Thursday, February 16, 2006

Get A Guy In

We went to the enormous Home and Garden show in Denver last night -- you know the shows? Hundreds of booths selling everything from windows, kitchen cabinets, and hot tubs (lots of hot tubs) to homemade dips and magnetic bracelets. They're actually kind of fun, if you can get past some of the sheer cheeziness of the things for sale. And, they are a good source for contractors for painting and basement remodeling, which we are in the market for.

The house is only three years old, but the paint on the window sills and across the top of the garage is already starting to peel. A combination of the fact that we're about a mile from the blazing sun in the summertime and so incredibly dry all the time. It's also a sad consquence of having all-wood windows instead of those fiberglass or vinyl brands. One of the reasons we bought this house (the first reason was doors to the kitchen) was that it had real solid wood windows -- and the four-pane window style is actually four panes of glass with wood mullions, not just plastic inserts between the panes, or a grating over the top. But, wood windows need more care than vinyl-clad or other types of windows. So-- we're in the market for a painter who will scrape and paint everything on the house that's red or yellow. We don't want to change any of the colors, but we do need a "freshening up". It's definitely harder to catch up if we get behind on the schedule and have to paint everything all at once.

The other thing we're looking at is finishing out the basement with a theater. We don't really need more bedrooms (although a second guest bedroom would be nice, I think), but we want to put a real-live movie theater in the basement: velvet curtains and all. We like to watch movies, and it would be nice to do so on a really humungous screen. We have plenty of room downstairs (heck, we have plenty of room upstairs -- this house is way too big for just two people!) and it's dark -- perfect theater space. A bit short (only 8' ceilings), but it should hold a theater and a comfy couch very well. We're looking for a projector and on-wall screen.

We'll probably close in and insulate an area for a wine cellar as well. We have a few hundred bottles now, and they are mostly in metal racks against the concrete foundation walls. It stays cool enough (well, not quite cool enough, but it's consistently about 60 degrees) to be a good place to store wine, so we don't need anything fancy, just a smaller space that's better organized. When my nephew was here, he ventured into the basement, came upstairs and asked his mom,
"Why do they have a wine store in their basement?". We're not really that bad, but we do tend to accumulate wine by the case. We're trying to set aside some good reds for a few years and it would be nice to have a nice place for them.

So -- at the Home show, I signed us up for free estimates and got us put on every single mailing list for contractors in Denver. I'm sure I'll be getting dozens of calls over the next few weeks looking for my business. There are two companies that do only home theatre (one on the lower end, the other sky's-the-limit with a 22K video library system!) and about fifteen painters. We've been very lucky finding contractors to do the other jobs we need (landscaping, plumbing, electrical, even faux painting) so I hope to weed through all the contacts and find some reliable people.

We really did do most of this work ourselves in the previous house. There isn't anything in the basement that we can't actually do ourselves: I can wallboard, the Adorable Husband does electric and plumbing, I can do finish work and design. It's just that we never seem to have the time to finish jobs. We can start them well enough, but we run out of time before things are done, or we just can't commit to the many weeks it would take us to finish a project when we can hire someone to do it in two weeks. At some level, I feel a bit of guilt about this. I don't want to be one of those people who "has staff" to handle all of this stuff, but we have realized that there are simply things that we don't really enjoy doing, even though we enjoy the results -- Fr example, gardening. I really like managing the roses (pruning, shaping, etc), but the day-to-day weeding of a garden plot is not something I like to do, not even a little. I really like the results though: lovely, well-tended, colorful beds; healthy trees; new annuals in the spring. I just don't have a green-thumb. So we hired a garden service to come a few times a year and "clean up" the yard. We still manage the basic lawn care and the big stuff, but the spring-cleaning and winter prep are things we leave "our staff".

A lot of this new attitude towards household chores raised its head when we moved to the new house. We needed a fence fast to keep the dogs in, we had a limited time to get landscaping in, based on the HOA requirements, our builder neglected to put in even one overhead light or junction box upstairs and we wanted ceiling fans. Oh, we still painted and we prepped for the new countertops, but we are much more likely to hire someone to do these projects than we used to be. This seems odd to me. The Adorable Husband is Mr. Fixit: manages most of the minor projects around the house (putting in the living room speakers, removing the old countertops, changing out light fixtures and adding electrical service to the basement, that sort of thing. I really do feel that we should be doing these things ourselves. (Well, I felt the same way about cleaning the house, until the first time the cleaning people came. Then I was all, "Oh, yeah! Never clean again!") No guilt there!

Any suggestions on the details we should look for in quotes for either a) painting or b) basement refinishing are much appreciated. Is there something you really liked (like having outlets in certain places or adding in a specific feature) or hated? I'm used to dealing with old houses, where I want to change as little as possible. With a new house, anything goes!

No comments: