Lets Talk Contracts

written by: Mike Gosser

OK lets talk about contracts and/or agreements.

Over the years, I have worked for many types of professionals, including lawyers who do construction litigation. Therefore I was fortunate enough to receive some good advice regarding contracts. One that stands out is, ” A contract is only as good as the relationship between client and contractor.” No matter how well written the contract can be, if the relationship fails the contract can be picked apart.  This advice was given to me in the best of relationships between this client and myself, therefore I have taken this to heart and is an important part of my contracting business.

When picking a contractor or handyman/woman, I highly recommend you choose a local business. Local businesses will have your best interest because their top priorities is to make sure you are satisfied with his/her service, and in return, expects a good referral. Remember a good referral can create 2-3 recommendations and a poor experience can create at least 3-4 negative comments. Keep in mind the community talks to each other, at sporting events, school, church and many other outlets.

I recommend you have a contract, especially with: larger projects, more technical projects, and when contracting with someone for the first time.

It’s all in the details. Before signing a contract, review the project with the contractor. Ask about allowances, specific materials being used, how the different operations plan to proceed and how they will be done. It’s okay to note any of these items on the contract. Don’t forget there is no such thing as a dumb question; this is the only way to really compare apples to apples.

If you have any additional questions or comments or see other comments and answers, please go to ” ASK ME A QUESTION ” Link, on the sidebar.

Next week I will discuss Kitchen Remodeling or How to just Update Your Kitchen.

 

Easy Kitchen Makeovers for Fraction of the Cost

written by: Mike Gosser

You can spend a lot of time and money for a designer kitchen or you can do a kitchen make over with a fairly minimal investment. I have done many of both, but I feel in this new economy, the make over is usually a good choice, if and only if the design and labor is done correctly.

I will describe the basic steps on how I transformed a thirty-five year old kitchen into a very beautiful updated kitchen.  The kitchen type is called a Galley kitchen; it has a straight row of cabinets, which functions as the work area. In this particular layout, the oven/range is adjacent to the cabinetry separated by a doorway. I believe by doing some basic replacements, we can create a more functional, visually appealing and cost controlled project at a fraction of what it would take to completely remodel the kitchen. The total budget for this makeover is $18,500.00.  For this cost, the outcome is quite impressive.

Five basic changes were made to produce this makeover.

1. New wood maple laminate flooring (removing two layers of old vinyl flooring).

2. Supply and install solid wood maple cabinet doors and drawer fronts (including new, full extension, ball bearing drawer glides, hinges and pulls).

3. The owner had ten inches of open wall space between the existing base cabinetry and the doorway trim at the end of the Galley run, where the owner kept a free-standing trash container. I decided to build a pull out trash can cabinet, therefore, the owner will have picked up an additional 10″ of needed counter space.

4. I also replaced the existing dated ceramic tile back-splash with a new stone/glass mosaic mix tile back-splash.

5. We also replaced the old and worn laminate counters with new quartz stone counters, a new under mount stainless steel sink and faucet. We decided to replace the garbage disposal, since we were replacing the counters. All other appliances are in good shape.

We first proceeded with this project by removing the existing vinyl flooring down to plywood sub-floor. We re-nailed the sub-floor to minimize any movement and squeaks. We scraped the existing tile off the walls. Keep in mind, sometimes you have to cut and remove the drywall to be able to remove the tile. Luckily, this type of removal was not needed. The existing cabinet boxes are made of maple, that had been previously painted, but in good condition, therefore, we decided to keep them and just paint a new coat. The new doors and drawer fronts will be stained and finished to match the new maple floor planks.

We proceeded to install the new glass/travertine stone tile back-splash, new laminate flooring , new quartz stone counters, sink, faucet, disposal, cabinet doors, drawer fronts and related hardware. We then installed  a new base shoe at all the base boards. The painting was done by owner. We provided a, ” ready to use”, cleaning of kitchen. In case your wondering we blue taped closed the cabinets to keep the dust out, during the demo part of project.

