Penthouse Plunge: Delays, Coughs, And Guts

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Living through a renovation teaches you a lot regardless of whether it’s your first time or your 100th. There’s always something new that pops up along with the tried and true snafus.  Since last time, more join the list.

For those reading this for the first time, Penthouse Plunge is a series chronicling my purchase of a double-penthouse at the Claridge and subsequent splitting of it back in two. I’m renovating one side for sale (April?) and living in the original-condition other side.

Germ Warfare

Having constant interaction with strangers equals germ interaction. One cold or flu often means everyone shares the experience. This isn’t a shock if you have children, but we singletons can get taken by surprise – the first time it happens. Having spent nearly all of 2020 within reach of a tissue box, the surprise is gone.

Not my kitchen, but I wonder if it arrived on time?

Kitchen Delay

Remember all the fanfare about my German kitchen and its compressed timetable for delivery? It was an important factor in my decision. I got a call a few days ago alerting me that I’m looking at a three-week delay, eliminating the time-savings. So truly, the kitchen cabinet arrival will be driving the finish date. Not that its installation is the end – once they’re in, then comes the countertops, backsplashes, plunging to hookup and appliances to install.

I’m sure I, and the future owner, will love the kitchen, but my budget might have liked it more if it had arrived as promised.

Product Quality

I’ve used Jaclo’s Oceanic shower heads in seven homes. I purchased the above showerhead in June 2019 to use during my five months in the hotel before installing it in my “new” bathroom. The finish wasn’t my typical chrome and we can see how well it’s held up. I noticed the peeling only recently which was literally accomplished by rubbing a spot with my fingers.

I wrote to the company to see if the product was warranteed. It was. But only if you were the original purchaser (so every time I sell a home, the warranty stops). But I was the original purchaser, so good, right?  No. 

Since I purchased the showerhead on eBay and not through an authorized dealer, I never had a warranty. During an ultimately heated telephone conversation, it was even hinted that it might be counterfeit – even though it was in an original box (and I’d have happily sent to verify – and maybe I’d be surprised, but who counterfeits showerheads?). It was hinted that it was old stock because the finish looked “off” as they’d changed their process (quality issues?) – even though the original box and barcode listed a February 2019 date.

So it’s theirs and it’s in a finish they modified. But because I didn’t buy from an authorized dealer, I’m out of luck. That dealer loyalty is more important than customer loyalty is good to know.

Given this situation, I can no longer recommend Jaclo even though their warranty is perhaps industry standard. On Amazon, this showerhead lists for $431.25, but since they’re also not an authorized dealer, there’s no warranty. I wonder how many things Amazon sells that have no warranty because they’re not authorized sellers?

I’ve seen a riff on this before. When I was purchasing a TV a few years ago, I shopped online and then went to Fry’s. I brought the quote from the online store but since it wasn’t an authorized Samsung dealer, they wouldn’t match the price. Last week, I visited Fry’s only to see a largely empty store as bereft of product as it was customers.

For me, if the finish doesn’t completely wear off soon, I’ll have it stripped professionally. The result might not be chrome, but it seems to be close enough for me. The flip unit will get different shower heads whose quality I can vouch for.

Trim only, no lock

Door Locks and Plumbing

When you order a faucet, you get the faucet and all the parts to install it. Less so with bathtub and shower valves and spouts. The same is true when ordering some door hardware (notably Baldwin). You need a Ph.D. to figure it out. Online stores don’t help either.

Take shower valves and trim. They’re separate. Often when you see the trim you like, there’s no hint that you need other parts. Even those who do note that you’re only buying the pretty trim, offer no clue as to what valve you need behind the wall to make it all work. Sure there might be multiple options depending on your goal, but how hard would it be to list them and link to them?

Front door locks are the same. There’s trim … but no lock and no clue where to find one. I’ve found that Baldwin has terrible phone/email support but Dornbracht and Newport Brass have good service – even commiserating at how confusing it can be.

My recommendation is to buy from suppliers who offer good support in guiding your purchase. My BIG recommendation is that the moment supplies arrive, have the installer look everything over to ensure everything is there. They may not need it for weeks, but if there’s something missing, you have time to order it. Just last week I found I was a valve short, it arrived four-days later and before it was needed.

Toilets Don’t Flush Anymore

I think all of us grew up in homes where the toilet flush-cycle ended with a glug-glug-glug. It told you “everything” was gone. If, as you were hiking up pants and pantyhose, you didn’t hear that sound, you turned around. You knew it was clogged.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the “flush me a river” 1984 toilets gave out and began leaking so I replaced it. I used what I thought was the same model as I’d used in my Athena renovation. But it had been redesigned – it uses less water that produces no glug, glug-glug. But that’s how it’s designed. I admit it takes some getting used to with the occasional look-over-the-shoulder just to be sure.

The sounds of youth – good and bad – are disappearing.

Weight Gain

Renovations throw off your schedule. They’re stressful. If you’re like me, diet goes out the window. Something about a renovation reminds me of highway pit stops or airports – you know, those in-between spaces where calories don’t count. Five months in the hotel added 10 pounds. I’ve since dropped about three but not focused on it.

That’s my update for now. Next time I hope there’s more to show.

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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is CandysDirt.com's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on SecondShelters.com. An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

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