Menifee Fixit

Cooking the Turkey When Your Oven is Toast

By November 1, 2016 Kitchen, News & Hints, Outdoor, Recipes


Over the last decade I’ve learned some valuable lessons when it comes to the home. For example if a guy says “Trust me, I can figure it out….” don’t, or if a product has an 8 week lead time, don’t procrastinate until 8 weeks before you need it to order it. Another very valuable lesson is that if your oven is going to fail it will most likely happen on one of two days, the day before Christmas or the day before Thanksgiving. That is why it is always good to have a plan “B”. I’ve compiled this list of alternate ways to cook your turkey.


The deep fried turkey is a far cry from healthy, but I doubt that matters much for a holiday where the goal is to eat so much you pass out on the couch. The best place to do this is outside if available. There are many different recipes for how to deep fry a turkey, but make sure you have a deep fryer and plenty of peanut oil or vegetable oil just in case. The usual cooking time is less than an hour, which is a plus.

A while back Buzz Feed put out a great detailed how-to list for thisImage result for deep fried turkey



Although not the most traditional way to prepare a turkey, it can be very juicy and very simple to prepare. After all, isn’t a grill really nothing more than an outdoor oven? A metal box with a heat source? There are a number of good recipes out there, such as this one from Sunset Magazine. With 30 minutes of prep and about 1.5 hours of cooking time this leaves the chef with plenty of time left over to be a social host.



Kamado cooking is nothing new, and is quite a versatile way to cook. Clay cooking pots and stoves have been found in every part of the world and some of the earliest dated by archaeologists to be over 3000 years old have been found in China and over 4000 years in Indus Valley Civilization, India. Some kamados have dampers and draft doors for better heat control. Clay stoves have evolved in many different ways across the globe, the tandoor for example in India, and in Japan the mushikamado is designed to steam rice and is used by Japanese families for ceremonial occasions. The most common fuel is natural lump charcoal, not the processed manufactured stuff (sorry Kingsford lovers).

One of the most popular Kamado cookers is the Big Green Egg. Any appliance whose diehard fans fans willingly call themselves “Eggheads” and travel to various locations everywhere for “Eggfest” must be doing something right.


For anyone who’s camped with the Boy Scouts, you’ve no doubt enjoyed a whole array of tasty treat from a dutch oven. Of course, a dutch oven can be used for more than cobblers and campfire chili. A little seasoning and some lit coals, and you have yourself a new twist on a holiday classic.


Sous-vide, which is French for “under vacuum”, is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times. The intent is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and retain moisture. A few of the benefits of this are that it can be cooked up to a week in advance and stored in the refrigerator. It’s also much faster than roasting a turkey, and the herbs and seasonings will infuse right into the meat.

Remember these options if you find yourself without an oven this coming holiday season. There’s more than one way to cook a turkey.

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Samsung Electronics to Acquire Dacor

By August 11, 2016 Appliances, Kitchen

Samsung Electronics America to Acquire Dacor as Part of Home Appliance Portfolio Expansion into Luxury Market

Ultra-premium appliance business expected to experience double-digit growth over next three years

Ridgefield Park, New Jersey — August 10, 2016, Samsung Electronics America today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Dacor®, a leading American brand in the luxury home appliance category.  The acquisition marks Samsung’s continued investment in the home appliance market and an expansion of its portfolio to include ultra-premium home appliances under the Dacor brand.

Founded by Stanley M. Joseph, the California-based company has been designing and manufacturing American-made luxury kitchen appliances since 1965 and has emerged as a trusted industry leader. Upon completion of the acquisition, Dacor will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics America. Dacor will maintain its corporate identity and brand, with no changes to its operations and US-based manufacturing.

“Dacor has been delivering innovative products to the luxury home appliance market for more than 50 years,” said Boo-Keun Yoon, CEO of Consumer Electronics at Samsung Electronics. “We welcome the Dacor team to the Samsung family and look forward to leveraging their expertise in the luxury home appliance market while scaling their continued success in North America.”

“Samsung is a world-renowned organization and we could not be more delighted to share our family company with them. We are thrilled to be a part of a truly great global company,” said Michael Joseph, Chairman of the Board.

