Glover House

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
We Struck Oil!!! Well not really, but a hot water pipe burst.
  It started raining in the house today. The plumbers are here doing final hook ups. They fired up the boiler and pressurized the pipes. Several minutes later water started pouring form the first floor ceiling in my office. The line was pressure tested when they left. It looks like the tile installers hit a pipe with a nail. The good news it is the hot water line and not the radiant floor in the bathroom. The bad news is it looks like we will have to pull down part of the the plaster ceiling, remove all the wet insulation, repair the pipe and then re-plaster. Check out the latest photos in the updated September link.

Cameron Landscaping came to the rescue today. We got their name from the Karl at GM & Sons, the concrete contractor. As you may recall, we were left high and dry by L-n-J Landscaping after they missed three different appointments. I called Cameron on Monday, by Tuesday they had someone on-site digging the drains. They did tell me that this is not normal so don't start telling folks we always show up the next day. John, I promise, I will only tell just a couple of folks on the website. Heck how many really read this any ways. (Cameron's phone number is 734-426-3554)

So the drains are being cut in and they will be installing pop-ups out in the yard. This is far cheaper then doing a french drain that is lined with pea gravel. They tell me they will be done this afternoon. This should still get the water away from the house which is the main goal. With the drains in, the concrete drive can be poured next week.

The ice maker came in today on time, just as promised. I love Costco. The price was $799 and the best the local appliance dealer could do was $1050. The dealer told me that this was below their cost. Oh yeah, sure. Don't you just love when Home Depot and others tell you, we will beat any price. But have you ever looked at the small print. Their price match guarantee doesn't include Internet sales or Warehouse clubs like Costco.

The dishwasher was installed today. We went with a dish drawers from Fisher&Paykel. These are really cool. There are two separate drawers with independent controls. So you can have clean dishes in one drawer and dirty in the other. Hopefully that will cut down on all the dirty dishes in the sink. Of course it doesn't load the dishwasher automatically like Rosie from the Jetsons. One drawback of a dish drawer is large items like cookie sheets can't fit. Oh well.

Expo sent a check for $200 yesterday. No idea what that is for. No note, no letter, just a check. It isn't even close to the refund that we are supposed to get. With Expo you pay first then they deliver. So now we have to try and get our money back. I am sure it will be a battle. Well, time to go find a mop.

Thursday, September 19, 2002
Ripping out driveway and painting
  The asphalt driveway and old sidewalk was ripped out this week. We are trying to get a meeting scheduled with the landscaping company L-n-J to plan out the dry wells and drains for the downspouts. But they keep missing appointments and not returning phone calls. It is getting frustrating. They came highly recommended but they just can't get their act together. I have a call into another company but that is just going to put us further behind.

Speaking of getting their act together, the folks at Union Lighting continue to impress us. The new down rod extensions for the kitchen came in right on schedule. We also got the new copper mailbox from Smith and Hawken.

I have added some more photos to the September collection. The most disturbing is the ceiling and wall damage in the north bedroom that we are making into a sewing room. That damage is far worse then we originally thought. Oh well, this is an old house. The painters will repair the the wall and then we put in a new dry-wall ceiling over the existing plaster. The dry wall folks should be in late next week to do the ceiling. The painters have most of the repair work completed on the second floor. They should be done priming in another 10 days. Then we can start with the color coat and painting in the garage.

Sunday, September 15, 2002
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Saturday, September 14, 2002
Tile Floor installed
  After four months of struggle with Expo Designs we got the tile floor we wanted. Unfortunately, we had to do it ourselves. All we wanted was a black and white checkerboard pattern on the diagonal for the laundry room and mud room. Long time readers know that at one point, Expo told us that the floor in the mudroom was going to cost over $1,000. That is when we balked and said forget it, just install bamboo in both the kitchen and mudroom. Little did we know that it was going to be so difficult to get the bamboo floor. While battling with the bamboo, we also spent the last six weeks trying to get the laundry room done. A simple room of some 40sf, you couldn't imagine that there would be a problem. But there was.

