Thursday, February 28, 2013

Is it Spring Yet?

I am having some serious seasonal issues. I need it to be Spring NOW. I'm not seasonally depressed as of late, but I'm just itching to spend some time outside and to see pretty colors again.

Because of this, I want to share the porch redo I did for my mom a couple years ago. It was one of the first times that I went full on room redo in less than 24 hours and it was all with the help of World Market.

My parents own a 4x4 farm house in the suburbs of Chicago (probably instilling my love of old houses) and it has this awesome screened in porch in the front. Sadly, even though it should get lots of use, it often turns into the room of doom for them, throwing random things out there that they don't want to deal with yet. I went home to visit that summer and immediately 'roid raged on the porch.

This time there was tons of furniture and crap that they'd cleaned out of the attic that they weren't sure what to do with yet.



Oh, and not to mention the inch or so of dirt and dust that had settled on the floor.

If I'd been home longer than the weekend I would have repainted the cement, but that wasn't in the cards for such a short visit so I got in there with a bucket of soap and the hose at full power to try and clean it out.

All of the furniture they had no use for got lugged down to the curb (and were instantly taken since they live on a busy through street) and all the furniture that was staying got washed and a facelift.

To hide some of the damage on the floor we added an awesome plastic outdoor rug from World Market and infused lots of colors.


See that little blue table? That was actually used through all four of us kids and now my nieces and nephew play at it. Not too shabby for a 30 year old Fischer Price table, eh?


I shoved the old fridge back in the corner to be taken by the electric company. If you have old appliances, call your electric company- they often offer incentives to turn in old appliances. I think my parents got paid $30 to turn in the old fridge and the company came and did all the hard work.

We also freshened up the eating area where as a family we'd eat all of our summer meals.


I remember the thing that made us laugh when we did this makeover was the fact that my mom's 40 year old avocado plastic blinds were suddenly "cool" again. She said all that procrastination actually got to be relabeled as a "vintage find".

I can't wait until spring again. I need some sunshine and a reason to be outside. Is anyone else feeling that way lately?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bathroom Reveal!

We last left the upstairs bathroom in a creepy asylum like state of wallpaper paste and gouges- it was quite spooky. I've frankly been ignoring it until this past weekend when I could finish it up.


This project was a basic lipstick job. We will eventually rip the walls down, redrywall and put down new flooring (while keeping a clawfoot in there- that'll be fun...) So we wanted to work with what we had.

Originally we were going to paint the bead board to...ya know, obvious white, but I refuse to paint my wood work and we thought it'd look silly having painted bead board and then wood trim. We decided that the stained bead board wasn't the problem, but that we needed to just embrace it. With the right accessories it could be quite charming, and by removing the peachy wallpaper it would bring down the yellow factor a lot!

May I present a before and after for you :)


I am completely in love with how cool and open it is. The light colors make it seem much bigger than it is. The best thing about this makeover is from start to finish, we spent less than $50.

What made this so affordable? Well, partly because we used what we had!

I was sorting through my pinterest boards to break up my "home ideas" board into seperate boards "living room", "dining room"...etc.

I came across this pin that I had loved from our first apartment. I'd already bought the shower curtain before I pinned it, so I thought it would be an easy design to replicate- but it was in a bucket that hadn't been opened in over a year. I'd completely forgotten about it!

Source
When I found the pin again it was like a "you coulda had a v8!" moment. I was like, oh duh! That would totally lighten up the space! Since we had one in storage, but we needed two to get around the clawfoot, I was really, really hoping that Target still had the shower curtain.

Luckily they did! Though, in true sneaky Target fashion, what was once a generic Target curtain that I scored for $10 is now a "Threshold" curtain for $20. Boo! But, being the hoarder that I am, I had some curtains to return and got it for $10.

We color matched the light blue in the birds for the paint colors, but it ended up being a color that already existed. It's Tidal Pool by Behr.






It certainly dried more blue than the online color splotch, but I still love how cool and light it is. It almost looked white on the can. We spent $18 for the quart of paint and primer and a quart of Kilz (hint! Get your Kilz at Wal-Mart! Way cheaper)

We also already had the over the toilet thing and boxes from our first apartment. Again, a benefit of hoarding, it hasn't been hung up for about 3 years but it's back! I think I originally got that at Target as well though. I liked it because it wasn't as wide as a lot of over the toilet things. We also already had the brown towels from when we used this shower curtain the first time. We stole the fluffy white bathmat from the downstairs bath too since we had two mats down there and this one was getting too dirty being on the main floor (guys wearing boots to go to the bathroom and whatnot)

Wanna look at it again?


