Floors Decisions Revisited

You may recall that our original plan for the wood floors was to sand and refinish them. When we sent our project out to bid we received mixed opinions as to whether they could be restored.

Warning:  contractors will tell you what you want to hear and then tell you something different once they have been engaged.

In most of the rooms there were layers of linoleum flooring and underneath was pine sub flooring.  We don’t know whether originally there was flooring over this that was removed at a later date to make room for the linoleum.  The back parlor room floor (which will eventually be our kitchen) had oak flooring on top of the pine sub floor that we really wanted to save.  To make a long story short our new project manager came to us a couple of weeks ago and said that if they sanded and stained the flooring on the parlor floor i.e. the pine in the living room and oak in the kitchen they would not match, would be on different levels and we would not be happy.  We did not put up much of a fight since we kind of knew this.

We had always thought we would use new flooring on the first floor but got into a disagreement with the previous project manager about price (he wanted to charge us an additional $16 a square foot to install new wood flooring in addition to the thousands already budgeted in the contract.  After we said we would not pay then he said then they would sand and refinish them.

Now that we are dealing with a more reasonable representative from the company we came to an agreement and looked into purchasing the flooring ourselves so there would be no mark-up.

Floors tend to come in three grades, select (uniform color, for or no knots), natural (color variations, some knots) and rustic/country (lots of color variation).  We both agreed that natural or rustic was our choice.

We found ourselves most attracted to natural maple and hickory but we were concerned that the modern look of a light Maple would clash with the period features of the house. The other issue was that we could not get the grade (rustic), size (4-5 inches) and finish (matte) we wanted from any of the companies that sold maple.


We also liked the look of hickory and there were more options for width sizes.  It looks great close up but the color variation tends to look a bit stripey when laid down on an entire floor.


hickory stripy

We went to Lumber Liquidators and liked Tobaccoa Road Acacia but were concerned that it was too strong of a color (see below).

tobacco road

You would think in NYC that there would be lots of flooring places.  Turns out there are not that many and the worst part is that most of them are only open Monday to Friday.  In fact, many building supply places have those hours which make it difficult for working homeowners.

Next, we tried Queensboro Flooring where we purchased laminate floors for our rental unit.  It has a good selection and they do have some Saturday hours. Unfortunately, we did not see anything there we liked.

At this point, we were starting to get a little panicked because we did not want to choose something we did not love.  Floors affect the entire look of the house and they are expensive and a pain to replace later if you don’t like them.  Then we found PC Flooring (and they are open Sundays, mechayeh!), which had a good selection and helpful staff.  There were floors at $12 per square foot that we loved but we were trying to stay on budget.  The other problem we encountered was the fact that we did not want a shiny finish and most floors come prefinished and many do not offer a matte finish.   We were concerned about our contractors ability to stain unfinished floors well (this was before we fired the subcontractor).  You know you are in trouble when they say you will need a skilled floor person to finish these and you think, no not our contractor.

Then we found Australian Cypress and both agreed that that was our floor. It’s allegedly grown on a sustainable basis as a part of the Australian Farm Forestry Program.  Its Janka rating is 1350, meaning it is harder than Teak and Red Oak.

It comes in the 5 inch planks that we wanted and our only compromise was that we could only get in a satin finish rather than matte but renovation is all about compromise.  It was a little more expensive than we had planned but we are getting used to that.

Austrailian Cypress

How Brooklyn is that?

Since the beginning of our renovation our two neighbors have been polar opposites regarding the inconveniences. On one side we have a cautious woman who we’ve heard from only once or twice. On the other is a very opinionated gentlemen who calls me an average of once a week.

Back in November when we demolished our extension it exposed a 1 foot wide strip of brick on the rear wall of his building. The rest of this wall was painted white and we thought it completely reasonable when he asked if we would paint the exposed brick to match the rest of his house when our extension is finished.

The area to the left of the drain pipe.

The area in question is left of the drain pipe.

Fast forward six month later and our house is still under construction with no work done on his building or his side of our extension. Over those months he would ask about it whenever I bumped into him and each time I’d explain that the weather needs to be dry and warm in order to complete the stucco and his wall. As the months went on so did his frustration.

At the beginning of May he left a voicemail demanding that the wall be repaired and painted by the end of the month or he’ll bring in his own guys and send me the bill. To be honest, I agreed that the delay had been unreasonable and said I’d pressure my contractor because I want the side of my house done just as much as he does. After all it had been warm and often dry for several days.

As the month went on it rained here and there followed by more and more delays until it was the final week of May. It was a warm week but it looked like rain in a few days. I confirmed with my GC that we were going to side the following week. He said yes definitely. So it rained Tuesday and a little Wednesday. I speak to him again. We’re starting Thursday right? right!..

Thursday my neighbor calls to complain nobody is working. I call my GC who explains they can’t do the siding if the plywood exterior is wet. Didn’t we know it was wet on Wednesday when we talked? Ok… I relay this message to my neighbor and he warns that he’ll block access to his yard if we’re not done by Friday. Or in his words: “I’ll throw you the f*!# out of my yard and you’ll need a police escort to get back in!”

Finally on Friday May 31st, the last possible day, a crew shows up around 11am with materials ready to do his house and mine. They setup scaffolding and promptly head out for lunch.

11:30 call #1: “Your guys are here and they haven’t done sh*!. They showed up at 11 and then took off. I hope you don’t think I’m a fool and allow you to setup this scaffolding to fool me into thinking you’re going to do my house. If this isn’t done today then I’ll throw it all back in your yard and you will not be allowed back without the cops.”

I call my contractor who says they went to lunch and relax everything will be Ok.


1:30 Call #2 “They aren’t working on my house they are working on yours. They are supposed to do my house today and they are doing yours and not mine. They must do mine today”

I try to remind him that the day isn’t over and we will do his house they probably just need to setup some materials that need to dry on my house first. I also call my contractor again to ask why they are not doing his wall first and he says essentially, “I don’t know let me call them.”

2:30 call #3: “We’re done! they are not going to do my house today so I want them the f*%# out of here. Take down the scaffolding or I’ll do it for them and you may not come back into my yard. We’re done!!”

At this point I’ve lost my cool and start yelling back at him that he agreed to give us till then end of the day and that’s several hours away. He doesn’t care and continues to repeat the get out mantra. So, I ask to speak with the foreman. My neighbor hands him the phone and I explain that he must begin working on the exposed areas on my neighbors brick wall right away or our entire project will be screwed. He immediately says…. “ok” and then they start on it (really?).

My wife goes over to the house around 3:00pm to check on things and make sure our neighbor knows how concerned we are. She can’t find my neighbor. There’s no answer at the door but she talks to our foreman who reports that they are working on his house now and will finish today.

work done on neighbor's house

work done on neighbor’s house

3:30pm I call my neighbor and get no answer.

5:00pm I call again and get no answer. I can’t figure out if he’s Ok now but figure there’s nothing I can do.

Later, I get a text from my contractor and I call him back to learn that the neighbor is being completely nice now and even allowed the crew to leave the scaffolding up in his yard for the weekend. So I call my neighbor to hear his side and get a similar response.

Over the weekend I saw him and he even joked around about it. Basically he says, “I thought you were making a fool of me and I’ve found that the best way to get things done is to just be a mother f*%$#!r. As long as I get what’s due me, we’ve got no problems.”  I didn’t have the heart to tell him next week calls for rain.

How Brooklyn is that?