We are currently in the middle of fulfilling a dream I’ve had since before we moved in! Its a bit more complicated than our normal projects, so it has been put off and put on hold for quite some time. As I talked about in this post, when we built this house, I asked them to close in our dining room, rather than keeping it open concept separated by only a column.
So instead of this:
As I talked about in this post, we asked the builder to size the doorway to fit standard size french doors. It was going to be much cheaper for us to put them in ourselves rather than have the builder do it for us. Installing them ourselves seemed simple enough.
But, you know me…I can’t leave simple enough alone. One day, I got in my head that I wanted a transom window above the doors. My reasoning for this is that, although I am glad that I put up the wall around the dining room (I lived in a 1940s house all of my life, so I guess I value the “closed floorplan” more than most probably do), the room does feel very closed in since it is so small. So I thought that adding the window above would bring in more light and create an airy feeling. Plus, it would add some architectural interest to the house, and be really pretty. 🙂
Here is a picture I found online of the basic idea behind this project:
The problem is, our opening was a foot too short to add in the transom. So we needed to extend the height. This is where we came screeching to a halt for a couple of years. Understandably so, Nick didn’t feel like he should be messing with the house’s structure. He didn’t want to be the one responsible for the roof crashing in 🙂
I was almost 100% certain that this was not a load bearing wall, since the wall would not have even existed if I didn’t request it. Luckily, we took pictures of the wall before it was sheet rocked, so an expert (which we certainly are not) would most likely be able to know whether or not extending the doorway would affect the structure in any way.
We put it off for a long time because I had no idea how to find a reputable contractor. And I had no idea what it would cost to hire them.
I used my birthday as an excuse to get the ball rolling again. I told Nick not to get me anything, to count this project as my present. I also pulled together any money I received as a gift to go toward the project.
So on my birthday, we went to Home Depot to get an estimate on ordering a transom window and doors. It was a very unpleasant experience with a very rude salesperson. When she priced the doors at over double the price of stock french doors we have seen at Home Depot in the past, she told us “they stopped carrying those doors in-store. People don’t want doors like that. They want solid paneled doors. Too bad too, because those doors got down to $200 before we stopped carrying them.”
Really? No one else in the world wants french doors? I kind of find that hard to believe.
A day later, when Nick was at another Home Depot in the neighboring city, he texted me a picture of…. you guessed it. The very same french doors that our Home Depot “used to carry.” Lowes carries them too. So apparently someone out there is still wanting french doors.
I could also tell that the girl thought I was completely crazy for wanting the transom window above the doors. She had to call one of her co-workers to ask them a question and I could tell by her conversation that they were making fun of this idea (she wasn’t very discrete). Yes, I understand that it is not necessary. It is not functional. It is purely for aesthetics. But sometimes that’s what you do when you are doing interior design. You pick something for the architectural interest and aesthetics.
When I asked her what she thought it would cost to hire a contractor to extend the opening a foot, she said she wasn’t sure but “at least a grand.” I was like, seriously, to cut a one-foot hole in a wall? “Yes, that’s big. It is.”(said in a very rude and condescending tone).
I know that a lot of it was that the girl probably just had no clue what we were actually talking about, but the contractor we ended up going with charged $330. And it is completely eatting away at me inside, because I want to get in touch with her and say “I was right, you were wrong, na-na-na-boo-boo.” So there. Hopefully getting it out on this ole here blog will calm me down a bit about the whole situation. I just can’t stand it when people treat me, a paying customer, like I am stupid.
So, yeah, that is a roundabout way of saying, we hired a contractor and he cut a hole in our house.
The one good thing that came from our Home Depot consultation was that we were told about a service they offer called Red Beacon. This service allows you to submit a project request through the Red Beacon website, and within hours, contractors contact you with a bid. It was amazing. Within days we had three different contractors come out and give us an estimate. The first one quoted us $650, then lowered it down to $500 when I acted like it was too high. The second one told us that it was a project we could do on our own and to just give him a call if we end up needing help (I thought this was an interesting approach for a contractor). The last guy quoted us $350. So we went with the last guy. If you book through Red Beacon, they offer a $20 credit (I’m assuming this is a promotional, one-time only thing for your first experience). So in the end, it cost $330, which I felt was very reasonable.
Once it was all said and done, Nick felt like it was probably something he really could’ve done on his own. This wall is basically just a dummy wall. Cutting into it did not affect any of the house structure. But in this case, it was one of those things where it was better to just know that an expert did it and gave his seal of approval on the whole project. It was worth the peace of mind. Plus I am happy to have found a contractor we liked, should we ever need him again for another project.
So last weekend we went to the Home Depot that does carry the doors and made our purchase. It cost $305, which saved us more than $300 over the custom ordered door that our friend from Home Depot was trying to sell us. And it saved us $50 over the same door at Lowes.
Getting it home was quite the adventure. But we made it safe and sound.
Now I just can’t wait to get that window in, add some moulding around the doorway and call this project finished. I’ll be back with the details when that happens.