Here is a closer look at what is over the toilet: this has solved the "where do I put my tampons and hair dryer" crisis as this bathroom had ZERO storage.


And here's the sink area. My wonderful Nate hung it three inches lower so I can actually see my whole face in it now.


We already bought a new light fixture on clearance for $10 at World Market, but it's black and it's way too cold to spray paint right now. When the budget allows we will also buy a new bigger medicine cabinet with more mirror to bounce around light and we'll replace all the basic pine hardware (towel racks and things like that).

I think the biggest difference made was painting the ceiling white instead of having the wall paper on it! This mini makeover served all of our immediate "WHY IS THIS SO UGLY" needs. I keep smiling when I walk by.

What did you guys do this weekend?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Original Kitchen

The original kitchen in this house was where our current family room is.  Anything past that back wall was an addition (the bathroom, kitchen, garage and mudroom) so we're not entirely sure when the new kitchen was put on. My guess is sometimes in the 50's due to the only piece of the kitchen that is "original".

You all have seen the business side of the kitchen before...



But someone pointed out that they've never seen the other side of it.

You can kind of see the layout from this picture in the dining room- we have a U-shaped kitchen with a cleaning closet and the original floor to ceiling hutch on the other side.


For a better peak at the original hutch, let's go inside.


We love how they integrated it with the kitchen remodel, by adding in the tile backsplash underneath as well as painting it white. There are only a couple issues we have with it.

1.) The hardware is the old country style and doesn't match the brushed nickle in the rest of the kitchen. An easy fix, but one that will need to be done, none the less. (as you can tell by the one drawer handle hanging on by a thread)

2.) Since the door to the backyard is to the right of the waterbowl of doom, the bottom of this gets SO DIRTY.  I've already spent a lot of time on my hands and knees scrubbing mud off of it because it shows so much against the white.

We've been throwing a few ideas around, from repainting a fresh coat of white, then adding a coat of poly over it to make it easier to wash, to potentially painting the bottom half of the hutch a different color. Since it's already been painted and isn't the original wood, I don't feel bad about the idea of a repaint.

Since the kitchen is Blue, Green and white (which was super lucky for us because all of our kitchen accessories were already green!) and the walls are a perfect color matched blue, I am thinking the moody looking green might be a fun pop of color to this side of the room.

If people paint their islands a different color than their cabinets, why can't I do my hutch?

Of course, any changes done to this will have to be in the spring/summer. This room is incredibly drafty because of the two doors, large windows, and that it isn't on the houses' original foundation. It's about 20 degrees colder than the rest of the house at any given point (or 20 degrees hotter...) so I am fairly positive any painting done in there over the winter would chip and peel crazy style.

We've also been lucky that with buying the house so cheap that the kitchen was adorable and already our style. The only thing we've had to do is fill her up and change the curtains.


There were previously little 6 inch valances. I do not like six inch valances. ESPECIALLY in a drafty room. You need that curtain to block out the cold!

We already had these adorable white and green burnout curtains from World Market from our bedroom in our town house. We simply hemmed them off for the window over the sink, and then I used the remaining material on the garage door.


Though because the curtains are burnout to let the light in, in the garage you could see all of our garage crap. It was an easy enough fix, I just hung a double curtain rod and quickly sewed a blue curtain for the back out of a bed sheet we had.

Other than the hutch, and the back door (I'd love to get one with a window so I could see the back yard...but that's a want more than anything, so it can wait) we have no intention of changing anything in the kitchen at this time. It's beautiful and so our style.

Oh, other than the floors. The day I can get rid of that grout I will be a happy girl.

Grout and three dogs do not mix well.

Do you guys love your kitchens? Hate them? What's your favorite thing and biggest pet peeve about the one in your home? Have you lived somewhere else that you liked the kitchen better?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Couple Changes

We did a few changes in the house over the last few days that we thought we'd share.

First things first, we changed the mantle over to St. Patrick's Day.


