As someone who got his first computer at the age of 38, which was years ago, the idea of a blog and blogging is, well, mind boggling. That folks want to go on line to read the musings of others, other than occasionally or for something other than specific information is something new to consider. However, we're read enough to know its a new world and information and insight is gained into one's business in different ways.
Although we don't think we're ready to write a real blog, we're going to put a few essays, similar to the columns we wrote for the "Ask the Remodeler" feature. It ran in the Tallahassee Democrat on Sundays, from January 2000 thru 2003.
2 story stone fireplace after we cleaned the paint off
Brick fireplace we built for a custom home
Ask the Remodeler:
We've included this section to provide answers to construction questions, if you have a question, email us Kip@kipcarpenter.com and we may use your question and answer in this spot.
Q: My husband and I want to add a fourth bedroom with a master bath and large walk-in closet to the first floor of our home.We’d like to add the room behind our existing living room, which has a fireplace.How difficult is it to make the fireplace a double-siding fireplace?On a related note, we understand that fireplaces are carbon monoxide sources.Is adding a bedroom fireplace safe from a health standpoint?
A: First and foremost, any professional Remodeler would need to see your particular situation to properly evaluate the existing conditions.We can, however, make some general observations based on a prefabricated metal firebox, with a metal flue pipe, which extends out of the home, through a metal flue pipe housed inside a wood framed chimney.This is the most common fireplace type in this area.Your existing prefabricated fireplace unit will need to be removed and replaced with a double unit.On site modification of the existing unit would not be feasible.The flue pipe inside the chimney will probably also need to be replaced depending on the venting requirements of the new unit vs. the original single sided unit.On the top of the chimney is a metal chimney chase cap, which is the correct size for the existing flue pipe, so new flue pipe means this would also need replacement.Prior to the actual fireplace removal everything that ties the fireplace into the home will probably have to be removed.Metal fireplaces are secured with nails both around the frame and usually inside the chimney where the flue pipe is, hopefully, nailed securely.Before you could access the unit itself the facing and hearth may all need to be removed.In the case of a tile facing and flush hearth, the work would be minimal.Where brick or stone has been used and a raised hearth is present, the amount of work would be increased considerably.The facing and hearth would be replaced when the new unit was installed, but this time on two sides.Finally, the fireplace itself, does not pose a much greater danger in the bedroom, if used properly.A carbon monoxide detector is always a good idea to incorporate into any fireplace location.A gas fireplace may not be allowed in a bedroom in most circumstances but your professional Remodeler will know for sure. W.M. “Kip” Carpenter, a long time Tallahassee resident, owner of Carpenters Construction Co., Inc. for 20 years (1988-2008), one of the of founding members of, and a past Chairman of, the Remodelers Council of the Tallahassee Builders Association (TBA), past president of TBA, past TBA Builder of the year and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the TBA 2005. The only CAPS contractor in this area, he can be reached at email@example.com. Or by calling Carpenters Construction 858-878-0010
Why to Hire a Professional Remodeler and not a home builder for Remodeling
Every Remodeler is a Builder but not every Builder is a Remodeler
Professional Remodeling runs the gamut from upgrading a 1968 bathroom and kitchen, to repairs and correcting basic design flaws of by-gone days, to outdoor kitchens, home theaters, CAPS projects (certified-aging-in-place-specialist) and everything in between.All home additions are remodeling projects to some extent, some only involving minor remodeling while other additions involve totally changing the balance of the home.
Anyone paying even the slightest attention to current financial news and upcoming economic forecasts is well aware of the economic engine which pulled the economy for so long in recent years, the construction industry, is slowing down.So, with that in mind, here are a few things one might do well to ponder, if you’re considering remodeling, adding to or modifying a home.
An experienced professional Remodeler can almost always tell what needs to be done to your current home to create any of the myriad of possible remodeling outcomes, a home owner can imagine, and whether it is really feasible.Is the contractor you are considering really in the remodeling business? Or is this a new house builder who just needs something to do while waiting for two spec houses to sell or while waiting for financing to finish or someone to sign a custom house contract?On the other end of the spectrum is the one man band, sometimes a fine craftsman, but is he ready to delegate and supervise a major project?Having one's own employees on the payroll, week in and week out is a must.When something falls or breaks, when you have to put up or move a dust barrier, when you have a leak, when you positively must have it done now, there is nothing which substitutes for someone on the payroll who will be here now.Professional Remodelers have the right personnel to overcome challenges when they arise and continue the work flow in a more prompt and smoother manner than subcontractors usually can accomplish.
