Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bleeding White From My Eyes

I can't believe what I've been through this week. I can't believe it's been a weeks since I posted! It kind of makes me mad because that time is lost and I'm too tired to try and remember what it was like...and it was pretty bad. This is one of the reasons I didn't post.

I do feel like we've reached a milestone though. Now when we do something it actually looks like we've accomplished something. Tonight I sprayed the ceiling with our new Wagner power sprayer. It's an airless spray gun and I liked using it but it was really hard to tell in the near dark (by the light of a 500 watt worklight anyway) how good of a job it did. Took for freakin' ever to tape up the joint. I think Emma & Taylor used about a roll just covering the top of the handrail (I want to stain it...why, why do I do these things?

Despite the tyvec suit, respirator & goggles I'm getting a stream of white coming out of the corners of my eyes. Isn't dat veird?

Here's a few of the memorables from this last week:

I seriously thought I was going to have a mental breakdown trying to get the wallpaper off the bedroom wall. I discovered that TSP does a great job on the wallpaper and so had a lot of hope until TSP started doing a great job on the craft paper too. It was a disaster. I can't believe I made it through. Everything is 3 times as much work and takes 4 times as long. I was able to make a smooth surface with determination and a bucket of mud.

I cut the perfect hole in the back of the oven cabinet and discovered that it was the refridgerator cabinet when I went to lift it in place! ARRRRRGGH! AND! AND!
I had paid an electrician and obscene amount (to me anyway) to put a beautiful little plug in the wall that WOULD have been covered by the cabinet. GRRRRR. I'm going to make lemonade out of that lemon if it kills me. I'm going to put a decorative shelve & trim above the microwave hood AND IT WILL BE GOOD! (Okay, now I'm going to take my meds. :)

The countertop guy just doesn't get it. When I tell him that I can get the same counter (60 inch one in the basement) at Lowe's for about $50 and he's charging me $120 he doesn't see the irony and says "But I can make it cheaper than that so it doesn't help me." Yes...this I am knowing...I'm trying to help me buddy. Sigh. The kitchen countertops do look good though. I caved and got a stainless sink. Another milestone done.

We got the home equity extention we needed but will probably use most of it for a new furnace and air conditioning. In one pocket and out the other. At least I won't have to return my 12 doors.

Did I mention the wallpaper?

Lessons Learned:

Wallpaper is hell. Please don't use it unless you size first.

Huge holes in the drywall craft paper can be repaired. I let the tears dry completely and then sanded them first so I would have little brown specks showing through.

MEASURE BEFORE YOU CUT A HOLE. Or should I say "measure before you cut a-hole!"

TSP works well on wallpaper & paste. I used a 10" putty knife after I softened the paste and basically squeegeed it off the wall.

Use paintable caulk in the corners of drywall instead of taping the corners.

Friday, October 21, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Filter

Today was a pretty productive day considering that we went through the molasses swamp called Lowes. Grrrr. (I was the lady yelling in the return line for them to get another checker when they spent 15 mins arguing about a 58 cent tile return!!!! )

Jeff and I went to the condo to catch Dave or the drywallers or both. They hadn't come yet so we took a damaged bifold and loaded the laminate (I decided to use my vinyl tiles after a found a couple more boxes at Lowes) in the truck. We exchanged the doors and I found that they had all gone up in price by at least $6 bucks. The larger ones were even more because at the time they were all $24.

We went to Venice Flooring and wrote a $300 dollar check because I'm so afraid she's going to sell my carpeting out from under me. She's honoring the $14.99 sq. yard installed so I bless her heart. I've heard the price of carpeting is going to go up.

I dropped Jeff off and after dropping off Taylor at the mall I went to the condo and had a pretty productive afternoon....with one exception.

Earlier Jeff and I removed the toilet from the upstairs bathroom to finish removing the flooring. He'd used the shop vac to get the water out and so had taken out the dry filter and set it in the tub. Later, I saw that filter in the tub and was thinking I needed to clean the very messy thing and thought I should vacuum it off. Well, guess what the nearest vacuum was. The shop vac.