“The entire Dacor family is very excited to be joining Samsung,” said Dacor President and CEO, Chuck Huebner. “We expect that, with Samsung’s global scale, financial strength and market leadership, we will be able to accelerate our growth as we better meet the needs of both our high-end consumers and our retail partners.”

As a leader in the ultra-premium kitchen appliance market, Dacor’s innovative, high-quality products have been recognized with numerous prestigious awards including GOOD DESIGN™, Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) Best in Show, Digital Trends Best of Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Home Award, and many more.    Dacor is also the first and only major appliance brand to be recommended by the Master Chefs of Le Cordon Bleu, the premier culinary institute headquartered in Paris. Dacor products include ranges, cooktops, wall ovens, refrigeration, ventilation and wine preservation. To learn more about Dacor and its selection of ultra-premium kitchen appliances, visit

Samsung is America’s fastest growing home appliance brand and continues to deliver products with premium design and exemplary performance. With a deep understanding of the consumer marketplace, Samsung is redefining the appliance category with innovations that bring convenience into the modern lifestyle of consumers for a truly connected experience in the home.

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What To Expect When You’re Inspecting

By May 29, 2016 Bath, General, Kitchen, News & Hints, Outdoor, Plumbing

Congratulations, you’ve decided to buy your first home. Welcome to being your own landlord, property taxes and 30+ years of debt and adult level responsibility.

Stanley Johnson knows what I’m talking about…

After you’ve met with a realtor and found your “dream home” there comes the home inspection. “What do I need a home inspection for?” you might ask yourself, “I’ve walked through that house so many times I know every nook and cranny.” These are all worthy questions, so I decided to go straight to the source and met with Joe Reilly from Strike First Inspections in Menifee. Here is what he had to say.

Q: What exactly is a home inspector?

A: A Home Inspector is someone who does visual non-intrusive inspection of the accessible areas of a residential dwelling.

Q: Does an H.I. make the necessary repairs?

A: The answer is NO. California Business Law 7197(a) states it is an unfair business practice for a home inspector, a
company that employs the inspector, or a company that is controlled by a company that also has a financial interest in a company employing a home inspector, to do any of the following:

  1. To perform or offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs to a structure on which the inspector, or the inspector’s company, has prepared a home inspection report in the past 12 months.
  2. Inspect for a fee any property in which the inspector, or the inspector’s company, has any financial interest or any interest in the transfer of the property.
  3. To offer or deliver any compensation, inducement, or reward to the owner of the inspected property, the broker, or agent, for the referral of any business to the inspector or the inspection company.
  4. Accept an engagement to make an inspection or to prepare a report in which the employment itself or the fee payable for the inspection is contingent upon the conclusions in the report, preestablished findings, or the close of escrow.
  5. A home protection company that is affiliated with or that retains the home inspector does not violate this section if it performs repairs pursuant to claims made under the home protection contract.
So more like this guy than that one. Can we fix it? Nope, no we can't.

So more like this guy than that one. Can we fix it? Nope, no we can’t.

Q: All that makes sense. If the guy getting paid to inspect is also the guy getting paid to make repairs, that is a conflict. Can a homeowner do an inspection themselves?

A: Of course,(and here is the “however”), the potential buyer or renter is understandably excited about purchasing or renting a home and they are busy visualizing where to put the sofa, T.V., and the trophy case, they are not looking at the small items that may turn into something big. Your home inspector does not have a vested interest in the property and is solely there to point out areas with deficiencies.


As I’ve pointed out before it’s your home and you need to maintain some responsibility over it. If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional wait until you hire an amateur. If you want to get a hold of Joe at Strike First his number is (951) 333-7182.

What lessons have you learned in the home buying process that you wish you had known? Leave them in the comments below.


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KOHLER Veil Intelligent Toilet Packages Technology and Art

By February 2, 2016 Bath, News & Hints, Plumbing
kohler veil room

KOHLER, Wis. – Jan. 19, 2016 – A recent Houzz study reveals that the leading two elements of bathroom design among homeowners are style and ease of cleaning, and that bidets are increasingly considered for bathroom remodels. Kohler’s new Veil Intelligent toilet boasts this trifecta, sophisticated style, ease of cleanliness and bidet technology, in a sleek, contemporary fashion. With its clean, refined design lines and concealed tank, the Veil toilet offers smart toilet functionality with minimal aesthetic interruption to the overall bathroom space.

