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How the internet has changed home remodeling.
Old 04-21-2015, 12:26 PM   #1
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How the internet has changed home remodeling.

We're in the midst of a major (down to the studs) remodel of our master bath. The original 1963 bathroom had issues. We're replacing everything but the toilet (which was replaced just a few years ago.)

You'd think we'd be hanging at plumbing supply stores, home depot, and Lowes. Well - after *another* disappointing trip to Home Depot this morning we made a few more online purchases.

So far we've bought from the internet:
- 48x48" shower basin.
- 73" marble vanity top.
- Shower valve (had to search hard for ones that didn't have cartridges - wanted old school brass valves.)
- Shower faucets/trim
- vanity faucets/trim.

We almost ordered the marble floor tile off the inter-tubes but found a local stone place that had reasonable prices. (and 4 more that were a rip off). We'll use the same place for the larger marble tiles we'll use in the shower.

So far the only things bought at Home Depot/Lowes/Dixieline is lumber and some copper and abs plumbing fittings.

I am so impressed with what we can get, shipped free, online.
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Old 04-21-2015, 12:43 PM   #2
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We gave up on Home Depot after they refused to tile one bathroom floor till we either personally removed the 1980s-vintage plastic flooring (it was practically fused to the subflooring) or had it tested for asbestos. We bought tile from a local business and they were very helpful in suggesting what kind of underlayment, grout, etc. would work with it.


What I've found really useful is reviews- of products (e.g., Ditra instead of cumbersome cement backerboard) and of contractors. I'm about to really slam one just as soon as they finish the job. We agreed to have them repair cracks in the cement around our pool last fall and TOLD them the house would be put on the market in late April/early May. They collected half the cost up front, filled in the cracks, then disappeared till spring. DH has had to follow up with them repeatedly to get them out to finish the work. Once they sent out a guy who showed up, took the cover off the pool, and left. No one else showed up for 3 weeks. They're not done yet but at least in its current state the cement around the pool looks fine because they troweled on some opaque finish so the filled cracks are no longer visible.


It appears that their work is good (I'm thankful for that) and I will note that in the review, but I'm also going to note how slow they were.
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Old 04-21-2015, 12:55 PM   #3
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At least we aren't working with contractors... I may not like the pace of the project - but the price of the labor is good.

(We had exceptionally bad experiences with contractors in the past and if there is ANY way to avoid hiring one in the future, we'll avoid it. Basically, we just don't trust them not to steal our money based on past experiences.)

Fortunately, DH is an architect who did construction in college. We've both owned homes and done a lot of DIY work ourselves. The kids are part of the demo crew, I'm the purchasing department and painting department - and anticipate being the grouting department. DH is carpentry, plumbing and electrical departments. Between us we'll get a $15k remodel done for $6k.
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Old 04-21-2015, 01:07 PM   #4
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we redid our kitchen a few years ago and made many internet purchases after checking out the big box stores. One of the big issues was that the chains only seem to carry builder grade fixtures. We wanted better and simply could not find it locally. While I would have preferred to see many of these items prior to purchase the low grade stuff at the chains drove me to the internet.

We ended up saving thousands of dollars and getting a great result. Internet purchases included 2 sinks, 2 faucets, glass tile for a back splash in the PERFECT color (they send samples first), lighting fixtures, floor tile, fridge and stove, window treatments.
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Old 04-21-2015, 01:33 PM   #5
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Just yesterday when almost finished with our most recent project of replacing the kitchen countertops, I ran into some plumbing problems requiring a few odd bits and pieces to complete the sink re-installation. Instead of making the 60 mile round trip to the nearest big-box store likely to have what I needed in stock, after a bit of net research to verify part numbers from the OEM site I ordered them from Amazon. With Amazon Prime, waiting a day or two to finish up the plumbing end of the project and letting UPS do the driving was fine by me.

We had taken care of removing the old countertops ourselves, but I used a local cabinet shop for fabrication and installation of the new ones. They did a super job, although I expected that having done business with them in the past. But the net was useful for reviewing their initial bid regarding pricing and material selection. Having information so readily available is a huge advantage in tackling remodeling project now, compared to 20 or 30 years ago. Dozens of trips to the library and/or lumber yard back then wouldn't have held a candle to what can be learned in minutes now.
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Old 04-21-2015, 03:03 PM   #6
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We're in the middle of adding a 2nd bathroom to our house. The bathroom is below our sewer line, so we need a sump pump/tank. The plumber we hired for the project has been wearing us down. I'm at the point where I have to double check everything they do to make sure it's ok. The problem was with the crew. They are young, sloppy, and don't have the supervision they should. We've fixed that problem and it's better, but it should never have been a problem for us to solve.

My take with contractor's is that you really have to watch what they are doing, otherwise they'll slap it together and consider it good.

