Showing posts with label remodel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label remodel. Show all posts

How To Plan A Remodel

We live in a house built in the mid 50's and it's time to remodel. The wood paneling from the 70's, and the shaggy carpet in brown tones are aging the place. But our thoughts have always been, if its not broke don't fix it. Everything is perfectly functional but it looks aged. Is that a good enough reason to sink thousands of dollars into a remodel? Not really. But since we've paid off the mortgage we have the means to pay for everything as we go. We've cut back on our travel too, as we have everything we need to be happy right in our own back yard. So we've decided to at least modernize the remainder of our house that hasn't been remodeled. If you remember, in 2010 we totally gutted our two bathrooms and kitchen, replumbed the whole house and remodeled the bathrooms and kitchen. It took five months and twenty five thousand dollars, but it has also made life more enjoyable having new rooms with an absence of any problems.
Our next project is to remodel a couple bedrooms, our dining room and living room and office area. The bedrooms will be easy with just paint and carpet and new ceiling fans. Its the living room and office that will require more planning. One of the things I've always hated about my house is that the previous owners put up paneling over the stucco plaster walls of our block home. It makes the living room look like a trailer house. The office also has a hung ceiling with big cardboard panels and rectangle florescent lights - Oh and thats in addition to the faux wood paneling. The paneling will be removed and the original walls restored, and the ceiling removed as well giving us a taller ceiling to drywall and change the lighting. We're also replacing the exterior door and adding a window to the room. This is the last room of our remodel plans but it will be the most satisfying and transforming.
The reason we're finally doing these projects now is we've decided we just don't want to wait for our dog to die before getting new carpet. We had  been waiting for years to be pet free before remodeling - but have decided its not that big a deal. The dog lives outside in the yard except when we're inside she comes in to join us. She is older and mellow and simply lays on her "place" most of the time, unless she is begging for a nibble when we're in the kitchen. The new carpet will not get ruined by having her around a few more years. 
So now that we've decided that we're going to move forward with the remodel there are some steps to take to make sure everything falls into place smoothly. Here are some steps we've accomplished so far:
1. Finance the project - either save the cash in advance or make sure your budget can handle the ongoing expense of paying the handyman, the paint store and the online vendors for your supplies. If you need to put anything on credit cards to pay later you probably can't afford the project right now. 
2. How will you pay? - Figure out if you can get any coupons from the big box stores where you'll be spending thousands of dollars. I just bought 10% off coupons from ebay for our carpet and it will save hundreds. Also redeem those extra reward or airline points for the big box stores for gift cards to buy your supplies. If they mail you the gift card it will take a couple weeks so do this early in your plans.
3. Design - figure out what you want and how you will use the features of your new remodeled room. We've discussed what to do in our guest room and decided since we rarely have visitors sleep over anymore it really is not going to be a guest room. Since our couponing has become extreme, we need the space for our stockpile and I would like a place to read quietly away from the TV, so it will be a stockpile, office area after the remodel. We also are increasing the number of electrical outlets to handle more power strips and to provide power where it currently is lacking. We no longer have a landline so all phone lines and jacks will be removed too.
4. Plan - Think through your steps and document them. I wrote of list of what has to happen first, second, third etc. You need to consider moving things, temporary storage of furniture while the rooms are being remodeled, what purchases need to be done first, what are the lead times, what colors will you use and do you have flooring, walls, windows and ceiling items selected and or purchased? Flooring typically requires a measure session be done by the installer before you can purchase, plus they won't schedule an install until the flooring is delivered. This can take weeks. Plus you don't want to paint after new flooring when you can do it easily before and not have to worry about making a mess.
5. Action - working on a remodel project often involves tedious tasks like tearing out the old, cleaning, patching and repairing and trips to the trash can. It may involve moving furniture and junk around to another room and ruin your groove. It may also involve lots of errands to pick up something you realize you need. It can be stressful and annoying. Its important to plan a timeline and goal for completion and allow yourselves time to relax each day too.
So, if you're planning on a remodel or household project (or not) you can follow along with us as we do ours. So far we've removed the old tile windowsills in the bedrooms and replaced with marble slabs. Now the walls are dry so we can paint. We pulled up the old carpet in the guest room. We've almost done moving everything out of the master bedroom and this weekend we plan to paint the ceilings and walls in the two rooms.

