Hicks House

From Builder Basic to Beautiful


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Builder Befuddlement

As with any home purchase there are always things that come with the house that need to be fixed.  With new construction the general expectation is that since the house is brand new and no one has lived there yet, the home should be in pristine condition.  That was surely our expectation – however that is not the case.

There were several issues we found when we did our final walk-through with the builder the day before we closed.  Since the home came with a one year warranty we figured these issues would be addressed.  It’s now been almost a year and with the warmer weather the builder and his contractors have been starting to rectify some of the problems.

One of the most annoying issues to me was caused when they replaced the laminate countertops with the granite ones. The laminate was much thicker than the granite and they had CUT the piece of cabinetry that surrounds the fridge in order to shove the counters in. Well when they put in the new slimmer counters this left the exposed divot.

Hicks House | Builder Befuddlement

See that? that is raw wood. Here is another angle.

Hicks House | Builder Befuddlement

Arggg it made me so angry! Granted it was by far not the worst thing wrong with the house or the most expensive to fix, but it was the most obvious. To add to the frustration when they cut this lovely notch they cut ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE FLOOR. So there is also raw wood showing in the toe kick area.

Hicks House | Builder Befuddlement

You’re getting angry not too aren’t you? Is there no pride in the craft anymore? Who does this?!

We were finally able to convince the builder to order a new frame piece. As luck would have it, before it came in we were notified that the cabinet company was going out of business awesome. Luckily the piece came in before they completely close up shop (along with a bathroom vanity that was also broken – although they sent the wrong one… so that’s another story) and the contractors came to put it in. They had to pull out the fridge in order to get to and remove the panel.

Hicks House | Builder Befuddlement

At this point I went to check on the plumber that was working upstairs (it was a busy day). When I came down to check on the contractors in the garage I noticed they had the panel all marked up and were about to cut.

Me: WAIT! What are you doing!

Contractor: We have to cut the panel to fit around the countertop and cabinets.

Me: Ok… but why would you be cutting it ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM AGAIN? That was one of the issues we had with the old panel and the cabinet company is going out of business so we cannot get another one. It needs to be cut to fit just around the cabinet not all the way to the floor.

Contractor: Yeah, I guess I can do that…

OMG. Kill me know.

So he re-measured to cut just a notch around the cabinets leaving the nice finished wood at the bottom. Then started cutting with a Dremmel. Oh no, that’s not a typo, a Dremmel for a cut 42 inches long that is supposed to be straight. Ken, the tool aficionado informed me this should have been done with a skilsaw.

Hicks House | Builder Befuddlement

You can slap your palm to your head now. This is how they “kept it still”. After all that skilled work I guess its no real surprise that it didn’t really fit.

Hicks House | Builder Befuddlement

It definitely looks better than before but now its a total crumb catcher.

Hicks House | Builder Befuddlement

I’m hopeful that this can be addressed with a little clear silicon so that stuff can’t get caught in there and it will blend in more. (They of course didn’t do this).

However, in the meantime at least I don’t seethe with rage whenever I go to the fridge or make coffee. Here’s a side by side.

Hicks House | Builder Befuddlement

So what do you think, have you had any warranty issues with a new build or had work done and were unhappy with the results? I’d love to hear about it.

Hicks House

 

 

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Organized by Rev a Shelf

Before we bought our house, even before we started thinking and looking for a house we would often find ourselves in the kitchen organization aisle at the home improvement stores.  You know the ones, they have every gadget you could possibly imagine, that you never knew you needed until you saw it and realized how you never needed it before because its the BEST THING EVER??!!! Yeah… that aisle.

We would dream and say if we ever built our own house someday and were able to get in there from the very beginning we would have the most awesome organized kitchen we’d ever seen.  Well we didn’t get in to the house before it was built, so we didn’t have any say in the layout (I think the builder is very grateful for this – we’re kind of annoying).  Despite that, we still wanted to do some customization.