Veil includes features such as automatic opening/closing lid and flushing to minimize touch points, easing user’s concerns about spreading germs in the bathroom. The new Veil Intelligent toilet uses cutting-edge technology to provide comfort features including integrated bidet functionality in a seamless manner, packaging these personal hygiene features in a design that is both unassuming and approachable.

“From an early age, we are taught a toilet routine, however, as standards for personal cleanliness increase, American consumers are learning there is a better way to achieve personal hygiene,” says Shane Allis, marketing director of Kohler sanitary products. “Bidet functionality has been a growing trend as American consumers learn it provides a more thorough and hygienic level of cleanliness compared to the traditional toilet routine but consumers are not willing to sacrifice design. The Veil Intelligent toilet offers the best of both worlds.”

A stainless steel bidet wand offers warm water cleaning with adjustable spray shape, position, water pressure, temperature, pulsate, and oscillate functions for anterior and posterior positions. A soothing warm-air drying system with adjustable temperature settings provides additional comfort. The self-cleaning function uses UV light and electrolyzed water systems to sanitize the bidet wand surfaces.

Incorporating Kohler’s popular French Curve toilet seat design, this toilet provides an ergonomically designed experience to minimize pressure points and enhance comfort.

Veil’s touch screen remote control offers complete customization from its full menu of cleansing and comfort features including adjustable water temperature, bidet wand position and function type, heated seat, dryer, deodorizer, night light and flush control.

The Veil toilet is equipped with an exceptional flushing system featuring a rimless bowl for a cleaner flush, dual jets to create a strong siphon for efficient flushing and powerful water flow to eliminate bowl residue. Offered with both 1.28-gallon and 0.8-gallon eco flush options, the Veil Intelligent toilet saves as much as 6,000 gallons of water annually over a standard 1.6-gallon toilet.

kohler veil piece

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Brace Yourselves: Winter Is Coming

By November 2, 2015 General, News & Hints, Outdoor
brace yourself

I recently made some new friends over at Essential Media in Australia, and while our friends down under are starting to shed their layers in favor of  warmer weather and swimsuit season, we here in the Northern Hemisphere are bracing for what appears to be a very intense winter in some places. Here in Southern California we are bracing for El Niño.

It's Spanish for The Niño

It’s Spanish for The Niño

Many fans have asked what they can do to prepare their home for the coming winter months. Here are a few tips that can minimize repairs and make the spring thaw come a little more easily. Starting at the top:


For my friends that live in the colder climates and can expect snow, like in Big Bear, cleaning out the gutters will save you from building up ice dams that can damage the roof in the winter. Clean them with a leaf blower or wash them out with a hose. Check for any holes or other damage to the gutters and repair them before heavy snow makes them worse. It’s also a good time to take a look at the roof itself and fix any shingles that are curling or any flashing around chimneys that has come loose. If your roof is in bad shape, bring in a roofing contractor to assess whether the roof needs to be replaced before winter or can wait until the spring. I promise if you wait for the first storm of the season, the contractor’s time will be pressed and you may end up paying more. An ounce of prevention in this case is worth a pound of cure.

And if you wait till the last minute the bill will be "ruff"

And if you wait till the last minute the bill will be “ruff”


Granted most people in SoCal will not experience the wonderful effects of Jack Frost on their water pipes, but some will. Improperly insulated plumbing lines in unheated spaces, such as attics or exterior walls, are a major cause of power use, since the water heater must work extra hard to heat water. It can also cause pipes to freeze and burst if you live in an area that dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Check all of your plumbing lines to identify those that are outside or underneath the house, or are in an unheated basement or attic. Foam wrap can be purchased at any home improvement store. I’m actually partial to Imcolock Insulation. Just remember if you are wrapping standard 1/2″ copper, use the 5/8″ ID insulator. For 3/4″ pipe use 7/8″ and so on. As it gets colder your energy bill will thank you.

If you call the plumber after the fact, it'll cost you some serious coin

Calling the plumber after the fact, will cost you some serious coin, and the Princess won’t be too happy.