Plumbing Repair Drama

When we decided to to remodel our hall bathroom last year, part of the idea was to replace the 50 year old galvanized pipes since we had experienced a few leaks under the vanity. The problem was we had no access to the pipes because they were behind the tile walls, which were behind the vanity. So we we started the project with roto hammers, sledge hammers and crowbars. Along with the tools of destruction we needed strong boots, leather gloves, hearing protection, eye protection and hats to keep all the tile chips and dust from injuring anyone. So we started smashing walls, and tugging on rebar until we revealed rusty old pipes and rotten wood beams. They were just hanging there, totally rotted away after years of water leaking. And the smell was worse than an old haunted house!
As we started shoveling the tile, wire and concrete debris into buckets to remove it from the room, I accidentally sheared off the shower pipe with the tip of the shovel. Of course the water wasn't turned off and it was like the Yellowstone Park Geyser - shooting water straight up and all over, making a muddy mess. I quickly ran outside and turned off the water source to the house. Now we had to call the plumber. On a Saturday for an emergency plumbing repair. Good luck getting a deal on that. It ended up costing us $500 just to cap off that one line.
When we asked the plumber to fix a couple other bad spots that's when he suggested we just re plumb our whole house, since all the pipes were rusty and old. It ended up doubling the cost of our bathroom remodel but in hindsight it was the best thing we did. Now we have peace of mind knowing those pipes behind the new walls will last as long as I'm in this house.
I am participating in a blogger campaign for Bucks2Blog about plumbing repair and was compensated. However, the views and opinions are my own.

Be Smart and Avoid Contractor Scams

Spring cleaning means a lot of things to a lot of different people.

Inside chores such as cleaning out the basement, attic, or garage are generally easier for the homeowner and family members to do themselves. This is also the case with most yard clean up and a number of other odd jobs around the premises.

However, when it comes to fixing part of the roof, windows, or other damages incurred during the wintry months most of us feel the need to put our trust in a hired professional.

It's here that things can get tricky because of all the great contractors out there a few good scam artists know how to work the field ripping off a lot of innocent customers with schemes and offers too good to be true. Yes, being frugal is admirable but taking unnecessary financial risks isn't.

That's why when it comes to spending your hard earned cash don't underestimate the power of the customer over a convincing sales pitch and your right to say no.

In order to fully appreciate how easy it is to get caught up in great deals consider the following red flags when handling contractors:

1.      Did you find them or did they find you? If a contractor knocked on your door because he was in the neighborhood on another job or had some left over supplies from another job and 'noticed' you needed a similar repair be careful.

2.      Request references and to see their license and insurance documents. If they refuse or don't have an official office it's a big question mark.

3.      Don't be rushed into making a decision. If they won't let you take your time and say the price is only good for a day or two it's probably a scam. Check them out, get a second opinion, and don't worry about losing the deal of the century.

4.      Be suspicious if they want to come inside and inspect your home for pressing repairs because they will always find something. If you do let them in never leave them alone in a particular room and never agree to anything on the spot.
5.      Be suspicious if they don't want to sign a contract.

6.      Be suspicious if they want the entire payment up front. 

7.      Be suspicious if they want cash only. Always pay with a check to document the deal.

8.      Be suspicious if extra expenses come up in the middle of a job outside of the quote and what's written in the contract. If they made a mistake or misquoted its up to them to take the hit, not the customer. Sometimes hidden expenses arise but hopefully by then you've done your homework and have a certain level of trust.

9.      Be suspicious if they won't let you take pictures of the job. They don't have to be in the shot themselves but photos are a good way to document each stage in case of a problem down the road.

10.  Be suspicious if you have elderly parents or friends living alone and a contractor approaches them about doing work. Seniors are easy targets who can't always verify things in hard to reach places and will rely on others. Make sure they don't agree to anything without running it by you first.

Jakob Barry writes for a growing community of homeowners and contractors getting the most from their resources by sharing and monitoring home improvement projects together. He covers various home improvement topics including green gardening tips and general contracting.

An Icy Decision

Earlier this year we remodeled our kitchen by gutting it and getting new cabinets, counter tops and appliances. Except for the refrigerator. Being the frugal type, we decided to wait until the 2003 Kenmore side by side broke down before replacing it. Well, decision time is upon us, as the ice maker quit working this past weekend. We were being frugal in our decision to avoid replacing the water filter cartridge just because it was 6 months, so we usually wait until the water dispenser quits working or we notice less than fresh tasting water to replace the filter. Once it happened that the ice maker stopped working, and when we replaced the water filter it started working again. It was our hope that this was the case this time.
So we purchased a new filter from Amazon with some Swagbucks gift cards, and it arrived the next day. When we replaced it nothing happened. We waited 24 hours like it says in the owners manual, and still nothing happened. It looks like the ice maker problem is not due to the water filter - we've got bigger problems than that. As I was looking through the refrigerator documents, I found a receipt from 2004 where we had Sears come out and fix the ice maker under warranty. The labor and parts for the sensor module service visit were $235.
So now we have a few choices to get our ice now.
  • We can do nothing and just make ice using old fashioned ice trays. (NOT! I might do this for a temporary while but geez there is technology out there now!)
  • Attempt to research the problem using Google, buy the parts online and fix it ourselves. This is a fairly likely scenario from what little checking I've done and the cost of the parts should be about $60.
  • Call Sears to fix the problem with a service call. Not likely - means time off work and paying probably at least $300 toward an old fridge.
  • Get a new stainless steel fridge to match all the other new appliances. This may be a premature choice since refrigerators should last about 10 years. Ours is only 7 years old, there should be plenty of life left in it. However, the old one could become our stockpile and soda fridge, allowing us to get rid of the two other dorm size fridge and freezer we have.
  • Get a used stainless steel fridge from craigslist. I've seen used but practically new ss fridges for as little as $500 on craigslist. However, DH is still injured from the motorcycle collision, and can not possibly assist in moving an appliance. This choice would have to wait.
 Oh, the joys of living. If any of you have any ideas, I'd love to know how you'd handle this dilemma.

