Shines like a diamond ring…

Christmas is such a festive time of the year! Everyone is busy shopping for gifts, planning get-togethers with family and friends, deciding what’s for Christmas meal and of course readying and decorating their homes. We all want everything looking tip-top and at its best.

While one local couple was decorating their home this Christmas with festive outdoor lights their weathered and faded front entry caught their eye.  Eagerly anticipating their family and friends gathering at their home they realized their front entry had lost its welcoming warmth and luster.  The colored stain and finish that was applied in 2001 had long shifted from the reddish mahogany hue to a deep muddled brown!  The finish too was cracked due to weathering and some to water from Hurricane Harvey.  This weathering allowed their once beautiful entry to be a distraction from their otherwise showplace home.

Pondering how they could remedy their eyesore, one of their friends suggested they contact Dale Wright & Associates, LLC on possible ways to restore the beauty of their richly detailed front door and sidelights.  After I and the homeowner inspected the damages I assured him with some “TLC’ their entry would be restored to its ‘as new’ condition.

Bearing in mind the restoration began in December, I and my co-worker began our task with a thorough cleaning.  Next followed the removal of the original finish with a specialized chemical and tedious stripping by hand, scrapping and the use of steel wool.  This process was accomplished in small sections and multiple times until the wood was exposed.  Lastly, we did an overall sanding, a thorough vacuuming and wiping clean the door and sidelights with mineral spirits.  Finally, we made it down to the original beautiful Honduran Mahogany which was ready for staining.

The detail work was a painstaking process, but I and my co-worker didn’t mind the work – we actually really ‘dig’ this kind of work.  There is a ‘high’ we experience once we begin to see the transformation happen before our eyes – the old becoming new again!

Our only frustration with this project was we were at the mercy of our Southeast Texas winter weather!  Let me tell you folks we knew this when we started, but if you plan to use an oil-based stain and a polyurethane finish ideally the temperatures should be above 65 degrees and the humidity should be below 50.  Late Spring and/or early Summer in Southeast Texas is an ideal time for this type of outdoors project.

To finish the project, we applied the customer’s color choice gel oil-based stain and finished it with two coats of clear Marine polyurethane and voila the natural beauty of the wood was restored –  and a Christmas wish came true!  The homeowner was delighted with the restoration and said he couldn’t be happier with the result.

If your entry is showing the same signs of damage from our harsh climate, contact me and let’s discuss how we can add substantial value back to your home.  I’m taking bookings now for 2018 Spring / Early Summer and would be delighted to add your thirsty doors to my list.

You Know It’s True…

No post about how Southeast Texas is going to recover is complete without at least one picture of the Phoenix rising from the ashes 🤠. Although many of us and our friends are still trying to assess the damage from the recent storm, a lot of restoration work has begun. Everybody and his brother has suddenly become a contractor and materials are flying out the doors of the local building material supplier. Good things are happening which will bring about the restoration of the area. But, those of you who know me, know that I have a tendency to see a “snake in every wood-pile” and the same is true here.

If everybody and his brother is suddenly a contractor, what makes anyone believe that they are all qualified, dependable, honest, skilled, INSURED AND BONDED? You and I who have lived in this area have developed a kind of “collective memory” when it comes to fly-by-night contractors. They blow in, blow up and blow back out… Remember the roofers, carpenters, drywall contractors, painters, etc… who descended on our area after Rita and Ike? When we had problems later, the companies on the business cards no longer existed and the phone numbers were no longer working.

Not only have we become a little smarter, the insurers and mortgage companies have also become more specific in their requirements. They are looking to fund repairs with legitimate contractors who have demonstrated not only competence, but financial responsibility. Contractors should be chosen based on experience in our local area, references, honesty and the fact that they are Insured and Bonded. These financial instruments demonstrate that the contractors are legally prepared to assure their customers safety and financial protection.

When choosing your contractor, do your research and ask your contractor to provide you with information regarding Insurance and Bonding. These are documents which they should be more than happy to display. If they don’t have these or won’t show them, something could be wrong.

