Creating kitchens and baths for finicky customers since 1993

backsplash features inset metal tiles for accent and texture

Friday, January 20, 2006

Winter week in Review

Some weeks are easier than others. Some are weirder than others. This one was a little of both. Most unusual for me, each day found me at a different location! After doing two large bathroom remodels, the daily change of scenery was refreshing, I suppose. As for weird, that award goes to the weather. What a strange winter this is so far! Last Friday was a true winter-golf day, with the thermometer pushing tantalizingly close to SEVENTY degrees. Today, one week later, we're back in the sixties again. Yesterday was okay, but typically cold. The day before saw rain, sleet, snow, wailing winds, and a plenitude of auto accidents. Tuesday, however, was only chilly with a dribble of midday rain. Monday was bitter winter straight from Central Casting. Bizarre, truly bizarre. That's the weather, then--here's the work week:

Monday Mike and I worked together to install an extraordinarily heavy exterior French door unit from Anderson. I've never seen this specific door unit before, and I hope to never have to lift one again. Fortunately, we had help. The homeowner and his varsity-football son each chipped in to help us move this monstrosity. With weight, though, comes quality. The actual installation, after the move, was a breeze. Everybody was happy, on both sides of that door!

Tuesday I finally found a way to schedule an old and loyal customer's new replacement windows. I'd hoped to have Mike's help with these originally, but our calendars never seemed to mesh. I'm not really a "window guy," although I've done enough of them over the years. But I don't have Mike's confidence or speed with them. It was only six windows, so even I was able to comfortably install them all in one day. They fed me lunch, too. Yum! The rain arrived by afternoon, so I deferred removing the old storm windows 'till another day.

Wednesday was the final day for the Rush (Town of, not speed of) bathroom job, which I've written about recently. In remodeling, there's no feeling quite so satisfying as finishing a job in style. All the painting was done while I was gone. Pete Zury put in the new floor on Monday, and it's perfect. When I got there that morning, my job was to install anything not yet in place, to do a bit of caulking, and to add the trim (which needed to follow the flooring). When I left a few hours later, everything was complete and ready for the owners' use. It's not often that a job works out that way, so I rarely see the finished product. One more, "everybody happy."

Thursday I covered a lot of territory. Back to the upper east side to pull of those pesky storm windows and caulk all around. Done. Back to outer east Mongolia (alright, Walworth) to finish my all-day-bathroom-floor. It didn't go well at first, because I had to reset the toilet (my fault) and fix the fill valve (just bad luck); but that one is done and ended up okay. From there I hustled off to my side of the city, upper west side, to meet a referral customer regarding new countertops. That's a "new" experience for me, after years of working from sold-leads with Chase-Pitkin. Nothing I haven't done a hundred times before, years past. It's like riding a bike, after all. Home in time for dinner, so that was a winner.

Today, of course, was Friday. Since I'm not working Saturday (yea!), it's the final workday of this week. All day long the temperature climbed, so I was able to set-up for cutting outside, and to work without a coat. What a nice change! The job was tricky enough: adding crown molding all the way around a new kitchen, in which some of the crown had already been installed. In addition, the customer had provided two different sizes of moldings, which had to meet in one spot. (Not a mistake, but rather a choice, based on different wall finishes.) Some of the existing crown had to come back out, be re-cut, then re-installed. All in all, challenging enough to keep me on my toes. But not so much that it was frustrating or discouraging. And when it was done, it sure looked fine! That's exactly the right way to end the week. Until Monday, then...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thursday: wrapping up the new bath

Finally, I find myself finishing up a big job without staying until well past dark. It's always difficult to tell, sometimes weeks in advance, how long I think a large job might take to complete. This time I left enough time. I'm 100% ready for paint--oh, what a feeling! Even had enough time to wash the truck (it's been a month) and purchase a new date-minder on the way home. I forgot to eat lunch, though. Too many stops along the way; I lost track of the lunch idea!

This was a full-gut bath, except for the ceiling. I'm pleased to have been able to pull it off in about a week, giving credit to Palmeroni Electric (Mike, in particular) for taking care of the electrical stuff. Pete Zury will install the floor on Monday, then I'll reset any fixtures and baseboard as needed. So add one day to "finished." Still, it's been a physically demanding few days, with lots of trips to the dumpster and to the truck for tools, etc.

The last couple days have been almost exclusively devoted to finish work: skim-coating, plumbing trim-outs, setting the vanity and top. That sort of thing. Those are picky tasks, but not so exhausting. Plus the room really comes together near the end, with towel-bars and such; so it looks great and feels good. The weather has been exceptional, as well. Literally, golf weather! Today, for instance, was sunny and sixty! Amazing, and good for the overall attitude. I didn't have time or inclination for any golf, but it was nice to know I could have. The forecast says one more day like this, then back to winter. Can't complain, not at all. Until next time...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Just a regular old Monday again

The holidays are all gone by, and the depths of winter have yet to arrive. It's tough to get back into the swing of a regular work-week again, but I must. Many Mondays are the start of a new project, but not this one. Last week's bathroom in Rush was still there waiting for me when I returned this morning. I don't mind that at all: I know this customer and I know what awaits me for the day.