Tangled Up In Blue

I picked that title because Dear likes that song by Bob Dylan, who happens to be touring to Tampa area soon. Plus I've got blue on my mind and its tangling up. There are so many detail and decisions cluttering my thoughts. You know we're in the midst of a mini remodel - just the bedroom. At first we were just going to get a new bed after staying in a nice hotel in Bristol and sleeping like a queen on a fluffy, plush pillow top mattress - I was sold. So we came home and listed the waterbed on CL and it sold pretty quickly. Maybe we should have asked more than $150 for it, but I feel like we got our moneys worth out of it. The waterbed mattress was from 1996 and it cost about $500 back then, so $150 is good in my book.
Anyway, the bed is gone and the room is empty so why not fix it up first before getting another bed? So the last couple nights we've been running errands getting supplies and shopping. We decided we'll probably get our mattress at Sears because its on sale and we get free delivery. After dealing with that waterbed, we're not real excited about moving in a mattress and boxspring. I guess its just a sign we're getting old, when we'd rather pay someone to do a crappy job, than save the money and do it ourselves.
But we're still doing some crappy jobs ourselves. Like doing demolition of the old tile windowsills so our handyman can come install new marble ones. Like ripping out the old carpet in the bedroom and tack strips to prepare for our new flooring. I think I mentioned we were planning on blue carpet. But as we thought about it a little, we've changed our minds and decided to go with blue tile. The tile will be cooler, easier to see dirt and keep clean, better for my allergies and cheaper. About half the cost. Plus it speeds up the process by not waiting to schedule a carpet measure and wait 10 days for delivery and install. So we found some nice azul color tile at Floor & Decor and got a couple hundred tiles to do the bedroom.
This weekend we'll get everything ready, demo the sills, rip up the rug, paint the walls a light blue (rain drop is the color) and our handyman can wrap it all up next week.

Time To Remodel Again

Once again as the summer winds down, its time in our house to consider another remodel project. If you remember, last fall we gutted our two bathrooms and kitchen, replumbed the water pipes and built entirely new bathrooms and new kitchen. Our next project is the bedroom and the dressing room. We're kind of non traditional folks and decided to use our rooms in the house as we see fit which isn't always what other people do.
We made our master bedroom into a dressing room since it had a larger closet and bathroom connected. When we first moved into the house we had different work schedules with one of us getting up earlier to get showered and changed for work. It was more convenient and considerate to do this in a different room than the one the sleeping person was in. Also, I happen to have asthma and try to keep the bedroom allergen free by minimizing surfaces to collect dust, clothing or materials that shed skin cells and attract dust mites. So our bedroom is pretty bare, all it has is a bed and a dresser for the TV.
Anyway, we sold our vintage waterbed (thru craigslist) the other night which was drama in itself, you can read about it here. So now the bedroom is empty. Since its empty we decided to replace the carpet and update the window sills with marble, rather than the mid century tile. We may also replace the ceiling fan and we'll definitely paint it a color (yeah another white room bites the dust!), and get new blinds or window coverings.
The first step is to schedule a measure for the carpet. Home Depot has a deal now for $37 install. plus I signed up for the HD movers club and they emailed me a 10% off coupon the same day. I also redeemed a bunch of AMEX points for HD gift cards that should arrive in a few days. So after the measure it will be another 7-10 days to get the carpet installed. By then the windowsills and painting would done.
Next its bed shopping for us and paint selection.

Frugal Flopping

I'm feeling troubled this week because I feel like I've spent too much money. I'm excited to report that the last payment has been made to completely pay off our Lowe's Project Card where we carried our interest free, counter top and cabinet purchase for the last six months. All year we've cut back on travel, clothes shopping, Amazon purchases and other supplies because we had a monster payment of $1500 each month to pay for the kitchen remodel we did in February and March.
So after paying off the kitchen this week, I wanted to get our automated savings level up again to "before remodel" levels. But somewhere between logging into the bank, I stopped at and bought some capris, visited and got 4 shirts and a pair of pants, also purchased a toner cartridge from Amazon, and a new camera battery, along with shopping at my local bicycle shop University Bicycle Center to use my $25 off $60 coupon and get a new bike tire, bike shorts and some repair supplies like tubes and patch kits.
I was totally sucked in by the email deals on the first two (free shipping and 1/2 price clothes), but I did need the toner for my printer, and its not very often the bike shop has deals. So I justified it. But I still feel like I fell off the frugal wagon. I've spent more in one week than I have all year on basically non-essential stuff. I was happier denying myself stuff and feeling proud of my restraint, and frugalness to get by with what I had.
So that's it. No more spending for a while. At least til July anyway.

