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When it comes to home remodeling, every year seems to bring different trends. From modernized kitchen styles, to this year’s most “in” color choices, to popular flooring types for your home remodeling project, being up-to-date and in-style is something that is appealing to most homeowners. But as a remodeling contractor, I have noticed another new Tampa Bay home remodeling trend that is starting to pick up steam in 2013. That trend is for homeowners to want new gas powered appliances, specifically gas stoves, vent hoods, and gas-powered tankless water heaters installed in their homes. I, for one, think that this is a trend that is here to stay. Here’s why:

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With one child already and another new arrival these clients found that their current three bedroom, one bath house was not providing enough space to accommodate their growing family. Since moving was not an option, the family decided to expand their 1400 square foot South Tampa home. Construction started April 2, 2012 on the previously converted 1950s garage and was completed on June 6, 2012. The project added almost 500 square feet of living space that included a beautiful master bedroom with a modern en-suite bathroom, in addition to a spacious outdoor entertainment area that was sure to impress their neighbors.

Starting construction in the garage provided a bit of a design challenge with its traditional A-frame roof. The low horizontal beams needed to be removed in order to provide the high ceilings the clients were hoping for. Unfortunately, the beams were needed to maintain structural support. To overcome this challenge, the ceiling was reengineered and new, shorter boards were installed higher in the structure to provide the tension and support needed to maintain architectural integrity. This allowed for the high, airy ceilings that the clients were requesting.

                                             
The concrete slab in the garage was not level and was being compromised by tree roots. Because it was below grade it also posed a flooding risk. To prevent these issues from affecting the new living space a new slab was poured over top of the existing slab with wire mesh for additional re-inforcement.

A breezeway from the main house into the garage was already enclosed from a previous home project. Because the breezeway was sitting about 18 inches higher than the area that was becoming the master suite, a creative solution was needed to convert this area into a seamless transitional space. An alcove area and steps were built to provide a stylish and practical solution as a passage into the main house.

The client requested through a change order, after the project had started, a way to access the outdoor living area from the master suite. The wall that was built for the original garage conversion stuck out from the structure and was a bit of an eyesore, it was also not installed to code. This wall was removed and a new wall was constructed flush to the structure providing a more suitable application for the remaining components.

When planning for a home expansion such as this it is very important to consider the capacity of your air conditioning unit. AC units are designed to work according to several factors, including cubic footage and air flow. This client was aware of these factors when they planned the addition. Before construction started, they acquired a larger air conditioning unit that would function properly and cool the added cubic footage. The new space required both supply and return ducts to the main AC system, which can be a tricky task to accomplish depending on the homes construction.

A spacious walk-in closet adjacent to the new master bath and a smaller linen closet were built to provide much needed storage along with a stackable washer/dryer closet.  A louvered closet door was used to allow for the dryer to freely bring in air which it displaces out of the exhaust duct during the clothes drying process.

In the master bathroom the shower was installed using our standard Schluter Waterproofing System which provides a ten year guarantee that insures against any moisture damage. Because cement and grout is porous, traditional methods of installing shower surrounds allow moisture intrusion which will eventually cause mold and degradation of the wallboard supporting your tile. The shower was enclosed with a frameless sliding bypass door that is simple, clean and contemporary which provides an ideal showcase for the custom tile work. A traditional hand-held shower head was installed along with a luxurious rain head. The master bath was finished off with a floating vanity topped off with a marble counter top that added additional storage and modern style.

After expanding their indoor living space the clients were interested in creating an outdoor living space ideal for entertaining.  Belgard pavers, a higher end variety, were laid in an intricate pattern extending to a second level which surrounds the new fire pit. An outdoor kitchen and grill were added along with a low voltage lighting package. The pergola was built with careful consideration to sun exposure in order to maximize shade coverage, and as an added bonus, will help to reduce the temperature underneath as much as five degrees.

The client is so happy with the completed project that they are already considering starting another with us. To add more functionality to their floor plan they have expressed interest in converting the home’s original bathroom into a Jack and Jill style that connects the two original bedrooms. It has been a pleasure working with this client and it is exciting to see this home transform to accommodate this amazing family!

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“It was a pleasure working with Logan. He is a rare find here in Florida. He returns phone calls and goes over all of your options. He communicates very well and sticks to the schedule he provides before work begins. Quality of work is also good. If you are doing a remodel or need work done on your home, I would at least call Jack O’ Trades to come out and give you an estimate. You won’t regret it. This is the first contractor I have found in FL that provided this type of service.”

