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RE: Security System - dos and donts (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: creek_side on 05.21.2010 at 09:21 pm in Building a Home Forum

Your average residential burglar isn't equipped to circumvent everything. If the phone line is visible, he may think to cut it, or maybe not. Ditto with the cable. Cell phone jammer, I doubt it.

I do agree about having a loud siren, however you should have two, one visible, and one not visible mounted in someplace like a crawl space. Visible sirens or bells can be defeated with a commonly available substance, and some burglars know about it.

Some jurisdictions have siren ordinances. You will want to find out if yours has one before installing one.

Have a local alarm company do the install and set you up with monitoring. It should cost you less, and you should get better service that one of the nationals. Avoid the big names like ADT and Brinks (Broadview). They are marketing driven instead of service driven like the local providers.

You'll want a professional system, not something designed for a quickie homeowner install. It should be primarilly wired, not wireless, although wireless capability is handy for adding things later. Good names for the main panel are Caddx (GE Security), DSC, and Ademco (Honeywell). Avoid anything privately labeled for the installation company like the plague. Personally, I like Caddx.

All your exterior doors should be wired. It isn't necessary to wire all your windows if you have good motion detector coverage. Glass break detectors are somewhat unreliable, while motion detectors are very reliable, if installed correctly. Choose motion detectors over glass breaks, given the choice.

Pet immune motion detectors are available. Visonic brand work well, especially for small pets. Ask your installer about cross zoning to provide extra security against false alarms if you have pets.

Do not allow the alarm company to hook your smoke detectors to the alarm system under any circumstances. Do have them install some separate temperature rise fire detectors. These may lower your home owners insurance rates.

All major manufacturers of alarm panels include the capability for the installer to lock out the homeowner. All the majors does this automatically. It forces you to use their services and is unethical, in my opinion.

Insist that your alarm company not lock out your panel, and that you receive a copy of all programming documents and the installer code. If they refuse, find someone else.


clipped on: 01.19.2013 at 09:16 pm    last updated on: 01.19.2013 at 09:17 pm

RE: Ideas for Screened Porch Floor (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: hollysprings on 11.17.2012 at 05:14 pm in Building a Home Forum

I've spec'd the Emser Bombay series a couple of times for renos, and it's always a good look no matter which color you might pick. Their Perspective series mimics vein cut marble and travertine quite successfully without worrying about it etching or the need to keep it sealed. They also have a new line, Sakai, that looks a lot like bamboo, and I've been waiting for the right project to put it in. These have run between $2-$3 a square foot from my supplier. I'd consider running the tile all the way through the kitchen and breakfast areas as well.




BTW, these porches will make your interior very dark. I hope you are OK with that and that this is intentional. You may want to add some solar tubes or skylights.

Here is a link that might be useful: Emser Bombay


clipped on: 11.18.2012 at 08:12 pm    last updated on: 11.18.2012 at 08:14 pm

How deep are your mudroom lockers?

posted by: athensmomof3 on 05.22.2010 at 10:32 am in Building a Home Forum

I am strongly considering moving the door to my mudroom (thanks my3sonsnc :) as the plan has been rearranged to a point where I don't think you will see into it from the breakfast room (or at least won't see the lockers but the decorated wall.

I would like a pocket door as it will almost always be open, but want to be sure I allow enough space for lockers on one side. The ones drawn in by the draftsman look shallow and not wide enough.

So, how deep are your mudroom lockers? And how wide would you recommend?


clipped on: 10.31.2012 at 07:51 pm    last updated on: 10.31.2012 at 07:51 pm

RE: Finished Kitchen - 20 pounds of sand in a 10 pound bucket (Follow-Up #31)

posted by: mamadadapaige on 10.29.2012 at 01:55 pm in Kitchens Forum

Thank you so much everyone -- your comments are so nice to hear! the project went along pretty smoothly so no real horror stories to share but it did drag on and I am so glad to be able to cook again in a real kitchen. My temporary kitchen worked well but it does get old.

oldbat2be: have been losing power on and off already. had planned to catch up on laundry and do a bunch of cooking today so I might have to come up with plan b. it was really nice to meet you and dh at the tour!

smaloney: my washer and dryer that I already own can't be stacked so I put it in the basement. Behind that animal wallpapered wall is a chimney and behind that is an alcove plumbed for a stackable washer and dryer. This little room is only about 4' wide (not including the depth of the w/d) by 8' long and has pocket doors. When the w/d goes that I already have I will get the stackable and put it in there but I didn't want to go to that expense right now and I don't really mind going down to the basement.

lyban, the plank walls were glued on then brad nailed on. The painter had said next time it would have saved a lot of effort to prime the edges of the boards first because they were soaking up a lot of paint. He filled in all the nail holes - he did a wonderful job ... if anyone local wants his contact info, I'd be happy to share. he was also reasonably priced.

chris, come by anytime!

steph2000: I'd be happy to share. here goes:

appliances: 30" subzero built-in -- butler's pantry has subzero drawers - combo fridge/freezer. They are on the right side below the frosted glass doors. The left side are false panels hiding the headspace in the stairwell. here's a pic that shows it a little better:

cooking: wolf 48" dual fuel range, wolf convection steam oven and wolf microwave drawer.

dishwasher: Asko - i haven't got used to the racks in this yet. i prefer the racks in my Miele but otherwise the asko is doing a great job of getting the dishes clean and it is very quiet

faucets: Matthew Quinn collection for Rubinet

sinks: clean up / Dawn -- prep / Ticor

hardware: butler's pantry: restoration hardware / kitchen: DuVerre

cabinets and walnut countertops in butler's pantry: Pennville custom cabinetry

countertops: from Cumar in Everett... just an ordinary white marble with no fancy pedigree but reasonably priced and on the "quiet" side which is what I wanted. Cost=$73 sq. ft. installed all in.

island legs: Enkeboll (got through cabinet company)

stools: crate and barrel

wallpaper in butler's pantry: Harlequin -Silhouette Boutique. Wallpaper in Kitchen: Thibaut - can't remember the name


clipped on: 10.29.2012 at 07:16 pm    last updated on: 10.29.2012 at 07:16 pm

RE: 1200 CFM Independent Overkill for 6 Burner Capital Range? (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: breezy_2 on 07.20.2008 at 05:47 pm in Appliances Forum

I agree with weissman that 600 may be enough depending on your cooking habits. However, stir frying is less of a measure than the temp at which you stir fry or cook other things. The main measure is the amount of exhaust/vapor given off when cooking. I do not stir fry much but do a lot of high heat saute'ing which is not much different and 900 CFMs was often inadequate.

Depth is only one measure of oversizing, width is as much or more important than depth (except in an island setting when both are equally important).

I doubt replacement air would be a real issue at 1200 CFMs and have never heard anyone complain until you get well in excess of 1200 CFMS. There again, each situation is environmental though and 1200 CFMs in a small tightly built house could cause problems. Also, passive replacement air is not very expensive either. I put a passive system in when we built with no aditional upcharge. It is passive in that it only provides a source for additial air and does not force replacement air into the room. It works just great and I have 2500 CFMs.

Anyway, once your system is in, its hard to increase CFMs. If you oversize, you merely do not have to use it...which is exactly where we are. I rarely if ever need all 2500 CFMs but have it in those situations where I do. Anyway, having been in all 3 situations - clearly not enough ventilation, barely enough and now,more than enough, I strongly advocate the more is better rule here.


clipped on: 10.23.2012 at 02:06 am    last updated on: 10.23.2012 at 02:06 am

RE: Hood, Blowers, Liners....lost... (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: davidro1 on 06.23.2010 at 09:45 am in Appliances Forum

The big recommendation is to get a handle on the terminology.

Exhaust is the function you want done.

Cooking produces rising warm (steam, grease, smoke) air.
Hood is an upside-down sink or umbrella shape that the bad air rises into.
The industry often mixes terms up, and it actually doesn't hurt sales. So they may say "Hood" when they mean a whole lot more.
Canopy, as a term, works because it focuses attention on the Hood alone.
Capture Area is another word for almost the same thing.

Make-Up Air, MUA, is the air that comes into your kitchen when you blow bad air outside.
It is a lot of air. It replaces the volume of air you sent outside.
In cold climates it has to be planned for as part of the house system. Windows are often closed.

Duct is the conduit / pipe / tube or rectangular shape channel that your bad air travels down.
Liner is almost the same thing. It actually IS a liner if it matches a special shape of hood... but once again, the industry will use this term "liner" to mean anything that creates confusion.

Duct is made of smooth metal, not corrugated. Never made of plastic (this is Kitchen Exhaust)

Filter is the grease catch that you want to have at the front end.
Filter could be Mesh.
Filter could be Baffle.
Filter can only be that, in outdoor exhaust situations. Charcoal is not an option here.

Blower is the motor that grabs that air and blows it outdoors.
Blower can have spinning propeller blades.
Blower can be squirrel cage.

Insert is a combination of a few things, built as a package that you insert into a hoof and liner.
Insert is a package of blower, filter, switches, lights, etc.

The industry often mixes terms up, and it actually doesn't hurt sales since they get to sell their all-in-one products.
They don't push inserts.

Inline describes a blower located at some point in the Duct.
Inline is not at the duct beginning (front end), and not at the Duct termination.
Remote describes a blower located in a place far away from the kitchen. It can be at the end of the Duct, pulling (sucking) air instead of pushing it down the Duct.

The industry likes to sell more than just a blower. A whole kit. An all-in-one solution. Something that parts fools from money. Consumers who know enough can separate all the variables.
The industry does not promote inline blowers.
Having an inline blower allows the consumer to buy the other parts as separate items.
The industry does not promote remote blowers. Some are promoted as part of a whole kit. They can be bought separately.

Blowers that are not positioned at the front end of the duct are not in your face.
Noise is caused by several factors. The blower being in your face is one factor.

The industry mixes terms up. They will call anything a Hood.
Exhaust is the big general term. "Will this Exhaust my kitchen air?"



clipped on: 10.16.2012 at 03:05 pm    last updated on: 10.16.2012 at 03:05 pm

RE: hood guidance please? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: amcook on 08.30.2010 at 06:17 pm in Appliances Forum

There have been several discussions about hood choices in just the last couple of week so you guys might want to use the search function and read up on those. I say this not to be an a** but as a friendly suggestion since some people who regularly read and contribute here may get tired of answering the questions and simply not reply.

That said, I'll try to recap some of the general concepts and suggestions. Vent systems generally consist of four components: hood, filter, blower, ducts. Ducts are self explanatory so I will simply say to make sure they are sized correctly to the blower and possibly filter/insert. The remaining three elements can be purchases separately or together. In some cases, like Vent-a-Hood, they must be purchased together since it's an integral system by design. I'll go over each of the three parts as an overview since there seems to be some confusion.

Blowers can be internal, inline, or remote. Internal blowers are blowers that are built into the hood and filter unit or in some cases into a filter insert that can be used with a custom hood. In general the most cost effective solution is to buy an internal blower in a combined hood/filter/blower system. This is typically cheaper from both a component and installation cost standpoint. My "cheaper" statement must be qualified with: "with the exception of Vent-a-Hood". Vent-a-Hood is a patented design that they charge a pretty steep premium for. As a general rule of thumb, the amount of cfm you'll need is 1 cfm for every 100BTU/hr which means for 100k BTU/hr total power, you'll need 1k cfm. This measure largely depends on the type of cooking you typically do and the shape/size of hood. It can also depend on placement, e.g. island placement would require higher cfm to be as effective. The differences between inline, remote, or internal is basically one of installation condition and noise. Internal blowers obviously generate more noise in the living space but the perceptual affect is arguable.

The hood is the part you see. It typically provides a volume of space to capture smoke so that it can be pulled out by the blower, through the filter. The purpose is containment. Standard recommendation is to overhang the hood about 3" left and right (also front and back for island install) if possible. That means the hood will be 6" larger total than the size of your range. This is often ignored by sales people because they know that most buyers have heartburn over the hood price. A lot of this depends on if you stirfry, pan fry, saute, or deep fry a lot. Also if you have a grill on the rangetop. If you don't do any of these regularly then you can probably get a hood the same size as your range provided it's a standard wall location with cabinets on both sides.

The filter (also called "inserts") is the part that goes inside the hood. There are basically three types of filters: baffles, mesh, and centrifugal. Baffles is probably the most common for high end home and commercial restaurant use. It's not patented so most manufacturers have baffle filters. Mesh filters use to be standard for home hoods but they aren't popular today due to the fact that they decrease efficiency very drastically if not cleaned very regularly. Also, buildup will eventually require the mesh to be replaced. Both mesh and baffles operate by providing a surface for vapors to condense on. The difference is baffles provide solid surfaces that grease can drip off of into a capture container where a mesh filter holds onto it in the same space the air flows through. The third is what Vent-a-Hood uses which is basically to spin the grease to the inside of a housing. The housing holds the grease and needs to be removed to be cleaned. I've used all three and prefer baffles.

To summarize the possible combos:
1. hood, filter, and blower all separate
2. hood/filter unit with separate blower
3. filter insert with internal blower as one unit (typically used with custom or built-in hoods)
4. All three together.

Most hoods come with a filter or both filter and blower. I'm surprised you have not found any single units with all three since most major manufacturers offer single unit solutions. Internal blowers tend to be around the 600-900 cfm range. At 1200cfm, choices tend to lean towards inline or remote blowers. It does not sound like you are interested in a custom hood or super high 1200+ cfm so a single combined unit is probably your best bet to stay in budget.

Without knowing the type of cooking you do, it's hard to know how much venting power you'll need but I'd say at least 600cfm with either a 36" or 42" with an internal blower. If you've got the room, I'd go with the 42" since it's not that much more. If you regularly stirfry or saute, I'd suggest 900-1000cfm in a 42" hood. As I said before, I prefer baffle filters.

Good luck.. hope this helps.


clipped on: 10.16.2012 at 02:51 pm    last updated on: 10.16.2012 at 02:51 pm

RE: Abbaka Ventilator (Follow-Up #19)

posted by: BrightFutureFoods on 02.09.2012 at 10:45 am in Appliances Forum


I have the 1400 Abbakka roof-mounted blower...we have one elbow and opted for the silencer as the pipe runs through my son's bedroom closet upstairs before reaching the blower on the roof.

The blower is extremely quiet. At high speed it does raise the noise level slightly right at the range, but very, very quiet upstairs. We are very satisfied with the blower. It handles most smoke/vapor however when grilling smokey items (steaks that aren't fully trimmed, etc.), some smoke does escape into the room and can be seen roiling around the ceiling lights. Nevertheless it is not bad enough to make it unpleasant to be in the kitchen. Otherwise it captures everything.

I attribute the grill smoke issue to two factors that have nothing to do with the Abbaka blower:

1. We have a highback with shelf that interferes somewhat with smoke escaping directly upward and
2. While we bought an overwidth hood for our range (54" inch hood for a 48" range) we elected to go for a 24" depth instead of a 27" depth. Not sure i'd make that choice again, although for most applications it makes standing over the range more pleasant for me and my height).

Good luck!


clipped on: 10.16.2012 at 02:38 pm    last updated on: 10.16.2012 at 02:40 pm

RE: custom booth dimensions (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: corgimum on 10.05.2012 at 02:10 pm in Kitchens Forum

Maybe this drawing will help you out.


clipped on: 10.05.2012 at 08:27 pm    last updated on: 10.05.2012 at 08:27 pm

RE: Dream Thread! (What do you wish you had now?) (Follow-Up #33)

posted by: angela12345 on 06.03.2011 at 12:20 am in Building a Home Forum

Here are links to some of the earlier threads . . . - unique/favorite features in your build.... - Things you couldn't live without or wish you had added - What things did you find needed adjusting or changed? - is there anything you wish you had done - What about your new build makes your life easier; what doesn't ? - Brands/Products That I'd Use Again - Share your best sites for deals on supplies! - To help others - Things I would do different and things i love! - Things I wish I'd specified on my plans - It's been two years...what I've learned, would change, etc... - Biggest Mistakes? - Help!!! Have I forgotten anything? - designing electrical in house - doing whole house audio


clipped on: 03.19.2012 at 03:11 pm    last updated on: 09.06.2012 at 05:45 pm

RE: Is Ikea for us? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: EAM44 on 08.19.2012 at 02:03 am in Kitchens Forum

Barker cabinets are better quality, easier to assemble, less expensive, come in sizes customizable in all dimensions to 1/4", and come with standard blum slow close glides and hinges. They offer many door styles and wood species and you can buy them unfinished, with a conversion varnish finish, or (in a week or two) white, if hubby changes his mind. It's a US company. Production time is 16 to 21 days.