The tile we got from Expo was not black, rather it was navy blue. So we went to Lowes, purchased 15-year Armstrong black and white tile for less than $40 including the glue. Glue, don't even get me started about the glue. The Amtico glue was over $200. Ouch! So the tile and glue all goes back to Expo and we now have the floor we wanted.

New photos posted
  We have added more photos and created a new link to the left. We will post new photos in the monthly album. We also have created a subscription link. That way you can get an email any time we update the site.

Work continues on restoring the exterior doors. The south door is almost done and the dining room door is about half way stripped. I spoke with the painters and asked if they were really going to be done in 6 weeks. They just laughed but then said, "eh, it might happen."

I spoke with Dave Murphy, the general manager of Expo, and said that I was tired of folks not calling when they promised. He made more promises that he would work to resolve these problems. He then said that the cabinet parts would be delivered this afternoon. I am not holding my breath. Surprise, surprise, I came back from an afternoon meeting and found that Expo delivered the replacement doors, hinges and cabinet panels. Expo didn't leave an invoice, so who knows if it is complete.

I tried to believe in Expo and the concept. I thought that my problems were just a fluke. However, after two months of continually failing to do what they promised, it is apparent to me that Expo is not hiring quality folks for their stores. The solution is so simple. When you are taking care of a customer, call them each day and make sure things are going right. If they aren't, take ownership of the problem and fix it. However, when the general manager of the store does not return phone calls when he promises, it is hard to imagine that his employees are going to perform any better.

Expo is hiring, for the most part, quality sub-contractors. But the lack of communication, poor training, and poor knowledge of their product line means that the Expo staff are selling products they don't understand. That is a problem. Expo sales people don't understand the difference between a glue down and nail down floor or the difference between sheathing or a cleat. They do not have computers with access to the Internet so far too often, an Expo customer has more knowledge about a product then the sales folks. Without access to the Internet, Expo doesn't know when an item has been discontinued or is on back order. They cannot access vendor websites to get specifications and installation instructions. Expo staff doesn't even have access to email so they have no way of communicating with customers or vendors. We could have solved numerous problems if I could have emailed a photo to Expo so they could see the actual problem without driving 45 miles one way to the job site. Their solution is to fax everything and that doesn't work because you can't fax a photo and their hand drawn plans do not fax well. Yes that is what I said, hand drawn. Most of their drawings have to be done by hand as the designers have to fight over just two computers.

Expo has the potential be the king of the hill in the home remodeling market. But until they solve the training and knowledge deficiencies in their staff, Expo is more like a fancy Wal-mart than a high end kitchen and bath design center. You don't go to Wal-mart to ask them about DVD and MPEG, don't expect to to go to Expo and ask them to explain the difference between a mixer and a volume control. Here is a hint, they go in the shower.

Friday, September 13, 2002
Floor Installation Begins -- Expo still can't get things right.
  We finally gave up on Expo. They never could get their act together. So we came up with a different solution. We ordered the trim pieces directly from the manufacturer. Beyond me why Expo didn't think of this. Jim Bizek began the floor installation today and he expects to be done by tonight. We also gave up on the Amtico floor and will instead will be installing Armstrong tile in the laundry room and first floor closet. It was the same price from Home Depot and Lowe's. Expo is owned by Home Depot so in our own little protest this week, we purchased the tile from Lowes.

I spoke with Dave Murphy, the GM of the Expo store on Wednesday. I said that folks from Expo are not returning calls as promised. I told him that I wanted daily updates on the status of the counters and the replacement cabinet parts. He said that he or one of his associates would be calling. Well it is mid-morning Friday and no phone calls. Dave also told me that someone would be calling to arrange delivery of the cabinetry parts. No one has called about that as well. Can it get any worse with these guys?

Most of the electrical work was completed this week. We still have three sconces to rebuild, we are still waiting for one new sconce, and the extension bars for the kitchen lights are still on order. We also have two historic fixtures that we need to rebuild. That should wrap electrical.

