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Thursday, June 16, 2011

WHAT MAKES A GREAT BUILDING CONTRACTOR?


What makes a great building and remodeling contractor?  Steve's got it all (and I do mean to brag!):
  • architectural training   - He can draw and read plans, knows strength of materials, strong design skills.
  • product awareness     - He can call out appliances, countertop materials and plumbing fixtures with the best of them.
  • carpentry skills           - His knowledge of carpentry is vast and deep; some others are "paper contractors", strictly businessmen
  • paperwork skills        - He has legally fine tuned and complete estimates, contracts, and clear and speedy correspondence.
  • contracting skills        - Knows how coordinate subcontractors, employees, and timelines, and treat them all well.
  • people skills              - Treats the homeowners like the king and queen of the castle.
The photo above shows Steve installing wainscotting along a wall for a bathroom remodel.  It came out beautifully because he's a perfectionist.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Despite the sprinkly, rainy weekend of June 4-5, the Sunset Magazine Weekend Celebration went underway and was a great success.  People streamed through the Sunset outdoors estate and tasted, sampled, touched and gazed their way through the myriad of vendors.

Here is Steve Schliff building the Entry Arbor designed by architect Steve Hinderberger.  This was down in San Jose.  This was a labor of love, all volunteer work, and one of the ways we keep On The Beam Remodeling visible in the Bay Area.   I'll post the finished arbor as soon as Steve H. sends me some photos.   

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SUNSET MAGAZINE HOME SHOW THIS WEEKEND

Today Steve is constructing an Entry Arbor to display at the Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend in San Jose the weekend of June 4-5.  It was designed by Architect Steve Hinderberger.  We worked with Steve Hinderberger on a delightful kitchen remodel in Oakland and got along so well, we decided to stay in touch and help each other promote our associated services.

Steve H. will be "manning the booth" this weekend, and will have a display rack of literature for On The Beam Remodeling.   Business cards, photo postcards and magazines featuring our company will be available.  If you're down in San Jose, don't miss it.

Here are details of the event:  It's called "Celebration Weekend", takes place at Sunset Mag Headquarters, 80 Willow Road, Menlo Park, and tickets cost $16.  There are sections to the event, and our display will be at the Home And Garden Exhibit.  You can find more information at www.sunset.com; click on "Events".  It looks like it'll be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

MY GREEN CLASS


I have been teaching as well as running On The Beam Remodeling with Steve for the past year.  Here are my students with me (center) from the spring class 2011 of VESL for GETS:  Vocational English as a Second Language for the Green Energy Training Service.  As an experienced ESL teacher and remodeling expert, I am in the privileged position of preparing this group for certification as Building Performance Professionals in our community.  As a group we are working to provide employment, improve our fellow citizens' English skills, and make the world more energy efficient.

The organizations involved include Richmond Build through the City of Richmond, Rising Sun Corporation, a private building performance business, and English Center of Oakland.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why Are They Fighting With Us?

In 1972 I took an elective class at UCSB (because I needed one to graduate) called "Islam Sects and Movements".    Professor Wadi taught us a brief history of Islam, from which emerged the split between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites.  We studied the Whirling Dervishes and the Sufis, forms of mystic Islam, which were much more fascinating than the bickering that went on between the two major divisions.

Why am I telling you this?  Much of what I learned in the class has stayed with me over the years and has helped me to put in a certain historical perspective the events leading up to 9/11 and continuing today.  Since this is my Blog, I want to use it to share it with my readers because perspective is empowering.

What is the difference between Sunni and Shi'ite Islam?  Two major sticking points:
  1. One sect believes that Mohammad the Prophet had no descendents.  The other sect believes he had a niece, Fatima, from whom descended a line of relatives.
  2. One sect believes that Allah, Creator of the Universe, is unknowable and cannot be given attributes or described.  The other sect endows Allah with certain attributes that are part of its religious dogma.  
It doesn't seem that these disagreements would give rise to a bloody reign of terror in the 1000's A.D., but in fact they did.  Perhaps they were just an excuse for a grab for power, which is often the source of conflict.

Next Blog will describe the bloody reign of terror in Islamic lands.  Stay tuned.



 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Solar Lanterns


Steve and I have fallen in love.....with solar candle lanterns.  They are sturdy, attractive little columns with a flat-topped peak roof that contains a solar cell that is charged by exposure to the sun.  Inside the faux-concrete lantern is a "flickering" candle that sheds a surprising amount of illumination given how petite it is.  It takes an AA battery, which I just replaced in one of them after many years of use.  The other one still doesn't require a new battery.

I bought two at Costco about 12 years ago or so, and they're still shining away through the night.  I positioned one in our backyard garden and the other atop the retaining wall of our front walkway.  The ones at Costco cost me about $14 per lantern, and I just bought more through Amazon.com for around $16 each.

The best thing is their light is a warm yellow-orange hue like a candle, not that bluish-white glow of the typical outdoor solar light.  I will post a photo of my lovely candle lanterns here soon!  Check it out.

Monday, February 28, 2011

BACK TO THE FUTURE BATHROOM

We just started a kitchen remodel at a home in Wildcat Canyon.  That's the Berkeley hills for those of you who don't know that there's a canyon beyond Grizzly Peak Blvd., over the ridge.

Our very good client, Virginia, hired us to remodel her bathroom some years ago...could be six or seven by now.  I took some fine photos of the new bath, but back then I was still using a film camera and now I don't have any digitals of it to post here.  HOWEVER......!
The bathroom looks exactly like it did when we finished it in 2004 or 2005.  We can attribute this to two factors: 
  1. Virginia has taken good care of the room, and treated it properly.
  2. On The Beam knows how to create a new space that will endure.  We use strong, reliable and high-quality materials and install them with perfection.
I will be taking digital photos of her new kitchen, and while I'm at it, I'll take a few of the remodeled bathroom that we completed years ago.  Look for those photos here, SOON!

Monday, January 31, 2011

ARE YOU GETTING THE COMPLETE PICTURE?




Last year we got a call from an interior designer friend of ours, Cindy. She owns a home in San Francisco in partnership with two other women. She called because the deck of that house was deteriorating and allowing water to get into the interior of the house when it rained. Steve went to the site, investigated, measured and estimated the job at $50,000. The group of homeowners went with a much cheaper estimate from a different contractor: $20,000. Steve knew that number was extremely low and didn't sound right, but he had to respect their choice.

A year later we got a call from Cindy: the "lower bid" job was now at $75,000, and they were so unhappy. They wished they had gone with us. We've heard this story before, but like the mythological Cassandra, we can only predict and hope that somebody listens.

So LISTEN! The cheapest bid is not necessarily the best and often is the worst. Some contractors only bid low to get their foot in your door. Once you've signed on with them, they then ply you with "Change Orders" that you must approve to keep the job progressing. The next thing you know, your project costs way more than you believed it would with this imaginary great deal you think you got.

Steve estimates thoroughly and accurately and has 25 years of experience doing so. He includes everything that could possibly be involved in the job. It is an honest presentation of what the expense will be.