Here is a link that might be useful: Barker


clipped on: 08.22.2012 at 10:18 pm    last updated on: 08.22.2012 at 10:18 pm

RE: Letting go of lights in the glass cabinets. *sigh* (Follow-Up #24)

posted by: 1929Spanish on 08.21.2012 at 09:52 pm in Kitchens Forum

I'm not a fan of lighted kitchen cabinets. For some reason I just think it's overkill....probably because you wouldn't see them in a vintage home.

Here's a couple photos of our non-lighted, sort of organized (but not really) cabinets. We're waiting for a couple missing parts before we can fully load the kitchen. The tall cabinet just has stuff "tossed" in there.





clipped on: 08.21.2012 at 10:25 pm    last updated on: 08.21.2012 at 10:26 pm

RE: Thermador hood with Abbaka external blower (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: kaseki on 12.06.2011 at 12:42 pm in Appliances Forum

Note fan "dimmers" differ from lamp dimmers in that they turn from off to full on, and then "dim." They are also designed for the inductive loads typical of induction motors. So be sure to pick a suitably powerful fan control, not lamp control.

Wall mount may be necessary depending on your hood's configuration.



clipped on: 08.15.2012 at 11:36 pm    last updated on: 08.15.2012 at 11:36 pm

Rangehoods for Dummies

posted by: tadhg555 on 01.09.2012 at 03:34 pm in Appliances Forum

We are in the middle of planning a kitchen remodel, and have decided (99%) on a 36" 6-burner Capital Culinarian rangetop.

Now I need to consider a range hood, and I'm afraid I'm not really sure how the different elements work together. For the past 10 years we've lived with a paltry little Nutone vent that hardly sucks up the steam from cooked rice, so our goal is to install a system that actually works. This is a priority for us (especially my wife), so we've got to get this one right.

What we want:
1. Effective - no greasy smoke swirling around the kitchen and into the dining room
2. Quiet (as quiet as possible)
3. Cost. We're willing to pay but don't want to go overboard. We are more concerned with effective operation than any bells and whistles or aesthetics.

I have read about the Abakka Hyex exterior blowers and they look intriguing but I don't understand exactly how they work. What other elements would I need to purchase besides that unit? Ducting? A hood liner? What else? Would I need to buy everything from Abakka or could I mix and match manufacturers?

We are in Northern California so I don't know that MUA is a factor. The hood will also be positioned between two windows.

Any advice is appreicated!


clipped on: 03.28.2012 at 12:51 am    last updated on: 08.15.2012 at 09:03 pm

LED recessed cans guide for kitchen ...

posted by: davidtay on 01.30.2012 at 01:27 am in Lighting Forum

A collection of tips/ answers
Since kitchens have higher lighting requirements, I like to use 35 lumen per sq ft as a rule to compute the number of lights. If there are additional sources of light that will be used, the output (lumens not watts) from those sources can be deducted from the total.

Placement/ layout
1. Cans should be > 24 to 30 inches from the wall (on center). Most countertop spaces have upper cabinets (typically ~ 12" deep) + crown molding. The edge of the can may be spaced ~ 12" away from the edge of the crown molding (if present or cabinet if there is no crown molding) making the average distance between 26 to 30 inches.

2. Assuming the need for a fairly uniformly lit space @ 35 lumens per sq ft, the cans may have to be spaced closer together - between 3 - 4 ft apart (if all general lighting is provided by recessed lights). A fairly regular pattern is preferable to a random layout.

3. The actual layout of cans will be impacted by the location of ceiling joists, HVAC ducting, electrical wiring, plumbing, ceiling height, fire suppression sprinklers and other obstructions above the ceiling.

The Cree LR6 series lamps do not dim as well as the later models (CR6, ...). ELV dimmers probably work better with LR6 than incandescent dimmers since the total load of the lights may not meet the minimum load requirement for the incandescent dimmer.

Dimmers such as the Lutron Diva CL dimmers work well. The max output is 95%.

Some Choices (in order of preference) and notes
Cree CR6 or ECO-575 (Home Depot branded CR6)
ECO4-575 (Home Depot branded Cree CR4 4" recessed light)
The above are only available in 2700k light color.

Cree LR6 series - including the LE6.

The Cree CR6 and LR6 lamps will not fit into 5" housings.

The standard LR6 behaves more like a surface mount than a recessed light as the LED emitters are close to the surface and the recess is shallow. Some may not like the amount of light spillage (standard LR6).

There is a higher output version of the LR6 that has a much deeper recess.

To prevent the Cree lamps from falling out, the 3 prongs have to be fully extended and a slight clockwise twist made when push installing. The slight clockwise twist will ensure that the prongs are fully extended.

The Cree lamps are currently the best available today (2012).

Sylvania RT-6, RT-4. The lights could be easier to install than Cree lamps as they utilize the torsion spring mechanism. However, the lights do not look as pleasant as the Cree lamps.

The Cree and Sylvania lamps do outperform 26W CFLs (and incandescents) in a standard recessed can in terms of light spread and output as the standard bulb in a can solution traps a significant amount of light. The Cree and Sylvania recessed lamp solutions referenced above have all the LED elements facing outwards so that the effective light output is higher.

The CRI (Color Rendition Index) of Cree and Sylvania recessed lamps > 80.

There is no warm up time required for Cree recessed lamps, unlike CFL light bulbs.

Most recessed lighting is used with flat ceilings. Sloped ceilings would require special solutions such as the LE6 or some other form of lighting (i.e. -non recessed lighting).

Some common objections to recessed can lights stem from
1. looks and performance of traditional can lights (standard bulb in a can)
2. swiss cheese effect from too many holes.


clipped on: 08.08.2012 at 10:06 pm    last updated on: 08.08.2012 at 10:06 pm

Preventative Measures - A Success Story

posted by: wwwonderwhiskers on 08.21.2011 at 01:19 pm in Building a Home Forum

Or you can call this "Leaving a breadcrumb trail". This is a story of Documentation.

This is intended for the individual who is embarking on the Building A Home process, and who has NEVER thought to do this. The following is an EXCELLENT example of why you may want to consider doing this. Hopefully others with similar experience will chime in, and perhaps even fine tune or add to this process. Do not expect it to be pretty, and it does not need to be perfect, but it DOES really need to be done!!

The topic here is "DOCUMENT: Take Pictures Of your Walls, Ceilings, Floors, and etc., Capturing The Location of Pipes, Wires, and Whatever - BEFORE the Drywall Goes Up.

And KNOW THIS - while you are taking the pictures, you actually know where you are at the time. Viewing your pictures in three months, you will have NO IDEA where you were unless you Identify The Room, and Mark A Starting Point.

If this interests you, please read on. I will explain How To, then I will give you a fabulous example with pictures.

TIP: In the future months, you will be LIMITED to what the Camera saw - ie, what is shown within the edges of the picture frame. Please do not forget this!!! If you've had Camera 101, they usually mention this, but it is a completely alien perspective to the uninitiated.
So you will need to simply:
1.) Identify your location;
2.) Move around the room methodically (and not jump around different locations)
3.) overlap your image areas.

- Discover the date when your drywall is going in. Do not expect your Builder to keep you apprised - you need to follow the progress constantly and ASK THE BUILDER for a date of When drywall is going in.
- Plan YOURSELF - When & Where? IE, What Time of day is sunlight Where in your house? Think of that as you plan your starting point for taking pictures.
- If you do not have the time, and the schedule will bear, ask them to leave you at least one day to take pictures. This is not unreasonable, and it should be arranged.*
- Take supplies - Camera with fresh batteries, room on the chip or film, water, snacks, a notepad / legal pad, tape, and black magic-marker.

- Start wherever you want - top to bottom, or bottom-to-top. Think that this might be SUNLIGHT CONTINGENT; meaning what time of day do you have What type of light Where in your house so you can see? Might make sense to begin in the basement, for example.
- Pick your Starting Room(s). Identify The Room. Since to your Camera's eye, ALL rooms in your house look like a bunch of lumber running in different directions, you WILL NEED to Identify The Room and Mark A Starting Point (Yes, I know you are different, and a SuperHero, but please trust me on this one).
- After your starting room(s) are chosen, take your black marker & notepad (we used 8.5 x 14 pad) and write something that YOU know will Identify the Room, and what you are photographing. EXAMPLE: write "Basement Storage Area and Exersize Room - start at Outside Door, work Clockwise".
- Take a picture of your notepad showing this note, which both Identifies The Room, and Marks A Starting Point.
- After you've taken a picture of your Notepad, which Identifies the room that you are in & the direction in which you will be working, begin taking pictures.
- Back far enough away from the wall that you capture the wall - floor to ceiling - in one picture. You may want to turn the camera so it takes "vertical" picture. In above example of moving clockwise, as you take the picture, note what is on the Righthand side of the picture.
- The 2nd picture that you take, make sure your Identifying mark is now on the left-hand side of the picture. Take your 2nd picture, and note what is again on the right-hand side of your picture.
- Set the camera where your 2nd pic right-hand mark is now on the lefthand side, and take your Third picture.
- Repeat until the room or area has been Documented.

NOTE: For walls where not much is going on, you might want to maintain this distance. Where walls have a lot going on - electric + hvac + plumbing + outlets & switches, you might want to FIRST DO THE OVERALL, then NEXT DO A CLOSEUP for that area.

- Move into your next area, and again write on your Notepad for example "Basement Guest Bathroom, begin on tub wall & move counter-clockwise".

Now, if you're thinking "You're KIDDING - what a pain!! This is a LOT OF TROUBLE!". Then please at least skim the below Success Story, and then re-consider: Which is really more trouble?? I spend 4 hours or one single day taking pictures of my walls? or my entire Family is delayed for one to three MONTHS while the builder has to rip out ALL THE DRYWALL in these areas to find the problem because one of his subs made a mistake?? Rental extensions & work vacation changes & storage extensions & school delays & extra expense & interest rate changes & lost-interest-rate-locks & Holiday intrusions & hospital expenses when you get your ulcer or totally stroke-out, & etc., etc., etc.

A Tale of Validation for Preparation (also called "The Builder Owes You a Big One")

If you read the above, we did this. We documented. I have an older, lower MPx camera, the house was dark, it was 3 weeks after my dearest sweet kitty Fresca had to be let go to her ancestors, two weeks since I'd been sent on a cross-country business trip, and the day after getting back into town from burying my step-father - but we did it anyway. Storms had knocked out the Oven in our rental, and the Wed before the Funeral our clothes dryer quit.
We took pictures anyway.

The Superintendent this week admitted that he thought we were crazy taking so many pictures.

The Tale:
Wednesday of this week, my phone rang. It was DH (Dear Husband) who says "how busy are you?". Well I was at work, and had been up since 2:30am to get ready for work, then drive the 45 minutes out to the construction site to set up 5 hoses, 5 timers & 5 sprinklers, then begin setting timers on the water sprinklers by 4am since they installed Sod the day before - before driving the hour into work & only being 30 minutes late**.

me: "What's wrong now??" (experienced, can you tell??)

DH: "The Plumber was testing the water upstairs, and found out that the hot faucets give cold, and the cold faucets give hot - only upstairs. We need to go through the pictures, and send the Superintendent any picture which shows any plumbing pipes or junctions that might lead to the upstairs."

Well, I know that we took almost 400 pictures, which I diligently backed-up onto an external drive (which I keep with me). I was half crazed from 60 minutes' sleep, so sure! Why not?
I went through the pictures & pulled out 50 or so, zipped them in to 6 different files labeled by room grouping, and sent them via email to the Superintendent. The plumber went over to the Super's house, and they reviewed the pictures. In 45 minutes, BECAUSE WE HAD PICTURES OF EVERYTHING, they found the problem, and had planned an easy solution.

If we had not had pictures of the walls & infrastructure, they would have had to rip out drywall until they found the problem. For us, potentially (in order):
- Basement - ALL the HVAC run in the unfinished ceiling, because plumbing is behind it;
- Basement - ALL the drywall in the "boxed in utility corridor" section where they boxed in the HVAC & plumb & wiring - adjacent to stairs, in the Game Room, along the length of the Bathroom - over tub & over toilet, the ceiling & walls of 2 Closets;
- Main Floor - ALL the shelving in the back of the food pantry, maybe the Butler's Pantry too, then drywall & part of the ceiling along that back wall;
- Main Floor - ALL the drywall in the mudroom "owners closet" and bench area, and part of the ceiling;
- Main Floor - ALL the drywall on two walls of the laundry room;
Then if they still had not found it, Laundry ceiling, garage walls, then on upstairs, Cabinetry & Walls, until they found it.

Doesn't that sound like fun?????? Sounds like a minimum six week delay to me, and THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of dollars out of builder's pocket, and thousands out of mine because I now loose my mortgage lock, storage extension, mover's changed, longer interest on a construction loan, more time in a tiny apartment, and by the time we moved it would be Holidays. In addition to the fact that EVERYTHING that would have to be re-done: re-ordered, re-installed, re-nailed, re-trimmed, re-painted, etc., etc., etc.

An Example of Pictures:

This is an example some of the pictures we took just to show you that "it doesn't have to be pretty, but it has to be done". This one is actually in that basement boxed-in, overhead "utility corridor" where they would have to have ripped out:

Just a random example of a wall in the kitchen - but an example we took which shows a LOT if you look - propane lines, electrical lines, ceiling can, plug outlets, direct wire for VaH & RangeTop, etc. - all in relation to the window:

This is the area of the wall where they planned the swap of hot-to-cold:

This is how we documented this AFTER the fix, so when they seal up the wall, and if we need to know in 5 years where this is, again - we have it documented:




*Under Plan The Event, just to give you an idea, it took us the better part of a 2-day weekend to photo 4350 sq.ft. on three levels. But then we are OCD & pretty slow moving & particular. Might not take you that long.

**Yes this does seem a little un-coordinated, but that was not my plan. I knew when the yard was going in, and took a day of vacation. When i got there, the builder STILL had not put water to the exterior hose-bibbs - even though I emailed 1 month in advance to do so, again 1 week in advance, AGAIN 3 days in advance, and phoned twice the way they were laying Sod. When I showed up on site, my hose-bibbs were STILL not flowing, and I had my materials & had taken a day of vacation, and when I saw that he was off "playing" on his grading machine on a different lot - I completely lost it. Yes, he left his dozer, and it took them ALL DAY to finish the plumbing to the point that the the bibbs would work. Yes, he was speechless when at the top of my lungs I asked him "then WHY ON EARTH DID YOU ORDER THEM TO LAY SOD IF YOU DON'T HAVE WATER???" Bonehead. Seriously. His response "well, there's water to the tank". I said "YES!! There's WATER IN THE GROUND!!! What GOOD does it do me if I can't get access to it????" That shut him up.
It was a fun day!! (NOT. to me this is abysmally sad) My throat is still sore.......


clipped on: 07.28.2012 at 03:00 pm    last updated on: 07.28.2012 at 03:03 pm

home building blogs?

posted by: gingerjenny on 03.23.2012 at 12:55 pm in Building a Home Forum

I thought about maybe starting a blog to document this whole home building process...yeah, i have nothing better to do. lol

I was just wondering if anyone out there knows of some blogs that documented their build. I thought they might provide an interesting read.

i've googled and found a few but thought I'd ask here.


clipped on: 07.28.2012 at 12:37 am    last updated on: 07.28.2012 at 12:37 am

RE: Slippery stairs - how do you deal? Plus progress pic (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: dekeoboe on 07.26.2012 at 08:17 pm in Building a Home Forum

The floors were all site finished and we specified the Bona Traffic Anti-slip because I did not want slippery floors where older dogs would have a problem getting up. I don't remember how much it cost, the price was included in with the floor install.


clipped on: 07.27.2012 at 02:01 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2012 at 02:02 pm

RE: Small things that get forgotten (Follow-Up #59)

posted by: Laura12 on 06.03.2012 at 01:19 pm in Building a Home Forum

All the suggestions posted on this thread have been so valuable, though I'm sure many of you (like myself) find your head spinning with all the ideas, so I just sat down and categorized them all!

