Friday, February 20, 2015

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day--Day Eleven

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day
Day Eleven
Thursday, Feb. 19th.

    So-so-so-so-so-so-so-so close! Yet, no banana. We came, we saw, we did not finish. We still must buff the tile, hang the grab bars and the seat, touch up the paint, and install the glass panel. Like I said--close. If we'd have had Friday, as originally proposed, we'd have done it. 
    Looking at the bright side, I'm pretty good at estimating how long a job will take to accomplish. I said two weeks, and that's exactly what it would have been. So, future customers--please don't try and rush the end date. It is what it is. I even brought in some extra help last weekend, and all I got was Kirk and Steve being mad at me.     
    It won't do me any good to criticize our speed--the guys and I all agree that there are "wait times" involved with tile, and they should be followed. Most tile setters I've known don't wait. They apply mastic or thin set, lay the tile, grout them in, and buff them, all on the same day. The problem is--both the thin set and the mastic containers have the directions printed on them, and both say to wait 24 hours before grouting. This is to allow a chemical process to take place, to let certain chemicals evaporate. It will not take place if we grout and seal the tile too soon. So, over the years, I've beat it into the guys to wait. Now, no matter what I say, they wait. Am I a good teacher, or what?
    The customer not only took a day away from us, he changed his mind at the last minute and asked for a different toilet paper holder and towel bar than the ones I had bought. Not a big thing, but it does slow us down to leave the job to purchase two of the items I bought before we started the job. He didn't like the ones with the grab bars built-in--he wanted the plain, old-fashioned type. I don't blame him, but, personally, I kind-of like the grab-bar-idea. I may try them out in my bathroom. Heck--I now own them--why not use 'em. In other words, make lemonade out of lemons.
    So . . . we can't get back in the house for 13 days--March 4th. I'll be back, folks--on March 4th, to tell you we finished and show you the final photos. Thanks for joining us for the ride.
    Here are the last pictures I took--yesterday afternoon. Enjoy. 
Kirk grouting.

The floor is covered with grout--before it's cleaned off. 

A shower to be proud of.

Like I said--"Close, but no banana."

Until we meet again,

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day--Day Ten

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day
Day Ten
Weds., Feb. 18th.

    I must admit that the last days are as hectic as the first. Steve and Kirk were up to their elbows in work today. They prayed that the plumber wouldn't come early and run them out of the bathroom, and their prayers were answered. The plumbers arrived at three o'clock. The plumbers were working hard when I checked in on them at four-thirty. Below are some of today's pictures. 

Kirk looks a little tired as he finishes up the border tiles.

Steve (on right) looks a bit tired, too.

    But the guys keep on keeping on. Today the customer asked us to be finished by noon, tomorrow, which came as a surprise. I told him we thought we'd have until five or six. Nope. Noon. Maybe, one p.m. Oh, well--we'll do as much as we can. 

One of the plumbers working on the vanity sink.

    The shots above give you an idea of what's been done and what's yet to be
done--the decorative 4" band of tiles is woven through both niches and around the shower; the edge tiles are finished; the only things lacking in the shower are the valve trim, shower head, grout, grab bars, and the seat. Outside the shower we lack painting the walls. Can Kirk and Steve do it? They've asked for help--they want Mechelle to be there early, to help tote materials and clean up. Will this be enough to get the job done by noon? By one?
    I won't know until it's too late. I have to go to the Multiplex behind the Cramton Bowl tomorrow morning and set up for our booth at the 2015 General Montgomery Home Builders Association's Home Building & Remodeling Expo. I'll send you some pictures of the Expo with tomorrow's story line.
    Until then--here's hoping we can do it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day--Day Nine

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day
Day Nine
Tuesday, Feb. 17th.

    Whew! She's taking shape. Kirk and Steve are going full-speed.  The only problem is--it's a very tight space.    

The tile is almost done. Looking good!

