One More Reason

Ask questions and give answers about computers, mobile devices, game boxes, PC security and all manner of geeky stuff.
Post Reply
User avatar
yogi
Posts: 8953
Joined: 14 Feb 2015, 21:49

Re: One More Reason

Post by yogi »

You probably are correct about 75 watt vs 100 watt equivalent bulbs. The label on my fixture says it takes 12 Watts but does not specify the output. I looked at what Home Depot had and none of their bulbs were the 12 Watt variety, but as I noted earlier there was a huge empty space on the self adjacent to the 60 Watt bulbs. I'm pretty sure when I ordered the bulbs on line they said it was a 75 watt equivalent, and I know for sure they specified it as 12 Watt input.

It turns out the wattage is a poor indicator of what you are buying. The color temperature is what makes the difference in terms of brightness. To my amazement about half the bulbs on Home Depot's shelves were color programmable. Some could even be changed by using an app on your clever phone. Yes, they had Bluetooth capability. Others would change dynamically depending on the ambient light. All of those were dimable too.

The brand installed in my home is Nicor. Oddly enough that is the exact name of the natural gas supplier we had up in Illinois. It's possible they got into light fixtures too because the logo looked similar to what I recall it being back home. I'm not so happy about the bulbs only lasting 6 years. We don't use the ceiling lighting very much so that the number of hours it was uses has got to be short. Two of the six fixtures have gone flakey which seems like too high of a failure rate to me. But then, I'm pretty demanding when it comes to electronics.

As far as car headlights go, I think part of your vision problem has to do with the cataracts you mentioned taking up residence in your eyes. The other part of the problem is simply the poor design of the lighting. There are laws about how bright things can be and specifications about the angle of the light beam. That might even things out, but I'm not convinced the lighting is better. It was all brought about by design considerations and not to improve functionality.
User avatar
Kellemora
Posts: 6508
Joined: 16 Feb 2015, 17:54

Re: One More Reason

Post by Kellemora »

There are charts out there you can print out to help remember the equivalents to Incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs.
But a good rule of thumb if you only know the wattage of an LED is they produce 75 to 110 lumens per watt.
The lumens depends on the enclosure. Clear Glass would be 110 lumens, frosted glass about 90, plastic is around 80 per watt.
As a comparison: Incandescent Lamps 40w=450L, 60w=800L, 75w=1,100L, 100w=1,600L, and 150w=2,600L
LED lamps 3w=300L, 6w=700L, 9w=900L, 12w=1,300L, and 15w=2,100L

The color temperature has nothing to do with brightness in Lumens.
Daylight may appear brighter than soft white or warm white, but their Lumens are the same.

When we took down the drop ceiling at my grandmothers house, we found an Edison bulb that somehow got left on. The fixture held six bulbs, most were Emerson, a couple were Edison, and only the Edison was still burning.
I could not find a switch anywhere to turn off that old fixture, which is probably why it was still on.
I took the bulb out and kept it for many years, then sold it to the man who owned the hobby shop, as he collected antiques.

One thing I learned years ago, was instead of buying 110 or 120 volt lamps, I would buy 130 volt incandescents.
They were not enough dimmer to notice any difference, and they lasted for many many years.
That is the voltage they use in traffic lights for the bulbs, and in some rough service bulbs.
Places who sell lamps with a 10 year guarantee are all 130 volt also.
I bought some of the big floodlamps to install in the overhang on the front of our flower shop, because normal floodlamps only ran for about 1,200 hours then poof. I never had to replace another lamp in that overhang.

Almost all the new cars are using LEDs where they can, but a lot still have Halogen headlights.
The sad thing is, they put them under an add-on plastic lens, which is part of the cars design, and they always turn frosty.
User avatar
yogi
Posts: 8953
Joined: 14 Feb 2015, 21:49

Re: One More Reason

Post by yogi »

https://www.techtarget.com/whatis/definition/lumen
One lumen is the equivalent of 1.46 milliwatt (1.46 x 10-3 W) of radiant electromagnetic (EM) power at a frequency of 540 terahertz (540 THz or 5.40 x 1014 Hz). Reduced to SI base units, one lumen is equal to 0.00146 kilogram meter squared per second cubed (1.46 x 10-3 kg multiplied by m2 / s3).
This tells me a lumen is defined by the frequency of the radiant electromagnetic power. That frequency is measured on the Kelvin scale and relates directly to what they call temperature on the LED packaging. Of course, generating that radiant electromagnetic power takes a certain number of watts, which is clearly demonstrated in the tables you reproduced. The "brightness" of which I spoke is probably more human perception than absolute physics; blue light looks brighter than red light. I realize that a dim blue (daylight) bulb could look less bright than a non-dimmed red (soft) light based on the absolute number of lumens involved. Regardless, the number of watts required to generate a given number of lumens is fairly well defined. The degree of "brightness" has a lot to do with color, or so our brains think.