Our lovely little Seamus (Someone pronounced it Sea-Moose the other day, it's Shea-Mus, ye ol' Irish like) was born on Saint Patrick's Day (how fitting, an Irish mut born on an Irish holiday) so we wrote a Happy Birthday sign for him on some construction paper.



We then added a $1 target wreath and a "Lucky" banner that my mom cut out on her Cricut for us. I don't think it's perfect yet, but it will certainly do the trick.

We also have moved the old dining room piece into the hallway to fill the space while we wait for it to sell on Craigslist.


It's really small for the hallway, but it's a nice placeholder for us to plop our keys on until it sells.


We're still on the hunt for a hutch or something, but it may be placed on hold for awhile due to our new budget plan- we'll see.

What has everyone else been up to?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

May the Dog People be Appeased.

Here's what's rocking in Big Blue today, ya crazy dog lovin' kids.


The Downside of Fixing the Roof

Well, after officially signing with a company (and still being pissed at the other one) we are going to be on our way to getting our new roof, gutters and the 3 windows at the front of the house (they're original and SOOOO drafty) We're hoping that this process will up our curb appeal and the efficiency of the house. It will also help when the damn thing doesn't fall in on us.

Sadly, this means financing.

Nate and I do not like to finance. Until yesterday, all we had was one car payment. Every single project we have done on this house we have paid cash for.

Sadly, we don't have $14,000 hanging around. (Ouch, my soul hurts just looking at that number)

So, we are going to be cutting back a little bit on the DIYing around here. If we have a $300 a month payment to make on the roof, that is $300 less I can be putting in the house every month. We will totally be fine financially, but it will take more planning and persistence.

Never fear though, we are still going to be doing things, and we have TONS of plans for these next few months.

So what does this mean?

This means I will be downgrading from 5 projects a week to 2-3 projects a week. There will be much more sewing, or free projects, and we'll probably venture into some lifestyle changes. The biggest challenge for Nate and I is going to be that we can not eat out- which we are used to doing WAYYYYY more than we should. I don't know how we got in the habit, but we did and now it's going to be a tough one to break.

I'm hoping that every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday I will have posts that make people ooohhh and ahhh, then Tuesdays and Fridays will be more flexible, if I post, it may be a text post, like the dating post, or it may be jewelry or mood boards.

Basically, please don't break up with me because I have to put a roof on my house. This blog has kind of become my sanity in all this chaos, but I wanted to make everyone aware that if I don't post, it's because I'm curled up in a ball eating my 5th package of Ramen for the day.

What do you guys do when these scary payments rear their ugly heads?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Removing Wallpaper with Safe & Simple

First things first, congratulations to Erin Dammen  who won last week's PleasanTrees giveaway! Erin, I've sent you an e-mail to get your address, so look out for that!

Now, onto the whole...house thing.

This weekend we decided to tackle removing the wallpaper from our upstairs bath. While it was in pretty good shape, it was very dated and the colors in it made the room very pink and dark. It wasn't working for me.


I honestly don't remember which blog I read about Safe & Simple on. But, I decided to use it because it was non toxic, non fumy, and if somehow the dogs got it on their paws it wouldn't poison them. But then after all that, I may or may not have bought the bottle about 6 months ago and hid it away because removing wallpaper seemed really intimidating to me. Before I forget, I purchased mine here and it was very affordable for how concentrated it is.

I heard a lot of horror stories about removing wallpaper in old houses all the way to my friend's mom's horror story, "I steamed the wallpaper and the whole plaster wall crumbled down and we had to re-drywall!" I was horrified. But, since we are amazingly short on cash this week, I decided to suck it up and do it.


The wallpaper in the bathroom was not peeling without a fight, as it states on the bottle that you should remove as much of the top layer as possible before applying the solution.

Which literally, in a squirt bottle, I put a small squirt in it and then filled it up with water.

Sadly, nothing was coming up, and I was lucky to get a 1 inch piece off. I tried running a DIF tiger over it (you know, that round thing with the razors in it that cut small holes in the paper) and tried squirting the solution into the cuts, but it didn't work. We later found that when we DIDN'T cut it up, it worked out much better.

Once we were able to get a little corner up, we would soak the shit out of it with the solution, get a putty knife under it, and get it up just enough that we could grab it with our fingers and slowly pull it like a sunburn.