The niches will be tiled with the same tile used in the band. We feel this gives the tile a continuity.
    Kirk and Steve assure me we'll be done by Thursday--in two more work days. Then they tell me the only thing that will slow them down is if the plumber and electrician get in their way. I tell them, "Do you think I told the home owner the deal was that we'd finish everything except the electrical and the plumbing by Thursday?" They have no answer for this. 

Here's a view of the shower and the vanity. We're close--oh, so close!
    Yes--it will be crowded in the bathroom for the next two days, but I believe the job will be complete. Kirk and Steve need to be optimistic, and they also need to push themselves a little harder than normal. 
    The homeowner asked me today about the toothbrush holder and the soap dish--two items not installed much anymore. I'm not sure I can find them locally in brushed nickel, but I'll try. There's always something, isn't there? Especially, in remodeling. 
    More good news--Best Glass called to tell me the glass partition wall was in. Yes! We'll make it!

    And with these last two pictures, I'll bid you adieu. I had to leave early (about 1:30), so didn't get the photos of the final tiles going up, but I'll take more tomorrow. So far--right on schedule.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day--Day Eight.

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day
Day Eight
Monday, Feb. 16th.

    The bathroom job is rolling, now. Kirk and Steve set the shower floor tile, put a coat of mud on the walls, and laid the dressing area floor. When everything goes as it should, and I'm not all tensed up waiting for materials to come in, I don't have a lot to report. The guys came to work, they showed up at the job, and did what they're supposed to do.

Steve cuts a tile.

Kirk admires the dressing area floor.

Here you can see the shower floor behind Kirk as he sets a tile in the dressing area. Notice the level in the shower? Good move, Kirk!

    Now--if every day and every job went like this--I could relax.
    Until tomorrow,

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day--Day 6

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day
Day Six
Saturday, Feb. 14th
Valentine's Day

    Like good husbands everywhere, I started the day by giving a valentine to my Valentine. It was the high point of the day, and the day could not get any better, so no matter what else happens, I'm a happy man.
    I had a job to look at at ten, and Kirk said he'd go to the bathroom job and seal the floor at 9:30, so when I arrived at eleven, he was done and gone. He had, as promised, sealed the shower floor. I can't say I was happy, however. He and Steve had left the bathroom job to go to another job, and it was obvious they had left the bathroom job in a hurry. I realize they didn't wish to work late on a Friday--but the bathroom should have come first--especially, this bathroom, which needs to be completed by Thursday night--and I doubt the owners want us there until midnight, Thursday, trying to finish.
    Part of the reason I'm more concerned than Kirk or Steve is because I'm the one who made the promise to the customer that we'd be done on schedule. I didn't add any "unlesses," either--"unless" the faucet doesn't come in, "unless" we mess up along the way, etc. I promised "done." Period. 
    Here are the things I wasn't pleased with: two bags of trash left beside the house; two bright orange five-gallon buckets left in front of the house; the mud needed another coat; they hadn't primed the cabinets, as I'd asked them to do; and, worst of all, they hadn't removed the carpet runners, the 30"-wide plastic we put down to protect the customers' flooring. By experience, we've found out that leaving the product down for more than two weeks causes it to exude a sticky glue, which is very difficult to remove. Therefore, I prefer it to be changed out weekly. When we take it up, we also vacuum underneath, and this is something that cannot be done too often when we're working inside someone's house.
    What should I do? If I called Kirk, he probably wouldn't answer the phone, knowing it was bad news on a Saturday if the boss was calling. 
   I had another crew working today, consisting of Wesley and Ray, who were mudding sheetrock in Millbrook. I decided to give them a try. They said they'd be glad to come to the bathroom job when they left the sheetrock job. Both were eager to get in some extra hours, plus I believe they were looking forward to "fixing" Kirk's screw-ups. It was ammo for them in the constant war men have of "I'm better than you are." 
    Wes and Ray took on the job and knocked it out in three hours.
Here's a photo of our carpet runner, going down the customer's hall to the bathroom. The clear carpet runner is on the carpet, the blue runner is for vinyl floors. This section has both. 

