Remodeling Lessons of the Day

From on October 23, 2008 in General Remodel

Matthew WeissRemodeling comes with the unexpected, and with that comes unexpected costs and delays. The upside is much of this can be prevented. Simple precautions by you and your contractor can help save time and money, as Matthew J. Weiss, Esq. will tell you. Matthew, a New York Traffic Lawyer, who defends thousands of motorists from New York traffic tickets and truck tickets under the brand 888 Red Light (, learned his lesson the hard way. Today, he’ll help keep you from making the same mistakes.

Lesson #1: Locate Studs and Pipes Accurately

Matthew recently re-did the outdated den in his 1950’s Colonial. To freshen up the look, he decided to sheet rock the room and get rid of the old-fashioned 1970-ish wood paneling. Because the wood paneling was thin, Matthew didn’t lose much in terms of thickness or space by having the sheet rock installed right over the paneling. So far, so good. The mistake happened when his contractors put two nails in a pipe rather than a stud.

“If we had taken off the paneling, we would have seen the pipe and realized it was not a stud,” Matthew says. “Since we tried to save time and minimize debris, we had this issue. Saturday afternoon, we hit the pipe, and Monday morning, there was a huge flood in the basement.” Exacerbating the problem was the fact that the pipe turned out to be part of the radiator heating system and required a lengthy period of time to drain.

Matthew’s contractor then needed to shut off the water, remove the newly installed sheet rock and yesteryear’s paneling, find the leak, drain out the radiator, and replace the piping on it. “I lost two days leaving the wall open. Once it dried out, we closed it up again.”

His contractor, who he had found through friends, didn’t charge him for the extra time, or for the labor of opening up the wall and replacing the sheetrock. However, Matthew still lost time and spent an extra $500 - $600 on plumbing.

His lesson? “The contractor in charge got distracted; he should have been more careful. There are stud finders out there, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Make sure that when you put up sheet rock, you know where the pipes are. Especially if it’s an interior wall, which is more likely to have piping.”

Lesson #2: Look Behind Your Built-Ins

To make the most of his new den, Matthew custom ordered a T.V. cabinet. His contractor measured the old unit and Matthew ordered his replacement unit based on those measurements. “When we removed it,” Matthew says, “there was a bump in the wall to accommodate a sewage pipe. As a result, the measurements for the custom built item were off. We had to unload it, send it back to the factory, have the manufacturer cut it down, and order new doors and drawers for the item.” All of this cost Matthew another 10 days or so.

His lesson? “Re-measure after you remove a built in. Make sure assumptions you made do not change once you see what’s behind the unit.”

In the end, Matthew’s new walls and built-in came out beautifully. “The room looks bigger, lighter. It looks fresh and nice and definitely elevated the house because that one room really looked dated.” After all the trouble he went through, I’m glad it all worked out!

Thanks for taking the time to talk, Matthew, and I hope all of you out there take his lessons to heart!

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