Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Home Improvement: Adding a Kitchenette

Shira and I decided we would add a kitchenette to our finished basement. That way, we can have easy access to cold drinks and hot popcorn while hanging out on the couch. So we put in a call to the builder who built (or assembled, really) our house to see if he was available for the job. He was up for it and today he made it happen.

When you ask folks about their builders you usually get one of two extreme responses. Either you hear a long string of horror stories , and wouldn't be rehired to assemble Ikea furniture, or you hear nothing but praise. This isn't surprising, as builders, like programmers, are translating a consumer's mental model into reality. It's really easy for that model to not match up, or for the builder to need to make compromises the end user didn't expect. And when the medium is wood and concrete, it's a whole lot harder to change than bits and bytes. Not to mention, some of them are complete bastards.

Luckily, all you'll hear from us are glowing stories about our builder, Mike Stoll, of Stoll Construction (703-237-0931, Falls Church, VA). The way he can sketch out plans and comes up with solutions on the fly, I'm convinced he's the equivalent of a hacker who happens to work in a bit more physical medium.

Today he added to his positive record by completing our kitchenette project in 1 day instead of two, in taking the extra time to switch around the doors of the cabinets so they would have the best user experience and in leaving the basement area cleaner than he found it. Yeah, I'm a happy customer.

Here's the before picture:

Here's the progress they had made 45 minutes after they started:

Here's the finished job:

Here's proof that Mike exists :-). Yeah, I know, you thought I did the job myself and was just being modest. Not likely.

Pardon me, I have popcorn to pop and soda to drink.


  1. Anonymous1:00 AM

    I have a contractor doing work in my home as we speak. While I would hire him to put together Ikea furniture after this experience, I certainly would not call him again.

    Your guy looks good. I am especially impressed with his installation of the bananas.

  2. Yeah, he charges extra for fruit placement. But we considered it essential, so we went ahead and paid the extra fee.

    I can live without granite counter tops, but poorly placed fruit - well, that's going to far.