Contractor Search: First Bid – Sticker Shock

I have gotten my first rough estimate to finish my craft room space and… I’m kind of speechless.

Hubby and I did our research, so we had a kind of broad price range to expect this project to come in around, or at least a close ballpark figure. Remember, I’m supposed to be doing a large portion of the work myself, some of the big expense portions if you consider the cabinet work.

The number I was given today? It was 4 times higher than I’d really kind of hoped, but maybe only about 3 times higher than the top of what I expected. That wasn’t including the VERY high estimate I got from our HVAC people to take care of the ventilation portion of the project (again, wasn’t expecting that cost, though I will note part of their estimate included things I did not ask for, so this number isn’t completely accurate).

I’m so shocked and discouraged right now it isn’t even funny.

I know that a portion of this, the electrical, is going to be kind of a beast because we are going to have to expand our panel to accommodate the new load. I fully expect this piece to be on the bigger end, but… just wow! Not even CLOSE to what I was figuring.

What makes it even harder to swallow is the fact that this bid was from the only company that I have liked so far. Partly because the others haven’t even bothered to return calls. Or show up. What is left in my line up is Misogyny Guy and two other companies that haven’t returned calls to even set up appointments yet. I never heard a word from No Show Guy.

I have no clue what I’m going to do from here. One option is to have an electrician come in and take care of that part, but still do everything else myself. I’ve not done any framing before, but been around projects that have had it done, so I understand some basic (though probably not nearly enough). I’ve helped with drywall in the past, but not done it all by myself. What parts I did, I really disliked and is why I wanted to hire out that part.

I really need at least one other number before I can make any decisions, but there is a very real chance that this project, that I’ve already bought stuff for, may not get done. Or at least, not done in the way I want it. I may have to completely rethink my plans.

Not feeling overly happy today.

Popping Color

Popping Color

This is my only mum that is opening enough to show color yet, but it is just loaded. I’m still on edge hoping we don’t get an early freeze and I get plenty of time to enjoy these this year.

MC is breezing through his first semester at college. For some reason, his history class was a shorter one than a regular class and he is already taking his final for that one next week. It will leave the last half of his semester more open.

It shouldn’t surprise me that he is doing so well because he always has when it comes to school, but I guess I still expected it to be a bit more challenging for him than this has seemed. Maybe it is just these earlier, more basic classes and next semester will be different, but I’m really happy for him that it is going so well.

He has impressed his computer programing teacher enough to get recommended for a work study program even though he isn’t even finished with his first class. He, unfortunately, can’t take it as a paid position because of the rules around family income, but they are looking into the possibility he can still do it on a volunteer/unpaid basis.

I think it was either from the same teacher or a math teacher, but MC was told he should become a tutor, but he can’t do that one until he passes a class he is currently taking with a certain grade (that won’t be an issue at this point). Apparently, he is making a good impression on at least some of his teachers.

While he loves that these are going to be things he gets to do, he is also excited that he has the chance to put these, plus his work with the videos for the eSports teams, on his resume. With his complete lack of any kind of work experience going into college (long story about bad timing and circumstances), he has been worried that he isn’t going to have much of anything to put down when he needs it and this is a relief for him.

I’m just glad that he is finding his space and the things he enjoys. It is exciting to see him get involved and enjoying what he is doing. I was a little worried the first couple of weeks in that he was struggling, but seeing all this makes me feel so much better. I really love that his college choice seems to be the perfect fit for him.

Now, BG is a whole other ball of wax. She is too much like me in not knowing what direction she wants to go when she gets out of high school. MC always knew he wanted to go into programming, but BG is all over the place in interests, so she doesn’t even know where to begin in her college search. I have a feeling her ride is going to be a lot bumpier than MC’s has been, but she is going to have to start making some decisions soon.

Seeing Color

This was going to just be my usual photo post, but it is apparently turning into a rant because WordPress has decided to be assholes and force us to use their shitty block editor.

I didn’t really need to relearn how to use WP this morning and I’m so not happy about it. I’ve managed to find most of the critical pieces, but not all of them. I did find the option to use classic mode. Guess what? It didn’t work.

Lovely. Today wasn’t supposed to be a grumpy day.

Contractor Search: Update

Contractor #1 was the “Little woman” guy.

Contractor #2 is going to be known from here on out as “no show dude.”

I actually dig in before even calling these places looking at BBB and other review sites. #2 has quite a few amazing ratings. In all the ratings I’ve seen there was only 1 negative and it was about being a no show for an appointment. With so many great ones, I really chalked it up to a possible miscommunication.

Yeah, not a good idea. Well over an hour past the appointment time and no show, no call, no text.

So glad I rearranged my day for this!

Ugh! There are reasons I absolutely abhor trying to find contractors and getting bids.

“Little Woman” Mindset?

