Thursday, July 29, 2010

Counter Intelligence

So, The original quote for silestone was $5513. After some negotiation, I got the quote down to $4222. That's a huge discount, but still nowhere near my budget number. Adrienne and I went to their shop to see if there was a cheaper grade of Silestone that we could live with. I told Paul that we were still $400 over a number that I could live with. We hemmed and hawed trying to choose a cheaper stone, but we weren't really happy with the other choices. Paul came back and said he didn't have the wiggle room to drop the extra $400...

Then he asked us about granite. Frankly we hadn't even thought about granite. We were told Silestone was cheaper than granite and granite had to be sealed every two years and that was enough to knock it out of contention. Their stone has a coating with a 15 year warranty. No sealing necessary. Since we had chosen the high end Silestone (and knew what their price was for that) Paul worked up a quote for the high end granite to show us the price difference. $3600. BAM! Now we're walking around in the same time zone as my budget. Adrienne and I strolled around the granite showroom and picked out a piece we liked. It turned out to be mid-range price wise. So, granite countertops, sink, faucet, plus tax, fully installed. $3061.
BOO-YAH. Budget saved, thank you Counter Intelligence.

They will be installed next Thursday.

P.S. We brought a piece of the toe-kick and a piece of our backsplash tile and we would hold them up to the granite pieces. After we made the deal, I handed them over to Roland to watch. Tessa got her hands on them and held them up to a piece of granite and then she would say "nope" and move to the next piece.

It's hard to see here, but she's barefoot. For some reason when she walks into the Counter Intelligence showroom she kicks her shoes off.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Primer & Countertop

Got a coat of Primer on the walls today. I bought a gallon of VALSPAR drywall Primer (look here to see why I chose VALSPAR). I picked out 2 color chips, Adrienne immediately dismissed one because it reminded her of her parents kitchen when she was a kid.

I can't get to a working kitchen until the countertops are installed and the quote came in today. Now, when I had the contractor price out my kitchen reno, he priced in $3525 for granite (installed). When I priced out cabinets at Lowes, he asked what kind of countertop I wanted. He gave me a quote for $3000 for Quartz. I checked Washington Consumer Checkbook for countertop installers and Counter Intelligence was highly rated. My neighbor bought his counters from Home Depot and they were installed by Counter Intelligence.

I was expecting Counter Intelligence to quote between $2780 and $3780. Their website says "40% off Retail Prices." So, Home Depot has Silestone Class E at $85 per s.f., we have 54.6 s.f. I was expecting the quote to be just over $2780 + faucet upgrade + Tax. Other areas of the website say they will beat Lowes/Home Depot by 10%. So, the very least, I was expecting $3760 (HD is having a 10% off sale and they'd beat that by 10%).

Are you sitting down? Good, here it is: $5513. Saywhaaa? When you subtract out the sink and faucet, that's $96 per s.f. I sent them a polite email asking them to sharpen their pencils. I need to have a backup plan in case they don't budge on price, so I'll start gathering more quotes tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Joint Compound

I have applied the last coat of joint compound in the kitchen. I know it's the last coat, because I ain't puttin' up another...

I'll sand tomorrow and put some primer on it and see how it looks, but I'm reaching a point where I'm making it worse, not better. In other news, I was told to expect the countertop quote today, but it hasn't arrived yet, so I'm guessing it'll show up tomorrow morning. While I'm waiting for the countertop to be installed, I'll prime and paint the kitchen. We purchased the flooring, so it should be adjusted to our temperature and humidity levels by the time I need to install it.

Monday, July 26, 2010


My Father-In-Law showed up today to help. We got the window installed,

then some of the trim,

and some of the toe-kick.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


My father-in-law helped me hang the cabinets. We had a problem with the first one, we had trouble driving the screws deep enough, so we started pre-drilling the holes. The second one went up faster and by the third, we were off to the races. I was amazed at how fast they went in and how well everything fit together.
I was worried about the wall oven cabinet. When I checked the plans and saw the problem over the refrigerator, I realized I had a similar problem with the window area. I had forgotten to account for the spacer between the wall and the oven cabinet. So, my carefully centered window was going to be off-center. BUT...when we were placing the oven cabinet, I realized I didn't need to put the spacer between the wall, I could butt the cabinet right up against the wall and put the spacer between the cabinets. Here's the outcome:
The area above the oven has tray dividers. There's a small drawer (hidden from view) below the ovens. The microwave is going on the other side of the window below the short cabinet. The induction cooktop will be below the microwave.
With the next wall, we put up a ledger board to hold the 2 cabinets in place.
The old stove was on this wall.

We put up two more cabinets on the sink wall and then called it a day. I spent the next couple of days putting more joint compound on the fix over the fridge. When we got back to the cabinets, we had seven left to place. With the wall cabinets over the sink, we had a 1/2 inch gap between the wall cabinets and the tall pantry, but the base cabinets (with the exact same dimensions) didn't quite fit. Did I mention they cut corners when they built my home? Because apparently, they couldn't be bothered to check to see if that wall was vertical. We shrunk the gap for the dishwasher by about a 1/2 inch to make them fit. It figures the last cabinet would give us trouble. I'm really happy with the way they came out. Here's the sink wall:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hangin' Drywall

I rented a drywall lift and a drywall screwgun from Rentals Unlimited. The drywall lift is a must have piece of equipment; it was just $20 for a day and made hanging drywall on the ceiling ultra easy. The drywall screw gun had the wrong size bit in it, so it stripped out after just 6 or 7 screws. I took it back and they put the right size bit in it. For $15 (per day), the drywall screw gun was an excellent choice. It drove the screws quickly and to a perfect depth every time.
I'm going to put a plug in for Rentals Unlimited here: because I had to take the drill back and get the correct bit, they waived the $15 charge. That is awesome customer service.