During slow times in construction Remodelers see the new home builders showing up at client’s homes, or getting a job here and there, or more often we see the results which we have to clean up, fix, finish, or tear out and do over.My dermatologist is a great guy and fine doctor but I’m not sure I’m willing to take my daughter to him if she falls off her scooter and has trouble walking.The holds true for Remodeling, if all they’ve done is build new homes, you may want to think twice.
On the way from introductions to a firm proposal there should be things the experienced remodeling contractor sees.And if these things are spotted, while spending only a short time in the home and studying your plans, you can bet this is only tip the of the iceberg.This is a good gauge for anticipating and dealing with those continual adjustments that may need to be made during the actual remodeling process.Most of the time that first meeting is a consulting visit, in which the what-if hypothetical project is presented with the homeowner looking to the Remodeler for guidance and to provide answers.Should they do it? I would ask about property values and building within the neighborhood economically. Should we do it here?And sometimes the location a client has chosen for an addition is exactly the opposite side of the house from where we’ve built it. Is it feasible, meaning not whether we can build it, but if we do, when it’s time to sell, will it be financial asset?Do we have a better idea and sometimes we do, but it all depends on who the audience is and if they’re amenable to suggestions.And that’s what a Remodeler can and will do.We can walk around with the homeowner, discussing the proposed project, and speak of the many ramifications which the project will create.I’m fond of saying, “The only limitations to remodeling is your imagination and your budget”.
When is a Remodeler experienced?After 8-10-15 years?Of course, it varies and is as different as you are from your neighbor, that person sitting at the next table or your in-laws.There are some contractors who will never satisfy even your basic requirements regardless of how long they stay in business and other Remodelers who may exceed your expectations after just five years in business, so be a smart consumer.Check their references, go on line to myflorida.com and see if they actually have a license for what you would like them to do and use your own common sense and gut feeling.If they have all the credentials in the world, but something doesn’t feel right to you, pick someone else who you’re more comfortable working with, and talking to, you’ll talk to them a lot.
What about the plans?Many of us design and build most of our remodeling projects.The fact is, by the time I draw the variations, sothe Owner can decide what they want, and then come to an understanding of how it will serve what they describe, we’ve designed the project.Many times the design phase is when the details of construction are worked out and having the ability to create visually and also draw plus evaluate construction plans greatly enhances, and many times expedites, the construction process.Although not all Remodelers design or draw plans, any experienced Remodeler can tell, early in the process, if a set of plans will work to achieve what the client requested.
I was working with an FSU professor years ago and was reminded that we are all in the people business, and I just happened to do construction.And communication may be the most important issue to most people.During the time you are considering your project, you have a chance to observe the communication skills a perspective Remodeler uses.
There are so many factors most remodeling contractors discuss which are important, doors and windows, roof lines, draw schedules, contracts, plans and the many choices a client makes.In the final analysis, most of these won't be remembered, because the two things above, the Remodeler’s communication and professionalism, are probably the most critical in determining your remodeling experience and the final product in which you live.
W.M. “Kip” Carpenter, a 37 year Tallahassee resident, President of Carpenters Construction Co., Inc. for 20 years (1988-2008), one of the of founding members of, and a past Chairman of, the Remodelers Council of the Tallahassee Builders Association (TBA), past president of TBA, past TBA Builder of the year and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the TBA 2005.The only CAPS contractor in this area, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Or by calling Carpenters Construction 858-878-0010
Replacement World (Humor)
Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without we can't pay for all the things you want to buy? is the refrain in a folk song about a boy growing up before the baby boomers started booming.As a boomer I'm not one of those old enough to remember those times, but am old enough to remember when we fixed things instead of replacing them. When I was a kid anyone could work on a car because there were only about six things attached to the motor.There was almost enough room under the hood to close it, when it was raining, and work on it under the hood.The tubes in the TVs unplugged and we took them to the hardware store (remember those), and if they glowed green they were OK, but otherwise you bought a replacement bulb and plugged it in yourself.Those are bygone days because now we live in the world of REPLACEMENTS.
As I was finishing replacing the fogged glass in one of our 20 year old wood windows, I remembered the in-laws were on the way to celebrate the oldest daughter?s birthday, and my directions were to have the grill ready to light.So I dutifully carted it out to the edge of the woods to dump the grime, which had built up over time.Of course, I had to wait until the 15 year old boy, was finished with his shower, so he could lift the other end of the grill back on the deck.(Gee I wish I had time for a shower before they show up, oh well.)I managed to get all the little imitation charcoals back into the bottom rack, took the last tank of gas we had off of something else so we'd have gas (someone left the grill on last time, so the almost full one was empty and had to be, you guessed it, replaced).It looked great when the Mrs. drove in from shopping.Too bad it won't light now, seems maybe all the grime and crud was holding it together.So I'm guessing that will mean, yep, a replacement.