Closet & Organization
- Plugs in several closets
- Make sure your closet has enough space for both double hung rods, and singles to accomadate long clothes
- Full size broom cupboard in pantry or laundry room to hide all the cleaning items away from sight.
- More closet/linen space than you think you'll need
- Cubbies in mudroom with an outlet in each one
- Motion sensor on pantry and closet lights

- Plug in master toilet closet for night light
- Outlets inside vanity cabinets (upper and lower) in bathroom for dryer etc.
- Heated towels racks
- Don't caulk the bottom of your toilet to the tile to hide potential leaks
- Make use of the pony wall in a bathroom by turning it into storage.
- Vac pans for hair
- Appliance garage on counter

- Run conduit under the driveway for future wiring or plumbing needs
- Prewire speakers both indoor and outdoor
- Ensure you have hose outlets and power on all 4 sides of your house, and on top of any raised areas
- Hot/cold outdoor water is good for washing pets
- Motion sensor pre-wire for selected exterior lights
- Keypad entry on garage door (Keypad entry on front door is great as well)
- Gas line to grill

- Plugs in kitchen pantry for charging, or for items that may end up living there
- Recess the fridge
- With wide islands put cabinets on the both sides. While they are not easy to get to, they are good for storing seldomly used items.
- Built in paper towel holder
- Custom storage organization in kitchen drawers
- Warming drawer in dining room
- Pantry entrance near both kitchen and garage
- Custom shelves and a place to plug in appliances in pantry
- Plugs above cabinets for Christmas lighting
- Set up for both gas and electric appliances
- Pantry door on swivel
- Pantry light on motion sensor
- Copper tubing for your ice maker from the freezer and until it's out of the kitchen wall
- Drawer microwave
- Knife drawer
- Pull-out garbage/recycling/laundry (for dirty dish towels/napkins/bibs!)
- Paper towel holder in drawer slot
- Drawers for all lower cabinets (more efficient use of space)
- Two soap pumps at sink (one for handsoap, one for dish soap)
- Easy-access place to store frequently used appliances
- place to hang hand towels & aprons

Electrical & Plumbing
- Prewire security system & cameras
- Run wire and prepare roof for future solar
- Run a 2" PVC pipe up from the basement to the attic for future wiring needs, some suggested double conduits.
- Seperate 20z circut with outlets at waist height in garage to plug in tools
- Seperate 20z ciructe for TV and a/v equipment
- Identify areas for low voltage can/rack
- Pre-wring for music and speakers, inside and outside
- iPad controllers in the walls to control whole house music systems
- Pre-wire for generator to essential areas
- Carbon monozide unit on the wall upstairs
- Make sure plumbing in bathrooms are done correctly. One commenter's toilet was placed too close to the tub pipes so I couldn't get the deeper tub because they didn't allow room.
- Cast iron pipes for the plumbing drops from the second floor cuts down on noise
- Take pictures of all the walls before Sheetrock went up so you knew where all the wiring was in case you needed to add or change anything.
- Include a 220V to garage (tools, future electric car etc)
- Measure the location of anything under the slab, and various utilities out in the yard.
- Run an electrical line with a few floor outlets, especially since we have very open floor plan and couch sets are not against a wall
- Plumbed for a built-in drinking fountain,

- Light switch to the attic in the hallway (and remember lights in attic in general)
- Solar tubes in areas that don�t get natural sunlight
- In cabinet lights and outside lights on timers
- Make sure you check the cost ratings of ceiling fans
- Check all remotes for ceiling fans prior to construction completion
- 3 way switches where helpful
- Master switch from master that controls all exterior lights
- A master switch at each exit (Front, back or garage), that turns off all of the power to the switches/lights in the house, so that you can turn off all lights without going to each room and/or light switch.

- 4 plug outlets near the bed in the master
- A light switch at the head of your bed so you can turn out the light once you are in bed.

- Plugs under eaves for holiday lights, with a switch inside to turn on and off.
- Enough storage for Christmas decorations
- Seasonal closet with hangers for wreaths, and space for rubbermaid storage boxes.
- Plugs for Christmas lights: over cabinets, in stairway, in porch ceiling, under eaves

Heating, Cooling, and Vacuums
- Central Vac with vac pans, if you have hardwood floors - get a Hideahose
- Plan where furnace vents will go instead of letting the builder decide
- Hepa filtration for allegergy sufferers
- WarmFloors heating

- Read Myron Ferguson has a book out, "Better Houses, Better Living"
- Receptacles for fire extinguishers. Maybe plan some cutouts so they are flush to the wall.
- Where possible pocket doors
- Secondary dryer lint trap
- Soundproofing where needed
- Stairs from garage to basement
- A phone by the door leading into the garage for those pesky calls when you are getting in or out of the car
- An inside button to open and close your garage door for when guests arrive and its raining.
- Additional support during framing on the top side of windows for curtains
- Power outage flashlights and keep in outlets around around house. Recess these into the space with each fire extinguisher.
- Mailbox sensor to alert you whenever your mailbox is opened so that you're not running out of the house checking for mail when it's not there.
- Ensure builders don't "box" off spaces, where storage or shelving could go
- Make copies of manuals prior to installation and give the builder the copies so you can keep the originals.
- Minimal walls, and lots of windows.
- A laundry room. Not just a hall, or closet, a room.
- Spindles and hand rail made that can be removed for moving furniture
- Handicapped accessible.
- Plan an elevator shaft in case you want to install one later, in the meantime it will serve as storage closets.

- Plan a specific place for your dog food,
- Place for the kitty box,
- Place for dogs to be bathed
- place for dog crates
- Exhaust fan in laundry room for litterbox

Regional considerations:
- an ante-room, with coatracks and shoe storage, and a way to keep the heat in.
- An entrance to the basement from outside for salt delivery, repair men etc so they don't track thru your house.
- storm shelter to weather the threats your area faces.
- a mosquito system and
- little covered niche for bear spray at/near each entry.
- Drain in the garage to get rid of the excess water quicker from vehicles after it snows
- Pest line (brand name Taexx) a small tube is run around the perimeter of the home through the framing, and then pest control can spray within it.


clipped on: 07.23.2012 at 01:02 am    last updated on: 07.23.2012 at 01:03 am

RE: Lighting Plan for Bedrooms (Follow-Up #27)

posted by: wwwonderwhiskers on 01.26.2012 at 02:01 pm in Building a Home Forum

The thing which has made the MOST difference in our newly finished construction, has been wall-switching HALF of SOME of the Electrical Outlets. At least the two beside the bed.

For example, if you allocate the top half of your electrical plug-in receptacle to be wired to the wall-switch. This will allow you to enter the doorway, flip a wall-switch, and have the two (or whatever) lamps on either side of your bed come on. This was engineer-hubby's idea, and a good one. But we did not do EVERY outlet, I don't think. Also, if you will run security lighting timers there, take care to pay attention which "upper or lower" you plug into, if they are wall switched. Else you'll leave home and your timer will not run without the wall switch on.

We found the most important thing about lighting is to examine the way you behave in that area. If you vacuum at night a lot, you might want overhead light. If you are like me and loathe working in my own shadow, some other sort of lighting will probably be better for you.

Cans: We have task-oriented cans in the kitchen that I could not live without. A room is over the kitchen, so vast quantities of heated air being sucked out through these leaks (seriously??) is not an issue, and visually they are aligned / centered in the window space (yes, we had to beat the electrician, but got them re-done before drywall).
I let DH have his way in the laundry room, and now I wish I'd fought to have one overhead, and one task-can over the laundry sink. I find myself only going into that room to work when it is daylight, when I can use the window light. (DH is an engineer, whereas I am school in theatrical lighting & still photography - you can see the native dichotomy here? are you laughing? LOL)

But you are PLANNING. That alone made ALL the difference in the world for us. Good luck!

v/r - Les.


clipped on: 07.22.2012 at 03:19 am    last updated on: 07.22.2012 at 03:19 am

RE: Small things that get forgotten (Follow-Up #31)

posted by: christin78 on 04.27.2012 at 02:34 pm in Building a Home Forum

During framing have a pest line installed, with a stub out (brand name is Taexx). A small tube is run all the way around the perimeter of the home through the framing. A stub out is installed connected to the tubing so that pest control companies can connect and spray inside the walls. I had this done on a previous home and had zero problem with bugs, spiders, termites and the like

Here is a link that might be useful: Taexx


clipped on: 05.23.2012 at 09:32 pm    last updated on: 05.23.2012 at 09:32 pm

Intelligent Design Ideas

posted by: arsenalfan on 03.13.2012 at 10:13 am in Building a Home Forum

First GW Post! We are building a new old farmhouse design, and I greatly appreciate the crowd-sourced wisdom and experience shared here.

As we finish the design phase, I want to be sure we've considered all the neat home features out there. I think about buying our last car which came with keyless entry - we thought it was unnecessary, but wife now finds it essential.

Like that (or an Apple product) I want our home to be full of "wow, someone thought about this" concepts, that are helpful. Emphasis on thoughtful, not neccesarily techy.

I've read the excellent recent discussion that had 7-8 links to "what you can't live without" and "big mistakes" and "2 yrs later - what would you do different/same", and am going more for the 1-2 things that reflect design thought and make their houses a home.

I'll go first, knock out the low-hanging fruit, and show what I'm thinking about:

1. Big Mudroom - everyone's opinion is different, but it will be off garage, have lockers, next to laundry, half bath. Yet to find a shoe storage option I like (hold 8 pairs per person, wife has boots, want them paired up and not in a basket, but also not staring at a wall of shoes.

2. Unique kitchen cabinetry: The list here could be huge and is very personal. Beyond spice racks/appliance garages/all lower cabinetry being drawers, we like: built-in towel holder to free up counter space; kitchen aid mixer stand mixer storage mechanism that brings it up (although we expect to take mixer off this, as using the mixer on high makes a vibrating racket on the mechanism); pots/pans slide-out drawers under our gas range-top (wife doesn't like hanging pots). Please share any novel kitchen storage ideas!

3. Counter-weighted pocket doors - pull right door open and left door opens the same amount as well. When we saw these in our builder's home, it was great - a not-obvious feature that, when you use it, immediately implies quality workmanship.

4. Shower ceiling light with built-in fan - looks great to hide fan entry; hopefully they work as well. And fan timer.

5. Closet door-jamb light switches. Clearly a "someone thought about this" feature. Didn't know about these until we saw them in a new home.

6. Kitchen island 5" mini-wall to hide kitchen mess. We have a 7'x13' island with farmhouse sink on one side and 6 stools on the other, and wanted to hide sink clutter. A 2-level island wasn't for us. So 6" beyond the sink we're putting up a 4" wide and 6" tall mini-wall that will run about 6 feet. Good ledge for flower vases and whatnot, can still talk to folks on stools, they have to crane to see what's in sink.

7. Master Bed Room switch to control the outdoor floods. Weird noise outside? Flip all the floods on.

8. Instant hot water. Ok, I cheated and this is techy, not so much design and more "what can't you live without." But an example of something we never thought we'd need until our current home came with it - now we love it as we're french press coffee/tea people.

9. Outdoor holiday light outlets. No more extension cords thru the garage/storm windows!

10. Outdoor grilling area gas and electric outlets - ok, I know, this is very basic and no-duh.

Cool but not for us:
1. Central vac with hide-a-hose and vacuum pans.
2. The lighting systems that have different schemes that let you light up different paths/turn everything off, etc.

Your turn, and thanks in advance!


clipped on: 05.21.2012 at 07:07 pm    last updated on: 05.21.2012 at 07:07 pm

RE: 5' or 6' recessed lights? any other tips? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: breezygirl on 10.14.2011 at 12:40 am in Kitchens Forum

Here's my kitchen with cans.

Kitchen from FR 10/12

Since we already had 6" cans in part of the house open to the kitchen, we put new 6" cans in the kitchen. This pic doesn't really do much to help because the trim housing isn't on them yet, and one can doesn't have a bulb. (The holes over the island are for ceiling flush mounts.)

As far as placement, here are some general tips. Cans in front of uppers should be centered on the front edge of the counter. Cans over counters without uppers should be centered over the middle of the counter.

If you need to know how far apart, where to generally place them, etc., I'm no help. I could show you my lighting plan done by a lighting store pro, but it's been criticized here so I'm not so sure you want to see it. :) I suggest posting your layout on the Lighting Forum for help or go to a lighting store and ask for help.


clipped on: 05.21.2012 at 06:13 pm    last updated on: 05.21.2012 at 06:13 pm

RE: Can a timer run just the fan on a Panasonic Whisper Warm fan? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: kitchenkrazed09 on 06.25.2010 at 07:33 am in Bathrooms Forum

I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I purchased a Lutron Maestro Count-Down timer, model MA-T51, for our Panasonic Whisper fan. Our fan does not have a light. This timer operates just the fan, but will work with a light as well. They have a model with a dual timer and dimmer to separately operate a light and fan (I think this is what Jacobse posted, but I can't see the photo for some reason). Here's a link to the Lutron web site, showing the different models they offer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lutron Timers


clipped on: 05.21.2012 at 05:05 pm    last updated on: 05.21.2012 at 05:05 pm

RE: Can a timer run just the fan on a Panasonic Whisper Warm fan? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: jacobse on 06.25.2010 at 01:18 am in Bathrooms Forum

I just posted about this in the other thread about fans & timers... Here's a switch Lutron makes which combines a dimmer for a light and a timer for a fan in the space of a single switch.

I'm not sure whether the dimmer portion is suitable for controlling the heater, though. You might have to see how much power the heater draws and compare it to what the switch is rated for (300W, I think).

-- Eric


clipped on: 05.21.2012 at 04:58 pm    last updated on: 05.21.2012 at 04:59 pm

RE: negotiate allowances with builder? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: macv on 01.09.2011 at 12:43 pm in Building a Home Forum

Allowances are not bids and should always be negotiated so both parties are OK with them. Think of allowances as small cost-plus contracts inside of a fixed-price contract and the dollar amounts as a budget. They are needed to help define the scope of the project for budgeting, borrowing and setting a reasonable fee for the GC. If possible allowances should only be used for materials, not installation and labor and only when a material cannot be defined in time for signing the contract.

Since allowance amounts are really just budgets they shouldn't mean much but the wild cards are how the GC's mark-up will be adjusted on the final cost (try to get the increase eliminated) and what subs and suppliers can be used (try to add a provision for you to select a sub or for you to provide the material if you are not satisfied with the selection and/or prices from the GC's subs).

If you can get those contract provisions, the allowance amounts only help you budget/borrow for the project. If they are included in competitive bidding they will usually be so low they are useless. Try to set them high enough that they won't cause trouble for you later. If the GC doesn't want them to be raised that's a red flag IMHO.


clipped on: 05.21.2012 at 12:18 am    last updated on: 05.21.2012 at 12:18 am

RE: Where to cut the budget? (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: mydreamhome on 11.12.2011 at 11:21 pm in Building a Home Forum

Thanks for posting those specs! Here's what I see right off the bat...

Windows--If you like the clad, have the Marvin Integrity windows quoted. Their cladding is actually a fiberglass type material that looks very similar to aluminum clad, have the same if not better warranty, a better track record vs. Windsor & should come in significantly lower. Windows were my hot button & we looked very seriously at Windsor, Pella, Marvin Ultimate, & Jeld-Wen aluminum clad. See the link below for a condensed rundown on the research--it's the 1st reply in the thread. If you'd like to cut the window cost even further, all vinyl would literally slash the price. Will you use the screens? If not, you can cut approx $20 for each window. To give you an idea of savings based on our house: All aluminum clad windows (from Windsor, Jeld-Wen, & Pella) w/ GBG including patio doors ~$35K, Marvin Integrity clad windows w/ GBG including patio doors ~$20K, All vinyl w/ GBG & fiberglass flush glaze patio doors ~$13K. Marvin also offers a 10% rebate for builders who are using them for the 1st time. Marvin Integrity Website is

Patio Doors--I found a great alternative to the aluminum clad doors that looks just as nice IMO but at a MUCH cheaper cost. They are fiberglass with a flush glazed window made by Plastpro. The flush glazed window is what makes it look almost identical to the aluminum clad patio doors. (These look nothing like the doors with the plastic frame around them with the screw hole fillers that are never put in right and look so cheap.) I want to say the doors ran about $550 each vs. over $1,000 each for the aluminum clad ones. They match my windows perfectly even though they are from different manufacturers. I was able to see them in the local ProBuild showroom. According to their website, there is a ProBuild in White Oak, PA. You can see the doors online at If you'd like, I can take a photo of my doors & post it for you.