The concrete contractor was out doing final measurements for the driveway and sidewalks. The new ice maker is on order and should be in next week. Hopefully the plumbing will be completed in the next three weeks and we can work on getting the hot water back on. Hard to believe that it is already getting cold around here. It was in the 40's earlier this week. Brrr.

Sunday, September 08, 2002
More Expo floor problems, UPS pays a visit.
  Well the hoped for surprise never came through. We are still struggling to get the the bamboo floor installed. Expo said they would have someone call me on Friday with an update. No one ever called. All I can suggest, make sure the vendor has all the pieces in stock and that you can see all the pieces before you order the floor. What a nightmare.

Lots of good things have been happening. We called ProSource and they are trying to track down vinyl floor for us. We need flooring for the laundry room on the second floor and the dining room closet. Initially we wanted to use Amtico floor but the black is not really black, but navy blue. So instead of spending a fortune for Amtico, it costs as much as the bamboo floor, we have decided to go with Congoleum Flooring which is half the price. We picked out a simple black and white pattern on the diagonal. We don't need a whole roll of flooring so they are seeing if we can get a smaller piece.

Our first shipments from Antique Hardware came in. We ordered two brass sconces for the turret in the front parlor and a rope brass sconce for the guest bath on the second floor. We also got a school house fixture in but it is too small. So we are sending it back. The rest of the outdoor fixtures also came in on Thursday from Union Lighting. The school house lamp in an antique finish was in this shipment. I ordered this blind having no idea what it would really look like. It looks great and will be installed in the sitting area of the guest bedroom.

The painters finished the front door. Wow! Now I wish we were painting the outside this year. The electricians wrapped up this week, for now. There is still more to do but we are waiting for more fixtures to come in. They got the lights installed in the kitchen cabinets and the under mounted lights as well. The undermount cabinet lights are very cool as they don't require an additional cabinet valence to hide the lights.

We got the replacement lamp rod for the two small historic chandeliers but it was the wrong size. So we have to send it back. We ordered 1/2" OD threaded pipe. We got 1/2" ID pipe. OD means outside diameter, ID means inside diameter. So we ended up with 3/4" pipe. Oops! Turns out threaded pipe is sold by measuring the ID. Who knew.

The historic district approved our driveway and sidewalks. They didn't approve our tinted and stamped concrete for the north side walkway and patio. They said that it was trying to be something that it wasn't. I think that is wrong, but it isn't worth fighting them. We also got a letter from the the state approving our application for tax credits. They were not that excited by the attached garage thinking it was too big. But we were successful in convincing them that this sort of adaptive re-use with a modern kitchen and garage is necessary to preserve the home. Our goal all along was to make a home that could not be later cut up in to small apartments. To do that, we have to compete with homes costing $500,000 and up that are being sold at the local private golf course or upscale development. There are a number of people that are willing to take on an old home but they still want an attached garage. So I understand the concern that the State Historic Office has, but the garage addition was done is such a way that it could be easily removed without damaging the original house. So we followed the federal guidelines for preservation.

I understand the goals of historic preservation but some times personal opinion by commissioners is passed off as preservation. For instance the Ypsilanti Historic District declined our application for a 'fancy' outdoor front light. We wanted a front porch light that celebrated the home and would compliment the spectacular wood doors. The HDC said that our fixture was too fancy and over the top. The HDC said that it wasn't appropriate. Everything about Glover House is over the top. The guy spent $32,000 in 1893 to build Glover House. That is over a million dollars in todays money. Moreover, in 1893, it was a depression far worse then the one in 1929. Spending the equivalent of a million dollars in the middle of a terrible depression was over the top. I am pretty sure the porch light was just as extravagant. Worse, the HDC commissioners pointed to the lights on the Breakey House as a appropriate model of the type of light I should install. Those are terrible lights, over sized for the building, they were originally on a huge bank building downtown.