As far as my recent adventure with LED lighting fixtures is concerned, both of us know that there is more or less electronics inside those bulbs. Then as you aptly point out the lens and reflectors come into play. The lumens, however, are measured at the LED site itself, or so I would guess. There is a reason why they say the wattage comparison is an equivalent. It' snot exact. It's an approximation.

I used to do a lot of my own automobile maintenance. One of the tools I had was a shop light which had a cord that rolled up into a flat circular enclosure. This would normally be hung from the ceiling and you could drag the light anywhere that it was needed. I'm certain you know what I'm talking about here. At the time I purchased that light the electric company was handing out light bulbs free. There was a limit per year, but that was pretty high as I recall. They offered rough duty bulbs too, which I requested and received. I put it in that shop light and it lasted for nearly forty years of service. The bulb finally gave out just before we moved down here to Missouri. I'd be willing to pay the same price for those bulbs that I'm being forced to pay for the LEDs in this house. I'd replace every one of them with the rough service incandescent bulbs if I could. I hear it's illegal to manufacture them these days.
User avatar
Kellemora
Posts: 6508
Joined: 16 Feb 2015, 17:54

Re: One More Reason

Post by Kellemora »

Now that's a brainfull to try and comprehend, hi hi.

Yeppers, I had a couple of those pull-down shop lights myself.

GE used to have a light bulb factory in St. Louis, and if you brought them burned out bulbs, they would replace them for free.
Then around 1970 or so, they stopped doing that, and started sticking to the 1,200 hour rule instead.

I had a HUGE light bulb that came from Sportsman's Park Baseball Stadium. Actually Dad had it and passed it on to me.
I kept it for nearly 45 years, and finally decided to sell it.
I didn't think I would get much for it, since I couldn't prove where it came from.
But some guy called and asked me to take a photo of the bottom of the bulb, meaning looking at the very bottom.
I already had a picture of the top where you could read the writing on the top.
I saw nothing of importance about the bottom myself. But the guy who bought it did.
He wouldn't tell me what it was until after we agreed on a price and he paid me and was ready to place the bulb in a wooden box with a fluffy cotton lining in it.
Where most lamps have a white ceramic around the center contact, this one had a glass center.
I've seen many bulbs with glass centers before so didn't think much of it.
The guy told me there were clear, green, yellow, and brown, glass insulators used, besides the ceramic.
But the ones that were custom made for Sportsman's Park had dark blue glass insulators.
He paid me like 200 bucks for the big light bulb, when I was only hoping to get maybe 50 to 75 bucks for it.
So I figured it was probably worth double that or more if you can prove it came from Sportsman's Park.

It's not illegal to make incandescent lights, provided they are not 40, 60, 75, or 100 watt 110 to 120 volt.
They can still make 65 and 80 watt at 120 and 130 volts, and of course all the small ones used in appliances and the like.
User avatar
yogi
Posts: 8953
Joined: 14 Feb 2015, 21:49

Re: One More Reason

Post by yogi »

It was not my intention to overwhelm your brain cells with the lumens math. It wasn't until I looked it up that I was reassured color, or frequency, was part of the calculation. Since lumens are a very specific and well defined quantity, it is very possible to create different colored (temperature) bulbs with the exact same lumen output. My guess is that the blue end of the scale would look brighter than the red end for equivalent lumens. I could have simply said it that way, but I get easily impressed with math formulas I don't understand. LOL

I love your story about the light bulb from Sportsman's Park Baseball Stadium. The guy who bought it knew his bulbs, no doubt, but the intriguing part of the story is that you happened to have one in your possession. It's all normal lifestyle for you, but how many people on earth had or have such a light bulb and how did they acquire it?

Well, I guess I know they still make incandescent lights, but not in popular sizes. The do-gooders of the world decided it was better for the planet not to use them in residential buildings anymore. Thus politicians were lobbied and laws were enacted and today we are forced to pay higher prices for lower quality bulbs. So, what else is new?
User avatar
Kellemora
Posts: 6508
Joined: 16 Feb 2015, 17:54

Re: One More Reason

Post by Kellemora »

LEDs haven't exactly thrown Ohm's law out of being a contender, not just yet anyhow, hi hi.

My dad was a popular guy and knew tons of people.
Heck, he even talked Stan Musial into coming to my grade school as an invited guest speaker.
My dad managed to come up with all kinds of things, that at the time he acquired them, most folks considered them nothing but junk you couldn't do anything with. But we had a big warehouse he could store stuff in. Most of the stuff was cobbed by other relatives over the years, but some things just sat in their boxes for half a century.
I think I told you about the monorail I had, that sold at auction for an even cool grand. That came from dad also, which came from his dad.
Our family had a lot of clout in my grandfathers era. No money to speak of, just clout, hi hi.

