Dear Friends,

Today’s column is Part III of our kitchen renovation, tile work. Meet Ron Larry and the young man who works with Ron, Bill Bragg.

Ron is a licensed general contractor and has done much work for us since we purchased our home in 2005. He has done brick work, concrete work, and replaced siding on a newer section of the house (1964). Additionally, he completely restored, including picture frame molding, an upstairs area of the house previously remodeled. Or, as I refer to it, the “remuddle.” All this being said, you can clearly see why Ron was our man for the tile work.

Last fall, Ron met with us to discuss and understand exactly what we wanted to accomplish, to take measurements for calculating the amount of tile required for the job and to hear about my design for the area behind the cooktop. However, in the middle of the area where I planned the design was a strangely placed light switch. After discussion with Ron, he did not know if moving the switch was feasible until the old tile came out and he could see into the walls. Translated, my design hinged on that “lovely” light switch.

After removal of the old tiles, Ron determined the light switch could be moved. My design was feasible! Removal of the old tiles took about two days. At this point, additional switches and outlets were added and the strangely placed light switch was moved. Once this work was finished, the walls were made ready for the tile work by applying a skim coat to the walls. In an old house (1939), this requires skill and can be time consuming. More often than not, walls are not always smooth or level. With this work complete, stage I of the tile work was finished and the countertop was installed.

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Stage II of the tile work – the pretty goes up! This is where patience is required on the part of the home owner. Those lovely tiles and your design ideas do not just appear. Precise measuring, cutting and placement of the tiles takes hours. If you have a specific design, as I did, additional hours. When Ron began working on my design behind the cooktop, he actually made a template on a large piece of wood. From the template, he applied the tiles to their proper place on the wall. I selected a rope tile to frame the design. Ron made sure the twist on the ropes were all working in the identical direction. This level, of attention to detail, is what you need/want in your contractor. One who has regard for tiny details. The effort will show. And, my mantra about nearly everything has always been: “It is all in the details!”

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One main goal in writing about our renovation has been to give you names of local individuals who are meticulous about their work. And, even better, take pride in their work. I cannot stress enough, the importance of knowing the qualifications of those you hire to work in and on your home. Our renovation has been a good experience for us from the beginning. All due to the skill and reliability of the tradesmen we selected.

The final series, Stage IV – The Summary, will include names and phone numbers of all tradesmen, a gallery of photos to enable you to review specific details, and my personal experiences/suggestions regarding the importance of preparation by the homeowner to prevent delays for everyone involved.

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Stay with me! March 24 – Part IV,  The Summary.

Sandra