Recent Review: We started with the layout and trappings of a 1955 home. Original plaster walls and ceilings, sparse cabinetry in the kitchen, two wire electricity, load bearing concrete block walls between porch and garage additions, cast iron plumbing, single pain aluminum windows and a jalousie in the bathroom. Our goal was to start with the kitchen and put in some cabinets. We realized the kitchen was small and we could open it up by pulling down an interior wall. The cabinet wall could come down as well, and since it was open we could update the pluming and sewage as well as increase the number of outlets in the kitchen. After interviewing different kitchen and bath companies we decided we needed something more. We started interviewing general contractors. John Silvers Construction was a company we found on Angie's List and local to us. We hired him because he has extensive experience installing kitchen cabinets and doing tile work. Additionally, he has well rounded experience in all facets of construction and remodeling in older homes (buildings). He has a strong ethic that work has to be done right. Good enough is not good enough. Also, he welcomed my desire to do the plumbing and electrical re-work. And then, he was very price competitive. We had been thinking about how to improve our home for 2 years. As we started putting the design in place, we were faced with the rigidity of an older home. This one is built like a bunker, CBS walls, Dade County pine timbers and roof decking (how many bits did we burn up!), plaster on gypsum walls/ceilings, terrazzo flooring that had already been polished and couldn't be damaged. This house was a puzzle, every way we turned there was some new challenge. John Silvers worked with us to develop the options and gave us multiple quotes so that we could get the best bang for the buck within our financial constraints. When the dust settled we had a plan that would open up the front of the house. The kitchen was divided from the living room by an interior wall, the living room was divided from the den by a load bearing wall with an opening where the sliding door used to be. We decided to to remove all these walls, tear every thing but the bedrooms down to the stud's and rebuild it. We started on April 1st, 2010 John pulled the permits as the GC. I pulled the permits for the electrical and plumbing. The demolition process took several weeks and a couple of dumpsters. We ended up using 3 total. We didn't anticipate the amount of dirt and dust that would be generated during this process. John taped plastic around the doorways to the bedrooms, but there is no way that concrete dust would not get in. The dirt and dust were a problem throughout the remodel. Noble Structural performed the analysis to remove the load bearing wall. We essentially took out a 14 foot section of concrete and the lintel would not support the weight for that span. Noble suggested a laminate beam (LVL) and John Silvers came up with suspended buckets to eliminate any visible columns. This turned out very well and the completed section reduced the visible support from 18 inches to 6. The remaining 6 were textured the same as the ceiling in both rooms so it is hardly noticeable. With the front rooms, hallway and bathroom completely exposed, work began repairing the framing. We have a ceiling beam that spans the cathedral ceiling in the front room. It was supported by a Rube Goldberg patchwork of wood. Who says they built things better back then? The ceiling beam supports had to be rebuilt, a temporary wall was constructed to support the roof while the load bearing wall was demolished and replaced, The wall between the kitchen and bathroom was completely re-framed as well as some of the joists in the ceiling. A free standing range hood was in the plan, so the roof supports had to be cut and a box built to support the load. All of the walls in this old house were uneven due to the wood warping over time. Every wall and the ceiling had to be trimmed out so the drywall would be level. A lot of work went in to prepping the structure, including strapping the roof. As this was happening, a channel was cut in the terrazzo to remove the existing sewer pipe. This channel went underneath the wall and out into the garage, exposing the old crumbly cast iron. All of the plumbing return pipe was rotted, the old copper supply line was embedded in the cement footer with no sheathing and was leaking. My friend is a master plumber and John supplied one of his guy's with plumbing experience and between the 3 of us, we re-plumbed the house in 4 days. This included replacing the existing supply and return as well as running new hot and cold water lines to the other side of the house for an outdoor shower (perfect for coming off the beach). We re-did the supply lines in 3/4" copper with 1/2" feeds to the faucets. The outdoor shower runs were two long lengths of 3/4" soft copper. We included water hammer suppressors, wrapped the hot and cold in insulation and strapped everything down tight. Nothing rattles. We ended up getting a larger hot water heater so we moved it out of the utility room and into the garage. John came up with the solution to build a concrete pad for the HW heater to elevate it off the floor. This was an area were we really saved some money and John's help and advice were invaluable. Once the framing and plumbing were nearing completion. Work began on the electrical. The planning and rewiring was completely done by me. All the new boxes were installed, the wires pulled (2000 ft of new wire), riser and subpanel installed. As we got closer to inspection the inspector all but insisted that a licensed electrician be there. John gave me the name of Dave at PowerHouse electric. He came out and wired the subpanel and trimmed the boxes. He was there when the inspector arrived, they knew each other and we passed. Dave's price was extremely reasonable and was well worth it for the service he provided. This was another way John helped us save a lot of money during the remodel. The doors and windows all had to be rebucked. The east side wall of the house (former porch area) had to be completely re-framed (another temp wall to support the roof) due to water damage from a leaky roof. Then the windows and doors installed. With the inspections out of the way, the house began to come back together. The next step was clean the place. John and his guy's came in on Saturday/Sunday and removed all the old insulation, vacuumed out the dust, debris, etc from the attic. Vacuumed all the wood framing, just cleaned hard to get ready for insulation. We used open cell sprayed foam on the cathedral ceiling . With 5-6 inch rafters, this gave us the equivalent of about R19 and covers approximately 70% of the house. Due to low roof pitch, we couldn't do the bedrooms without opening a hole in each ceiling, so we blew in R30 and installed moisture barriers The dry wall went up, was textured and painted, the cabinets arrived and were installed. We had some issues with the granite counter top people. Ferguson granite arrived to scope the job. We discussed what we wanted (in particular a tear drop shape at the end of the counter for a eat in/ bar area). They didn't make any templates. When John found out, he said they will use a template and he will provide it. So he laid out cardboard and cut out the template. The tear drop was tricky, since we needed to add some re-enforcement for the supporting cabinet in two places. Ferguson brought it in and installed it. The seams didn't look good and at the sink were not in the same place. The counter seam and back splash seam were separated by 3-4 inches. All seams were grind cut, so they were noticeable, especially the back slash by the sink. You always find out the quality of your contractors when something goes wrong. Ferguson said this was perfectly normal, we thought not. John Silvers went home brought back his wet saw and re-cut the back splash with Ferguson's installers. The seam he made was much, much better and lined up with the counter top seam. He really saved the day on this part. Another instance where John's experience came into play. The new tub we put in was wider than the old 1955 tub. This mean that the distance from the tub to the toilet was 12 instead of 15 inches. Also, removing the plaster/gypsum board walls and replacing with drywall placed the center of the toilet 3/4" further away from the wall. We were distressed at having to take a cement saw to our highly polished terrazzo floors. John came up with a new plumbing solution that allowed us to move the toilet opening such that the it would meet specifications as well as allow the toilet to cover the existing hole. The simplest way was to just cut a hole in the cement, his method required more time and thought, but was the right way to do it. With the cabinets installed and the counter tops in, came the detail work. John and his company are extremely good at getting the details correct. Just to name a few, undermount trim work, polishing the stainless steel range hood shaft cover, getting the ice maker line in, moving a couple of outlets, cleaning everything. He and his guy's put down cardboard and paper multiple times to protect our floors. And it worked, none of the construction work damaged any of our floors. He installed all the travertine on the kitchen wall, as well as installing a complex decorative pattern above the sink. He suggested and installed pecky cypress facade for the ceiling center beam. Then blended the same pecky cypress wood with the kitchen travertine at the range hood ceiling opening to tie the rooms together. I'm out of characters. I can write more. I highly recommend John Silvers Construction. He work and his employee's are exceptional.