Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Not a good day

This morning while I was getting ready for work, the cell phone rang. It was "Beth" from the electrical contractor. She was trying to explain that they can't even begin their work until the cabinet-removing/installing contractor gets a permit to do their work. I told her I didn't know anything about it and to call Home Depot.

When I got to work, I called her back to ask her whether she'd received the letter from the condo, and she said she hadn't. She then went on again about the other permit, saying that the other contractor is trying to reach me to get money for their permit. (No, they haven't been.) I then told her again I didn't know anything about it and to call Home Depot. I also called the condo office and left a voice message asking them to please fax an original of their letter to the electrical people.

I then faxed Beth my copy of the condo letter and asked her again to contact Home Depot about the other stuff, quoting a sentence from the contract, which reads, "Permits may be necessary to obtain and will be the responsibility of The Home Depot Authorized Representative."

At the next opportunity, I called "Helen" at Home Depot and first told her about the electrical permit. "They're just getting around to that now?!" she said. (I told her they had first called me about it last Thursday on the cell, which I'd left at home.) I then told her about the other permit they were talking about, and Helen voiced some skepticism over the necessity for that. I asked her to please call the electrical contractor and talk to them and get back to me.

Several hours passed and I hadn't heard anything, so I called Helen back. She said she had left a message at the electrical contractor but that no one had returned her call. I asked her to keep me posted and then called Beth back. I told her Helen had called and left a message, but Beth said she hadn't received one. (What's that about?!) Then she said she'd tried calling Home Depot earlier (more than one, in fact, and none mine). She read one of the numbers she'd called (not the right one) and I then gave her the correct number and told her Helen was there at the moment and to please call her right away. This is not the first time the electrical people have had a problem getting these numbers right.

I never heard back from Helen (or the other contractor who needed money from me, for that matter). I called her several times and left a message at Home Depot and also a voice mail on her cell phone.

So I'm in limbo now. I was pissed and said so (to the electrical people). I could tell Helen was pissed, too (and told the electrical people), since she's the one running the show, so to speak. If the cabinet people need money from me to pull a permit, why haven't they called me? They have all my phone numbers.

It's out of my hands as I sit here with no kitchen and the days pass in a tangle of snafus and botched communications, with no progress being made.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Electric update

Well, the condo manager wrote the permission letter today and got it faxed off to the electrical contractor. The electrical contractor said the letter will be delivered to the City tomorrow.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

About those granite countertops

See this article.

SHORTLY before Lynn Sugarman of Teaneck, N.J., bought her summer home in Lake George, N.Y., two years ago, a routine inspection revealed it had elevated levels of radon, a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. So she called a radon measurement and mitigation technician to find the source.

“He went from room to room,” said Dr. Sugarman, a pediatrician. But he stopped in his tracks in the kitchen, which had richly grained cream, brown and burgundy granite countertops. His Geiger counter indicated that the granite was emitting radiation at levels 10 times higher than those he had measured elsewhere in the house.

“My first thought was, my pregnant daughter was coming for the weekend,” Dr. Sugarman said. When the technician told her to keep her daughter several feet from the countertops just to be safe, she said, “I had them ripped out that very day,” and sent to the state Department of Health for analysis. The granite, it turned out, contained high levels of uranium, which is not only radioactive but releases radon gas as it decays. “The health risk to me and my family was probably small,” Dr. Sugarman said, “but I felt it was an unnecessary risk.” . . .

Update on electrical

Last Thursday morning the electrical contractor left a message on my cell phone, telling me I needed a letter from the condo association approving the electrical work, and that that was holding up the issuance of a permit from the City. That was the first I'd heard of such a letter.

Unfortunately, I hadn't taken my cell phone to work that day and didn't get the message until Thursday night. The electrical contractor had been calling me at work up to that point, so I don't know why the person (I'll call her Beth) didn't try to reach me at work after failing to reach me on the cell, especially since the letter was holding up their job (as Beth said).

The next day I called the contractor back and asked Beth exactly what they needed. I then called the condo association. The manager said they needed a description of the work from the electrical contractor in order to write the letter, so I called Beth back and asked her to fax the information to the condo association.

I waited several hours and called the condo association to inquire about the status of the letter. The manager said she had never received the information from the electrical contractor, so I called Beth back. It turns out, Beth had faxed it to the wrong number. I then called the condo manager back, and she said the letter would have to wait till Monday, since the secretary had left for the day (this was late in the afternoon already).

