Australia?’ we asked.
‘No, we’re a separate franchise from the others and we don’t offer that service.’
‘…So you have no idea what they’ve got in stock?’
My husband was the one dealing with this situation but we were both beginning to feel annoyed at the ridiculousness of all this. And I think the poor employee on the other end of the phone might have been picking up on the tone. She was very apologetic, and it wasn’t really her fault. Still, we were without a sink.
Have sink, will travel
There wasn’t much else this IKEA could offer us so we said that we would look at IKEA stores in Victoria and if they had one, we’d bring it back ourselves. She seemed fine with that because, well, why wouldn’t she?
This meant a slight change of plans. We finished the Great Ocean Road and a trip to the Twelve Apostles in a day, foregoing a night’s accommodation in Apollo Bay, and then headed to Melbourne. The next day we visited IKEA, purchased the sink and flew back to Perth with this rather heavy and unwieldy box as oversized baggage. Luckily we hadn’t brought any checked luggage with us so there was no extra charge.
Ok, so that’s fairly straightforward. No sink in Western Australia so we bought one in Victoria and flew it across the country. We have a sink.
The renovations begin. The old kitchen goes, the services are sorted out, the cabinets go in, we argue over a few things that have been done wrong but otherwise it’s getting there. Then there’s a final push as it had all dragged on a little long. The house is filled with tradesmen – two electricians, a cabinet maker and a plumber – as they hurry to get everything finished.
With all these people in the house eager to get everything done, I go to IKEA to pick up a few remaining things that will be needed later in the day. I leave them to it, confident in their abilities to complete their assigned tasks and do, what is after all, their job.
When I return, the plumber pulls me aside.
That sinking feeling
‘So, we’ve got a bit of a problem,’ the plumber says.
‘Well, I put the sink in the hole [space left in granite bench top for sink] and then when I took it out and drilled the hole for tap, I’ve drilled it in the wrong side.’
The sink can only go one way because of the dishwasher so putting a hole on the wrong side of the sink is a fuck-up. He’s rendered the sink useless.’
‘You’re joking,’ I said.
‘No,’ he says, so matter-of-factly. ‘But it’s ok, we’ll get another one from IKEA and it will all be good.’
I’m sure my ears go red. ‘You don’t understand. The sink has come from Melbourne because they don’t have any in stock here.’
‘Well, I’ll get my supervisor to check.’
‘You do that.’
I then leave him because if I was going to be around him any longer, I’d probably start shouting. The bits and pieces that had gone wrong or caused stress with the renovation, when accumulated and added to with this latest thing, tipped me over the edge. I wasn’t going to be nice anymore.
A little while later he calls me back to the kitchen and says, as predicted, they’re out of stock in IKEA but ‘we’ve got one in the yard that’s the same but longer. It’s 120cm long.’
‘But the hole is 100cm.’
Again, it’s a granite bench top. Not like you can cut a bit out with a saw, even if it could fit with the cabinets underneath.
‘But what? Why are you telling me this? It’s too big for the hole.’
‘Ummmm….yeah, so I’m just waiting to hear back from my supervisor and…’
I walked away.
In the end, with no other options and with him wanting to get out of there as quickly as possible, he installs the sink, connects the water and puts gaffer tape over the hole to stop the water from going through into the cupboards. I then get an assurance that they’re onto it with IKEA about getting a replacement.
Sink installation, take two
After a few weeks of nothing, I take it upon myself to look up IKEA’s website and see if the sink is back in stock. I didn’t want to. I thought I didn’t have to because I was confident in their ability to keep on top of this. More fool me.
When I looked for the sink on the website, it had gone. Not only was it not in stock, it had ceased to exist on their database. This was not looking good. Knowing that my husband was going to be in Melbourne in a few weeks, I checked their site. They still had them and they were in stock.
Now, I perhaps should have demanded that the company take care of purchase and delivery but I’m a sucker and just wanted it done. I got agreement from them that they’d reimburse us for the purchase, and then, in late December, we purchased another sink and yet again took a sink from Victoria to Western Australia.
The new sink was installed this week, without incident, and we are now happy and have a great story to tell.
Moral of the story? Buy a new house when you want to renovate because renovating is the Devil’s plaything.