Now, some of you won't see the problem with vacuuming the shop vac filter with the shop vac. And like me, you too will have a room filled with fine smoke-like dust in a matter of seconds. As I was sucking the dirt off the filter it was blowing it out the other end and directly into the room! DUH!!!!

The drywall turned out well. It's not finished but the playhouse is getting fun and exciting. I can't decide between making it cottage like or castle. I'll probably do that castle thing so that it will be unisexed. I want to paint the inside with sky and a meadow. Maybe I'll use some of that green carpeting to make "grass"...brilliant!

Lessons Learned:

There is a reason for that stupid filter in the shop vac.

I asked the drywall guys to leave their scrap. Will save me a trip to the DIY store and a little bit of money.

Some people should never hold a hammer

I found another previous-homeowner-was-a-remodeling-idiot patch today. I noticed that the subfloor was bowed up a bit and was going to screw it down but it was solid. Since the storage room is beneath it I measured from the wall and I went below and found that "spike boy" (as I'm going to call him from now on) had hammered up a scrap piece of cedar but couldn't hammer at the right angle so there were bent up nails coming out of it everywhere. Fortunately (grrrrr!) he managed to get 3 huge spikes in which took both effort from me for 20 minutes and Jeff for another 15 to get out. Then, of course, the floor didn't go down. I'm thinking it's the lovely joists pushing on it but Jeff thinks it's just plain bowed. So I guess I'm chipping it out or something and putting in a new support.

Jeff and I worked mostly on the electrical today. This is the lovely "Smurf" junction box to replace the postcard sized one that they had stuffed 5 wires into. I thought that we would just drywall over it but Jeff said that you had to leave it accessible. I said there is no way I'm letting a Smurf box show. He said we could just paint it. Grrrr. I'm going to have to find a nice hole cover to fit it.

Found out that even SEARS won't touch the central vac. I guess Liberty Home Warranty called around and no one wants to work on it. I got up at 7:00 am to get to my 8:00 am - 12:00 pm so-called "appointment" with my Sears associate who never showed. I had Jeff call them at 12:20 and they said that my job had been passed around like a loose woman and no one knew how to work on the old units. So basically, there is little hope for its survival. I may try to check all the electrical connections and see if I can get it to work but I'm thinking it's going bye bye. Better to have no unit than a broken unit.

Speaking of broken units. Service Experts called and wanted to show me personally the cracks in my heat exchanger; brought a camera and everything. It wasn't that spectacular or anything but I let them keep their diagnostic money. So, I may end up putting in a new furnace because Liberty's service guy says there's no leak and Service Experts says "she's gonna blow!" I had to sign a liability waiver that says that they told me it's cracked and it's my butt if I turn on the furnace.

Lessons Learned:

Make Sears or whoever call your cellphone a few minutes before they are going to arrive. You shouldn't have to wait...and they usually forget you anyway, especially Sears.

There is no definitive testing for heat exchangers so your mileage may vary. The gas company says that you can have cracks with no evidence of CO leakage YET! Eventually the heating will cause it to leak. So both my furnace guys were which one is going to get me a new furnace?

Don't cover junction boxes with drywall

Leave plenty of extra romex? (electrical wiring) at the tail ends. You could accidentally slice a wire or want to pull more out. If you don't give yourself some slack you'll have to rewire.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What's that Tingle?

Today we had lunch with an acquaintence that is thinking of investing in real estate. I tried to tell him as much as possible about what I knew and then we took him to the place. Remember my rule about not showing people in the remodel phase? I don't think he was too impressed. Oh, well. :)

As far as remodeling we had to fix the electrical in the hall downstairs because the "remodelers" (I use that term loosely) before us had just put the wires in front of wall surfaces instead of drilling pass-through holes. We went to Lowe's and bought some boxes and came back and had a hard time figuring out when wires were live.