So I call the condo manager first thing in the morning and then call Beth back. If I'd known about this letter beforehand, the City would have it already. I would certainly do everything in my power to get the ball rolling here and get out of the mess I'm living in now. (If I could shave even one day off of living under these conditions, I would.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Called Vozzcom today to check on the status of the permit. They said they're still waiting to hear from the City of North Miami. I asked them how long it might be, and they said it could take up to three weeks. Ugh. A friend had warned me it might take that long. Called Helen at Home Depot to relay the news (left a message).

Sounds like a reputable outfit, though, judging by the website. I just found it today.

Tile sample for backsplash

Got that today. It seems to be a tad too dark. I guess I'll buy this tile at a local tile store and not risk getting the wrong stuff over the Internet and then having problems returning it (and spending a lot on shipping). Surely I can find something suitable around here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


The August issue of Consumer Reports just happens to feature kitchen make-overs. Below are the ratings for countertops. I'm getting Silestone countertops, which are quartz (good choice, eh?).

Cabinets aren't rated in this issue; the emphasis is on refurbishing existing ones. (If I'd had decent cabinets, I would have considered refurbishing them.)

I have yet to hear any word from the electrician about the permit. This project is now on hold.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Yesterday the supervising electrician came to my office for me to sign and have notarized the application for the permit from North Miami to do the electrical work. Duly signed and notarized. Now I wait to hear from them.

Today I treated the mold problem with a product called Zep, whose active ingredient, as listed on the bottle, is bleach (sodium hypochlorite). It probably cost more than bleach you can buy cheaply in the grocery store, so I would recommend using regular bleach in a spray bottle for this job. See here.

The area affected by the mold will be covered by the cabinets, so there's no need to prime it with, for example, Kilz. But I may spray the wall with some left-over white paint just to make it look better for the cabinet installers, since they seemed wary of the mold. (It's bare drywall.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Soffit spackled, sanded, primed, repainted and lights reinstalled

Not perfect but a lot better than it was before, and with the right paint ("Sateen Lustre Enamel" vs. "Interior Flat"). Ready for the cabinets to go in. I can always go back and touch up the areas I'm not happy with, and not even get out the sander. The glossy paint is showing up more imperfections I hadn't noticed before (but the most glaring ones have been corrected). Such a simple boxy structure has to be totally smooth and sharp-edged, IMHO.

This can all be easily fixed. No need to obsess over it (I tell myself).

Roughing it II

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Soffit ready for cabinets

Today I finished painting the light soffit with kitchen paint. (The handyman who re-did the ceiling had used regular ceiling paint, which was absorbing grease spatters.) Masking tape didn't do a good job in places (the most immediately noticeable ones, at that) and I'll have some touching up to do.

Now I just have to prime and repaint the recessed area in which the fan hangs, but that can be done anytime. Tomorrow I'll reinstall the light housings and screw the bulbs back in.

Next, all I have to do is remove the mold on the wall (bought stuff for that) and do some sweeping and dusting. That shouldn't take any time.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Not much doing today

I thought Helen would be at Home Depot when I got there after 5:00 but she had left. I was going to buy the sink, disposer and possibly the microwave oven for above the stove, and I want to consult with her before I buy those items. Meanwhile I bought more paint and primer, disposable paint tray liners, and a new brush. Maybe I'll do some more work on the ceiling tomorrow, but I don't see any urgency at this point.

'Roughing it'

I set up a card table in the kitchen just to give me a surface to use besides the glass stove top. The cat feeding station, meanwhile, has been temporarily relocated from the kitchen to the 2nd bedroom (where I sit and watch TV and use the computer), along with a lot of other stuff I now have sitting on a card table set up here. Bootsy's eating over by the chair (black smudge with tail).

Friday, July 11, 2008


Toward the end of the day at work, I finally heard back from the electrical company who did the estimate on Wednesday. (I had the impression they would be getting back to me sooner.) They said they needed me to sign something and have it notarized to get the permit to go ahead with the work. I said what about tomorrow. The guy would be in Miramar (in Broward County). What about Sunday? He doesn't work on Sunday. So she said Monday, and I said I had to work, so the guy will be coming to my office on Monday around mid-day. I said I worked in a law office and that there were plenty of notaries.

A bit later I called her back and told her I wouldn't be having them install all new outlets (I can do that myself). She said to tell the project supervisor when he comes so that he can adjust the estimate. Eliminating this $374 cost will put the project below $2,000. (And I really can do it myself--I've installed outlets before.)

Getting the electrical work done in the kitchen walls is the only thing holding back the project at this point. I expect that it can be done in one day next week, for which I'll have to take the day off. Then the drywall will have to be repaired. Meanwhile, I'll finish priming and painting the ceiling and cleaning the area up.

