big island remodeling

Day One of Hawaii Bath Remodel Project With Lowes

hawaii home improvement projects

Because I am not in Hawaii all of the time, I divided and scheduled our Hawaii bath remodel project into two phases. The first phase guts the guest bath and replaces the bath tub, vanity, toilet, medicine cabinet, lights, mirror and flooring. The master Hawaii bath remodel project is a two-part job. First phase is replacing the cabinet, light, mirror, medicine cabinet and flooring.

This way I figured we will still have use of a toilet and shower and we can always use the kitchen sink when brushing our teeth. It’s a bit like camping. The second phase will be this winter. It involves replacing the shower in the master and remodeling the entire kitchen.

So what can go wrong? Well, a lot, actually. But I don’t want to cross the bridge twice, so I won’t go into everything that could happen and will just share what did happen.

First, I hired Lowes to do our remodeling project. All my friends in Kona say they are sooooo expensive, but at least I have a point person who will coordinate the workers. I do not want to be on the phone at 7:30 AM asking where they are. Got other things to do, like sell Sacramento real estate and staying on top of my files from Hawaii. I figure letting Lowes hire the workers is better because if one of the guys can’t get out of bed and drive into Kona from Ocean View, they’ll find another who will.


hawaii bath remodel project


Lowes is expensive but not totally out of whack. Well, there are a few charges that seem a bit excessive. After the workers gutted our guest bath, they discovered a leaking shut-off valve. They replaced it. But now it explains why the bath always smelled wet. We were constantly replacing Damp Rid containers.

Although the previous owners of the house said they did not know anything about moisture or leaks in the guest bath, I wonder how they could not notice it. I saw cracks in the ceramic, and the floor was a bit hollow. It has most likely been leaking for years. However, only about 3 feet of the drywall was damaged. The workers pulled up a couple tiles that lost their integrity — a hollow sound.


hawaii bath remodel project


For that little side job, Lowes demanded an extra $1,000. Like my husband says, they are charging about $1000 an hour for three guys to stand around and watch one guy cut 3-feet of drywall off the wall. This seems extreme. I could have pulled that drywall off the wall myself and reinstalled half a sheet for about $5.00. I’m handy with a drywall gun, hey.

Still, I am staying positive that we will work it out with Lowes. What I didn’t like was receiving an email telling me I had 2 hours to stop whatever I was doing, which was Talking Story at Kona Haven Coffee, and call or drive over to Lowes to make payment. This is after paying Lowes almost $50,000 in advance. Of course, they sent the email to the wrong account so I didn’t even get that message in a timely manner.

Breathe. Breathe. The secret to making it through a Hawaii bath remodel is to not sweat stuff. Go with the flow. Give people a chance to make it right. Besides, it’s only been one day so far. On Saturday, I learned the quartz guy had not yet shipped the quartz although I have been emailing, texting, calling for two months. My delivery date had not changed. Instead of arriving on Monday, it won’t get to our house until Friday.

A few delays. Nothing major, though. We’ll see how long it takes Lowes to do the bath. I told them other owners in my community have identical guest baths with those awful fiberglass tubs. Since I figured out how to move the toilet with an offset, that allows for a wider and deeper tub to be installed. They could package this plan and sell it to my neighbors.

Elizabeth Weintraub

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