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Remodeling stories from (you know where)

Posted By: Nina

Remodeling stories from (you know where) - 03/19/02 01:47 AM


I've been stuck here all day while getting new carpet. They were supposed to be done in 6 hours, it's now approaching 11 hours and all my furniture is still outside. Darkness has arrived... the smell of carpet glue and smoke is grossing me out.

Minor in the grand scheme of things, but it got me to thinking about remodeling jobs gone wrong. Has anyone else had this lovely experience? My favorite (hah!) was when we were trying to get a new, fancy pebbled concrete sidewalk poured in a previous house. I have no idea what the concrete guy was thinking but he came at 2pm in August, it was about 115 degrees, and the concrete set up in about 15 minutes flat, leaving us with a giant solid pile of concrete and pebbles in our backyard. It took hours to jackhammer it out. Yuck.

Oh well, the carpet DOES look beautiful, and they can't be here for much longer, right? Right?

Posted By: Steve Miller

Re: Remodeling stories from (you know where) - 03/19/02 06:38 AM

Originally posted by Nina:

Minor in the grand scheme of things, but it got me to thinking about remodeling jobs gone wrong. Has anyone else had this lovely experience?

I'll share my "remodeling project gone wrong" stories only if I am also allowed to share my
"remodeling project customers gone wrong" stories as well.

Posted By: Nina

Re: Remodeling stories from (you know where) - 03/19/02 02:33 PM

Steve-- I can only imagine! I figure you and Dwain probably have lots of customer horror stories.

I actually have a work colleague who complained after her custom-made bookshelves were made and installed, because she thought maple was a dark, mahogany finish. Ergo, obviously the contractor was ripping her off and using some cheap, inferior wood...!

As my father would say, "what was she using for brains!?"

Posted By: Jolly

Re: Remodeling stories from (you know where) - 03/19/02 06:02 PM

As a wayward youth, I had a little contact with the building trades, so I've done most of the remodeling around the house. Building the addition, buiding my shop, flooring, paint, paper, moulding, etc. So my wife blaims ME, when she dosen't like how something turns out. It's good for my humility. But there are some things I don't do, and have the utmost respect for folks who do:

1. Plumbing - anything past PVC exceeds my knowledge base.

2. HVAC - don't know a durn thing about it.

3. Roofing - I can do it, but am just too old, fat and lazy. Ever see a fat roofer?

4. Electrician - even I'm not that crazy! laugh Besides, my bestest huntin' buddy is one of the best electricians in the state - can do high voltage splices, motor control work, electronics, etc, so a couple of light fixtures and switches is nada. He's also a bachelor. Ah, the power of home cookin'! wink
Posted By: Piano World

Re: Remodeling stories from (you know where) - 03/19/02 06:27 PM

I don't mind working with electricity, it's plumbing I'm afraid of.

I have installers here as we speak, putting in a new kitchen counter top and sink. Unfortunately, the new stove top and oven haven't arrived yet so they can't cut the counter top for the stove frown

I plan on installing the appliances myself, but I need the hole cut. And so I wait.....

At least my furniture is inside though. smile

Frank B.
Piano World
Posted By: Steve Miller

Re: Remodeling stories from (you know where) - 03/19/02 09:31 PM

This wasn't a bad remodel exactly. My customer was happy, I made a little money and the whole thing got done on time. It was a bit different, though.

Customers were about as nice as they could be. They are family people, raised 5 kids in a California standard tract house, circa 1967. Big house - 2800 s.f or thereabouts. Big kids too, the boys played football, the girls could have if they wanted to. Theirs was the sort of house where all of the kids would gather, and gather they did.

Mr. and Mrs. spent all their time raising their kids until one day their last kid moved out. To quote the Mrs. "We looked around one morning Steve, and realized that this house looks like heck! We never really noticed it before".

Yeah, it did. Not a dirty house, but just completely worn out. Carpet worn through to the slab, missing stair treads (they had stepped over them for years), holes in the walls, bathrooms hammered. Everything was original, including the paint. The house had come with a bonus room that the Mr. had chopped in to a couple of bedrooms and never got around to taping the drywall. The furniture was all original too - lots of avocado, rust and gold Herculon.

The Mrs. then proceeded to present me with the Mr's "Honey-do" list from the last 20 years or so. Everything from fix the gate to replace the screens. It ran to literally 10 pages, and included a few nice things (whitewashed display cases in the family room, new entry tile, three new bathrooms) as well. What we ended up doing was building a brand new 1967 tract house inside that shell.

The Mrs. and I went shopping a couple of times before we started. The way to keep a remodel project under control is to have all of the specifications nailed down first. I had her select every single thing right down to the doorstops as she would not be around while we were doing the work. She said she could not bear to be there for it and they were taking off in their RV for 6 weeks. We were to move all of their furniture in to the garage while we worked.

The interior was to be soft pink with white and green accents. I steered her away from her inital choice of pink for the walls (I think it was called "Go-to-heck-Pink) and toward a white with a bit of a pink cast.

They left on Sunday. By Tuesday we had filled two dumpsters with that house, demolished the Mr.'s bonus room walls and built new ones. New doors, trim, cabinets, bathrooms, light fixtures, to follow, all exactly as selected. Nice entry floor, new stair railings and 100 little repairs. Upgraded the aluminum wiring and pressure washed the driveway. Colors looked good, very soft and nice against bright white trim and whitewashed cabinetry. All of the walls had been retextured and the place looked brand new. Awesome!