I worked on this room alone for about 4 hours, then Nate came in and kicked my ass. We decided this is because I am a picker while he is a peeler. If Nate has a sunburn he can NOT leave it alone. Whereas if I have a scab or a zit or something, I have to kill it.

Wallpaper was not a good chore for me.

I am also telling ya, that you haven't lived until you've seen my husband balancing on a clawfoot trying to get wallpaper down (even on the ceiling).

Don't believe me?


Once you get the top layer off, just soak the paper, wait a few minutes and it comes of like butter. It was really easy once the stupid top layer was off.


We did discover the shocking joy that it was plywood under the wallpaper. I'm assuming there's plaster behind it, but it does mean that there's no need to skim coat since we couldn't gouge anything. We'll do a coat or two of primer and then paint it, and put it on our list of rooms that need to be redrywalled when we get to that point on the house.

Now we're just stuck cleaning up all the gunk.


We swept up and cleaned, but I'm pretty sure the reason this stuff works so well is that it reactivates the glue which then...sticks to your floor when you're not paying attention.

What did you guys all get done this weekend?

Friday, February 15, 2013

PleasanTrees Giveaway!

Hello my lovelies! I hope you all had a swoontastic Valentine's day. I thought we should spread the love for a couple days more, so I'm doing a giveaway!


I have been the owner/operator at PleasanTrees Jewelers since 2010 and have been wreaking havoc on the jewelry world since 2000 when I realized I could make jewelry into anything I wanted it to be. I design and assemble one of a kind pieces- meaning no two pieces of jewelry are the same. If one of my beaded necklaces is purchased the owner can be sure that they will never see the same necklace again. The only item I will do repeats of are scarflaces (scarf necklaces) and earrings (unless special ordered to have duplicates made for bridesmaids, etc)

One of my most popular products are these awesome Owl Earrings.


How cute are they?! Well, today they can be yours for F-R-E-E.

Use the Rafflecopter to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
That's it! The winner will be announced on Monday's post. Don't use rafflecopter? Leave a comment on this post and I'll enter you manually.

If you'd like an additional chance to win, or you've been eyeing some goodies for awhile, head on over to the Etsy Shop and make a purchase using coupon code BEMINE for 15% off your order! Every purchase will be entered into a raffle to win a pair of owl earrings (buy two necklaces, get two entries, etc.).

Got it? Like us, or Buy us and win!

Entries go from Now until Sunday at 11:59.  Happy Shopping and have a phenomenal weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dorky Dates

1.) Go see Die Hard.
2.) Go see Die Hard.
3.) Go see Die Hard. 
4.) Go see Die Hard.
5.) Go see Die Hard.

I'm totally not kidding

Here are some ideas that are fun little date nights with your honey to get you feeling dorky, young, and in love again. Dear Mom & Dad, please skip this post? :)



1.) Go see Die Hard a movie at an adult theater. 

There was a theater just opened up in our area that is 18+ and instead of movie chairs has leather recliners. They also have a full restaurant and bar so you can lounge and get boozed up all while watching a movie! (Other favorite thing, they play indie shorts instead of those stupid trivia things before the show starts) If you have one of these in your area, I strongly suggest you go! I swear when they bring you a beer without carding you you'll feel like you're 16 again.

2.) Marathon Night.

This is becoming a weekend tradition of ours. Between Netflix and Hulu, we almost always forget about the DVDs we actually own! We pick a strange category, pop a lot of popcorn (with cut up fudge in it for extra pizazz), and curl up for a marathon night. Stumped on some weird categories? Here's some that we've had in the last month or so.

    • 90's Shakespeare Night
      • 10 Things I Hate About You
      • Leonardo Dicaprio version of Romeo and Juliet
      • She's All That 
    •  Satirical Badasses
      • Zombieland
      • KickAss
      • Shawn of the Dead
      • The Losers
    •  Not From Earth, but Awesome
      • Star Wars
      • Star Trek
      • Firefly
      • Serenity
Then of course there's the normal, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Avengers Night, Batman Night, Etc. 

3.) After Dark Sledding

Don't knock it till you try it. Nothing gets you feeling like a highschooler like trespassing on city land after dark to deprive yourself of one of your senses and fly down a hill. Come home, whip up some peppermint schnapps hot chocolate and sit by the fire to warm each other up.

