Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WTF??? (Bathroom Reno Rant #2)

Ohhhh, let the Fun begin!

Here's a copy/paste of an email to my sis...

So, I went to the Home Show last week, right? Talked to a few businesses about our Bathroom Woes, yada-yada. Need to get a bid on a job to rip-out (to the studs) and replace the tub and tile enclosure. Replace it with a slightly-updated version of the same thing... Probably tackle the vanity countertop at the same time. Then -budget permitting - possibly consider additional upgrades...

"Well, we'd love to meet with you about your job" yayaya

"Fine, here's my cell# - Call me next week and we can schedule a time for you to scope out the work and give me an estimate," blah-blah

"Will your husband be there?"

"No." (you already know this part of the story - and if you don't, refer to yesterday's rant!)

(Ahh... But when will I learn to simply turn and walk away the MINUTE they ask me that question?!!)

Okay, so today, I get a call from "Huey" from Yaya-reno's. "Hi yes, we met at the Home Show last week and I understand you were interested in a bathroom remodel..." (very slick and salesman-like - except he must've shuffled his notes b/c he mis-spoke about certain aspects of the job... What-EVAHS...)

"Well, I'd like to schedule a time to come and look at the job."

"Okay, I am available after 3:00pm today."

"Oh, great, let me transfer you to Suzi, our dispatcher, to schedule that. Will your husband be there, too?"

"No. I already explained that *I* am in charge of gathering bids."

"Oh, well we really prefer to meet with both...." (OH JESUS CHRIST NOT AGAIN)

"Yes, but my husband travels 50-75% of the time. *I* am the one gathering bids and making the aesthetic decisions. My husband doesn't get involved until it's time to finalize everything and sign the contract."

"Oh, yes - that's right. Okay, let me transfer you to Suzi and she'll set something up."


Perky Voice: "Good morning, this is Suzi. I understand you have availability this afternoon for one of our Sales Reps to come out and bid your bathroom job."

"Yes, anytime after 3:00 works for me."

"Great! And will your husband be there?"

(OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

"No. He won't be. He travels 75% of the time and he won't be involved in this phase of the project. I am just gathering the preliminary bids. He'll get involved when it's time to sign the contract."

"Oh. Umm. Can you hold for a moment please? I need to ask my manager something."



I'm halfway expecting her manager to get on the phone, but no... I get Ms. Slightly-Less-Perky-Sounding Suzi back again.

"Okay, well, we're going to be sending Louie over this afternoon to review the job with you. And you say 3:00 is good?"


"Well, his presentation usually takes approximately 90 minutes - will you be able to meet for that long?"

"Yeah. Sure" (90 MINUTES?! JEEEEZUS)

So... I got back to work, and did some laundry and yada yada, then called Kathie at the end of my work day... Kvetched to her about the "Will my husband be here" crap-ola from the Bathroom Job Folks.

2:55pm, Louie shows up. All young and sales-man-looky. All Mr. Firm Handshake and "I look forward to going over your job" and "First I'm gonna do this and get some measurements, and then I'm gonna go back to my car and get some samples... and blah-dee-blah-dee-blah... And is your husband here?"


"No. I am in the process of gathering bids on the job. Yours is the first bid that I am obtaining. We *just* went through a Kitchen Re-face job and this is *exactly* how it worked." (repeat the process again!)

"Okay, umm. Well, let's see your bathroom."

So I led him to the South Wing of the house.............

I explained what we'd gone through before - with the botched repairs - and how we want it done right this time. Ya-Ya. Take it back to the studs, fix the leak. Replace the tub with something similar and newer, more-updated tile.

"Yes, tile is good. But you know there are other materials. I mean, tile is kind of a nuisance to clean..."

"I don't clean. We have a maid."

"Yes, well ::gulp:::"

He then goes through the motions of measuring stuff, asks if we want a deeper soaking tub. "No. If I want a deep soak, we have a hot-tub out back. Just replace it with the same thing." Starts looking at the toilet. "Nope. Toilet's fine. We don't need a new one."

Then he mutters something about how he needs to call his boss.


So he wanders out the front door, cell-phone to his ear...

Wanders back in a few minutes later and wants to know what time my husband will be home.


"Uhhh. He won't be. Not for several days."


This is the point where I probably should have just shown him the door - but I was morbidly curious to see what he was gonna come back with...

"Well, you see," - sh*t, how did he put it? - something along the lines of "Budget and finishes go hand-in-hand" and blah-blah "We like this to be a joint decision with both parties present" and "I can't give you an accurate price-quote without having all of the decisions complete" and something that almost sounded like "what if you chose something your husband won't approve of?" (not quite that blatant - but something close-to that).

Then he tried to slide in a (brace yourself for the punch line) "I could come back this weekend."

"My husband will NOT sit through a Sales Presentation. His time is too valuable. I guess you've just narrowed down the number of bids that I need to obtain. Thank you for your time."