          -Chad Lacko (Angies List customer)

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Moisture-damaged drywall on patio ceiling

One of the persistent issues we have found that our clients need help with is cracked and peeling drywall in exterior spaces or ceilings. Exposed exterior drywall in Florida is never a good bet with our never-ending humidity. Yet, it continues to be installed outdoors as a cheap, “someone else can deal with it” approach which we frequently find is the standard Florida way of dealing with many repairs and even new installations.

Some home builders will paint the drywall to protect it. Some will skip that step to save a few bucks. Either way, eventually the paint will crack and the drywall will be exposed and subjected to moisture.

This patio ceiling was a good–or bad, rather–example of what happens to drywall over time in Florida. The patio ceiling had begun to peel off virtually everywhere. Not only was it aesthetically unappealing, but the nails holding it up were rusted, causing a potential injury from falling drywall.

Our solution for this client, and our general preference for this type of project, was to replace the drywall with tongue-and-groove Cypress planking. The reason we prefer Cypress is because it is readily available, fast-growing, local, and withstands humidity well.

After: tongue and groove Cypress patio ceilingBut there are several other options that can be used for this type of project. Other choices are: pre-stained wood, pine, smaller width boards, and wood panels, to name a few. The boards can be painted, stained or left natural, as this client preferred.

This client was very happy with their visually upgraded and more environmentally appropriate patio ceiling as it turned out beautiful.

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“Logan was quick to respond and promptly came to measure and provide estimates for the work.  He provided many ideas for the projects that we had not thought of and was very helpful with suggestions for a “better way” to do some of the things.  He was prompt and professional.”

          -Jack Harper (Angies List customer)

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AFTER_4th floor condo bathroom remodelThis bathroom remodel transformed a tight, cavelike space into a spacious-feeling modern bathroom.  The image to the left was the design inspiration for the space.

All projects have their own unique challenges, in this case, the bathroom was on the 4th floor of a townhome with a restricting  stairwell, and a 45° angled wall which created an awkward layout to the room. 

Additional concerns with a multi-story bathroom remodel exist because you are dealing with framing. Framing is more of an issue with a multi-story remodel because if there are any leaks they will run down to all of the floors underneath.  Obviously that could be an expensive and unexpected turn of events!

Schluter shower systemBecause of the inherent risk associated with a traditional shower water management system, which is the culprit for 90% of the shower remodeling we do, waterproofing is of the upmost importance. This bath remodel was actually the first time we used the Schluter Shower System. That was where our great respect for this waterproofing system, which has a 10-year warranty against water intrusion, began. 

4th floor condo bathroom remodel–beforeAs you can see from the photo, this was a tight space. What you can’t tell was that none of the walls were “plumb” (level vertically), in fact, the wall to be tiled was one inch off from top to bottom. This is a common occurrence which we account for, however not to this degree typically.  Aesthetic, this poses a real problem when your intention is to install rectified tile (square edge) like many modern bathrooms are trending towards.  This type of tile is designed to be installed perfectly plumb in order to achieve the crisp look it is intended to create.  If your installer is not a professional tile layer or your contractor doesn’t catch it, you’re finished tile work will reflect the inexperience.  

 This is just one of the many unanticipated things you can run into on any project. At Jack O’ Trades we try to cover every potential “change order”, or “thing that we might encounter unexpectedly” during the course of the project that could change the cost or length of time it takes to complete, so that our clients don’t have too many surprises. 

Floor to ceiling tile in shower enclosureThough the size of the room was small, it did have high ceilings. By using a larger format 12″ x 24″ tile, installed floor-to-ceiling, and a floating vanity cabinet, the illusion of a larger space was created.  These two components were the key to achieving the  modern, minimalist feel of the clients were craving in their remodeled bathroom. 

 

After, 4th floor remodel, white countertopThe clients also chose a white glass countertop. Normally a counter like this would have cost around $90 a square foot but because it was a remnant they were able to get it for a much lower price. 

The obtrusive track lighting on the ceiling was replaced with six inch recessed can lighting, which is another look we prefer because of the space and simplicity it provides. Also, whenever we do a bath remodel we always proactively replace the various plumbing fixtures throughout the remodeled space to minimize the chance of future leakage and ensure a warrantable finished product. 

This client was very happy with their new bathroom. We were able to achieve the more open-looking, modern feel that they had in mind. We enjoyed working with them and they have called back to have more work done–a great success for all parties involved! 

