Saving My Own Day

I started last Friday hopefully. I had ordered a Corian 850 sink to replace a cracked 872 and it arrived undamaged even though the box took a beating. An 850 has a much smaller “footprint” than an 872, but the homeowner had two 12” square color matched cutting boards she was willing to sacrifice. Having just done a similar job with excellent results and profits, I made the best of the hour and half drive to the job:

I knew it was going to be close with the material. There was no 4” high backsplash to sacrifice, only tile on the walls. Her bar only had 6” of overhang, so unless I made it into a wall cap, that wasn’t viable. The cutting boards weren’t 12” square. The cooktop cutout wasn’t giving up a thing. All my usual sources and nothing. My notebook and mathematics finally gave me the bad news. I was done for the day; my drive was wasted and I had ciphered and head-scratched for an hour. The builder that hired me is going to have to contact the homeowner and let her know of the tradeoffs: Another 872 instead of the 850 or I come up with some Bisque Corian that may or may not color match perfectly. Or I sacrifice the large window sill for color match and replace it which takes more time/money. Her call.

On my drive down, I got a call from a woman who had burned her mother’s plastic laminate countertop. I gave her the bad news that it isn’t really repairable. Since she was on my way home, I called her back, and against my better judgement, agreed to stop by and take a look. What do I have to lose? By my lack of planning and verification, I’ve already set 4 hours on fire.

In these circumstances, I usually make a customer send me a text message acknowledging that the top is ruined and that anything I do will only make it better. I don’t even bother with this one; the picture says it all. I tried super gluing the pucker down and smacking it flush with a hammer. (That’s a version of an old laminator’s trick. Sometimes contamination puckering a top can be driven into the substrate and pulling the piece avoided.) All I got was broken pieces.

In the repair business cost effectiveness rules. If you can’t provide value with your repair, you’ve got nothing to sell. This means you have to do some non-technical investigating to know how much time and effort to throw at a given problem. As it turns out, this house is under contract for sale and the buyer is apparently being somewhat of a jerk. If he finds this spot, he’s probably going to demand a new top as a concession at closing, despite the swollen underlayment at the sink and an adjacent years-old small gouge. In this 300K home with a drop-in sink, it’s foolish to invest anything in these tops.

I had great color and particulate match until I scraped it flush and let the brown of the phenolic  and the white laminate edges show through. Unlike the previous nipple, you can’t see this thing from two feet away. She’s pleased enough to pay me fifty bucks and promises an outstanding online review.

As my butt hit my truck seat to leave, my phone rang. A plumber an hour away had cracked a granite sink rail while replacing a sink. Since it’s only 2:00, I’d better take this one even though it’ll put me in rush hour on the way home.

My luck is changing. Nice clean break, no reinforcing steel rod to battle, no contamination, and a seam at the center of the sink so I can pull this piece and get complete adhesive coverage. Best of all, reasonable and grateful customers of my customer.

The plumber paid me in the driveway and the drive home wasn’t bad.