Project Recovery in Apple Valley

I recently wrapped up a project recovery in Apple Valley, and as is always the case, it was both a complete mess, and a surprise to the owner that I got it under control so quickly.

When a project goes awry, it can happen for any number of reasons, but most of the ones i’ve dealt with have been because the existing contractor finally pissed off the owner(s) too much, and got themselves fired. I did work on one project with a very picky client who has driven the previous contractors to quit, but I still got that one handled, too.

This project went awry because the contractors were taking too many shortcuts, doing shoddy work, and skipping steps, so we ended up with finish flooring installed, but paint work left to do, appliances left to be installed, and cabinetry not completed yet, among many other issues.

I started this project the same way I do all my recoveries, one long, slow walk through to capture the current condition of everything, inside and out, and then I made a plan of attack.

I always plan my recovery work to follow the standard building order of operations to make sure the work we’re doing now won’t be damaged by something else later. So here I started outside with the removal and reinstallation of some windows that were leaking, then addressing some siding concerns, then dealing with exterior doors and doorways that weren’t properly sealed.

Once I had the outside weathertight, I moved inside and got to work on replacing the bad subflooring, finishing the plumbing and electrical that was missing, patching up walls and trim, and getting everything ready for paint. Inside, I like to ‘build from the bottom up, finish from the top, down’.

Project recoveries aren’t easy, but I enjoy the challenge, and having done so many of them, I have a playbook of successful methods at the ready.
If your project has gone sideways and you don’t know who to call, drop me a line and let’s get your project back on the rails, and all the way to DONE-ville.

Saw Station Setup

I’ve had many versions of my saw station setup over the years, but after fighting with it for a few months, I finally settled on just setting it up however it best made sense at the job.

For this job, a project recovery in Apple Valley, i’m cutting everything from siding, framing, and blocking, to trim, shims, and lots of custom pieces.

First, having plenty of room on either side of the miter saw is really important when i’m swinging 12′ sticks of trim. I like to check/cut my ends square, but if I have a long run, i’ll be mitering those ends for a tight scarf joint, so I need to be able to get to the end. The house here wasn’t big enough for me to REALLY lay out, but I was able to get it done by just moving my saw from one side of it’s stand to the other when needed.

Second, having multiple saw horses is really valuable to me. Here i’ve got my stock on the floor, but the horses on either side of the miter saw really help extend my reach on those long pieces without having to struggle much.

Third, i’ve got a combination outfeed/work table past my table saw, which is really handy, and that lower shelf on those horses helps give me a place to store my tools without scratching up the floor. You can also see that i’ve cut a long sheet of plywood using my table saw as a third stand of sorts; it’s very handy to be able to do this. I like to be efficient, and this setup lets me switch gears really fast. I also really appreciate being able to adjust the height of my sawhorses, that’s a very handy feature!

Fourth, when I ripped that long sheet, I slid one of the sawhorses from the miter saw over a couple feet to in front of the table saw to act an infeed assistant. Normally i’d just get a second guy, but it’s a really small project with a tight budget, so I have to make do.

All of this neatly folds and stows into my work trailer, so I can take this to any job site and have a very similar setup wherever I go. Also, that LED worklight above my saw is SUPER handy for when i’m working after sundown and want to maintain my clean, tight cuts. It’s important to be able to see! My other miter saw has an LED worklight built into the saw, which is super nice.

The best tools in the world won’t make you a great carpenter, but having solid tools and an intelligent setup will help you work smarter, faster, and with less wear and tear on your body, and after doing this for many years, that matters!

Order of Operations – Flipping

The typical Order of operations in New Construction are the same across most facets of building construction. The Order of Operations for other projects (which we’ll touch on later) will vary some, but let’s talk specifically about flipping houses.

When you’re flipping a house, the goal is to get in, get done, and get out with the least amount of time and money needed to get the house rented or sold. I’ve flipped several hundred houses, and in doing so I found that many people stress themselves far to much by getting into a big rush. If they would just stick with the order of operations, they could alleviate an awful lot of stress from the project.

I always start with a simple review of whatever documents are available, and a walk-through of the house. I often times had an inspectors report that showed everything that was not up to code, which certainly made life a lot easier for me, but I also found things in my walk-through that needed to be address, either for safety, common sense, or my investors wishes.
If needed, i’ll get a landscaping crew to come out first and knock back the growth so I can see all the parts and pieces of the house; nothing like trying to see the exterior window conditions when you’re being attacked by thorny bushes after wading through three feet high grass!

Once i’ve completed my review, I set specific goals for this project, specific things that need to be addressed in a large scale. Notice I did not say ‘Planning’, I said ‘Goals’.
I will usually get a dumpster delivered, perhaps a porta-john or two, and other job-site necessities.
This is also where I lay some ideas down about where to store materials, and other parts of managing my overall job-site.

This phase is all about getting all the old crap out of the house and out of the way. The goal is to get all the garbage out of the house and directly into a dumpster, anything that we need to keep out of the way and into some kind of storage.
Demolition is taken as far as needed to uncover all the problems.

Now that I can see all the parts and pieces I need to see, I can start planning my work. I’ll lay out my plans, select my materials, and start getting things ordered based on Lead and Need times.

This phase is where we get back to ‘real construction’, and closely match the normal order of ops for new building. Having removed ALL of the crap we want gone, we can now start from the bottom up.
This includes all Framing, Sub-Flooring, HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Low-Voltage, and get any inspections needed for work up to this point.

I always make a point of double-checking my rough-in work before I start closing things up; nothing worse than having to tear down freshly hung sheetrock so I can fix a little thing in the wall left behind!

An often overlooked step, I build in time to PREPARE for an awesome finish.
We make sure all the framing is level, plumb, and even for the material going on it, which usually means removing all the nails, screws, and junk left behind, as well as evening out some places by planing away some sections, or building up others with wood or cardboard strips.

With all of my rough-in done, it’s time to get the finish work happening. I’ll turn a sheetrock team loose and keep everyone out of their way until they’re done. Then i’ll get the rest of the people in there to finish all the parts and pieces!

Punch List
There’s always a few little things left to deal with at the end of the job, called a ‘Punch List’. I used to have a team of Handymen who I split between handling Punch Lists, Service Calls, and small jobs.

I’ll go over each of these in more detail, as well as the planning and logistics of jobsite and project management.

As always, stay tuned for more, and remember, why do it okay twice when you can do it great once?

Order of Operations

No matter what we’re working on, there’s always an order of operations. In Math we have PEMDAS, in baking we have GCMMBT, and in CPR we learn ABC.

In construction it’s no different, we have an order of operations, and it’s important we follow it so we can keep making progress, and not have to go back and undo or redo work already done.

I’ve seen people get in a hurry and skip steps, usually in an effort to satisfy a hasty investor or homeowner, and they find themselves with much more expense than estimated, so now someone has to eat that extra cost.

I’ve seen projects where drywall had to be ripped down so the plumber could finish installing some pipe, or worse, so an inspector could check an electrical junction, and now that drywall had to be set, taped, mudded, sanded, mudded, sanded, and primed a second time (or third, YIKES!).

I’ve also seen damages inside houses where finish work was done in some rooms, but rough work was not, and damage was caused by materials coming through the finished areas.

No matter how big a rush you’re in, it’s always faster to take your time and do things right.