 

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“This guy was great, I really liked him. They were punctual and they returned my call immediately. He was on time and he called to let me know when he would arrive. He explained what was going on. The price that he estimated turned out to be the price of the job. The people that came out to do the job were very neat and very respectful.”

          -Tamiko Gantt (Angies List customer)

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Using common building materials like 2×4’s and OSB (oriented strand board), we were able to construct a very simple, customizable and affordable shelving system to organize this garage while not obstructing the electrical breaker panels.

 

 
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St. Pete beach house. Before shot #1. jackotrades.biz. Kitchen remodel.On March 29, 2011 we met with our potential clients to discuss a full remodel of the outdated 1980’s-era kitchen as well as a major deck remodel for their stilt home.  

The clients wanted a modern, functional kitchen with specialty features including a farm sink, an over-the-range hood, custom-painted cabinets, and wood floors in the kitchen and dining space.

We laid out the design concept with the clients in a 3-D model and, as always, we collaborated St. Pete beach house. Before shot #2. jackotrades.biz. Kitchen remodel.with our cabinet designer so that he could offer suggestions and correlate the design with the actual product. Project schedules are generally coordinated around the delivery of the cabinets, which on average take about three weeks to come in.

This project presented unique challenges because of the specific specialty features that the clients desired. As a rule, these out-of-the-ordinary amenities are considered luxury items. They tend to increase the estimate dramatically because they demand more management, installation is more difficult, and the components are more costly.

Farm sinks pose a particular challenge as they are not typically used in Florida homes, so there is a general lack of the familiarity which comes with repetition of installation.  Before the installation can occur, the complexity of planning for a farm sink must be considered; The height and width of the sink must be very carefully calculated to determine the correct sized cabinet to order, which requires modification at installation to support the sink properly.  The visual exposure of the sink itself, countertop edges, and adjacent cabinetry, this “trifecta” of three mediums, makes the incorporation of a farm sink a far more complex selection than a standard under-mount or drop in sink.

For the issue of wood flooring in the kitchen, unless a client is adamant, we typically do not suggest the use of wood in a wet area like a kitchen or bathroom for the obvious reason that if there are any leaks, the floor will be damaged quite extensively in many cases.

St. Pete beach house. After shot #1. jackotrades.biz. Kitchen remodel.Paint-matching the cabinetry was the biggest learning curve of this project. When cabinets are custom-painted, it is done with a lacquer paint sprayer at the factory. It is then very difficult to find matching touch-up paint to repair the little dings and scrapes that naturally occur during delivery and installation. We eventually had to hire a master furniture artist to match the color and finish exactly.  With a little breathe holding, the final finish came out virtually perfect, however I am still not an advocate of the process.

The over-the-range hood is one great example of why you should hire a licensed contractor who clearly understands the particular dynamics of your project, will ensure the project is code compliant and that the required permits are in order so that your project is not issued a “Stop work order” by a city official, causing unnecessary delays and fines.

If a range hood consumes more than 400 cu ft. of air per minute, the equivalent amount of air must be compensated for from the outside of the home through what is known as a “make-up air system”. This system is barometrically controlled and can be a significantly unexpected challenge to install. The make-up air system alone can almost double the cost of installing a range hood and have hidden costs depending on the construction style of the home. In addition, a range hood over a gas range must duct outside the house, not only to meet code, but to ensure the safety of your family. In this kitchen remodel, a make-up-air system was not required since the code was changed after this remodel was completed. The challenge with this kitchen were the angled ceiling, requiring custom fitting working and the low height of the ductwork from the previous range hood.

Despite the numerous unique challenges, each of these features were completed with beautiful results.

The functional island with seating was an additional added amenity. Kitchen islands are St. Pete beach house. After shot #2. jackotrades.biz. Kitchen remodel. Island.required to have power running to them; not a problem in this case, being that it was a wood frame, stilt house with easy accessibility. Obviously this can be more of an issue when having to excavate through concrete sub-floors to provide the required power.

Another electrical requirement, added to the code in 1984, in kitchens is that there must be a GFI (Ground Fault Interrupt) outlet every four feet for safety and functionality, so these were added wherever necessary. A GFI outlet is a type of electrical outlet that detects an imbalance of current and automatically trips a breaker when the imbalance reaches a specific level. The GFI is designed to protect against electrocution in high-risk areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, garages and outdoor areas.