Before Pictures:

After Pictures:

Next week I will discuss windows, product choices, applications and costs.

Mike

What You Should Know About Windows

window

written by: Mike Gosser

I sometimes think about how windows are the most important element of a house. As a code requirement, it is mandated for various safety concerns and you should check with your local building department for any special requirements.

First and foremost, windows provide light, ventilation and connects you to the outside world. A good window can also save you money by holding in expensive, generated heat and cooling.

Listed below are things you should know about windows.

1. What are the best choices (quality should dictate your choice)?

2. What are the different applications and costs?

Quality should dictate your choice – I have seen and installed many windows in my time. I have to say that an all wood window; wood being a natural insulator and very durable, would be my first choice. It must have a clad exterior that can stand up well to the ultra violet light and moisture. I suggest insulated a low-e glass as the minimal requirement. A primed interior is a good value, especially if the sashes have muntins, also known as grilles or divided lights.

Applications and costs – There are basically two types of installations. First is the complete removal of the entire existing window, including the frame, sill and all related trim. This is sometimes the best option if the frame, sill and moldings are rotted. This is usually the most expensive option because everything is being installed new and will also need to be painted. This application usually takes 4-6 hours plus the cost of painting!

The second option (best choice),  if the frame is in good shape, is an insert application. Basically this is done by only having to remove the existing sashes, leaving the frame, moldings and all related trim untouched. Therefore, all the moldings and adjacent surfaces will not need painting! Your new window insert unit is sized to fit into the existing frame. This installation usually only takes a few hours and has no, or minimal painting cost! If the exterior mouldings are in poor shape, not rotted, you could wrap them with aluminum or just replace them. Synthetic type boards are a good choice. They come with a weathered look on one side or smooth on the other.

Note – In my opinion, I do not believe vinyl windows are meant for cold northern climates but I also understand how budgets effect window purchases. A couple of things to remember, a good window will make you feel more comfortable, subdue noise levels, and last for many years to enjoy. A well established window company will provide good warranties and provide parts over the life of the unit.

Next week I will discuss tools. The basic group of tools every homeowner should have.

A Starter Tool List

written by: Mike Gosser

Lets talk tools.

tools

First things first, safety is Job #1. Always follow the manufacture’s safety guidelines.

If you want to build up your own tool collection, let me tell you about my own tools. I divided my approach toward tools into three categories: storage, tool pouch, and a starter tool set. A tool pouch is a great way to carry your tools with you.

1. WHAT MY TOOL STORAGE LOOKS LIKE – I personally like having three storage items. A good quality canvas bag, metal tool box and a tool belt. I like a single pouch tool belt versus a double because I can fit everything I need; what I call the absolutes, in the one pouch. I also enjoy the freedom of movement with one pouch, especially if I am climbing up a ladder or if I need to access pant pockets. Carpenters who build homes have a better use for a double pouch, but for home repairs and/or remodeling, a single pouch works just fine. Keep in mind, when picking the right tool belt, you first need to select the tools you will carry, then you should look for a pouch that best fits those tools.

2. WHAT MY TOOL POUCH TOOLS LOOKS LIKE – Well balance hammer  (feels comfortable when you hold it and swing it), torpedo level, speed square, scribe (also known as compass), 5 in 1 screw driver, cold chisel, 3/4″ & 1/4″ wood chisels, two nail sets (one small point and one medium point), scratch awl, 30 foot tape with a 3″ body (for easier inside measurements), razor knife, wire cutter, small nail puller and a 1″ putty knife.

3. WHAT MY STARTER TOOL SET LOOKS LIKE – Beyond the tool belt tools, a circular saw, drill (motor), a set of each; speed bore set and twist drill set, 2′ level, 25′ & 50′ extension cords, a set of both metric and american standard socket sets, open end wrenches, 6″ & 8″ adjustable wrenches, 10″ & 14″ pipe wrenches and a small and large channel lock.