Wesley (on left) and Ray look over the job.

    Oh, yes--one more thing. I took my torpedo level today and tried it out on the shower floor. It's perfect. Everything slopes toward the drain.

Wes and Ray dig in. 

Ray removes the vacuum cleaner so he has enough space to work.

    So, all-in-all, it's been a pretty good Saturday. And it's not over yet. I get to change clothes and take my Valentine out to eat. She gets to choose where we go. I sure hope it's Chinese!

    I'll be taking Sunday off, unless there's a major problem that arises, and be back on Day Eight--Monday--we have lots to accomplish on Monday. Until then, have a wonderful Valentine's Day--give your Valentine a big kiss and tell him or her I said to do it.

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day--Day 5.

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day
Day 5

    Today started out cold--27 degrees--but by two o'clock, it was wonderful. The sun was shining, and if you could find a place out of the breeze, it was a warm 64. Nice!
    The job went quite nicely today, too. Kirk and Steve installed the sloped mud bed. I tried to put my level on it, but they wouldn't let me. They were afraid I'd gouge their beautiful work, and they promised me it was sloped from all four corners to the drain. Kirk is supposed to come back tomorrow, Saturday, and apply the RedGard to seal the floor area in the shower, and I'll come by afterwards and put my level on it.
Here's Kirk mixing the cement.

Kirk works on the cement shower bed. The red walls indicate where Kirk and Steve applied the RedGard sealer.

    While they were waiting for the concrete to set up, Kirk and Steve applied RedGard to the walls, to seal them. 
    The sealer is supposed to sit and cure, so it'll be Monday before we can start putting down tile, and if everything else goes well, we should be back on schedule by Monday afternoon. Steve and Kirk aren't worried about it, insisting we'll be done Thursday. They seem to forget that at the last minute time seems to speed up, and there are always more things to do than you have time to do them. We'll see.

Is Steve working hard? Or, what?

    As far as other work goes--we're officially up to our ears in jobs. It's as if the flood gates have opened up. I finished my part of the drawing and the estimate for the hair salon, and now we're waiting on a price for the electrical portion. We're still working on the emergency sheetrock job, and also have two bathrooms to start next week, a plywood floor to replace, a front door to install, a different front door to refinish, and a glass door to install. I drove around all day looking at more jobs, and have one to look at tomorrow and three on Monday. It looks like a busy spring and summer are upon us. Good news!

    The photo above and to the right shows the finished shower bed, awaiting sealer (tomorrow) and tile (Monday).
    Day five had come and gone, and everything so far is looking good. It doesn't seem as if much has been accomplished, but as in any construction, the foundation is the most important part. Next week, from day-to-day, you'll see the shower actually start to come together. The first week is drudgery. Next week is the fun part. We hope you pay us a visit.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day--Day Four

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day
Day Four
Thursday, Feb. 12th

    Another nice start to the workday--at 4:00 a.m. it was 40 degrees and mostly clear. Tonight, however, it's supposed to get very cold. Brr. It's difficult to work fast when it's too cold.

    Today's list: bathroom job: get Jimmy, our electrician in and out; all sheetrock up; get ready to pour sloped bed tomorrow. We're not ahead of schedule, and not on schedule, but we're close enough to it we can relax a little.
Here's a shot of the hole in the ceiling for the vent. It's not very exciting, is it?

    Other items: it's now down to whether or not we can make payroll. This may sound strange, but on Thursday all I worry about is making payroll on Friday. Once I see there's enough money to buy materials for the jobs and pay the guys, I'm okay for the week. We're very close--not there--but close.
And here's Jimmy. I apologize for the dark photos--my flash didn't work, for some reason. And I didn't take many pictures--there wasn't a lot to immortalize in photos today. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
    One of the reasons I enjoy being in this business, is seeing old employees, guys and gals I've hired over the years who went on to other pursuits. Yesterday one of my favorite ex-employees, Lane Downey, stopped by. Man, it was great to see and talk to Lane for a while. Lane was one of the strongest employees I ever had, and was a great supervisor in his time. His biggest failing was that he'd rather be hunting than remodeling, but since he wasn't alone in this pursuit, I've forgiven him. Lane left to move closer to home, down Mobile way, and to make more money in the heating and AC business, and he did, until he fell off a ladder and broke his back. He was in bad shape. I was amazed to hear he's almost totally recuperated from the fall, and is now an outside salesman for Furmanite in Saraland. Lane made more money last year than I make in two years. Way-to-go, Lane! It was so good to see Lane I was on a high for the rest of the day. 

