General Information

1. Does the contractor have liability insurance? If something goes wrong who will cover your loss. I heard of a roofing problem in the summer of 08 they tore off the roof and installed a new roofing system. It looked good it didn’t leak, but when the roofers were tearing off the old roof they inadvertently unlocked the furnace flue pipe 8’ below the roofline. When the flue pipe was re-shingled into place the pipe was 1/2 on and 1/2 off the lower pipe venting carbon monoxide into chimney chase and ultimately into the house attic. They didn’t find the problem for 5 months, thank God no one died. When Natural gas or LP gas is burned it gives off carbon monoxide and a lot of water. The water leaves the furnace at about 350 degrees; at this temperature it’s steam being forced into a cold attic with a lot of cold surfaces. When the steam touches a cold surface it changes to water or ice. In this case about 2 inches of ice crystals on under side of the roof decking, on the trusses and on the surface of the attic insulation.  A quick calculation looks like about 200 gallons of water frozen in the attic. Looking at this job after the facts all the insulation in the attic has to be removed the roof sheathing has to be checked for soundness and may have to be replaced as well as the sheetrock ceiling. You might need new flooring also if the ice melted before you removed it, because it will follow the wall stud cavities to the main floor and under your carpets, or cupping you hardwood flooring.
This is only 1 thing that can go wrong; there are many other situation I have heard about.
2. Does the contractor have worker compensation insurance?
If person falls or get hurt in any way while on your property (grass, sidewalk, inside your house, etc.) you’re at fault, unless the contractor has workers compensation insurance.

Rules for hiring a contractor:

General Information
1. Does the contractor have a state license to do the type of work needing to be done?
2. Does the contractor have liability insurance? If something goes wrong who will cover your loss.
3.  Does the contractor have worker compensation insurance?
If a person falls or get hurt in any way while on your property (grass, sidewalk, inside your house, etc.) you’re at fault. Unless the contractor has workers comp. insurance.

4. Make Sure All Subcontractors and/or Any Person Coming Onto Your Property Has Legal Workers Compensation and Liability Insurance.
5. Does this person have the brains to pull off this type of job?  Watch out there a lot of cons out there calling them contractors only wanting to separate you from your money.
6. Can he/she prove what is being said in writing; a contract that protects you the Homeowner?
7. A lot of people have go good intentions but no knowledge or life experience to draw from.
8. There are 3 classifications of quality of work
A.  Poor and well below sub standard workmanship
B.  Just Average on workmanship
C.   Excellent work- any worker just above average ends up excelling to excellent static because of the person himself, I’ve seen this time and time again.

9. 2nd Classifications of motives.
A. Money is a good motivator
B. The lack of money is a poor motivation
C. Lack of time for said job or out of on contracts personal bills
D. The only job available this one, actually scores just above average
E. Actually caring for his work and the client.

Now is the contractor your hiring going to hire subcontractor with substandard work or money problems? Remember this your project is to be a work of art not a novel of science fiction.

Kitchen exhaust fans

All kitchens should have exhaust fans, a lot of hood fans do not vent the bad air to the out side, but instead they push the air through a charcoal filter and than exhausted it back into the kitchen. When these hood fans are used over 50 hours of use the charcoal filters should be changed. If you don’t, are your doing is blowing the smoke and cooking smells into the rest of the house.

Using an exhaust fan below 300 Cubic feet per minute, most houses have areas that leak this much air into these houses. Newer homes leak about 150 cfm around windows and doors.
If an exhaust fan is turned on blowing out 300 cfm, your short 150 cfm and it will draw it from a bad source. One of the easiest places for the air to come into the house is by sucking the air out of the chimney either the fireplace or the furnace chimney.

We remodeled a house along with the kitchen; we installed a 1280 CFM exhaust fan. We told the homeowner that he need makeup air he refused Than came thanksgiving, the family was there the owner has a 5’ wide and 4 tall open wood fireplace the fire was going for about an hour when the wife turned on the kitchen fan. Instantly the fireplace chimney reversed bringing the smoke into the house the fire in the fireplace was still burning but the flames were blowing horizontally into the room. He wanted a quick fix so he had a 12” fresh air intake installed into the cold air return on his furnace. This did fix 1 problem the fireplace now works properly while the kitchen fan runs on full speed.

If the furnace is running it was not sided to handle super cold air coming into the heat exchanger. With this much cold air coming into the furnace, the furnace cannot heat the house because now it has to heat the incoming cold fresh air. The other problem is that the heat exchanger is being stressed with 400 ° on the burner side and -10° on the other side this shortens the life of the heat exchanger by years.
If the house is warm because of the fireplace the furnace won’t turn on. With the fresh air dumping in to the return air plenum, the super cold air is now coming out all the vents cooling down your floors making a draft along the floor to the fireplace and the kitchen stove.
The proper way is to bring fresh air into the house and run it through a furnace designed to temper the makeup air.