Finally Our Kitchen is Done

Finally our kitchen remodel is finished and we are able to enjoy the simple pleasures of eating off a real plate and using a dishwasher to clean the dishes. Our remodeling projects started exactly five months ago when we started removing tile from the walls of the bathrooms using a roto hammer. We did all the demolition of two bathrooms and our kitchen by ourselves, hiring a guy from craigslist to haul away over two tons (4000 lbs) of rubble, lumber, sheetrock and old cabinets and counters.
Our goal was to redo the bathrooms for $5000 each, and the kitchen for $10000, for a total of $20,000 for the remodel. We actually were over budget due to having to replumb our 50 year old home's plumbing we busted in the demo. It needed to be done anyway, but we blinded didn't think of it. It is a relief to know we have brand new plumbing behind our walls though. The bathrooms ended costing about $11000 including the replumb job.
While we tried to be frugal by using 10% off Home Depot or Lowes coupons for all our purchases, we still got top quality stuff which costs more. At first we thought we would go inexpensive with white appliances, but then we realized that stainless is really what people want, and hopefully it won't be out of style in 20 years when we sell our house. We don't plan to do this again, so we wanted to do it right with good workmanship, quality cabinets, counters and tiling.
We were fortunate to have a referral for a great handyman who was able to do everything except the replumb for us. We changed plans last minute several times and he was able to work with the changes. I felt bad at first asking him to incorporate all those 2" accent tiles into the backsplash, but not enough to not do it. It took two days to tile and grout it, and its not even that large of an area. We decided since our refrigerator is only 6 years old, we'll keep it until it dies and then replace with a ss model. We designed extra space into that area to accomodate the larger models when we replace it.

Anyway, we ended up spending about $12,800 on the kitchen. Here is an approximate breakdown
$4100 Cherry cabinets (incl free sink base, soft close) Lowes
$2900 Granite counter top (incl free ss sink) Lowes
$3400 Labor over 100 hours for the handyman
$1400 SS Dishwasher, Microwave, Range, Kenmore Sears
$1000 Faucet, blinds, switches, lights, switchplate covers, dimmers, cabinet hardware, tiles, misc
Here are the ways we made it more affordable without compromising quality:
1. Saved the money ahead of time so we could take advantage of deals when it was the right time of the year. We saved a lot on the appliances at Sears with stacking deals like price matching, coupons and holiday sales.
2. We picked up our own appliances from Sears when we were ready for them to be installed. We borrowed our neighbors truck and loaded up the 3 boxes and unloaded them on our own, saving delivery and installation fees.
3. We purchased all supplies a 10% off coupon. If our handyman had to run and get something we just paid retail, no markup.
4. We gave our handyman a home depot gift card to use to pay for items he needed so he didn't have to charge them on his own card.
5. We did all demolition and cleanup ourselves by borrowing tools from our neighbor or from the handyman. We hired the handyman on a Saturday to help remove the old cast iron bathtub since it was so large. We also needed to move the shower and toilet drains in the bathroom to accomodate a new shower design which involved jack hammering the terrazzo floor through to the dirt and the buried drain. We rented the jack hammer for just 4 hours and returned it.
6. We installed simple things ourselves to save hours from the handyman - like installing the ceiling lamp, sanding, painting, lightswitch covers, cabinet knobs, installing undermount lights, put up blinds. It actually took us longer than we thought, but when we were done we were glad we didn't have to pay someone to do it.
7. We took advantage of Lowes and Sears delayed payment plans for interest free payments for 6 months (Lowes) or a year (Sears). We have the cash saved but are trying to pay back the credit with income rather than taking it from savings. This is working well and we have over half of our savings left from the budget that we might not have use for the kitchen costs.
8. When we did purchase something it was on the Mastercard or American Express card that earns points, and you guessed it we have redeemed the points for Home Depot gift cards.
9. We returned all unused items soon after to get credit back. We have tons of receipts and we couldn't always find the right one, or the item was purchased with a gift card. The cool thing is they just scan your credit cards you might have used and it shows if you ever purchased that item and they can give you credit back if you did. If you didn't show a purchase history, they give you store credit on a gift card. Either way works for us.