Keep in mind, although the “guys” might seem competent, when issues come up later, they might not be around to satisfy you. Choose wisely, choose someone Insured and Bonded.

Dale

Cleaning up after a flood…

What can I do and how should I do it are questions on everyone’s mind these days. I am posting a scanned copy of a hard copy of a website called http://www.Floodsmart.gov. The site is hosted by FEMA.gov and now contains different types of information. Because this is a scanned copy the links will not work. I think you will find this material very useful in the coming days. 

God bless,

Dale




Workers needed…

As an uncomfortable reality, a fact of life, many in this area have lost jobs due to the hurricane. Most of the large area business will bounce back fairly quickly, but the smaller shops may see their doors permanently closed due to overwhelming financial pressure. Another factor may be the age of the owner. Some businesses may be owned by people who decide that at this stage of their lives it’s too hard to start again. 

The reason I bring this up is the sudden need among contractors for a willing work force to begin restoring and refurbishing all of the homes damaged as a result of the storm. At the phase that we are about to enter, the contractors will need healthy, able-bodied, drug-free people to begin stripping out the flood damaged homes. This will include removing wallboard, cabinets, flooring, electrical devices, baseboards and mouldings, etc… This type of work does not require, by and large, a skilled workforce. It simply requires good, decent people willing to do a “days work for a days wage” as they used to say. 

I will be looking for this type of person. Male or female, whatever race, whatever “creed” (whatever that means) to partner with me in helping Southeast Texas get back on its feet. 

For the most part, people that have worked with me that have come from “non-traditional” construction backgrounds, office workers, teachers, store managers, have enjoyed the experience. If nothing else it gives them a chance to learn the right way to do something that they have never tried before. 

If you or someone you know would like to help your community, learn a little and earn some money, please contact me. I’ll look forward to meeting you. 

Dale

A word of caution for those with damaged homes…

Being a contractor I have suddenly been put on everyone’s speed-dial 😁. Because of that I have had the chance to visit with a number of home-owners over the course of the last couple of days. As you can imagine, everyone is anxious to get started cleaning up their mess and piles of furniture and rolls of wet carpet adorn everyone’s front yard. Aside from assessing the damage and salvaging what they can, the homeowners are succumbing to the genetically hard-wired tendency to need to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING!!! 

The conversations tend to follow patterns- 

1) When will the insurance adjusters get here? (The Good Lord only knows…)

2) Are you from FEMA? (Nope)

3) How high above the water line can I start cutting out drywall?

4) Can I start removing this or that?

5) Is it safe to do this or that?

6) Fill in the (blank)…

The word of caution that I am offering deals with question #3 as well as the others. From my experience, and from talking with Realtors and insurance people, as a rule of thumb, the adjusters and FEMA people want to view your home with the flood damage still “intact”. In other words, in order to assess your damage they need to see your damage. Discarded furniture and appliances that have been dragged to the yard or dump can’t be assumed to be damaged by the flood. They could have been damaged by subsequent rain since being removed from the home. This could potentially reduce your settlement. 

Wallboard that shows a waterline may not represent the full extent of the water damage to the wall. The reason for that is that the wallboard and insulation behind the wallboard could have carried water up through the material on the back without showing on the front. Imagine dipping the edge of a cloth in water. The water will creep up the entire cloth eventually. In the same way, water may have crept up through the insulation and completely dampened the interior of the wall without showing on the front. 

Electrical devices (receptacles, switches) may be damaged even though they look normal. You could be badly injured by an electrical shock. 

Ceramic tile may look okay… but it may not be. The tiles may appear hard (glazed) on top, but generally are not underneath. This lack of glazing makes the tile porous and therefore may be a breeding ground for mold. There are also lots of “voids” in the grout and adhesives holding the tile down. These voids also hold moisture and may cause a danger to your health. The professionals who will be visiting your home are the ones who can best instruct you about potentially hidden dangers. 