Ouch!My knee braced slipped and I had to sit down and reposition the thing, which I'm wearing because without cartilage in that knee, the choice is hurt, wear this annoying brace or KNEE Replacement surgery.
Look at the time, I've got to shave, with the new razor I just got this week because, no kidding, the one I had for years and been nursing along on and fixing periodically just fell apart in my hand Tuesday.
I hope my new computer we ordered shows up Monday, before this one rolls along by itself, and is on page 18,000+, when I get back, like it did 2 weeks ago.Wouldn't have ordered a replacement just for that but it?s been in the shop twice in 2 months and it has all my business documents, CAD and estimating on it.
She took longer to go shopping than she said, you think my wife is looking for a replacement for ??
W.M. "Kip" Carpenter CAPS
Color matching of materials
Remodeling Contractors hear these questions:
Why doesn't the colors of the wood match in my cabinet?
Why doesn't the granite have the same color, I picked out the totally black sample?
Why can I see the difference in the color of the shingles, in the middle of the roof, the carpet on that part of the room or the wallpaper over the refrigerator?
The answer to all these questions of uniformity and/or consistency in color is the same, quality control, management of products, and specifications.
In the case of the wood cabinets, the owner had selected oak cabinets with a natural finish without sufficient understanding of the material.Different oak trees yield different color wood and even wood from the same tree will be different depending on the part of the tree and the type of wood.In this case type of wood means a mature wood or sapwood, sapwood being the last wood layer the tree grew before it was harvested.If the cabinet specifications indicated simply oak, then all parts of the tree and any oak lumber in the cabinet maker's shop was fair game for the project.If the Owner wanted color matched uniformity throughout the cabinet, the cabinet maker would have to hand pick each piece of wood and specially order the doors, to match just that color of oak.This is an unusual and expensive specification.Staining natural materials, the process of adding color, in this case to the oak cabinet wood, prior to the final coats of finish, which seal the surface of the wood, is usually the only way to achieve something close to a uniform wood color.
The granite countertop cost the client quite a lot of money, but the Owner was expecting something no quarry can guarantee, rocks which are uniformly the same color.We need to remember, for all its attraction and popularity, we're putting rocks in our house.Very precisely cut and highly polished granite, but granite rock nonetheless.Rocks.
The fact is, nature produces some of the most incredible materials one can use in a home, but they are very rarely uniform.On the other hand, natural materials aren't subject to 10,000 hours of research, engineering and testing, refining, blending, mixing, assembly line selection, fabrication and quality control processing.If you use granite on a countertop and it cracks later, you own both pieces but no warranty.If, on the other hand you choose a man made solid surface product from a reputable dealer and installer, the color will be uniform and the if it cracks you probably have a warranty, of 5-10 or more years, against such a defect.
If this uniformity of color throughout the material is important to you, perhaps you might want to reconsider the question: Are natural materials the right choice in your home?
OK, I want uniformity of color and pattern but why is the neighbor's shingled roof two different shades?The colors are close but the last part of the roof looks different and what about that carpet and wallpaper, those things are man made?
Here's where the consumer has to be observant and it helps if they choose wisely when they hire the Remodeler, roofer and/or carpet company.Most man made construction materials manufactured today have been rigorously studied, engineered, tested, refined, mixed and fabricated.The result is usually a homogenous product which has little or no variation, if it bears the same code from the manufacturer.These vary from different products and sources but the idea is the same.In the case of wallpaper a dye lot number, indicating the roll of wallpaper was made in a particular batch should result in the same color.The definition coming from the old process of mixing color usingdye, the dye provides the color.Today, most manufacturing is computer controlled and sometimes it is so good, the same paper from different dye lots will match, but just the same, make sure all your rolls are the same color number, before you buy them.
The carpet is the same situation, made from the same batch of yarn, in which color was added throughout to ensure all the yarn was exactly the same.If there isn't enough on one roll to do your project and another roll doesn't have the same color codes, select something else.What may not be noticeable in a warehouse, might be a glaring eyesore in your home, when all the lights are on.
When my roofer said they had 39 squares of shingles in the warehouse and would get the other 15 squares, in a week I told him that was fine, as long as he understood he was responsible if they didn't match.He waited on the second truck and got all of them from the same batch