Hardwood Floors--the maple explains the $9.00 per sq ft. You could go with a select grade white or red oak and stain it naturally for significantly less.

Brick-Price seems high. We went with an upper end General Shale Brick & the contractor's price was $320 per 1000. Now that allowance listed may include your mortar & sand too and possibly even labor. I would make sure you ask what the allowance includes & ask for a copy of the invoive from the brick supplier to verify what was actually spent. Of course, you can ask the supplier ahead of time & see if they will tell you what they are charging your builder--afterall you're just wanting to make sure you stay on budget.

Paint-Ditch the eggshell and go latex flat

Doors-Use solid core masonite on bedrooms, powder room, door from garage into house & laundry. Use hollow core masonite on all others. Hollow core are significantly less expensive. You need the solid core to help reduce sound transmission, otherwise hollow core will perform well for you.

Sinks/Faucets/Shower-Hop on & to see if you can get what you want for less than what the allowances are. Skip HD & Lowe's though as their faucets tend to be of lesser quality even if made by the same manufacturer. (Examples of deals I landed: I got my Kohler Bancroft bathroom sinks for $5 each on clearance @ Lowe's, my Kohler Purist tub was a plumbing supplier showroom floor model I got for $900, I picked up a Kohler Undertone 18" x 18" sink for the laundry for $20 in the Bargain Bin at a local plumbing warehouse, I saved over $100 on the laundry room sink faucet by going through had it in on sale in their "Attic".) All of those savings really start to add up--they were all exactly what I had already researched & had on my list of wants.

Bathroom Hardware-You can probably save about 1/2 going to TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning or even

Retaining Walls--Does your site require them? Looks like they are figured in whether it does or not with no allowance listed.

Basement--Looks like you have one specced. Do you really need it with the square fotage you already have? Yes, they are nice to have for future expansion opportunities, & it's cheap square footage relatively. If you were to forgo it, you're probably looking at around $60,000 in savings right there. If you're set on a basement, what about a partial one vs. a full one?

Cabinetry & Countertops--I think you will end up going over here. I really think the allowance is too low. I'd plan for at least another $5,000 on the granite & another $10,000 on the cabinets. I really doubt the inset cabinet doors and all drawers were included to calculate the allowance listed, but I could be wrong.

Reducing square footage won't save as much as you think unless you're cutting areas that really count--kitchen & baths. Those are the pricey areas that run the cost up. Your everyday rooms--bedrooms, family room, hallways, etc (the areas you would likely try to cut sq footage from) usually come in around $70 sq ft.

I know this was alot, but I hope it helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Window Research Results Link


clipped on: 05.20.2012 at 11:00 pm    last updated on: 05.20.2012 at 11:00 pm

RE: Where to cut the budget? (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: mydreamhome on 11.13.2011 at 11:59 am in Building a Home Forum

CottonPenny-Glad I could help. When the Marvin windows get investigated again, make sure he's pricing the Marvin Integrity clad windows. The Marvin Ultimates will likely be more expensive than the Windsors. As far as paint, its my understanding that eggshell is harder to apply properly so the price goes up. I would make sure you have the cabinet specs in writing in the contract. I know I sound like a broken record, but that's where ours went horribly wrong to the tune of $11,000 over budget just on cabinets. We also have a 3 sided kitchen with large island & 4 bathroom vanities, & laundry. Our non-custom cabinet allowance including level 1 granite was $38,000. We have the standard frameless, all wood construction cabinetry with full overlay doors, only 2 banks of drawers in the kitchen, baths are stained, kitchen cabs are white with pewter glaze and contrasting stained island & hood. We did upgrade to a level 2 granite for the island but that was only $900 of the overage. So $49,000 was our final on the cabs & granite. Knowing insets are significantly more, I'm worried for you. Perhaps your builder would be open to you meeting with his cabinet guy before you sign to make sure the allowance is enough to cover exactly what you want.

The other thing to remember is every little bit of savings adds up. $1K here, $3K there, etc and before you know it you've got the house down $30K. Finding a way to cut $30K in one fell swoop rarely happens unless you cut something big like the basement or 1/2 the house. I've been right where you are right now (I was there for 2 years trying to cut $90K) & I feel your frustration. In our case, we ended up cutting the basement, modifying from a 2 story to a story and a half & leaving the upstairs unfinished. Sounds easy but it took us 2 years to get to it. We sat down and decided what we were willing to give up, what we were willing to compromise on, and what we absolutely wanted.


clipped on: 05.20.2012 at 10:56 pm    last updated on: 05.20.2012 at 10:56 pm

RE: OT - Kateskouros Please Come In!! (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: kateskouros on 05.20.2012 at 05:45 pm in Kitchens Forum

hi hobokenkitchen! my tile is not mother of pearl. the manufacturer calls it "troca" shell. it's warmer than MOP and while it has quite a bit of dimension to it, it doesn't give off the same "rainbow" effect that MOP does. i was looking for something special but a little less glitzy than MOP. it was sourced from the philippines by a man named john romain. his email is he does carry mother of pearl as well as other varieties and is very good about sending samples.

my tile is set without grout lines and was sealed with a water tight coating at the factory. each tile is 12 x 12 and cost about $79 each, if i remember correctly. we tiled a large panel in the shower as well as two more panels beside the bathroom doors and the backsplash sink wall.

to purchase the tile in the US would have cost over $400 per sq ft. it's expensive for sure and i now know why. any type of genuine shell tile typically comes as border pieces, so they are much smaller than my 12x12 tile. i found out rather quickly when i set out on my search that if it were to be, i'd have to acquire a custom order from the source. so with the help of google i started sending emails to every overseas tile manufacturer i could find. i spoke to a few leads but ultimately went with john since he speaks perfect english AND he contacted me by phone more than once.

he is honest so you will have no trouble with your order. you will find however, that once it arrives in the US your problems have only just begun! john phoned to let me know they were shipping my order out and customs would notify me when it arrived. and that they did. i was told that in order for me to receive the tile i would need to obtain a permit from the department of fish and wildlife. the customs agent helped me get the forms and i filled them out and sent them off -with $100 fee. a couple of weeks later the permit arrived in the mail. so i was off to get my tile!!! ...but not so fast. it turns out the shipment first must be cleared by US customs. unfortunately it was received over a long weekend, so needed to be held over. fine. sounds reasonable. until i learned that customs charges a $50 fee BY THE DAY. and silly me, i thought an officer would simply go to work on the next business day and i'd be a couple hundred dollars poorer. but no. it took over THREE WEEKS for an agent to approve my shipment and send it out to dispatch! so my boxes sat there accumulating fees for weeks until i was allowed to pick it up. when the day finally arrived i was over it. i shelled out (no pun intended) much more than a few hundred dollars. it's been a while so i'm trying to remember ... i think they gave me "a break" and charged me $1700 to take possession of the tile.

i had NO IDEA what a hassle it would be trying to import a little tile from another country! i had no clue i would need a fish and wildlife license nor did i know anything about how customs worked. and now that i do, i can't say i'd ever try anything like this ever again. but then again, i will never build another house again. never. not even with a gun pointed to my head!

that said, it's total gorgeousness. jaws drop when people walk into the bathroom. some day it will make me smile but for now i'm too exhausted and emotionally drained. of course it's not all from The Tile Drama. the whole experience has sucked the joy out of our lives.

but we're moving in NEXT WEEKEND. oh joy.
good luck hoboken. let me know what you decide and i can't wait to see. you always do such a lovely job i know it will be perfect!

all the best to you and your family!!





clipped on: 05.20.2012 at 07:18 pm    last updated on: 05.20.2012 at 07:18 pm

RE: Painting and other upgrade charge questions (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: Renovator8 on 06.13.2011 at 08:01 am in Building a Home Forum

Any change to a contract after a bid has been accepted or a price has been negotiated is not going to be a bargain so it is best to avoid such situations by making decisions earlier or asking for unit prices (not allowances) in the contract. A professionally written specification from your design consultant would normally include such protections.


clipped on: 05.17.2012 at 09:49 pm    last updated on: 05.17.2012 at 09:49 pm

RE: Builder seeks extra $$ for material included in contract (Follow-Up #22)

posted by: bevangel on 03.17.2010 at 01:38 pm in Building a Home Forum

While I agree with much that other posters have already written, I would also point out that this request for more money for your door COULD be your builder's first foray to find out just how easy a "push-over" you are. In other words, if you agree to pay extra for the door, he may very well start hitting you up for such "extras" on a regular basis...especially if he low-balled your bid with the idea that he would make up the difference by nickleing and diming you throughout the build.

While this may not be the hill you want to die on, you also don't want to allow it to be the first step down an increasingly slippery slope where you build winds up costing you thousands and thousands more than the bid you accepted.

Even if you agree to split the additional cost of the door with your builder, IF he is sleazy, the next time around he'll just boost up the amount of additional cost he claims to be suffering so as to get you to pay however much more he want you to pay.

Every item that will go in your home where you would be allowed (or you would EXPECT to be allowed) to make any kind of choice whatsoever is subject to becoming another dispute of this sort! If a particular item comes in different colors, styles, or finishes; is available from different manufacturers; is available at different QUALITY levels; or can be installed in more than one way (like tile being laid on the diagonal instead of straight) - and you care about ANY of those things, you could wind up in another disagreement that could wind up costing you additional money.

Your builder could tell you that white electrical outlets cost more than ivory ones and that he only budgeted for the ivory (or vice-versa if you happen to like ivory); that antique brass door hinges cost more than the steel ones he budgeted for; that laying 18" tiles cost more than laying 12" tiles or that putting in a subway tile backsplash costs more than installing a 16" tile backsplash - or that he didn't budget for a backsplash at all; that he didn't budget for your sinks to be undermount sinks; that he only budgeted $10/sq ft for granite countertops; that he only budgeted for builder's grade light fixtures; that anything beyond a single pole in your closets is an upgrade; etc., etc., etc.

And unfortunately the whole system seems to be almost deliberately set up to allow sleazy builders to get away with this kind of thing because it is nearly impossible for you to find out what the builder has to pay for anything and equally impossible for a novice to specify every last detail before you begin building.
I would suggest that the first thing you need to do is go back over your contract with a fine-toothed comb looking for every place where potential selections are not specified to the nth degree. If you have an architect, get him/her to help you. Specifying details is part of what the architect should have done in the first place. Highlight a copy of your contract showing everything that needs further clarification.

Then tell your Builder that you MAY be willing to come up with the additional money THIS TIME but that before you agree to do so, you have to make certain that this will never happen again because you have a very limited budget and selected him in part because his bid was within your budget. The two of you need to sit down and clarify your agreement so that you can be certain the the house can/will be finished within your budget.

Make it clear that you are not seeking to renegotiate the contract - the fixed price is the fixed price - but that you need to reach clarity on exactly what is and is not included and what selections you can and cannot have for that fixed price so that you can avoid future disputes.

(If the two of you are not able to agree on what the contract means, then it will be clear that the two of you never had a meeting of the minds in the first place and therefore never really had a valid contract. If it comes to that point then I'm afraid you are going to need a lawyer - but you might as well find that out now.)

Bottom line is, you need to find out exactly what your builder plans/intends to provide to you for the fixed price that he bid. Then you need to decide if you what he intended to provide is close enough to what you thought you were purchasing to continue doing business with him. But DON'T say that to your builder.

Tell your builder merely that, in the interest of having a pleasant and satisfying build, you want to iron out all such potential issues before they can become disputes. Tell him that you have looked over the contract and have noted a number of instances where there might be similar disagreements in the future. Tell him that because he is a professional with much more experience than you, you would like him to go over the contract before you meet and highlight anything that, in his professional experience, he thinks could POSSIBLY wind up resulting in him having to come to you asking for more money because you wound up choosing something more expensive than he had budgeted for.

Be respectful and present this as seeking to AVOID any other disputes. After all, there is a good chance that he is a great builder who simply made an error on the door and really wants and believes he can build you the house you desire for the amount he bid.

Recognize now that your builder probably will not bother going thru the contract to find potential issues. There are two possible reasons for this. One, he is a good honest builder who thinks there should be no other issues with the contract plus he is too busy to go over it. OR two, he is a sleaze and every place where the contract is unclear provides him with another opportunity to wrangle additional monies out of you so he doesn't want you to get clarity.

But give your builder the benefit of the doubt and a reasonable length of time to look over the contract again anyway. If he actually comes to you with many of the same items marked that you have highlighted, rejoice! The door issue probably really was just a misunderstanding and he really does want to work with you without nickleing and diming you the whole build. Or, at the very least he has decided to go ahead and lay his cards on the table now.

Sit down and go over each and every item that either of you has identified as insufficiently specified. Come to an agreement with him as to how each item will be handled AND PUT YOUR AGREEMENT IN WRITING AS AN ADDENDUM TO THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT. For each such item, you will want to either:

1) specify EXACTLY what will be selected (manufacturer, item number, color, etc) and exactly how it will be installed (eg., hardwood to be nailed down or glued down, to be laid on the diagonal or square or in a designated pattern, width of grout lines, number of coats of paint and whether spray-on is okay or you want it brushed and backrolled, etc.)

2) specify exactly which manufacturer(s) and/or catalog(s) you may select from and specify that that so long as you select from the specified manufacturer(s) or catalog(s), there will be no additional charges or rebates to you REGARDLESS of actual price of the item, OR

3) agree to an allowance amount for the particular item (or class of items) but first make sure you'll be able to find SOMETHING you can live with that is within that allowance amount. The internet is a great resource for determining what is available at a particular price. Note that your contract should specify that allowences are for materials that you get to choose. Allowances should not have to stretch to cover installation costs or any installation materials that would be the same regardless of which specific item you chose. Thus, a lighting fixture allowance should only cover the cost of the fixtures and light bulbs themselves, not the wiring or electrical boxes or installation. (BTW, find out if you are expected to purchase can lights out of your lighting fixture allowance and make sure you contract says yay or nay on that.) A plumbing fixture allowance should be specified to only cover the cost of the fixtures and the valves that traditionally are boxed with such fixutures... not the water lines or drainage pipes. A tile allowance should only be to purchase the tile and maybe the grout. It should NOT have to stretch to cover mastic or floor leveling materials or hardiboard backer. These installation materials would be the same and cost the same amount regardless of tile you choose so you should not have to purchase them under you "allowance" amount.

Where you have allowances, you agreement should specify that if you go over the allowed amount you will pay the extra but that if you spend less than the allowance amount, builder will either rebate the extra amount to you or allow you to apply the unused allowance amount to some other allowance item.

Note also that for allowance items, the contract should allow you to go to ANY supplier you want so long as you have the item on site when it is needed - and make sure the builder is required to give you sufficient notice of when an item will be needed that you will have time to find it, order it, and have it delivered. You should not be restricted to using the builder's suppliers who may have a kick-back agreement with him. Why should you pay $69.95 to get a particular pendant light from your builder's supplier if you can purchase the exact same pendant light from the exact same manufacturer from for $18.95 with free shipping? Also, if you pay for an allowance item out of your pocket and supply it to Builder, Builder should pay you the allowance amount exactly as if he were paying the supplier.

Also you will want the contract to require that for allowance items, if you go to a supplier recommended by builder with builder paying the supplier, the supplier MUST provide you with a true and correct copy of the invoice so that you know exactly how much of your allowance amount you spent. You should NOT have to make your selections blindly - not knowing how much you have spent of your allowance amount. Builders can and do "mark up" the cost of allowance items purchased from suppliers with whom they have a relationship and such kickbacks ought to be illegal but in many jurisdictions they don't seem to be.