Then I got a little humunuh-humunuh bullsh*t don't-even-remember-what-he-said kinda response.

"No, no no. If that's the way your company wants to do business - I can respect that. Likewise, I am free to spend my money elsewhere." as I showed him to the door.

So. Bid #1. Didn't happen!


I swear, I can't make this sh*t up!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bathroom Reno (Rant #1)

Okay... Before Mom's House-Sale is even finalized... And before my Retirement Dreams can take shape... We've got a short-term problem that *really* needs to be addressed...

Specifically, the bathroom floor.

Now - several years ago - I'd noticed that the bathroom floor had some "issues." Namely, the fact that there was a *very* cold draft that was wafting over my feet as I sat on the toilet, via the base-of-the-head-of-the-tub-at-the-exterior-wall-joint. Add to that - a particularly rainy, cold night when a veritable sh*tload of ants decided to take-up residence *in* our bathroom (through a hole in the wall at aforementioned juncture)...

I think DH was out of town when the insects decided to move in b/c I recall asking him, over the phone, where the RAID was.


"Because we've got an infestation."


"Because - whoever did the caulking job around the base of the tub did a really sh*tty job!"

"*I* did the caulking!"


"Okay, well, where's the RAID, dear?!"

Well, we basically decided that we had a significant issue when I determined that I could peel-back the vinyl flooring and *stick my finger* through the underlying floor!!!

So we contracted with a Handyman Service to address our concerns...

ScrewYou Handyman Services came in and charged us a King's Ransom to pull-out the bathtub and surrounding tiles; fix a leak; replace the flooring; and install a sliding door thingie-doo on the tub.
Mystery Leak Under Floor

Tub and Shower Surround - w/sliding door

Well, just over a year later, the same problem came back again. Only ScrewYou Handyman Services (Now ScrewYou Renovation Services!) wouldn't cover it because it had been over a year since the repair... So we called in a different "Handyman" to re-fix the floor (and the improperly re-installed toilet!).

I think we repaired the floor - again - a year or so after that.

And now - Five years *after* the original repair (which cost as much as a full-blown bathroom Reno) - we've *still* got the original problem. :::sigh:::

Sooooo... Now we're gonna gather bids - again - to "Do The Job Right" this time. I went to the Home Show in SanJo this past weekend, and gathered business cards.

Now I'm going through the whole "Set-up appointments and gather bids" rigamarole again...

And - once again - I'm getting the whole misogynistic "Will your husband be there?" line of bullsh*t! But at least this time I can come back with "We just went through a kitchen reno - and *this* is how we did it: I gather the initial bids and make all the aesthetic decisions, narrow it down to 2-3 contractors,m *then* we meet again - with my husband - to finalize the details..."

Those who respond with "Well, we don't like to do it that way because we have to repeat ourselves" should get IMMEDIATELY dismissed! Jeez!

DH travels - A LOT - and doesn't have the time, nor the desire, to sit through a prolonged Sales Pitch. He is not interested in Granite Slab Countertops or high-end whatchamajiggies...

In fact, one of the "preliminary bidders" in the Kitchen Reface Project, a couple of years ago, made the mistake of uttering "Granite Countertops" in Hubbie's presence, and I thought DH was gonna take his head off! (He didn't win the bid, BTW).

After I make the preliminary design decisions and determine the Top-3 "Estimates,"*then* DH and I go back and meet with "the winners" to make our final decisions and -potentially - sign the contract.

For this Go-Round, I am obtaining a couple of bids from folks I met at the Home Show. I have also contacted the same company that did our Kitchen Re-Face. His business has changed and it looks like he also does bathroom reno's. This is good because we truly like the way he does business (He didn't do the whole Hard-Sell/Upsell Routine. We told him our budget and he worked within it).

Sooooo... In the next week or so, I will be gathering bids to rip-out our existing bathtub and tile surround (back to the studs); FIX the Freakin' Mystery Leak - ONCE AND FOR ALL; Replace the tub and tile surround with something a bit more "updated;" and replace the floor. At the same time, I'm hoping we can replace the vanity counter-top with something that will compliment the new tub-tile. Then - budget permitting - I'd like to reface the dark-oak cabinets with light beechwood shakers - to match our kitchen (Maybe).

I actually do hope that the Kitchen company "wins" the bid. I really was very happy with the way the kitchen project went. But I would be remiss if I didn't at least gather a couple of additional bids...

The "Challenge" here is that our house only has the ONE bathroom - so we really do need to minimize the amt of time we are "Out of Commission!"

Anyhoooo... That's the Latest 'n Greatest from My World!

Monday, January 3, 2011

More Wild Hairs

So... This past New Years' Weekend I was suffering from a severe case of "Cabin Fever!" It was rainy, dreary, miserable and COLD outside! I did work - a bit - on "Creative Projects" (finished up a "mixed-media" art-piece which was supposed to be Kathie's Christmas Present, and started a mini-painting). But I also spent a fair amount of time on Google.

