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No Mas Trabajo Aqui!

That’s what my tile guy heard earlier this week. As I mentioned on my last post, the Friday before he snuck off to another job and left his helper there to lay the bathroom floor. By the time I noticed this goofball had done such a crappy job I told him to pull it all up before the thinset dried. I called my guy and told him if he didn’t personally do the job that I would find someone else, I know this guy does excellent work but he’s bouncing around from job to job having helpers do most of the work now. As a general contractor (or homeowner acting as one) you constantly have to watch your subs, even if you know they’ve done great work before. Monday rolls around and who shows up? A different guy still. Of course I asked him where’s Elijio? Oh, he’s coming right now, he’ll be here in 10 minutes. By 1 pm he still wasn’t there so I told his worker “no mas trabajo aqui.” If I wanted to spend all day showing him how to lay it and looking over his shoulder I might as well do it myself, so that’s where I’m at. I got the hall bath floor re-laid after going and buying all new material with a cool ceramic hexagon/dot pattern in black and white. It’s really historic looking and since this bathroom is in the original part of the house and visable from the dining room I wanted to keep the feel. It’s grouted now so I’m ready to set the vanity and linen closet in there Monday when my cabinets arrive.

In the master bathroom I put down beach pebbles again but this time I found a better supplier. In the last house the rocks were different sizes and it felt odd on your feet, this time its way more consistent but you still get the spa therapy feel. I’ve started the white subway tile that will make up most of the tile job with the exception of a small amount of Carrera Marble for the accent liner in the shower and around the double-sided fireplace. I’m staying with all clean and sharp lines in the master bath, it’s going to be elegant and modern.

Lastly I re-tiled the fireplace hearth. We decided to go with a red to tie in with the dining room wall color and also match the historic stained glass windows above. They are 4″ ceramic, laying them was the easy part, first I had to demo all the old pieces and then float it out with mortar so I had a smooth surface for the new tile. The dark red looks killer, all I need to do now is install the oak transition pieces for a border before the hardwood floor guys start refinishing.

We are known for the attention to detail in our rehabs. Here’s a tip that a lot of flippers are blowing it on and its really inexpensive to correct. A long time ago we became conscious of the fixtures and finishes we were choosing for the rehabs, and how to use them correctly. Every house we do now we chose a finish for the hardware and keep it consistent throughout the whole house. Oil rubbed bronze (ORB) looks great with travertine and typical tan flip house colors. Brushed nickel looks clean and modern and goes with everything. Nobody uses gold, don’t even think of going here. Chrome is usually reserved for modern style homes. If you are going to use oil rubbed bronze for instance then make sure you buy ORB shower trims, ceiling fans, faucets, cabinet pulls, door knobs and hinges for your doors. Everything should match. Sounds basic right? You would be amazed at how many flips I’ve walked through that have gold door hinges, brushed nickel door knobs (yes, on the same frickin door!) and then ORB ceiling fans. This is a total rookie move and will cheapen the look of your rehab, I’m just sayin’ with a little planning and about $100 bucks for replacement door hinges you can bring a way better product to market and see the results at closing. All prehung doors at Home Depot and Lowe’s come with gold hinges, not sure why. What’s happening is that investors who are not contractors themselves and just hire out all their work, don’t have the eye for detail so they don’t get changed out. We don’t buy our prehung doors at the big box stores anyway and actually get to chose the hinge finish they come with, so before painting I usually put “dummies” on and then switch them back after everything is done. I keep this box of paint covered dummies and reuse them on every house. Additionally, I don’t care how good you are at taping, there’s no better look than crisp new hinges and knobs with no over-spray or drips on them. A lot of new home builders are actually spraying over the gold hinges when they paint their trims, this is a big no-no also as the paint will surely scratch off eventually. Take a bit of advice from me please, change out your hinges guys and reap the rewards!

For this house we chose chrome door hinges with brushed nickel door knobs. All the faucets, cabinets pulls etc will also be chrome, this is the only instance when you should mix two finishes in a house unless you are doing a “theme” room as we’ve also done in the past.

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  1. 8 Comment(s)

  2. By Bilgefisher on Aug 30, 2010 | Reply


    Great tip. I will bring that up with the GC today as I try to work out final numbers with him.


  3. By Tom on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks Jason. It’s really inexpensive to go through and replace all the interior door knobs and hinges. It really makes a huge difference, you don’t have to be doing a full gut rehab to take advantage of this idea. and…good luck with your project!

  4. By Luis on Sep 5, 2010 | Reply

    Tom, I am glad you mention about keeping the finish color constant throughout a rehab. That was something that I picked up from the GC with whom I did my first flip and have kept on doing it since.

    In the last house I did I felt a bit silly for spending $300 in brushed nickel door knobs and hinges because the house had all bronze knobs/hinges but in the end it made a difference when the doors are shiny white, the walls a light tan and then the brushed nickel hinges really look sharp.

    Attention to detail is easy to say but hard to do. Sometimes I get caught up in the detail as the perfectionist I am and I am sure many buyers don’t even notice some of the things I went out of my way to make happen. But it really comes down to an integrity issue, probably from my military days, that I only know one way to do work and I do it that way even when no one is looking or noticing.

    Glad to see you do the same.

  5. By Tom on Sep 5, 2010 | Reply

    You are so right Luis, its like the house looks so fresh and you cant put your finger on why. I also do it out of pride in craftsmanship but its disheartening to know some buyers will walk through and not appreciate it.. at the end of the day if I’m competing for a small pool of buyers out there, I know my house will sell first. I see you are on house #5, that’s great Luis. I am glad its going well for you and I’m going to add a link to your site on my blogroll. Thanks for the comments!

  6. By Luis on Sep 6, 2010 | Reply

    Tom, thanks so much for adding me to the blogroll, it means a lot!

    Actually I am about to get started with House #6 and it has in great part been due to seeing what you are doing here. It’s been tough to become a full time investor and this market is making it hard but after every setback I find encouragement to keep on going. Plus, there is nothing like seeing your work documented on the internet to keep you going.

    It truly is satisfying turning an ugly house into something I am proud off. So please keep up what you are doing because it is very helpful.



  7. By tsanko on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Wonderful ..thanks a lot for posting a good informitive blog

  8. By David on May 29, 2011 | Reply

    The tile is nice – but the grouting and installation really adds to the splendor.

  9. By Tom on May 30, 2011 | Reply

    @David, you’re right. The install is so important. I fired 2 guys on this house and wound up doing it myself although I am pretty picky. Nice website BTW, see you have some great Carerra marble subway tile and hex for the floors.

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