4.) Uno Night.

You'll be amazed how frustrating Uno is with two people. In fact, if Nate and I get in an argument, it is best solved over a heated game of Uno. When things get too intense, switch to Jenga for a round or two. For extra rowdiness, turn it into a drinking game.

5.) Naked Night.

You. Your Boo. No clothes. All Night. See what happens. What? Totally Dorky.

(I'm not saying this was ever done at our house, but if it was, we would no longer do it because a certain scruff may have thought it was fun to get involved in these things and would have taken all the fun out of it. Hypothetically.)

6.) Laser Tag Lock In.

Our Laser Tag place actually has lock ins, where for about $35 a couple they'll lock us into the shop all night with free pizza, unlimited laser tag and arcade games and black light mini golf. It's super super fun, and because it's a lock-in, you're not jumping over Cub Scouts to shoot someone. You may not get time for the hanky panky (or you might...) but when you have this much fun you fall in love all over again!

7.) Nerf Fight

Especially having a two story house, Nerf Night can get ferocious. We each get equipped with several guns, and extra ammunition, as well as a few other toys (Thor hammer, Captain America's sheild, etc.) We then have the whole house to attack each other. Only rule? Every time you get hit you lose an article of clothing (or take a shot if you're playing with friends, shots for shots!) and you're only allowed to hide for a maximum of 2 minutes (no waiting 15 minutes for someone to walk by) Run out of bullets? You're going to have to buy them back


8.) Old School Game Night

You think your week of stress won't be washed away by Mario Cart? Honestly? You can download the old school games to your XBOX, or if you're feeling really old school, hit up an old game trading place- they usually have old systems for Cheap! (just remember you need a boob tube to play- but you can usually score one for free of Craigslist!)

9.) Fort Night

Build yourselves a freaking fort like you would when you were kids and lay in there and read books (comic related or not) all night. It's fun and surprisingly relaxing . We've even gone so far as to put up a tent in the living room. Never hurts to air the thing out right?

10.) Pizza Night

Make a pizza from scratch together. Something about being in the kitchen with Nate makes us feel like we're "playing house" sometimes.

BONUS: 

I don't know how I forgot this, but Arcade Night! There's a grown up arcade by the college called Pin Ball Pete's. We love to go and kick each other's ass at Skiball. I know Dave and Buster's is a good one too! Afterwords, we cross the street and get Coldstone and round the night off by going to the hookah bar and enjoying a mint and milk hookah. 

What are your favorite Date Nights? Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What We Learned this Weekend (AKA The Longest Post Yet)

Be Warned: This is a longggg wordy post. But, there's lots of valid information that we found out that I wanted to share. This post will be why we went with the company we did. A later post will entail more about the products we went with and the company that is doing the work. Also, remember that we are first time home buyers. This isn't a definitive guide about how to pick a roof company especially since this is our first time doing it- this is just what we learned and experienced.



As I mentioned on Monday, we spent the weekend speaking with many different roofing companies. We'll call the top three Big, Local and Specialty, as I don't feel the need to smear anyone's reputation (though they deserve it) and I am not going to give a full review on a company until the project is complete.

Before going into this weekend, Nate and I had pretty much decided we were going to go with the Specialty company that focused on Metal Roofs. If you've never done research on Aluminum roofs, I highly recommend it. They're great for older houses, they lower energy bills and you never have to replace you roof. EVER.

We knew it was going to be more expensive going into it as you're paying for 200+ years of a roof up front. We really enjoyed speaking to that representative. He was honest, told us what would and would not work for our house, what the best value for our neighborhood was, and got it down to a price where if Nate passed a certification course, he could install our roof himself and be in our price range.  The scary thing is, we have a 12/12 pitch at the top of our house. In other words DANGEROUS for inexperienced people to be up there. It is very steap, and a very weak roof, so letting Nate go up there and spend 2 months putting a metal roof on himself was kind of daunting. So we actually started leaning towards maybe no.

Because both of our parents were confused about the whole "metal roof thing" we decided to get an asphalt quote for comparison. We called two companies; a local company, in our neighborhood that has been providing neighborhood jobs for the last 40 years, and a big corporate company that promises to beat anyone's prices.