Enter Rev a Shelf.  They make all these handy pull out organizers and things for your kitchen that you can install after the fact. Look at all the awesome things they make! (Note: This post is not sponsored or supported by Rev a Shelf)  We wanted it all.  Seriously, we debated in the aisle forever trying to narrow down to a reasonable number.  So we started with this:

Its the basic pull out two tier shelves

Its the basic pull out two tier shelves

They only come in set sizes, so first measure the interior of the cabinet you want to install it in and get the size closest that is not bigger than your cabinet or it will not fit.

dry test fit

dry test fit

screw in one side

screw in one side

The shelf is actually only attached on one side which is how you can get away with a size that is slightly smaller than your cabinet.  Which for us turned out to be useful since the right side of our cabinet doesn’t open all the way due to it being next to the stove.  We were able to combat the problem by screwing the shelf into the left side and it just clears the door.

Shelves installed

Shelves installed

look at that slide!

look at that slide!

pots and pans in the new shelf

pots and pans in the new shelf

The shelf is amazing!!! I seriously don’t know how we ever lived without it.  We used to have to take out every pot and pan just to get the one we wanted out of the back of the cabinet.  The slide mechanism of the shelves makes such perfect sense I don’t know why all cabinets aren’t built this way to begin with.  Everything is so easy to find now, and when you see the one you want its easily removable without having to empty everything out.

We loved it so much we put in two more.  Each of the cabinets that are in the center island also got a rev a shelf:

island cabinets

island cabinets

The install isn’t quite as easy as the directions suggest.  They had a complete install time of 30 minutes and it took Ken closer to an hour to do the first one, and he’s an above average to expert assembler.  Despite that, even he says its worth it, and was willing to tackle the project two more times.

So what do you think?  Do you want to install your own?


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Updates

So now that we’re officially in the new house I know your just dying to know what countertops we picked.  We had the debate going on in this previous post  because obviously its a huge deal and the suspense is killing you.  So I won’t keep you hanging on the edge of your seat any longer.  Here is a picture of the kitchen countertops and all:

we went dark

we went dark

The lighter options although beautiful we felt were too close to the color of the cabinets and the floors, and there is a dark stain detail in the cabinets that coordinated well with the specked black tops.

In other news:

we have a mailbox!

we have a mailbox!

Ken installed our mailbox so now we officially live here, get our mail here and everything.  Things are slowly coming together and it feels more and more like home every day.


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Condo Before and After Shots

Since the condo is officially on the rental market and after all the talk the last few weeks of all the work that we’ve been doing to the condo I thought it was about time to show you some before and afters.  Since I’m new to this blog thing and didn’t get before shots (in my defense most of the work started pre-blog) I tracked down the original MLS photos from when Ken bought the condo back in late 2009.

Some rooms are more drastically changed than others, personally I think it looks much more updated in person than the pictures convey… but maybe I’m biased.

I actually like the original exterior shot better...

I actually like the original exterior shot better…

So maybe not the best photo to start with since the previous agent took a better exterior shot… but it’s a condo there is only so much we can do to the outside… Moving the agents car before taking the photo so it’s not in the lower corner should have been one of the things done.

I'm not sure you can tell in this picture but there used to be nasty wallpaper

I’m not sure you can tell in this picture but there used to be nasty wallpaper

In addition to removing the wallpaper and painting the walls, the weird wood window valance was also removed (Ken literally just grabbed on and pulled it off), as was that old corner TV. We stopped short of de-almondizing the kitchen.  We completely realize this badly needs to be done.  But we’re renting and that’s a huge expense… so almond EVERYTHING is.