Jeff used the halogen light to test his plugs and avoided a big shock on the hallway outlet. The wiring makes no sense. For instance, they used a pigtail from the laundry 110 to power an outlet clear across the hallway.

Anyway, later in the afternoon I was trying to finish up myself and kept feeling a little tingle in my fingers. I thought for a moment I had build up static by fishing wires through the holes. After the 2nd stronger "tingle" I realized that they had used power clear from the family room. Grrr. I put wire nuts on the ends and finished up a dead wire to the light box.

I figure we'll just have to be REALLY specific with the labels in the circuit box so no one gets an unpleasant tingle. We only want good tingles! I'm thinking of writing or taping the number of the circuit on the back of the faceplates of the outlets/switches so the future homeowners could turn off the right one. Of course that means I have to know the right one first.

Lesson learned:

Where the hell is the circuit tester?

If you feel a tingle when dealing with electricity (even when not directly touching anything) the power IS on (this is a good time to assume.)

When you are running wires, even in an unfinished space, run it properly through the joists/studs. You never know when someone will actually want to drywall.

When stealing/borrowing power make sure the circuit makes sense...or even better...hire an electrician. (Who am I to talk? :)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dave's "Arrrrgh" Construction

Jeff and I went up to the condo about 9:00 thinking we'd meet with Dave's Construction and go over plans before going out to buy a new stapler. There were no signs of them anywhere.

I left a message with his wife/secretary and we went to Lowe's and when they didn't have anything, we went to Home Depot. We decided to get a Porter Cable 3 gun set with pancake compressor. There was a tempting offer on Senco's 3 gun set but we would have had to drive to Provo's Home Depot. It's amazing how much the gas crisis has to do with decisions any more.

Anyway, Dave called back and said he'd be there at 11:30 - 12:00. I made sure that he had the code to the key in the back so he could get in. Jeff and I went for sushi then I dropped him off home and went up to the condo.

A man and his assistant were there and I tried to introduce myself by saying "I'm Denise" and all I got from this tall guy in a makeshift eyepatch was "You're Denise" and he walked into the house. I don't know if he was ticked because he got there before me or what but I had a hard time communicating the rest of the day. It turns out that eye patch guy was Dave himself (I think, he never did introduce himself but he's the guy with the that's usually the guy in charge.)

I just had all sorts of trouble from: asking for a half arch on the playroom door (got a full) to "I didn't think I had to do the ceiling" to "we'll come back with the electrical stuff is ready" to "Oh, I didn't know we were doing a window sill" (sounds like he wants to charge more.)

He was also rude about what I was doing upstairs. Those comments went as follows:
"What are you putting that [underlayment] down with?" I informed him that the manufacturer wanted staples.

"You're supposed to use screws on each one of those x's" I'm just following the manufacturers suggestions.

"What flooring are you putting down?" Laminate. "This plywood stuff is expensive, you don't need [no stinkin'] plywood. You just need OSB [chip board] under laminate.

I was dumbfounded at this point because he had given me the "only people with penises should install flooring" look three times at this point. I just mumbled something about "well, I wanted plywood and this is what I was shown." Something stupid when I really wanted to rip into him for not minding his own business.

At this point I'm not sure what I'm going to get from him. I'm not hopeful and in fact I'm discouraged about his communication abilities. If I can't even get a half arch when I want one, what else is he going to ignore?

Lessons Learned:

Be EXTREMELY specific on your contract bid. EXTREMELY! Because you think you know what "finished and ready to paint" means...but do you and your contractor think alike? Write down each step of the process (as best you can), even the clean-up.

Do your research about what a job entails. Even though you might not do it yourself at least you'll know when workmen are doing it wrong.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Ding-Dong the Microwave is Dead!

I haven't posted for a few days because frankly, not much has happened for several days. I feel so frustrated by everything!

We returned the cordless trim saw to Sears repair shop. They did NOT want to see us. You'd think we gave them back some Christmas present they'd bought for us. The guy even tried to talk us into another circular saw..."no, we already have one. Thanks!"