Don’t forget! Safety is job #1. Always read and follow the safety instructions that come with your tools and equipment. It’s very important to wear protective clothing, eye and face protection and utilize safety equipment. The misuse of tools is unforgiving!

If you have any questions and or comments, please feel free to leave a message in the ”Leave A Reply box” or the “Ask Me A Question” link. Don’t forget to follow me and receive updates on new posts!

Next week I will discuss doors and door installations.

www.gosserconstruction.com

The Art of Carpentry

law

written by: Mike Gosser

The Laws of Building:

  1. Water finds its own level; use it to check for level.
  2.  Always keep checking for square and plumb.
  3.  Always check and recheck measurements.
  4. Stand back and take a minute to think about how it’s going to look and work.
  5. Build well.  Shortcuts usually take longer and are not efficient. There is no such thing as a shortcut, just less quality.

www.gosserconstruction.com

Some things you should know

Written by: Mike Gosser

  • All sills should pitch away (stone or wood).
  • Kerfs; small saw blade undercuts, that break water drips ( usually seen under sills), keeps water from weeping in.
  • Land grades pitch water away from the house.
  • Deep roots hold water, therefore, you won’t have so much run off and  water getting into your basement.
  • Exterior knobs are 2 3/4″ from edge of door ( Gives you hand clearance so your knuckles wont hit the door frame).
  • Interior knobs are 2 3/8″.
  • Do not use slotted bit in drill; nothing to hold it on the center. That is why Phillips was invented.

More to come later

www.gosserconstuction.com

All About Doors

doorinter

written by: Mike Gosser

DOORS, DOORS, DOORS! Is there any real difference between interior doors? Read below and you decide.

I will discuss the three different types of interior doors. The three different types are: hollow core doors, solid core doors that have a wood veneer over a solid wood blocking or a MDF core (medium density fiberboard), and a solid, real wood door. The real wood doors can be any species of wood, such as, poplar, maple, oak or a primed door. All interior doors are usually 1 3/8″ in thickness. So what are the differences?

1. HOLLOW CORE – This type of door is basically a catacomb of cardboard with a thin rail around the perimeter and a thin veneer sheath wrapped on both sides. It is very light in weight and is available in many styles and wood species. This is also the least expensive type of door.

2. A SOLID WOOD BLOCKING DOOR – With a wood veneer, is exactly as it sounds. This type of door is the most common. This is a solid wood door but has a wood blocking or a MDF within the door, which is wrapped with a wood veneer. This door has some weight and cannot have a hole punctured into it, as a hollow core door can. It also is available in a variety of styles and wood species. The cost is not much more than a hollow core and is well worth buying.

3. SOLID WOOD DOOR – Last but not least, is a solid real wood door. This type of door has no core. The mill takes solid pieces of wood and will fabricate different styles (with the wood species of your choice). In recent years, mills have started using cheaper woods to make up the door and install a wood veneer (of your wood choice) over it, to control the cost and help reduce the impact on the environment. I believe this is sometimes a good option. This door is usually the most expensive and lasts the longest.

Next week I will discuss exterior doors.

PART TWO – PREHUNG DOORS

pre-hung-door-described

written by: Mike Gosser

Today I will go over part one of, “EXTERIOR DOORS.” I want to make sure I give the necessary time to best explain both. Part one will explain about door slabs and how to install them properly and part two will thoroughly explain prehung door units.

EXTERIOR DOOR SLAB: First lets talk about the doors themselves. Door slabs are usually 1 3/4″ in thickness. They can be ordered thicker from the mill or made thicker on the job site by applying boards to the face of the door. The exterior jambs will need to be deeper to accommodate the thicker doors and will need larger hinges (possibly more of them). These doors can be ordered in a variety of styles and wood species. The exterior doors can be made of pine, fir, oak, metal and fiberglass. Fiberglass is a good choice because it is resistant to rotting, but is very limited in style choices and the type of wood that you may desire. When choosing the style and wood type, I say, “Shoot for the moon, then work your way back.” When checking the price, always compare pricing from a few different suppliers. You may be surprised how the pricing may end up. FYI – I prefer fir because of its coloring, grain and stability. I sometimes make a slurry with instant coffee and wipe the door down to create a patina before finishing the door. Of course this is subjective.