Meanwhile, today I received the handles for the cabinets. At first I thought they were too large, but once I got them home I saw that they were the correct size.

I also went online to look at iridescent tiles for the backsplash. On my first hit, I found what I want. See here. They cost $26 for a 13 x 13" square. I won't need a lot of it (but I won't know how much till the cabinets and counters are installed). (I see that the box size is 10 sheets, so I'll be getting at least that much--maybe I can find it locally.) This project I can also do myself.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Electrical work estimate today

Came to over $2,300, but a big chunk of that is for reinstalling the kitchen ceiling fan here in the second bedroom, where I spend most of my time (while not sleeping or working), and installing a new fan in the kitchen (which I bought awhile back). This room has no ceiling fan and has to be wired for it, and the ceiling is solid concrete, so there will be some work involved.

The recessed light above the refrigerator will be hidden by a cabinet. To re-route the wiring around this outlet will cost $49.

The guy suggested all new outlets for the new kitchen, so I said go for it ($374.85).

Just pulling a permit costs $197. The guy said the Code requires outlets to be spaced every four feet, so I'll need to get a couple more outlets, and other outlets have to be moved or fixed. The outlet for the new microwave above the stove has to be on its own circuit and will have to be wired to the breaker box. That was the single most expensive item on the estimate ($488). Meanwhile I put $500 down for the work.

Later I called Helen at Home Depot to discuss the estimate. She said it sounded about right.

This work is the priciest item in this whole project, but at least I'll have some peace of mind in knowing that the wiring will be done correctly. And I really wanted to have the fans done. When the electricians come back, I'll have them remove the kitchen ceiling fan so I can paint it white (it's now brushed aluminum) before they come back and re-install it in this room.

After they complete the electrical work in the kitchen, the drywall will have to be repaired. (The electrical guy said today that the wiring for the microwave circuit will probably cause more damage to the drywall.) Then the cabinets can finally be installed. Hooray!

Last night, I finished off sanding the soffit and primed most of it (ran out of primer). The finish is nice and smooth now--no more dings. (The important parts are primed, however.) Tomorrow I'll stop off at Home Depot after work and get more primer and kitchen ceiling paint (since I know I'm going to run out of that, too.) Right now I just want to get those areas of the ceiling prepared where the soffit abuts the cabinets. The rest can be finished later. The job will be a breeze once they take down the ceiling fan before installing the new one.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Today's chores

The ceiling is almost prepared for priming. Today I created a lot of dust, even though the sander has a cloth bag to collect it. (Bootsy had a sneezing attack in the bedroom.)

I removed the grime from those areas of the floor that were covered up by the fridge, stove, and the old cabinets. A couple of days ago I sprayed the areas with Fantastik, then today used sudsy ammonia, a scrub brush, and a razor blade. P.U.

I have primer and white ceiling paint here (enough to do the job, I hope), plus rollers and brushes. Fortunately, Home Depot is only a five-minute drive from here.

Now, where's the phone charger? I don't think I'd have packed it.

UPDATE: I found the phone charger. No, I hadn't packed it.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Back at Home Depot today

Today I bought the faucet, a Price Pfister "Ashfield" model. It's clean and modern but has a pretty, curved handle (like an old pump handle, as the Price Pfister website notes). The spout is a pull-out sprayer with an adjustable flow ("Spray Volume Control"). (The other, little spout belongs to the built-in soap dispenser.)

I wanted to buy those curvy handles, too. Last night I saw them on Home Depot's website and printed out an image (along with a couple of others). My kitchen designer at the North Miami Home Depot (I'll call her "Helen") said they had them in the store. She found ONE. She then went on her computer and discovered they had been discontinued (other local Home Depots had some, but I needed 25). She said to try ordering them online. (Thomasville had them but they were an inch and a half longer--i.e., too long.)

It turns out that they're an "online only" item now on the Home Depot website. I had no trouble ordering them until I tried to pay with my new Home Improvement Loan card. The website wouldn't accept it, so I called Customer Service and placed the order through them without a problem (I had just used the card in the store to buy the faucet, etc.) She made note that the website wasn't accepting the card, and also I filled out an online customer survey and noted the same thing. It's no big deal as long as I can at least order over the phone.

The stainless steel football knobs were on the old kitchen cabinets. (I'd bought and installed them a few years back.) I took one of the little drawers in to show Helen, along with one of the knobs, and the images I'd printed out. She thought the football knob looked great on the drawer. I also showed her a print-out of the Ball Hugger fan, which has a similar shape and the same brushed-type finish [see previous post]. I want everything to be cohesive. (The handles also have the same finish.)