See, last November, Rog and I vacationed on Maui. He had Frequent Flier Miles to burn, and I found an "outrageously reasonable" rate for a condo in Kihei (@ ~$100/night). So off we went!

Now I hadn't been to Maui since the early 70's (Dad worked for UAL so we actually vacationed - a LOT - in Hawaii, but only made it to Maui once). My impression of Hawaii, in general, is that it's "outrageously expensive" and also Mega-Miserably-Humid. But after spending a week in a Kihei-condo, I have modified my opinion of the place!

Kihei is actually (relatively) reasonable - price-wise (of course, I'm coming from a California mindset - where "outrageous" is The Rule!). Yeah, fuel-prices are ridiculous (I think we paid close to $4.00/gal for gas - but at the time CA gas-prices weren't much cheaper than that). Groceries were *a bit* higher but - again - not completely out-of-the-ballpark (Plus we found Wal-Mart! Not bad at all. AND they've got Costco!). The fact that we were in a condo, and preparing meals "at home" made it quite a bit more bearable to be honest...

Anyway, we covered a lot of ground while we were in Maui. We basically traversed the entire island (including the infamous "Road-To-Hana" which is definitely an *experience!*) (and drove back via the southern route AFTER DARK [dodging free-range cows no less!] - again - an *experience!*). The variety of Micro-Climates on Maui is *incredible* (rivals that of NoCal - to be honest). If you're too hot/cold/whatever, just drive 10 minutes and you'll be in a completely different climate!

Annnd.... The fact of the matter is: Maui is still very-much "under-developed" and feels almost "Third World" in a lot of ways. Yet, it still offers "Modern Conveniences."

Bottom Line: I actually fell in love with Maui while we were there and I have determined that - without question - I *could* live there! Possibly in retirement????

...And I have "planted the seed" in DH's mind (ooooWEEEEEEooooooooWEEEEEoooooo!!!). Thus far, it seems to have taken root! ;-)

Soooo... While we were there (with dueling laptops!), I started Googling real-estate prices and I determined that they definitely have been *hit* by the Bubble-Burst (lots of REO's and short-sales). There are definitely properties there that fall under the "affordable" category (at least by *my* definition of "affordable"). And - with the fact that mom's house is worth a fair chunk of change - I think I might actually be in a position to buy an "Investment Property" on Maui.

Nothing super-duper fancy-schmantzy. I'm envisioning an unimproved "lot" - maybe about a 1/4 acre (like we're living on now - sans house, right?). I figure it can just sit there over the next 10-15-20 yrs and - hopefully - appreciate in value. If we decide *not* to move there, then I can (hopefully) sell it and bank a modest profit. Or, if we *do* decide to retire there, we can sell our San Jose abode and apply the proceeds toward building a modest (but nice) retirement home there.

Nothing upscale. Just a simple 3-4 BR 2 BA home - say, appx 1800-2000 SF. I can't afford anything super-nice (No "expansive ocean views" or PGA Golf Course setting). But if we were "walking distance" to the beach and/or shops - that'd be find with me! The main thing is The Weather! Temps were *very* agreeable to us! Mid-70's at night. Mid-80's during the day. Not oppressively humid (Yay!). Light sea-breezes to keep things bearable. Ohhhh yeah! I could live like that!

If I *were* to pursue this Dream, I think I would want to build a small, detached "ohana" on it. Like a small studio apartment. We could use it as a vacation house for ourselves - in the meantime. Just fly on over, hang out for a week or so, then fly back. After we retire, we could use the ohana as a vacation rental and ppl could pay us to stay there!

I'm kinda liking that dream!

There are definite "down-sides" to the dream though. Building costs are pretty high there (along the lines of $200-400/SF). Food and fuel costs are definitely higher (since pretty-much everything needs to be "shipped in"). Docking is next-to-impossible to find (for Das Boot) - but the sailing conditions are spectacular. As are the motorcycle roads (road to Haleakala was *very* similar to many of my favorite South-Bay California roads).

*I* had really (seriously) entertained the idea of retiring in Mexico - after my College Bud, D'Le, and her husband retired there. But Rog ix-nayed the idea when he heard we'd have to give up the Harleys and Corvette (Mexico roads: Not so nice - and the "appearance" of being "affluent" is *never* a good idea down there).

Anyhoooo... Maui is looking better and better!

In my Googling, I have found a Real Estate Agent (who put-up a nice blog-post about retiring in Maui here). I like her perspective, since she's from Santa Cruz and understands where we're coming from - so we've started a bit of a correspondence.

Of course, FIRST we've got to get Mom's house sold (which is a source of another rant - which I may, or may not post here!).

Anyhoooo.... That's my Wild Hair Du Jour! Maybe I'll buy a retirement "lot" in Kihei, Maybe not. In the meantime, I do plan to continue with my short-term Wild Hair Plan of building a ceramic studio in the backyard...

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