Monday, March 22, 2010


Some of the best people we know are our customers. We bend over backwards to please and serve not just because it's smart business practice, but also because we love 'em. Here are a few examples:

Dan's father, Alan, was having a hard time leaning over to file his important papers and retrieve those that he needed. We had just finished a second bathroom remodel for Dan, and now he was asking our assistance in building something for his father that would elevate the file cabinet so Alan wouldn't have to bend over. Steve went to Alan's home in San Francisco, measured, and constructed a nice solid maple box to lift up the cabinet a couple of feet. Our charge to Alan for labor and materials: $0! It's on the house, Alan.

There were some beautiful cherry cabinet doors in our woodshop destined for recycling. They were left over from another job. Meanwhile, Hoa was building maple cabinets for Irene and Michael's laundry room, and as it turned out, the cherry doors fit perfectly. We installed them instead of building new ones. Our charge to Irene and Michael for labor and materials on the doors: $0! Not only did the cabinet doors provide an opportunity for us to "gift" our clients, they were salvaged and reused, something near and dear to Irene and Michael's hearts. Their house is replete with green remodeling features, and we added one more.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ipe On The Mountain

Can you guess what type of wood we used to build this fence and deck? Here are the clues: pest and termite resistant; fire-resistant; strong and durable; comes from South America.

The homeowner had endured long enough living with a very old, dangerous and dilapidated deck and fence perched on a steep hillside. It was time for an upgrade, and she turned to us after she heard glowing accolades from her neighbors about our work. The original deck and fence, made of painted wood, gave way to this stunning material. It is safe to say that she was delighted with the outcome. She placed a beautiful potted orchid in a cozy corner of the deck to accent the beauty of the wood.

The answer to the question in paragraph 1 is: Ipe (pronounced "EE-pay"). It is a Brazilian hardwood that is carefully "stewarded" so as not to destroy forest, terrain or sustainability of the tree.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Just got back from the permit department of the City of Oakland. It's always an adventure in there, akin to falling down the rabbit hole and landing in Permit-Wonderland. I stood in three lines (one line twice), and spoke with three people, only to discover after almost two hours of wonderland wandering that the computers for the entire department had crashed and nobody had been issued a permit all week. It wasn't going to happen this day either.

"When will the computers be back to normal?" I asked, with little hope in my heart for a normal answer.

"Don't know," was the reply.

It hadn't occurred to a single soul in the permit department to post a sign letting applicants know that the computers were down, thus sparing them the waiting time to find out. The Mad Hatter couldn't have had a nuttier tea party.