Thank you all for your kind and supportive comments. It means a great deal to me!
To answer your questions: Dana, that photo of the barn door bulkhead isn't covered by the building code as far as I know, although it probably should be. A big, heavy barn door could really hurt you if the hardware came out of the wall! It should all be solid wood like it is on the left side. I don't think they actually know how a barn door works! The hardware is a little more than double the width of the door. So I am having the new contractor rebuild it.
Penny, I'm not sure what the licensing situation is here in Ontario, but I do know that most contractors are not licensed...maybe none are at all? Tradesmen, like plumbers, electricians and carpenters are all licensed. I'm almost certain that the contractors are in financial trouble. How could anyone do well financially whilst doing things three or more times before getting them right? And letting a project drag on and on.
Kim, I've been making cards...lots of cards. But I've barely sewn a stitch. Everything is packed away, lost, inaccessible. No room to work. It's awful! I think my main creative activity has been shopping for paper crafting supplies!
We don't really have any good options. Here in Ontario you can sue in small claim's court for up to $25000. BTW my lawyer is a small claim's court judge. Of course if we went that route he would have to recuse himself from our case. The only other option is superior court, and that would cost as much as we're out. There is a construction lien act and the contractor is supposed to hold the monies received from their client in trust to pay suppliers and subcontractors, and provide an accounting when requested. Of course we requested; they ignored. They've ignored every single issue...one small victory is that they've quit demanding more money from me. They finally got that message! We caught a couple of small breaks and hope to get somewhere with the original owner of this company who was still onboard when we started. Slim chance, but better than nothing.
I started out believing that the contractors were honest and basically good, but incompetent and in over their heads. Sadly I have now come to believe this isn't the case. When everything is finished I hope I can begin to forget all of this, but the smaller dimensions of the room and the shorter knee wall will be hard to forget!
Now for my ray of sunshine...the new contractor started today! They worked at winterizing outside (it's a balmy -2 degrees Celsius!) and they will start inside on Wednesday and likely finish their part by the end of the month. After that it will be the painter and the installation of the cabinets. The barn door will be several weeks after that. I've got a good feeling about both the contractor and the electrical contractor, and the contractor was recommended by my accountant. I just hope there isn't any more bad news or anything unexpected. Because of the circumstances I am stuck paying on a time and materials basis rather than a contract price. My son-in-law took down the hideous window trim and the beadboard, so that represents quite a savings. He's a wonderful guy!
It sure seems there are a lot, an awful lot, of contractor horror stories. There must be a lot more incompetent and dishonest ones out there, and precious few good ones.
Thanks again. I will share pictures when there is something pretty to look at...thumbs down to the ugliness!