I wanted to go with the curvy handles to contrast with the straight lines of the cabinets. Helen agreed. She gave me the last handle in the store, and here I've taped it to one of the cabinets to see how it's going to look. I think it looks fantastic! The perfect accessory for this "Plain Jane" cabinet. ($5.99 apiece, plus tax. Ouch. The faucet was $238 plus tax. I thought it was worth it.)

I also did a little sanding and more spackling today. The soffit is going to look great when I'm finished. This is very minor work, but apparently the handyman didn't have an eye for details. I'm not going to worry about the wiring of the recessed lights. The bulbs are around a year old already and aren't the long-life kind.

UPDATE: I'm thinking now maybe the tall faucet won't fit in the space. (But Helen would have caught that, I think.) Oh well, I can always return it and get a lower-profile faucet.

Friday, July 4, 2008

New kitchen ceiling fan

[From the Kitchen Ceiling Re-Do blog.]

Thursday, July 3, 2008


The east wall, where the sink, dishwasher and stove are located, needs the most work.

The cabinet guy said the outlet for the disposer (top pic) has to be mounted into the wall, not left dangling outside.

In the next pic, the outlet will have to be moved to the left (otherwise the stove will cover it in the new layout) and the wall repaired. The metal tube contains the wiring for the old hood above the stove. An outlet for the new microwave (to be mounted above the stove and which will contain an exhaust fan and light) will have to be mounted farther up the wall. The old backsplash material covered this mess.

In the bottom pic, the 220 V. outlet for the stove will have to be relocated from the corner on the south wall to a few inches in on the east wall, to accommodate the 6" cabinet with the four little drawers.

The electrician will be coming first thing Wednesday morning to give me an estimate on this work. (It will also include the other items I mentioned earlier.) I think I'll also get an estimate on relocating the current kitchen ceiling fan to the second bedroom, where I sit at the computer and watch TV (as I am doing now). I have another, more curvaceous fan to put up in the kitchen. (It's pictured on the Kitchen Ceiling Re-Do blog, post from "Day One" [in my links].)

I rarely use the kitchen ceiling fan but have a fan going constantly in the second bedroom. The fan that's in the kitchen now would be put to better use here, since it's actually more heavy-duty than the prettier fan I'm going to replace it with in the kitchen. The "propeller" fan will look fine in here. They're both very good fans and are made by the Modern Fan Company.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cabinets revealed!

The demo guys are also the installers. Today they unboxed the cabinets to check them over for any damage and make sure they were all there. There were no problems, but if there had been, they would have had them rectified before the installation date.

The talkative demo guy thought the cabinets were great. He said Kraft Maid cabinets are better than Thomasville and install more smoothly. (He sounded like he was looking forward to installing them.) The cabinets are all-wood construction except for one 6"-wide "filler" cabinet that only comes in MDF (the guy pointed that out today). He said that it would bow if it were made of wood. That I didn't quite understand but I'm still thinking on it.

That cabinet goes to the right of the stove (with a pull-out spice rack above it). I think I'll use it for utensils. There are four (deep) little drawers in it. The tallest cabinet contains the pull-out pantry. That goes to the left of the fridge.

Meanwhile, I am sinkless and dishwasher-less. Doing my dishes in the bathroom sink or the bathtub. (I don't do a lot of cooking anyway these days--not since B. left.)

Cabinets, counters, sink gone!

Water would pool on the laminate countertops and seep out onto the walls, resulting in the formation of black mold (q.v.). (Home Depot said I can remove that myself.) The new countertop and 4" blacksplashes will be made of Silestone, so I should no longer have that problem. I'll tile the rest of the backsplash myself. I'm thinking iridescent green glass tiles in a variety of shades.

Next step is to have an electrician in to relocate three outlets, check out the wiring for the recessed lights, and switch out the ceiling fan. The recessed lights were installed by a handyman and have been burning out. The cabinet installers suggested the wiring was faulty. Yikes! Now that the cabinets have been removed, the electrician can have access to the interior of the soffit in places.

After that, the wall has to be patched to make it smooth for the backsplash. Meanwhile I will spackle and sand the soffit, then prime and repaint it, since the handyman didn't get that right. There are dings in the drywall and he didn't use ceiling paint, so grease spots have already appeared.

You wouldn't believe the trash that was underneath and behind the cabinets, including an empty Sprite can. The demo guys swept it up. Now I have to get the grime off the floor that was concealed by the cabinets, fridge and stove. Tonight I bought some sudsy ammonia for that. I have my own work cut out for me and am glad I have a long weekend.

Cabinets emptied, knobs removed, and ready for demolition (7/1/2008)