Monday, May 21, 2012

Kitchen Cabinet Problem Solved!!!

Hurray, after hours and hours of pouring over the specs as to which cabinet company to go with we've come up with a solution!!!

Hurray!!!

We can't use any of em.....

Hurray!!!

Got a letter from my insurance broker that I thought was odd..then I called her up and wow...it is what I thought it was...

Our Insurance Company Is Forcing Us To Paint Our House!!
Ya, you read that right....

They've already forced us to get a monitored alarm system.
They've already told us what type of dogs we can and can't own...

Now I'm told that our insurance policy will be dropped if we don't paint the house.
We know the place needs painting, its needed painting since before we bought it.
We've always planned on painting it...just not before the code enforcement work was signed off...

Now I'm racing around trying to find a painting contractor who will actually do a good job.
It's not looking good for our budget...WAG's I'm getting are in the $30k range....stupid big house...

So, all the money that was going to go into the new kitchen is now set aside for the paint the friggen house fund.

Arrrrrrrrrgh!!!
And of course our house is not covered for earthquake insurance even...cheap lousy insurance companies...

I guess that there are two things I can do...
Find a shoddy but quick and cheap guy to do a half ass job to make the insurance company happy...OR
Pay the big bucks to get it done right.....dang....
Thank god it looks like we can get another year out of the roof as that's going to be a $30k job also....

The Kitchen Solution
We are just going to buy a couple of cheap skinnier cabinets so we can fit the big 36" stove and install the new hood. That way we can have a workable kitchen and get the kitchen code enforcement permit signed off (hopefully). We're going to put shelves in the pantry to stack as much stuff in there as possible.

Hur-friggen-ray...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Deck Redo Issue

Okay when last we met about this subject we were trying to figure out about what to do about the metal fasteners on the deck....

Here's what I think I've learned.
Our environment does not require stainless steel fasteners for the deck.
Yes I do have to change out the dang joist hangers and here is where it gets interesting.

Just got off the phone with my local Simpson Application engineer.

She says that I absolutely can not just yank out the LUS26's and replace them with LUS28Z's...
She says that the holes are in the same places and even if I used their SD screws that the pre-drill hole would be too big! It looks like the hangers are put up with standard 10D nails and she says that's too much of a pre-drilled hole!


She wants me to use HUS26Z's which cost twice as much take twice as many nails but that the holes are in different places....dang.

So, I get a 'bright' idea and call up USP and talk to their joist hanger application engineer. I ask him if the nail holes on their version of an LUS26 are in the same place. I'm figuring they couldn't be...but no! He says with a little shame in his voice that their connectors are exactly the same!?!?!?! How could that be legal?

Then the Simpson engineer gets back to me with another option. Simpson actually makes a joist hanger that is designed to go over another hanger! Who Knew?
Its called a NRU26Z and it special order only....she could not tell me the price...but heck, if its not stupid expensive then I could just use it and not have to rip out the old ones! That'll turn a multiple day job into a half day job I bet....
We'll see what they cost...at least if I use the HUS26Z's I don't have to worry about removing the nails I can just break them off at the surface with a cold chisel and a sharp whack.

Just got an email from my local lumber yard.....guess how much the above hanger costs???
C'mon guess!?!?!?!!?

$16!?!?!?!?!? Each!!!!!!!!

Dang, guess I'm going with the HUS hanger and all the screws....hurray!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Vent Hoods Here! Gots A Problem....

Ha, when don't we.....
The new super fancy vent hood and external blower came yesterday.

Check out what $3k of venting looks like...at least we got free delivery from Atherton Appliance.
Sideview
Dang its big..and heavy...wow...big. This is the smallest hood Wolf recommends for the stove too...
Bottom View
The big holes at the back are for heat lamps..I didn't want em but they come with this size automatically. From what I can tell it looks like a high quality unit.

The Wall Cap
Holy Freaking Moly this thing is huge!!! Like ten times the size of a normal wall vent...so big in fact..I'm not sure that we can use it...This is, of course, a major screw up on my part. Somehow through out this entire process I never happened to clue in on the dimensions of this thing..and nobody else bothered to mention it either...

The Situation On The Outside Of The House

Here's the existing wall vent for the stove.
I'm not even sure that's a legal install. I'm pretty sure you can't vent kitchen oders over an operable window....

Wall Area
This is all the space we have easy access to for the vent duct on the side of the house, between the two soil stacks and above the window,...doesn't look very promising does it...hurray...

But there might be a little bit of hope.
Mystery Window
This is the 'window to no where' that's actually inside the dropped ceiling in the TV room.
It looks to be almost exactly the same size as the vent...
How horrible would it look if we removed the window and put the wall vent in its place?
I'll have to check clearances but I think it will work if we make that window next to it inoperable.

