Creating kitchens and baths for finicky customers since 1993

backsplash features inset metal tiles for accent and texture

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mellow Monday after holiday

Rainy days and Mondays sometimes get me down. Not today, though! This was a good day, considering it was back to work after (almost) having four days off. (I did have to work a bit, but not too stressful.) Had breakfast with CP sales exec John M this morning, good talk and company. Then back to the big bath by the bay, which had at one time seemed interminable. The job has shaped up beautifully, saying so myself.

Today I attacked the last and separate part of the contract: tear out the flower tiles! That's what the contract says, "tear out the flower tiles..." So I did, and attack was the right verb. The only way to remove individual ceramic tiles from within a field of tile is to use brute force. Seriously. I used a large mechanic's screwdriver and my trusty Estwing hammer. The trick is to destroy the bad tile without causing any collateral damage. Not so simple, since the job requires a jack-hammer style approach. Worse yet, four of the designated tiles were directly against a large, glue-in bathroom mirror. Talk about potential for disaster! I even told Mr. Palmer at first that I was unwilling to hammer out the mirror-area tiles. Then I got some practice on the other ones, and that made me bolder. Made a lot of noise, and a pretty fair mess, but without hurting any innocent nearby tiles or mirrors. The customer is happy to see those flower tiles gone (with plain ones in their place), and the job is all but complete. (Special-order doors still to come, a ten-minute job.)

Got done a bit early, met with Tom M (the plumber) and stopped in at a couple of the stores to say good-bye to some good people. The stores were in blow-out sale at Christmastime madness mode. I said my "hope to see you again"s and avoided the crowds otherwise. Home before dark today. How can you beat that?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tuesday is a holiday Friday!

Today was Friday for me. Wednesday I have the boys with me, and I won't be working. The forecasted winter weather hit later than expected today, which was fortunate. Man, I had a ton of driving to do! Left at six-forty-five this morning in a driving rain, drove across the city, picked up only half the product I needed (a sales mix-up), drove back across the city past a four-car accident, figured out how to load more stuff than my truck would safely carry, and got to today's customer's house by nine. Whew! Had to pull a storm-door, demo- a forty-year-old entry door, and install a lovely new door. Not a tough job, despite a couple additional hiccups, but one that could have been unbearable in wind-driven snow--which is the current condition.

Yesterday was a real bear. Spent the morning (sunny and fifty degrees!) doing a job very similar to today's. Then had to track down a "missing" vanity top for the Palmer bath. Lost about two hours, needlessly. Had enough left to do there that I ended up staying well past dark, since I had to cut-out mid-evening to go quote a shower install nearby. (Don't think I'll get that one...) Can't wait to be done with all the little odds & ends at the endless bath job: it's stressful. But my "weekend" is here now, so it's all good. Back to work after Thanksgiving day, though. Nothing too taxing, but work just the same. That's life, isn't it?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Back to the Big Bath for Friday

There's snow in the air, and I was driving cross-town again today. Fortunately the white stuff stayed just a bit to the north and west. The sky was wintery, though. And it was cold. Very. So all the exercise of jogging up and down the long stairs helped keep me warm. A little taste of hot-temper fueled the fire, too! But I'm getting ahead of myself. The day started out wellwith a breakfast meeting with John Metzger, sales chief (for now) of CP Installed. We had a good talk. John saved me some legwork by tracking down a couple mirrors for the job, which I took along with me when we finished.

It was pretty much downhill from there. The big job today was to install the "custom" shower door from Sterling. I do a lot of Sterling doors, and find them mostly user-friendly. Not this one. Even the directions suck, which is very un-Sterling-ish. Long to short: what should have taken about two hours took almost the entire day. I was not pleased. When I last looked at this door system I didn't even think it would fit the opening. I was wrong about that; it fit just fine. But what a crummy design -- way too reliant on tight fits between parts to make things work. I don't know if I've ever struggled so much with something that should have been so basic. Engineers... sheesh. (That's not the language I was using earlier today, however.)