We tried to get some staples (at both the big DIY places) to fit our Craftsman 1/2 inch stapler I've been using for putting down underlayment (you can imagine the time wasted.) Not even Sears carried staples for it. I asked the employee "so you've made your own product obsolete?" He assured me I could buy them on-line, not much help for someone that needs to put down some underlayment today.

We ended up spending an hour cleaning up the condo, stapleless as we were. But....

There was a shining beam of hope coming from the kitchen. Jeff managed to get the microwave free from it's roost on the friggin wall. I was so thrilled that I forgave him (almost) for deleting my "Denise" file from his hard-drive (he restored it after he started turning blue for some strange hands around his neck, maybe! :P)

Lessons learned:

It was either the fact that it was cordless, had bad battery memory or was refirbished but there is usually a reason that tools get sent to the Sears graveyard. It wouldn't work past 8 inches in drywall on a full charge.

It appears that there are 4 screws in the base of the microwave that hold it to the back bracket. But what finally got it off was a good wedging by Jeff (probably stuck up there with grease and dirt!)

Don't buy a used nuematic stapler with a 1/2 inch crown. You can't find staples anywhere! They are all going to 1/4 inch.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Unfussy Beige Manual

Today I got a late start but first things were first...I had to fix the paint color. I went clear up to the condo and back down to Sherwin Williams and asked if they could tint my 5 gallons of paint. They did a fantastic job and my purplish "Unfussy Beige" went to "Unfussy Beige Manual" in just a few minutes. They added some gold and it looks much even looks better on camera.

I worked on the island when I got back. I thought it would be much easier. First I had problems with the cordless saw (which I will probably return) and had to jigsaw the underlayment to fit. Then I ran out of staples and so I stapled as best I could under where the bar goes.

I thought I was doing so well. I outlined the base (it elevates the wall cabinets) and screwed brackets into the floor. I thought everything was perfect until I tried to hammer some nails into the jutting part. I had totally screwed in the bracket wrong. I ended up putting a small piece of lumber in there to give me a screwing base but I still don't understand how that happened.

It looks good but it was harder to put together than I anticipated. I need a drill bit to pre-drill and I'll finish it tomorrow.

I had a visit from Mrs. PA (poisoned apple) from next door. I guess she had to check out the competition directly. She was asking all sorts of prying questions like what I planned to replace, where I learned to do all of these things, what kind of flooring was I putting in the bathrooms, etc. I tolerated her but it was a bit annoying. She did ask if her asking price was good and I told her it was fine and the market was getting better. I did advise her to get photos of the inside on the internet through her agent. It turns out he is listing it for free for them so I guess they tolerate him.

Kim from Dave's Construction called and Dave is coming Monday. He'll do the hallway downstairs, arched wall in the family room nook, countertops & a plug for me. Shouldn't be more than $2,500 dollars...I hope. I'm glad I got the cabinets in...perfect timing.

Lessons Learned:

Underlayment takes ALOT of staples.

Cordless saws don't seem to cut it...get it? Cut it? Whatever :)

Watch what you say to poisoned apple people. Just because they are "nice" doesn't mean they can be trusted.

Often paint can be fixed. Don't be afraid to ask.

Make your real estate agent put pictures up of the inside of a home. If they don't like your decor at least it has saved you spending hours cleaning getting ready for a showing...and if they do like it, they are more likely to be excited about seeing your property over others.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Nothing Like a Good Dump

Jeff and I took two loads today. We scrapped the stove & dishwasher and various metal stuff like shelves and an old weight set at the scrap yard. They weigh you before then weigh your truck again when you leave. We got about $9.00 which is actually pretty good. It would have cost $7.25 to dump it. At least it was enough to cover gas and our lunch!

We went to Taco Amigo and didn't like it. No salsa bar and their meat was suspiciously grainy which usually means supplemented with soy. We were hungry enough that we didn't really care though.

We went back to the condo and loaded all the demo drywall and trim. I can't believe how much faster things go when Jeff is helping. This was a big load and barely fit. We're still way off from meeting the $150 drop off fee for renting the dumpster from a company I feel good about the work. I don't think there is any better feeling that getting rid of useless I just have to do the same at my house?

