Of renovated plumbing and new kitchens…


The road back hasn’t seemed all that long, and it’s time to move onward and upward with other family business.

Namely, Ellen and her hubby Tim are about to drop a bundle on a complete overhaul of the never-before-updated kitchen in their vintage 1920s bungalow in Minnesota.   I suppose it behooves me as a former Assoc. Press housing columnist who wrote on this very topic to offer some unsolicited advice to my daughter about how to go about the project.   In the event father doesn’t know best, however, I bought up a small pile of Better Homes and Gardens kitchen magazines to supplement the March 7, letter to Ellen.  You’ve seen the mid-week letter to Reid about his new gig, but in the best tradition of young men withholding information from their parents, as of last Monday we knew nothing of his new job offer.

—————–

My friend Bonnie was first to pull my chain about my ever-faulty memory.  She caustically pointed out that the rolly-poly tin TV robot did not blurt out “Danger, Will Smith, danger!”  The actual alarm was “Danger, Will Robinson, danger!”  And now I can’t even remember the name of the show.  For her editorial candor, Bonnie gets a sleeve of NXTs.

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February 28, 2011

Ellen/Reid: I’ll spare you any more gore about the recent bladder thing other than to say that I really feel good.  Every now and then a jolt or road pothole reminds me where the epicenter of the action is, but I really do feel 1,000% better.  More energy every day although there is some danger of becoming a verifiable couch potato.  That’s summarizes my Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Reid, you win $25 for the guess closest to the actual amount of my medical expenses although it’s good you don’t make your living guessing weight at the state fair.  But in a lack of foresight, my checkbook is home and I am here.  But it will be sent to you.  If $__,000 doesn’t shiver your timbers, nothing will.  Of course, I have no qualms about the surgeon end of things, but beyond his instruments of healing, what on earth can cost so much if most of the time was spent to have 5 liter bags of saline replaced?  Was this liquid gold they were pumping through me?  With those kinds of rates, they could pay for a CT scanner in a week.  If you have to wonder why we could use Obama’s idea of health care, look no further than the first of three letters from my insurance company that states coverage of my malady is denied because the insurer is unable to “…determine whether or not the services are considered medically necessary under terms of the plan.”  In another lapse in accuracy, they have me as hospitalized for 13 days rather than a Tuesday through Friday.  I’ll forward all the correspondence to the Tea Partiers for their advice and counsel.  I’m sure glad they are looking out for the common person.

Ellen, the kitchen sounds fun, and will be an incredible upgrade for your little bungalow.  Upon looking at some industry stuff, your bid is still $3,000 – $5,000 too high.  You have a couple of different approaches.  Head to Lowes or Home Depot where they have free kitchen design services (if you buy some portion of your materials from them).  Or, go to the Better Homes and Gardens web site, BHG.com, and look at their kitchen design stuff.  Go to kitchenbathdesign.com (the industry trade group) for lots of good articles.  You might be able to get a rough design of the kitchen online.  But by no means should you feel rushed, or be rushed, into this. Remodeling magazine reports a “minor” kitchen remodel of $21,000 will have a $16,500 payback, which is not bad.  In your neighborhood it could be even higher.  You should spend some time in bath showrooms just to give yourself an inkling of what’s out there and what the options are.  Most contractors will install the lowest priced products they can unless you insist on higher grade materials.  Given the state of the economy, and the slow pace of renovations, you might be in a little bit better bargaining position.  One thought about the south window.  I think Jeld-Wen makes the best window by far.  Not by a little, but by a lot.

Ask contractors to break their bids into sections; demolition, installation, materials (by brand), and if you supply some of the materials such as flooring or sink/cabinet hardware.  It could be Tim could handle – carefully – the heavy work of tearing things out.  I saved about $5,000 – about one-third or more of the overall cost – of the bath re-do by tearing the bath down to the studs.  I would also do a contract which stipulates when the contractor(s) get paid, which typically is not in advance but as work is completed.  That will help you manage your money.

So Reid, are you on pins and needles about NYC?  They’ll drag their feet as long as they can so I suspect there’s no reason to get your shorts bunched up about it.  It’ll happen when it happens.  You’ve still got a pretty good thing going, and that’s always a plus.  I’m gonna sign off for now and try to figure out how to build bookmarks and hyperlinks into a 40+ page document that the geeks around here don’t want to touch with a 10 foot pole.  As they said on a long-ago TV show: “Danger, Will Smith, danger!”  Substitute my name for Will Smith.

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