While specifying manufacturer and exact item number (per #1 above) is probably the best way to go, doing so can be extremely time consuming plus you can still run into difficulties if a specified item is no longer available by the time your builder is ready to get it. So, even for such precisely specified items, there needs to be a clause stipulating that if a specified model is no longer available, owner will be allowed to select a substitution of like kind, style, and quality so long as the price for the substitution is not more than the price of the original selection as of the date the addendum is signed as shown by a published price sheet from the builder's supplier.

Chances are you will find that at least some of the selections available under your builder's original bid price aren't really quite what you had in mind. But, at least you will be able to make decisions about what you can live with and what you will want to "upgrade" and can begin budgeting for upgrades. And your builder will get a clear (but hopefully respectful) message that you are not a pushover who can be nickled and dimed to death.

Good luck.


clipped on: 05.17.2012 at 12:27 am    last updated on: 05.17.2012 at 12:27 am

RE: Builder seeks extra $$ for material included in contract (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: live_wire_oak on 03.16.2010 at 10:58 pm in Building a Home Forum

"The contract simply says the builder will "purchase and install 1 Brand XYZ door."
If you did this, the builder is responsible. If the GC already had a price point...he shouldv'e put that in contract!"

Well, if you want to say that, then the builder could have picked out the cheapest XYZ door that the company made and installed that and fulfilled the contract. The contract doesn't say "XYZ door as selected by customer ABC". It's not specific enough. (Another harbinger of problems down the road.) It should have said "Door LMNOP (or price equivalent) by company XYZ." There are probably other instances of just such vagueness in the contract that will be a problem for you rather than the builder.

As everyone has said, if you are gonna try to stick the overrun of this door to him, then be prepared for like treatment in return. And, if this issue is cropping up because you are stretched too thin for this build, then you shouldn't be building at all without a good sized contingency fund (20-30%) for just such situations. Many many more overruns are in your future. Especially since you have allowances in your contract. Allowances are never high enough.


clipped on: 05.17.2012 at 12:25 am    last updated on: 05.17.2012 at 12:25 am

RE: How did you structure your builder's contract? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: macv on 02.11.2010 at 10:40 am in Building a Home Forum

You would not bid a Cost of the Work contract unless you were just bidding the fee or if you were asking for a Guaranteed Maximum Price (a not to exceed amount) which is not normally included in home building contracts although there is no reason it can't be (assuming the builder is capable regarding project management and paper work).

There is no reason to have an Allowance for materials you want to supply; just list them as "supplied by owner, installed by contractor". You want to include all costs in the base bid price if possible.

As for not making those decisions now, it is important to make up your mind in order to avoid cost overruns, delays and misunderstandings later. You can put in the time now or pay the contractor later. This is one of the hidden costs of home building that doesn't occur in larger scale projects where virtually everything is included in the original contract.


clipped on: 05.17.2012 at 12:16 am    last updated on: 05.17.2012 at 12:16 am

RE: How are you handling lien releases? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: Renovator8 on 09.05.2011 at 10:45 am in Building a Home Forum

Lien Releases and Lien Waivers are not the same.

A Lien Waiver is normally obtained prior to the completion of and/or payment for the work and a Lien Release is obtained afterward.

Lien Releases document work completed and payment received and that any claim has been satisfied.

Lien Waivers document the relinquishment of the right to file a future lien for a specified portion of the work.

With a Lien Waiver a payment is not necessarily made in advance and the subcontractor would rely only on the credit of the owner or general contractor (or perhaps the bank) for payment of the debt.

The term "partial" is often used with Lien Release and Wavers since they are usually for specific portions of the work.

The important issue for the original OP is that the GC cannot speak for the subs so the Lien Waivers/Releases would have to be from them.

For a bank to pay a subcontractor directly can create a conflict with the Contractor-Subcontractor relationships unless that issue is addressed by their contracts. Unless the bank is a party to those contracts, it should not interfere with the performance of those obligations and the GC's ability to perform the work of the Owner-Contractor contract. Watch out for banks; they will not protect any interests other than their own and that may in conflict with your interests. They work for themselves and no one else.

Make sure any waiver or release required by the bank protects you too.


clipped on: 05.17.2012 at 12:10 am    last updated on: 05.17.2012 at 12:10 am

RE: How are you handling lien releases? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: booksandpages on 09.03.2011 at 05:43 pm in Building a Home Forum

Newbie here, in the process of hiring a GC.

Our bank/escrow company is helping us with the lein release issue. Releases must be signed and faxed in ahead of picking up the payment, then an original copy must be turned over when the check is actually picked up. Those are bank's rules, and so far every GC we've interviewed has been okay with that system. For extra protection, we're considering requiring that the original copies of the lein releases be notarized (there is always a notary on staff at the bank, so they can do it when they come in for payment). The bank will pay the subcontractors directly. Subs may not hire subs, except suppliers. The bank hasn't addressed suppliers-to-subs yet, so we aren't sure how that will work yet. I'm going to want to get releases from them too.


clipped on: 05.17.2012 at 12:09 am    last updated on: 05.17.2012 at 12:09 am

RE: Detailed Spec's for bids. (Follow-Up #34)

posted by: brickeyee on 12.11.2011 at 12:46 pm in Building a Home Forum

"This is how a builder begins to control a design-build project and giving up control can often be to your disadvantage in terms of cost and quality control."

Design-build tends to steer to things they have experience with.

This mead they have done similar work with similar materials before, know who they can hire (few places have a complete staff of in house folks to cover every trade).

If the builders capabilities and experience line up with your desires it can work very well.

Many folks do not understand how seemingly small changes can have very large impacts (probably less so on this sght).

An example (that I have countered) is floor tile.

I have had clients go to the tile showroom to select tile and come back with larger tiles or stone when initially they only wanted mosaic tile.

They did not understand tat the floor needs to be increasingly stiffer for larger tiles or stone.

When they initially desired mosaic the floor is allowed more movement. In keeping costs under control you do not build more than you need.

Deciding you want multiple shower heads after the plumbing design is bid can impact drain ad supply sizes required.

The 3/4 inch supply line can suddenly be inadequate.

A computer area is likely to require at least one extra circuit, and possibly more.

You need to decide and identify what you want as early as possible.
The later in the process decisions are made the more likely they are to cost more and run over budget.

Some things ARE less critical, and you can wat for a final decision.

You need to realize the longer you wait the less room for changes without cost or schedule impacts.

The mosaic tile pattern and color are usually not as important as staying with mosaic tile vs. a larger tile.

Light fixtures that are of the same general type use the same junction box usually (octagon ceiling box on a joist or light weight strap).
A heavy fixture (35 pounds and up generally) can be an issue though.


clipped on: 05.17.2012 at 12:06 am    last updated on: 05.17.2012 at 12:06 am

RE: Detailed Spec's for bids. (Follow-Up #18)

posted by: lzerarc on 12.08.2011 at 06:17 pm in Building a Home Forum

bottom line...if you want close competitive bids with a minimal chance of change orders and adds, you need to have a very detailed spec with everything you want them to include or do, from the footers to the peak of the roof. This is not something anyone can just give you for free. It is design and project specific, and you have to know what you are doing. If you wish to simply fill out a spreadsheet someone emails you, go for it. But make sure your builder's contract details out all of the other items not covered on that sheet.
Oh, and pack 15% away for change orders still (using option B)....


clipped on: 05.17.2012 at 12:01 am    last updated on: 05.17.2012 at 12:01 am

RE: General Build Questions? (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: Renovator8 on 07.22.2011 at 09:48 am in Building a Home Forum

An allowance clause is the most difficult clause in a contract. If not carefully written it gives the GC the right to bill you whatever his favorite sub charges him because that is his "cost". Be sure that you are allowed to request an alternate sub or a material supplier if their prices are too high.

When I write a contract I write the allowance section for the owner describing in general the materials (no labor) setting the quantity, and setting the budget $ amounts. Allowing the contractor to do that is letting the fox into the hen house. He would have the opportunity to be vague or unrealistic about the materials and quantities, include labor, and low ball the $ amount forcing you to pay a markup on the inevitable "upgrades". At least try to get the GC to agree to not charge a markup on allowances overruns. A change in scope would, of course, warrant a markup.


clipped on: 05.16.2012 at 11:42 pm    last updated on: 05.16.2012 at 11:42 pm

RE: General Build Questions? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: bevangel on 07.20.2011 at 10:22 am in Building a Home Forum

If you are building under a cost-plus contract, then absolutely, you should receive original invoices directly from sub-contractors. They can send copies to both you and your builder. I know a couple whose cost-plus builder actually doctored the invoices he got from subs before passing them on to the homeowners. He would scan them into his computer and use photoshop to change various numbers to result in a higher value before reprinting the doctored invoice and giving the doctored copy to the homeowners. Of course the GC was pocketing the added amounts AND pocketing an additional 15% profit margin on the added amounts as well. The couple only found out about the fraud by mere chance when, near the end of their build they lost one of the invoices builder had sent them and asked him for a new copy. He screwed up and sent them the true original - and then they found their lost copy. Comparing the two showed the fraud! Same invoice number, same date, same exact products, different charges! After a 2 year court battle, the couple won a huge award against the builder for fraud but now, 2.5 years later, they are STILL trying to collect the first dime from him. Insist that the subcontractors send YOU a copy of the invoice directly. Yes, some of them might conspire with your builder but you'll have some protection.

If your contract is a fixed-price contract, then you don't get to see invoices under normal circumstances. BUT, you should have language in your contract that clarifies how much you owe GC in the event that he starts your house but never substantially completes it. This can happen if he just walks off the job, or declares bankruptcy, or you wind up having to fire him due to various breaches. The law usually says that even if he is the one who breached the contract, you still owe him for the value of the work he has completed and that includes a reasonable profit. But, without invoices, you have no way of calculating the value of the work completed and your GC will claim that he finished 85% of the job while you're looking at it and figuring he actually finished maybe 45%. If your contract requires him to turn over all invoices to prove the amount he has spent on labor and materials up to that point and then his profit is calculated as a percentage of that, you'll have one less thing to fight over. I'd suggest a formula like:

(Total invoices) + (X% of total invoices for builder's profit) - (amounts already remitted to GC) - (damages due to builder's breach) = (amount due and payable to GC)

And, if the above formula results in a negative number, then GC owes you a refund of that amount.

A fixed price builder may tell you he doesn't want to agree to do this because he doesn't like to keep that kind of detailed records. But, if your builder is honest, he knows he has to keep detailed records because gross income minus expenses are the only way he can possibly know what his profits are. And he has to know his profits in order to properly pay his taxes. If your builder doesn't keep records, then he is highly likely to be cheating the IRS and, if so, he'll probably cheat you to.

And, BTW, if you wind up going down this road, be sure to check a substantial number of the invoices he gives you with the subcontractors to make sure you didn't get doctored invoices. A call to a supplier that you're just double-checking the amount owed to builder on invoice #XXXXX will usually get you confirmation that the amount on your copy matches the original invoice.


clipped on: 05.16.2012 at 11:37 pm    last updated on: 05.16.2012 at 11:37 pm

also (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: Renovator8 on 11.21.2011 at 10:06 am in Building a Home Forum

If the GC has already included his OH&P for the Allowance items in his base Fixed Price and you supply materials he believes to be well made and properly warrantied, then he might be willing to include those materials in his warranty. However, you will have already paid his markup so the savings would is likely to only be the sub-contractor's markup which you might be paying in the installation price anyway.

The only way to know what you are paying for is to use a Fixed Price contract or a Cost of the Work contract rather than a mixture of the two which is what Allowances are.

If you do use an allowance be sure the price is realistic or at least carry a healthy contingency in your budget for the inevitable cost overruns. GC's often low-ball allowances to make the project more attractive and then charge markups on the increases. It's often a good idea to have the allowances reviewed by the designer assuming he/she is working for you, and to not allow markups on allowance increases as I mentioned earlier.


clipped on: 05.16.2012 at 11:34 pm    last updated on: 05.16.2012 at 11:34 pm

RE: Newbie question on allowances in a fixed price contract build (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: Renovator8 on 11.21.2011 at 09:02 am in Building a Home Forum

An allowance is a small Cost-of-the-Work contract inside a Fixed Price contract. Of course, that loses the benefit of a fixed price so you should only use an allowance when you have no other choice. Selecting materials and their installation methods and including them in the Fixed Price contract can save you money.

An exception would be kitchen appliances that are normally supplied by the owner and installed by the contractor. Removable equipment should not be in the allowances.

An allowance should not limit you to a particular sub-contractor or supplier unless you agree in advance. You should have the right to reject a sub's proposal or ask that others be considered.

Try to structure the allowances so they are for materials only and installation is in the base contract price. That means you must determine the quantity of the allowance items in the contract even if it is arbitrary. If the quantity can't be determined try to put an installation unit price in the contract.

An allowance clause should state that the final resolution of an allowance is by a Change Order signed by the owner. It should say The Change Order can be 1) an increase in the contract amount equal to the difference between the Allowance amount and the actual final cost, 2) a decrease in the contract amount equal to the difference between the Allowance amount and the actual final cost, or 3) a decrease in the contract amount equal to the entire allowance amount (material supplied by the owner).

Ask the GC to put his OH&P for allowances in the base contract price so that increases and decreases in the allowance amounts will not be increased or decreased by mark-ups.

Warranties vary with the products. Usually there is a warranty from the manufacturer and if you supply the material the warranty will be from the manufacturer to you so keep the paperwork. The installation would be warrantied by the GC often for only a year (check your contract and the laws of your state). A problem arises when a material fails and you have to pay for the removal and reinstallation. However, that will be the case after the GC warranty ends so you are only increasing your risk for that period of time. Unfortunately, really bad products often fail in the first year. So, find out how long that period is and avoid supplying the materials that are unusually expensive to remove and reinstall (like whirlpool tubs, etc.).


clipped on: 05.16.2012 at 11:30 pm    last updated on: 05.16.2012 at 11:30 pm

RE: Newbie question on allowances in a fixed price contract build (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: Pcandlyte on 11.20.2011 at 08:43 pm in Building a Home Forum

Yes, you can have the contract state that you want to use the allowance to shop for your own fixtures, or have the allowance placed to something else and pay for the fixtures out of pocket. We did that with our kitchen appliances, the kitchen sink, some light fixtures, and the dimmers in our home. Just talk to your general contractor BEFORE signing the contract about what you desire.

With our current build, we never came in under an allowance, but if we had, then it would have gone towards something else. In fact we moved several allowances around to purchase certain things out of pocket. Ask your GC how they choose to handle installation costs. We purchased several fixtures and all the dimmers ourselves at no upcharge because the allowances quoted to us were for materials only.

Everything we've purchased out of pocket to put into the house is covered by our GC with his regular new build warranty. What we've purchased is either equal or better quality than what he would have provided so he seemed comfortable with that.


clipped on: 05.16.2012 at 11:29 pm    last updated on: 05.16.2012 at 11:29 pm

RE: Fixed Price Builders (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: Renovator8 on 01.05.2012 at 08:06 am in Building a Home Forum

Allowances are actually "Cost of the Work Plus a Fee" contracts within a "Fixed Price" contract so the more of them you have, the closer you are to a Cost Plus contract.

To take full advantage of a competitively bid Fixed Price contract approach there should be no Allowances and unit prices provided where quantities might change.


clipped on: 05.16.2012 at 11:26 pm    last updated on: 05.16.2012 at 11:26 pm

RE: Fixed price contract and contingency (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: Renovator8 on 04.08.2012 at 07:34 am in Building a Home Forum

Increases and reductions to a Fixed Price are normally done by change orders and a Contingency would be part of the Owner's budget to cover unforeseen change orders.

However, sometimes a small (5%) contingency fund is included in a Fixed Price contract separate from the Fixed Price to pay for minor unforeseen emergencies or design shortfalls identified after construction begins. It is drawn down at the request of the Contractor and the approval of the Owner for small additional costs in order to avoid the disruption of a change order. It should not be used to pay for all or part of a change in scope of the work.

A Contingency is separate from the Fixed Price so if it is not used, it would simply not be billed to the Owner. It is essentially a limit to the amount of cost additions that can be approved by the Owner without a formal change order.