As for the Internet, it's made our job much easier. Whenever I'm not sure how something should be done, I can find a YouTube video and see it done by a pro. And for ordering supplies, our tile ready shower pan came today from the other end of the country. A bit pricier than building your own, but since I'll install it myself, I don't mind spending extra if it makes my job easier. Next on the list is to get the shower valve ordered, plus all the fixtures, etc. I won't even bother with the big box home improvement stores. We might look at some local stores to get ideas, but most likely order online.

I only wish I didn't have a day job, otherwise I'd get a lot more done.
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Old 04-21-2015, 03:36 PM   #7
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My daughter and I were remodeling my ex-wife's house after she passed away. Daughter inherited it as she is the only child. As part of a large remodel, we were going to tile the kitchen and family room floor using a contractor to do the tile laying.

Fortunately, the contractor is a personal friend of mine and agreed to use Home Depot tile (against his recommendation, however). Daughter had found a tile she liked at HD and really wanted to go with it. This was a big job and required near 800 square feet of tile.

Well, the contractor placed the tile order with HD and there were delays as no one location had enough to supply the required amount. Eventually, he picked up the order at a local HD and started the job. About 1/2 way into the tile laying, the contractor stopped the job and had me look at the tiles. Seems like HD rounded up several DIFFERENT LOTS of tile to make up the order. This was not evident unless you deciphered the codes on the tile boxes. The tiles were not only different in color tone, but some were not exactly the same size!! Where the heck did they get this stuff??

Well, we ripped up the tile and went to HD and got with the manager. He was not supportive and said the tile order was accumulated by a lady in "headquarters". We finally got her on the phone and she was rude and literally told us that it was not her fault. Well, after quite a scene, HD "ate" the tile and gave us new tile (that DD had to re-select) and compensated the contractor for 20 bags of thinset and some of his time. What a mess. never again will I use a big box store for anything other than a can of paint or a fitting. (Oh, on fittings...try to buy 5/16" hydraulic fittings at HD...not. Ace Hardware has those.....)

BTW, we bought our two new toilets recently online and I installed them replacing 15 year old units.
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:24 PM   #8
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Rodi - Sounds like a fun project & congrats on the free delivery! We're moving slowly on a bath remodel (hopefully not down to the studs). DW saw some some flooring she liked and ordered it. I drove 2 hours to pick it up. Then drove it home and carried all the pieces into the basement for storage. DW comes home and says "It's the wrong tile". I carried it all back out to my truck and drove it back 2 hours to the warehouse. Then a month or so later, I drove back to the warehouse to pick up the new load, and repeated the the basement storage process. Someday I'll have to bring it upstairs and install it. Maybe this fall.
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:21 PM   #9
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After reading all this I'm not going to remodel anything. I'll sell the place "as is" or burn it down.
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:52 PM   #10
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After reading all this I'm not going to remodel anything. I'll sell the place "as is" or burn it down.
I hear you! After reading all this I have to agree that remodeling sounds less than jolly.
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Old 04-21-2015, 07:11 PM   #11
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I hear you! After reading all this I have to agree that remodeling sounds less than jolly.
Remodeling looks like fun on the TV reality shows (Property Brothers is one). Remodel a whole house in 30 minutes and everyone has smiles on their faces.

But what you don't see is:

1. Difficulty in finding quality materials.

2. Shoddy workmanship.

3. Fixing up the shoddy workmanship months later.
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Old 04-21-2015, 10:44 PM   #12
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I guess I had no idea some of the stuff you can get online until I read this. Thanks!

I did see that Amazon sells those mini split heat pumps at great prices and when we finally get started on the tiny house, I will be looking online first, before the 35 mile trek to HD.

We rarely have anyone else work at our place, only a trusted handyman I've known for years. During our home build, the plumber hired his felonious nephew to work on our job, and that resulted in a $10k theft job late one night by his friends. Never recovered anything. Still mad, 12 years later.
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Old 04-22-2015, 12:07 AM   #13
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.........Well, the contractor placed the tile order with HD and there were delays as no one location had enough to supply the required amount. Eventually, he picked up the order at a local HD and started the job. About 1/2 way into the tile laying, the contractor stopped the job and had me look at the tiles. Seems like HD rounded up several DIFFERENT LOTS of tile to make up the order. This was not evident unless you deciphered the codes on the tile boxes. The tiles were not only different in color tone, but some were not exactly the same size!! Where the heck did they get this stuff??.............
You can find crap like that all over! A big "warehouse" tile place near here that has about an acre inside is loaded with it. To me, it's all junk.
The word for the tile actual size is "Caliber". Let's say a tile was a nominal 12" x 12" tile (often 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 to allow a 1/4" grout line). A quality manufacturer would have the "Caliber" code space on the box empty, and state the actual tile size, and they all would be the same.
A crappy one will have actual tile sizes anywhere from say 11 1/4" up to maybe 12 1/8"!!!
No way can anyone do anything with that, unless they make sure the WHOLE JOB has all the same "Caliber"!

