In a chain of events that I’ve jokingly referred to as cascading home repairs, you start out with one task in mind and then discover that you have to do a second major task to complete your goal. However, in order to complete the second major task, you discover that you have to do a third, and so forth.
In that way, a simple kitchen remodel becomes a string of cascaded chores, each dependent upon the previous one. My home renovation friends all smile, knowing exactly what I’m talking about:
The tasks that I have to complete before I can begin on the kitchen part of the remodel are:
• Replace double-hung windows with French doors to allow access to kitchen — DONE
• Upgrade electrical panel to allow for modern kitchen requirements
• Route gas line to new range location
• Re-wire kitchen from new panel, at least enough to preserve functionality during construction
• Disable gas and electrical in interior load-bearing wall
• Demolish load-bearing wall, replace with engineered beam (Glulam likely)
The French doors took a weekend to install with the help of a buddy who had done the task before, but the planning for that one task, including getting materials on site, took the better part of two weeks. I used salvaged doors from the Habitat for Humanity Store, so the cost was low — for four doors I paid something like $300. (I’ll use the other matched set of doors on a bedroom, but that’s a story for another day.)
The end result of the window replacement was dramatically better light in the kitchen than from the windows, plus gracious and convenient outdoor access, giving me hope that my planning would pay off.
About a year ago, I had jumped the gun a bit and solicited bids from local electricians to upgrade my panel. The electrical panel currently has a grand total of four circuits, two 20-amp circuits and two 15-amp circuits, with no room for expansion.
My life being what it is, I wasn’t able to act on the bids right away. That turned out to be a stroke of good luck, since I had a change of heart about where I wanted to locate the new panel. My brother, a veteran of his own remodel, advised that I should locate it on the side of the house so that if I ever wanted to extend the back of the house I wouldn’t have to again relocate the panel.
Additionally, he reminded me that it would be out of sight from the backyard, an aesthetic advantage when you’re talking about a (large) 200-amp panel. I thought he was dead on and called Southern California Edison to approve the new meter location.
My next call was to Gene from 1-Stop Electrical. He had given me a reasonable price before, so I invited him back on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to give me an estimate for the new panel upgrade.
I had a short list of the things I wanted him to bid separately, which I presented and we discussed when I met him at the property. What follows is the list that we agreed that he’d bid to, since through our discussion he was able to augment and improved my original list:
• 200-amp electrical panel, mounted in the south wall of the garage.
• 150-amp sub panel for garage located next to main panel. Circuit breakers on inside!
• Minimum two ground rods (my city requires only one). Maintain separation per NEC or better.
• Deactivate old electrical panel so that I can remove it. (This is pending my legwork to show that existing circuits can be accessed from the attic.)
• Upgrade to larger-gauge pole-to-house wiring. (Edison has agreed to do this at my request, not part of bid.)
• Garage exterior outlet: 120V, 20-amp, single gang, in-wall mount. GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) breaker. Mounted in east side of garage near south corner.
• Garage interior outlet: 120V, 20 amp, four gang, GFCI. 48" mounting height on south wall.
• Garage interior conduit and outlet for 220V connection. Installed but not wired, since I want this only for future expansion purposes.
I told Gene I’d handle the stucco work, having learned on the job doing the French doors.
The one “gotcha” in all this is that Gene states that the ground rods will be left exposed above ground about 10 to 12 inches and as close to the foundation as possible. Unfortunately, I’m concerned that if placed in my narrow side yard they will be a trip hazard and will constrict the passage too much — it’s only slightly wider than 3 feet and my garbage cans barely make it through as it is. The slab foundation sticks out a few inches past the exterior wall.
There may be a way around this if ask him to drill holes in the garage floor and he makes his ground attachments inside and against a wall. I can then hide the attach points with the cabinetry I plan to put there.
I’ll have to ask him if this is possible.
Thanks for reading my story.
And thank you, Brent, for sharing it. Reader thoughts? Comments? Insights?