6 Most Critical Skills for Bathroom & Kitchen Remodel Projects
Many upper end bathroom & kitchen remodeling customers want a design firm that can self-perform. That is design, specify and then execute that design with in house employees. Their view is that there are fewer issues in the bathroom or kitchen remodel with less cooks. Pun intended. The kitchen & bath design process is exciting and time consuming. Often during the design and specification stage the perceived value of the lead carpenter or installer fades into the back-round.
The Lead Carpenter
The unspoken hero of a kitchen remodeling project is the lead carpenter & his helper. Their skill set is critical to an optimal outcome. The lead carpenter is the on site manager of the project, for its duration and does most of the work himself along with his helper. He is supported by a project coordinator who helps coordinate material, logistics and communication with the designer and homeowner.
Craftsmanship the #1 skill set in bathroom & kitchen remodeling
Of course the most important skill set a lead carpenter must possess is craftsmanship.
Here is an example of a lead carpenter’s craftsmanship in a kitchen remodel. Clamps and shims to aligned, level & square. This process is repeated on each cabinet as they are attached to one another and the walls of the kitchen.
Kitchen Remodel Practical Adjustments
A good lead carpenter is adept at compensating for an out of plumb wall & floors. Here is another example, the base cabinets are clamped in place prior to being screwed together.
The run of cabinets are then shimmed from the floor to achieve a level condition and then shimmed from the wall prior to attachment. Each shim is selected or cut to maintain the square connection of one cabinet to the next and maintain a level condition, no matter that the abutting floors & walls are out of level and not square.
These shims and the spaces they fill are covered by the counter top and toe kick. A similar approach is taken with wall cabinets. Scribe and crown then hide the shims used to keep the wall & tall cabinets square, plumb and level with the base cabinets. The shims and space they fill behind the wall cabinets are then covered by crown, scribe and light rail molding.
Critical Thinking Skill #2
Gene Hackman in the football movie the Replacements admonishes his players that football on the professional level is not a brute sport “it’s a thinking man’s game.” Remodeling is problem solving, it’s a thinking man’s game. It requires critical thinking to recognize material miscalculations early or understanding that there are two lots of tile on site which should be mixed together before installation. For bathroom & kitchen remodeling critical thinking is critical. It’s often recognizing the appropriate solution. For Example:
Washington DC Kitchen Remodel Dramatically Out of Level Floor
Unlike the images above this out of level condition cannot be compensated for. Your house has character and distinguishing features just like a person. This is a nice way to say that there may be more needed than just cabinetry skills to correct or improve out of square out of plumb walls and out of plane not so level floors and ceilings. A lead carpenter would discover this condition post demolition; bring it to the owner and designers attention along with a suggested plan to fix the floor before installing cabinets.
In addition to the skills described above a good lead carpenter must also possess these skills.
Detail Oriented #3
A lead carpenters must be very precise in his work. It is more than measure twice & cut once. They have to appreciate detail it must be important to them. Detail must be a source of pride and how they define themselves.
Lead carpenters must be able to effectively communicate with the project coordinator, the homeowner and the designer in that order. The project coordinator shares communication responsibility with the lead carpenter so first and foremost they must be on the same page. The remodeling company is in your home and you need to feel that the communication loop between you, the lead carpenter and the project coordinator is understood, informative and respected by all.
Physical Strength #5
I once expressed astonishment at the strength of one of my lead carpenters. We are the same age, at the time in our mid 50’s. His response was a bit condescending he told me that in his opinion what I called work (marketing, designing & sales) was not real work. That his version of work was physical and he had been at it in one form or another since he was 14 years old. There is no doubt about it an effective lead carpenter must have a high level of stamina and strength to move and install materials often weighting quite a lot during the course of an eight hour day.
Mechanical Skills #6
Carpenters require mechanical skills they work with a variety of hand and freestanding tools and they must be as adept with their tools as a doctor or dentist is with his. A customer of ours, a facial reconstruction Doctor, once said my tools are just smaller versions of your tools.
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