Here is the window wall with drywall and the first coat of joint compound.

You don't see it in this picture (you should) and it slipped my mind for the longest time, but I drywalled right over the HVAC vent. OOPS!

We had to build a box over the refrigerator for the new cabinets. Here it is:

Days later, and right before I was to start hanging cabinets, I realized the box was the wrong size...It needed to be 3 inches bigger. ARGH! This disrupted my carefully prepared timetable. I had to build up 3 more inches, hang drywall, tape and apply two coats of joint compound.

Two coats of joint compound added two days to my schedule.

Smart Tip

Ever wondered where the studs were in your wall when hanging stuff? Well, after construction was complete on our addition, I frequently wondered where the studs were. That gave me the idea to take photos of future projects before the drywall went up. Here is the left side of the wall I rebuilt. The numbers in red are inches to the sheetrock on the left side.
 Here is the Top:
And the right side.
This came in handy when I was hanging the cabinets, I whipped out the camera and zoomed in on the numbers to see where the studs were.


When we opened up the ceiling, we found the power lines were all just draped over the drop ceiling, the stove wall was built out with 2x3's and the ductwork for the next room was hanging below the rafters.
You can see that we used straps of metal to pull the ductwork up. The ductwork couldn't be pulled all the way up, so we built up the joists with scrap wood to secure the drywall. So, technically, my drywall dips down there, but you can't tell by looking at it.
The vent into the kitchen was a huge box that had to be cut down to fit the new ceiling height. Here's the final product.

I did that with a hacksaw and a pair of tin snips.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Watts Happening?

So, Dependable One Electricians showed up today and did an awesome job rewiring my kitchen. They were top rated for quality in Washington Consumer Checkbook magazine and I found them to be very affordable. They got everything done and I scheduled the rough-in electrical inspection tomorrow.

If it gets approved, I can insulate the walls and start putting up the Sheetrock. Tape and spackle will take a couple of days, but then I can start hanging cabinets. I need to have the cabinets in by Saturday so that I can get the counter guys in to give me a quote. The counters will take a couple of days, then I can finish the plumbing and install the cooktop. I should have a working kitchen by 7/23 at the latest. Window goes in 7/26.

A Big Hole In The Wall And No AC

Sunday my brother-in-law James joined us to help get the room ready for the electricians. He brought a sawzall, which is almost as much fun as a chainsaw. We pulled the huge window out. Here's my dad and my BIL James doing the heavy lifting (notice I'm supervising):

This is my supervisor (the old supervisor is in the background):

The wall framed and partially covered with OSB (oriented Strand Board).

I gotta say, OSB is some tough SHIT. We had a tough time nailing through it. James and I both hit our thumbs one too many times. By the time we got to the bottom panel, we were launching so many nails we got a bit giggly. I tried to con my kids into holding the nails for us, but James kept warning them that it was painful. You can see a lot of light leaking between the panels, so I used some "Great Stuff" for windows and doors to plug the gaps. I framed the wall for a new window; a special order from Lowes (24" x 30"). The window won't be in for another two weeks, so I framed it and put the plywood right over it.

Meanwhile, my dad was inside putting up boards around the perimeter of the room so we could nail the sheetrock into them and trying to force an HVAC duct (that was just passing through the kitchen) up above the bottom of the rafters.

The duct that feeds air into the room was built for the drop ceiling, so I had to cut it down to fit the new ceiling height.

We managed to get everything on my list done.

I'm A Bit Disappointed I Didn't Get To Use A Chainsaw...

Adrienne worked late into Friday night to empty the kitchen. My parent's showed up around 10am on Saturday to help me demo the kitchen. It went fairly quickly. The wall cabinets were held up by 4 screws into the wall and usually 2 into the next cabinet. The base cabinets were somewhat harder to remove so my dad resorted to the persuader (AKA The Sledgehammer). We pulled down the ceiling sheetrock and found a nasty surprise:
Yeah, that's a Wasp Nest...If it had been an active hive, we would have been dead.
The second surprise was all the corners that were cut. Back in 1978/1979, this home was SLAPPED together. The wall that had the stove on it was built with 2"x3"s. The electrical wiring was just draped above the drop ceiling. The scary thing was the wiring to the stove...It was aluminum. Yes, Aluminum is a good conductor, until it oxidizes, then it burns down your house. Here's one for all my Telco fans. When I pulled the plate off the old phone jack I found this:
That says "Bell System Property" and "Not For Sale". So, if there's a Baby Bell out there that wants it back and can prove that Ma Bell left it to you in her will, you can have it back. It'll be in a big green can at the end of my driveway.

As Saturday drew to a close I felt way ahead of schedule. Here are some pictures of the devastation. If you're familiar with my house, the first is a picture looking at the wall that had the sink and the Fridge. The fridge lived between the wall and the stepladder.

The second picture is looking at the window across from the sink. This will have the new oven, cooktop, and microwave.

The final picture is the wall that had the stove on it. This wall will eventually get some cabinets.