    It's 3:15, and we've had one heck-of-a-good day. Jimmy Brooks, our electrician, installed the vent/light and got out of the way as fast as he could. Jimmy and I have worked together for 16-17 years, now, and he's always been reliable, fair in his prices, and a darn-good electrician. Plus, Jimmy's fun to talk with. He's a dedicated Christian, and as such, probably does more electrical work for free, than for profit. But the best thing about Jimmy is that he always has a smile on his face. Always!

    The good: the bathroom job is now humming. The customers chose paint colors, settled on a grout color, and are still in good spirits, in spite of the racket we make. Faith at Noland Company came through as always--she called to say all of our plumbing hardware was in and ready for pick up. Is that service, or what? Having suppliers like Faith makes my day go smoother. I checked with the supplier of the glass wall in the bathroom--the one item I was worried about not arriving on time. We use Best Glass, in Montgomery, for most of our glass needs, and Steve and Jeff Dunn also always come through for the customer--in this case, me. Jeff called his supplier and they said the glass will be in Tuesday. Whew! That's great news!
You might think this photo is totally unrelated to anything, but you'd be wrong. It's a job we did about a year ago in Millbrook, where we added the columns and the porch cover, and I never went back and got a final picture of the job. I wanted one to show at the Expo next week, and today I got it. Still looks good, doesn't it? Wesley supervised the job, and he did it superbly. 

    Other progress. We had an emergency job call at 1:00 o'clock--a rental home in Millbrook had a ceiling leak and six sheets of sheetrock had fallen from the ceiling. With the temperature expected to drop to 23 tonight, the owners were frantic. Kirk, Josh, and Mechelle, my office manager, who works when we need her to (and Mechelle works as good as a man, I might add, with the added benefit that she makes sure the job is kept sparkling clean) all came through and volunteered to work late to try and help these people out.
    We also picked up two more bathroom jobs. I finished my drawings on the hair salon, and worked up our part of the price. Now must wait on the plumber's and electrician's prices. 

    And--best of all--we made payroll! 
Here are a few of the gang who will be happy we made payroll. From left to right are: Mechelle--our office manager and also Kirk's boss (wife); Kirk, one of our supervisors; Steve, who's also a great drummer, by the way. He plays in the Mark Kelly Band, and you can watch him on You Tube--he's the energetic one!; and Josh, who is leaving soon to try his hand in the cable business. I hope he comes back some day. The sooner, the better. Josh is a great worker. And in the background, on the left, is my home and office.  

    It's been a frantic week, but when it ends on a high note--making payroll and picking up more work--it's worth every tense moment we go through. I'll be back Friday and we'll see if Kirk, Josh, and Mechelle got the ceiling up and how the bathroom job is progressing.
Until then, best wishes,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day--Day Three

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day
Day Three
Wednesday, Feb. 11th.

    Another day, another dollar. It's 4:00 a.m. and I step outside once more. It's 33-degrees and clear--I see several planets and many stars--and best of all, there's no breeze. When it's sunny and there's no wind, working outside is enjoyable, even when the temperature is in the thirties and forties. Of course, most of our work today is inside, but on a bathroom job, the workers must often go back and forth, from inside to outside, and vice versa, so having it temperate outside helps speed up the work.

    Okay--let's cut to the chase. My list for the bathroom crew:
1. Make curb and pour sloped bed.
2. Install insulation, all wood backing for seat and grab bars, and tile backer board.
3. Prime cabinets.
4. Stay out of electrician's way. The electrician is due to install fan/light today. 