Doors and windows can develop cracks in the seals that let cold in or the heat out. Here are a few simple steps that mean a big difference in your utility bill.

  • Check for cracked window panes and replace them. Costs on window panes can vary, but a good budget number I’ve found is around $12 per square foot for glass. A little more for tinted.
  • Get a good caulking gun and some tubes of caulking (I’ve always been partial to DAP brand) and make sure all your windows are sealed and without cracks. The goal is not to let any breeze through.
  • A Window Film Insulating kit is a good low cost added layer of protection too. 3M makes a good one.
  • Make sure you put new weatherstripping at your exterior doors, this will keep your energy bill down too, and you’ll need it for the Christmas Lights.
Not a solid financial plan

Not a solid financial plan


You won’t be using them as much for several months, and they’ve gotten pretty worn over the spring and summer. Sand down wooden decks and apply a good water seal (I’ve always found Thompson’s to be a good multi-weather seal)


That’s…not what I meant


This may be an unnecessary step, if your soil has all the right nutrients, so do a soil sample and make sure you have the right amount of potassium in your soil. In addition a good lawn winterizer can make reclaiming your lawn in the spring.

In addition, make sure your sprinkler system includes a rain sensor shutoff to make sure you’re not wasting money or resources watering your lawn when it’s raining. It just makes no sense to water your lawn in the rain.

That's not how you add potassium, but good try

That’s not how you add potassium, but good try


If you take a few simple steps in the coming weeks, it will hopefully make for a smoother transition through winter and into spring. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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Top 4 Countertop Myths To Avoid

By October 27, 2015 Bath, Kitchen, News & Hints, Outdoor

So you’ve finally had it with that old tile countertop, have you? That avocado green that has been in the kitchen since the Carter Administration has got to go. But where do you start? Your sister’s hairdresser’s cousin’s best friend from Jersey said you definitely probably need to stay away from (insert meaningless advice here).

Seems Legit

Seems Legit

Here are some common pieces of advice people will give you that are flat out wrong.


Tell that to the ancient Greeks and Romans that built everything out of marble. The stuff holds up just fine. What your friend meant to say is that marble is one of the softest materials available, and can be scratched. Also because it is a natural stone it has pores which means it can be stained with red wine, or acidic fluids like orange juice. If yours is a busy house with kids, dogs, and you want your home showroom quality with low maintenance, then marble is the wrong material for you. If it is a low traffic household, you seal your countertops well, you don’t mind a more natural look, and you just love the look of marble, then go for it.


Ha! You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried! Granite is timeless, and it doesn’t have to be a classic design. There are plenty of modern kitchens that use granite. Just remember, like marble it is a natural stone so it has pores that can be stained, so keep the sealant up. On a side note Cosentino does have a treatment called Senguard that they apply to some of their most popular granite colors that gives it a ten year no maintenance warranty. They call these colors their Sensagranite collection.

The appeal of granite, or any other natural stone is that the color is not consistent, so measure carefully, always round up, and overlap the corners (see image). If you need multiple slabs try to buy them in consecutive order, so that the veins match somewhat. And NEVER buy granite from a photo or sample, always see it in person, or send a person you trust to see it for you.

You'll never be sad you ended the job with a little scrap material to make some trivets out of

You’ll never be sad you ended the job with a little scrap material to make some trivets…which reminds me….


Beware of anyone trying to sell you a stone using the adjectives “unbreakable” “bulletproof” “indestructible”. That person is lying to you and you need to run away, quickly. Unless the stone comes from planet Krypton I don’t want to hear it.

The sad reality is any stone, no matter how durable the claim, or how good the “warranty”, is subject to thermal shock. What this means is the stone is sitting there a nice chilly 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and you pull a hot metal dish out of a 400 degree oven and you put this on the countertop, if there is a microscopic fracture you were unaware of, you can cause that fracture to expand rapidly across the entire countertop. I’ve seen it happen with natural stone, as well as man made. It is a rare occurrence (I’ve only seen it twice in 10 years). To cut the chances of this I always advocate the use of trivets (pot holders), made from the same material as the countertop. They blend in nicely and cost virtually nothing for your contractor to make.

