Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Step 26 - Cabinets

Next on the list:  Cabinetry.

Most of the time, money, and attention to complete Step 26 will be spent on the cabinets in the kitchen, but this is also the time to install cabinetry in the bathrooms as well as the laundry room, home office area, and the garage if applicable.

At the Fire House, I hired a custom cabinet maker.
They built them off-site and then installed them.
I've completed Step 26 in several ways; I've hired a custom cabinet maker to build and install the units when we're ready, I've built and installed them on-site myself, I've purchased units from warehouses or salvage dealers, and I've bought the boxes from one of the big chain DIY/building suppliers, assembled, and installed them before I trimmed out around them.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, every project is different so you won't hear me saying cabinets must be done a certain way every time. 

Although this cabinetry looks a lot like the units in The Fire
House, these boxes came disassembled from a big box store. 
I put them together in The Bungalow & installed them myself.
Any custom cabinet maker will want to do all the cabinetry, but I have to stretch my money as far as I can and breaking the kitchen cabinet scope off from the rest of the house has worked well for me.  And, although the source or supplier may differ, the timing is the same and the kitchen units and bathroom boxes always get installed after the floors and before the counters.   

And finally, on the topic of timing, if you're installing the cabinets yourself, remember to install the wall cabinets first.  Get those right and then dig into the base cabinets below.  

At The Cottage - I did built-ins in the kitchen.  I like how they turned out, but this is a scope of work I've only taken on this one time and definitely one of those things that I thought would be easier than it was. 


Friday, September 14, 2012

Michael Keaton: Here You Are Again

We love movies and Michael Keaton has always been one of my favorite actors.  I guess he has an everyman type quality that makes him seem like someone I know.  I really get his sense of humor and I laugh when he's trying to be funny.  I feel like I can relate to many of his characters so perhaps this is another clue to his success in Hollywood. 



Along with being a hands-on home builder and renovator, I’m oftentimes wrapped in the middle of things at home and with our family.   I've had regular Mr. Mom flashbacks as I'm changing toxic diapers, screwing up the well-known routine at school, or in over my head with house cleaning or childcare duties.  And occasionally (on a rehab) I'll throw out the Michael Keaton quote (my favorite from Mr. Mom) when someone asks me about how extensively I'm upgrading the electrical system: "Oh, I don't know," I'll say casually.  "220, 221...whatever it takes."  Who doesn't love that line? 

Now, as much as Mr. Mom, I feel like I can relate to Michael Keaton's role in the movie Multiplicity.  They say a contractor’s home is never finished and MK's character fits this description in this film (with Andie MacDowell.)  But more than having incomplete honey-do's around the house, Keaton is trying to juggle condo construction and commercial projects with smaller residential jobs as he tries not to lose his mind as he deals with tradesmen and subcontractors plus his boss/clients/inspectors/wife/children that he's trying to satisfy at the same time.  Keaton's character needs a break and he clones himself in a desperate move to get things done, keep everyone happy, and maintain his own sanity.  I can relate to this since I've found myself wanting a twin (that knew what I knew) who could help me when things were on the verge of being out of control.

I also really like The Other Guys (starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg).  Now MK may not have one of the lead roles in this movie, but I love the part he plays none the less.   As I’ve said before, on my Pig's Ear renovations, I want and need tradespeople who know how to handle unexpected challenges when they pop up.  We need skilled contractors who don't get rattled.  Like Michael's TOG character (and TLC) said, "I don't want no scrubs."

In Pacific Heights, Keaton epitomized the worst tenant imaginable.  I've thought of this character when I had a renter who was giving me an unusual amount of headaches.

But when it comes to a day that reminds me of one of Michael Keaton's movies, today was a memorable day because today I was Batman.  I put on the caped crusador's costume for our neighbor's 5th birthday party.  The get-up was crazy hot, but it was fun.  I liked being Batman.  I liked walking around hearing strangers whisper excitedly, "Look.  It's Batman!"  It was more than just fun, it was a blast.   

I feel like Mr. Mom sometimes, I’ve been a lot like the frazzled builder from Multiplicity who doesn't want scrubs on the job, and more than once I've been the landlord trying to get rid of a Pacific Heights nightmare in one my units. But today was a cool day.  Today my little girl came up to me at the birthday party where I was dressed liked Batman, she recognized me immediatley, and said, "Hey, Dad," before she gave me a sweet smoochie.  Today, I was Batman and it was pretty great.        

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Step 25 - Flooring

First off, when I have existing cabinets that don't need to be pulled out, I leave them in place.  Same with flooring.  However, on a renovation gut job (or with additions and new construction) the next thing I do after the drywall is hung (and insulation is blown up top) is flooring.

I still remember being a little surprised by this when my career progressed into the residential side of the construction industry.  I had this mindset that all flooring should come at the tail end of the project.  Carpet and the finishing of raw or salvaged hardwoods do come at the end of the job, but tile, laminate, wood, vinyl, and linoleum get installed before the cabinetry.

There are some technical reasons why flooring comes next.  For one, this could limit moisture from finding it's way into base cabinets (unlikely, but possible if the units are directly set onto a concrete slab).  Another technical reason for installing flooring before cabinetry is related to cabinet height.  If you put down floors after a 36" kitchen cabinet or bathroom vanity, you can lose over an inch in height (depending on the type of flooring).  Some people will be oblivious to this height difference, but others appreciate every inch of height when they lean over into a sink and can pick up on this subtle loss.  And on top of this, you'll lose this inch of space at the toe/kick area and it can be noticeable there as well.

However, the main and most obvious reason to install the flooring before the cabinetry, doors, and trim is money.  It's easier, therefore cheaper, to do Step 25 before Step 26 and the others that follow.  It's less labor intensive and you can really blow and go without the cabinetry in your way.  Another reason why this is the time to install flooring is that you can hide more of your cuts when you put the floors down first.  You can be less spot on with wood or laminate flooring at the edges of the room, you can have jagged or inexact cuts on ceramic and marble tile in comparable conditions (the perimeters), and you'll get away with more play in your vinyl or laminate placement/glue downs.  Then as I just said, you can hide all these cuts under the cabinets, the base trim, and the casing at your doors. 

If you do the flooring later you'll have to hide all your cuts with quarter round/shoe mold and you'll be finding yourself getting creative with caulking at the bottom of the door casing where it meets up with the floor.  It can be done, but it will take longer and may make your floor finishes look jacked-up.  So, if you can install your flooring before cabinets, interior doors, and trim, then get it done.

The Fire House at the Kitchen Window during demo. 
The Fire House at the Kitchen Window after heart pine was installed.  The previous owners had installed the hardwood in the foyer and hall and I continued this flooring into the kitchen.
The Fire House at the Kitchen Window after cabinets and trim.


One of the units in the Duplex before I opened things up and carried the existing laminate flooring into the rest of the unit.

Same view.  I didn't pull out flooring if I didn't need to, I left the base cabinets where they were in the kitchen, and installed the flooring around them.