After meeting with the Local Company's owner we had a really good rapport. He was honest, very thorough in discussing what he thought was best for our neighborhood and for our house (not pricing us out of the neighborhood but still keeping others motivated to do their homes as well) and after doing a free inspection on our house told us the big news: our roof still has the original 110 year old cedar shakes attached.

DA HELL.

We knew our roof was bad when we bought the house, which is why we got it for so cheap- No one could get a regular mortgage on our home because the roof didn't pass state inspection and there was no owner to replace it.

I mean, I knew it was bad. But...110 years old bad?

We asked him what the top layer's age was, and he said the type of shingle on our roof hasn't been manufactured in over 30 years. He said there's also about 6 inches of roofing material up there ranging between 30 and 110 years old.

An example of T joint shingles, or what we have on our home currently. Source
Jeeze louise.

We really enjoyed talking to the Local company and they gave us a very reasonable price. He made us feel comfortable with the agreement we came to, and he even made us feel good about not going with the expensive Specialty roof. But, being first time home buyers, we wanted to see if the Big company would match or even beat the local company.

This is where I will say, I am all for staying local. I try and shop local as much as I can, but I wanted to compare prices to see if I could save several thousand dollars.

The immediate difference I saw between the Big Company and the others we met with was appearance. The Specialty and Local company showed up in work attire- which I expected. I'm sorry, but if you're a contractor, I expect a gruff looking guy doing the whole "dirty guy trying to look nice" thing. You know what I mean, Polos under Carhardts. The Big company's salesperson was young and I mean really young. He also toted into the house with 15 bags of crap and after sitting at the table immediately whipped out his iphone and ipad for a "presentation" he also mentioned that they had scanned our house via satellite so he didn't need to take any measurements or do an inspection.

Anyone else REALLY freaked out by that?

He said that after we reached an agreement that someone would come out for a formal measuring and inspection.


Red flag #1: How are you supposed to know what is wrong with my house if you don't climb up there and look?

But, we carried on with the "presentation" to see what the company had to offer.


Red flag #2: The bells and whistles. He was obviously there selling us something, whereas the contractors we spoke to were passionate about their work, they knew that to recommend for our home and they weren't selling "prepackaged" deals.

After about an hour or so of bullshit "touch this" and "try to rip this" he gave us his price.

It was almost double the Local company.

I sat there flabbergasted for a moment. When it comes to stuff like this, I am the negotiator- Nate feels bad for people spending so much time with us, whereas I will sit you there and squeeze every last fucking financed penny out of your ass.

I guess you could say I'm kind of a brutal negotiator.

But at the end of the day, I got the guy talked down $6,000 and we were getting a "better" product and warranty than the local company was offering. I felt really really good about it. I figured I'd forgive the pony show.

We had 3 business days to change our mind with no penalty so we shook his hand to reserve our price and sent him on his way.

Then all weekend, I had that horrible sinking feeling. You know, the one that makes you feel like this?


The deal with struck with the Big company seemed too good to be true, not to mention, why were the originally okay to screw me over on price, only to come down when they knew I had another company out? I started talking to people , looking at reviews online and generally feeding my own paranoia.

I didn't like what I found.

  • A long history of people getting screwed with interest rates and financing (not relevant to us, but nevertheless it speaks for the company)
  • Over 70 negative responses on the better business bureau (do you know how hard it is to get one of those published?!)
  • a long history of subcontractors (which means a lack of quality control)
  • high employee turnover (roofing is not these people's careers. It's something they're doing for the year and they'll eventually move on to another sale's job)
  • marketing pyramid (once you sign your contract, you never see your sales rep again)
  • Fun stories like project managers getting arrested for working while under the influence
The whole thing was sounding fishier and fishier to me. Then the local company called me back to ask me how I was feeling about everything, I told him that we'd decided to go with the other company. He asked me why.

My first reaction was "oh god, he's going to talk me out of it to go with him, blah blah blah"


We spoke for over 45 minutes on the phone. Then after preparing a few more quotes for us to compare apples to apples with the Big company, he personally dropped them off at my house.  Then we spoke for over an hour about everything. We talked fireplaces to bathrooms to plans for the house, what his company has done for the neighborhood- everything. It was really really nice speaking to him.