Plus if you have an intruder, you can say you subdued him with a pot holder.

Plus if you have an intruder, you can say you subdued him with a pot holder.


There are plenty of good reasons to use man made stone, such as quartz composite. It’s durable, it doesn’t stain, and above all the coloring is consistent, so if you need to replace a piece, no worries, you will most likely find a color match. There are even some man made stones out there that are very realistic.

Personally, if I am putting in a man made stone I want it to look man made. I’m not a fan of anything that is almost stone-like or faux marble. I like things like Vetrazzo (recycled glass countertops), certain quartz composite colors like Cemento from Silestone. Although, if I’m putting it in an outdoor kitchen I wouldn’t use a Silestone, Caesarstone, or recycled glass. It’s not the heat that is a problem, but none of those countertops like UV radiation. It makes them weak and they are at high risk of fracture when weakened (see thermal shock above).


Plus it’s recycled so it’s green…well no not literally…you know what i mean.



Cemento – at least there’s some truth to the name, right?

The creators of Silestone have come out with a product called Dekton which is a quartz mixed with a porcelain and is warrantied to be outdoors, since porcelain is not vulnerable to UV the way the materials in the other products are. I’ve seen this in action in a professional kitchen. The chefs had to start using cutting boards because the material was dulling their knives too quickly. That’s how durable it is. (notice I did not say bulletproof – but that is about as close as it gets)


Ultimately, like so many decisions in your remodel, your stone choice is all about you. Sometimes the best thing to do is visit a few slab yards, see the slabs, understand the color variance, and fall in love. I’ve seen people look at sample and love it, but when they see the slab they tell me there is too much color, or not enough. At the end of the day it is your home, and what you put in should reflect your personality. Just understand what the material is capable of, and how to take care of it if applicable.


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5 Pieces Of Art That Add Function As Well As Beauty

By October 24, 2015 Bath, Decoration, Kitchen, News & Hints, Outdoor, Plumbing
wrench art

Ever since 1883 when John Michael Kohler, an Austrian immigrant and U.S. metal worker, sprinkled some enameling powder on a cast iron pig trough, put feet on it, and sold it as a bathtub, people have been looking for more innovative ways to dress up their homes. I’ve written articles about vessel sinks before but the genre of art becoming functional pieces within the home doesn’t end with sinks and tubs. There are a number of different ways to accomplish the goal.

The McCune Masterworks Renaissance Bar

This bar takes a classic old world globe design and gives it a 21st century makeover. It has a biometric thumb scanner to activate and it opens automatically. Don’t believe me? Check out the video here

We're talking some serious James Bond level stuff here.

We’re talking some serious James Bond level stuff here.

Electric Guitars Made From Reclaimed Redwood

There is a company in Temecula, CA. called Vintage Timberworks that specializes in making custom wood products out of reclaimed wood from places all over the united states, but they don’t stop at wood beams and tables. They have a whole selection of products available on their website including some pretty sweet axes (see what I did there?)

Will I be able to play these? Yes sir, of course. Great I've never been able to play the guitar before!

Will I be able to play these? Yes sir, of course. Great I’ve never been able to play the guitar before!

Interlocking Deck Furniture From Deeco

Wait, is that a sculpture of a vase on your patio? No, it’s just my furniture. Deeco, and many other patio furniture companies have discovered that just because someone lives in a small space, that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate some fun and innovation in their patio furniture. This has lead them to get creative with storage solutions in their products.

deeco furniture

It’s like Tetris but with chairs. Kind of like that one college party you went to.

Blue Garden Gate From Stone Forest

I’ve always loved the uniqueness of Stone Forest’s products, they always have such interesting designs in bathroom sinks, bathtubs, and pedestals. What people are usually unaware is that they have garden products as well, and will even do custom. The Blue Garden gate uses reclaimed wood from estates in India and is available in a ready to install refurbished condition.

I'm pretty sure walking through these gates involves a trip to Narnia.

I’m pretty sure walking through these gates involves a trip to Narnia.


Herbeau Dagobert Wooden Toilet Throne

Yes, this is a real thing made by a real company in France for use in the US market. The flush mechanism is even connected to a pull chain and bell, indicating that the king has completed his…uh..duties.

