Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alexandria Porch Roof Addition

A friend in Alexandria wanted to update the look of their house. We suggested adding a front porch roof. WOW! What a difference in the curb appeal. If your house is looking dated and you want to improve the appearance just give us a call. We would like to share our design and remodeling expertise with you and increase the value of your home.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fairlington Fire Hazard

Fairlington was converted from apartments to condos in the mid 70's. The basements had a bathroom added and the dryers were vented using plastic flex hose. As you can see in this picture the lint clings to the walls of the hose and builds up causing the dryer to work harder and be less effective. It is also a fire hazard. The most recent event was in the 3000 block of S. Buchanan St.
If you are planning a remodel of your basement bathroom be sure to include changing the plastic flex hose to metal hard pipe.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shower Leaks

Fairlington bath rooms are in the age range of 30+ years and many hide the signs of age. FW&D frequently finds these tell tale signs after we demo a bath room. This leak was significant in that it had deteriorated the 2x4 stud away from the bottom sill plate and had a mold problem, unbeknownst to the homeowner.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Managing Expectations: Stealth costs

What I want to share with you today is one of the biggest enthusiasm-killers to any project, the shock you get when what you had in your mind doesn’t match up with the actual costs. I’m not talking about when you first start your research, although many of you have emailed with your disappointments. I hear you.

What I’m talking about is additions either during the selection process or during the project. You know the type – you decide to add can lighting to your kitchen. You went online to a box store, added the cost of 4 can lights, 4x $ 20.00 per can (and you weren’t in California where you needed fluorescents at 4 times the cost.) You’re thinking $ 80.00, maybe $ 100.00.

You get the bill or change order for $ 900.00.

“What?!?” you say. “Wait a minute; I’m not paying for this! It should have cost 1/8th of that.” Now you’re steaming mad, refuse to pay, hop on the internet and blast your contractor for being a crook.

Hold on. Yes, your contractor was wrong, but not for the reason you think.

One of the biggest common failings in our industry is that we have a tendency to assume you all automatically know what we do AND how we do it. *scratch head* I don’t know why, but we figure just by talking to us, you have somehow absorbed every aspect of our business. Silly, isn’t it? Then we end up all shocked that you would be shocked, because we actually gave you a discount even though we had to drop everything else to accommodate this last minute change and it put us a day behind at another job and now our other client is upset.

Hurt feelings all around, but really? That’s our fault. We need to step it up and recognize no, you don’t know:

  • the cans you saw online – that $ 20.00 is just for the trim. They need housing and assembly which costs extra. The bulbs are also on top of this. New price: $ 38.00
  • the sheetrock and/or plaster have to be cut for 4 boxes. The ceiling joists weren’t in the right spot and the contractor had to add some framing in the ceiling so that the lights would line up exactly where you want them
  • the sheetrock also had to be cut out on the wall for the light switch
  • somebody had to go pick up the lights (and Murphy’s Law being what it is, the store was out of stock and there was an extra 1/2 hour drive to another store for pickup. You probably weren’t charged for the extra trip, but when you ask why it’s taking so long, that’s one of the time-killers on any job.)
  • you forgot to add in the 2 hours of electrician’s time
  • the electrician found a wiring mess buried in the insulation and had to repair it
  • someone had to repair the sheetrock
  • someone else had to paint the ceiling. If it’s done properly, the entire ceiling was painted, not just 4 small patches(Sometimes it’s more labor taping around a patch then spraying the entire ceiling)
  • the mess of sheetrock, insulation bits, and wiring had to be cleaned up

Knowing what’s involved is a big step towards understanding. Repeat after me: Failed expectations are the sole cause of anger. Ommm. *grin*

The last few years, I’ve taken time to explain where the costs come from and if I can, in the early stages, so that the adjustments for both budget and expectations can be made. Sure, I still have clients say: “I had no idea there was so much to this”, but at least they didn’t have any surprises.

And that’s my 2 cents for the day.

Kelly Morisseau

Hi and welcome! My name is Kelly Morisseau and I'm a second-generation CMKBD (Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer), and a CID (Certified Interior Designer) for a residential design/build firm in Northern California. This blog,, isn't about looking for clients. After 25 years in the business, I wanted to give something back.