Secrets Of A Painless Kitchen Remodel

You’ve had it. Your kitchen floor is old and stained, your cupboards are so awkward its impossible to keep them organized, your appliances on their last legs. You’ve wanted to remodel your kitchen for years, but you fear you have neither the money nor the time to embark on a lengthy, expensive remodel.

Never fear. Your kitchen remodel does not have to be a grueling experience. Many homeowners decide to do the work of a remodel themselves, opting to finish the work on evenings or weekends. If you have a high tolerance for disruption and want to get the most bang for your buck, this may be the best option for your kitchen remodel. However, it is probably not going to be painless. Another thing to consider is to hire out all the individual contractors for your remodel yourself. For instance, you do the legwork and find a tile layer, you decide who you want to install your sink and garbage disposal and hook up the dishwasher. This may save you some money, but certainly will not save you any time. You’ll spend hours asking friends and family who they used for their kitchen remodel, and you’ll want to also be sure to check references and view samples of their work for each one. When you consider how many different people it takes to complete a remodel-plumber, tile-layer, floor specialist, cabinet installer-to name only a few, you can see that this is a time-consuming occupation. Many people enjoy this process, but others may be more comfortable with having one professional to oversee the entire process of the kitchen remodel.

If you are pressed for time, and want a relatively painless kitchen remodel, you would be well advised to hire a professional contractor. This is perhaps the number one secret to a painless kitchen remodel. A reputable kitchen remodel contractor can save you hours of time in finding and overseeing individual contractors, guide you in design and configuration choices, and be your hand-holder throughout the entire process. And let’s face it, while there are ways to make your kitchen remodel as painless as possible, it’s still going to be a disruption of your home. Having a professional at your side can ease a lot of the disruption.

How to find a kitchen remodel contractor? Word of mouth is always a good starting point. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Get online and check websites. Browse your local yellow pages. Many large home improvement stores offer contracting services, as do smaller, local companies. Talk to several; have them visit your kitchen so that you can discuss the specifics of your remodel onsite. A remodel contractor will give you ideas and present options you might not have thought about.

Your next step is to get bids from all the remodel contractors you’ve talked to. Then compare those bids, but there are considerations beyond just price. Did you feel the contractor understood the goals of your remodel? Are your design ideas similar? Do you feel comfortable personally with the contractor? You’ll be spending a lot of time together over the course of the remodel, so this is important.

Once you’ve chosen the contractor, he can give you tips on how to schedule and what to expect over the course of the remodel. He’ll be available to answer questions and troubleshoot. Your remodel will be done before you know it-and you’ll be basking in the beauty of your new kitchen.

Streamlining Your Cleaning Operations Through Work Loading

Copyright 2006 The Janitorial Store

You have only so many hours in a day to get your buildings cleaned. Did you know there is a way you can have cleaner buildings and higher employee morale? By implementing a work loading system you can streamline your cleaning operation and save money in the process. Work loading will also help you when bidding on new accounts because your time estimates will be more accurate.

So what is work loading? It is a system in which you analyze the amount of time it takes to complete tasks so you can schedule properly and get an accurate estimate of how much your staff can clean in a set period of time.

Work loading looks at more than just the minutes it takes to empty trash, vacuum, sweep or clean restrooms. To get an accurate idea of the area your staff can clean you also need to include “non-cleaning” tasks such as picking up equipment, restocking supplies and, if necessary, the drive time between buildings. Through this tool you can manage your staff and know what can or cannot realistically be done with the tools and resources that you have on hand. This helps with planning and scheduling, and can help when you are bidding on cleaning jobs.

How does the actual process work? Look at an example of restroom cleaning. According to the ISSA (International Sanitary Supply Association), each toilet, urinal or sink in a restroom takes three minutes to clean. If you have a medium size restroom with one urinal, two toilets and two sinks – multiply six times three to come up with a time of 15 minutes to clean that restroom. Adding on time for sweeping, mopping and re-stocking supplies, you have another ten minutes of time needed to clean that restroom.

Adding all of your cleaning times together for a building will give you an accurate estimate of how long it will take your staff to clean that location. Looking at your workload and your employees, you can then decide if it is feasible to purchase high efficiency equipment, such as backpack vacuums or auto scrubbers that will shorten cleaning times. Through work loading you can compare the cost of increasing your staff to the investment in a new piece of equipment.

Work loading is a simple process that you can easily test in your buildings. It is important to have a detailed task list that covers all duties your cleaning crews do at a specific location so you can get an accurate estimate of the amount of time it will take to clean a building. This will not only help in the bidding process, but in your overall operations as well.

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

Outdoor kitchens are becoming all the rage these days making family barbecues easier than ever! Cooking on the grill is a great way to entertain company or just feed the family without heating up the kitchen or making a mess for that fact. Running back and forth from the kitchen to the patio gets old. These days grilling is easier and more enjoyable by putting together an outdoor kitchen. Even the simplest of set-ups can make outdoor cooking more efficient. The fanciest ones mean you will not have to go back inside until all your guests leave because everything is right at your fingertips! Charcoal was great in the beginning but the gas grill took over because of its convenience. Today’s most advanced grills have side burners, storage space and work areas built right in. Everything is incorporated to your outside patio and entertaining is no longer a chore to prepare.

