Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More pics of kitchen/dining room renovation

To save money we opted to do the painting ourselves, which means myself. This Martha Stewart Light Strokes paint is definitely the fanciest paint I've ever used. We needed something light to counter balance the dark cabinets, and this has some kind of metallic silvery element in it that makes it sparkle. I've been working on this and stripping the paint off the doors in the foyer which isn't fun, it's a LOT of work, but it's getting there. I enjoy painting much better.

My painting tips: Protect everything that needs it with plastic and blue painters' tape. Use a squeegee to make sure the blue painter's tape is sealed tightly to the wall. Paint in bare feet if you can, since you will know right away if you step in paint and will be less likely to track it all around the house. Use a plastic bag as a paint tray liner, this makes for easy clean-up. I learned this trick from John's old company's handyman, Izzy. Put on some good music.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What is this??

Mystery thing a ma jig, two of these came with the cabinets. NO ONE knows what it is. Not the person I bought my cabinets from or anyone in my facebook list.
I am somehow the proud owner of two of these weird plastic parts, it's got magnets all down the back and little spokes sticking out that it looks like would hold a bunch of tiny little flags. Does anyone out there know what this is?

Black Walnut Slab will be our breakfast bar

Friday, September 16, 2011

Construction snags

Cabinet drawer face will have to be replaced. Minor thing compared to moving the water lines.

A few snags in the installation of the cabinets, looks like the cold and hot water lines need to be moved over the left so that they are directly under the sink, if not the carpenters have to cut the backs of two cabinets. This requires another water shutdown and technically we are only allowed one. The building management office will get back to me to see if we are allowed another one. The trash bin provided by my cabinet maker doesn't fit in the cabinet they provided. My cabinet guy is going to do some research to try and find an alternate. He looked for this before and had a lot of trouble. Also, the one drawer face came with a big scratch, but he said that's an easy fix, that they can just provide a new drawer face.

Boo. Things were going so well too. This issues aren't too horrible, I'm sure it will work out...I just knew things were going too smoothly.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cabinet Installation, from earlier today.The

These are the upper cabinets laid out for them to hang. I had to re-order another cabinet for above the fridge since the fridge we wanted was a little taller and wider then we originally thought.

Love the laser level that they use to make sure everything is square and straight.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Photos of work completed yesterday, Day 16 *

View coming in from foyer hallway.

Foyer Hallway with rounded archway removed.

Kitchen view from dininr room alcove.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sleepy time Chalupa

Chalupa in her bat cave.

Kitchen Renovation Day 13*

This corner doesn't look like much, but right under the window is where the old radiator pipes that stuck up above the floor were located, it was a horrible eye sore and you had to be careful not to stub your toe while trying to open the window.
They are in the process of installing the doors on our new small closet area. A little bit of extra storage space is always a good thing.

More skim coating is completed, finally clean straight walls in the kitchen.

*Day 13 plus or minus year and a half or so.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Kitchen Renovation Day 12*

The new contractors, Telia Contracting are still doing well. The main carpenters (Christion and his partner) do solid straight work. And they do a good job of clean up at the end of the day. These pictures are from yesterday that's why I titled it Day 12. Today is actually Day 13 and the skim coat guy is back to finish fixing up the walls. I'm hoping to get a coat of primer on the walls over the weekend. Since we are hard up for money, I opted to do the painting myself. Besides I like painting, to be honest, I like all this stuff. I wish I could be in there working right along side those guys. They use this cool magnetic laser level, that when turned on shoots out a red beam on all the walls, they used this when they dropped the ceiling down so that it would be straight. It's pretty awesome, and then the other guys mix together some kind of wall cement to patch up the walls. It's progress....real measurable progress. Now I'm knocking on wood so I don't jinx it. Last time I was excited about progress the sh*t hit the fan.

Also Chalupa has evidently developed a taste for gypsum board dust. It's gross...I know...for all her character and personality she is a dog and dogs likes gross things. She insists on coming with me anytime I go through the plastic to talk to the guys, and she never just quietly walks in, she jumps through like a lion from a cage and makes a grand entrance. She's made friends with Christion and the other carpenter and now expects them to share all their food with her, I have to keep her in the other room with the door zipped, but sometimes she still tries to claw her way in.
*Day 12 of new contractors working, actual total of days I've been working on this add about 370 days or so...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

A cautionary tale for homeowners hiring contractors

Our kitchen in progress.
Well today is September 5, 2011 and this is what our kitchen currently looks like. As I said before we started this project well over a year a go, originally we just wanted to re-do the floors and fix the bowed in walls, and re-cap the radiator pipes so that they were under the floor instead of sticking up two inches ABOVE the floor.

