Farm Sink and Granite Countertop Install Mismatch

      Troubleshooting a countertop installation gone wrong. May 6, 2010

I would like opinions on this issue if the pictures will fit here. This is an original idea picture that was sent to me by the customer. We decided against the face frame going to the floor, but kept the rest of the theme with the flutes. I finished their kitchen six months ago and they were super happy at the time. They just had the granite and sink put in and it does not look good. The full thickness of granite does not carry around the sink opening and the sink is set back flush with the cabinet.

I offered to make a trim piece on the CNC to disguise it, but I told them without the granite and sink done like their idea picture, it would not get the look that they really wanted. They agree and think I should pay for the granite, even though they contracted to have that done themselves.

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Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From the original questioner:
This is their kitchen now and I would not be happy either. The granite used was not full thickness like their idea picture, and the sink was flush mounted instead of being mounted overhanging the front of the cabinet.

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From the original questioner:
They shimmed under the sink because of the thinner granite used and it looks terrible. I did make a deck for the sink to set on and was told I didn't put the hole far enough to the front for the sink to come foreward. I would have taken care of that at the time quickly and for no charge had I been called. I feel like them expecting me to buy them me granite is over the top of what is reasonable. I would like the thoughts of other cabinet makers and granite people on this as to the correct fix and if I should be expected to pay for something I was not involved with getting done.

From the original questioner:
One thing may not have been clear in my last post. The hole that they said caused the sink to be mounted further back is in the bottom piece holding the sink up. It had a ten inch hole for the drain to be hooked up. That hole could have been enlarged and never seen if I had been called.

From contributor A:
Did you install the cabinets and scribe the sink with it sticking out 1 1/2 to 2 inches? If you left it that way, itís the granite guyís fault. If the homeowner contracted the granite and did not communicate how it should look, that has nothing to do with you. This happened to me once. I spent three hours scribing in the sink, and the granite guy pushed it back 1" to fit his screw up. They tried to pin it on me, but I pointed out how they cut the stone short and tried to compensate for it.

From the original questioner:
When I left the sink was hanging out of the front of the cabinet by about 1 1/2 inches and the homeowners were happy.

From contributor P:
Were you involved and onsite at the time that the granite fabricator templated the job? If not, why not - your choice or theirs, or did nobody feel it was necessary? Was there any communication between you and the fabricator on the detailing?

To blame a horrible installation on you because the outlet hole wasn't far enough forward (if I'm understanding it correctly) is not the best way to handle it. If it was a problem, it should have been seen when templating (typically they'd place the sink in its final position when making the templates), or certainly when beginning the installation. Nobody caught that the sink would need to be shimmed?

This isn't the sort of behavior I tend to see from granite-guys. Usually they're very precise, good at seeing problems when field-measuring, and outstanding at explaining detailing, disclosing any potential issues, and getting the owners to understand and sign off before fabrication. Apparently the owners were ok with the installation, and presumably paid the fabricators. If you weren't involved, I have trouble seeing how the fault lies with you.

From contributor E:
I don't see how, if the homeowner contracted the granite fabrication and install themselves, you could be expected to own the problem. It sounds like the granite guys screwed up when they made the template. If the homeowner contracted the granite and you had no part in it, they bear the risk, in my opinion.

From contributor E:
I'd like to see a picture that shows a little more of the top of the sink in your final picture. It looks to me like the granite guys and the plumber decided to raise the sink so that the thinner granite could overlap the edges of the sink- the applied granite bullnose on the front could have been carried around inside the opening to give it the correct look, with the sink down where it was originally intended in the cut-out. Running the bullnose around inside the sink cut-out would obviously be a lot more work and expense, and probably require a real craftsman. Just tell them to remove the granite, move the sink back down where it was intended to go, push it forward where it should be, and have the granite company replace the granite, and do it like it should have been done in the first place. The access hole in the deck below the sink is a minor detail, and you can fix it easily after they have removed the granite.

From the original questioner:
Yes the granite around the sink is thin - maybe 1/2 inch. I did tell them to have the granite and sink redone like the original picture. They are supposed to working on that, but expect me to pay for it. We may end up in court over it. I feel like the biggest mistake I made was leaving them in charge of their own house. I wasn't hired to take care of anything to do with the sink or granite install. The granite folks left the sink sitting loose and not even attached to the counter top also. Water could easily run between the sink and granite.

From contributor J:
It's really hard to see how you can be held responsible for this, yet you are framing it as if it might somehow be your fault. You seem to have become confused by a fairly simple situation. I get the feeling you're intimidated of the client and thus letting them talk you into this ridiculous notion.

Unless you've held back some critical details, the story seems to be that the client gave you a photograph as the primary indicator of what they wanted to achieve, and they hired you to fulfill only part of that vision. You did what you were hired to do. That's the end of your responsibility. If the drain area hole needed adjustment then you're responsible for that too, of course, but you're not responsible for someone else's botched work-around.

