The Dishwasher

Tim and I had been talking for months about getting a new dishwasher. Our old one, the third or fourth in a line of portable dishwashers that stretched back almost a decade, was getting progressively worse, and had finally hit the point where it was easier to just wash the dishes by hand. We could get another portable, but they are both more expensive and less effective than the built-in options. Despite the fact that we live in a rental and any improvements we make are destined to stay with the house, we felt like it would be a better value overall to try to install a permanent dishwasher.

There is a perfectly dishwasher-sized niche in the corner of the kitchen where we had been storing the portable. I’m not sure what was originally supposed to go there (the house was built in the 50’s) but it has an electrical outlet right above counter level, and the bathroom sink is on the other side of that wall, so there was both electric and plumbing available. Installing one should, in theory, be possible. The real challenge would be trying to convince the landlord to let us knock a hole in the wall and build a counter.

On Valentine’s Day, I asked the landlord via Facebook Messenger (seems to be his preferred form of communication, other than face-to-face) if we could get ahold of a contractor and look at the possibility of installing a dishwasher there. I was expecting a negotiation, and was armed with all kinds of good arguments, as well as saying up front that we didn’t expect him to pay for it. His response was “That’s totally fine.” He didn’t even ask any follow-up questions! The next day he gave us the number of a plumber he wanted us to use, but otherwise didn’t even ask about progress (although I kept him updated).

We started by calling the plumber to see if it was possible to access the water so close by. I expected him to knock a hole in the wall and go through that way, but he decided that it would be better to access the water from the basement, and poke a hole in the /floor/! I didn’t really understand that, but… He’s the plumber. He did discover what might have been a serious problem: a huge 10×10″ beam that runs the length of the basement and clearly holds up the whole house.  He couldn’t drill through it, and wasn’t sure that he could run a pipe around it, but was willing to try. It took about 5 days to get the plumbers back, and in the meantime we bought the dishwasher and picked it up. When they came back, they drilled a couple of holes in the kitchen floor and had the water and drainage hooked up in about 45 minutes. That cost us $212.62.

Rockweiler’s had a President’s Day sale going on that had been the catalyst to starting this whole process. They had a very nice built-in dishwasher that fit our requirements very nicely and was $100 cheaper during the sale. Additionally, it was about $100 cheaper than the only available portable model. When we started looking, they hadn’t put the sale price stickers up, but the saleslady gave me a card with the sale price and her information on it. We went home and talked about it that night, and decided to go back and order one the next day.

At that point, we weren’t sure that the built-in was going to work, because of the plumbing situation, so I made sure before I ordered it that if it wouldn’t work for some reason, I could apply the credit to a portable instead. This wasn’t a problem, so I went ahead with that purchase. The sale price posted was actually $10 higher than we were quoted, but she gave me the lower price – win! We got a Frigidaire Gallery for $534.95.IMG_4684

The landlord had remodeled the kitchen the year before, and bought the counters from West Side Lumber. I figured trying to match the existing counter top would look nicer than butcher block, which was my original plan. I went to the lumber yard, expecting them to have a record of the purchase, or at least a sheaf of samples that I could use to match the color. They were… Not very much help. They didn’t have half of the sample chips they were supposed to, and what was there was nailed to the wall on a plaque, so I couldn’t take it to compare. The guy couldn’t find a record of the purchase at all, and couldn’t seem to get a hold of the company that did the countertops. Most irritating, he would tell me he’d call the next day, and then I would have to call him after waiting ten days to two weeks, to find out that he’d done nothing. Eventually, we got the name of the counter’s pattern and got the piece ordered… Three weeks after that, it finally arrived. We started this project on February 15th. The countertop came in on March 29th. By that time, the plumbing and electrical were done, the counter was built and the dishwasher installed, and I had been using a square of rigid foam to cover the hole for a month. At least it was the right color! The countertop, which was 25×25 3/4″, was $160.50.

For the electrical part of the hookup, Tim used his bits of electrician training, and installed the wiring and a separate breaker himself. He spent maybe $15 on parts. We didn’t bother saving receipts for that or the wood stain.

The ‘box’ the dishwasher sits in was built by Tim’s dad, David, who is usually a pretty skilled handyman. He brought some lumber that he had sitting around in his garage, and he used part of a piece of nice plywood that was sitting in our garage for the side piece. I had a huge box of wood screws from the last time I attempted to build a train table, and we had everything else necessary. We bought new wood stain to match the existing cupboards, but otherwise didn’t spend any money on supplies.

IMG_4685The box was built in the course of an evening, and I was able to start using the dishwasher at that point, although I had to brace it in the space so it wouldn’t tip over when the door was opened. We had to wait for the counter top to be able to secure the dishwasher and complete the project.

The day David came over to finish the project, both Tim and I had to work, so we weren’t around to supervise. He ended up not installing it quite correctly (as far as positioning) and the mis-placement caused a weird problem with the brackets that are supposed to secure the dishwasher to the underside of the counter. It came with two brackets welded to the top edge, that simply needed to be screwed in. For some reason, David broke these off, then went and found some little metal tabs that he screwed to the front of the wooden brace, and then rotated to kind of hold the front in place. Except… If they’re not exactly perfectly positioned, the dishwasher won’t run because they prevent it from closing correctly, and if they’re rotated totally out of the way, the dishwasher falls out of the cabinet. (Tim and I found that out the hard way.)  I am “not impressed” with the installation job, to put it mildly. I’m hoping he’ll come over and fix it at some point, but I haven’t talked to him about it yet, and Tim’s not going to bring it up. That cost us $150.

Dishwasher Installation Cost

Frigidaire Gallery




Counter Top






It approximately equaled the cost of the appliance to have it installed, which isn’t too bad, I guess. It would have been out of our reach if we hadn’t used our tax return for it, but it worked out. I am enormously pleased with having a decent dishwasher in my kitchen! That is an intangible but probably more valuable commodity – happy Mama. It does a great job of washing, and is incredibly quiet in comparison to our old one. Not to mention, it doesn’t take up all the space in the kitchen while it’s running or drip water all over the floor. We have hard water, so we need to use the Finish detergent booster stuff, but it’s still a major improvement.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.