Schluter Systems School

Bob learning the tricks of the trade.

One of the things that keeps our company on the leading edge is continuing education.  To that end, Mark recently sent Craig, Justin and yours truly to a two day workshop put on by Schluter Systems.  Schluter is the company that makes the waterproofing system that we use under all of our tile installations.  Easy to use. Versatile. Allows room for creativity in design.  Good stuff.

Craig at work.

We had a great two days. One of the benefits of continuing education is having your current knowledge reinforced.  I find it fun to know I’ve been doing it “right”. What’s even more fun is learning something that will help me do it better.  That was our experience. Sure, some of the class covered things we already knew, but there was always something additional that helped it all make more sense.  The bottom line is we have new knowledge and we can apply it to our workmanship to reach a higher level of quality.

Justin concentrating on his tiling.

One of the fun things we learned that highlights the importance of using a high quality system to waterproof a shower:

The average American takes a 12 minute shower using a shower head that flows at 2.5 gallons per minute.  So, every shower uses 30 gallons of water.  Over a year’s time that’s 10,950 gallons of water poured onto the shower floor.  If your shower floor measures 4′ x 4′, that amount of water is equal to almost 1100 inches of precipitation.

Brunswick gets 48 inches of precipitation per year.

It’s as important to us as it is to you that all that water goes down the drain.

Kitchen Tiled Backsplash

Although some of our larger projects take weeks or even months to complete, GMWC’s crews also complete many small jobs.  This tiled backsplash is a great example.  The customer bought the tiles three years ago, hoping to have them installed  right away by a tiler.  Unfortunately, the project fell to the bottom of the customers “to do” list.  When they finally contacted us, it took less than two weeks for one of our lead carpenters, Justin, to measure, install and grout the tiles.  Watch the video to see the result!

Youth Sports – Not Just for Kids

2013 Brunswick Cal Ripken champions!

When our kids were small, they played on the youth soccer, hockey and baseball teams, among others.  As business owners, we decided early on to do our civic duty and sponsor various teams – youth sports programs thrive on local business participation.  When our children  reached high school, we had to decide whether to continue to sponsor these teams – after all, our kids were done with youth sports, so why continue?  Some other business owners with small children could take up the burden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BYSL GMWild Fall 2010

Except it wasn’t a burden. It was (and is) very satisfying, and not just because we see our logo on the jerseys and our name in the paper occasionally.  Besides receiving the plaques with a team picture, we got a chronological history of our kids and their friends as they grew up, the teams changing slightly every year, some kids changing sports, others switching to different interests.  We had folks approach us to thank us for our sponsorship, to thank us for providing jerseys, caps and an opportunity for kids to have a team to play on.  We have the satisfaction of knowing that we help the kids in our community to have something to do, to have a place to get some exercise, be with their friends, make new friends, and just have fun.

Our New Website

The employees of G. M. Wild Construction, Inc. (GMWC) decided to change our website to enable a more interactive experience for our employees as well as our clients: current and future.  Our team wants a place to share what they are completing in the field and inform the public about what we can do to help them improve their homes.

 

The website is centered on a blog which we will update with interesting, informative, and pertinent information about G. M. Wild Construction and home improvement details.  These posts can be “shared” on our FaceBook page and eventually on Twitter.

 

All this is to better connect with our existing clients and new clients and to educate them about their homes, our company, and us as individuals.  We hope you will flip through our pages and see what we have been up to.  I am proud to say the website has been developed in house by our part time Webmaster, Bob Grant, Lead Carpenter.  Many have contributed and you will get to hear from all of us as the blog grows.  We look forward to reading your comments and growing this outreach.

Home Inspections and Old Wiring

We love old homes.  That is why I personally began working in construction three decades ago.  I am a college history major and feel maintaining these pieces of living history is a privilege and rewarding.  But there are pitfalls to owning an old home.

 

GMWC repairs, renovates, designs and constructs additions for homes of all ages.  These projects are often completed soon after a home is purchased.  At the time of the Purchase and Sale Agreement, a home inspection is completed.  My comments today are not about home inspections but are focused on the results of a home inspection.

 

One of our crews is restoring the interior finishes of an 1880’s home.  The house inspection report identified “knob and tube” wiring in the attic.

knob-2011-2

 

If installed out in the open in a garage or basement and not carrying a heavy load, and not added to or branched off of, knob and tube wiring is not a huge hazard.  But buried under a variety of insulation methods, behind old plaster walls/ceilings or left in inaccessible crawlspaces, knob and tube is dangerous.

 

Here is a photo of the attic when it was inspected.  It looks pretty innocuous

Buried Knob and Tube

 

Here are some photos of the wiring conditions as viewed after we removed the attic insulation:

photo (8)

 

The two center wires are the knob and tube wiring.  The wire on the right side is “BX” that was taped into the original knob and tube, probably early 20th century.  There are no connectors when BX is attached to knob and tube.  The wire on the left is modern Romex and was joined in a “junction box” with 15 other wires.

photo (7)

 

We call this mess an “octopus” because it has branch lines going in every direction.  All this new Romex, which has a ground wire, is connected to old knob and tube, which does not have a ground wire……

 

Note that the wire insulation has broken and the bare, hot wire is exposed.  Remember, this wiring was buried under various types of insulation, some of which were cellulous.  The wire insulation is broken where it was wrapped around the “knobs”.