You don't know how the rest of it went wrong. Maybe the granite guys took a shortcut? Maybe they misunderstood the plan? Maybe they tried to run the changes past the homeowner, and the homeowner signed off on the changes without understanding them? You don't know what happened. What you do know is that you didn't do it. Stop flirting with the idea that the costly screw-up was more than distantly related to anything under your control.

It might help to deescalate the situation if you can conjure some sympathy for the homeowner, but you shouldn't be apologizing for anything you didn't do wrong. You shouldn't be flirting with responsibility for things that were clearly out of your control. When they suggest that you should pay to set things right, you should unequivocally (but with sympathy) answer that you don't see it that way. If you waffle, they will only push harder.

From contributor A:
Have they paid you in full? The finish product that was provided by the granite company does not follow industry standards. They chose to modify the original design without contacting you, as they should by industry standards. The onus is on them to prove that it was your mistake. They will lose in court.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for your thoughts so far. I did not offer to pay for the granite fix, and told them that they were in charge and are responsible for how it came out. I did offer some trim to help disguise it, but told them it would not bring it to the look that they had wanted to begin with. I should charge for that trim, but offered it at no charge.

I have a perfect record up until this point of happy customers and I do have sympathy for them. The main thing I hate to do is have an unhappy customer in the end, but I don't see a way around it at this point.

From the original questioner:
Also, I was paid in full back about five months ago.

From contributor U:
Just a couple of quick questions.
1. Did you refer the granite company to the client?
2. If so, did you get a comission on the sale?

If yes to 1 and no to 2, you really aren't responsible, but seeing as how you made the recommendation you may want to negotiate some sort cost sharing deal with the client. Totally unfair to you, but unfortunately the granite supplier's mistake reflects on you.

If yes to 1 and 2 - you got paid for the countertops, depending on the law where you are you are quite likely at least partly responsible for the fix and will need to be negotiated between you and the supplier who pays for what

If no to 1 and 2, you owe them nothing - period. If they want to sue you make sure they understand you will be counterclaiming for costs and damages. This sucks and will kill any potential referrals off the job, but if they want to play hardball, your bat is much bigger than theirs.

From contributor A:
In a year they will be calling you to get a quote to fix the sink cabinet after the sink/granite joint fails. If that happens change your phone number and add them to your spam list.

From the original questioner:
I did refer a different granite company, but they found this other great place at a much cheaper price. The one I referred was not a commission deal anyway. I just know they do good work and have a ton of happy customers in that town.

From contributor S:
The G.C. is responsible for making sure all the work done by the subs is accurate and correct. The homeowner was the G.C. and you were one of the subs. Assuming that the G.C. (homeowner) did not provide the cabinet maker sub (you) with the sink prior to your fabrication of the sink cabinet (G.C.'s fault), you had to estimate the location of the drain cut out in order to build the cabinet so that the project would not be delayed (G.C.'s fault). When the sink was installed by another sub and the location of the drain cut out was not in the proper location for the sink that had been purchased (different sink from the original plan - a.k.a photo provided by G.C.) the G.C. is responsible for notifying the cabinet maker sub about the "change order" for the revised location of the cut out for the sink drain assembly (G.C.'s fault). The G.C. did not do their job properly. The G.C. allowed another sub to improperly install the sink (G.C.'s fault). The G.C. also allowed the granite sub to make a template based off of the improperly installed sink (G.C.'s fault). The G.C. allowed the granite sub to install granite that was incorrectly templated and the granite was also the wrong thickness (G.C.'s fault).

This is what happens when inexperienced people try to save money by acting as their own G.C. When things go wrong with the project that they are they want to blame everyone else but the person who is ultimately responsible - The G.C. - Themselves. The G.C. is responsible for eating the cost of the mistakes that happen do to their lack of oversight.

All it would have taken to prevent this debacle from occurring is a jigsaw and one minute. The G.C. should have halted the project and had the location of the sink drain cut out corrected immediately. Instead the G.C. allowed the project to continue which resulted in a buildup of more errors.

Sign a change order that states you will modify the location of the sink cabinet drain cut out as per their request at no additional cost but they are responsible for all other costs associated with giving you access to make the cut. By the way, did they ever sign any drawings that had the location of the cut out identified? Please say yes. Did they sign any documentation stating that the installation and/or cabinetry was completed to their satisfaction? Please say yes.

From the original questioner:
I did have the sink on site before building the cabinet. I thought the sink would fit within the 10 inch hole I left for the drain. They did a disposal and mounted the flange with the largest part of the triangle pointing foreword. I think if that were just turned, it would not have needed trimming for the drain at all. The 3-D drawings along with a detailed description of each cabinet is in the contract. The contract states the final payment to be made upon customer satisfaction. That final payment was made. I also have emails telling me how happy they were and it turned out so much better than they had even expected.

