Contempt

The kitchen was freezing all the time. This was because the previous owner had removed the door between the kitchen and the uninsulated back porch.

I thought that it would easy to find an antique door, then find a handy person to hang it. The jamb was still in the door frame, and wasn’t damaged. Old houses can get sort of wonky as they settle, so the door would probably need a little trimming or planing. This did not seem like rocket science to me.

I hung a tablecloth in the doorway to try to stop the draft. It was a nice tablecloth, linen, with crocheted lace and hand embroidery. It probably helped the kitchen to be two degrees warmer. You can see it in the far right.

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The kitchen WAS gruesome, I have to admit that. It was painted the same horrifying yellow as the hall, with the same terrible lumpy plaster, and the same ugly floor as the bathroom. The dark grey trim was oppressive. I hated looking at it, and being in it was particularly uncomfortable due to the freezing temperature.

I searched Kijiji and the ReStore but there was no antique matching door to be found. Home Depot carried a line of Milette brand doors that were pretty similar to the existing back door in the kitchen, for about $ 250.00.

I asked the friendly woman at the paint store if there was any old house person she could recommend, and she gave me a name. I called the guy and made an appointment for him to give me a quote. Getting a door installed was the most urgent priority, but my house needed a lot of work. I wanted to work with a person who understood how old houses were built and functioned. I needed some door mouldings replicated as several in the kitchen were hacked up. I also had a pair of of very large antique cabinets with glass doors that I planned to use in the kitchen and living room. They were from a fancy house in Toronto. They were a built in butler’s pantry (two mirror image cabinets in a narrow room). The seller listed them for the dirt cheap price of $ 500.00 for everything and I was so lucky to have spotted them first ! They were in my storage locker from before I even had a house to put them in. They had been carefully removed with numbered parts, with all crown moulding and other parts saved for re-use.

At the house I owned with my ex, we installed salvaged antique cabinets in the kitchen, had trim replicated and installed several old doors, so I understood these were all tasks within the realm of possibility. I had seen this done with my own eyes.

I warned the dude on the phone that I had just moved in, that the house really needed some work, but that I wanted to preserve the original features as much as possible. I also stated several times that I completely understood if this was small potatoes for the type of jobs he typically did (ie here’s your chance to state your minimum or back away from even coming by to quote).

This dude showed up with his nice little portfolio under his arm. He mostly worked on well-off people’s houses, often old houses, which they wanted to look less old. I had an old house I wanted to look its age: old. Like a heritage house in good repair.

I looked through his portfolio, and the quality of his work was good. I showed him the cabinets and the missing door problem. He hummed and hawed a bit, told me he didn’t want to use antique doors or trim. He then quoted me $ 1200.00 – 1500.00 to hang a replacement door (which included the new door). He told me that this high price was because he would need to “router the jamb”.

He seemed excited looking at the cabinets. They were finely built early 20th c. utilitarian pieces, 8 feet long and over 8 feet tall. They had been cut into uppers and lowers to remove them from the seller’s house (there was no way to get them out any other way as there were no 8 1/2 foot tall doorways, even in that house, and my house certainly didn’t have them). The original tongue and groove backing had been too brittle to salvage, so that would need to be replaced. Dude then quoted me “about $ 3000.00 PER CABINET” to install them.  He would ” need  to shim them.” (If you don’t know, shims are small wedges of wood that can help to level out areas, among many other uses. You can buy a bag of shims at the lumberyard for about $ 15.00.)

I thanked him for his time, and then had a good think after he left.

I completely understand that a self employed person or business has a minimum charge. It takes time and gas to get to a job site, set up and break down time, and some organzational abilities to come prepared with the right equipment and materials. The job might take an hour but the rest must be considered, and a simple job can eat up half a day. No problem.

BUT, I felt like this dude had completely treated me like an asshole. Why would a functional door jamb need to be routered ? The cabinet installation had some unknowns, that was true.

As a woman, dealing with a male professional, I was treated like I was plain stupid and gullible.

Eventually I found a guy who picked up the $ 250.00 door I ordered and installed it for  $100.00. He did not need to router the jamb. He was unfamiliar with the antique style rimlock which I supplied, but read the instructions and installed that in less than 10 minutes. I did have to wait until April to get the door in, as he had a nice spring vacation elsewhere. My new uninstalled door stood around from the end of Feb. until April, taunting me. I really appreciated it, once it was finally installed.

The tongue and groove boards cost about $ 200.00 per cabinet. It took me several hours to get several coats of shellac on the boards before they were assembled. Including attaching the boards to the cabinet backs, then attaching the cabinets to the wall took 4 – 6 hours, AND NO SHIMS WERE USED. This was one experienced carpenter with me as a helper.

I am still impressed and appalled that this guy would quote me the same hourly rate as an expensive Toronto lawyer to install my cabinets, and even more to hang a door.

This was before I understood about the taint of EOA (East of Adelaide street), but the crummy misogyny was familiar.

Foreshadowing: here’s a picture of the kitchen renovations when they had begun for real in the fall of 2017. It is a good photo of the door that was hung. It’s just there, being a door, next to the area where some mouldings had been hacked up, that would soon be replaced.

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The first set of cabinets were installed in the living room. Note the gloomy “Jackson Tan” walls in the dreary winter light. Ugh.

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