Archive for October, 2011

Service Call Fees

October 23, 2011

My last post talked about repairing some damage caused by shifting walls. That same day, after finishing at one home, we walked across the complex to a friend’s home, where they had had a water leak, and this caused some of the wallpaper to come loose from the wall.

Well, this paper had been installed only a year and a half earlier, by one of the stores that carries wallpaper and also has installers. The homeowner called the store and explained that she had had rain damage and wanted it fixed, and that she knew it was not a problem with the original installation so was not covered by their guarantee, and that she was happy to pay their crew to come out and do the repair.

The store replied that there would be a charge of ONE HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS for them to JUST COME OUT AND LOOK AT IT, whether they could fix it or not.

The homeowner pressed on a bit, reminding them that she had bought several thousands of wallpaper and labor from them just a year or so previously.

The store stood firm in their charge of $150 to look at the job.

“They did a good job with the installation, and I was very pleased with the work and the workmen,” said the homeowner, “but that just isn’t right. I will NEVER do business with them again!”

So here I came walking over from the neighbor’s house, took a look, climbed up on my ladder, and did a good enough job*, all in about 15 minutes and for a fraction of the other company’s price “just to take a look.”

*Someone else had attempted to glue down the seams and I was unable to remove his Super Glue Goo. That prevented me from being able to manipulate the seam and paper as I would have liked. I think my repair would have been almost invisible if I had been the first person to tackle the repair. All in all, though, it looked darned good, and from a distance you couldn’t tell at all. And MUCH better than it was after the rain leak!

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Houston Drought and Wallpaper

October 17, 2011

I’ve gotten a number of calls lately for repairs to wallpaper damaged by cracks in walls – caused by settling and shifting of foundations due to our continuing LACK OF RAIN.

In both the homes I visited yesterday, it was possible to fix the damage – because THEY HAD SUFFICIENT PAPER LEFT OVER. Ah-HA! Another reason to order a little extra paper, and keep it stashed in a closet (not the attic or garage, please!).

One was the typical angled crack going diagonally from a door frame toward the ceiling. This was a simple matter of patching the crack, and then pasting a small patch of new wallpaper over the crack. Depending on the pattern and the type of paper, this type of repair can be almost invisible.

In the other home, the shifting walls had caused the paper to twist in the corners. This required a little more “surgery.” In one bathroom, I stripped off one wall, and in the second bathroom, it was necessary to strip the paper off both walls. Then I took fresh wallpaper and repapered the walls.

In such a case, ideally you would rehang the entire wall, so you are working with all wet strips. But since we didn’t have enough paper to do that, I was able to hang the new wet strips next to the existing dry strips, and it looked just fine.

Both homeowners were very pleased that their rooms were made to look good as new, without the expense of totally repapering.

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Wallpaper and Dog Walkers

October 14, 2011

As you can imagine, all sorts of things can (and do) happen when you work in someone’s home, especially when the homeowners have gone off to work and I’m alone in the house.

Let’s talk burglar alarms. I’ve had people leave me a key under the door mat, and then forget to leave the alarm off, so when I entered the home, the alarm went off. I’ve had a nosey little old lady see my truck outside her neighbor’s house and call the cops. I’ve had a drop of water get into the alarm control box and short circuit the gizmo and call the fire department.

But I have to admit, last week was a first….

The homeowner let me in in the morning, and left for the day. She told me that I would be hearing people in the house … the cleaning people would come and were instructed to not set the alarm when they left. The dog walker was also coming.

Well, I was pretty much in my own little world, up in a 2nd floor bathroom, totally immersed in my work. At one point, I did hear what sounded like a door opening and closing, and a few other sounds. A short while later, I heard a door opening and closing again. I figured the dog walker had come, taken the pooches out for their walk, and then left.

Then, barely audible over my radio and my scraping on the walls, I thought I heard a beeping sound. I wasn’t too concerned, until I realized THAT SOUNDS LIKE A BURGLAR ALARM!

I dropped what I was doing and dashed down the stairs. Sure enough, the alarm had just been set and was going through it’s one minute of beeping, allowing the dog walker enough time to get out of the house. The only thing is, she was already out of the house, and I knew if I opened a door to run after her, the alarm would go off!

Sure enough, on the table lay a note. Not knowing that I was working upstairs (my van was parked out of sight in the garage, and wallpaper work doesn’t make much noise), this conscientious lady had noticed that the door to the garage was ajar (I was going in and out through that door to bring in tools) and that the alarm had not been on when she arrived. So she dutifully closed the door and set the alarm when she left. YIKES!

I was trapped in the house! I couldn’t run and chase after the dog walker because the alarm would go off, and I knew she had had enough time to make it to her car and drive off, anyway. I could not call the homeowners, because my paperwork with their phone numbers was in my van, along with my cell phone, on the other side of that closed door. Luckily, this house alarm system didn’t have motion detectors – that would have REALLY been a fix!

What to do??

Also luckily, this house did have a land line. On the dog walker’s report paper was the number of the company. So I phoned, hoping to get ahold of her and ask her to come back and turn off the alarm. But the phone rang and rang, and finally went to voice mail. I left my desperate message, but had no idea when anyone would get the message.

Now what to do???

Luckily, I knew where this couple had bought their wallpaper (the Southwestern Paint store I recommend, on Bissonnet near Kirby), and I knew the phone number. So I called Dorota, the wallpaper person there, and she looked up the phone numbers of the homeowners. I was able to reach the husband, who had to call his wife, who relayed to him the alarm code, who relayed it back to me, and I punched it into the control box and – IT DID NOT TURN OFF!

We had the right numbers, but had to go through various combinations…”*123″ or “123*” or “#123” or “123#” on and on. Eventually we hit the right combination, and the blinking “Alarm On” light went out.


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The Wallpaper Store – GONE!

October 11, 2011

I was talking with a fellow paperhanger today, and learned that the Wallpaper Store on FM 1960 has gone out of business, as of the last of last month.

This is a shame. For one thing, I hate to see someone’s business venture, his means of making a living, fail. For another, if they went out of business due to lack of sales in wallpaper, I sure wish they could have held out for a little longer. Wallpaper is back big time, and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time for their sales to pick up.

On a more personal note, I hate that that store is no longer there, because it was a wonderful place to send my customers, especially those in the north part of town. They had a huge selection of special-order books, and a large variety of in-stock papers. There are very few places in town any more at all that carry paper in stock.

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