Thanksgiving week, 1974.
It was the Monday before Thanksgiving. I had made the choice to move from Portland to San Francisco right after Labor Day, to start a new chapter of my life. It didn’t take long to become acquainted with people at work, at my new church, and through the local Glen Park Homeowners’ Association.
Two weeks before, I had started thinking about how I was going to spend Thanksgiving, and had been asking everyone if they had plans, hoping that someone would either invite me to share the day with them, or leave the door open for me to suggest a group potluck. Everyone had plans. I felt awkward about inviting myself, so I’d usually reply, “That’s wonderful,” or something similar. By Monday, I was feeling very alone, and sad. (more…)
Contractors , Communication and Respect
Part 1 contained information about how to find your contractor. Now we’re going to discuss what happens next.
First Meeting and Follow-up
Meetings with contractors should include the major decision-maker(s) when the appointments are scheduled, because communication, compatibility and respect are important parts of the working relationship.
When contractors come to your home for the first time, it should be during daylight hours, if possible, so they can see details inside and out that may affect your project. You may have to accommodate a very early morning appointment, or you may have to take time away from work for the meeting. They will want to see your electrical panel and other utility connections, in addition to seeing all areas adjacent to the areas you’re planning to remodel or add. They may want to quickly inspect the attic and crawl space (or basement); problems in these areas could also affect your investment. (more…)
Remodeling Horror Story: Trick Or Treat?
The title of this blog is seasonal, but unfortunately, a “Trick or Treat” remodeling horror story happens year ’round. It’s not limited to one type of remodeling project. Here is a remodeling “horror” story list, bad experiences that were avoidable:
- A D-I-Y basement renovation that got out of hand.
- A master bathroom project that was totally bungled by a designer who acted as the general contractor.
- A D-I-Y master bedroom expansion into an adjoining bedroom; taking out a bearing wall is a NO-NO!
- A bad deck replacement done by an unlicensed contractor that left the Homeowners with no legal recourse.
- A new home that had all of the hot and cold lines swapped by the plumber.
- A D-I-Y floor refinishing project that ended up with the floor being replaced after the sanding drum was installed backwards, chewing up the floor.
- Homeowners who had purchased appliances ten years before the actual remodeling, and ended up donating the appliances because they wouldn’t fit in the new kitchen.
Your Contractor Wants You To Find Him/Her!
The best way to find your contractor is referrals — from neighbors, friends, family, or business associates. These are your best resources, especially people who’ve remodeled recently. You can also get referrals from the showrooms you’ve visited. Don’t rely on advertisements. They can be misleading. You’ll be better off to contact your local professional remodeling organizations (NAHB, NARI, or NKBA) for several names and phone numbers. Most local building departments will not refer contractors. It’s a conflict of interest.
Two Warnings About Referrals:
- Don’t hire a one-person contractor who says he/she does everything. An unforeseen family emergency, illness or injury can ruin time projections. There aren’t enough hours in the day for a general contractor to draw plans, manufacture cabinets, and work on your project. Overall quality of your project will suffer.
A Professional Designer Will Help you In Many Ways
The right professional designer knows where to find the products that reflect your personal taste, products that are compatible with your home. He or she can help you fit each product into your budget priorities. Designers like this do make a difference. How do you find the right designer for your project?
The best way to find a professional designer is referrals from family, business associates, friends, and neighbors. The next best way is through professional organizations such as NAHB, NARI, IDS, or NKBA. There may also be local design organizations, or local chapters of the national organizations that you can find in an internet search. Tell them the type of remodeling project you want, and they will provide names and contact information for up to three professional designers.
You can contact the designers by phone or through an email message. Provide detailed information about what you want to achieve, how much you want to invest, and when you want your project completed. Here’s an example: (more…)
Express Yourself With Bathroom Artwork!
If you’re remodeling your home, or just freshening up, don’t overlook bathroom artwork! It doesn’t have to be an expensive original, but art can establish or complete a theme. It can be a personal expression of something you care about. Or it can be simply art for art’s sake: the colors and textures that complement, contrast, or add the pizzazz you want.