Amazon still sells all sizes of incandescent bulbs, as does many lighting stores, hardware stores, and department stores.
User avatar
yogi
Posts: 8953
Joined: 14 Feb 2015, 21:49

Re: One More Reason

Post by yogi »

I remember Stan "the Man" Musial. It's not because I personally was a fan of baseball, but my best friend in childhood was. In fact it was because of this friend that I became a pitcher in a little league baseball organization at the local park. My friend was really into being a catcher and he had all the gear for it. So, he and I would toss the ball about in our back yards just for the fun of it. When we played baseball with the neighborhood kids it was always softball. Not a lot of the kids could afford mitts back then. I must have been around 11 or 12 when my buddy signed up for Little League. He talked me into it and we were pseudo Detroit Tigers. I was a terrible pitcher by the way. I had lots of ambition but no arm muscles to speak of. LOL

My dad and grandpa had tool rooms. They were small compared to a warehouse but they served about the same purpose. Anything that could be saved was saved in those tool rooms. I don't know what your dad collected but it had to be enormous compared to what we had. I think my grandpa was the collector he was due to the fact that he maintained a small farm until just before he died in his mid seventies. They had electricity on that farm but no water or sewers. There was a pump house with a giant red pump that gave us bucketsful of rust colored water. It looked unsafe and smelled funny, but nobody on the farm died from it as far as I recall. Anyway, grandpa had all manner of tools and accessories to build and maintain the buildings on his farm. My dad was mechanically inclined and got into the habit of saving things too. I have a file cabinet full of electronics, but that's about it for saving as far as me personally goes.

That trip to Home Depot I made recently did reveal a wide variety of light bulbs for sale that were not LED. They were not regular bulbs either. There were all decorative or special purpose. The variety of bulbs was amazing to say the least. Some of them were even useful.
User avatar
Kellemora
Posts: 6508
Joined: 16 Feb 2015, 17:54

Re: One More Reason

Post by Kellemora »

I really never was into sports much, but did like baseball. Probably because we played at home, with enough relatives to make two teams so we could play against each other, and sometimes with some neighborhood kids added to the mix.
I was in the varsity marching band, so had to go to all the high school football games. Loved being in the symphonic band, but a requirement was to also be in the varsity band.
I got my son involved in Khory League. He liked it for a couple of years, and I'm sorta glad he decided to quit. The cost of uniforms, treats, and driving him to the games he was required to play in was taking its toll on me, even back then.

It was the florist who had all the big warehouses and barns. Most of the barns were from when we were farmers. And the old stables is where every retired car was parked. But not the trucks, grandpa always dismantled the trucks to get the frame to make more whoopies (flat top wagons used to haul potted plants around on.)
But all of my aunts and uncles used the big warehouse as a storage place, and when one of them would pass on, their kids would come and look through everything, take what they wanted and left the rest. Then it was fair game to whoever wanted it.

We had several tool sheds on the place also. And all of the farming tools were always cleaned, oiled, and put back where they belonged. At least up through about the mid-1970s when much of the old stuff began disappearing, hi hi.

We had a small hardware store here that was over 100 years old, and only closed down around 2010, after a Home Depot and Lowe's moved closer in. When I first moved down here, the closest Home Depot was out in Alcoa, so that is where I had to go to get most of the stuff I needed for remodeling. The little Colonial Hardware store didn't have drywall or wood, but if you needed a pipe fitting or electrical item, they had it, even the old push button ceramic and bakelite light switches. Heck, I found things there I liked to use I didn't think they made anymore, but they had them and could get all I wanted, hi hi.
User avatar
yogi
Posts: 8953
Joined: 14 Feb 2015, 21:49

Re: One More Reason

Post by yogi »

There is a hardware store very close to where I live. It looks like it might have been an Ace at one time, or perhaps still is under cover. I've only been in a few times and don't recall seeing any of the Ace products, but they did have quite a large selection of items. However, for all those times I've been in there to buy something, they never had exactly what I wanted. Some things, such as granite counter top sealer, are not stocked because nobody ever asks for it. 3 in 1 oil is also not stocked. Ice melt, well that can only be had for a week or two at the beginning of the season. They apparently never reorder when their supply runs out. So, because of little irritations like that I don't bother going to the local hardware store. Then, too, I don't have much maintenance to do around this house. No need to patronize a hardware store.
User avatar
Kellemora
Posts: 6508
Joined: 16 Feb 2015, 17:54

Re: One More Reason

Post by Kellemora »

Because of Ace Hardware's high prices, for years I never understood how they could stay in business.
On or about the time I bought the seventh house in my renovation inventory, I got a letter from Ace Hardware, pushing their commercial accounts. Ace Hardware sells quite a few things you don't see for sale in the store, but they do have a lot in the back for commercial customers, and usually priced the same as the big box stores or less in many cases.
The store back home in Des Peres, it was not obvious at all that they had lumber and drywall, and their building was in the middle of a large parking lot, so you could drive around it, and usually did anyhow.
Same with the one down here, except you don't see the back of the store, unless you are a delivery driver for the shopping center. Only the fronts of the stores face the parking lot.
Now, the only reason I go to the hardware store is to pick my wife up in the winter when I have to take her to work.
User avatar
yogi
Posts: 8953
Joined: 14 Feb 2015, 21:49

Re: One More Reason

Post by yogi »

I am aware that many local stores offer commercial accounts. Even the Home Depot stores have a special counter just for contractors. I don't suppose the profit margin is the same for commercial customers as it is for the regular crowd, but they make up for it in the volume of items sold commercially. Both the Ace Hardware stores in my old neighborhood were large and had back rooms of unknown size. Both were located in strip malls so that I never suspected either of them carried lumber, but perhaps they did.