I went back after dropping Jeff off for work and swept and power washed the carport. I love that power washer. It uses very little water and does a great job.

While I was out there the neighbor next door, who happens to be selling her condo, reported that they had taken out the clematis and there might be a few "little clippings." She knows damn well that the whole flowering part of the vine is on my side and it was a HUGE mass of clippings. I believe it was sabotage because I get a "poisoned apple" feeling from her everytime I talk with her. Jeff thinks I'm being a little nutty. I will be watching for more sabotage in the future. She was asking if I was doing the work myself so will probably spread the rumor that the work will be second rate. Grrrr.

I vacuumed up the downstairs and things are almost starting to look encouraging...almost.

Lessons Learned:

If possible, taking small truckloads will save a lot of money over having a dumpster delivered. It's also allowed me to decide as I go what to demolish instead of only having a few days to decide.

If you feel guilty, as I do, about the waste of taking everything to the dump at least you can recycle the metal and donate any good fixtures to charity. You might even make some money.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Drawing First Blood

Well, I finally did it. After pulling out about 400 spikes (I don't have the kindness in me to call them nails) I finally got my first scar of the project.

Lovely heh? I'm lucky it wasn't worse and should have known better. I was reaching over my head, pulling with all my might and pulling harder than I should have so as soon as the nail finally gave, I couldn't control the downward force and hit another nail below (another thing I should have checked.)

Are 16 penny nails the only available nail they had in 1976? The homeowner must have bought a bag and didn't want to waste them because he put up shelves, nailed them in the storage room (I guess to hold up a deer carcass or an engine block?) and put up wood trim on the walls with them.

Crystal came to the job site with me but she still wasn't feeling well enough to do much and ended up call Scott (boyfriend) for a ride back home. So instead of installing the rest of the kitchen cabinets, I ended up doing the downstairs demo.

Still haven't heard from Dave's Construction. I'll call them at the end of the week if I haven't heard from them. Now that I've got the demo done and the cabinets (almost) in I'm ready for him to come and take more specific measurements, etc.

I don't like the paint color. It's too pink/purple now that I have it on the walls. I might have to have Sherwin Williams tint all 5 cans for me again. I don't know what my alternative is. I need it a little warmer. More fawn and less tawny (I've been watching too many decorating shows! :) I guess this is what I get for trying to decorate out of my personal taste zone. I like sages & butter yellow & bronze and I tried for a cooler color and got too blue.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Putting Back and Making Better

Today I started re-installing the cabinets in the kitchen. I made some dumb mistakes like putting cabinets flush that shouldn't have been and having to unscrew and rescrew. I installed a cabinet 1/4 inch over from its original spot and ended up shaving that much off the dishwasher enclosure.

But, I did get the opportunity to make the cabinets better while I was at it. I painted the interior wall of the base so it would be fresh and clean and match the wall color. I replaced the masonite in the base cabinet because the other was water damaged. I cleaned off the kick plates enough that I can install new rubber coving after the flooring goes in. The last thing I did that was nice was install 4 inch baffles on either side of the air vent so that heated/cooled air isn't wasted into the cabinets.

I checked the clock and realized I'd missed lunch. It was 4:00. That is so bad for me and I really felt it on the way home and still had to stop for something to eat so that I would have the strength to cook dinner for the family.

I attended the homeowner's annual meeting and was glad to see that homeowner's are involved and it is well run. The only real complaint was about kids running in the street. Three Fountains was designed as a retirement community but some younger families are moving in so there really isn't a space for them. A younger homeowner said he might have someone that would buy the condo but then after the meeting he said they only wanted to pay $135,000 for it. I said that some sold at that price last year and that I was planning on the $150 - $155 range like some others had sold for. He said "Yeah, but they are totally remodeled." Ya Think!!! Oh, well.

Lessons Learned:

Always take food breaks. You get stupid when your blood sugar drops.