 

This late 19th century home has at least three eras of electrical wiring.  Each new system was connected into the previous ones and it ended up creating a dangerous hazard.  The home inspection report commented on the “knob and tube” being present, but did not comment on the condition of the wiring or the hazardous nature of the situation.

 

A qualified electrician accompanied by an experienced remodeler is one way to ascertain the exact nature of the wiring in an older home.  It is a time consuming inspection due to the hidden parts but the information gained from such an inspection is vital to determining the course of action.

Lead Carpenters

From time to time the Lead Carpenters at G.M. Wild Construction will contribute to our blog. Lead Carpenters are the point of contact for homeowners for the duration of the project. Bona fide carpenters in their own right, the Leads will provide a unique point of view into the day to day flow of a remodel. Here is a good start:

One of my favorite things about being a Lead Carpenter for G.M. Wild Construction is my daily interaction with the homeowners. From the first day of the project, all the way through to the end, I am the point person for everything that happens on site. I get to work with our clients on everything from the smallest trim details to the larger change orders. I try to connect with the homeowners at the beginning and end of each day, letting them know how the work is progressing and what they can expect in the near future. We never want our clients to be surprised by something that might be an inconvenience. I mean, who wants to find out at 7:00 am that there won’t be any water in the house for the rest of the day? So, we work hard to develop and adhere to a production schedule that I can pass on to the client and prepare them for the work ahead.

Our clients come to us with an image of how their project will turn out and I get to help them turn that dream into a reality. Actually, we all do. Every carpenter on the project does. I just get to spend more time working one on one with the homeowners. I know it sounds a little hokey, but I get a lot of satisfaction helping people take a two dimensional drawing and turn it into a three dimensional reality. We hear a lot of comments at the completion of a project, but the one I work for (and honestly hear quite often), is that the finished product exceeds the clients’ expectations.

No, I don’t get to swing a hammer as much as I’d like. Lead Carpenters are, after all, carpenters and we all want to contribute to production. Sometimes I get caught up in the action and Mark has to remind me that I need to put the nail gun down and tend to other things. In many ways it’s a balancing act and one I’m happy to be doing. The Lead Carpenter system works for G.M. Wild Construction and the connection it allows us to make with our clients is, I think, what sets us apart from other contractors.

Small Jobs

As a homeowner and husband, I know that “small jobs” are often neglected and pile up uncompleted.  Quite frankly, they do the same thing at our company, as well.  But there is great satisfaction in completing these projects and knowing that the work is executed in a timely fashion and done correctly.  GMWC helps our clients with accomplishing just that.

 

We view a “small job” as one that has no blueprints or special orders.  The duration of the project is less than 40 hours, but usually much shorter.  And quite often, it consists of arranging for one of our subcontractor partners to be scheduled to complete the work with our scheduling and oversight.  All small jobs are invoiced on a “Time and Materials” basis.

 

We see all kinds of “to do list” items but these are the most common:

 

  • Rot repair
  • Paint touch up
  • Damage from unforeseen events
      • Plumbing leaks
      • Ice dams
      • Rodents
  • Adjusting for new fixtures
      • New kitchen appliances
      • Humidifiers
      • Air conditioners
      • Shelving
  • Accessory installation
      • Storm door
      • Grab bars
      • Hand railings
      • New exterior doors

 

The trick to helping homeowners complete this “to do” list, is to fit them into our regular schedule.  GMWC maintains a schedule that has our crews working on larger projects for several weeks to several months.  It is best for us, as well as the homeowner, to fit these small jobs in during the larger ones.  This means a carpenter might pull away from a big job and work at completing a small one for a few days.  Sometimes it only means a Lead Carpenter schedules a subcontractor to meet them and get things lined up.  This requires coordination between the homeowner and GWMC and schedule flexibility on the part of both.  A project might have the carpenter come and go from it for a few days or it might be “rainy day” work that gets fit in on bad weather days.

 

GMWC completes small jobs for our clients: existing and new.  It is a great way for us to meet new clients and educate them on the type of personnel that work with us, demonstrate the quality of service and workmanship we provide, and execute a timely schedule.

 

Small jobs lead to big jobs.  It is that simple.  GMWC wants to complete all your projects and we understand that getting to know us helps you to decide to work with us on a larger or more complicated project.

 

Small jobs help our carpenters and subcontractors fill out production schedules.  If carefully planned and not left to pile up, small jobs help smooth out the gaps that crop up in the schedule.  A recent plumbing leak was a perfect 30-hour filler for one of our Lead Carpenters, while he was waiting to get concrete poured on another job site.  It took two weeks to complete this project, because he came and went a bit but the homeowner is thrilled that it is done!

 

Most importantly, we complete small jobs to help our customers maintain their homes and their sanity.

 
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