I've mentioned that I hired somebody to mow the lawn for this summer. At the moment they are scheduled to come by once a week and do their thing. It happens that Monday is the appointed day. Last Monday was a holiday so that nobody showed up. I guess even landscapers deserve a day off once in a while. Tuesday I got an e-mail from the company saying they will be out Wednesday to do the job. Well, here it is Thursday and they have not yet showed up. This grass is growing rapidly because we got some rain and if it were up to it I'd fire these guys and do it myself. The problem is that an extra fee is added when the grass is over 6 inches tall. No doubt that will be the case by next Monday. It will tick me off royally if they assess an extra fee for their negligence. To complicate issues the grass cutter I use needs a new blade, which I already have. All I need to do is replace the old one. I suppose it will work as is if I don't mind shredded grass, but cut grass does look a lot nicer.
User avatar
Kellemora
Posts: 6508
Joined: 16 Feb 2015, 17:54

Re: One More Reason

Post by Kellemora »

When I was doing house renovations, although I had a commercial account at most of the big hardware stores, we still paid the going price for the items, same as anyone else, but then at the end of each quarter we would get a small refund if you spent enough during the quarter to get it that is. Seems like we got a 3% discount if we were over 2,500 bucks not counting taxes. And 5% if we were over 5,000 and up to 10,000. If you crossed 10,000 bucks then you got a 10% discount. It reset to zero at the end of each quarter.
When Builders Square was in business, and that is where I shopped most often, they gave all contractors a 5% discount at the register. But it was better not to take the discount then, and let your purchases accumulate. When you hit 10,000 bucks in purchases, excluding sale items, and coupon items, you would get a store credit for 1,000 bucks. And naturally, when you used the credit toward purchases, those purchases didn't count toward your next 10,000 bucks. At least there was no time limit that I know of. However, if you did let your purchases accumulate, and a whole year passed without you hitting 10,000 bucks, they still gave you a store credit, but the amount was uncertain, probably like 8% if you had a high purchase amount and only 5% if it was a lower purchase amount, basically the same as you would get at the register is all.

I normally had my lawn mowed once every other week, but the guy rarely showed up via any schedule. I paid him to do some other work which he never did. So I told him, I got somebody else to do my mowing.
I really only wanted my grass mowed every other week, but told my neighbor to only mow mine if he mowed his. To do both on the same day while he was already hot and dirty. I think this gave him the opportunity to mow his own yard more often, just to get the 40 bucks from, hi hi.
User avatar
yogi
Posts: 8953
Joined: 14 Feb 2015, 21:49

Re: One More Reason

Post by yogi »

I've run into a problem here in Missouri that I can only generalize and call a different work ethic than that up north. It seems that a lot of the handymen and just about all the tradesmen too are independent contractors. They all work for a large company that solicits jobs and then distributes them to one of their contractors. Every job pays the workman a specific and predetermined dollar amount. For example, the guy cutting my lawn is paid $40-$45. He is paid by the company he works for which charges me $65. Well, they have overhead and all that crap, but it feels as if I'm getting ripped off by the middle man. I've had plumbers and electricians and a genuine handyman out over the seven years I've lived here and each one of them worked the same way. The truth is that there is no plumber who owns his own business here in O'Fallon. If he does exist he is in hiding. I can get general contractors to redo the plumbing of my entire house, and they own their own business. They may claim to do residential work too, but then they send out one of those independent contractors to do the actual work.

I guess there are some advantages of running a trade service without having full time employees. It saves the business a lot of labor costs and the tradesman gets all the work he feels like doing when he wants to do it. But, there is no incentive to do a good job or to be better than the competition. They guy that comes out to do the job has no vested interest in doing it well. It's not HIS problem. The grass cutting dude took a day off for Memorial Day and he couldn't care less if my grass got cut or not. He will get more work from the dispatcher (which is located in Utah by the way) regardless. The people sending out the work crew are unreachable. I can only arrange things on their web site or call them. There is no personal contact and no reason for them to care how satisfied I am. If I'm unhappy with them, I can just go find some other phantom company with a crew of ghost workers that may or may not feel like working that week.

Back in Chicago just about everyone that came to the house to fix something also had a local office for a base. The company had permanent full time crews that worked for union scale. It wasn't cheap, but you knew what you were getting ahead of time. I can't complain too much about the quality of the work down here, but they just seem a lot more professional and use better materials back home. One thing I do insist upon is that the work be done first before I pay up. Anybody who insists on doing it some other way doesn't get my business.