Other option is to return the external blower (probably with a hefty restocking fee) and get an in-line blower and use a normal sized wall vent.

What to do, what to do. Anybody have any useful suggestions?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

ComCast Sucks

I call this post, 'ComCast Sucks.'
Not a lot of deep thoughts on this one....

Not because their cable interweb sevice goes down CONSTANTLY!
Not because their services are over priced and under provided!

But, because of this...
We've been here in Chez 3.0 for over a year now. In that time we've had
ComCast out here at least 4 times.

Before they came out and fiddled this is what the cable box looked like.

Here is what it still looks like.
How do you get four different techs mucking about with that mess and none of them ever
bothered to clean it up?
How does that not occur to people?

LAME

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Precision Cabinets & Trim Cabinet Quote

Okay here is the third and final kitchen cabinet quote.

Precision Cabinets
First some pretty pictures.

Here is the overview.
Looks like they got the layout right. But, they didn't do anything in the pantry nor did they recess the
fridge like we asked.

Fridge or South Wall
One thing that's different here than KraftMaid is that they can make the upper cabinets as tall as we want. Here they are 51" tall which is pretty much as exactly as tall as they could be with a 8' ceiling.

Breakfast Bar or West Wall
Sink or North Wall
Tall cabinets, decorative panels on the end looks good.

Stove or East Wall
Looks like they used the actual models for our stove/hood.
Another thing here that's different than the KraftMaid order is that they could put a cabinet over the hood where KraftMaid could not. Now, with a 10" duct running through the upper cabinet there won't be a huge amount of room but hey, its more useful than a blanked panel isn't it?

What's Their Quality Like?
Hard to tell. My questions in blue and their answers in black underline.

I need to know the exact construction details of your cabinets.

How thick is the face frame and what joinery technique is used? Face Frames are 3/4” solid wood, and Glued & pocket screwed together. This is basically the same as kraftmaid.

What are the materials and thickness of wood used in the drawer boxes? Our Wood Boxes are 1/2”, your bid is Dovetail, which is 5/8” Same as KraftMaid.

What is the joinery technique for drawer sides? Wood are Nailed & Glued Butt Joints with Groove bottom.

How thick is the drawer bottom and how is it attached to the drawers. 1/4” and sits in groove. How does this get strong enough to support heavy pots?

What is the grade and thickness of the plywood used for the cabinet carcasses? 3/4” thick Combi Core Imported Plywood, any Veneers are “A” grade on particle board core.

What is the joinery technique used for the carcasses? Nailed Butt joints with applied back. This
is not a quality long term construction method.

Finally, where do you source your wood from? We use two primary local distributors, Aura Hardwoods in San Jose, and Hardwoods in Livermore.  They get it from the mills (Washington, Oregon) etc…

Is it sustainably sourced? Yes

What's It Going To Cost?
Not as much as I thought!
$14162 including delivery and installation!?!?!?!? Dang that seems pretty good doesn't it!
A couple of things were left out of the original quote and I'm expecting them to add ~$500 to the cost.

Next Up
How do I compare all three, in a meaningful way, to pick a winner?
There are definite quality differences and DEFINITE price differences....what makes sense?
Anyone?....Anyone..??? Beullar?.....Beullar???

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gold Coast Sell Off?

Anybody else notice that there seems to be A LOT of homes for sale in the Gold Coast?
I don't think that I can remember a time when so many houses were for sale simultaneously, can you?

A quick check of RedFin shows that there are seven homes for sale, two of them being the most expensive homes for sale on the island.
These are not reviews as such. Most of the houses listed are not having open houses so I'm not sure if I will ever be able to review them.

Gold Coast Homes For Sale
1629 San Antonio
This place has an awesome location one block from Franklin Park and school. Its a modern house and from the pics it looks like it was stopped most of the way through a renovation. Though being 4-2.5 for $650k in that 'hood, it'll go fast I bet.

919 Central Ave
This is a fourplex on the GC border. Its a 5-4 for $565k...if it doesn't have any serious issues I bet that it sells pretty fast.

1134 Bay St.
This is a Colonial Revival a 3-1.5 for $989k...its on a great block in a great neighborhood and it looks like there's been some upgrades but still.....that seems like a lot of dosh to share a bathroom with your teenagers.....

1118 Grand St.
I've reviewed this house already...they've dropped the price from $700-$650 but I think they need to drop it another $100k still...

1626 Alameda Ave.
I reviewed this a loooong time ago and its back on the market....a quick look at the permit record shows that no legal work has been done on the place since then....price is still nuts.

And finally the two most expensive houses for sale in Alameda.
1221 Sherman St.
This house looks amazing from the pictures and outside. Its huge and on a large lot....a 5-4 for $1.675M....wow, that price is just well...I don't know...the current owners of this place were in and out of it in under a year!?!??! Amazing.

