mistakes

4 Mistakes that Drive Service Agents Crazy

From installation problems to warranty equipment misuse and abuse, here’s what service agents want you to know about the issues that make work tougher for everyone.

To start, this title probably comes on a little strong. The men and women who run service agencies are businesspeople, after all. They genuinely appreciate their customers and know the success of their agencies is due to the operators who call them and the supply chain partners that work alongside them.

It’s just some issues can get under their skin. Problems that come up again and again. Headache-inducers that could be done away with through a bit of education. In the end, they know that if operators take the time to learn about and avoid these issues, everyone, from rep to dealer to operator to service agency, will save time, money and plenty of aggravation.

Mistake No. 1: Not Thinking Through Installation Early Enough

Plenty of equipment problems begin during installation, or even before, when placing the order.

Some of the biggest problems arise from the most basic issues, service agents say. When ordering a piece of equipment, the operator, dealer and even the rep need to ensure the utilities for that item match the facility. The wrong voltage or natural gas type can stop an install in its tracks. While the supply chain has to deal with the problem, an install appointment halted by these issues also becomes an issue for service agents, says Scott Hester, president of Texas-based Refrigerated Specialist Inc. (RSI) and Cooking Equipment Specialists (CES). An install that can’t be completed still incurs costs in man-hours, after all.

Even when the right equipment is ordered, problems can still arise. One issue, says Wayne Stoutner, CEO of upstate New York service agency Duffy’s AIS, is simply defining what an installation covers.

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5 Mistakes I Made While Renovating My Kitchen

This summer, I embarked on a soup-to-nuts kitchen renovation..for the first time in my life. I hand-drew a floor plan to scale, ripped out tile and hacked down cupboards, and product sourced everything from our custom cabinet makers (a friend of a friend) to our backsplash tile (a Wayfair score!). Am I obsessed with my tiny jewel of an apartment kitchen? Heck, yes. Did I make a boatload of beginner mistakes along the way? You betcha. I’m sharing them here so you can avoid them.

RELATED: The Eclectic Kitchen Trend You’re About to See Everywhere

Since the kitchen is all white and we chose durable, man-made quartz for the countertops, I wanted to bring in some more luxurious, natural texture via the backsplash. I found a gorgeous, long Calacatta marble subway tile which I thought would be the next best thing to a pricey, single-slab backsplash. The problem? Both the sample tile online and the first tile in the box were a pale, white marble with the subtle veining I’d been coveting. But the rest of the box was considerably darker with black veining. Lesson learned: Check the rest of the box—and read reviews more thoroughly (it had been flagged by an earlier purchaser).

Before we actually started purchasing appliances, I didn’t expect them to be too costly. For starters, everything was apartment-sized (24-inch fridge, 18-inch dishwasher, etc.)—and I had sifted through the internet for the best deals available. After sending my choices to my contractor—wouldn’t ya know?—he informed me that I needed special appliances. For example, since I wanted a fridge that was flush with my custom cabinetry, I had to buy a “built-in” fridge, which has different venting capabilities. It cost me literally nine (!) times as much as a regular one. Also, the over-the-range microwave I wanted

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Mistakes to avoid when upgrading a kitchen: Don’t get sucked into tempting, one-function items

Your household may have grown during the coronavirus pandemic as adult children who lost their jobs returned home. At the same time, your wallet may have become thinner during the economic fallout caused by the global health crisis.

Combine those factors and it’s easy to see that a study by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) found that people want to improve their kitchen, especially with germ-avoiding, touchless technology, while adhering to a tight budget.

An overwhelming 99% of manufacturing, construction, design and retail businesses surveyed by the trade association said more consumers are requesting assistance with small-scale, DIY kitchen projects.

To reduce the risk of getting Covid-19, the survey found people want contact-less products with automatic sensors and antimicrobial surfaces as well as outdoor kitchens, where they can safely entertain while social distancing.

The pandemic also made people aware of the need to prepare for an emergency and store provisions. Improved water and air filtration systems are also part of the plan to hunker down safely at home.

“We’re breathing this air all day now and we’re wondering, ‘What’s in it?’” says Barbara Miller, design director for the Neil Kelly design and remodeling company.

In any size home, people are placing even more value on storage space and pantries to keep surplus food and water. It’s not easy to add cabinets, let alone counters, a sink and electrical outlets, to what’s considered the busiest and most complex room in any house.

Experts are available to advise you at all levels. A design consultation is free at Home Depot, either in the store or virtually. If you haven’t thought about upgrading a kitchen in a while, this is an easy way to be introduced to new materials and approaches.

The National Kitchen & Bath Association maintains a directory of

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How to Avoid the 5 Worst Kitchen Design Mistakes

ALL-WHITE kitchens that look like operating theaters aren’t all that inspiring or even practical. But the overcooked alternatives—kitchens featuring grease-accumulating ceramic roosters or cabinetry festooned with grape-leaf swags—can seem depressingly cluttered. “It’s a place for creating meals, not Versailles,” said New York architect Kevin Lichten.

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Homeowners should view their kitchens first as machines for preparing food, he advised. “Then slowly add luxury to make it sensually appealing”—and ideally inject personality of the right kind. We asked design pros like Mr. Lichten to share their biggest kitchen-decorating pet peeves, from oversize islands to mixed-material counters, and to recommend chic, functional fixes.

HANG ‘EM HIGH In a kitchen in Oklahoma City, Okla., the upper cabinets continue to the ceiling, avoiding a common design error: a dust-collecting gap between the top of the millwork and the ceiling.



Photo:

David Tsay

Scattered Appliances

Countertop gear—coffee maker, toaster, blender, air fryer—might be essential to getting your three squares, conceded Los Angeles designer Amy Sklar, “but honestly, they don’t look so hot spread out over every usable surface.”

Instead Gather your gadget diaspora behind an accordion-doored “appliance garage” (think: a built-in bread box for your blender and such). This allows easy access to contraptions while hiding them. To ensure your juicer stays juiced, plan around an electrical outlet. Pullout drawers in lower cabinets, too, can be hidy-holes for lesser-used appliances.

Unintelligent Counters

Along with other dumb 1970s ideas like water beds, renounce tiled work surfaces. New York designer Alan Tanksley calls out their uneven surfaces and unsanitary grout lines. Even perfectly flat tiles installed tightly can pose a challenge, Mr. Tanksley noted. Any individual tile is more susceptible to chips and cracks than unified slabs of natural stone. That said,

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2 home-buying mistakes I’ve seen during the pandemic

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In 2008, the housing industry was spiraling out of control in the wake of the financial crisis that led to the Great Recession. For me, it doesn’t feel like very long ago that US housing prices were down 30% or more from their peaks, and more than 20% of homeowners were underwater on their mortgages. 

But what a difference a bull market makes! Fast-forward to 2019, and we know the housing market didn’t just rebound; it looked stronger than ever last year. Although some feared it would only take one triggering event to derail the market again, in 2020 we’ve seen that even a global pandemic that caused havoc elsewhere in the economy didn’t put a dent in residential real estate.

In fact, life with COVID-19 on the loose has only accelerated the growth of the US housing market.

Purchases of both new and previously-owned homes recorded their strongest pace since December 2006 (which was the peak before the housing crisis). US home values are 28% above the peak set in April 2007 during the housing bubble, and currently stand 63% above their lows in May 2011. 

If you are one of the many Americans wondering what to make of the real estate market today — or are thinking about buying into it — here are my pointers for you.

The housing market during the Great Recession, in my opinion, was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of landscape. The likelihood that housing prices will fall more than 30% from their highs is about the same as CD interest rates rising back to

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