And, for what it's worth, I got an e-mail today saying tomorrow is THE day for my grass to be cut. There was no explanation why they didn't show up before tomorrow. The mail was machine generated, obviously, and I'm not so sure there are actual people in Utah running the company. It may all be robots.
User avatar
Kellemora
Posts: 6508
Joined: 16 Feb 2015, 17:54

Re: One More Reason

Post by Kellemora »

I owned my own SCS-Handymenders business.
When I first started Handymenders, I was the only person doing work, but because I was a licensed plumber, and a licensed electrician, I could take work most other handymen were not allowed to do.
As business grew, I often hired retired electricians or plumbers to do work for Senior Citizens who couldn't afford high prices.
Word of this got around and business for low-cost work spread like wildfire.
Now most of the retired folks I hired belonged to Unions, and when the Unions found out they were doing low-cost jobs for Seniors, they became furious and threatened my retired workers. A few of the older ones who had tenure didn't care much, but others all had to quit, which left me holding the bag to get those jobs done myself. This cut into my normal higher paying jobs, so when new clients called, I told them I was prohibited from using retired union workers anymore.
SCS was another business I owned, Space Craft Services, the closet organizer system I was making and installing. It didn't get a whole lot of business, being something that was unheard of at the time. But I still had all the legal paperwork to take care of for all of my businesses. And that is when I decided to combine all of my businesses under the SCS umbrella. This way I didn't have to do a government report every quarter for each one. I could combine them all under the one company.
After Ruth got so sick she was permanently disabled and in a wheelchair, I more or less cut out all of my sideline businesses to take care of her. Customers didn't like me telling them I couldn't set a date to come, but will call them if I had an opening on a given day. This was not working out very well at all either.
So, I joined a general contractor who worked like you mentioned. The guy already knew me and knew my skills, so gladly took me on for days when I was available. So, when Ruth had a day nurse for a 4 or 6 hour shift, I would call Bob and say I'm free for 4 hours, what have you got. He Always Had a higher paying job he would rather have me do than anyone else. During periods when Ruth was in the hospital, he kept me quite busy.
He knew I kept a good inventory of items, so I didn't have to go check-out a job, go get the parts and come back to do the work, in most cases anyhow. And this is where he started taking advantage of me. He charged the customers 1/2 hour for materials equipment acquisition, and 1/2 hour for troubleshooting the problem, and 1 hour for fixing the problem. In other words, he charged them 2 hours, sometimes for a 15 minute job. Which wouldn't be 15 minutes for any of his other workers, because they would come, go to get parts, come back, and then do the work. So they were often on a job for almost 2 hours total anyhow.
Now, being the type person I am, when I finished a job quickly, I would ask the customer if they needed anything else done while I was there, since they are paying my boss for a full-hour of work time anyhow. I know I didn't like to feel cheated, so was certain those I was doing a job for felt the same way.
My boss started telling folks they were paying for 2-hours of my time, so they should think about other things for me to do while I'm there. Because of this, most of my jobs were now extended out to just over 2-hours, and I still had to go by the store to pick up replacement items for what I used out of my own inventory. And then to cause even more trouble, he now wanted to doc our pay for government fees, insurance, and a few other things, I was already paying for myself. He said he was not allowed to let us work as Independent Contractors, we had to be shown as employees of his company.
He had a copy of my electricians license, a copy of my plumbing license, a copy of my incorporation papers, and a copy of my contractors liability insurance, and it was for a higher amount than his own liability insurance package.
So I told him, if you need me to do any further work, you can call SCS-Handymenders to go do the job for you, and at my normal rates, of which I gave him a massive price list booklet that showed what I charged for many different types of jobs.
He only called me for perhaps a couple of jobs he needed done that required a licensed tradesman to do the job.
But it didn't matter, I was no buying houses to renovate, so I could work when I could while taking care of Ruth.

You would have loved having me do work for you. I was cheaper than anyone else for one, but also my work was top notch, mainly because I'm a picky perfectionist.
When you hire a plumber to fix a leak in a pipe inside a wall, they tear out the wall to get to it, leaving a mess, fix the pipe, you pay them, and they leave. And there you are with a hole in the wall, and pile of debris to clean up.
Now, if you called me, the hole would be neatly made with no dust, all waste bagged and hauled off your property, put on my truck for disposal actually. I would make the repair to the pipe, pressure test the pipe to make sure there were not other bad places that needed attended to while I was there. THEN, I would replace the drywall, tape the joints, use a dryer to dry them fast, add the second pass of joint compound and dry it. Then apply a coat of PVC sealer. While the sealer was drying, using the piece of drywall I originally cut out, at my truck, I would blends some latex paint and sample the color until I got a perfect match as to what was on the wall already. Then I would come back in and repaint the area of the repair. And in a few cases, I would repaint their entire wall if need be.
And this my friend is why many of the Realtors around town called ME when they wanted work done in their own homes.
I did the WHOLE Job to the customers perfection!
I've already told you stories about customers who couldn't find anyone to do a particular job, they were told it was impossible. Then they called me and I went out and found a way to do what they wanted, and in a way that pleased them big time, often adding a few amenities to boot.