Requests to use the Contingency fund would be marked up the same as a change order.

Don't confuse this contingency with a contingency the contractor might add to his Fixed Price. Such an amount would only be identified in the contract of a Cost of the Work contract.


clipped on: 05.16.2012 at 11:25 pm    last updated on: 05.16.2012 at 11:25 pm

Help!! Door thickness!!!

posted by: lolab on 09.03.2011 at 10:22 am in Building a Home Forum

Decisions, decisions . . .

OK, so like everyone else, I'm spending a fortune. No, really. The checks are flying fast and furious, and I'm losing sleep over it. So even though we're pretty much close to budget, I want to economize wherever possible, not spend needlessly, while not cheaping out.

That being said, I have a quote for 1 3/4" solid core masonite doors. When I asked how much for the 1 3/8", I got a vague "oh, it would be about 10% less."

I have about 30 doors which are going to run me about $4400 (the quote isn't in front of me -- just a ballpark for the sake of this discussion), so 10% is obviously about $440 plus tax. It's not a huge amount of savings, but every little bit adds up.

Do I really need/want 1 3/4" doors? I don't think I've ever even seen that size.

Will the thicker doors require me to make any other changes/incur any other expenses I'm overlooking at this point?

What did everyone else choose?

They'll be solid core either way.



clipped on: 05.15.2012 at 08:08 pm    last updated on: 05.15.2012 at 08:08 pm

Is ClearShield shower protector worth it?

posted by: athensmomof3 on 05.15.2012 at 09:40 am in Building a Home Forum

I am about to order 3 starfire shower doors (one for master, two for boys showers). Adding ClearShield adds 150.00 roughly per shower. Is it worth it? Does it work as advertised? I can assure you that no boy in my house (including my husband) will squeegee the door - so if you don't squeegee does it work?

We have glass doors in our current shower. They have been there 20 years. They definitely get soap scum on them but do not appear to be etched or pitted from water.

I have also read about Clear-X, sold at Ace Hardware. It is self applied and 8 bucks a bottle. It supposedly lasts a couple of months. Of course, even if it works as well as the Clear Shield, you still have to apply it 6 times a year - so for me 180 times over the 10 year ClearShield warranty period.

Does any one have any experience with this?


clipped on: 05.15.2012 at 08:04 pm    last updated on: 05.15.2012 at 08:04 pm

Finally finished~photos

posted by: katieob on 04.18.2012 at 09:20 pm in Kitchens Forum

Hi all.

It's been a long year, but we moved in a few weeks ago and we're so thrilled!
Again, I'm so thankful to all the gracious forum members here. I get so much great information and inspiration here and your encouragement with Round 2 has been so helpful!

This is a whole house remodel of a 1940's Cape that we purchased last Spring after selling our house. The kitchen is an addition. We still need to paint the window trim and wall above sink, but who knows when....Also, the black front and back door will have better handle hardware soon, just so you know...

I still seem to have giant pics from photobucket, apologies.

Cabs~ Shaker, inset, BM White Dove, custom (same cabinetmaker)
Counters~ Danby Marble on perimeter and walnut on island
Backsplash~Walker Zanger Gramercy Park in Heirloom White
Sink~Shaw's 30 inch
Faucet~Perrin and Rowe, polished nickel
Pendants~ Circa Lighting Small Yoke, polished nickel
Hardware~All PN. Schaub (thanks kateskouros) for appliances, RH Gilmore pulls, RH Glass knobs, Rejuvenation utility latches, Cliffside Brass icebox latches
Stools~Cottage Maine
Range~Viking (mistake, me thinks)
Pot filler~Rohl Swing Arm
DW~ Miele (I think Inspira?)
Fridge Drawers~Kitchen Aid (Love, love,love)
Microwave Drawer~Sharp 24 inch

Thanks for looking !!



Love the Liebherr fridge, thanks Marthavila.





Banquette. Will eventually have cushions, etc.


View from kitchen to front door



clipped on: 05.01.2012 at 07:41 am    last updated on: 05.01.2012 at 07:41 am

RE: Carpet or Engineered Hardwood in Basement-Vote (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: fnmroberts on 01.13.2011 at 06:14 pm in Home Decorating Forum


I'm not a fan of either carpeting or wood flooring in a basement. First choice, if budget were not an issue, would be ceramic tile. Second is vinyl but installed using mastic, not just the "sticky back". Then place area rugs for warmth, style and function. As mentioned by an earlier poster, there is vinyl flooring which really looks like wood.

Below-grade construction has several issues for consideration to control. The most obvious is water, be it ground water or system failure. Be certain you have a back-up for your sump pump for protection in event of electrical or primary pump failure.

Install a pan below the water heater to capture water when it fails (it will, eventually) and direct the leak toward a drain.

Insulate against the foundation (XPS).

Use pressure treated wood against the floor. I suggest plastic base and shoe too.

Have a dehumidifier for humid season - some will say to use year-around.

A membrane upon the floor to separate the concrete from the flooring is the safest way to prevent moisture intrusion from the concrete floor (concrete is porous). Dietra is a quality product to use.

Basements will naturally be cooler than the above-grade home, causing higher humidity, an easy growth area for mold and, of course, the musty odor. We live in N. Il and I spent a long time determining solutions to issues before finishing our basement so am only advising based on having prevented problems for myself. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.


clipped on: 04.11.2012 at 06:15 pm    last updated on: 04.11.2012 at 06:15 pm

RE: Cost of Front Door? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: mydreamhome on 03.29.2012 at 01:06 pm in Building a Home Forum

Sounds high to me. You might want to check out DSA Master Crafted Doors for a comparison. Our mahogany front door came from them and the door cost about $3500 for everything. The trim guy did the install. I'm sure the impact rating increases the cost significantly. The link below will take you the door we went with on the DSA site. You can navigate the different styles from there.

Hope this helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: DSA Master Crafted Doors


clipped on: 03.30.2012 at 01:17 pm    last updated on: 03.30.2012 at 01:17 pm

vent hoods and noise: the real scoop on vah!

posted by: clinresga on 09.24.2008 at 09:02 pm in Appliances Forum

OK: I've been following with great interest keitel's post on VAH hoods and noise. I'm in his camp: our VAH is noisy as all get-out. Others including shannonplus2, juliet3, and have disagreed, arguing that their VAH's are "almost unoticeable on low" to quote john.

So, I figured, time to get some objectivity into this discussion (excuse my ego, but I started a new post cuz I think this is of general interest and worried it would get lost in a VAH post).

I pulled out my trusty Radio Shack SPL meter, normally used to calibrate the home theater, and took some readings (measuring from ear level when standing at usual cooking distance from range):

Our Vent a Hood 42'' 600 cfm hood liner at the lake:
65 decibels at low
67 decibels at high

Our Modern-Aire 64'' (1200 cfm) hood liner with remote inline Fantech FKD 10XL blower and LD10 silencer at the main house:
60 decibels at high

What does that mean? Well remember decibels are a measure of sound energy on a log scale. Thus, a three decibel increase represents a 10-fold increase in sound energy. Thus, 67 db represents about a 100-fold higher sound energy level versus 60 db.

A more useful way of comparing these noise levels would be to reference them to everyday sounds. Here are some examples:

60 db: "normal conversation"

60 db: "conversation in quiet living room"

In contrast:

65 db: "average road traffic at 25 meters from busy primary distribution road"
see above

67 db: level of noise that Caltrans feels justifies construction of a soundwall by an existing freeway

69 db: the sound of loud snoring

70 db: vacuum cleaner at 10 feet

That's a fancy way of saying that the VAH is way noisy, and the MA/remote blower is very quiet.

Could it be our ducting making our VAH noisy? Doubt it, since as I posted before it's a straight shot up from the hood directly into the attic (it's a one story house) and out the roof through 10'' ductwork. Could we have an unbalanced blower? I guess, though both of the two 300 cfm blowers in the VAh are equally noisy and I'd be surprised if they were both defective.

Bottom line: this is an apples and oranges comparison. There is no way that it's fair to compare our inexpensive VAH to the very high end Modern-Aire liner/Fantech blower and silencer combo, and I'm not disparaging the VAH hoods, which obviously many folks have had a good experience with.

I do think though that this reinforces my belief that if:
1) you want high cfm ventilation
2) noise is a major concern
3) cost is not a primary issue

then remote blowers, preferably with silencer, are clearly superior.

Just my obsessive 2 cents worth :-)


clipped on: 03.28.2012 at 12:59 am    last updated on: 03.28.2012 at 01:00 am

RE: I'm over budget 8% - Save Me! (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: buckheadhillbilly on 03.27.2012 at 08:47 pm in Building a Home Forum

gaonmymind, we were actually 20% over budget after the preliminary pricing. That was a huge bummer!

We made some changes to the plan: We eliminated the deck off of the back that connected to the screen porch, and we eliminated the basement under the master and put it on a slab. Both of those changes actually helped the way the house sits on the lot, so it was good. Both of those ideas I got from builders I was interviewing. When they came back with pricing, I asked them what they would do to reduce the cost. Some builders were less helpful. One was reluctant to name any savings, so I asked him what he would do if it were his house. He said he'd find the other 20%. We didn't really need to talk to him anymore. The builder I ended up going with said, "Let me see what I can do." Then he went back to all of his subs and told them that if they were all going to get to do the job, they were going to have to cut their price 10%. He dropped his fee 10% also. They ended up with work when nobody else had any. So, that's one way to go. Don't know if that would work now, but 2 years ago when everyone was struggling to stay afloat, it was better than starving.

When we decided to go ahead and build, we decided to get the "bones" of the house right and not spend much on things that need replacing after 10 years. And, yes, as Athensmom noted, I became the Craigslist Queen. I searched daily and got doors, tile, fences, adorable vanities made from antique huntboards (complete with tops, sinks and faucets), chandeliers, cabinets for both laundry rooms and a 48" dual fuel range. I scored big time on my first trip to the Habitat Restore. They had just gotten a donation from a high end lighting store and an appliance showroom, so I got $500 sconces for $30, a Miele dishwasher and warming drawer, laminate countertops for the laundry rooms and cabinets for the basement kitchenette. During the build, we were able to get many of the subs to include the basement in their bids, so even though we had not intended to finish the basement, we did.

Overall on fixtures and finishes, I would say, be flexible. Know the general look you want but don't get too fixated on a particular faucet or light fixture. I knew the look I wanted for my front porch fixture. I was having troubling finding anything quite as simple and classic as I wanted. One day scrounging for knobs at Builder's Surplus I saw a hanging lantern that was just the ticket. It was a little dusty and worn looking, but nothing that wouldn't either clean up or add character. It was marked $80 but rang up for $13 on clearance. You do that enough times and you have some real savings.

All that being said, you are in a bit of a bind. With a fixed price contract the builder has to figure that everything that can go wrong will go wrong and tack that on to the price. They also have to plan on inflation. When we poured concrete, we paid $75/cubic yard. A few months later, concrete had skyrocketed to $100/cubic yard. A contractor has to allow for such fluctuations when he prices it out at a fixed price. You are asking him to take the risk.

This was quite a rambling post. I hope you find some of it useful, and I wish you good luck. Remember, the house is just a house, the real treasures are the 15 month old and the one on the way!


clipped on: 03.27.2012 at 10:03 pm    last updated on: 03.27.2012 at 10:03 pm

RE: I'm over budget 8% - Save Me! (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: athensmomof3 on 03.27.2012 at 08:04 pm in Building a Home Forum

I cannot recommend Tapcu in Atlanta enough for natural stone. Their prices are amazing - beat everyone hands down. Our tile guy gave us his discount, which was half of the list price. He called ahead and told him he would do that so they just gave me a catalog with pricing (cost is half of retail). I got the travertine mosaics for all showers there, our master bath tile (also travertine), and one boys bath. They also sell premade thresholds and window sills that we used in our build. We used the travertine thresholds as curbs on the showers and as shelves in our shower niches. They look great - gives a very high end look at not much cost. We also bought their white marble windowsills to use as the bottom shelves of our niches in our two bathtubs (did daltile subway). The marble shelf in these looks so nice and upgrades the inexpensive subway.

We also found a great great looking ceramic travertine that we used for our boys showers. We mixed with real travertine for the niche ledges and shower curb and used real travertine (also from Tapcu) on their shower seats. It turned out great and really upgraded the inexpensive shower tile.

I also used a travertine versailles pattern tile in my back hall, mud, laundry area which looks fantastic and was 2.75 a square foot . . .

Back hall, laundry and mud room travertine


I also used Alabama White marble that I found at Stone Connection for my kitchen. It was a real white, unlike the carrera which was very gray, and much more affordable than calcattua which I also liked. It is very quiet, which I happen to like but it may be too simple for others . . . My husband is from Alabama so he was glad we used it - Bobby McAlpine uses it all the time too.

Kitchen marble



clipped on: 03.27.2012 at 10:00 pm    last updated on: 03.27.2012 at 10:00 pm

RE: Range Hood Insert Recommendation (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: circuspeanut on 11.21.2011 at 12:27 pm in Kitchens Forum

If you can find this on sale, as I did 2 years ago, it's an amazing hood insert: Sirius SU 901.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pro series SU 901 power pack


clipped on: 03.27.2012 at 01:58 pm    last updated on: 03.27.2012 at 01:58 pm

White Kitchen w/ walnut, 99% finished and lived in!

posted by: alabamamommy on 03.15.2012 at 03:05 pm in Kitchens Forum

Hello all - I was nudged out from under the newborn rock by a post yesterday, so I figured I'd share our final photos. With a caveat... I'm still on the hunt for the appropriate decorative pieces... a properly scaled urn or raised bowl for the countertop, an arrangement of the stuff in the glass cabs that works, etc.

Overall, I love this kitchen. It's proving very family friendly and I haven't had any issues with the primed shiplap as a backsplash. The marble island top DOES etch, but we're closing our eyes and hoping to make it to patinaland sooner than later. With 18 years of school fundraisers ahead of me, I'm certain we'll get there. But there's NOTHING like making pastries on it and I'm going to try my hand at fudge and candies soon!

Our FAVORITE spot, where we spend 70% of our time, is firmly planted on the BOOs block. Chop chop chop. Walnut end-grain... can't say enough. A quick sudsy soapy wipe after each prep and a once a month oiling and it's beautiful.

So here are the pics of our very lived in by a young family of five new kitchen!


clipped on: 03.24.2012 at 03:33 pm    last updated on: 03.24.2012 at 03:33 pm

Taggie, Capegirl (Follow-Up #90)

posted by: breezygirl on 01.17.2012 at 12:15 am in Kitchens Forum

Sorry I missed some of your other questions.

Taggie--Thanks! yes, I did a few 4-drawer stacks. It's what I was used to with the few stacks I had in my old kitchen. I have a lot of utensils, etc that I felt would get lost in a deeper drawer. I'm having some difficulty with them in that the shallow ones aren't as deep as I calculated they would be. Consequently, some items don't fit where I thought they would. Right of the sink has 1. washclothes and bibs for DD 2. kitchen towels 3. BBQ tools 4. kids cups and thermoses in easy reach.

Right of the cooktop are 1. spices on the left and baking tools (measuring spoons and cups, etc.) on the right 2. larger and secondary baking tools like rolling pin and pastry cutters, stand mixer paddles, plus other small prep tools that need to be sorted and possibly moved to the island drawers 3. Teas, hot cocoa 4. Storage containers and lids.

(Please don't judge the organization as I still need to work on final homes for some of these things, final arrangement within the drawers, and find some organizer trays. AND...I NEED TO FIND MY DARN LABELER!!)



Left of cooktop has 1. hot mitts and pads on left and meat thermometers, tongs on the right 2. scale, corkscrew and wine corking system, binder clips, misc. tools 3. meat pounders, specialty microplanes, spider, gravy seperator, potato masher, misc. tools 4. pyrex dishes, mondo sized aluminum foil roll.


Capegirl--Hi! Thank you! There is nothing on the back wall of those cabs. It must be the water glass giving a shimmery look. What idea did I give you? To put something on the back wall of the cabs? I wish I could help!