If you were afraid to get on a ladder before the storm, you shouldn’t get on one now. 

If you knew nothing about electrical systems, you still don’t… be cautious around them.

If you had a bad back, knee, shoulder etc… before the storm, you still have a bad back etc… now. Don’t “overdo” and hurt yourself. 

In short, it may be to your best interest to wait a few more days before succumbing to the temptation to grab a sledge hammer and start whacking things. 

I know it’s hard. I’m just cautioning you to think before you perhaps bite off more than you can chew. 

And of course, give me a call. I’ll be glad to visit with you and talk through your situation. 

Dale

This is Texas Strong…

Texans are incredibly resilient and self-reliant as a people and as a culture. We pride ourselves on our can-do attitude and sometimes have a little trouble accepting help from others… especially strangers. One thing that has been brought home to each of us during this time is the emotional healing that comes from someone simply being there for us. Whether it is church’s or other organizations handing out water and MRE’s or volunteer groups from other states that have traveled to our area to make sure that things are put back together as quickly as possible. We all know that it will take years to rebuild our structures and that lost or damaged “things” are gone for good. But for now what I have marveled at has been the attitude of our friends, neighbors and fellow workers. Smiles, chuckles, a look of acknowledgement in the lines outside the re-opening stores lightens our mood and relieves the pent-up stress.  Neighbors that barely know each other waving and sharing what they have builds a bond that comes only from a shared experience. When the memory of the shell-shock of destruction that swept our area begins to fade, I hope that our newfound sense of comradery will feed our souls to the same level of fullness as the kindness of strangers has fed our stomachs. 

All the water in the world…

As the saying goes, “All the water is the world and none to drink”. 

As my wife and I were driving past Lamar University yesterday, we came across this site. A seemingly endless line of cars punctuated with police cars and flashing lights. There seemed to be nothing “going on” in the area, so we kept asking each other “what on earth”? Then we passed the Southeast Texas Food Bank and realized that the long lines of desperate people were trying to access water being given away in that facilities parking lot. 

With the major roads and highways into the Beaumont area being under water, what was an easily available commodity only a week ago had become a desperately needed necessity. Store shelves are becoming quickly depleted of core basics. Foodstuffs such as soups, milk and prepared meals are quickly disappearing .

This brought to mind my similar experiences following hurricanes Rita and Ike. My wife and I were required to stay at our employers facility because we both were designated as “Critical”.  After the storms had passed, the town was pretty much empty. At night the city was dark with no traffic on the roads because of the evacuation. Fuel was virtually non-existent at the few stores that gradually opened and food stuffs pretty much boiled down to potato chips and crackers. 

My fellow workers and I actually enjoyed the time. We wore the same clothes for days at a time, slept under our desks, covered our stringy hair with random hats and in general viewed the whole experience as kind of being suddenly shipwrecked on an island. We could walk down the middle of 11th street or Calder at any time, day or night without a single car being in sight. We made it. 

As FEMA arrived on site and food, water and fuel slowly began to stream into the city our little “Island Paradise” gradually came to an end. 

The point to my comments is this… we made it through those hard times with virtually no-one else in town. We kept our needs simple out of necessity and the simple joy of finding a hot Coke to drink was celebrated. This time the city is full of 118,000 people all coming to the realization that nature has turned our town into an “island” in pretty much every way. This too will pass but it will be a more difficult recovery with increasing demands being put on the limited resources that we have.  

Standing in line yesterday at Kroger brought hope. Everyone was patient even though only 5 customers at a time could enter the store. Friendly faces greeted us and workers were busily restocking the shelves as best they could. The line stretching behind us was filled with weary but honest, caring faces. The conversations centered around losses and troubles but resiliency and determination quickly entered the exchanges between strangers. People who had never met were sharing hugs and gentle words. Some were exchanging phone numbers. The frail were encouraged to “break in line”. In effect what I saw was humans behaving humanely. 

Seeing that has fed my soul. I hope yours is being fed as well. 

Dale

 

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