I once tried to get a group started for Independent Handymen, in such a way that a customer knew what type of handyman they were hiring. In other words, handymen can be anything from gutter cleaners to staircase builders and everything in between. You wouldn't want to hire a gutter cleaner to build you a new deck, if you catch my drift.
The first stage was to classify the types of handymen, and what the fair prices were for those types of jobs.
I did manage to get the organization up and running for a short time, and in 4 major cities too. But then let them take care of things on their own once they got going.
Instead, I moved to the publishing end of the concept, by making and publishing booklets on how to hire the right handyman for the job. I gave away the first 600 or so of these books, and then started getting bulk orders from the strangest places, like city councils, major hardware store chains, and from those types of guys you mentioned that keep groups of workers they send out to do handyman jobs.
All total, we printed and sold over 15,000 of these small booklets, before I shifted to being a general contractor myself, but only for myself. I finally got my general contractors license, so could do the whole job, and all by myself, which was my goal to begin with. Not have to hire anyone else to do some of the things that needed done to get permits and pass codes.
User avatar
yogi
Posts: 8953
Joined: 14 Feb 2015, 21:49

Re: One More Reason

Post by yogi »

You are absolutely, positively, 100% correct when you say I would have loved to have you do the repairs on my old house. I've been reading your missives for a few years now and I believe I have a sense of how you work. You definitely are my kind of guy. :mrgreen:

Most people who work for a living are happy to specialize in one thing. I recognize that there are folks who attempt more than one career during their lifetime, but nobody I met previously had attempted as many careers as you have. Folks who change often are restless, but I don't think that is or was your motivation. You pegged it in your above response when you said that you are a perfectionist. Many folks aspire to be excellent at their work, but few are versatile enough to accomplish such expertise. Only people with OCD work as hard as you did but for different reasons. LOL

During the twenty-five or so years I lived in my last house I had occasion to deal with quite a few trades people and handymen. I got burned a time or two, but that's how you learn what not to do. I can think of only two companies that came close to doing the kind of work that you describe here in these forums. One guy was a plumber who did a fantastic job of fixing the flow problem I had in my toilet one time. When it came time for me to leave that home he was the guy I called in to fix all the items the house inspector came up with. That job ended up being about $1000 for nearly a full days work. He confessed to me that when they were first building the house that he was approached by the builder to do the plumbing. He turned them down because he did not want to be constrained by cost and material restrictions imposed upon him by the general contractor. It's a shame he didn't do the original plumbing, but I did understand why.

While there was only plumbing that needed to be done, he assured me that was all he did. If any walls had to be busted then some other expert would have to come in and repair them. Now that you told me how difficult it could be to get those licenses for different trades I can appreciate why one specialist can't cross the line to do another's work. That is where you have the advantage. You got all the licenses and the skills to support them.

The second company I would call back was more or less what you were, i.e., a general contractor that did various types of home improvements. They replaced all my windows and rebuilt my deck. This was a mom and pop company that had a regular staff of experts in their employ. They not only did superior quality work but also cleaned up after themselves so that I could not tell they were even there except for the improvements. And, as long as they were there doing other things, one of the guys pointed out a problem with my shingles on the roof. They were there to install the decking but also fixed the roof too after I gave them the spare shingles I had saved for a dozen years. This company could easily have been the SCS business you ran. The owners thought pretty much along the same lines as you do.

As I said earlier I can't complain a lot about the quality of the work, although it has not always been perfect. All but one of the people I had out to do work were very good at what they did. It's just that they worked to code and not much more. I honestly don't know if any of them were unionized or not, but most of them spent more time on the job than I had expected. That was due to them taking the time out to talk about other things besides the job they were hired to do. Now that's downright friendly, which isn't the same as professional. I don't know what it is down here. It's just different.
User avatar
Kellemora
Posts: 6508
Joined: 16 Feb 2015, 17:54

Re: One More Reason

Post by Kellemora »

Why thank you for the compliments Yogi!

I understand not wanting to be constrained by a GC. After I finally earned my plumbing license, my boss wanted me to stay on with them to do the plumbing work for a new subdivision contract he got. I asked him what type of work did he intend for me to do, and he said only the laterals, I didn't have enough seniority to do the inside stacks or supply plumbing. I just told him, I'm tired of being in the muddy ditches. Besides, I have plenty of electrical work to do now too. He didn't know I was also working toward my electricians license, and if he did, he probably would have fired me over some union rules, hi hi.

St. Louis is HEAVILY Union Oriented, so no, you don't want to cross paths with them, they do find ways to get even, hi hi.
There are very few tradesmen who can claim the status of being a Predication Worker, mainly because the Unions won't let them. But once I got my GC license, about all I did after that was predication work, until I started doing my own renovation houses. The unions didn't bother me much because technically I was not taking work away from them after I started renovating the houses I bought. Although I did use a few union tradesmen to do some jobs at union scale of course, to speed up getting a few houses done faster. The plumbers union especially liked it when I called, because it gave their workers more experience in doing all copper supply installations.