Madeline--No specific tiles in the running yet. I've posted some of my ideas before....they're expensive. :( Walnut is holding up fine, for wood. I've gotten scratches and some dents from dropping things on it. I love the finish of the Osmo. The woodworker who made it was here the other day so he brought his sander and sanded it down really quickly and put another coat of osmo on. It took about 10 minutes and all the scratches were gone! Love the ability to do that!

Couldn't resist posting one of my fav new items. Knife block!!



clipped on: 03.24.2012 at 03:28 pm    last updated on: 03.24.2012 at 03:28 pm

RE: minwax ebony, dark walnut or jacobean, help asap! (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: GiuseppeM on 06.19.2011 at 06:27 pm in Flooring Forum

I read online that Dura Seal was a great brand and asked the floor guy to buy a couple samples of their stain.
The dark one is called Coffee Brown (1 coat) and the lighter one is called Spicy Brown (2 coats of stain). They both have 1 coat of water based finish and the floor was sanded with 100. The other color that you see on the right is Cherry.
Dura Seal is definitely a better brand than Minwax, the color is richer and the oak absorbed it more evenly.
Also you can apply multiple coats of stain, while Minwax contains a finish in it so the second coat never gets absorbed properly.


clipped on: 03.24.2012 at 02:28 pm    last updated on: 03.24.2012 at 02:29 pm

update from me

posted by: kateskouros on 11.06.2010 at 10:43 pm in Kitchens Forum

still creeping along at a snails pace. i think i'm getting over it ...and just dealing. what else can i do? i don't think it's worth whacking out my blood pressure, kwim?

the fridge/freezer wall. i'm loving it. the fridge on the left (closest to range and breakfast room). hidden inside the center doors: open shelving and two large appliance garages for micro, coffee maker, etc... on the right, the freezer.

the range wall

the prep sink ...i LOVE the faucet!

we should have it finished up in the next couple of weeks. i'll have better pics then, along with the hardware which i am in LOVE with!


clipped on: 03.23.2012 at 08:24 pm    last updated on: 03.23.2012 at 08:25 pm

RE: Building Timeline (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: booksandpages on 12.01.2011 at 10:50 am in Building a Home Forum

Mel, IMO now is a good time to refer back to your contract with the builder. Hopefully it gives you the right to hire outside labor if the work is not getting done properly and promptly. Depending on how its written up, you may need to notify him of this in writing, so read through it carefully.

If your cabinets are already on order, I don't see anything on your list that should reasonably prevent you from finishing in January, except maybe the deck (depending on your local climate and weather conditions).

Sorry to hear this is happening to you. At least you are in the home stretch!


clipped on: 03.22.2012 at 11:44 pm    last updated on: 03.22.2012 at 11:44 pm

Am I missing anything? meeting with electrician tomorrow

posted by: robinson622 on 08.17.2010 at 11:38 pm in Building a Home Forum

I've compiled a list of ideas from this forum over the years for electrical wants/needs. Forgive me if some don't make sense, they were copied directly from previous posts. Add any ideas you may have & let me know if there are any in the list that you find really unnecessary. Sorry for the repeats, there are quite a few.

-Attic fan & whole house fan
-outdoor speakers
-outdoor uplight landscaping lights;
-outlets placed in the floor of my family room so I could have a light placed behind the sofa on my sofa table;
-all four corners of the home with motion sensor lighting; connected to both back doors and master bedroom as well as front door sconces
-TV/Cable/internet in my kitchen; under cabinet tv
-low voltage-xenon under cabinet lighting wired to switch on dimmer
-wire for outlets above cabinet for rope lighting connected to a switch in kitchen
-a lot of 4 light switches/switch plates for almost all my rooms so I could add something!
-carbon monoxide sensors
-surround sound in rec room & playroom
-Place outlets in my mantle
-Wired for Cat 7 whole house audio.
-We knew in advance where we were planning to hang the plasma televisions, so we wired the wall where they were hang so there wouldn't be any visible wires.
-Outside outlets
-outlets inside bathroom cabinets such that hair dryers can be plugged in and placed inside a drawer rather than being draped over the countertops.
-'boogie-man' lights switch and switch to room lights by the bed
-outlets on either side of the front door for Christmas decorations wired to interior switch
-outlets in ceiling of porch above pillars for decorations
-switch for gas fireplace starter
-Outlets under roof eaves/soffits for Christmas lights wired to one switch inside foyer closet
-Outlets under inside of windows for 'candle' lights
(and place them on switches as well).
-Where are you going to put your Christmas tree?
Place an outlet in that corner controlled by a switch!
-Place an outlet at front of the side base for a lighted garland up the staircase.
-Place outlets on every exterior wall for landscape lighting or yard work.
-Several outlets in walk-in pantry
-Outlets on both ends of island
-Place an outlet adjacent to telephone jacks for cordless telephone base.
-GFI outlet under the sink for the instant hot water dispenser and garbage disposal
-If you are putting in a security system or intercom
(or are just pre-wiring), be sure to provide
electrical service to these areas.
-Light switch in hall, etc. for attic
-For furniture placed in the middle of a room,
place outlets and fixtures directly above or below exact location.
-Place outlets in convenient locations at bathroom vanity inside drawers for razor, electric toothbrush, hairdryer
-For a home office, fully consider computer, scanner, printer, answering machine, lamps, chargers, radios...need I say more?
-Do you need a plug-in for a laptop computer? Where?
-Where your TV is located, don't forget the DVD, VCR, CD...
-what else did I forget?...oh, yeah...satellite receiver? Dvd and all other peripherals in cabinet and wired to tv
-In a bedroom, don't underestimate the number of plug-ins at your bed stand: alarm clock, cordless phone, lamps. A quad outlet may be needed. Put outlets on opposite walls too in case room is changed around.
-Add outlets in exercise room closet for treadmill & elliptical
-Wire for flat screen tv in exercise room
-Remember that your dishwasher also needs an undersink (usually) plug, so you might want a 4 receptacle outlet -- of course, GFCI.
-dimmers on every entry point to kitchen, living, rec, foyer and mud
-Quad outlets in study for printer/wireless router/etc. and kitchen
-Outside closet light switches.
-I think running 3/4" or 1" PVC conduit for comm wiring is probably the smartest thing to do. That way, you're pretty much ready for anything that the future throws at us.
-Floor outlets in middle of family room
-Dedicated circuit? Outlet in master closet for ironing and outlet for charging cell phones
-Step lights on front porch, up stairs and in area under stairs
-put a motion sensor on the wall next to the door to the deck so we can carry stuff out there from the kitchen and the lights will go on automatically.
-lights for our deck along the top rail
-rope lights under bathroom vanities
-lighting for backyard
-outlets for cable and electric behind the tv
-sconces next to entry to study and family room, sconces in hallways - upstairs and on sides of mirrors in bathroom
-quad outlets rated for 20A in front storage area for air compressor, etc.
-wire for lighting in storage area
-interior switch to exterior outlets
-light in area under stairs
-run 2 inch pvc pipe from attic to first floor/crawl space for future wiring purposes
-bedside lamps wired to switch
-outlet and gfci outlet for future bar area near kitchen
-make sure all outdoor lights arent only on one switch so they can also be turned on individually instead of lighting up the entire outside when not necessary
-outlets in storage area set at 4ft height
-switch for lights above island on the island

My kids have closets with bifold I need a light in those closets?

Rope lights under vanity? How do you feel about them? Just for the kids' bathroom if at all?
I know I'll forget something, but I'm waaaaay better off than I would have been if I didn't have GW.

Thanks in advance!


clipped on: 03.17.2012 at 09:33 am    last updated on: 03.17.2012 at 09:33 am

Poof! Marble etches gone! (pics)

posted by: niffy on 09.05.2010 at 12:17 pm in Kitchens Forum

I have mentioned before that with our honed marble, I am able to remove etches with a green Scotchbrite pad (the plain, thin pad, not the back side of a sponge). Last night my daughter got lemonade on the marble and it etched, so I decided it was an opportunity for a "demo." Hopefully this will be helpful to people (like me!) who hesitate about marble due to the etching issues. The general consensus seems to be that the sealers prevent stainining (ours does) but that etching remains an issue that you have to be able to live with. I don't live with them - I remove them. Voila!

Below you should be able to spot 2 circular etches, with the second one being far fainter, just above the first.

I used a little spray of granite cleaner and my green Scotchbrite pad and... gone.

Marble etch removal.jpg

I am a 100% happy marble owner:)


clipped on: 03.17.2012 at 09:33 am    last updated on: 03.17.2012 at 09:33 am

Some of the best advice from the braintrust on this forum

posted by: gsmama on 02.05.2011 at 11:25 am in Kitchens Forum

I was googling gardenweb and advice last night and came across a great thread that is no longer open but that had been bumped up a few times since it was started by justadncr in 2007 by asking everyone to share the best advice they'd picked up on this forum.

There are a bunch of gems I hadn't run across and wouldn't have even thought to ask or google ( don't know what you don't know). Plumgold? Never MT? All news to me from reading the thread. I consolidated the info so that I could print it (it would have been a breathtaking 41 pages had I tried to print it straight...) and thought I'd share for other newbies and to maybe get any other additions...

The biggest tip I learned and did as a result was that lumberyards sometimes carry mainstream cabinet lines for less. The place I ordered for carries Dynasty Omega, Shiloh and Meridian and the bulk of their business goes to contractors which helped with the pricing in my case vs. going with a custom cabinet maker--I got a variety of quotes.

With thanks to the OP and everyone who shared, here is their wisdom (please pardon the bullets are reading as diamonds with question marks. Oh well.):

Best advice I got from this forum:

� lay the kitchen out on the ground outside with all the measurements and walk around it to see if it felt right. I took my measurements and scraps of wood and laid them out in the various plans I had come up with.
� check out the sound of the fan in the new ovens. I would have been pretty steamed to spend a bunch on a new range and have that sound come blaring out each time I used the oven.
� putting Blumotion on the cabinet doors. This is my favorite feature in our kitchen and the cost was cheap to add these on after the cab install.
� "zones" on this forum, and designed my kitchen around them, with a tremendous amount of help from my forum friends. In my old kitchen, the dishwasher opened across from the island (right into the backs of my legs). Now, the cleanup zone is on the peninsula, the prep area is between the fridge and sink, etc. It's really wonderful.
� No air gap -- most modern dishwashers don't need them, so you don't have to have that extra unattractive "thing" on your countertop. Easy way around that if you need to pass code inspection is to drill the hole for air gap... pop it on for inspection and when they've gone take off the air gap and pop on your soap dispenser. Then put the loop in the hose at the back of your dishwasher...
� Advantium
� Miele dishwasher
� Test tube rack for spice storage
� Lay it out with tape to double check
� advice for setting up a temp kitchen
� Measure from 3 points wall to wall. Had I known this when we remodeled the entire house in 1990, I would now have the room to put in a pro-style range. As it is, I am exactly....1/4" short. Talk about frustrating! Our cabs are in great shape and I love them, but I'm stuck with the 29-7/8" width on the range.
� I really like this that I stole from Dmlove--- I love not having all those cords on my desk/countertop! So best advice from this forum... details make the difference! for now my phone sits over the hole
� pull down (rather than pull out or side spray) faucet
� Bluestar, after asking about the best 30 inch slide-in range
� batch-feed garbage disposals
� adding outlets
� Galaxy Tool Supply for our sink
� NeverMT
� Plugmold
� Wide / shallow cabinet for William Sonoma ultra-thin step stool.
� Airswitch on disposal. Never minded the wall switch, but now that I have a nice backsplash and an island
� Floodstop on icemaker and washing machine.
� I put power into the back of 4 drawers, so each family member has a place to charge the cell phone (or camcorder or whatever) out of sight.
� I also have a false panel behind a niche so that the power / wallwarts / phone wire / wireless access point is hidden. Only the phone sits out exposed. Similar to the idea above, but using depth.
� Don't pack your booze prior to remodeling (this is VERY important! VERY IMPORTANT!)
� Lacanche
� caulk on change of planes verses grout...look at the underside of your cabinets
� plugmold for under the ends of my island so I didn't have to cut outlets into my beautiful cabinets
� integrated drainboard cut into the countertop
� raising the countertop for my wall oven - which gave me a bonus "standing desk" for my laptop
� never thought I could get talked out of gas. So, that is the best advice so far
� I'm a single sink convert, based solely upon the reviews on this website.
� Dh and I made a "never mt" out of tubing bought for $0.46 at Lowes. It's really not very exciting, though. It's clear tubing (like the kind you see on aquariums) attached to the bottom of the soap dispenser thing, and then extends down through the lid and into the bottom of the bottle of soap. (We just drilled a hole in the top of the bottle and shoved the tubing down.) So low tech! The tubing is something like $.23/ foot and we bought 2 feet. Super easy.
� Landing space between appliances
� Aisle clearances
� Wait until its right - the right plan, the right time, the right appliances.
� instant hot water heater
� Getting a 36" range
� baking center
� online resources for sinks and faucets
� the importance of putting functionality first in all design decisions
� how to test granite for durability
� remote blower for hood fan
� single deep fireclay sink
� lots of great online resources for sinks, faucets, etc
� Never NEVER NEVER!!!! Leave your construction site to go on vacation ::scary music:: I MEAN NEVERRRRR!!!!!
� the best (and most costly) is don't settle. You have to live with this kitchen for quite some time. Don't settle! (Even if that means you scrapped the cabinets today, called of the GC for 8 weeks while you order new ones, and you can't live in your home so you have to find somewhere else to live for three months). And maybe Santa won't know where you live!!!
� Pegasus under-cabinet lighting here. Slim, good-looking, very energy-efficient, and reasonably priced.
� I was convinced of the superiority of the Miele cutlery rack
� do not rush..get a good plan in place. Pick what you love ..NOT what the designer loves
� Brizo Floriano/pulldowns in general
� xenon lighting
� Venting
� Tapmaster
� take pictures of everything while your walls are open. It is very helpful to have that photographic record of where electric, pipes, studs etc. actually are. Also, plan for where you want to install pot/wall racks, shelf brackets, etc.--and add extra framing in the walls before they get closed up.
� Get your floor plan right!
� The Franke Orca sink ... to die for.
� Inexpensive but quality Ticor sinks for laundry and prep.
� Plugmold giving me a crisp, clean and outlet-free backsplash.
� The personal, real life stories shared here gave me the confidence to push back at the stoneyard and insist on marble for my island. It pairs beautifully with the soapstone perimeter.
� Bertazzoni range
� White America Quartzite to go with SS
� LED undercabinet lights
� internet and ebay vendor recommendations
� Hancock & Moore leather furniture (from GW furniture forum)
� Microfiber cloths for cleaning SS and granite.
� we had scaled drawings, pictures, and sketches taped to walls and cabinets all over the kitchen. A sketch of the island layout, a drawing with dimensions for light fixtures and switches, a sketch showing the spacing of shelves, a picture of how we wanted plugmold installed - you name it, we had it on a piece of paper and taped on a wall. When we would discuss anything with the electrician, plumber, etc., usually we would show them a drawing or sketch so they would know exactly what we were looking for. Then we would post it on the wall in the kitchen. It may have been slightly annoying to those working there, but it was amazing how much it helped. A number of times after someone screwed something up I would just point to a drawing and they would immediately have to take the blame and offer to fix it. There was never any chance to claim that we never told them or that we had said something else. It was right there on the wall the whole time.
� undercounter light switch for undercounter lights
� tilt-out shoe storage cabinet
� Get hardwoods instead of laminate. Once I investigated I couldn't believe at how little difference in cost between the two (good decent laminate vs. hardwood)
� This is AWESOME! I now have a list of things I had never even heard of to check on...and I thought I was on top of things!
� posters here are willing to share their good and bad experiences so that newbies like me can have a smoother reno.
� Something that I'm slowly realizing as I continue to read the posts here is that, despite the best of planning, something (or things) likely will not go as planned.
� Buy appliances available locally (so service is available), from retailers who will actually stand behind the sale instead of shifting all blame and responsibility to the manufacturer - even when they shipped a defective product. Just finished reading a long thread about someone that bought from an internet retailer, and it was shocking to see the attitude of the retailer. Forget the pre sale promises and assurances from some of these disreputable internet companies who won't be there if you have a problem and just get them locally. No small percentage of savings is worth it if you end up with a defective product shipped and the retailer says it isn't his problem. If you must buy via internet, make sure you get in writing that the product will be shipped defect-free and if there's anything wrong with the unit at all - IMMEDIATELY contest the charge with your credit card company. Don't rely on promises that a minor (or major) problem will be promptly repaired by a service company.
� learning all the lingo was great. When the contractor asked if I wanted plugmold I didn't go "huh?" I think by being knowledgeable before talking to the contractor it helps a lot.
� Knobs vs. Pulls. There have been several discussions of knobs vs. pulls. Some comments:
� Knobs on base cabinets can catch on clothing (and rip sometimes).
� Cabinets/drawers w/pulls can usually be opened w/one finger...even the pinky finger.
� Susan Jablon glass tile. Everyone who comes in my house walks up to my backsplash and has to touch it. I had just about given up the idea of a glass tile backsplash before finding out about her site on this forum. The price of her tile, even with shipping, was about half of what I could have bought it for locally and it is gorgeous!
� No sockets/switches in backsplash (under cabinet plug strip)
� Toe kick on trash pop out BUT... ADD a second spring to add power to the pop (thank you for whoever mentioned this ingenious bit of info)
� Double layered cutlery drawer (secret drawer within a drawer)
� What to look for when choosing undercabinet lighting eg... reflection, spread of light, color of light, heat...
� Benefits of a large farmhouse sink
� Miele dishwasher � superb
� Thermador cooktop and all the controversy about the popup draft and how I could get away with not having one. THANK YOU!
� Miele warming drawer FANTASTIC and thank you for making me realize that it doesn't have to be on the floor under the oven!!!
� PLAN YOUR STORAGE SPACE. measure boxes, measure food processer, mixer, stack of plates etc. etc. then make a note of contents in the drawers or cupboards on your plans or diagrams or in your notes.
� Plug strip under center island.
� ARE NOT ALONE- PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT YOUR CD FRIDGE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU and it's OK to really take your time with your decisions
� Orca single sink
� Pot rack in upper cabinet (I think this idea was from loves2cookfor6??)
� Electrical outlet inside a drawer for a charging station
� filling in the gap between the fridge and the cupboard above it with some leftover filler and a piano hinge. Cambro...where did you see this idea? Just yesterday we discovered that we might have a significant gap b/w the top of the refrigerator & the bottom of the cabinet above. Our contractor is just going to use filler to hide the gap, but if we put it on hinges it would actually become usable space!
� knife drawer (I hated that block)
� gel stain
� Getting rid of my ugly phone jack and getting a phone that doesn't need one!
� How to get rid of the drip inside my oven door - with a hanger and a sock going up through the holes at the bottom of the door. Worked like a charm!
� Get a spine when talking to GC about his version vs. my version of cleaning up the jobsite each day (aka our home).
� Use masking tape and a measuring tape and make a mock up of where your new cabinets will go. This is a biggie!
� Dimmer switches! I put them on ALL of the new lighting, including the patio lights adjacent, and have not regretted it once.
� how great Silgranit sinks are to live with. Never even heard of one before GW.
� Buying Sources
o Ticor sinks: Ticor Sinks at Galaxy Tool Supply:
o Tapmaster�:
o Never-MT: Never-MT:
o Pop up Outlets: Popup Mocketts:
o Plugmold�/Power Strips:
o Angle Powerstrip:
� Our Vac Pan. Ours is hooked up to a wet/dry vac in the basement because we do not have central vac. The idea came from this forum and our electrician and contractor figured out how to make it happen.
� DIY on gel stain. Thanks Celticmoon and Projectsneverend.
� Soapstone, getting it, finding the right fabricator right here, and caring for it
� where to find a deal on saddle stools
� Kohler Vinnata
� Not to put my cooktop on my island.
� best advice I got was around my budget and how to make the hard decisions on what should stay in and what should go (that was from Beuhl).
� What is not that important to me and doesn't add functionality? [Candidate for elimination altogether]
� What can I do at a later date? [Candidate for deferring until a later date]
� What can't be done at a later date and I can't live without? [Candidate for keeping and doing now]
� This forum helped me see which terms are worth using, and which can be saved for later. This forum helped me get clearer communication going. Resistance could be expressed when I raised ideas; it all helped to refine the concept.
� This forum helped me justify personal innovations. This forum confirmed ideas.
� Tweaking and innovating. I tweaked everything in my kitchen along the way.
� I don't know if I would have a remodeled kitchen if it weren't for this forum. I would have still been looking at the dreadful old one wishing it was nice and not knowing how to get it nice. Even the ideas & photos of things I didn't want for me helped to define what I did want.
� I have to give credit to my carpenter, too. There was a time when his eyes rolled when I said, "but the people on the kitchen forum say......." But I had photos and conversations printed off to show him what I meant.
� Lisalists organized drawers where the dividers go from front to back or side to side so you don't have to nest objects-and you can fit so much stuff in. Easy, easy access. No nesting. Yay
� Layout, efficiency. This has to be the most important thing I've been learning here. What tasks do you perform, what zones will you organize them in, what items do you need close at hand in each zone, how does traffic between and through zones flow. etc.
� Styles, materials, looks. People here have great ''eyes'' for style and looks. My eyes have been opened to these looks, and I've learned the vocabulary to describe them.
� Specific ideas/features I learned about here that seem like they'll be useful: prep sinks, base cabinet drawers, counter top materials other than granite, true convection ovens, unfitted kitchens, under-counter refrigeration.
� Many things, one of which is using a 13-15" depth cabinet for inset cabinets, as 12 is not sufficient.
� Carefully placing all the appliances and storage thinking about what you use with what. For example, I moved the microwave to be next to the refrigerator because we use it mostly for reheating leftovers. I have fridge, prep sink, prep area, range, more prep area on one side and on the other I have prep area/ landing zone (across from fridge), main sink, prep area / dishwasher (across from range, but offset so both people can work) in the island.