If you’re unsure about what art to use in the bathroom, it’s important to determine first who will see it. If it’s the master bathroom that only you will see, you can choose anything. But if it’s a bathroom that others will see, it’s best to err on the side of “politically correct,” unless you desire to start a conversation.
Years ago, an architect friend of mine redid two bathrooms in his home. He and his partner had been collecting autographed photos of famous people for years. Tom decided to get all of the 8×10 black and white pictures put into simple black frames, and he hung them next to each other on all four walls of the powder room. His bathroom artwork was a fantastic effect! But he once confided to me that when they would have a party, guests weren’t allowed to “camp out” in the bathroom while they looked at all of the photos. (more…)
Improve An Ugly Basement With A Beautiful New Bathroom!
This is a home built in the 1950s, with the living room, formal dining room, kitchen, small bathroom, and bedrooms on the main floor. Only one person could occupy the bathroom at a time. For a family of three, that presented a scheduling problem. There wasn’t enough room to expand the existing bathroom, and the full basement was under-utilized,. The Homeowners wondered if it would be possible to have a new basement bathroom with a two-person shower that looked and felt luxurious. They had an idea, had done some research, and had talked with a couple of contractors, but they were still confused about what to do.
The best location for the new bathroom was below the main-floor bathroom, so plumbing supply, drain, and vent pipes could be extended.The unfinished basement had enough space to comply with ceiling height codes, but there was a large furnace duct that hung below the bottom of the joists. If left like this, it was going to look awkward. An HVAC specialist verified that new wider and shallower ducts would maintain the required air flow. Most pipes and wires wouldn’t be a problem, but the main drain had to be re-routed so it would comply with the slope required by the plumbing code. (more…)
Kitchen Lighting For All Activities
There’s a lot of technology associated with great kitchen lighting. For now, we’ll leave that aside and address the reasons why a well-lit kitchen has all of these characteristics:
- General illumination
- Task lighting
- Accent lights
It’s also known as ambient light, and includes daylight from windows, doors, and skylights. But when it’s overcast, or dark, we have to use artificial light for these purposes. So many people — even professional designers — fall into the trap of making “Swiss cheese” out of ceilings with too many recessed fixtures. General kitchen lighting often provides a safe pathway, starting at doors. It can include indirect ceiling or soffit lighting, using new LED strip light technology. (more…)
Plumbing Is Necessary, But Bathroom Cabinets Personalize The Space
Getting ready to remodel or add a bathroom, Homeowners’ #2 and #3 requests are for more (and better) storage, and an up-to-date look. Bathroom cabinets can satisfy both needs! The #1 request is for a large(r) shower.
The project featured in today’s tip is a great example. The Homeowners requested a larger two-person shower. They both wanted more storage for:
- Grooming paraphernalia to be put away when not in use;
- Back-up stock of tissue, hair care products, soap, and lotions (Costco overflow).
The existing lavatory area was too narrow, and the adjacent toilet room was wider than it needed to be, so space was borrowed from the toilet room to make the lavatory wider. The additional space allowed the following specialized storage in the bathroom cabinets: (more…)
The Kitchen Remodeling Process Guarantees Progress
The kitchen remodeling process is misunderstood by most Homeowners. This article assumes that you have completed the design process, hired a contractor, and have acquired permits for your kitchen remodeling. The following list includes all steps for a complete remodel that may or may not include an addition. Most of the studs and joists will be exposed for required insulation, for electrical wiring and plumbing.
1. Get your home ready for construction as soon as you have a definite starting date for your kitchen remodeling from your contractor. Most homeowners don’t realize how much “stuff” they’ve accumulated until they start to pack it up for storage.
2. Immediately before demolition begins, the dumpster arrives. You’re on the Roller coaster!
3. Demolition starts. Most homeowners are amazed about how quickly a crew of workmen armed with crowbars, screwguns and hammers can tear their kitchen apart. The full dumpster will be replaced with an empty one at least twice during your kitchen remodeling. (more…)