St. Pete beach house. After shot #3. jackotrades.biz. Kitchen remodel. Wine fridge.Replacing the low-hanging track lighting with recessed can lights opened up the space and made the angled ceiling seem even higher. And the addition of a small custom wine fridge at the end of the kitchen counter created added functionality.

The clients reused and transported their own refrigerator which leads us to offer one word of caution. We always suggest that our clients be cognizant toward the idea of re-using anything from the existing space being remodeled, if it can be helped; pre-existing damage, lost parts, damage caused upon removal or from transporting are several reasons for this consideration, which at the the time of installation can pose an uncomfortable situation in determining the culprit.

This project was started on May 16, 2011 and completed by June 28, 2011. The clients loved their new kitchen.

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Jack O’ Trades has earned the service industry-coveted 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award, an honor awarded annually to approximately 5 percent of all the companies rated on Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies.  This will be the fourth year in a row we have attained this level of customer satisfaction!

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Angies List awards Jack O’ Trades with the highly coveted Super Service Award for maintaining a superior service rating throughout the 2011 year in multiple categories.  This is our third year in a row maintaining such a high level of customer service for intricate and detailed Bathroom & Kitchen Remodeling, completing the constantly growing “honey do lists” with our Handyman Services and changing your backyard into an outdoor living space with our Pavers, Decks & Hardscape Services.

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Fireplace remodel, before, jackotrades.bizRemodeling a fireplace can be quite a challenge, not to mention expensive, but it usually pays off with excellent aesthetic dividends. 

The owner of this fireplace had done the demo work before we signed on to this job. It was up to us to choose and place the tile correctly to achieve a symmetric and cohesive tile design. 

Because we were remodeling an existing fireplace, we were working with a 6-dimensional, predefined space. Due to that, we had very specific parameters to conform to. To make sure that all of the tile looked good and and that the grout lines lined up correctly we selected 3 different kinds of tile. We also physically laid out every tile before beginning to apply the grout. 

Fireplace remodel, AFTER, jackotrades.bizWe finished off this fireplace project with a hearth, mosaic tile and two sconce lights on a switch. 

 

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With outdoor rock climbing rising dramatically in popularityHome climbing wall over the last decade, indoor rock climbing has followed suit.  For some, as with this particular client, the climbing gym is just not convenient enough!  The most important factor in this design was a clean interaction with the living space.  This home has a very ideal layout; a 12′ vaulted ceiling, 30′ of straight wall space and an alcove in that wall space for some depth and variation.  The climbing wall we envisioned was clean, textural, natural in appearance and worked with the flow and style of the home.                                           Home climbing wall

Using a cabinet grade plywood, and clear satin polyurethane as the finishing coat we achieved exactly what we set out to do, create a dynamic indoor climbing wall that established itself as Home climbing wall volumepart of the home, not only functionally, but artistically as well.  We began with the vertical wall and alcove area, returning the following year to build the “features” or “volumes” (pyramid shaped structures), as they are known in the close knit climbing world.  These new additions added fresh depth to the wall, literally, allowing for a more dynamic approach to the home climbing wall.

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Jack O’ Trades has earned the service industry-coveted 2010 Angie’s List Super Service Award, an honor awarded annually to approximately 5 percent of all the companies rated on Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies.  This will be the second year in a row we have attained this level of customer satisfaction!                                         

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“I’m looking at the shelf for the first time, and oh my gosh, it is amazing, I absolutely love love love it.  It turned out even better than I could have ever imagined, it’s just perfect, you did such a nice job!”

          -Dave & Susan Ward (owners Buddy Brew Coffee)

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Jack O’ Trades has earned the service industry-coveted 2009 Angie’s List Super Service Award for Kitchen & Bath remodeling, Decks & Hardscapes, Handyman and Flooring Installation, honors awarded annually to approximately 5 percent of all the companies rated on Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies.

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Logan Steege, Owner, JackO'Trades Owner & President Logan Steege relocated to Tampa in 2003 to assist in a local start-up building 25 new homes in under two years. In 2005 Jack O’ Trades was launched. In 2010 he acquired a State Certified Residential Contractor license (CRC 1330291). Logan has an uncanny eye for detail and imaginative functionality. Jack O’ Trades is more than a contractor bidding and completing your job, we will share ideas with you, inspire design, and work with you to visualize and create the best use of your space. Logan continues to keep both hands on every project, but also offers you his eyes for aesthetics and ears for understanding your desires to make you love where you live.