    Yesterday we got approval from the customer on the vanity top and the medicine cabinet. The medicine cabinet can hang on the outside of the wall or be inset--the customer chooses inset, which the crew and I agree with.
 Steve cuts deadwood. These guys all have sawhorses, yet Steve prefers cutting on a saw table made out of a trashcan and a piece of plywood.
Kirk installs the deadwood.

    My other list: T.G. asked for the next three days off to pursue refinishing some furniture, and with a light work-load, I said, "Okay." Of course, the work-load picked up immediately afterwards. I received two rolls of screen spline via UPS that I've been waiting for, so need to send someone to repair some screen doors, we have a glass shower door due in that must be hung as soon as it arrives, and we picked up a job replacing a plywood sub-floor in a house up for sale--the kind of work that the customer needs done ASAP. Plus, I have two estimates to work up-- a large commercial job for a beauty salon and another bathroom remodel. On the commercial job I must draw up plans and get them to my electrician, who will be on our bathroom job today. My list seems endless.

Okay--and here's the way the day went. It's now 5:00 p.m.

Kirk and Steve called me at 11:00. The drain for the shower was off-center. "By how much?" I asked. "Four inches." Oh, great. I had been there yesterday when Steve laid it out for the plumber. We made certain the center point was off the inside of the curb, not the outside, as the plumber's helper was trying to make it. I guess we all walked out of the bathroom to discuss another matter, because when we went back, no one noticed the drain was off-center. Without the curb up, it's difficult to tell. As soon as Kirk and Steve built the curb today, they noticed it. They insisted it wasn't their fault.
A good shot of the two molds for the niches--a double and a single--and deadwood for one grab bar on the wall, and the fold-up seat on the back wall.

Blaming others is a time-honored tradition in remodeling, It's never anyone's fault who is on the job, it's always the fault of someone who isn't around at the time. I told them I didn't care whose fault it was--were they going to fix it? Or, had they called the plumber? They had done neither.

I called Mike-the-Plumber and told him the problem. He immediately told me it wasn't his man's fault.

See what I mean?

I told Mike I didn't care whose fault it was, we needed it fixed or we were in trouble. "Whose fault it was is now totally irrelevant--it just has to be fixed!" I said, in as urgent a voice as I could without yelling. He understood, and 30 minutes later the drain was centered. It was a whole lotta fuss over a simple fix-it-up-and-go-back-to-work solution.
This shows Kirk and Steve after the plumber has relocated the drain. Kirk is covering the drain with cement.

It does put us behind, however. Now Steve and Kirk--or someone--has to work over the weekend if we are to finish on time. So be it.

The guys did get all the deadwood in--for the seat and the grab bars--and installed the niches, and got the tile board up. Which is good, but not great. Tomorrow, I expect great.

My other list went like this: we got the screens installed; Wesley has just about finished at my house; the glass door didn't come in; the plywood floor customer didn't bring the signed contract or the down payment by, so it;s not a priority yet; the table Mechelle and I took to the flea market yesterday sold today; I wrote two pages in my book; I finished figuring and e-mailed the bathroom price; and I almost finished the drawings for the hair salon.
You can easily see the curb in these pictures--where Kirk rests his left hand, above. There is tile backer board on the shower walls, and you can see where they have cemented the joints and the niche forms with thin-set to stop leaks. 