From contributor R:
Take plenty of pictures from all angles. (Hopefully you have some at the time you finished your part). Don't coddle them, tell them flat out, while you can understand their dissatisfaction with the counter top that it is not your product nor did you have any part in, or control over, the design, template, fabrication or installation of the counter top, in writing. If you get any more involved than that at this point you are asking for headaches.

From the original questioner:
The cabinet is built deeper by 1 1/2 inches. I had the sink and the sides have a little taper on them that was not followed with the cabinet. They were told this beforehand. The sink was kind of bowl shaped and the closer to the front, the more round it was. That made it look even worse the way it was put in. The sink was level with the top of the cabinets when I left. I have pictures. I just didn't expect them to use thin granite and jack up the sink with plywood.

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This is more what the rest of the job looked like.

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From contributor J:
From your last photo, I would leave the blame with the home owner's and the granite folks. It is very clear they had no clue how to install that sink. Even if they used the thinner granite, the fabricator should have added the same filler around the sink as they did to the front edge and most of the problem would have been solved.

Itís pretty obvious that someone moved the sink back for whatever reason. If you have very clear photos of the sink in its proper position you should not worry with this customer. Without placing blame on them, explain that the thinner granite is the root cause for the less than desirable outcome and suggest they contact the installer. Itís a wonder they were able to install the faucets behind the sink. There does not appear to be any defects in your workmanship or installation, you are a cabinetmaker, not the plumber, nor the granite installer.

From contributor G:
It's amazing how some clients can be happy one minute and angry or upset the next (months later even). I am in the middle of an extensive job with a homeowner since August. The clients are really nice and proper people if not a little too exacting for my taste. Whenever I'm near the completion of a project they always make sure to compliment my work! A day or so later I'll get a call from the GC and he'll politely tell me about some minor flaw in my work that they would like addressed so I go and fix it, touch it up or whatever has to be done.

I've had irreconcilable differences with some clients but I donít recall any blow ups. On this job the most of the other tradesmen were lazy at best incompetent or downright negligent at worst. The homeowners and the GC like my work and usually ask if I can fix some of the other carpentry issues in their home. Have you ever seen a wall without a bottom or top plate?

Try to install a cabinet in a notch with a two way taper and a wave! It can be done it just takes time, patience and money (the clientís money). No one likes to take the blame for their own mistakes let alone anotherís. They usually look to blame the easiest target with the outcome of bad (or no) planning. Try to patiently explain how the problem was not caused by you. Thatís best to attempt when everyone is calm and collected.

From contributor S:
This makes me really mad reading it. This is 100% the fault of the idiot granite installers. The homeowners got exactly what they deserve by going too cheap. I call them installers, because whoever installed this granite just bought a pre-made granite slab with a bullnose on it, and cut out an opening for a sink. It's not that the granite is too thin. It looks like it's 3/4" granite with an additional 3/4" bullnose to give the illusion of 1-1/2" thick at the front. This is standard. Unfortunately, the original design around that sink is more complicated than standard would require. Where they screwed up is by not fabricating additional bullnose around the sink to match the front - probably because they don't have the expertise to do that. That isn't something most cheap granite installers can do. It actually requires some knowledge. This is fully on the homeowners for not having a clue how to be GC's. I know you want to make your customers happy, but the granite guys don't want to eat their mistake, and are looking to pass the blame to someone else. You can bet that they probably don't have the expertise to come fix the problem either. It can probably be fixed by a good granite contractor that can come back in and fabricate and add parts back onto the existing counter - specifically the 1-1/2" thick bullnose around the sink edges, and additional granite behind the sink so it can come forward where it belongs. Or, like one of the previous posts stated, cut it to the left of the sink, and replace the section with the sink all the way to the right wall. Aside from offering free advice if you are so inclined, I wouldn't spend any time or money at all fixing the homeowners (GC) mistake.

From contributor H:
Two more clues as to other issues you may have had to deal with. From the picture isn't the range standing way too tall in respect to the counter top? Did they go cheap and not put some kind of cabinet over the hood? I know some people like a hood high, but all the way to the ceiling? Even a non door filler type of cabinet would have brought it down some, or is it the picture?

From contributor J:
We deal with farmhouse sinks all the time. What we do is have the sink delivered to our shop or we go and pick it up. This way we can fit it to the cabinet in are shop and cut the drain hole. When we install the cabinets we cut the rough top to fit around the sink based on what we have discussed with whoever is in charge. I have three farmhouse sinks in the shop right now and I have never had a problem. The fact of the matter is that the granite person is responsible for making the sink fit the way the homeowner wants.

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