Perfect for my brochure! I wanted to take pictures of it, but did not get a chance to do so before the carpet came.....

Understand that I had never seen the carpet. It was selected by the Mrs. and installed by someone else in an effort to save my markup. It was pink. Not pink, PINK, and if that weren't bad enough, it had a black fleck in it which made it look dirty. The pink carpet made those walls glow like they were radioactive. The two ladies I hired to do the final cleanup crossed themselves as they walked through the front door.

I decided to skip the pictures.

Still, says I, if you like pink it does not look so bad, and it did come in on time and on budget. Then of course, we moved the furniture back in.....

Yup, avocado, rust and gold furniture on bright pink carpet with glowing pink walls. Suffice to say it is not something you are likely to see in Metropolitan Home any time soon.

Mr. and Mrs.? Tickled to death. Wrote me a check on the spot. The Mrs. allowed as how she might have to get a new sofa, but I was there years later and she never did. They had however, replaced a couple of the avocado chairs.

The new ones? They're Chinese Mandarin red.


[ March 19, 2002: Message edited by: Steve Miller ]
Posted By: Dwain Lee

Re: Remodeling stories from (you know where) - 03/20/02 01:13 AM

Steve, you still should have taken the pictures...you could have said, "We always leave our customers tickled pink!"

OK, sorry about that.... wink
Posted By: Nina

Re: Remodeling stories from (you know where) - 03/20/02 03:33 PM


What a great story! The final version sounds like a set from a kid's movie.

When in college, I rented part of a house where the previous owner was a purple fanatic. We called the place the "Purple Palace." Purple carpet, purple sheers in the windows, purple and white checkerboard tile, AND a purple bathtub, toilet and bathroom sink (didn't know they even made these!).

The previous owner was a single, emeritus professor (woman), and I imagined she was the inspiration for the phrase "when I am an old woman, I shall wear purple"

Posted By: Steve Miller

Re: Remodeling stories from (you know where) - 03/21/02 05:36 AM

I was hoping to hear more stories from the "other side". Keeps me humble.

Here is another from my side.

Again, a good job, customer happy - just different. The house is brand new - we are wiring it from the ground up. It is situated with a bunch of those huge stucco piles you see in that neighborhood - you know the ones. Living rooms suitable for servicing space shuttles, an ocean of granite in the kitchen with a commercial range that has never seen a flame. Lots of fake half timber and ersatz French chateaux. I'll not get started on what brand of piano one might find in the foyer.

Not this house, though. Owner is Mr. Johnson, a self made man, originally from Arkansas. What he is building is a 10,000 square foot duplex. All on one floor. The city would never allow a duplex in this neighborhood, but Mr. Johnson outfoxes 'em. He appears to be ageless but must be over 65, and he has the thing permitted as a 6000 square foot house with a 4000 square foot "Granny flat" for the elderly. He is going to live in the "flat", his daughter and her family in the "main house" at the back.

Dwain will understand when I say that this house must be the last of the Cliff May ranch houses. Architect was something like 90 years old, and died just after the house was completed. He was a fan of the low slung 50's ranch style and so was Mr. Johnson. The house looked like it was 50 years old when it was done, but there IS something about that style - wide eves, low pitch roof, sliding glass doors, nicely suited for the climate. Very pleasant to live in. Very odd in that neighborhood. Painted lemon yellow with red brick wainscot trim. Shutters. Mr. Johnson planted geraniums around an old wagon wheel in the front yard.

I digress. I have a dozen stories about that house - let me just tell you about the living room in the "granny flat".

Mr. Johnson made it plain from the start that he did not care one whit for how everyone else does their house, this was HIS house, and being as he was paying cash it would be exactly what he wanted. He did pay cash too - crisp new C-notes every Friday.

He had been having a bit of trouble seeing in dim light recently and wanted lots of light in every room. LOTS of light. FLUORESCENT light. In rows - like in an office. Every room including the living room, bedrooms and the baths. He hated to waste electricity though, so each one of the fixtures had it's own switch - some 20 switches in the living room alone. We used literally MILES of wire in that house.

Enter the Mrs. She wanted to spend her time with her husband, and in the same room. Mr. Johnson liked to spend his day sitting at the bay window in the living room watching the world go by. If he was going to be in the living room, she was going to be there too, but you know darn well she had work to do.

Specifically, she had laundry, canning and quilting to do. That may be the only time I will ever hook up a washer and dryer in the living room of a 4000 square foot house, to say nothing of a separate circuit for the mangle. The mangle (my grandmother had one) sat adjacent to the deep freeze and canning table, which was just a short distance from the quilting table. There is a free standing range on the back wall, suitable for canning. All nicely bathed in cool white fluorescent light, bright enough to do heart surgery.

They like it. The spend their whole day in that room, and are very happy there. There is a fireplace big enough to roast a Buick in the family room of the flat, but no one ever sees it. They sit in that living room, flick 20 light switches on and off, run a little wash, take their meals at the quilting table and watch the world go by out the bay window.

Might not have been such a bad use for all of those C-notes after all.

[ March 21, 2002: Message edited by: Steve Miller ]
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