Here is the light we wanted, this is the fixture that the HDC approved. You be the judge, is this light too fancy? Oh well, the one they approved cost $34 from Union Lighting rather than the $250 for the one we wanted.

Sean from Pilon finished the railing on the second floor. It looks great. Pilon continues to do an awesome job on this project. The plumbing fixtures for the shower came in and they should be installed this week. More work should continue on the driveway as we get ready for the concrete pour. We also have a meeting this week with Pilon to review budget and begin finalizing finish dates. We are two months ahead of schedule and still on budget.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Carpet, Expo, and Doors
  Maggie and I went carpet shopping today. We visited Pro Source Floors in Detroit, a wholesale only flooring company. This is a really cool concept. You ought to check out their website. We picked out a carpet that we both love for the front parlor. Now need to find someone who can install it for us.

Expo continues to screw things up. Their General Manager, Dave Murphy, promised that he would call me back this afternoon with updated information about replacing the damaged cabinets and coming up with a new installation date for the screwed up counter in the laundry room. Guess who never called back? We decided to send back the Amtico floor. We ordered black, and all they offer is Navy Blue. It isn't black. So we think we are going to go with a cheaper vinyl floor in the laundry room.

Cinder Whit got our sample baluster by Fed Ex. Cinder Whit is going to stretch our existing baluster to meet new code requirements for a 36" railing. They said they would be getting us an AutoCad drawing in the next day or so.

The painters have finished with the color coat and the first coat of sealant for the front doors. They look awesome. We went with poly-urethane. I know some folks say we should use tung oil, but I did some research and there is too much conflicting data and opinions. I think both camps are right, no matter what you use, if you don't want to paint your door, the only solution requires yearly maintenance.

The painters started stripping the south door and the interior kitchen door. Pilon cut in the under mount and puck lights for the kitchen. They finished the porch railings on the second floor and started removing the asphalt to get ready for the new driveway.

Big surprise coming tomorrow, we may have a solution to our Bamboo Floor problem. But don't tell anyone.

Oh No, Expo Design Screws Up Again !!!
  Expo Designs continues to be a royal pain the butt. Now some 7 weeks later, they have nothing but excuses for why the kitchen and laundry room are still not done. We almost got in a fist fight with their installer from Contempo Kitchens. Jamie came in and informed me that they were not installing counters and that it was a "delivery only". I called Expo and while talking to Victor at Expo, Jamie interrupts me and tells me I need to sign for the counters now and that he is leaving. I tell him that he is supposed to install the counters and he tells me that I am wrong and that I need to sign the delivery receipt right now. I tell him that I am not signing anything and that he needs to wait until I am finished with the call. Jamie's boss Frank calls me a short while later and I tell him that I don't think the counter is in the right place but he assures me that it is. I ask him to wait for Pilon to show up, they will be here in 45 minutes, and we can confirm the installation. I beg Frank not to install the counter but he tells Jamie to go ahead. Jamie leaves and five minutes later, Pilon shows up.

Sure enough. The counter is not right. It is supposed to have a 2" inch front and it is only 1.5". Worse, it is mounted 1.5" inches too high. Sigh.

Expo still can't get the right mouldings in for the floor. First Expo denied that the color I wanted was even available. I told them that it was stupid that they sold a dark color floor but the trim pieces only come in Natural. Expo said they checked and they don't make the trim pieces in the darker Carbonized color.

When I showed Expo the website for the bamboo floor company and a picture or the trim pieces in the color I wanted, they started back pedaling saying that they misunderstood what their distributor was telling them. I love the Internet. Still, three Fed Ex shipments later, they still can't get the right color in. Then the Amtico tile floor was delivered and instead of being black, it is navy blue. Someone asked me recently if I would recommend Expo. Hardly.

  Welcome to Glover House. We began the rennovation in November 2001. Over the next month, I will post pictures and descriptions of the on-going project to bring you up to speed on where we are today. Our current plan is to be in the house by the end of the year. Cheers! -- Steve

© Copyright 2002-2007 — Steve Pierce