When you're new, keep your mouth shut in homeowners meetings because they ALWAYS know more than you (even if they don't).

When removing kitchen cabinets mark with tape or pencil marks exactly where they came from to make re-installing easier.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Rain at 4:00 pm

Mark Eubank, the local weatherman said that rain would come at around 4:00 pm and he was almost exactly right. In fact, I'm sure it was right on for Salt Lake City.

Today was a cloudy day and so it felt later than it was all day. We got to the condo about 1:30, but it felt like 6:00. Emma spray painted the heat registers with silver paint. I'm not sure I like them and I don't know if I want to spend the money on more paint to cover them completely. I'll probably end up buying new ones. Nickle & Dime.

Taylor tore off all the stupid molding that was put up downstairs in the hallway. Boy, they did a crappy job on that hallway. I may have to gut it all but that would mean another truckload to the dump. Grrrr.

We all worked on the plywood underlayment in the kitchen. I love the 4x4 squares. They are easy to handle and put up on the saw horses to trim. The only difficulty we had was a piece with two cut sides. First Jeff cut it too short so there were large gaps and then I measured but we didn't put the manufactured edge toward the other manufactured edges. I didn't figure it out until I tried to get it to butt up and kept getting gaps....duh!

I started putting the cabinets back in because I want to make sure they are in when (if) Dave's Construction calls to measure. I'm excited because I can move the bar over the inch I need to make up for the difference in dishwashers.

It sure is a lot easier to work on stuff with Jeff around but I think I'll do the measuring and let him do the cutting. :)

Lessons Learned:

4x4x.25" plywood underlayment is great stuff.

When putting down underlayment make sure the manufactured/machine edge stays toward the finished edges and cut edges against the wall.

Mark Eubank is a weather God! :)

Taco Time actually had pretty good Mexican fast food and a nice salsa bar.

Friday, October 07, 2005


This morning I bought a couple of garbage cans to replace the ones we left at the garbage dump the last time we went. When I came back about 11 am, Crystal still wasn't out of bed. We had to laugh when she came outside with a blanket wrapped around her and flip-flops. She was sent back inside for shoes because we were planning on cleaning up my particle board mess.

It only took about 30 mins to load the stuff that took me about 2 days to rip up. Reminds me a bit of making a nice dinner and everyone scarfing it with a burp and leaving the table. Jeff and I left Crystal to remove the rest of the nails (I couldn't bear that horrible noise any more) and we went to the dump.

We picked up some Ripples on the way home and brought back a burger for Crystal. She decide that 2 hours was enough and left with her boyfriend. I hope this isn't a trend because she was a great worker until she got paid...I guess desperation is a good motivator. We used our little trim saw to make a straight edge at the edge of the carpet and it made a nice clean cut...but ran out of power quickly. We'll have to charge it up alot more.

This evening we met with the Youngs who wanted to know about our real estate experiences. They are in the process of selling their first home and building a new one. Mike has been reading about flipping/investing and wanted to know what to expect. We told them the good and bad of the many houses we've bought and sold through the years and then left to see the condo. Mike wanted to see the before and after.

I had a hard time showing someone the condo in the before stage. I think you start to second guess your decisions about what to change and what to keep. They are a fun couple and may try doing this flipping business and so will be watching our experience carefully.

Two garbage cans & wax rings
Returned kitchen faucet because of bargain table find

Lessons Learned:

Simple unskilled jobs go a lot faster with many hands involved

Beware showing the flip in the before stage. You'll get plenty of suggestions and may end up going over budget trying to make everyone happy.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I gave birth to 350 square feet of particle board

I want to kill the carpenter that decided it was a good idea to drive about 300 2" ring-shank nails through the old linoleum and underlayment (and into the joists apparently!) I was cursing him under my breath with each screech of the nail pried out will all my strength. Why he felt the need to seal (?) each linoleum seam with nails I'll never know...but as I was "birthing" the last 6 sq. ft., which took me about a half an hour, I felt as if I'd had a baby (without the splitting in half thing :)

I left a huge pile of particle board behind but I was too tired to move another inch. I blew it by overdoing it and I don't know if I'll be able to work tomorrow. Maybe Jeff and I can at least fill the truck up...again...but I don't know if I can pull more nails out.