Kitchen Smitchen


I don't really know what smitchen is, but it rhymes with kitchen. Dear stayed home from work on Tuesday to accept the delivery of our new American Woodmark (have I ever said how much I like that companies service and quality??) kitchen cabinets. We got 26 different items in 11 boxes and they are scattered all over our house. Poor dog has her place moved and its like walking in a forest of boxes for her. The color is a little darker than the bathroom cabinets, not quite the cinnamon hue, more muddy looking. But that actually will allow us to get a new color paint for the walls that is a neutral color instead of the current yellow shade. It doesn't clash with tans, browns, greens like the cinnamon does. If you want to look at all the remodel pictures so far.
We're due to get our appliances picked up from Sears anytime after Friday, so we'll probably get them Saturday. I want to cut away a little more of the old counter top so we can actually hook up the range and use the cooktop and oven until the handyman can work us it. He is slammed now with a ton of jobs, so we're just having to wait in line for our turn. We'll have to figure out how to wire in a 3 or 4 prong range plug, and then buy a range cord and connect it. The other one was hard wired in, but it doesn't appear very safe. We have 50 year old original copper wires in the kitchen and some of the outlets aren't even in conduit boxes. We're lucky we never burned down.
So this weekend we'll get the appliances, hook up the microwave and range, hopefully pick out a nice paint color, and maybe start painting. It'll be a lot easier to do the ceiling and high walls with out new cabinets and appliances in the way. Too bad we weren't on the ball and didn't get the Glidden Paint rebate last weekend.

More Curb Alerts

Well since today is a holiday for government employees we have another day for demolition before the new American Woodmark Cabinets arrive tomorrow. Did I ever mention how impressed I am with Lowe's and American Woodmark? No? Well I am.

So we're planning on removing everything except the sink. Earlier this week we put out the washer and dryer for curb alert and it was gone within minutes on craigslist. Then on Saturday, we put out the dishwasher and it was gone within a day. And then today we got rid of the stovetop and oven to one of the guys from earlier who emailed. All our appliances are gone now and it was so easy.

Now we have to continue to burn the old cabinets in fires, and chop them up for the trash man. Here's what's left of the old kitchen, just the sink. We cut the wall out between the dining room and the kitchen and it opens up the area and makes it seem really big.

Great Paint Rebate

Well, for all you home remodelers, this a HOT deal, I know we're going to be getting some paint for the kitchen remodel.
You can get $5 off one Gallon of paint, or $20 off a 5 gallon pail. You must buy the paint between 1/14/10-1/18/10 (this weekend) to be eligible for the rebate. Most of these brands are sold at Home Depot.
Types of paint that qualify for the mail in rebate:
–BEHR® Interior and Exterior Paints and Primers, Decorative Finishes, Waterproofers, Stains and Cleaners
–GLIDDEN® Interior and Exterior Paints
–RALPH LAUREN® Paints and Specialty Finishes
Offer not valid on America's Finest, SpeedWall, SpeedCote, UltraHide, Glidden Porch and Floor, Standard Flat Ceiling Paint and PVA Primers, Professional Finishes, Gildden Stucco & Masonry Paint.


Kraftmaid has this free kitchen idea book available now, click the banner to order yours, Hurry they go quick!

We just finished remodeling our bathrooms with Kraftmaid cabinets and they look beautiful. Unfortunately, the quality is really crappy. The doors are hung crooked on hinges applied sloppily. Of our four cabinets, three have problems. When we got the replacement cabinet door, it was missing the anchors to attach to cabinet and they sent the wrong part 2 times. After two months, we are still in limbo with them.

So go ahead get the book, dream about a beautiful cabinet, and then wakeup in the middle of a nightmare.

Can I Have the Crowbar Please?

Last night we got confirmation of a ship date on our kitchen cabinets, and its pretty quick - like in eleven days. That means the old cabinets needed some attention. We started out by boxing up the food, and tossing out expired stuff. Dear found a can of tuna from 2001 that we just didn't have the heart to put out for the neighbor cats. We didn't want to lure them near the puddle of antifreeze that oozed out of the neighbors truck onto our driveway after we used the truck to bring home the washer and dryer. Anyway, I emptied out the cabinets with dishes and have five large dog food bags full of coffee cups, glassware, dishes, bowls and cups that we're not even going to bother giving away - into the trash they go. This is stuff we moved in, stored in the cabinets and have not touched in fifteen years, I don't think we'll miss it.
So we've cleaned out the cabinets, moved the small appliances out onto the kitchen table and we're ready to remove the upper wall cabinets to see what we've got in store. This couldn't possibly be as bad as using a hammer drill on the tile and concrete walls that were in the bathroom, so we didn't even bother with gloves and ear protection. Mistake number one. Um, dear can I have the crowbar please? I don't see any screws or nail heads anywhere, how the hell is this thing attached to the wall?
The Man Servant gets a drill to remove all the doors to make this a little easier. I grab a flathead screwdriver to start prying off the laminate to reveal wood and hopefully some screws or nails. After peeling off a couple layers of contact paper (pretty yellow mushrooms under there) we found a couple screws. So, the man gets the drill and removes all the up down supports. Good deal, we're getting somewhere. But, oh the thing looks like it was a pre-assembled 10 foot box that was nailed to the walls. All the nail and screw heads are buried against the wall. Great, this means we need to get out the circular saw to cut it apart. So tonight we'll be all garbed up with safety gear, ear muffs, goggles, gloves. And the crowbar.

