Archive for May, 2008

Get it (all) in Writing

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

My work takes me into many homes each year, and I rub shoulders with lots of General Contractors, tradesmen, and homeowners. This past week, a homeowner succinctly stated one of the most common remodel complaints. It went like this:

“I invested countless hours of my time in discussing various issues and problems at the beginning of the project. We made decisions about what was going to happen at various stages. I assumed they (designers, contractor, foreman) were keeping notes. But as the project rolled out, again and again I would have to stop things and remind them of the original plan. It became incumbent upon me to catch all these things or they weren't going to get caught.”

GCs and their on-site representatives are notoriously bad at keeping good records. Kitchen designers are usually a lot better. In this particular situation, the kitchen designer was no longer employed by the cabinet provider, left nearly no notes, and could not be reached by the homeowner. So yes, it was a mess. But sometimes it feels as if most jobs are a mess. There's always some excuse or special situation.

Here's the bottom line for the homeowner: Get it in writing.

Let me propose a little test that should help to ensure you against some of the ineptitude which lays in wait for you. Keep your own quick list of the things discussed between you and the GC/designer during the pre-bid stage. Then, before you surrender a down payment, ask to see their list of those details. If anything is missing, consider it a bad omen. You're just asking for misery if you accept a bid from someone who isn't keeping good records. You deserve better. Keep looking.

What I’ve been up to…

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Well, I managed to miss the whole month of April on this blog, so I thought I'd post an update for those of you who follow it.

My own path has been moving further from remodeling and toward woodworking, cabinetry, and now furniture.

(I have a mental hierarchy in my mind that goes like this: trim carpentry graduates to cabinetmaking, which is below furniture building. Then at the top is musical instruments or maybe the “arrow carver”?? See Cole Porter on that one.)

Anyway, I'm in that transitional phase between cabinetry and furniture. Here's a piece I built recently. This was not a completely solo effort, but it was mostly my baby.

Furniture-style vanity

The other big development, and somewhat related, has been the recent opportunity to go deeper with CNC-based woodwork and design. (Translation: programming a robot to do lots of your work for you.) For good or ill, this is the future. Hopefully in future entries you'll get to see some work created on this machine.