He also told me that while he didn't want to trash other companies, he would be happy to give me the name of a company he felt comfortable with me working with. It wasn't so much that I wasn't going with him, more that I was going with the company that I'd chosen.

I appreciated his honesty. I appreciated the fact that I'd tried to get a hold of the Big Company six times that day and no one had even returned my calls, yet the owner of this company was willing to come sit on my couch, scratch my dogs and tell me exactly step by step what was going to happen, when it was going to happen, and what to expect.

Needless to say I called and tried to cancel my contract with the Big company.


After trying to get through 3 more times, I finally spoke to someone.

They were rude, condescending and said that it was a "waste of time" to come to my home to speak with me again (I had additional questions- I wanted to give them a chance to explain what I found) and what pissed me off the most? The sales rep didn't remember who I was or what I ordered. 

Listen, I can understand not understanding a name or the exact specifications that I ordered. But if I agreed to give you a substantial amount of money then remind you "Oh, I'm Emma in Lansing, we met on Saturday for a couple hours" you should remember something about me or enough to pretend that you do to make me feel better as a consumer.

After being so rude to me on the phone to the point I basically hung up on him and wrote an email to the company stating what had happened and they damn well better not cash my check, Nate and I had a talk about everything we learned this weekend.

  • You need to find someone who cares about you, your home, and your family. 
    • If someone is going to be working on your home, especially when you're gone, doesn't it make you feel better to know they know you and they know what you need done? I have three dogs- please clean up every night. A company that subcontracts out is sending a crew you've never seen before to your house- they aren't going to know you have specific needs.
  • You need to find a company that is invested in your neighborhood.
    • These huge companies have no idea what is best for your neighborhood. They are going to oversell you products that can easily price you out of the neighborhood because they know nothing about the area they are in.
  • You need to find a company where you know exactly where to go if an issue arises.
    • In the amount of time I spent TRYING to get a hold of someone who knew who the hell I was, the owner of another company was already at my house ready to speak to me face to face. If shit hits the fan, I know I can go straight to the top.
  • Warranties are pieces of shit.
    • More companies we met with were trying to sell the warranty on their roof more than the actual roof itself. In hindsight, this means they're protecting themselves from the fact that they know something isn't going to be done properly. It is more important to know exactly what's going on there and who is doing it than what that piece of paper says
  • You need a roofer- Not a company. 
    • Yes, your roofer needs to have insurance and safety equipment, etc. just like a big company, but a company that is set out to have "the latest and greatest products" may not be the best product for your home. Some of these big companies have prepackaged deals that someone is taught how to sell. I'm sorry, my house is 110 years old- she doesn't fit in your "standard package"
  • You need to trust your gut.
    • I knew the minute that guy walked out the door that something was wrong. Did I listen to it? No. Trust your gut.
  • Don't finance with these big companies!
    • I hope this is an obvious one for everyone. By telling the Big Company guy that we had our own financing in place, he all of a sudden was able to "find" $4000 to take off- even though his company was supposed to have free interest. They don't. They just build it in up front at an AMAZING rate.
  • If you find a good company, Go Local. Ask questions about what they do to help the neighborhood.
    • Our neighborhood is currently up for Lansing's Urban Revitalization grant. The city is trying to bring our neighborhood back to it's former glory. If we'd gone with the big company, our money would have gone out to a CEO's boat. By going with Local, they told us every employee has health benefits, no one makes minimum wage, they only use local companies to get their materials and they never give a job to subcontractors. Our money is staying in our neighborhood and helping people that directly influence our way of life. I certainly would prefer to see that money help the lumberyard down the road than one somewhere  else. 

I'm sorry this was like the longest post ever. But as you can see, we learned a lot about ourselves and the people we are willing to spend money with. As a DIYer, it is really odd to discuss money with someone who's name isn't on the bank account.

What suggestions do you guys have for people looking for a bid on something like this?  

Please do not name companies if you're saying something negative. This is an exercise in us sharing information, any direct company bashing won't be published.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

PleasanTrees 2-11-13

Around this time of year, I like to add something into my life, this year I am going to make myself sit down and make some freaking jewelry. It is far too easy not to, but it is the most relaxing thing I can do when I get stressed out. I wanted to share what I made with you last night!

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What did everyone do last night?