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How We Handled a Major Mistake Made by Our Home Builder

Designing our home meant it was customized for us, but a huge mistake meant the wrong cabinets were installed in our house.

When faced with the three decisions we simply did not know what to do. Walking away was definitely not an option as far as we were concerned. But that left us with insisting the correct cabinets be installed or willing to accept the wrong ones.

The gentleman from the cabinet company made it very clear that he wanted me to be happy.

He told me that he would do whatever was necessary to make me happy and invited me down to their design center to see if they had any upgrades that would be of interest to me. I accepted his offer to visit and at least hear what he had to say.

At this point it was better to keep all the options open before a decision could be made.

This meant I would be meeting the man on the phone who fully admitted a mistake was made. I was very nervous.

It was time to put my game face on.

I shared on Facebook that it was time to put my poker face on. Talking deals and money is not my specialty. It was my father’s but not mine at all. I definitely wear my heart on my sleeve.

Yet, at this point in the process my husband and I held all the cards.

The decision was solely in our hands, which can feel pretty powerful but also mighty humbling at the same time.

Again, the decisions were left up to me as I visited another Design Center all by myself. My husband simply could not afford to take time off work.

Walking into the cabinet Design Center brought back that familiar overwhelming feeling that it was decision time again. The gentleman from the phone was well prepared. He showed me the paperwork that indeed verified the wrong cabinets were installed.

In 12 years this had simply never happened before and they had no idea how to handle the situation.

There was no manual. No training they had to prepare. No procedures to follow.

Simply stated: They were in uncharted territory.

Frankly, so was I.

What the cabinet manufacturer did:

  • He wrote down item after item of complete customizations and upgrades they could do after market if we left the cabinets that were already installed.
  • He walked me through their Design Center and showed every customization possible they already had displayed that I could see and touch.
  • Then he laid opened their custom design book and showed me even more options that no one ever sees at the Design Center from the home builder. We were totally off the grid now.
  • He pulled out knobs and pulls, opened them from their packages and gave them to me to take home and see if I liked them.

He rolled out the red carpet for me in ways I never could have imagined, expected, or even dreamed of. I listened and we talked about what all the different options were and I turned down items that would not be a good fit in our house or family.

When the list was complete I asked a simple question of him. “How many can I select?”

“You can have it all” was his answer.

It took everything in me to not fall flat on my backside. Seriously. My head felt so light I could scarcely take it in.

“Is this fair?” was my question.

I was very concerned that I would walk away and they were celebrating that I did not ask for the moon. At the same time I did not want them to think I asked for the moon. He assured me it was completely fair.

That one moment revealed truly how much power I had in my hands.

Power is a funny thing. It can crank up the darkness or intensify the light. The choices is ultimately yours.

Acting like a diva, reacting in anger, or demanding anything would have resulted in a different ending. I am sure of it. Everything we did was to simply convey the mistake to the builder and to discover the next step.

After much discussion and another visit to see the cabinets installed that I simply do not like, we came to our conclusion.

My husband and I decided to accept the wrong cabinets that were installed, with the cabinet manufacturer offering upgrades as a consolation.

Sure the lure of the massive upgrades were appealing but it goes to an even bigger issue. Forgiveness.

We are all human and we all make mistakes. While I was told by several people that I was wrong, the one who knew exactly what color it was stepped up to the plate and fully admitted the mistake. His honesty went a super long way in the entire process.

Had I been required to call their bluff and match the cabinets to prove a mistake was made, it would have been an entirely different situation.

The gentleman was kind, calm, and definitely willing to do whatever was necessary to rectify the situation. He could have simply offered one upgrade and left it at that. But he didn’t.

How you treat others makes all the difference.

My father taught me that lesson years ago as I remember him fully admitting when a mistake was made on the job site. You cannot undo the mistake but you can figure out a plan on where to go from there that works for everyone involved.

In the end, what really truly matters is that we actually have a house to call our own. I will deeply miss the beautiful red cabinets I have dreamed about, but everything I could have imagined in upgrades, and then some, that was frankly out of our reach is going to become a reality. The kitchen will definitely function much better, although there is no guarantee that I will be a better cook.

When all is said and done, what will I remember about the dream cabinets I almost had?

I will remember extending forgiveness to a man who simply made a mistake and confessed it.

I will remember my boys playing hide and go seek in the cabinets I did not pick.

I will remember my son catching a glimpse on my cell phone that revealed the secret hiding spot of his brother.

I will remember the laughter and squeals of delight of my children who will never be able to hide in these cabinets again because of the upgrades.

May you always be willing to extend the red carpet treatment to others.

Your life and theirs will be richer.

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Wendy Wright

Head Geek at Plugged In Family often found at Comicon, Disneyland, or online increasing her gamer score on Xbox. As a member of the 501st Legion, Wendy spreads her love of Star Wars across the Galaxy in her handmade Jawa costume volunteering for charities with her husband and two sons.

14 thoughts on “How We Handled a Major Mistake Made by Our Home Builder

  • June 20, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Oh Wendy, what an amazing display of forgiveness. I know I would have been mad. I probably would have made them rip it all out and start over. But look how God has blessed you because of your gentle and quiet spirit. Perhaps one day He will make a way for you to have lovely red cabinets!

    • June 20, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Barbie, I remember when you offered to pray for me and I thought it was the perfect timing for the close of our house, but the dates were off a little. Thinking it was no big deal, I moved forward. The date you picked went with all of these decisions. It could have been an angry, bitter, and drama filled time but it was not. Thank you for praying during this difficult time. Yes, the dream has not died. It is still there. I will either have red cabinets in this house or we will build a new house some day. Or maybe there is still more to learn…

  • June 20, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Awesome – this is a great story. From how you handled your disappointment to how they handled their mistake and how you found the life lesson in it all.

    • June 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Thank you so much. There are so many lessons in life but sometimes our emotions get in the way and we miss them.

  • June 20, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I love this story!! It’s a great reminder that we are all human and mistakes will happen. The “power” come in when we “choose love” rather than anger!! Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  • June 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Wonderful post!

    Will we get to see pictures of all the upgrades?

    • June 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      Thank you, Peter. Would love to share them when everything is completed, which will hopefully be soon!

  • June 13, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Hi, I am in the same situation. What was the equivalent amount of upgrades that were offered to you for mitigating the disappointment and the builder’s mistake.
    Thank you for your prompt answer?

    • June 13, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      Roger, we never asked what the amount of upgrades were offered. They simply opened their design book, asked what we would like, and made suggestions for what to upgrade. They went above and beyond what we ever imagined.

  • October 11, 2016 at 7:28 am

    I love your response & am so thankful for you that it turned out that way!

    Just wondering if it would have been as easy to forgive if they did not admit the wrongdoing? For example, if they said “It is our right to substitute any other cabinets at our discretion”.

  • July 24, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    If you see this, thank you for the encouragement to trade anger for kindness. I am in a similar situation and reaching out with forgiveness has eased my anxiety tonight.


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