INSTALLATION GUIDELINES: Note – The term frame and jamb can be interchangeable. If you are only replacing the door slab and not the exterior frame, you will need to measure your door opening or the existing door. I like to measure the jamb opening. It’s the routed part of the frame that has the weatherstrip nailed to it and where the door actually sits when closed. First lets measure the width part of the jamb. It’s the measurement between the hinge part of the jamb to the striker plate part of the jamb. The height is measured from the metal threshold to the top part of the jamb. A front door measurement usually is 36″ wide x 80″ high or could be 84″ high x 1 3/4″ thick. Retailers like to use door measurements in feet and inches. For example, the previous measurement would be a 3′ 0″ x 6′ 8″. Your salesman should understand what size you need if you specify the measurements in inches. Rear doors are usually 32″ wide. If you need to know which way the the hinge swing swings, put your back against the inside of the door and swing your arm/hand that the hinge is on. For example, if the hinge is on your right side , put your back against the door, swing your right arm/hand the way the door swings. That’s a right hand swing. If you are using your left arm/hand its a left hand swing. Before you start machining your door, I recommend removing the old threshold. Doing this will help make the fitting part of the installation much easier.

Important to remember, the lock-set edge and the top edge of the door edges must be cut at a 3 degree angle if you have a traditional metal weatherstrip attached to the jamb. The longer side of this angle cut starts at the exterior edge of the door.

Before you cut the hinge pockets, mortising the hinge, or drilling the lock-set holes, you need to fit the door into the existing opening. Never plane the hinge side. Using a rafter square, hold the body (the longer side of the square) against the hinge side of the jamb to check the top of the door jamb to see if it is square. Always mark the hinge side of the door and the inside of the door for reference. Now lay the body of the rafter square on the hinge edge of the door and mark the same angle on the face of the door that shown when you check the top of the jamb with the square. Now cut, if necessary, the top of the door at the same angle as the top of the jamb. Make the width of the door 1/8″ smaller than the jamb opening width. If your lucky, you will not need to do this step. This measurement is from the hinge part of the jamb to the striker plate side of the jamb. I suggest purchasing a new aluminum exterior threshold and follow the manufactures instructions to fit the bottom of the door. Before you make the threshold cut, put the door into the opening and mark with a sharp pencil the hinge locations. Mark the hinge outline with a butt marker. Mortise the wood inside the outline marks to the depth of the hinge thickness. This is usually about 1/8″ deep. Now you should be able to install your door and check for fit. Next mark the center line from striker plate onto door. This is the center line of your lock-set. The bore offset is usually 1 3/4″ from the edge of door, and the size of the bore is usually 2 1/8″. Not all lock-sets are the same and these measurements need to be verified from the old door. If you purchase a new lock-set, follow the manufacture’s instructions. After installing the lock-set, remove the door and proceed to install the threshold and cut the door according to the instructions that come with the threshold.

Note – If you want to supply the door but want a contractor to install it, a reputable contractor will verify all dimensions and specifications before you place your order.

SAFETY FIRST! DONT FORGET! Always read and follow the safety instructions that come with your tools, equipment and supplies.

Leave any comments and or questions. Next week I will discuss prehung exterior doors.

Mike.

