Hiring a Contractor - hoo boy

September 22, 2011

Because my porch roofs looked like this:

And because, in my dotage, I find myself less and less interested in heights...this morning before going to work I did something that totally goes against the grain of what I do (with my house that is!).  I hired a contractor.  In an earlier post I bemoaned the fact that it's pretty hard to find a contractor you're comfortable with, and getting one to actually show up for an estimate.  Luckily by word-of-mouth I found one that at least said all the right things.  Here's how it went...

I had asked a couple contractors I saw in the neighborhood to give me an estimate on how much to repair or replace the roofs on my front and back porch, a bump out on one side of the house, and the gable skirts on the front and back.  One guy came by, and without getting up on the roof at all, said he could replace the porch roofs with asphalt shingles, for about $2000.  Hmm, didn't sound too awfully bad...so I asked him to write up a contract and he said he would drop it off the next day.  A week later I called him and he said he got busy and forgot (!) but would email me the estimate THAT NIGHT.  A week later I ran into a neighbor whom this guy had done some work for.  She said that the contractor told her that he had dropped off the estimate the FIRST day.  The nerve!  I didn't say much to my neighbor about it, but it really showed his true colors...secretly I wish for the best for my neighbor.

Then a friend's husband was recommended.  And of course I was pretty leery of that situation!  But I asked him to come out to the house.  AND HE DID!  WHEN HE SAID HE WOULD!  Turns out he didn't do the kind of work that I needed done - AND HE SAID SO!  Here's the really cool part - he said he had worked with a guy on other jobs that did roofing.  He called him, right then and there, and I was able to speak to the roofer - right then and there.  TOTALLY new experience for me.  Anyway...this roofer guy says he'll stop by the next day (while I'm at work) and look the job over.  He'd write up an estimate and email it to me (I've heard that before!), BUT, it was going to be a holiday weekend so he probably wouldn't get the estimate to me before the following Tuesday (heeeere we go...).  The next day when I got home from work, the roofer's business card was on my front door, and get this - on the back was his cell phone number!  On Monday, the actual holiday, and a full day BEFORE he said he'd get the estimate to me, I received a detailed estimate in my email!  NOW we're talkin'!

After some delays (on my part due to work commitments) I met with the roofer this morning.  A couple things of note - He showed up 5 minutes early, he went over the contract with me, walking around the house and showing all that was included in the price and how it was documented on the contract, he asked for a reasonable down payment and said the balance would be due when all the work was done to my satisfaction!  AND he took a check.  That's right - a check.  I know it sounds funny, but my limited experience with contractors had been cash only!  

A couple other things of note...on the contract was a statement that he was insured (I don't remember, something for liability and worker's comp or something).  I guess this would help if for some reason (God forbid) I ended up in court.  The other thing was the roofer explained his plan for weather contingencies and the products he would be using so I could look them up.

Okay, no work's actually been done yet, but for my first time in dealing with a contractor I have a good feeling!  I'll keep you posted...

PS:  Remember the first contractor I told you about?  He was gonna put asphalt shingles on my porches?  Well, turns out my roofs (or is it rooves???) don't have enough slope for that kind of application!  Gotta do our homework!!

Fall Plantings!

September 17, 2011

Work has me really tied up right now.  There's still a few projects that need to get done before the snow flies, but they are projects that'll take more than a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon, so...I'm trying to get some of the smaller "optional" projects done.  This morning I went to Marshall's to get a new pair of slippers...yep, I actually blogged that - slippers.  Well, I didn't find any that I liked, but on the way home I passed our favorite nursery.  Just as I was blowing by I saw a huge sign - "Clearance on all Nursery Items."

Briefly, the back story:  When we bought our house many years ago now, there were three HUGE old maples trees in the Devil's Strip between the sidewalk and the road.  They were beautiful, but very old, weak and diseased.  As much as I hated to do it - I had the city take them down.  For the past several years we thought and debated about putting in some new trees.  And each year, we'd say - "yeah!  lets get some in."  Then another year would go by, and we just didn't get to it.

Back to today.  I saw that sign at the nursery and made a hard right from the far left and pulled into the parking lot.  Fifteen minutes later I was driving down the street with two trees sticking out the back of this:

It must have looked hilarious!  Anyway, I picked up two trees, a Kwansan Cherry, and a Fringe Tree.

Apparently the Kwansan Cherry tree is the type that blooms so beautifully for the Cherry Festival in DC.  So maybe one spring (hopefully) not too many years from now, this:

Will look like this:

Then there's the Fringe Tree.  I've seen them around before but had no idea what they were called.  They get really pretty flowers in the spring:

And end up looking like:

But for now she looks like this:

There's something fun about watching a tree planted with my own hands (okay, I dug the hole) grow over the years.  There ya have it.

Design Ideas - Just Killin' Time

September 13, 2011

Hotel living for another week.  I don't mind it - love my job, but there's always project at home on my mind.  So, to assuage my anxiety, I thought I'd post some pictures I've found elsewhere of ideas I like.  Unfortunately I'm not sure where all these came from, but I will give credit for those I do.  If, per chance, you are reading this and one of the pictures belongs to you - please let me know and I will remedy the situation.  Off we go!

Young House Love
The DIY Showoff 

Pink Postcard
I see these pictures on blogs in my Google Reader on my phone.  To remind myself of why I saved the pics, I use "PicSay" app to add notes.  So, some ideas, basically just killin' time in the hotel room!

Legacy Post: Umbrella Stand

September 4, 2011

So 173 made it through Hurricane Irene pretty much unscathed.  I'm sorry to say that communities all around where we live have not fared as well.  Two small towns are completely gone.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected - here and everywhere.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was looking forward to getting estimates for replacing the porch roofs. Well, funny thing (not funny in a "ha ha" way) about hurricanes is that they come with lots of wind.  Gee, whoda thunk it?  Wind + shingle roofs = roofing contractors over-booked!  So the struggle continues.  I have a few projects bumping around in my mind, but for now - I'm at a bit of a stand-still.  Time for another Retro Project!

After finishing the back porch, it was time to furnish and decorate it.  It's not a huge porch so we didn't want to put too much stuff out there.  It's also a pretty simple porch, so we didn't want a lot of bling or fancy stuff.  One thing always did want though, was an umbrella stand.  I searched the internet for various styles:

But none of these styles really fit.  Then I saw this one:
I really liked the clean, simple lines, and it looked simple enough to build from scrap wood. We wanted it fit into a corner, so I adapted the design a little.
Funny thing is though - when I was building it, I was liking the look.  Then I took a picture and realized - UGLY!!  So I made a few adjustments and added some more wood!
Once again, I used some paint from another long-forgotten project, then did some distressing.
The paint was pretty bright and the whole thing looked brand new, so I rubbed on a coat of Minwax Jacobean stain to tone things down a bit and complete the finishing process.
And here it is in its natural habitat:
So, umbrella stand - $0!!

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