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Friday, April 15, 2011

Gearing Up For A Messy Weekend!

Over the past few months I have been interviewing contractors and getting bids for work to be done in my house. Then I got sick...was it related? In conjunction, I am scouting out new relationships for client work. A few of my favorite contractors are no longer available. One got engaged and left the area, the other is going to work for a builder full time and one that I really liked seems to have vanished from everyone's radar!

Existing stain and glossy finish removed exposing natural red oak floors.

I still have relationships with tiler installers, a wallpaper hanger, a plumber and an electrician, but I needed to fill in the big gaps for construction (which would include skilled carpenters, masterful drywall hangers and experts in hardwood refinishing and installations) for projects that are larger or trade intensive like bathrooms. I mentioned last year in this post, that I  try to test drive contractors before recommending them to a client or friend. One thing that has changed since then? Now I never recommend trades that I have not test driven! Either I have worked along side them on a job (where the client has hired them) or they have worked in my house. There are many more factors to consider when hiring/working with someone than "does it look good?". When things go wrong and you gave the reference, understandably, the clients are going to be upset with you. So.....the painful reality is in order to run my business as efficiently and effectively as I would like, I needed to take the time do this. Plus, I love renovations, definitely a highlight of design work for me. It has been a long process, but I am excited about the possibilities it will create.

 The results of floors added at 2 different times with different profiles.  You can also see how light plays a role.
The one on the right is original. The one on the left had the same stain applied, but is only about 5  years old.
 I prefer the richer tone of the one on the right. However, the one on the left is far more comfortable in bare feet.
 Both issues will be addressed!
Some clients have their own preferred general contractors with whom they have worked with before. Many do not. And, this fact is often what keeps homeowners from moving forward on a project or letting one evolve into it's full potential. Clients/homeowners may find a project like a master bath is too big to handle finding the trades necessary on their own, but too small (or unnecessary) to need a team (architect/builder who bring the GC/trades) to execute. That's where a designer can assist with moving a project forward and even elevating it to a higher level in both design and workmanship, particularly if experience and a contractor relationship exists. Next week, I will do a post based on my experience, which to date includes:
  • 2 kitchen renovations (mine and one client) 
  • 9 bathroom renovations (2 at my house, 7 for clients)
  • 1 new construction basement (my house)
  • 1 new construction bathroom (my house)
  • 1 basement renovation/addition (client)  
  • 1 new construction brick/flagstone walkway and porch (my house) 
  • 1 laundry room remodel with custom bench/shelving/cubbies (my house) 
and outline what I think is important to look for when hiring a contractor. In the meantime, I'll be keeping busy removing every possible thing from each room to prepare for the floors to be refinished on the entire main level, plus have hardwood flooring added to the upstairs hallway and repair/removal of damaged floor boards in the kitchen.

A crew member applied my test sample choices yesterday morning!

Even though this process has come a long way and despite what is often advertised, there is absolutely no such thing as a "dustless" process!!! It's going to be a messy and exciting ride...I'll be sure to bring you along!


  1. Good luck with your floors. I look forward to your upcoming posts. I am sure they will be filled with very useful information. Have a great weekend.

  2. oh nice well good luck with that! keep us posted. hey don't work hard and enjoy the weekend :)

  3. The floors stains look great. Oak is just too beautiful!


  4. Looks like an exciting project! Going through my own house build, I can understand how a very reliable and 'road tested' subcontractor is essential to the success of a project. At the beginning of my project, I thought that it would be fun to be a GC - now I don't know how they make it through the day, with the millions of small issues they need to resolve.

    I look forward to updates on your project!

  5. The challenges of finding good tradesmen, and KEEPING them... *big huge sigh* Looking forward to hearing more about your experiences.

    Good luck on the floors. This will be a big mess as you know, but so worth it in the end.

    I came across a similar situation before. Not only were the woods put in at different times in the house (both oak) but some was white oak and some red oak we also added yet a new one upstairs. After "finally" selecting (custom stain color), stripping all the floors, when the stain went on, because of the different oak and age, it still didn't blend/match. Had to start from scratch, tweaking & testing on both sections and completely redo the entire downstairs. Oh, how I cringe at the thought.

    Good luck. Looking forward to seeing it completed and all the updates.

  6. you know;) I'm right there with you feeling your joy and pain!! looking forward to watching the progress!

    happy weekend!

  7. Trust me I know what you're going through and after having all our floors refinished I know there is no such thing as DUSTLESS!

  8. Giving way through a ton of dust is worthy after seeing those marvelous output, really. Give your all patience and were looking forward for a wonderful finished post. :)

  9. wishing you much success in all the projects you need to do!!
    hugs from chile

  10. That one photo taken at the stair newel looks like you've got prefinished floors on the right and sand-n-stain on the left with a transition strip? Because someone took the trouble to line up boards during layout, you could, if you wanted to, take out the transition strip and tooth in new boards with a random stagger so your floor would feel more unified. It wouldn't be a perfect solution because sanding once isn't going to remove the chamfered edge on the prefinished completely but maybe something to consider? Should take someone with skill about half a day to do it right.

  11. Rebecca,
    I so want to refinish our floors, I love the natural red oak that what you are going to stick with? My floors are the same color as yours in the left photo. It's a huge job, can't wait to see how yours turn out!

  12. Renovations can be daunting. Reading about your experiences is so encouraging before we embark on ours. We are still in the "planning" process....which seems to be taking a while. However, I remind myself that once we start...I'll be glad we spent our time in this phase!

  13. TTI, So true about GC's and that attention to detail is what makes a great one!

    Anon, You are correct and I did explore this option with my flooring installer. Because the newer floors all have a micro bevel, it would never blend completely. We are facing the same issues in the kitchen where boards have to be pulled up and they had to order pre-finished wood and strip them down to blend. It adds up to $$$ and time delays, so we're just going to live with the transition from the foyer to the living room. Thanks so much for this comment, great information for all!

    Renae, It is incredibly beautiful in it's natural state and I love it! However, we are going with a beautiful color stain that feels appropriate for our interior.

    Elizabeth, This is absolutely no fun...floors anyway! But, when you can create a home that is beautiful and functional for your family and lifestyle, it's worth every headache!!!

  14. You have made a best work of yourself.. Enjoyed visiting your blog..Thank you so much for pointing us in the right direction. Very much appreciated.. I glad to be here and like to here such words from you..


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