Probably the Largest Spending Day of 2010

As you know we are embarking on a kitchen remodel, now that the bathrooms are done. Last week we had the handiman tile the hallway connecting the hall bath to the kitchen. But the big expenses happened yesterday. On New Years Day, we went to Sears and purchased our first set of appliances the stainless steel range and the microwave hood. Then on the evening of New Years, we discovered our dryer wasn't working. Since the thing is at least twenty years old, we decided to get a new set. So, in addition to the stainless steel dishwasher we purchased on Saturday, we also bought a washer and dryer. Nothing fancy, no computers - just regular old white simple Kenmore stuff.
After getting 5 appliances for over $2700, we drove over to Lowes to get our cabinets. The Shanendoah American Woodmark cabinets (Cherry all wood construction) had two overlapping promotions so with our 10 cabinets we got the sink base free, plus free glazing and cushion close drawers and doors. I'm so excited to actually have more than one drawer in the kitchen. All you people out there who have more than one drawer, just imagine the pain the ass it would be to just have one. Go ahead laugh. Now at least we're going to have 6 drawers, plus the stainless steel tilt out tray on the sink base. Cool ha. Anyway, the damage on all this was $4100. Adding the appliances and the cabinets makes it $6800 so far, which leaves us a little over three grand for labor and lights, countertop and misc stuff. I'm pretty sure we won't be able to do this in our hoped for $10000 budget, since the countertop (with free undermount stainless sink promo) is going to cost $2100.
So yesterday was a big day where we spent an incredible amount of money. The weird thing is not one picture of George ever changed hands, its all that virtual money called credit. All our purchases are on delayed 0% interest for 6 months on the cabinets, and 12 months for the appliances. But still when we get the countertop, it will be over $1000 a month due to pay these bills.
So the clock is ticking, we need to prep the kitchen - empty out cupboards and tear up the old wood floor (I will never get a wood floor again if its within ten feet of a water source), and take down the cabinets.  We've got three weeks to do this. Get movin!

Happy New Kitchen Year

Today is the beginning of our kitchen project. Our hopefully frugal kitchen project. So we waited til Sears was having a Kenmore sale and we need to get a stove, microwave hood, and a dishwasher. And, oh maybe a dryer too because ours just died tonight. After drying the load of clothes 3 times and the dryer never got warm, it seems the thing is failing us. So maybe a dryer too. But back to Sears, we bought a range and a micro hood. Stainless because white just looked cheap. Not the most frugal choice because there is no functional difference between white and stainless - its all looks. Anyway, we used our sears card to get 5% off, and the cash for clunker deal that sears is offering ($100 off), and ended up spending $1144. Still may need a dryer.

Back on Track

Well its been a while since I've posted and I apologize to all those new readers who click and see that old post. I'm going to try to make it more of a priority to keep this place updated with lots of interesting frugal thoughts. The bathroom remodel took a lot of effort and we're still finishing touches like installing knobs on cabinets and towel racks, and hanging pictures. Still haven't figured out what to do with the toothaste and toothbrush, but that will come.
We did well on the budget with the bathrooms, remodeling both completely with new fixtures, walls, ceiling, tile floors, tile tub and shower walls for only $8300. We have a great handyman who did top quality work. Its funny now that we've experienced having tile installed in our home for the first time, we are both very alert to seeing grout lines and tile everywhere. Its amazing the spectrum of quality work you can see, and most of it is not quality.
Anyway, the kitchen remodel is next. I'll post more about that as we get to it.

Crappy Crapper

We're moving along in the bathroom and the tile and toilet is the next thing going in. The crappy thing about the toilet, besides being that it's what you crap in - is the poor workmanship we've experienced. We've decided on an American Standard brand toilet since we thought it was good quality and easily available. Plus its the same brand as the toilets at my work, and the mall and everywhere else. You probably haven't' noticed brands of that kind of stuff, but when you're remodeling you tend to notice things like that.
So its time to stage the supplies for the next phase of the project and we pulled the stuff out of boxes to inspect. Well the first bowl had a blemish right on the front lip that you would see ALL the time, the enamal wasn't coated there, just a grey rough spot. So back in the box it goes to get returned. We checked the bowl for the other bathroom and that ones fine, so we can keep it. The tanks were both okay.
When we returned the toilet to Home Crappo, we got another one. There were 3 to choose from and the other two boxes appeared to be returns. We paid the $84 for the bowl and opened it up in the parking lot to inspect. You guessed it, another manufacturer defect - this time a crack patched in the bottom of the bowl. Right where you would see it all the time, except if it were covered up with poo. It went right back to the store, so now we have no bowl for the 2nd bathroom. More shopping required. Again.
What pisses me off is that companies are cutting back staff and crap is getting out of the plant, into the truck, and onto the store shelves. Then we consumers have to deal with defective merchandise. We've never really had to deal with the extent of defects that we've seen in bathroom cabinets, toilets, fixtures, tile and other supplies. The same thing happened to a friend who recently remodeled, three different toilets before they got one that wasn't defective.