I’m making calls to get bids on my craft room. I’m talking to this one guy. He’s getting my info, you know, basic stuff like name address, phone. Then he asks me a question that just throws me for a loop.

In all my times of calling various different companies for various different jobs over my 20+ years of being a homeowner, I’ve NEVER had anyone ask me this question.

“Is there a Mr. Fox? I’m going to just put his name down, too.”

Um… what?!

Now, this could be an entirely innocent question of someone wanting to make sure they have the names of anyone they may talk to, but… that just felt like a “Little woman, the men need to talk” kind of a question.

It is going to be so interesting when he comes out to give me my bid and I’m the one he has to deal with. It’s going to be even more interesting to see how he reacts when he realizes this “little woman” knows how to handle power tools and really kinda knows what they hell they are talking about.

I’m trying really hard not to make assumptions here and am giving this guy the benefit of the doubt, but it isn’t looking good so far. That question just made me feel icky about this particular guy because WHY would you ever risk making that assumption/stereotype?

What if I had a wife? Or I was single? Or hell, maybe I just was a very feminine sounding dude? Or recently widowed? It’s kind of like asking a woman when the baby is due just because you see a rounded stomach (and yes, I actually had someone ask me this question when BG was like 10, and no, I NEVER wore that shirt in public again). It is SO not something you should ever do. If you want to ensure you have names for other people you may need to talk to, ask “Is there anyone else that will be involved with this project and can I get their names?”

Sadly, I do need to still get a bid from him because I’m struggling to find a contractor. Apparently either 1) all the companies in my city want to only work in the rich counties and while mine is far from a slum, it isn’t THE rich county or 2) everybody and their brother are remodeling right now and they aren’t taking on new jobs. #2 is partly a problem because I don’t want them to do the whole job, just the framing, electrical and the drywall finishing, which may not be enough to entice a company to take on my project.

This is so not an obstacle I thought I’d run into.

Only The Beginning

I spent the bulk of my day yesterday working out cabinet and shelf layouts for my craft room. I got probably one of the hardest spaces worked out, the one that ties all the sides together. It was kind of like trying to figure out an extremely difficult puzzle and the most obnoxious brain teaser combined, but managed to do it. I still have several sections to work out, but they aren’t as tricky or problematic.

Once that is done, I can finalize my lighting and electrical layouts, which means I can move forward with finding contractors to start the parts I can’t do myself. I still have the specific interiors and storage elements of those cabinets to do, but that can be done at any time and won’t impact any contract work.

I have all the tools I’m going to need either here or on their way and Hubby and I went ant picked up my counter tops the other day. I learned that this is so NOT going to be a one person job and that I just might die before it is all finished and I can enjoy it because those suckers are HEAVY!! I’m still feeling it a couple of days later. And that was with help hauling all 4 pieces to the basement.

It feels amazing to finally be making progress!

*There isn’t any context and the colors aren’t correct, but this is going to be the layout of my back wall.

Craft Room: Back Wall Design
Craft Room: Back Wall Design

Color Potential

This makes me so excited, but also so nervous. I’m really hoping we make it through mum season without an early freeze this year.

The last couple of years we’ve gotten freezes early enough to kill off the flowers before they’d barely even bloomed so I didn’t get time to enjoy them. Sadly, it doesn’t take much and these are done. Even a lighter freeze kills off all the flowers and buds.

We don’t have any threats of freezing just yet, so I’m going to enjoy these as much as I can!

Orderly And Logical… Yeah Right!

I think it is completely typical of me that I can’t do things in any kind of “normal way” and my craft room project looks to be right in line with MY normal.

A project like this should really have a nice linear kind of a process. Come up with a design plan. Research your resources like contractors or materials. Get any needed quotes and schedule work or start buying materials if you are doing it yourself. Begin working. Simple, right?

Yeah, that isn’t exactly how I’ve done things.

I have struggled so hard with the design for starters. I have SO many things that I do and I needed to take all of them into consideration when laying out my workspace that it was nearly overwhelming. That was just for a basic layout. I also had to figure out good lighting for all those different types of work.

If I do any silversmithing, I need the right kind of direct light for the little details, but I also need to make it dark enough for when I’m firing something to see the color changes in the metal. While that direct lighting would also be perfect for sewing, I’m not getting any fabric even close to my nasty jewelry bench. Not happening! They need to be very different spaces. But I also needed really good general lighting for the whole space.

In an effort to try and solve that problem, I bought a really nice main light fixture and installed it in my completely unfinished space just to see if it is going to work (it is, thank goodness). This alone has already messed up that linear process as I’m buying and installing stuff well before other needed things have been done.

I couldn’t plan out the rest of the lighting, which is needed to be able to get a quote from a contractor, until I figured out exactly how I was going to lay out the rest of the space. That meant I had to figure out how I was going to tie that nasty jeweler’s bench and firing station (two separate pieces) into the rest of the space. Both pieces are kind of just pieced together. My workbench is really just a top that I’ve got sitting on an old desk. It’s functional, but not even close to decent looking.