Installing an outdoor kitchen may be just the thing for you if you have frequent cookouts and everyone is intrigued with your barbecue skills. Maybe you grill in large amounts and need more of an easier way to do this. An outdoor kitchen also could be just for you if you have an unused patio or deck. If you’re wanting to move past the burgers and dogs and experiment with some savvy dishes an outdoor kitchen may be perfect for you.. Also if you’re tired of the outrageous electric bills due to your heating up the kitchen and your air conditioner working overtime. If any of these suggestions resonate with you, it’s probably time to do some outdoor kitchen shopping.

An outdoor kitchen can be as small or elaborate as you want with the grill being the centerpiece. The most common grills come with wheels that you can take with you when you move and come in a wide variety of sizes, features and price. These are also fun to take to the beach as well. If you are planning to incorporate the kitchen as a permanent part of your home, select a built in grill that will drop into a space on a cabinet with countertops that is built on site. This is much like your kitchen inside. Some of the accessories you will need are: baskets for grilling fish, vegetables or hush puppies, a griddle, tongs and a reliable meat thermometer. Side burners are included in most grills today but a camping stove can get the job done. Make sure your work space is sanitized for food preparation. There are a variety of lights for your outdoor kitchen but direct light is best for the work area.

Clip ons are available to clip directly onto your grill so you can get your meat perfect in the center! Another consideration is a patio heater or fire pit if you are going to use the space year round in chilly environments. Insects can ruin the most elegant and well-planned parties so never forget to have repellents conducive to your location. If bugs were not enough, smoke in your guest eyes is not comfortable so don’t forget the exhaust hood. Other important things to remember are having enough electrical outlets, a refrigerator, sink and warming drawers to keep food heated till time to serve. An ice machine is also convenient (no ugly, bulky coolers) and of course the wine storage. Don’t forget the corkscrew!

The Flower Guide For The Weekend Gardener

Everyone needs some form of flower guide to get the most out of their gardens, especially those who may not have time to garden every day. Flower gardening is all about stimulating the senses with a display of colors. So what should we plant, and when?

The buzz in gardening seems to be about whether to plant annual or perennial flowers. Some of these flowers give us textures, shapes and heights, while others just go blooming crazy all season long. Here’s a basic flower guide for these two kinds of flowers that will help you design a spectacular wash of color for your garden.

Annual Flower Guide:

Annuals do all of their growing in one season. The seeds germinate in the spring, the plants bloom and grow all season, and then they die. You will have to plant them each season, but the result is instant color. Also, if you make an error in your design about color or height, the wrong effect will only last a year.

Annuals produce an endless array of colors and sizes, and most are easy to plant and grow. They can be used for cuttings, in mass plantings, for edging, in rock gardens, in mixed beds, in containers, and in hanging baskets.

Indeed, most annuals are fabulous plants for the weekend gardener because they are so versatile and not too finicky. For all their glorious color, annuals are very inexpensive. You can start them indoors as seedlings, or buy bedding plants from your nursery or garden center. The majority of annuals bloom for most of the growing season.

Here’s a list of some great annual flowers that are easy to grow, show off spectacular colors, and are worth every dig of a trowel to plant:

Begonia – Grows 6 to 12 inches tall. Flowers are white, pink, red, rose and scarlet.

Tricolor Chrysanthemum Grows 2 to 3 feet. Flowers are white, yellow, gold, red, or maroon, with contrasting color bands on the base of the petals. (This chrysanthemum is different from the perennial chrysanthemum called the “garden mum”.)

Dahlia Grows 1 to 6 feet. Flowers are every color except blue and green.

Geranium Grows up to 2 feet. Flowers are white, pink, scarlet, orangish-red, red, and salmon.

Impatiens Grows to 1 feet. Flowers are white, pink, rose, scarlet, violet, salmon, and orange.

Marigold – Grows 6 inches to 4 feet. Flowers are yellow, gold, orange white, near red, and mahogany.

Zinnia – Grows 6 to 36 inches. Flowers are all colors except blue.

Perennial Flower Guide:

Basically speaking, perennial flowers live more than one growing season, returning year after year. When perennials finish blooming, their foliage provides wonderful background texture, form, and color for your garden.

Perennial flowers may only bloom for a short spell and at certain times of the growing season. This makes it more difficult to plant a garden limited only to perennials and still achieve the desired effect of constant color. For this reason, mixing perennials with annual flowers is the key to a fabulous garden of continual color.

Let’s look at some favorite perennial flowers that offer magnificent color and depth to any garden, and will grow just about anywhere:

Butterfly Weed Grows 1 to 3 feet. Flowers are bright orange (great for attracting butterflies!) with pretty pods covering the plant once the flowering ends. Blooms all summer.

Chrysanthemum or “Garden Mum” – Grows 1 to 4 feet. Flowers are all colors but blue. Blooms in the fall.

Daylily Grows 1 to 3 feet. Flowers are all colors except blue and white. Blooms from late spring to fall.

Felicia Grows 1 to 2 feet; Flowers are blue-petalled with yellow centers. Blooms from early summer to fall.

Hosta Grows up to 3 feet. Flowers are white, lavender or pale violet, often with colorful foliage. Blooms from summer to early fall.

Peony Grows 2 to 4 feet; Flowers are white, pink, maroon or red. Blooms from late spring to early summer.

Shasta Daisy – Grows 1 to 4 feet. Flowers have white petals usually with a yellow center. Blooms all summer.

With a little experience and planning, you can create a flower garden that blooms from one end to the other, from spring through fall. Bring together a few of these annual and perennial flowers for a wonderful mixed garden.

Learn as you go, make your own improvements but most of all enjoy whatever time you do have in your garden. Soon you’ll be writing your own flower guide inspired by your garden creations!

Copyright 2006 Robert Mosse