Another room from the kitchen facing the living room

Another room from the kitchen facing the living room

It’s easier to see the nasty 80’s fabulous wallpaper that used to be in there from this angle.  Also, is that a corded phone?!  We don’t even own one of those.

dining room

Right off the kitchen is the dining room which got a fresh coat of paint, more modern curtains, white trim and a brushed nickel chandelier in place of that old brass one.  (extra points if you can spot Chloe’s photo bomb)

living room

living room

This room’s biggest problem was the furniture layout, it didn’t make any sense, we also removed those wall mirrors, replaced the carpet painted the walls, and the trim (that wood piece didn’t get done before the photo shoot… the TV was too heavy)

master bedroom

In addition to saying adios to the toothpaste green color in favor of a dark cool grey, we also painted the trim white and replaced the carpeting.

second bedroom

second bedroom

One of the bigger projects, in addition to patching all the walls (we mainly used this as a gym and some weights may have collided with the wall), painting the walls a more neutral color, and painting all the trim; Ken also made this awesome built in desk in one of the two closets.

upstairs bathroom

upstairs bathroom

Another de-wallpapering project.  The previous owner LOVED their wallpaper! This room got a coat of a cool light gray, white trim new doors and just to the left of this shot used to be a brass shower sliding door.  (Eww it even had frosted glass)  That was removed in favor of a bowed out shower curtain rod and modern white, and gray curtain.  I unfortunately didn’t get a picture of the new shower but I have an old one just to give you nightmares…

AHHHHHH!!!!

AHHHHHH!!!!

Here’s some bonus photos I don’t have before’s of:

upstairs hall.  Hello pretty white trim!

upstairs hall. Hello pretty white trim!

downstairs hall, the white trim and new doors look fabulous if you ask me

downstairs hall, the white trim and new doors look fabulous if you ask me

another de-wallpapering project

another de-wallpapering project

I have mixed feelings about the half bath. Granted this is a terrible photo.  We picked this paint color out two years ago and just got around to putting it up.  Now neither of us like it… it may be safe to say we hate it (which is odd because as you know orange is my favorite color).  I’m pretty sure if it went up when we first bought it I may have liked it.  Hopefully whoever rents it likes it better than we do.

So what do you think?  Two months of hard work, better before or after?


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The Great Granite Debate

Due to the fact that we bought the completed house from the builder we were able to negotiate some unusual things into our contract, and one of those things was replacing the Formica counter tops that were already in the kitchen with granite.

What we didn’t anticipate was the large decision that this was going to entail which set off “The Great Granite Debate!”  Of all the finishing touches throughout the home, the cabinets and counter tops are most likely the most permanent features in the home.  They are  the most expensive and time consuming to change out later,  so whatever decision we went with we knew we had to love it for a long long looong time, as these counters are here for the long haul.

So off we went to Classic Stone in Plantsville CT.  All of the research we did online suggested bringing a drawer front or something from the kitchen to help you pick a granite color that best compliments your cabinets.  Since we do not technically own the cabinets yet this was not an option, so we had to wing it.

Another part of the conundrum the cabinets are not the color we’d always envisioned so the granite I had in my mind didn’t jive with the existing cabinets.  Had we started from ground zero and built this house from the ground up I would have gone with a much darker cabinet.  But the cabinets we have are a glazed maple (shown in the photos) that have a darker coloring within the grooves of the door than on the flat surface, and we want to compliment them the best we can.

We were however able to narrow it down to three options and bring samples to the house to compare to actual granite.  Let me know your favorite (I apologize for the horrendous quality of these photographs, the granite was extremely reflective and I’m a bad photographer)

Granite #1 A Beigey Creamy Granite with small speckles of dark brown and red.

Granite #1 A Beigey Creamy Granite with small speckles of dark brown and red.

Granite #2 - Another Beigey Creamy Granite with BIGGER speckles and swirls of dark brown and a reddish color

Granite #2 – Another Beigey Creamy Granite with BIGGER speckles and swirls of dark brown and a reddish color

Granite #3 - A Black Granite with lighter grey/dark brown specking

Granite #3 – A Black Granite with lighter grey/dark brown specking

We’ve made our decision but would love to hear what you would choose and we’ll reveal our final selection once it’s been installed!