This was a fun day, as workdays go. Most of the heavy lifting is done, and things are starting to really take shape. I set up shop in the garage, hoping for at least a little sun to light my work zone. No such luck. I did some measuring, some figuring, some router-cutting on my three shower walls. These are solid-surface (like Corian®), and their one funny quirk is that you can't really tell the front from the back. Maybe there isn't any designated "good side." The directions don't even mention making the choice in the first place. I hate reading directions anyway, but I did, just to check. Installing these walls is all about preparation, and a bit of measure twice/cut once. It went fine.

I got a second coat of plaster (yup, it's real plaster on the seams) on my purple walls. So, with the shower looking nearly complete and the walls looking pretty spiffy (yes, that's a word), I'm feeling good about this job. There's plenty of finish and fixture work to do yet, but I'm on the downhill stretch. Talked to Pete S around midday. I was overdue to check-in with him to see what the/our future holds in store. The time when Chase-Pitkin is gone for good is fast approaching. One day at a time for now, though. Until tomorrow, then...

Friday, January 06, 2006

OK to exhale: the sun's out!

Yesterday I bemoaned the lack of sunshine here in Upstate NY; I noted that I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a glimpse. Today I saw that long-lost bright yellow ball for nearly an hour, twice! I had to stop what I was doing and point my face directly toward the sun, eyes closed to its brilliant glare (!). My batteries are hereby recharged. The day started out ominously, with fairly heavy snow. I despise driving in the dark when it's snowing. I drove out of it, though; it was only local lake-effect snow. We got about an inch or so. It sure looked pretty drifting earthward under a partly-sunny sky. So much for the weather.

Today's progress was solid. I told my wife that I amaze myself. She laughed. The important thing is that my customer is at least impressed, if not amazed. In three days her little bathroom has gone from bare studs to completed re-boarded with purple drywall. I'll be ready for some actual finishing touches on Monday. I have to admit, the new paper-color (replacing the old institutional-green) is quite festive. It might be a bit brighter, too, which is helpful in a small room. The stuff is expensive, though: nearly fifteen bucks a sheet with tax.

Saturday has been elected as catch-up day. I'll be visiting no less than three previous customers, each needing some small thing completed. None of these go-backs were emergencies, nor are any of them particularly difficult. I'll probably average about half an hour at each home. Unfortunately, these service calls are scattered all around Western NY. The gas tank is full now, but sure to be nearly empty by the time I get home tomorrow afternoon. The gas expense (up nearly twenty cents a gallon in the last two weeks) and the time spent driving are far more annoying than the work involved. The good news is that most of these calls will be paid, because they are product-related (versus my own warranty). Give me a spot or two of sunshine, and I'll be just fine. Regardless, TGIF!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

First week of '06 is nearly done!

It's already Thursday, feeling very much like Wednesday on this shortened workweek. I'm glad it's not, though. I'm bushed! Tuesday was nearly thirteen hours spent in Walworth (Boondocks East), installing a ceramic tile floor in a tiny half-bath. Because there was some outside work to finish there first, I didn't actually begin the tile floor until almost eleven a.m. The tear-out was not fun at all. Not only that, but I had to run to the store for plumbing supplies related to the re-use of a nearly fifty-year-old toilet. It almost would have been worth the price to buy that customer a new toilet instead.

Wednesday featured the start of a major bathroom project: full-gut down to the bare studs. This one is in Rush, just off the expressway (Boondocks South). The walls were one half ceramic tile, and the tub was cast iron. Oh, my achin' back! Fortunately, the customer is very nice and the job is on the first floor (no stairs!). I've spent these last two days doing the tear-out and prepping for the new shower plumbing. I also managed to install all the upper sheets of new drywall. This wallboard is purple-colored, which I've never seen before. There's much to do, and a long way to go on this one. I think the back-breaking part is nearly done, though.

Locally, the weather has been the story: we've not seen the sun since the day before Christmas Eve. It's reaching the point where people are emailing our TV weathercasters demanding to know "when??". For me, I feel as though whatever batteries run my body are just about drained. I need some sun! The forecast, however, calls for falling temp's and some snow or sleet. Extreme darkness is predicted for tomorrow morning, just like every morning for the next few weeks. It's so hard to wake up in the dark, leave home in the dark, and arrive on the jobsite without having even glimpsed a lightened sky. Maybe the coming snow will bring some sparkling sunlight in its wake. I'm not holding my breath...