Kitchen ceilings

When your looking at types of ceiling finishes in the kitchen. There are things you must thing about.
1. Are you using your kitchen as a showcase? Be careful what you choice.
2. Are you cooking a lot with grease? If you cook with a lot of grease at high temperatures grease evaporates and bond to a cooler Surface IE the ceiling.
Having a textured ceiling in the kitchen is a headache you cannot wash the ceiling. The only thing you can do is paint the ceiling and rolling paint on the texture comes off on the roller making a mess and to paint and clean up. Using a flat surface in the kitchen is an easy ceiling to maintain both in keeping it clean, or repainting the ceiling. If you are looking for a different type of look you can always use a knock down look not a easy to clean but very easy to repaint when you need to.
In some architectural designs wood ceiling looks good if the wood is finished either with paint of varnish finish. Unfinished ceiling are bad because dust cobwebs and grease bonds to the unfinished and is hard to clean.
They make a steel panel ceiling. This is a great ceiling because you can clean this type of ceiling.
A cool looking ceiling is a glazed ceiling 3 or 4 tones of paint in the same color family with a clear coat covering it. Again this type of ceiling is easy to clean.

Kitchen Windows

When designing a kitchen what should you be looking for when choosing a new window(s) in the kitchen?
There are 6 different types of windows available but only 5 can open. The picture window is just that a cased opening with a secured thermo pane glass installed in the opening.

Awning; With this type of window the operating devices are located at the bottom of the window that makes it easy to operate. These windows are hinged at the top and swing outward. The problem is that the kitchen countertop is 36” tall than the window is about 24-36” tall. IE the top of the window is between 5’to 6’ off the floor so when you are looking out the window at the sink all your eyes are looking at the top of the window jamb, you must duck to look out the window.

Glider; With this type of window the operating devices are located half way up the window that makes this window hard to operate when you lean over the sink and faucet.

Casement; This is a great type of window the operating devices are located at the bottom of the window that makes it easy to operate, also if the wind is coming from the left and you want to bring the air in open the right window and it will hook the wind and bring it into the kitchen.

Double Hung; This is a good looking window but it has a draw back you must on unlock the window, the lock is half way up the center of the window opening it from the bottom is adequate again the sink and faucet is the way.

Hopper; A hopper window is a cool design of a window but it swings and tilts into the room in the swing mode the window can not open the faucet is in the way.

Transom; Having a transom window over the regular kitchen window is great unless you have a ceiling under 9’ again the bottom of the transom and the top of the regular is in your line of sight.

Kitchen countertops

6 major types of countertops; Laminate, Wood, Metal, Corion, Tile, and Stone tops.
Looking at these different types of tops, how are they going to perform for your needs?
1. Making bread or cookies the worst type of counter top is tile, it’s not the tile but the grout joints, the flour and doe get into the grout areas and you have to work hard to get it clean.
2. Cutting Vegetables, fruit on the counter; Laminates and Corion IE plastic base polymers not do go with cutting utensils will leave cut marks in surface. Metals will scratch, while wood will age and look more rustic looking, while stone and tile will dull the utensils.
3. Putting hot items on the countertop; Laminates will leave a blister mark where the hot item was set. Wood tops will leave a darker brown mark above 400° while as polymer base products will turn a different color again above 400°. Metals, and stone have no problem handling the heat. Tile above 800°depending on the finish on the tile, Metals above 1500° and Stone above 5000°
4. Spoiling of oil or juice; wood will sock up the fluid like a sponge, tile grout joints will stain, stone not sealed, will allow fluid to migrate through the stone to the underside of the countertop.

5. Cutting raw meat; the only one that is not good, are the polymer base products. A case study was done after a prolonged use study, bacteria was able to establish it’s self even with proper cleaning with dish soap. On the other hand wood counter tops had bacteria right from the get go, but after a period of time the wood built up a resistance to bacteria and was more health for you.
6. Clean up; For a Kosher kitchen I recommend stainless steel you can scrub them, they can take a lot of heat, they a durable and will last a lifetime.

What are the first questions you need to answer for a new kitchen

Where do I go for a new kitchen? Remember this 9tenths of the kitchen stores have no clue who you are or how you live or your unique physical abilities you have. They are there to get a fast sale and they’re on to the next customer. And you’re stuck with this kitchen for the 10-20 years. A high-end builder and /or remodeler should ask you these questions. To custom fit your kitchen to you and not having you do contortions in your kitchen went it’s time to cook something.