clipped on: 03.17.2012 at 09:32 am    last updated on: 03.17.2012 at 09:32 am

RE: Taking possession a week from Fri...any advice? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: bevangel on 08.16.2011 at 12:33 pm in Building a Home Forum

It is probably late for this advice but you need to spend at least a full day at your house looking for punch list issues and making a written list BEFORE you meet with your builder for your "pre-through." And you need to be able to do this while there are no workmen there so they are not making noise or getting in your way. There are just too many things to look for to try to do the checking WHILE walking thru the house with your builder. Even if your builder gives you a full three or four hours for the walk-through, that is simply not enough time...especially if builder is taking time to write notes about the things you mention. And it is possible your builder will attempt to rush you because the fewer things you mention, the less work he has to do. Better to go with a list in hand (with a copy for builder) so that your walk-thru with builder is just a chance for you to show him what each note on the list refers to.

On your list, for each issue indicate EXACTLY where the problem is located.... What room, what wall, Where on the wall, what the problem is, and what needs to be done. Eg., 1) Living room; on north wall, 4 ft from east wall & 18 inches above the floor; there are gaps in sheetrock around electrical outlet; need to patch gaps, smooth patch (or texture to match wall texture) and prime and painted to match wall. 2) 1st floor powderroom, floor 20 inches from west wall & 2 ft from south wall; cracked tile; remove and replace with good tile, regrout - make certain replacement tile is set level with surrounding tiles and that grout matches surrounding grout. The more detailed you are, the more likely the fixes are going to be done satisfactorily. So, a laptop with an excel program can be helpful for making your lists because you can copy and paste the correction instructions everytime you find yet another electrical outlet with gaps around it.

So, if it were me, I would ask to postpone the walk-thru with builder until after this weekend - even if that meant postponing my move in date by a week or so. Then I would take a couple of very persnickity (sp??) friends with me to the house over the weekend and spend several hours going over each room and making lists of punch list items. People seeing the place with fresh eyes will see problems that you noticed months ago, that your builder promised to fix, but then somehow never got around to doing. Keep a copy of your list and then check issues off as they are corrected. Otherwise, chances are, half the stuff you point out will never get corrected. Don't rely on your builder putting sticky notes on walls. Sticky notes have a way of disappearing without the work ever getting done!

Some things you need to check:

Whole House
_ Turn every light switch on and off.
_ If you have ceiling fans with multiple speeds, check that they work on every speed.
_ Test every electrical outlet (both top and bottom as we've actually found that on a number of outlets in our current house - which was purchased from a previous owner - only one half of the outlet has power and the other half is dead!)
_ Check that both heating and air conditioning work, and that you have an adequate flow of air from every register. This will require turning the AC down so that the house gets extra cold and then, after checking AC, turning the heat on to make sure that works. While it'll be a bit of a waste of energy, you don't want to find out that the heater isn't working the first night that temps suddenly dip below freezing.
_ Open and close every window. Make sure they open easily and close and seal completely. Look for any light entering around the edges of window (between the sash and the jambs.) If light can enter, so can water! If your windows tilt out to clean, check that function on every window as well.
_ Open and close every door, interior and exterior.
_ Check that all doors are plumb and square. The crack around an door should be even on all sides when the door is closed and you should not be able to see light coming from the other side except at the bottoms of interior doors.
_ Check that exterior doors close and seal completely. You should not be able to see any light coming in between the door and jamb or the door and the sill AT ALL.
_ Lock and unlock every lock
_ Check that walls are plumb and flat, that there are no nail pops and that the texturing and paint is even. BTW - nail pops are where the nails holding sheetrock to the studs back up slightly. You see them as little round bumps in the paint. You should not be able to tell where the edges of sheetrock panels are. Nor should you be able to notice any dips or high places in the walls where they taped and floated the sheetrock.
_ Check walls carefully around all outlet plates to make certain there are no gaps where the cuts in the sheetrock were made too large and then never fixed.
_ Check every piece of molding looking for cracks or gaps where two pieces of molding meet. Check the paint or stain on molding - particularly cut ends.
_ Check floors. Tiles should have even and straight grout lines; hardwoods should not have gaps between boards; seams on vinyl flooring should not be noticable; carpet should be tight and should not show seams; etc.
_While the house is quiet (late night is best), walk up and down the steps and across all portions of any hardwood floors. There should be no creaks or squeeks.
_ Check ceilings. You should not be able to tell where the edges of the sheetrock panels are.
_ Check stair spindles, balusters, and handrails to make sure they are solidly installed. No shakiness.
- Take a sprinkler with you and set it so that water falls down against your windows (simulating rain) and check for leaks on the inside. You should not see ANY water on the inside. (Caution - don't spray water UPWARD against your windows as you may drive water through the drainholes, set the spinkler so that water falls downward against the windows.)
_ If you get lucky and it happens to be raining while you are there, go into the attic and look for leaks.
_ Check that smoke detectors are working.
_ Turn everything in the house off and unplug the refrigerator, then check the electric meter. It should no longer be running. (Be sure to plug appliances back in afterwards!)
_ Make sure all water spigots are turned off and that your water heaters are full, then check your water meter. It should NOT be moving. If it is, you may have a leak somewhere in your plumbing system...possibly even under your slab.
_ If you have a real wood fireplace, build a very small but smoky fire (damp wood and newspapers) and make sure the chimney draws properly.
_ If you have a gas fireplace, light it and make sure all the vents work properly and that the flame heights are as you would expect them to be.
_ If you have natural gas or propane, find the inside gas cut-off valves. (NOTE that these should not be hidden behind an appliance - you need to be able to get to them easily in case of a fire!) Make sure the gast cut off valves turn easily. Light the appliance then turn the gas off at the cut off valve. The flame should go completely out. If it doesn't, the cut off valve is working properly.

Kitchen/Laundry Room/Pantry
_ Check that every appliance is working properly
* Refrigerator
* Freezer
* Dishwasher (run thru a cycle to ensure no leaks and that it actually cleans dishes. We bought a house once where the dishwasher seemed to work when we tested it but when we actually tried to wash dishes, they never got clean. It turned out that the water had never been attached and the little bit of moisture we were seeing was just moisture from the air!)
* stove top - check every burner
* vent hood - make sure it is actually hooked up and venting to the outside.
* oven
* microwave
* garbage disposal - put some garbage in it and make sure it chops it up.
* washer (again, run a cycle to make sure its not leaking and that it doesn't dance around)
* dryer (run a cycle with some clothes to make sure it doesn't dance. Also, make sure the dry vent is hooked up!)
_ Open and close every cabinet and every drawer to make sure they function properly.
_ Look inside each cabinet and drawer to make sure it is finished properly, that there are no missing shelves, etc. Also, look for scratches, nicks, and stains. Once you move in, you builder will assume that you made any mars on your cabinetry.
_ Turn both hot and cold water on at the sink. Fill the sink with water and then, after a while, check under the sink for evidence of leaking. Check around the sink to make sure that it is properly sealed to your countertop.
_ Check the countertop for flaws. Check the edges of countertops especially carefully as these can easily get chipped or scratched (depending on the type surface) during the building process.
_If you have a granite countertop, inspect it carefully. Run your hands over every inch feeling for any rough spots. Also, get down on your hands and knees and look across the granite from a height just an inch or two above the surface - places that are not properly polished will be more visible.
_ Inspect every light fixture installed by builder to make certain it was not scratched, dented, or marred in the process of being installed.

_ Actually step into shower stalls and bathtubs to make sure they feel solid underfoot. Acrylic tubs and shower bases that "give" underfoot will crack over time.
_ Run water in every sink and bathtub and make sure they hold water without leaking. (Look under the sinks for leaks).
_ Run the showers.
_ Make sure you get hot water when you turn on a hot water spigot. Try it at every sink, tub, shower, and in your washing machine.
_ Run water at several locations at the same time to make sure you have adequate water pressure.
_ Test that bathroom fans work.
_ Flush all toilets several times to make sure they STOP running when the tanks refill. (Having a bunch of friends out for several hours also means your toilets may actually get "field tested" to make sure they really flush adequately... which not something you are likely to test while doing a walk thru with your builder!)
_ Make sure toilets sit solidly and evenly on the floor and are properly bolted down. There should not be any "rocking" motion when you sit down.
_ Have someone flush a toilet times while you run hot water in the shower and feel it. Flushing the toilet SHOULD NOT cause the shower water to suddenly get noticeable hotter.
_Make sure shower faucets are grouted properly so that water does not get into the wall behind them.
_ Check the cabinetry the same as you did for the kitchen.
_ Make certain that mirrors installed by the builder don't have flaws in the silvering.
_ Test that toilet paper holders and towel bars are firmly affixed to walls.

_ If your builder installed blinds or operable shutters (inside or out) make sure they work properly.
_ Check that you OUTDOOR water spigots work.
_ Check all outdoor electrical outlets as well. These often get over-looked.
_ Check your garage door openers. Also make sure that, if something is in the way of the door as it comes down, that the door stops and goes back up.
_ If you have an attic access ladder, pull it down and make sure it works smoothly.
_ Climb into the attic and make sure you have the amount of insulation you are supposed to have.
- If you're really lucky and it rains while you are checking out your house this weekend, go up into the attic with a flashlight and look for roof leaks.
_ Make sure gutters are fully attached to walls and designed to drain water away from your house. Pull downward gently on the downspouts and make sure that there is no movement where they connect to the gutters. If downspouts have not been properly connected to gutters, they can fall out.
_ Check that ground around the house has been graded so that it slopes away from the house.
_ Get as high above the ground as you can safely manage and look to see if your roofing shingles appear to be flat and tight against the roof.
_ Check all exterior concrete for cracks.
_ Check the siding on the house to make sure everything that was supposed to be painted has been painted.
_ Check that exterior sprinkler systems work and that landscaping plants are alive and appear healthy.

This is all just "off the top of my head." I'm sure if you think about it you can add dozens of other things to check for. And, no doubt other posters will chime in with other things to add to your check list.
Ultimately, you don't have to insist that the builder fix every little tiny thing. If something won't bother you - or if you can fix it easily yourself and don't mind doing so, point it out to your builder anyway and, once you've gone over everything you can cross those items off your list as a way to show you're being reasonable but that the rest of the list IS important to you.


clipped on: 03.17.2012 at 09:31 am    last updated on: 03.17.2012 at 09:31 am