I really wish Crystal had come today. She's taken the last 3 days off and I'm really feeling it. She told me she'd come tomorrow.

Lessons Learned:

Don't work past your "I don't know if I can go on" threshold. You'll pay for it the next day.

Don't use MDF/Particle board underlayment in bathrooms. It holds moisture & stink forever.

Ripples Drive-in has the best burgers/fries/lime squeezes in Utah County

I don't wanna!

I'm so freaking tired. I'm now two weeks into the project and it feels like 3 months. Yesterday was a bad day because I spent over 2 hours at Lowe's that should have been spent at the townhouse. By the time I picked up Adam and went up to the condo, all I could manage was unloading the stuff out of the truck.

Jeff and I had loaded the truck up for a dump run earlier so I guess the day wasn't a total waste. We did end up leaving 3 garbage cans behind. Nickle & Dime, baby. We called Sears Service Center and they had a refurbished 5.5" trim saw that came with a cordless drill for the price of the trim saw alone. Of course I saw foldable sawhorses on sale and had to have a couple. Someone please take away my debit card.

The Lowe's experience was awful. I tried to "do-it-myself" and was exhausted by the time I'd loaded the underlayment, laminate boxes, etc. on the carts. Then I had this sleazy employee (must have been a salesmen somewhere else in another life) come up and tell me "I can't believe you did that!" and I'm thinking that he's talking about loading 12 boxes of laminate myself. Then he proceeds to tell me that I shouldn't use the foam underlayment and that I had to buy Quiet Walk. I felt like decking him but I just told him my reasons and he sulked off. Grrrr.

Then when I'm dragging everything up to the register I notice that someone had loaded the underlayment with a machine and badly dinged the edge of almost every one of the boards. I finally asked a clerk to page me some help and we finally found enough good boards. I had to ask again for some help in loading the truck and the clerk finally had to come out because no one else responded.

I had a bad experience at the sprinkler suppy too. On the way to get a load for the dump we stopped for a one piece downspout extension. The 18 year old kid there gives me an 3" elbow. I say that I need the tubing to go with it and pay for 4 feet. He goes out and gets this 4" tubing that obviously doesn't fit. He told me "just put a screw in it"... Listen kid, I have an idea...why don't you....awww, never mind.

I'm hoping that today will be a better day. I've got to get the subfloor down so I can re-install the kitchen cabinets. I'm expecting a call from Dave's Construction any day now to measure for the counter tops and I'm worried that I'll get caught knee-deep in a pile of particle board.

5.5" Cordless Trim Saw with Drill $69
2 Foldable Saw Horses $40
Brushed Nickle Bath Faucet $22 (great find on clearance...normally $100)
Plywood Underlayment 16 @ $10 each
Laminate 12 cartons at $25 each (.97 sq. foot)
European Kitchen Faucet on clearance $81 (Need to return same one purchased at $138)
Lots of other stuff (Furring, Masonite, masks, saw blade, etc.)
Total Spent: about $800

Make the store employees help you so you're not so exhausted that you want to deck someone by the time you get to the register. Your time is worth something.

Call around. I found the trim saw at the local Sears Service Center and got a "free" drill for it. Same warranty that I would have gotten on the new one I was considering.

Be insistent. The first time I asked the employee about the nickle bath fixture he said that there wasn't a box for it and that it was as-is. 15 mins later (after another lady left) he found the rest of the parts on the table for me and made sure that he wrote "75% off" on it.

Immediately put the garbage cans back in the truck after you empty them...or at least where you're going to bump into them. Nickles and dimes add up.

Insist on what you want and don't settle. I knew there was a one-piece downspout product and should have walked out if he couldn't provide it. Saw it a few hours later at Lowe's only $2 more.