With all that lost time, I'll have to return next week to finish things there. No clue right now how I'll find the time, since I'm booked solid. Some weeks there really aren't enough hours in the day. For now, it's Friday. Thank God.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pass the Top-stretcher, please

Thursdays are usually buckle-down get-it-done days. I hardly ever set appointments for Thursdays, and almost never have the boys then either. I knew I had time today to finish this kitchen job, even though I'd originally allowed it to flow into Friday on the schedule. Now I need Friday to get back to the big bath. I didn't feel time-crunched, but I did have plenty to do. Some plumbing, a cabinet to set, some cleating and a panel to install. And countertops. Today was definitely a big-splash kind of day. I started it nice and early at the Home Depot (doesn't that feel strange?!). Mike had mentioned last week that HD had a sleek little air compressor for about a hundred dollars, one that would be lighter and quieter. Since my big hoss AC'r was all the way out on the other side of the city, I figured at worst I'd buy the smaller compressor and return it at day's end. Well, let's just say it ain't goin' back! What a pleasure it was to carry air power one-handed, and to run it indoors without scaring the pets.

Everything was running along just perfectly until I tackled the last job of the day, and of this whole contract: the sink-side countertop. The smart move is always to measure first, move second. That's when I discovered an unsolvable problem. Somehow the kitchen designer, Tammy R at the Brockport store, had forgotten to add the last three inches on the long wall layout. My countertop was, therefore, three inches too short! Yikes! I can make 'em shorter, but I can't make 'em longer. The stretcher's been broken for years. So a new top is on order, with a fairly long lead time. Had to make-do with the materials at hand. What I ended up doing was to pad the short "L" end of the top, which is conveniently shielded from view by the refridgerator. In the end, the too-short top looks damn good, and would fool most casual inspectors. It'll do just fine until the new one comes in. The customer's happy, and so am I. (sound of dusting-off hands) Friday means back to the east side, and the long uphill climb to the Palmer bath.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Blissful Wednesday

New day, new job, new town. No, the other job isn't done yet, but I had finally come up to the promised-date for the next customer. I didn't want to put him off, and I needed a bathroom-break anyway (bad pun). So today I pointed the truck north and west instead of south and east. Shorter drive, no city traffic. That was the first reprieve. This one is a kitchen, actually about half a kitchen since there are no new upper cabinets to install. Kitchens are great because they are almost always on the first floor and close to an entrance. This one is no exception. From driveway to garage to kitchen is a trip of only about twenty paces, with a climb of just one step! Amazing how much more work I can get done without the huge travel distance on-site. Major progress on day one included all tear-out, and all the new-location cabinets set. The home-owner seemed truly pleased and impressed. It was a nice clean job with lots of visual progress (always a good thing). Tomorrow will be day two, and should also be "day done"!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Loooong day Tuesday

Tried to finish today and failed. Seemed like I had a handle on it, but there was still so much to do. Had to nail in pine baseboard over the tile floor, which is always touchy. Plumbers arrived late afternoon instead of in the morning, which was fine but muddied my schedule ideas. There was so much to clean up, too! Tools were still stored back in under the eaves, and everywhere else as well. The foyer area still needed a fair amount of plasterwork. That was fun, and tedious. I did get the little desk area built finally, but installed the drawer section upside-down at first. (sigh of disgust) Sam the carpet man is due in Wednesday afternoon: that will spruce up the foyer a lot. Can you tell I'm running out of steam on this one? Over one hundred trips up and down the stairs does tend to add up eventually. Almost done, though. I'll be away from this one for a couple days, to build a kitchen. Should be a nice break.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Putting on a Monday polish

Today was one of those days that help to make up for all the prep work and manual labor. Over the weekend the Palmers painted their new bathroom, which worked out beautifully. I had the electrician scheduled for fixtures and finish today, so paint was all but critical. Ditto for the plumbers and their finish work tomorrow. With paint in place no one has to cut around all the next stuff, which always turns out mediocre at best. Meanwhile, I had placed about three fourths of the floor tile last Friday. That set me up perfectly to very quickly fill in the missing pieces and to be able to grout the whole job by the end of the day. And that makes all the difference! In one day this bathroom went from "when will it ever be finished?" to "wow!." What a great feeling that is, to see all the work put in so far come together like that. Of course there's more to do, some of it substantial; but the bath looks very much like a finished product. Big fun!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Finally Friday at the big bath