PART ONE – EXTERIOR DOORS

written by: Mike Gosser

Today I will go over part one of, “EXTERIOR DOORS.” I want to make sure I give the necessary time to best explain both. Part one will explain  about door slabs and how to install them properly and part two will thoroughly explain prehung door units.

door

EXTERIOR DOOR SLAB:  First lets talk about the doors themselves. Door slabs are usually 1 3/4″ in thickness. They can be ordered  thicker from the mill or made thicker on the job site by applying boards to the face of the door. The exterior jambs will need to be deeper to accommodate the thicker doors and will need larger hinges  (possibly more of them).  These doors can be ordered in a variety of styles and wood species.  The exterior doors can be made of pine, fir, oak, metal and fiberglass.  Fiberglass is a good choice because it is resistant to rotting, but is very limited in style choices and the type of wood that you may desire. When choosing the style and wood type, I say, “Shoot for the moon, then work your way back.” When checking the price, always compare pricing from a few different suppliers.  You may be surprised how the pricing may end up. FYI – I prefer fir because of its coloring, grain and stability. I sometimes make a slurry with instant coffee and wipe the door down to create a patina before finishing the door. Of course this is subjective.

INSTALLATION GUIDELINES:  Note – The term frame and jamb can be interchangeable. If you are only replacing the door slab and not the exterior frame, you will need to measure your door opening or the existing door. I like to measure the jamb opening. It’s the routed part of the frame that has the weatherstrip nailed to it and where the door actually sits when closed. First lets measure the width part of the jamb. It’s the measurement between the hinge part of the jamb to the striker plate part of the jamb. The height is measured from the metal threshold to the top part of the jamb. A front door measurement usually is 36″ wide x  80″ high or could be 84″ high x 1 3/4″ thick. Retailers like to use door measurements in feet and inches. For example, the previous measurement would be a 3′ 0″ x 6′ 8″. Your salesman should understand what size you need if you specify the measurements in inches. Rear doors are usually 32″ wide. If you need to know which way the the hinge swing swings, put your back against the inside of the door and swing your arm/hand that the hinge is on. For example,  if the hinge is on your right side , put your back against the door, swing your right arm/hand the way the door swings. That’s a right hand swing. If you are using your left arm/hand its a left hand swing. Before you start machining your door, I recommend removing the old threshold. Doing this will help make the fitting part of the installation much easier.

Important to remember, the lock-set edge and the top edge of the door edges must be cut at  a 3 degree angle if you have a traditional metal weatherstrip attached to the jamb. The longer side of this angle cut starts at the exterior edge of the door.

Before you cut the hinge pockets, mortising the hinge, or drilling the lock-set holes, you need to fit the door into the existing opening. Never plane the hinge side. Using a rafter square, hold the body (the longer side of the square) against the hinge side of the jamb to check the top of the door jamb to see if it is square. Always mark the hinge side of the door and the inside of the door for reference. Now lay the body of the rafter square on the hinge edge of the door and mark the same angle on the face of the door that shown when you check the top of the jamb with the square. Now cut, if necessary, the top of the door at the same angle as the top of the jamb.  Make the width of the door 1/8″ smaller than the jamb opening width. If your lucky, you will not need to do this step. This measurement is from the hinge part of the jamb to the striker plate side of the jamb. I suggest purchasing a new aluminum exterior threshold and follow the manufactures instructions to fit the bottom of the door. Before you make the threshold cut, put the door into the opening and mark with a sharp pencil the hinge locations. Mark the hinge outline with a butt marker. Mortise the wood inside the outline marks to the depth of the hinge thickness. This is usually about 1/8″ deep. Now you should be able to install your door and check for fit. Next mark the center line from striker plate onto door. This is the center line of your lock-set. The bore offset is usually 1 3/4″ from the edge of door, and the size of the bore is usually 2 1/8″. Not all lock-sets are the same and these measurements need to be verified from the old door. If you purchase a new lock-set, follow the manufacture’s instructions. After installing the lock-set, remove the door and proceed to install the threshold and cut the door according to the instructions that come with the threshold.

Note – If you want to supply the door but want a contractor to install it, a reputable contractor will verify all dimensions and specifications before you place your order.

SAFETY FIRST!  DONT FORGET!  Always read and follow the safety instructions that come with your tools, equipment and supplies.

Leave any comments and or questions in our form on the right. Next week I will discuss prehung exterior doors.

Mike.