Whew. It was a busy, and yet, to me, a fulfilling day. We overcame what Kirk said in his message to me, was "a terrible problem." Nuts. A problem--any problem--is just something waiting for a solution. We persevered--we hung in there and we lived to remodel another day.
Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day--Day Two

A Bathroom Remodel--Day-by-Day
Day Two
Tuesday, Feb. 10th

    Good morning, world! 
    Yesterday we began a new job--a bathroom remodel--and I started the day with a weather check and a list or two. Today will begin in the same manner. It's 3:50 a.m., and I walk out back to check my thermometer. It's cooler today--47 degrees, and the sky is cloudy--I can't see any stars. I prefer the early morning sky to be clear, but at least it's not raining. Forty-seven is not bad for this time of year, so it looks like it'll be a good day to work.
    My first list will be what I hope for Kirk and Steve to accomplish this morning on the bathroom job. I love lists, by the way. Here's the first one.
    Bathroom job: 
    1. Plumber: Mike Smith. He said he'd be on the job by 8:45. I'll let you know what time he does arrive. Today Mike must start and finish his rough-in (have all the valves and new pipes run behind the walls.). He must run the new supply lines--we're converting from a tub and shower to only a shower; install two valves--one for the shower and a second one that operates the hand-held sprayer; re-work the drain, moving it from the end of the shower to the center, so water will flow down and out the drain; replace the commode flange--we took up the dressing area tile and now the old commode flange is too high; replace the commode water supply--the shutoff leaks.
     I like for my men to work with the plumber and the electrician when they arrive. This accomplishes several goals. By having Kirk and Steve at his beck and call, Mike can accomplish his work faster. This means he knows before he arrives that the job will move quickly, and he can finish in a timely manner and move on to his next job. For me, this means my men will make certain Mike does everything we need him to do, we can correct any problems he runs into at once (and there are always problems in remodeling--always!), and the homeowner isn't left by himself or herself with a subcontractor he or she doesn't know.
     Also, if the homeowner has a problem--of any kind--he knows he can go to Kirk or Steve and one of them will address the problem. A few examples of actual problems we've had in the past are: The subcontractor parks on the customers' front lawn; he smokes in the house; he brings in dirt and mud; he drops a wrench and damages a brand new tub; and the one we have to take care of, regardless who the subcontractor is--he leaves all his trash on the floor where he drops it. Most subcontractors work as if every job is in a new house, where the general contractor has a clean-up crew. Our clean up crew is Kirk and Steve. If they aren't on the job to clean up, when Mike leaves there will probably be a mess. It's in his blood.
Here are photos of what the plumber did. It may not seem like much to anyone else, yet it took him almost five hours.

    2. After the plumber leaves, Kirk and Steve have their work cut out for them. They must build the curb and pour a concrete bed that slopes from all four corners to the central drain. If they don't do this step correctly, the entire shower floor is messed up because water will stand on it. This is the one problem that drives customers berserk. Knowing this, it's my job to make certain the floor has good slope. Kirk and Steve probably tire of me always checking after them, but they aren't the ones who pay to get a floor redone if the water stands on it. And it doesn't need to stand ankle deep--just one or two square-inches of tile with water that won't drain will cause a customer to get upset. Hey--I don't blame them--it's just as easy to do the floor right as it is to do it wrong. And if I don't have the time to double check the floor--I deserve what I get, too. I'm sure you all agree.

More photos of plumbing. As you can see, there are two valves--the main one that controls the shower, and the one above, which allows the customer to switch from shower head to hand-held, or he can choose to open both at the same time. Fancy, huh? The red line on the upper-left is for the hand-held.

    Those are the only items that have to be done today. I want more, though. I found out yesterday that our "finish day" of Friday, February the 20th, was wrong. That's the day my customers leave town. The finish day is Thursday, the nineteenth. Yikes! We've gotta get a move-on. Today I'd like to see the guys finish installing the backing for the seat and the grab bars, insulate the shower walls (for sound control), put up all the sheetrock needed and apply a first coat of mud, prime the vanity and the cabinet, and install the foam niche forms. We use forms on the niches because when you install tile niches, they become the weak point--the place you'll most likely have a water leak, and the foam forms help guarantee you'll have no leaks,. They're expensive--about $75.00 each--but in the end well worth the cost. Without one, making a tile niche waterproofed is nearly impossible. 
    And that's probably about all we can do on this job today. But my lists go on. I cannot rest.