When I sat to talk with a customer, I was always off the clock. Most of the time they had questions about things they wanted done, but didn't think they could afford it. A few had obtained estimates on some jobs and it was way too much money for them to do it. One guy wanted a load bearing wall taken out of his house to make what they call a Great Room. Every bid he had was for over 10 grand. He about shit his pants when I told him the steps I would take to do it for him for only 2 grand plus materials, which would come to another 1.5 grand easily. I told him I would have to call the city structural engineer out and draw up the plans on how I was going to do it, and if he approved them, I could get it done for him. I already knew I would have to have a steel and 2x12 framing support made, and it would stick down into the house about 8 inches. He was perfectly OK with that. So I got the job to do it. I also checked my insurance policy to make sure I was covered for making a structural change, and I was, so all was good there too.
Had the guy bought a different house in the same subdivision, the wall wouldn't have been a main load bearing wall. But the particular house he did buy, that wall supported the upstairs. The house was like a rectangle with a square box on top of it, if that gives you an idea of why the first floor was was a load bearing wall, same as an exterior wall. The ironic thing about this job was, it was actually quite an easy job to do, although it looked complicated, because I had to build two framing walls to hold everything up while I knocked out the original wall and got the steel plated sandwich up in place and supported at the ends. Then the two temporary framing walls could come down. Honestly, I was a little nervous when we pulled that load bearing wall out, because the temporary framing walls were not over the basement I beam, and the flooring looked sorta cheap to start with. Just to be safe, I used four floor jacks in the basement with a 4 2x10s making sure nothing sagged.

It seems every town in St. Louis County where I did do work, the people were different, and so were the workers in each town, almost like each was their own country so to speak. Two places I hated to work were University City, and the Florissant/Ferguson areas.
User avatar
yogi
Posts: 8953
Joined: 14 Feb 2015, 21:49

Re: One More Reason

Post by yogi »

All I can tell you is how impressed I am with your story. Anyone who can knock out a load bearing wall without the entire house collapsing has got to be good. LOL I understand that you knew exactly how to do it with those framing wall supports and floor jacks, but it was still a gutsy undertaking on your part. You probably got some reassurance from the fact that the structural engineer approved your plan, but like you I would be very nervous when the final test came due. I think any experienced carpenter would know how difficult the job was which is why the owner got such high priced proposals. In essence the contractor was saying they didn't want to do it because it was too complicated, but if you were willing to pay ...

I don't know if I'll ever get to know the St Louis area, or St Charles County, as well as I got to know the areas back in Illinois. It will be seven years living here come the 25th of next month and it could just as easily be 7 weeks. I had a few trivial things done with the house so that I have a sample of the work force available, but this place is brand new, or was. There isn't much that needs to be done. Because of that I have little need to go scavenging for supplies and tools. I left 90% of my tools at the old house with the understanding that I would buy new equipment as needed down here in MO. Well, there is no forest to maintain and the soil is nearly all clay, except for the rocks and stones, so that there isn't much that I can do outside. The building codes are so different here that I don't know what I could get away with on my own, and for that matter I never worked with half the stuff I see installed. The electric wiring, for example, is nothing like Cook County Chicago.

I hear stories about how different the people in Missouri are. They say this is a purple political state because there is a lot of blue and a lot of red all within its borders. It makes sense that STL would be blue and unionized just because it is a big city and that's what city folks do. I'm in a Twilight Zone 33 miles out of STL where the folks are more conservative minded than I am accustomed to. Thus, just over a distance of 30-some miles the demographics can be drastically different. I know things are different just by appearances. There is no social contact in my daily activity so that I really know very little about the people I live among. They seem sensible and peaceful, even though the neighbor two doors down had three police cars visit him yesterday. All I know is the police had wife and husband out on the front street separated by a fair distance discussing something or another. They kept it up for about half an hour and then everybody went peacefully to their respective corners. I haven't heard a word about it and know not what was going on. That would not be the case back home where I would have the full story before the party broke up. :grin:
User avatar
Kellemora
Posts: 6508
Joined: 16 Feb 2015, 17:54

Re: One More Reason

Post by Kellemora »

I probably was overkill on the beam I installed, but then I could not see between the floors to know how the house was assembled for sure, so naturally I assume standard construction practices.
I took out a concrete block wall at my house here, on the gable end of the house. Even so, before I built the room addition, I added a 2x10 a tad higher than existing ceiling height with long bolts going all the way through the blocks and into the ceiling truss. I did it this way because I saw the existing truss was not a continuous piece of lumber, nor sandwiched with anything. You gotta remember too, this house was built just after WW2 with the minimum amount of materials they could glean. And unfortunately, all undersized lumber for the load it was carrying.
That is why I call this house the crooked little house, with crooked little ceilings and crooked little floors, and all the walls are out of plumb to boot. Made for challenging renovation projects.

I understand, I've lived down here for 20 years now, and don't know how to get anywhere, not even where the major roads are around here. It seems like you only learn all that stuff between the age of 16 and 30 as you are growing up, tooling around town as a teen, and as part of work after your 20s. Now driving OTR I learned the highway system quite well.