Dude, where are you? I'm on the throne. Well hurry up! No, you don't understand....

Dude, where are you? I’m on the throne. Well hurry up! No, you don’t understand….

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Vessel Sink Leaving You Drained?

By October 22, 2015 Bath, News & Hints, Plumbing

No doubt over the past ten years one of the biggest trends in bathroom decorative plumbing has been the vessel sink. They can be one of the easiest ways to take your bathroom fixtures from drab to fab and create a little distinction in your design. Unfortunately, like so many things in the remodel experience, a vessel sink is only as good as the plumber installing it and the plumbing it is being hooked up to. One of the most common complaints I’ve heard is when the sinks don’t drain quickly, or at all. Many people think this is a product issue or a clog issue when in reality it is an airflow issue.

Wait what does air have to do with water?

Anyone whose ever owned a water cooler will tell you that when they are pouring a glass of water, occasionally the flow will slow down or stop until the bottle sucks in more are, which gives you what some scientists call the “water cooler glub glub”.

water cooler

What? I didn’t make that u- OK maybe I did

OK, so water needs to be displaced by air. I get it, but what can I do?

I’m glad you asked. The first best option is to make sure your homes vent system is up to code. Every drainage system has pipes that run up through the roof that allow your sewer to take in air and to harmlessly expel sewer gases that get trapped in the line. Most people don’t discover the problem until the remodel is nearly complete and opening up the wall can be very costly. Luckily there is a solution available at your nearest hardware store that costs less than a tank of gas.

No the solution is not to drill the holes bigger, bozo. It might work but it looks like garbage.

No the solution is not to drill the holes bigger, bozo. That looks like garbage.

There is a product on the market called a Studor Vent. This little gizmo is very simple to install and is designed to allow air into the plumbing system from under the sink, without allowing gases to escape. By installing this your sinks should drain freely. without any gurgles or burps. Best of all the solution is out of site, and therefore out of mind.

studor ventstudor Valve Installation 1

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Back To The Future: 4 Futuristic Fixtures You Can Have In Your Home Today

By October 21, 2015 Appliances, Bath, General, Kitchen, News & Hints, Plumbing

I saw a documentary once that suggested science fiction drives science fact. It sparks the imagination in a future generation of potential scientists to ask the question, why not? So in honor of Marty and Docs travels through time, I thought I’d bring you a selection of items that you may have had no idea you could put in your home right now.

Steam Convection / Combi Ovens:

steam oven

The technology has existed in commercial kitchens for years. Reheating items in a microwave just dries them out. Toasting them in an oven makes them hard. However, take a little bit of oven technology and introduce some steam in the reheat cycle and presto – last night’s leftovers are as fresh as when they came out of the oven the first time. Seems like science fiction right? Not at all. Such devices are available from manufacturers such as Jennair, Bosch, Thermador, Wolf, and Miele to name a few. In almost all of these you can Bake, Broil, Roast, Dehydrate, Steam, and of course Reheat.

A Faucet With A Remote Control:


Certain companies have been promoting their touchless sensor faucet technology lately designed for ease of access. The trouble with these technologies is that they were adapted from their commercial cousins and they don’t always adapt well to residential use, but before KWC, a swiss company, developed the ONO touch light PRO, people that wanted a sanitary or wheelchair accessible option had no choice but to settle for lesser faucets. I’ll just let the video do the talking.

Touch Light Pro Faucet from Oben Sales inc. on Vimeo.

A Sauna In Your Shower:


For those that don’t know, a sauna is a dry heat, and usually it’s own room, sometimes it’s own building, when installed in a home, so putting one in your shower would seem next to impossible. That is until Bain Ultra came out with the Vedana Care Unit. Not only does it provide heat therapy from the convenience of your shower, but it plays music and provides a soothing chromatherapy as well.
A Wall Oven With An Android Operating System:

That’s right, you can crush candy right on your oven. Or more importantly control you oven from your smart phone. The Discovery IQ Wall Oven from Dacor hooks wirelessly to your home’s internet signal All of it designed to make your cooking experience that much simpler, that much more productive, and that much more enjoyable. This is another you have to see to believe.