   Earl's list:
    1. Check with customer on upcoming job about refinishing her front door and sidelights. Confirm start date and down payment. Does she also want us to fill in under the threshold with cement where the house has separated from the foundation? 

    2. Gather items for the Expo that I didn't get to yesterday. Purchase 12 two-foot by three-foot poster frames for the photos I had enlarged. Pick up large display boards from storage house. Gather aluminum deck samples from storage (We installed our first large aluminum deck last summer--we loved it! My next blog--in three to four weeks--will be about aluminum decks.). 

    3. Finish touch-ups on a chest-of-drawers, a dining table, and two end tables, then take them to my booth--Earl's Pearls--at Memories Flea An-Tique Mall.

    4. Write five new pages in my children's book, There Once Was a Boy Named Bobby (Who Slayed Dragons for His Hobby.).

    5. See that Wesley and T.G. finish the job they're on--at my house. Yes--we contractors actually do try to keep up our own houses. They've installed three new PVC windows and are now painting four inside doors. The doors are going from white to red, and after two coats, need two more. They're bright, but my wife loves them. Wes and T.G. still have to finish the inside trim, paint the outside trim, hang the blinds, paint the doors, clean up, and move the furniture back. They have a full day because they also need to go to bathroom job and haul the trash to the dump, since they couldn't move it yesterday. 

    The photos above are of the windows Wes and T.G. are doing. When finished, they'll not only cut my heating and cooling bills drastically, they'll look 100 times better than the old windows did. I'll hunt up a photo of them. I'm sure I have one somewhere. 
On the right is the color my wife chose for our doors. I love it! Wild! Sorry for the mess, but we're housing six additional family members for a year--it's a long story.
    I'll be back this evening and let you know how much on these lists I was able to accomplish.

    7:oo p.m. Well--some days we get a lot done, and others we don't. Today the plumbers had problems. They arrived on time--before we did, as a matter of fact. But the original plumbers had not installed their drain pipes low in the concrete, so when the plumber went to drop the commode flange and the new drain line to the center of the shower, he had to jackhammer a deeper hole and replace more pipe than we'd figured. They weren't done until 1:30, and all Kirk and Steve had time to do was fill in and smooth the concrete after them. Oh, well. Steve and Kirk promised me we'd be back on schedule tomorrow. I sure hope so.
    My personal list didn't go much better. T.G. and Wes almost finished at my house--they have one more coat of paint to put on the red doors. I didn't contact my customer about her door. I didn't gather any materials for the Expo. I only wrote one page on my book. But--Mechelle, my indispensable office manager, helped me finish working on the dining table and we took it to the flea-market booth. I also looked at two new jobs, both of which I need to price out tomorrow, so tomorrow will run at an even fiercer pace. I need a few 34-hour days to catch up.
   Until tomorrow!

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Bathroom Remodel--Day by Day--Day One

A Bathroom Remodel--Day by Day
Day One

    It's 4:00 am, Monday morning, February ninth. "Start" day is here. I walk outside and check the thermometer--it's a balmy 60 degrees, with clouds, but the air feels dry. I hope it doesn't rain. The next thing I do is check the list of items I've written up that the guys need to take with them to the job.
    Believe me--without a written list, someone would have to come back to the office and gather up what was left behind. 
    Here's the list: carpet and hard-floor protective runners, dust masks, wet/dry vacuum cleaners, both hammer drills, flat shovels, tile scrapers, wheelbarrow, wrecking bars, trashcans, 5-gallon buckets, 3" wall insulation, dusters and floor mops, and last but not least, a yard sign and my camera. (They're both already loaded. I put them in my SUV yesterday.).
Wesley loading his truck at our office (my house). That's a rain barrel on the right, for watering my front-porch plants during the summer. Notice how wet the driveway looks?

Steve looking cool.

Steve and Kirk loaded up.