Free Photobooks, Free Tshirt and Free Drama

I have acquired many Shutterfly 8x8 photobook codes for a free book ($29.95 value) that I most likely won't use, so I'm offering them up for my readers. If you want a code, let me know. It will cost $7.99 for shipping, so its not really free. The codes expire NOV 15th, so if you get some great Halloween pictures it might be something you want to make a book out of. You can email me HERE if you want a code.
There is also a new offer out there to to get a free Tshirt from Marlboro by signing up and logging in your account. Its something to do with make your own brand and you can design your own Tshirt logo using your initials. I made on for Scott using his favorite race car numbers rather than his initials, and it may be kind of dorky, but we always need shirts to do lawn work in. Besides next year I can wear it cause it'll be my age. That would be really cool to walk around in a dumb shirt with my age blazoned on the front. Oh well, a free shirt is a free shirt. Be fore warned to sign up you do need to provide your birth date and driver license number so they can verify you're old enough.
Now for the free drama. Actually, I hope the worst drama is behind us with the remodel. The plumbers picked up their check without ripping up the pipes so maybe they got over it. Scott is still really pissed and talks about doing mean things to them. I've just been posting negative reviews of their company and services on the internet. There are several sites that more informed consumers use in their project research so I'm hoping my experience will help others avoid dealing with the plumbers.

So the handyman has been working on the walls trying to put up the electric, fix the pipes that wouldn't fit behind the backer board cause the plumbers didn't really care what the hell they were doing on day 2 when they were goofing off. He's discovered something, that we figured was kind of weird when we were tearing down the walls - they're not square, or straight or anything having to with geometry, except maybe sin and cosine curves. Or maybe an arc cosine curve too. When we were hammering the tile and concrete we noticed that in some areas the walls were 1" thick concrete, other areas were 1/2" thick and some were much thicker, maybe 2" or more. Well, that made it easier for the original installation of the tile walls so that the tile would appear to be flat on the walls. It was flat on the concrete but not the walls. The poor handyman now is going crazy trying to get the walls level in preparation to lay tile. They are really groovy walls, with lots of variance. I guess these old houses didn't need to worry about flat, straight, square walls since none of the walls have drywall, they're all stucco.
We're thinking more these days about when to tear into bathroom number 2. Its a bit of a dilemma since both share a common groovy wall, and on one side will be the brand new tile and grout of the tub area, and on the other is the old tile wall and shower wall - both of which need to come down under the force of the rotary hammer and sledge hammer. Scott has lots of power, and if he thinks about the a$$hole plumbers when he's smashing walls, he'll probably break right through the old wall and the new wall Seriously though, we need to remove the old tile before putting grout on the new tile on the other side of the wall, otherwise we'll ruin the new wall. That means..... we need to probably take showers in a plastic bag type enclosure in a demolished room, at least for a couple days. Doesn't that sound fun
I know we've deprived you all of seeing pictures of this project but its really not that pleasing to look at. It looks like crap. And it upsets me to see things while they're "in process" between destruction and completion. I remember years ago when my 1988 Hyundai  had a bike rack on top with bikes and we were at a dealership in Indiana, when they drove my car through the garage and ripped the bike rack and bikes off the top of the car. When we got back home and it was being repaired at the dealership, I stopped by since it was taking so long and they showed me the car as they were working on it and I almost fainted. I started crying and moaning and became inconsolable at the state of my car. They had the top half of the car cut apart and peeled back like it had been through the jaws of life. The velour covered seats had welding burn holes all over them and their was metal shavings all over the car. The car was less than a year old and it was trash. But, I got it back and everything was like new, but I'll never get that picture out of my mind how destroyed it was.
So I haven't really taken any pictures of our progress. The room doesn't have electric hooked up so there is no light. I try to just walk down the hall fast and not look in that room. It kind of upsets me to see it destroyed. This weekend we'll put the door back in place and close it so I don't have to see it. Its been only 3 weeks and I'm over it, I just want it done, but that's not happening for a long time. Meanwhile, I just try to pretend in my mind, its all good .