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76 Unlicensed Contractors Feel The Sting – So You Don’t Have To

By October 20, 2015 Bath, General, Kitchen, News & Hints, Outdoor, Plumbing

It’s every homeowners worst nightmare. You find a guy on Craigslist, Facebook, or Angie’s List and he seems legit and competent. He offers to do the work for half the price of anyone else out there and as luck would have it he can start immediately. You give him your money, and he shows up the next day with his crew of guys. They look a little sketchy but you think to yourself, “OK so they dig in the dirt and work around sawdust all day. They don’t have to be pretty, as long as they do a good job.”

Hey boss? Remind me again which one I use to drive the screws?

Hey boss? Remind me again which one I use to drive the screws?

A week later your kitchen is gutted and ready for plumbing and wiring to begin, and no one shows up. You call the guy and no answer. A day goes by, two, you can’t find him on Craigslist, Facebook, his phone has been disconnected. Where did he go? You just paid him thousands of dollars.

Maybe they were going for minimalist chic?

Maybe they were going for minimalist chic?

This scenario happened to a client of mine several years ago. She came to me after her contractor had run off with her money. Luckily she was able to recover most of it through a lengthy legal process, but many people never see their money again. None of this changed the fact that her family had to basically camp in their house for two years with elementary aged children. Literally she used a Coleman Camping Stove and toaster oven to prepare their meals. You can’t really put a price on that inconvenience.

One of the agencies responsible for dealing with these creeps is the Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB). Last week the CSLB did 12 sting operations across the state and apprehended 76 unlicensed contractors, 14 in Los Angeles, and 15 in Moreno Valley. They used leads from previous complaints, ads on social websites like Craigslist, Facebook, even the almighty Angie’s List. They also used business cards displayed in local businesses. In some cases contractors were using their own expired license number, in other cases they either did not have one or used a false one. The most dangerous ones are ones that use someone else’s license number that is in good standing on their business cards.

Here are some things you can be aware of to prevent from becoming a victim.

  • Good things aren’t cheap and cheap things aren’t good: Beware the low-baller. If this guy is coming in so much less that the others there is a reason. Maybe he doesn’t understand everything you need done, maybe he is going cheap and cutting corners on the materials or the labor. There are four possible outcomes. One one hand he may end up charging you more later in the project by saying “Oh I didn’t realize you meant you wanted THAT done. That’s extra.” On another hand he may just take your money and run. Or he may just do such a bad job that the walls fall down around you after he leaves and you have to pay someone else to do it right. Or you might just get lucky, and have found the deal of the century, and get the job done well, on time, and cheaper. Avoid the low-baller. This is your home we are talking about, are you really willing to risk it?  Speaking of which…
  • This is your home, what you say goes: Make no mistake, you are hiring an employee, you tell him what to do, not the other way around. It is your job to tell him what you want, and unless it violates a building code or is a safety violation, it is his job to tell you how much, and how soon. I had an elderly client one time that specified some very nice high end ROHL Faucets for her bathroom. The plumber took one look at them and said, “I won’t warranty the installation unless you use my faucets that I pick.” She looked at him, looked at her general contractor and said “That’s fine, if your plumber can’t handle the job, find another one or I will. He’s fired.” You should have seen how fast he back pedaled and told her he would be happy to oblige.
  • Ask for everything in writing, and yes spelling counts: I remember one time a plumber wrote out a quote for a client that was broken down by room, but did not specify what labor was to be done in the room. To top it off he spelled it “plumming”. Really?! “<blank> & Sons Plumbing” was printed at the top of the invoice! How lazy do you have to be? This is not someone you want working in your home. Make sure there are details covering what work will be completed, and in what time frame – and hold them to it.
  • If he or she asks for a large sum up front, walk away and report them: According to the CSLB any licensed professional such as a contractor, painter, landscaper, plumber, etc. is prohibited by law from asking for full payment up front. In fact it is illegal to ask for or accept a down payment of more than 10 percent of the total home improvement contract price or $1,000, whichever is less.

The bottom line here, is if it seems too good to be true, or if something doesn’t feel right, you should not be afraid to walk away. The good contractors have no problem showing all their cards. You should never feel like you are being unreasonable asking these questions.

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