    We put up yard signs on jobs, with our name, logo, and phone number for various reasons. Advertising being the main one. But we also use the yard signs to help subcontractors find the job and to let the homeowners know that we are not hiding from anyone--that we are proud of our work. Plus, Montgomery and Prattville require "signage," meaning all trucks on job sites must have the company name and phone number written on them. I believe this is done for two reasons--number one, so the city inspector can drive around and be certain we have our city license, and number two, to keep what I call "the bad elements" from driving up to someone's house and emptying it of its contents. If local cops see a pickup parked in front of a house, they have the right, because of the law, to stop and ask the driver what he's doing there. If he claims to be working at the house, he's supposed to have his name and phone number on his truck. 
    Working on today's job will be the supervisor, Kirk, along with Wesley, Steve, and T.G. Wesley and T.G. will only stay until the demolition is over. Then they will carry the trash to the dump and go to another job, leaving Kirk and Steve to finish out the day. 

 Here are some "before" photos of  the bathroom. This is how the room looked at 8:30 this morning.

    Our goal today is: install protective runners on carpet and hard floors; use a vacuum to suck the water out of the commode and relocate the commode to the home owner's back yard; take out the tub; remove all wall and floor tile, remove damaged sheetrock; remove vanity top and medicine cabinet; take all trash to the city dump before it rains; pick up tile and some other materials at Lowe's and bring them back to the job-site; jackhammer a trench in the concrete so the plumber can move the drain from a tub-based bath to a shower-based bath, meaning from one end of the wall to the center of the new shower; search for any leaks that could have gone undetected; open up the ceiling and the wall for the electrician (By doing this ourselves, we can make sure the ceiling and the wall are ready to be closed up properly and quickly.); check new medicine cabinet and make inset for it; install backing for the teak seat and three grab bars (they must have solid wood that we can screw to); lay out where the new curb for the shower will be (We are enlarging the shower by coming as close to the commode as we can--the minimum we can go is 15-inches from the wall to the center of the commode); install backing for the new towel bar, since it's also a grab bar; re-hang any damaged sheetrock that won't be in the plumber's way with new mold and water-resistant rock (When we remove the wall tile, the sheetrock is usually easier to replace than to repair); and last, but not least--make a list and gather materials for tomorrow.

Wesley applying clear carpet protection.
My personal goals for the day are: start the job and check on it several times; order the glass partition; take lots of photos; get customer approval on the new medicine cabinet (I picked it out while customer was out of town); have customer decide on paint colors; gather items we'll need for the Greater Montgomery Remodeling Expo that starts on Friday, Feb. 20th.
Our yard sign.

Wesley and T.G. dismantling tub. 

Above are pictures of the job when we started.

Below are some shots after the demo, as Steve and Kirk jackhammer the trench for our new drain.

The wet spot on the floor is because the shutoff to the commode won't close properly. We'll have to replace the shutoff valve.

And there you have it--Day One on a new bathroom job. We didn't accomplish everything we set out to do. The main thing we didn't accomplish was to take the trash to the dump. We had to pile it in the customer's back yard because of the rain. When the road into the dump becomes wet, Wesley can't back out, and he didn't want to be stuck in the Prattville Dump all day. If it doesn't rain tonight, Wesley will load up and take the trash tomorrow .
    How many items on my own "To-Do list were accomplished? Most, but not all. I always give myself more to do than I can, so not accomplishing everything on my list isn't a big deal. I did order the glass side panel today, and I went to Noland Company and hunted up Faith--who was with another customer, as usual--and picked up the two shower valves for the plumber (Mike Smith of B & S Plumbing). I also called Mike to verify that he'd be on the job in the morning. He said he would, and Mike has hardly ever let us down. He does outstanding work at reasonable prices, and he always shows up when he's supposed to show up. I can't ask for more than that.
    I also checked on the job several times, took tons of photos, and got the customer's approval on the medicine cabinet. I didn't gather anything for the upcoming Expo, and I didn't get the customer to choose the paint colors.
    All in all, I think we had a pretty good day. In fact, I believe the job is going great! But, as always, there's lots more to do. I'll be back tomorrow for Day Two! Are we having fun, or what?!