1. Who does the cooking? Who does the cleanup?
2. How is your eye sight? If your eye sight is poor you may need more lighting in the kitchen.
3. Is the cleanup person left or right handed? The placement of the dishwasher is vital for ease of loading and unloading dishes.
4. At what height do you like to work at tabletop height (30”) or counter top height (36”) workbench height (42”) or a height in between? Having improper work surface height is bad on your back, hips and legs. You may have a new kitchen, but hate to go into the kitchen not really knowing why.
5. What size is the family are you cooking for? This tells me what size the refrigerator has to be for breakfast. This also tells me what size cook top you will need.
6. How many different types of parties per year? Do you need a 2nd refrigerator for short-term storage? They make great under the counter refrigerators and freezer with pull out draws.
7. How much cooking do you do everyday? Every meal, or is there a lot of prepared foods, or do you eat out a lot? This tells me what volume of dishes you will be keep in the kitchen. IE if you cook a lot you will be baking cakes, pies and fancy items. This mean you will need a lot of preporation storage of mixer, food processor, etc., in easy reach of your work surface.
8. Now let’s look at your house and see the architecture of the home so we can match the
kitchen to the house. IE never put a modern kitchen in a house designed as an Amish or 1900’s bungalow home.
9. Are you going to feed the family in the kitchen or at a different area? If in the kitchen where?
10. How much square footage are you going to give to the kitchen area? If you need more can you take a little from another room or can we add on an addition.

Is copper plumbing supply lines good for you?

The elements written about below are used in all modern house drinking water delivery systems.
These quotes can from different EPA web sites. A little disturbing I called a number of officials this late week to talk about copper drinking water supplies. What I found out was they were more concerned about the brass in the drinking water than the copper piping it’s self.

The 1st element is copper, and then 2nd element of brass is zinc. The amount of zinc varies between 5% and 40% by weight depending on the types of brass required.

EPA
“The 1991 rule aims to minimize lead and copper in drinking water by reducing water corrosivity. Lead and copper enter drinking water primarily through plumbing materials. Exposure to lead and copper may cause health problems ranging from stomach distress to brain damage.”

“Everyone must absorb small amounts of copper every day because copper is essential for good health. High levels of copper can be harmful. “Breathing high levels of copper can cause irritation of your nose and throat. Ingesting high levels of copper can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Very-high doses of copper can cause damage to your liver and kidneys, and can even cause death.”

“A wide range of clinical symptoms have been associated with zinc deficiency in humans (Abernathy et al., 1993; Prasad, 1993; Sandstead, 1994; Walsh et al., 1994). The clinical manifestations of severe zinc deficiency, seen in individuals with an inborn error of zinc absorption or in patients receiving total parenteral nutrition with inadequate levels of zinc, include bullous pustular dermatitis, diarrhea, alopecia, mental disturbances, and impaired cell-mediated immunity resulting in intercurrent infections. Symptoms associated with moderate zinc deficiency include growth retardation, male hypogonadism, skin changes, poor appetite, mental lethargy, abnormal dark adaptation, and delayed wound healing. Neurosensory changes, impaired neuropsychological functions, oligospermia, decreased serum testosterone, hyperammonemia, and impaired immune function (alterations in T-cell subpopulations, decreased natural killer cell activity) have been observed in individuals with mild or marginal zinc deficiency.”

“Lead does not noticeably alter the taste, color or smell of water. The effects of low levels of lead toxicity in humans may not be obvious. There may be no symptoms present or symptoms may be mistaken as other illnesses. The only way to know the concentration of lead in water is through sampling and laboratory testing which is described in greater detail in a subsequent section.”

Changing places


House was built in 97 with a poor kitchen design.
Note the locating of the pantry at the far end of the room with a depth of only 12″.

The old kitchen layout

New Kitchen layout

We changed the location of the sliding glass door and the kitchen sink window. Then we flipped the kitchen layout to flow better with more storage.
There was a large footprint for the kitchen but no storage or ease of operation. People visiting had to pass through the cooking area to get to the dining table.

New Kitchen window

To the right of the kitchen sink is the dishwasher with a wood door panel to match the cabinets.
The new Island & wet bar

The center island has a built in microwave on the right around the corner on the right there is a built in bookcase. The center door has a 3′ drawer that hold 3 -13 gallon garbage cans with 2 recycling bins left the kitchen sink for glass and metals.

closen-750-1.jpg

The kitchen, and bar sink are cast iron w/ a gray porcelain finish. We also installed a secondary Reverse osmosis water system to the refrigerator, kitchen, and bar sinks for better taste, as well as no impurity in the water.

When making meals in this kitchen, everything is ease to get to with plenty of storage for food, supplies, as well as decorations for any type of family get together. The layout of the kitchen makes it ease to be involved with family whether there in the family room or in the kitchen.

Standing by the patio door there is plenty of room in the cooking area of the kitchen for 3 people work as well as 4 to sit at the upper level of the island and 4-6 more at the table. What a great place to entertain guests.