1217 Sherman St.
Same comments as above...except its a 4-3.5 for 1.6M even...

No Longer On Market
1007 Morton St.Its not listed as sold just off the market.?

1223 ST Charles St.
I reviewed this a while ago..its listed as pending. Good for them.

I think thats all of em. Did I miss one?

So, Realtors, what's up? Why is everyone trying to sell now? Are these people who have held on since the crash and now think its time to sell? Or, is it that they just can't hold on anymore?


Monday, May 14, 2012

The Grillanator

I blame this entire post on the medication I'm on for the two bulged discs in my back.

Its All Mrs. MadMadScientists Fault!
She forced me to buy a new BBQ grill because she considered the old one to be unsafe....
I just considered it uh, unique and customized.

After much looking and researching I realized that we can't really afford a good grill....a decent grill that will last cost's around $600....

Enter Craig's List.
Saw an add for what looked like a very fancy BBQ. Did some research and yep its a very fancy BBQ. Seems that a failed bio-tech company in Redwood City was trying to liquidate their assets and this grill was one of em. They told me it was used once a week to cook burgers for 50 people for slightly less than a year...and it was never, ever cleaned....I had no idea what that was going to mean at the time...

My New Baby
I borrowed a friends little truck and headed off to a nice business park right on the water, to take a look.
WOW, its not actually the model I was told on the phone...its the next model up!!! In fact, its the fanciest model the company makes!!! I was so flustered I didn't even try to haggle I just wanted the mega grill for mega cheap! Got the grill for $400 and three full 20 pound propane tanks for an additional $100!!!
One thing I didn't notice at the time was that the thing doesn't even come with a side burner!?!?!

Oh, So Grungy!!!
Check out these pics.






There was a thick layer of grease on everything..in all the cracks, everywhere!
The grease was not the main issue though, it was the thick, up to 1/4" layer of carbon that was on everything inside the grill...so a thick layer of grease was covering a thicker layer of carbon...

I found the manual online and read the cleaning instructions....only allowed to use a mild detergent and a non-abrasive scrubbing pad!?!?!?!?!? No oven cleaner, nothing with bleach....geez...

Cleaning Up The Mofo
Here's my selection of cleaning gear on top of our old BBQ.

I decided to take the grill apart and soak all the nasty bits in a solution of Simple Green and water.

I soaked this stuff for a full 36+ hours....
The simple green did clean all the grease but it didn't even touch the hard carbon deposits...

While the stuff was soaking I went at the main grill inside and out.

The simple green worked great on the outside of the grill and helped a little bit on the inside.

The Final Solution
Someone mentioned it to me as a joke to use an angle grinder on it...
Well that's exactly what I decided to do. I got a wire cup brush that is supposed to be safe to use on stainless steel.
Well, it worked like a charm. I was able to clean off the grates, the burners, the veggie rack, the flame tamer things, and most of the inside of the BBQ! I didn't even realize that there are lights in the lid because they were covered with a thick layer of carbon.
Most of the metal looked like new except blued from the heat.
Of course myself and the surrounding ground was covered in black powder....just the thing you want to have happen before a party...

All Clean (sorta)
Cause I'm a total idiot I forgot to take pics of the grill after it was all cleaned up and polished....
Here's how it looked after cooking food for 40 this past weekend.

In Conclusion
Here's what I think after using the grill...
I don't get how this thing is worth $5k....its nice for sure but wow I don't think its
that nice. I don't know if anybody needs a grill this big.
But, even after spending an entire day cleaning it, I still think it was worth what I paid for it.
I really like the super-hot sear burner.
On the main part of the grill the heat was very even.
It took a loooong time to heat the thing up and with the lid open it cools down pretty fast.
Don't know when I'm going to feel the need to cook 4 chickens on the rotisserie.
There is a lot of acreage on the grill but I used most of it during the party.
Compared to our old Costco grill its obviously more upscale and better made with thicker metal and more burners/ sq ft.
At this price point I'd think that it would be made from 316 Stainless as opposed to 304.
It's lame that there is no side burner. Called the local BBQ's Galore store and they said it wasn't possible to retrofit a burner!?!?!?! Huh???
I had to switch out the propane tank in the grill for a new one because it was icing up and lost most of its pressure.

Still though, totally worth it for $500! Thanks Craig's List!!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Crown Point Cabinetry Quote

Okay got our 'final' Crown Point Cabinetry Quote for our 'Dream Kitchen'.
I say 'final' in quotes because this is as good as we're going to get from them without paying them their design fee.
In my opinion the following information is not really enough to fairly judge Crown Point against their competitors but I have to try as this is the best I'm going to get right now.

