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Fischer: Didn’t hire a professional and now I’m paying for it – literally

By Jen Fischer - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Jun 14, 2024

Photo supplied

Jen Fischer

With the real estate experience that I have had, one would reckon that I'd have picked up a thing or two by now. I have. I've picked up several things -- in the form of tile pieces out of my feet; large dust particles from my hair, nails, ears, mouth and nostrils; and bits of grout, nails and chunks of mortar from my dog's fur.

It started several months ago. I came home one day and looked at our tile. When it was originally installed, it was chosen for its rich earthy tones, ranging from warm browns to vibrant oranges. Each tile featured unique veining and textures and they were large and irregularly shaped, adding to the organic feel of the design. Their rough edges and uneven surfaces create a sense of authenticity and rugged charm. The grout lines were wide and prominent and complemented the earthy tones of the slate. That was in 2007, when the home was built. This day, I stared at it in hostility and repulsion. I hated it. It had to come out.

If I had known then, what I know now, I think I could have made a more stalwart effort to at least be less repulsed by this imposing and unsightly slab of slate on my floor. Alas, I did not. Instead, I called my contractor and got a bid. The bid included removing the decorative custom baseboards without breaking any of them since there are no longer replacements; removing the toilets, furniture and appliances as well as the tile and other flooring, leveling the subfloor; replacing the tile; reinstalling and painting the baseboards; and moving all the appliances and furniture back. The price was going to be more than three times what I had budgeted. So I got an idea. An awful idea. Jen got a wonderful, awful idea. How hard could popping tiles out and removing baseboards be? Also, I think I am capable of moving some furniture and appliances around. As for laying tile ... my sister did her own; I'm sure I could figure it out.

So here we are. Walking around in a war zone -- subfloor destroyed; tiny pieces of tile, wood, mortar and broken baseboards strewn throughout; all neighborhood residents over age 3 seething and sore from rescuing our efforts to move large furniture alone and a general inability and inaptitude to finish this project. While I don't lack confidence or desire, I do lack skill, knowledge and, yes, even the muscular strength to complete this job.

The contractors who had bid this job in the first place have years of experience doing flooring. They know what to expect, they know what potential obstacles could pop up, they know how to carefully remove and replace custom baseboards, and they have this nifty tool called an "air jack" to move large appliances. Since they have done hundreds of these jobs over a period of several years, they also know that not all titles are adhered the same way. In this case, they would have learned that removing the tile was going to take an industrial size jackhammer. They would also know that there was no barrier placed between the subfloor and tile so the subfloor would have to all be replaced. They would also know that the entire island would need to be removed to get an even floor without any weak spots. Did I mention we have radiant heat coils under the tile?

This is exactly why we called them back. They have taken over the process and will have it completed in less than a week. They are the professionals; I am not. I do real estate, not tile. That is why this important lesson lingers. Whether buying or selling a house or replacing flooring, it is critical to use a professional. It may seem like it costs more, but the money you are saving by not making costly errors (like destroying irreplaceable baseboards or smashing refrigerators in the process of moving) should be accounted for. I see it all the time in my business, and my flooring contractor sees it in his. Hire a professional. I reckon I will keep learning lessons the hard way, even after picking up a thing or two. But here's to hoping you don't.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.

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