Building codes are a lot simpler than most people think they are. All of my work was considered better than code nearly everywhere I worked. But then it is nearly impossible not to get the wiring sizes done properly. It's just the nit picky inspectors who want a staple 6 inches from the pull boxes on every piece of romex.
There are very few things you need to get a permit for when working in your own house. Unless it is something major, like a room addition, and even then, you don't always need to get one. Especially if you do things in small stages.
For example: You normally do not need a permit to do flatwork (pouring a concrete slab), unless there is going to be a building on top of it, even a storage shed, then you need to have piers and/or a footing under it, inspected before you pour. But if you are smart, you can add a footing and pour a patio without a permit. Then come along later and put a roof over the patio. Then a bit later enclose three sides of the patio, which is usually only two sides since one wall is the house. Wait a bit to enclose the last wall with a door. Once that is done, then you can tear out the wall in the building itself to make the room adjoining it larger.

Each individual area of St. Louis county is very class oriented. So you basically know what to expect will go on in each area. And what you can get by with, or not get by with as the case may be. The more high fallutin a neighborhood is, the more restrictions they have, especially for us contractors. It is not uncommon to have to have your state license, plus a county license, and in some cases a city or town license or special permit to work in their town. And as usual it is always about the money. You would not believe the number of city stickers lined up on my work trucks. On a personal vehicle, you normally only had a city tax sticker for your own city. But for work trucks or commercial vehicles, you had to have a city work tax sticker on any vehicle you used in their city. Not to just drive through their city it wasn't required. But if you parked your vehicle on the street while doing work somewhere in that city, that truck had better have your city work tax sticker in the window. Glad they finally did away with those!

If I moved back home to St. Louis county, I probably could not find my way around there very well anymore either. I would remember some of the old major roads, but a lot of them have changed also, followed different paths since I moved south.
User avatar
yogi
Posts: 8953
Joined: 14 Feb 2015, 21:49

Re: One More Reason

Post by yogi »

I can concur that building permits are not always required. The problem was that I had no idea what did or did not require a permit. When we had the deck added to the house shortly after we moved in, a permit was required. That involved piers and footings and anchors to the house foundation so that getting an inspector to look it over seemed reasonable. I don't think we had a permit to remodel the kitchen, but when all the windows were replaced throughout the house a permit was indeed required. You certainly are clever enough to know how to get around certain requirements such as building permits, but there is some risk. Each time we bought or sold a house a plat of survey had to be drawn. If any changes showed up on the new plat, some reckoning was in order. If a new room suddenly appeared on the current survey that could end the process of selling.

Becoming familiar with the terrain happens automatically and out of necessity. Living here for several years brought opportunities for us to discover things we normally would not be interested in. For example we had to visit the St Charles County assessor to prove that the cars we brought in from Illinois did not require paying any previous years personal property tax. We could not get a license for the car without that proof. Thus we not only had to figure out where the city of St Charles is, but we also had to find the assessor's office. Thus we learned something about the area at the ripe old age of 72. LOL I'm not too concerned about finding businesses or navigating through the countryside because I have this clever phone which talks me through any exercise in navigation I might need. Sometimes it's difficult to place all your trust is such a device, but so far it has never failed to get me home. Getting to know the people who live here, however, is a whole different kind of learning. For me that process has yet to begin.
User avatar
Kellemora
Posts: 6508
Joined: 16 Feb 2015, 17:54

Re: One More Reason

Post by Kellemora »

You are so right about the structures having to be on the plat maps!
But the key here is, the plat maps only show a box which could represent anything from a patio to a whole room.
In older areas, where you had an original survey of the land, you can select to stay with the existing recorded survey, which only shows the boundaries of the property in relation to benchmarks.
Anything that has a roof over it, as shown on aerial surveys by the county, usually end up on the plat maps after some period of time anyhow. In my case, I checked the plat maps for my property and they showed a box where the patio was, but there was no indication if it had a roof or not, hi hi. So my footprint remained the same with two room additions, hi hi.

Only because I was licensed did I pull permits for some of the work I did in the houses I renovated.
The key here was: Was I doing the work for someone else who owned the property, or was it a property I purchased myself.
If I purchased the property myself, I rarely if ever got a permit. But I did take extensive pictures of the work I did so I wouldn't have to tear down walls to appease an inspector later on. Most of the time, I had no trouble getting an occupancy permit, and if there was a question about something, more often than not, the photographs showed the work was done properly.

I didn't go anywhere at all, unless Debi was with me, for my first three years down here.
Then my son bought me a GPS which I still use. Found some neat places when I first started using it to go hunting for unusual places. But then as the novelty wore off, I only plugged it in to find my way back home, hi hi.

On the bright side, using it, I took Debi to see things she had never seen in her life, and didn't even know they were here. Some of those places no longer exist now, so she relishes the fact she got to see them when I took her.
I took her to places where we went through old covered bridges. To a few of the old mills that were still in operation. Things like that. Often ended up talking to people who used to run some of the landmarks locations that were closed at the time, but they still chose to take us to see what all the hoopla was about early on.

Lot's of PHUN we had for a while!
Post Reply