Quality Details
First I want to talk about Crown Points Quality.
In response to my questions about their exact joinery methods and materials they sent me this same pdf twice.
Then a bunch of back and forth with more questions.
My questions are in black their answers in blue and my thoughts on their answers in red.
Yay colors!

Most of our joinery methods are mortise and tenon joinery. Our drawers are fully dovetailed and have ½” bottoms and full extension, softclose slides.

How thick is the face frame and what joinery technique is used? ( I believe it is 1” solid wood with long mortise and tenon joinery)
That is correct. Please see this link to a You Tube shop tour we prepared. It gives you additional information. http://youtu.be/vpDnGI5ENU4

What are the materials and thickness of wood used in the drawer boxes? What is the joinery technique for drawer sides?How thick is the drawer bottom and how is it attached to the drawers.
We use 5/8” rock maple for sides, dovetail joinery and ½” maple plywood bottoms let into the four sides of the box.

What is the grade and thickness of the plywood used for the cabinet carcasses?
We use 7 ply maple plywood, ½” thick for carcasses. It has a UV coating.

What is the joinery technique used for the carcasses?
The sides of our cabinet are let into the face frame. We use glue.

Finally, where do you source your wood from?
Many different sources.
Weak, when I company won't tell you exactly where their stuff comes from doesn't that always mean that they are 'not proud' of it?

Is it sustainably sourced?
I’m not sure how closely we track this. I know that we will not sell Honduras mahogany because of depletion issues. Also, our source of alder was diminishing so we dropped alder altogether.
At this price point this should be a well known thing I think.

Seems like they hit all the high quality cabinet marks. I am convinced that these folks make an excellent product, at least from the specs.

What's In The Quote
Not as easy to answer as I'd hoped.
Wow, $32 or $34k depending on when we order.
Their quote came back with this description.
We prepared your quote using 1” beaded inset construction. The door style is Cambridge and the drawer style is Windsor (photos attached). The wood is sapele with a stain and a baked on top coat and sealer. There is hardware included in the quote. We do not send the hardware loose. It arrives attached to the cabinetry. The hardware I included in your quote is antique brass bin pulls, knobs and hinges. Other features in your quote include two piece crown over the cabinetry, cutlery dividers, double trash pullout, two super susan bases, finished ends and decorative toes on two of the cabinets. Your quote total also includes blanket wrapped delivery to, Alameda, CA.

That's it! but with two pretty pictures of the doors.
I responded with something like, Wow, you hit the nail on the head with stain, wood and door style we love it...but we don't think this is enough info to be able to compare.
This was their response.
I understand. I think it is difficult to make an exact comparison without drawings. I’ll share as much as possible with you concerning your layout but as you know I cannot give you the floor plan or elevations.

·        Most of the wall cabinets are 44” high.

·        The 6” gap from the top of the cabinets to the ceiling is to be covered by two pieces of crown. I have attached a diagram showing the two pieces combined. The diagram shows an overall height of 6” but in reality yours would be 6 ½” high because the bottom piece has to overlap the top rail of the wall & tall cabinetry by ½”.

·        The wall cabinet over the sink has a nice arch built into the bottom rail.

·        The sink cabinet is a “combination cabinet”. It is a sink cabinet with double doors on the left. On the right it has a drawer with a silverware divider and below that a pullout door with a single trash receptacle.  It also has a Victorian decorative toe. There is a super susan on the far right and a raised panel (for the side of the dishwasher) on the far left.  There wall cabinets on the sink wall include 3 butt door cabinets and a 90 degree corner cabinet.

·        The range wall has roomy wall cabinets. There is also a shorter wall cabinet over the hood. There is a 3 drawer base cabinet on either side of the range. One of them has a utensil divider in the top drawer.

·        In the fridge area, we have “buried” the fridge into the little closet area. We’ve included sturdy tall return panels for both sides of the fridge. There is also a wall cabinet over the fridge. There is a good sized wall cabinet and a base with a super susan to the right of the fridge.

·        The pass through wall has a large 2 door/2 drawer base with Victorian decorative toes and two full extension roll outs behind the doors. To the right of that is a shallow base with butt doors and a full extension drawer.

I hope this helps with your research.
Now this is better and helps me build a mental picture of what I'm getting but still...geez a floor plan and a couple of elevations would be really helpful...
She did send a couple of pictures of the crown detail....

Conclusion
We don't have enough info on all three quotes yet to make 'The Decision' but...
I believe that these folks do make a super high quality cabinet that you have to pay more for.
I wish that they would release more info at this stage their estimated design fee is $560 and for that I'd get the full blown fancy done up plan I guess. When you're talking about $30k+ in cabinets it seems a little penny wise pound foolish to me for them to quibble over some details that would really truly help us make an informed decision for ~$500.

This quote is twice the Kraftmaid quote....which means we're going to have to figure out a way to fairly compare the different levels of quality/prices to make 'The Choice'.