Before we did anything, before we spoke to contractors, interior designers or architects, we asked our then building manager to come up and look at what we wanted to do to get his advice. The radiator piping sealed under the floor---no problem, removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room----no problem. Of course at the time he had been the manager for 16 years, and we thought we could trust what he had to say. But of course as soon as the wall came down, we found nine gas risers, and the guy who was our manager had been replaced. Here is also when everything hit the fan. Our original contractor Sam Woods of Construction Designs and Solutions was/is a crook, his workers not only exposed the gas lines and caused a gas leak from our line, he threatened to call Con Edison himself because he was angry that the building wasn't going to let him do this work that he was obviously marking up a great deal. The day I asked him to return the money that we had just paid him days earlier to move the gas lines was the last day I spoke to him. The next day Con Edison got an "anonymous" call that we had a gas leak. By this time the plumbers from the previous day had stopped the leak. But it didn't stop Con Edison from shutting our gas line and our upstairs neighbor's gas line off, until further testing. Which means we were held responsible for the plumbers to test all the gas lines and for any other expenses associated with this incident, i.e. the food bill from our upstairs neighbors while the gas was shut off. It didn't help matters at all that evidently our neighbors could only eat out at the most expensive restaurants in the area. (Thanks Neighbors!)

This whole thing has been an awful experience and I feel I could write a book on what not to do when looking to hire a contractor and or designer for your home. We or more frankly I did so many things wrong, or trusted the wrong people, that we were bound to have some good luck sooner or later. The job is only half complete, but the new contractors, Telia Contracting are doing a very good job. It's a stark contrast from Sam Woods and his guys, Telia Contracting seems to be the real deal, but the project has yet to be I'm a little cautious, but cautiously optimistic. This ordeal has been horrible from hiring an interior designer who mislead me and misrepresented herself, to firing her, to hiring a contractor who passed a "rigorous background check and approval process" from Service only to find that he was an absolute crook who stole our money and was only able to complete the demolition work and cause a gas leak along the way. It's been so stressful and miserable, but I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes this is costing us an arm and leg, mainly because we were robbed by a horrible, manipulative contractor, but we also felt kicked from all sides when our building pretty much held us hostage so that we would agree to pay for all the damages from our contractor, or else they would not approve our refinancing package. Not to mention our not so neighborly neighbors. It's been so horrible that I couldn't write about it. I was ashamed and also angry and deeply troubled by all of this. I've  broken down into fits of tears more times then I can count.  So anyway, it's a long round about way of apologizing for not keeping up my blog but also for being able to move on. Here's a little bit of common sense advice, that needs to be read over and over when you are going through this process. Because it sounds simple, but once you are in the middle of the process and are desperate to get the work done you begin to rationalize this and that, and before you know it you are in the same boat as us.

DO NOT PAY a contractor, electrician, plumber, etc more than the initial deposit until work is actually completed. Don't trust that the work will get done. And make sure the initial deposit is something reasonable, and payment schedules are clear. Mr. Woods would trick us into giving him more money by saying that so and so is going to cost more, can he have a check. And because we were the ones that didn't' want to be dishonest we gave it to him. But I've learned the hard way that you just have to stay firm and only pay when you actually see the work being done.

I've found that most people have heard similar contractor horror stories, and it's about time these creeps get what's coming to them. Here is a link to the Home Improvement Consumer guild from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.

Good luck if you are starting or in the process of getting home improvement work done. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and ask me. At the very least I hope you can learn from my mistakes. It's also worth noting that I tried to do and buy everything that is as eco friendly as possible, I mean what's the point in recycling bottles, cans, and paper and reusing shopping bags etc, if when it comes to the big purchases we opt for the cheapest chemical laden environment destroying kitchen cabinets. I donated our old kitchen appliances, cabinets and counters to Habitat for Humanity, I purchased our new cabinets (that have been sitting in our building's basement since April!) from the Green Depot, I searched high and low for ceramic tile with recycled content in it for both the floor and the backsplash. Energy star approved appliances, etc etc. But I felt as soon as I mentioned this to most contractors or architects they either glossed over it or took this to mean I was a big fat sucker. And maybe I am....I guess maybe I am.