Relationships Lost by Being Frugal

Presently we are remodeling our bathrooms and plan to also do the kitchen. A couple weeks ago while removing the bathtub I broke a water line which required emergency repair from the plumbers. We called them and they came out pretty quick (within 3 hours) on a Saturday, and fixed the water break. We also discussed re-piping the house since all the 50 year old water lines were patched and possible breaks in the future. So the last ten days have been taken up dealing with estimates, preparation, shopping and decisions about the re-pipe job. Its finally over and done, but it was a negative experience.
I can't help but wonder if we brought it on by being frugal. We felt it would be a pretty easy job for the plumbers since a newer main water line was already to the house. We offered to dig a trench and lay new cpvc around the perimeter to save them time and to save us money. I didn't really like the idea of busting through terrazzo floor slab and stucco walls and having a water line in our closets. We have enough problems keeping them mold free. So we dug up a trench and laid the pipe to the back of  the house. We also bought our own bathtub valves and shower valves so they match, and to save us from the 3x markup on parts that plumbers typically do. So basically, all they provided was labor for 11 hours and lots of pvc and elbow joints, a few shut off valves for sinks and toilets.
To make a long story short, they finished most of the job in 2 days and tied in the new pipes. So to save money, we told them we would take care of installing the bathroom valves so they could consider the job wrapped up, please give us a bill. We figured at $85/hr we were in for just over $1000 for labor and the parts at worst couldn't be more than $500, so we calculated about half of the estimate. Boy were we out in left field. The plumbers expected labor of 15 hours to include the time for giving us an estimate, shopping for parts, and driving to our house. They wanted close to $1000 for parts.
Well, we were not pleased to be f**ked like this. We told them our expectation and asked them to explain theirs. It got ugly with raised voices, arguing and bullying from the plumber and hostility. They turned it into a totally unprofessional situation, where we just gave in rather than argue with this man. We decided on a number in the middle of the final quote and higher than our expectation, but a liveable price. We felt we were being more than fair, but this man wanted to screw us.
The unpleasantness of  this situation is that we've used these plumbers for almost ten years, as do our neighbors who recommended them to us. The plumber does business with our neighbor who is in the AC business. They are our best neighbors who watch our house, lend us their truck, invite us for holidays, watch our dog when we're away, make us great food and in general are great people. It hurts to know they may be offended if they find out how this deal all turned out. I'm not going to get into the drama with them, but the plumber might say something about how we're cheap a$$holes or something.
It's a tough situation to be in when you know you are being unfairly charged for a product or service and its not by mistake. What do you do? Risk the relationship to settle the difference, or just pay it to keep peace. I know we have sometimes forgiven crappy cold chicken wings at our favorite bar and grill, because we go there often and don't want to be known as the complainers. We also have paid more for a service when we have no other choices, or it would cost more to start over.
So in our short 3 week time span, this is the second vendor we have pissed off who probably won't deal with us anymore than we would deal with them, just because of price. First the trash haulers who wanted double what they agreed to, and now the plumber who finished the job in half the time quoted (due to our prep and assistance on the job) but wanted the full price. Hope it doesn't happen again. At least our handyman is a good guy who's honest, forthright and reasonable.

A Little More Progress

Well you all know we've been remodeling our bathroom, gutted the walls to the studs - only to find we hardly have any studs on the main wall between bathrooms. We've had so many leaks over the years, that it's time for the re-plumbing of our water lines. Unfortunately this makes our $5000 project closer to a $10000 project. The costs are raising everyday that the handyman comes, or we go to the store to get pvc, or valves, or order cabinets.
We kind of had a ballpark budget of $5000 for each bathroom, hoping we could actually do both with just 5K. That obviously is not going to happen since the re-plumb will add close to 3K. We've ordered or purchased all the supplies except paint, and lighting for each bathroom, and tile for the shower - so hopefully that won't be more than a couple hundred. We still have a lot of labor to pay for so I'm keeping an eye on it.
We got the ceiling re-done yesterday, getting rid of the 50 year old exhaust fan and a heater coil. I can't imagine what they were thinking when they build the house and thought Gee, its cold after a shower or bath, lets install a heater?? When we bought the house 15 years ago, we were kind of scared of using the heater, afraid it would burn the house down. I'll be glad they're gone. So we have a new skylight and new exhaust fan thats installed.
This weekend we'll lay pipe to bring the water line to the house, to save the plumbers the effort of digging a water line. Hopefully it'll save us on the re-plumb too. Since the re-plumb has been delayed a week, we've taken the time to shop for things and run other errands, plus go for a walk to Busch Gardens one day. Last night I had a good shop at Publix and spent $34 OOP with a savings of $152 (81%). The lady behind us in line was impressed and asked how we did that. She said she cut coupons but never remembered them or could find them a deal. She thought she was doing good with BIGI deals. I told her to go to my favorite website to see the matchups and coupon links to print from there. But if you want coupons, you can click on the banner ad above too.
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