Can you imagine the crappy mfg. plant that can't hold tolerances like that? Some of them are really middle men, the company name on the box is not the mfg. The middle man buys tile from all over the world (cheap stuff) from different sweat shop mfgs., and it is boxed with the caliber and tone codes. It could even end up being a different THICKNESS! Imagine what a mess that would be, to be mixed, or to run out on a job and have to buy another (mis)matching box.

I have bought quality tile from Home Depot and Lowes. I bought some really great 18" tiles from HD a few years ago, made by Eliano, a quality Brazilian tile mfg., they had full ratings on each box - Actual size, tone, frost, coefficient of friction both wet and dry, water absorption, wear rating (they were V, 5!), etc.
I went to the tile warehouse place, with a printout of the code descriptions, and after much delay, talked with the head tile guy. He got flustered and said, "none of that matters!" "Look at all this tile, and all these people here, they buy, they don't care about that stuff, doesn't matter" I immediately left.

I only buy quality porcelain tile. I bought a regular glazed ceramic (non-porcelain) tile once for wall use, because it was an unusual size format and color, and fit the desired look well. I bought it at a charity building materials resale place, it was obviously brand X, and I bought many boxes (real cheap) so I could sort through them. I think they were made in Thailand. I had to soak them in water for about 15 minutes before I used them, otherwise the clay back of them slurped the moisture out of the mortar so quick, the mortar dried, instead of cured! And I had some trouble when I grouted them too. They look real nice, but after that, only porcelain for me.

Porcelain is just about zero moisture absorption, so one needs to back-butter each tile, and really "burn it in" when buttering, to get good adhesion. But I love'm, they never let me down. Rock solid.
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Old 04-22-2015, 05:13 AM   #14
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A few years ago after some bad fixit jobs, DH joined Angie's list. What a help! DH can do minor electrical but for major electrical and plumbing, we get people in.

We're replacing our hot tub and deck this year. The pool/hot tub dealer and manufacturer are top notch. The pool guy uses a deck guy. We researched the deck guy and he's a general contractor but doesn't specialize in decks. We want to go with a renewable/sustainable Brazilian hardwood while we're being pushed toward composites. Angie's list has a deck company we looked at before with a straight A rating and lots of specific reviews, which include the price of the jobs.

If you haven't joined Angie's list, consider it. We've been very satisfied with the work we've had done ever since.


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Old 04-22-2015, 07:36 AM   #15
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Re Angie's List - my local library has a membership and I can use it for free, but only physically at the library. I was not especially impressed with the results on Angie's List vs other, free internet resources like Yelp and Goggle reviews, but it is another data point when in doubt. The quality may vary by locale - YMMV.

I've found great deals on plumbing fixtures on eBay. There must be a huge mark up on faucets, for instance, especially the fancier designs.
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Old 04-22-2015, 07:44 AM   #16
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We use Angie's List all the time down here in FL. As a matter of fact, got an electrician due in a couple of hours. It's been fabulous, getting us great people doing great jobs at good prices. So we signed up up in rural MD too. Total waste of money. Itreally depends on being in an area with enough people for ratings, and enough companies for competition.

As far as the web for home improvements, we mostly use it to research, then buy through the big box stores. Then again, we haven't done any major renovations. I'm pretty much a handyman, so I do most of our smaller projects. And every project involved multiple trips to the hardware store. I never get it all or get it right the first time. Measure twice, cut once, curse 10 times, go buy a new board.

The web is mostly great for finding odd parts. We had, in a previous home, old toilets that flushed really well compared to the modern water savers. But the parts were impossible to find until I found some guy on the web who had stockpiled a bunch of them. I bought parts from him two or three times over the years. Also parts for our 2002 Beetle. VW dealers always claim they can't get them, but we can find them online. Not cheap, but they're there.
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Old 04-22-2015, 08:30 AM   #17
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I'm in the process of installing a backup generator. Through the internet & email, I was able to pick the correct size unit, choose site location and build base, schedule gas company to upgrade my meter,get info on how to wire the generator, transfer switch & rewire my panel, and get plumbing details to my plumber.

It seems like every home improvement project I do involves some level of internet research
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Old 04-22-2015, 09:57 AM   #18
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It seems like every home improvement project I do involves some level of internet research
Heck, it seems that every TV program I watch or random thought that passes through my mind ends up involving some level of internet research.
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:33 AM   #19
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Heck, it seems that every TV program I watch or random thought that passes through my mind ends up involving some level of internet research.
LOL - that's so true. My husband says I'm like the computer on Star Trek - he asks a random question during a show (like where have I seen that actor) and a few seconds later I give the answer.

The internet is full of information and much of it is far from critical - but is interesting.
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:42 AM   #20
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Heck, it seems that every TV program I watch or random thought that passes through my mind ends up involving some level of internet research.
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LOL - that's so true. My husband says I'm like the computer on Star Trek - he asks a random question during a show (like where have I seen that actor) and a few seconds later I give the answer.
I had to show DW the above posts. Now she understands I'm not alone in having what she calls my "irritating habit"...
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