You can tell I've been busy this week, just by the lack of posts for the missing days here. I've had three days of serious manual labor and stair-climbing, trying to ship-shape the Palmer bathroom. I've mixed a bunch of plaster batches, done a whole dust-storm worth of sanding and touch-up, set the shower walls (and weren't they heavy muthuhs!), and laid-in a couple hundred pounds of floor tile. Mike stopped in for two solid days of custom carpentry, which really spruced-up the rough edges. So far, we've stood up to the inspections that truly count: the ones made by the Palmer clan! We still have quite a bit of polishing to do, mostly in setting fixtures and floor-trim. The brute work is complete, though, except for some sore knees sure to come when I grout the new floor. This one should be mostly wrapped by Tuesday, so I can move on to the next one: a kitchen in Hamlin. That one features a complete lack of staircases. I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tuesday, getting "plastered"

Today was day two, and somewhere around Batch Ten, for plastering the Palmer bathroom. Well, it's not really plastering, but more plaster-finishing. I use Durabond-90 instead of joint compound, because it dries in about two hours. Then you can come right back and re-coat the same day. Not so with joint compound. Downside is you have to mix every batch yourself, you have a short work window (about an hour for Durabond-90), and the stuff is bad for your skin. Sure coats up nicely, though! Tomorrow I'll touch-up, add a final coat only where needed, do some sanding, and be ready for paint. Mike P will be on-site tomorrow, too. Sure will be nice to have some company. We'll kick a little construction butt. By the way, it was sunny and sixty again today. Hmmm...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Finally Friday: rockin'

Today was a physically demanding end to the week. I was on my own, starting out with a heavy load of green drywall on the ladder-rack. The weather was warm and clear, so I set up in the customer's driveway. With all the inspections passed, it was time to "rock the walls." Rock, in this case, refers to sheets of gypsum board, which was originally called 'rock lath.' I spent the day cutting and installing all the odd-shaped pieces of wallboard for this cut-up little bathroom. Though it was a short day (had to pick up Nicky from a school function), I still got most of the room boarded. Things are shaping up, and you can definitely get a feel for how this new bathroom will look when it's done. The plumbers and electrician will be back next week, and Mike P. will spend a couple days helping me, too. Getting to the good part of the job now. Should be hard work, but fun.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Thursday was Inspection Day

Had some important visitors today at the Palmer bath. Nearly all construction had to stop, awaiting approval of the plumbing (which required an open floor), and of the electical (which required open walls and ceiling). The plumbers stopped by early to test their work, all good. That inspection passed at about ten am. Same guy gave the go-ahead for framing and insulation. That was good, too. Unfortunately, the electrical inspection didn't happen until almost three this afternoon. That did give me time to putter around with some of the smaller, tricky tasks, in addition to the floor re-install. So it wasn't so bad. Got a lot done, and even started the drywall, wherever it didn't interfere with the electrical stuff. Worked out fine in the end. Full speed ahead, then, for Friday. It's going to be a busy Friday for me. That's ok, too: busy is good. Busy pays the bills!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wednesday up&down

Busy day today, day three of the big bath job for the Palmers. Many trips for everyone, up and down the stairs. Floor's all cut up for both plastic drains and copper lines. Plumbers were back mid-morning to finish sweating joints. Kevin (electrician) spent about five hours doing the electrical rough-in, which involved much drilling and even a trip (for me) up onto the roof. Since it was sunny and fifty-five today, I didn't mind much; but I sure have lost any ability to handle steep-pitched roofs, as I did when I was twenty-five. I'll stick with kitchens and baths, please. Framing is all but complete, stopped short where the floor still has to be removed/replaced. Thursday will be hectic with multiple inspections: plumbing, electrical, framing, and insulation. Here's my fingers crossed.