That made part of my decision making even harder. I really wanted to try and make use of what I had and keep my overall cost down to reasonable, but what I had wasn’t great for different reasons depending on what it is. The jeweler’s bench top, firing station, random cabinet that was designed as a microwave stand, a crappy folding table, an industrial looking but also crappy storage cabinet that originally lived in my garage, an old dresser, and a very nice, but not practical antique dining table that is in need of refinishing. None of which gave me any kind of real storage I desperately needed.

I’ve kind of just been sitting on a lot of this for a while now. Ever since I got the light fixture a couple of weeks ago, I hit a “no progress” wall that I couldn’t get past.

Then I saw a photo of a room, no clue what it was actually for, but it gave me the base inspiration for the finished look I really wanted for my space, something I hadn’t been able to come up with until then. And a look that is SO very different from anything else in my house, which is odd for me.

It gave me a real direction to go and I was able to start working on some real design plans. It helped to funnel me into a direction, but I was still scattered. I still had to work out how much I’m doing myself and how much I’m having done. I did manage to settle on doing all the cabinet, flooring and finish work myself (after hours researching tools and material costs), and having all ventilation, wiring, framing and drywall done for me.

Deciding that, I told Hubby to let me know when we got coupons from our home improvement store, so I could start buying the tools and get them at a discount. We got a coupon like two days later, so I already have tools on the way (even though I’m SO not ready for them yet!)

When looking into options to get my bench top to tie into the rest without being ugly, I was forced to consider a full on rebuild. I was already planning on building a base, but I was struggling to get it to work with my existing top. My options were, leave it as is and have it stand out like an ugly sore thumb, attempt to add a surface that would tie into any other surfaces I’d use in the space, or I could completely rebuild.

The first option was already out for me because I really need this to be a calm, cohesive space or I’m always going to feel out of sorts in it like I do now. That and the look I’ve settled on is awesome and I didn’t want to mess that up. The second option is the less expensive option, but it wouldn’t be exactly the same because I have to have a surface that can tolerate the heat of a torch, which limits my options. Those aren’t options I want for my other surfaces giving the space too may colors and textures even if they were similar. The final option would be so much better aesthetically, but would cost more and go against the whole trying to use what I had.

I spent the last week doing research on materials so I could decide on which option I was going to choose. I wasn’t liking my options for resurfacing my bench top, but I had a couple that might work. In the process of looking at full rebuild options, I ran across some butcher block kitchen counters that had an incredible deal going on right now. After spending the day attempting to work with the available sizing to see if I could even get it to work and then figure out how expensive it was going to be, I now have a basic counter/table/workbench layout set and counters on order because I’m going with the rebuild option.

So I am going to have tools and surfaces purchased and here, but I haven’t even begun to play with the actual electrical layout or the rest of the cabinet designs, let alone researched and gotten quotes from contractors. I have some vague ideas of finishing the design, but I’m nowhere near ready to even think about starting to build.

I’m so backwards sometimes!

As crazy and chaotic as I’m making this, I’m absolutely in love with how it is unfolding so far. I’m going to be able to stain and finish those counters to match want I want to do on the floor. I don’t have flooring picked out yet, but I have the general color and look I want.

I also discovered that my existing bench top will work perfectly in our garage for a true tool workbench. I need to modify it and my firing station a bit, but the materials will be used. Right now I have plans for nearly all of the stuff in my current space, even if it isn’t in that space, so that is also a huge bonus.

I’m giddy that I’m finally making progress.

Redbubble Halloween Masks

I have been toying with this idea almost since I set up my Redbubble store and I saw they did masks. I mean, come on! If you have to wear a face mask, especially around Halloween, you’ve GOT to have fun with it!

TJ Fox’s Halloween Masks on Redbubble

Skull Mask
Skull Mask

The skull mask came from the idea of doing the concept in face paint. That was my initial goal when I started working on it, but I ended up with something a little different, but still fun. I’m still considering a couple of designs based on different face paint concepts, but am trying to figure out how to pull them off.

Smirky Jack O' Lantern Mask
Smirky Jack O’ Lantern Mask

The jack O’ lantern faces were one of the first designs I planned to work on. This is one that I may still do up a couple of different concepts besides the two I have so far. They combine one of my favorite fall activities, pumpkin carving, with the fun of playing in Photoshop.

Goofy Jack O' Lantern Mask
Goofy Jack O’ Lantern Mask

And my deepest apologies to those that hate clowns. I just could not resist! Maybe since it isn’t a full face, it isn’t so bad?

Clown Mask
Clown Mask

As always, if there is a design you’d like me to work on, feel free to let me know! I’m always open to doing something custom.