Joe Hall, owner DJK Painting Co., and his crew took over painting my house on August 6th. September 6 she was complete. They lost 7 days to rain, so in just 15 weekdays, two Saturdays, and one Sunday, the wrap up day, my house was transformed from an ugly duckling that had been cited by the City of Cincinnati for peeling paint on the windows (they didn’t care about the patch work look of the asbestos tile) to arguably the most beautiful house in Camp Washington. Elation seems like such a small word to describe how I feel right now. I’ve been waiting almost three years to see these colors (Sherwin Williams Sea Serpent and Incredible White) on my house. She’s beautiful. I can’t thank Joe, Vincent, and Elijah enough for bringing my vision to life.
My family has told me that my post are getting to “wordy/long”, so I’ll let the pictures from their final week speak for themselves.
I got a new back door light fixture because I’m going to put a screen door up and the original one, which matched the front door fixtures, hung too low. Here are some before and after shots.
Now she needs her accessories and this restoration will be a wrap!
Joe and Vincent were wrapping up the Stock Street side when a young man stopped Joe to inquire about working. Elijah had well groomed locs, his pants were belted at his waistline, he spoke articulately. The next week he was part of the crew painting my house. His first task on my house was touching up the Stock Street side. Great job. He and Vincent really seemed to hit it off, working well together.
In week one, rain was forecast everyday. They loss one day to rain. In week two the forecast was sunshine, low humidity, high 70s, no rain. Perfect summer painting weather. They lost two days to rain, but the bigger blow was an injury to Vincent that will prevent him from continuing to work on the project. Elijah now has big shoes to fill and from what I’ve seen so far he is up to the task. I’ve learned that Elijah is a graduate of Job Corp and he had joined a painter’s union. He’s like a sponge. He wants to learn and he is humble. He has great basic skills and a strong work ethic grounded in wanting to be a high achiever. The young man already has his LLC, a company name and logo as at 23 years of age his aspiration is to own his own paint company. I have no doubt he’ll meet his goal. We need more young people like Elijah to support, promote, and elevate.
The order of what was going to be painted has changed. Since my last post all sides of my house have been touched. The back of my house gets full sun early and it last well past quitting time, so the guys have been tackling the back and neighbor’s side together. If not for Vincent going down and the rain they would probably be finished with the entire house this week. The dormers really slow things down as Joe does not rely on my gutters to support his equipment. It’s a two-man job with one painting (Elijah) and the other bracing the ladders (Joe). They’ve started arriving earlier to capitalize on the shade as the asphalt shingles really put off heat, which I can testify to when I replaced the siding on the dormers.
The rear dormers are 100% complete. Only the Incredible White on the lower part of the rear needs to completed. The neighbor’s side is 98% complete. There is a small patch at the front gutter and dining room window that needs the Sea Serpent, but it will be easy to hit when they apply the Sea Serpent to the front. The front is 80% primed. I actually joined in on the painting by refreshing the basement/foundation color. Stock Street side looks even better now.
Rain came Thursday as forecast, so the day was cut short. Thanks to hurricane Laura it looks like Friday and Saturday are going to be a wash out too. As they were leaving Joe yelled if weather permits they may work Sunday. Barring more rain the house should be complete by mid next week. I’ve visualized these colors on my house since 2017 when I tried to win the HGTV Urban Oasis Giveaway House from that year. I had my color scheme before I had my house, but I found the perfect house to apply them to. My house’s outward potential is manifesting before my eyes; another vision coming true.
DJK Painting Co took over painting my house on August 6. The owner Joe Hall and his worker Vincent have shown up every week day like clock work and they work a full day. One day was cut short by rain, but they worked a half day on a Saturday, so no real time lost. Joe understands the concept of time and money. He’s not only proficient in his craft, but he is extremely efficient in his execution without sacrificing quality. His worker, Vincent, is an absolute sweetheart. Meticulous with his work. He reminds me of my great uncle Arthur having in common a serious sweet tooth, which I’m enjoying indulging. I made the right decision in switching companies, no second thoughts.
The sides of my house will be the most difficult, due to heights, so they started with the Stock Street side. After 6 days the entire side is complete. Caulked, primed, painted. Caulking took a lot of time as there was a lot to do. Even once they applied the primer, Joe decided to caulk any large gap between the pieces of siding. He also caulked along the sides of the windows and the result was a night and day difference from the first painter. I have seldom had to point out flaws or areas in need of correction. Joe finds them first and tells me he’s going to fix it. I love that about this crew.
Originally the plan was to prime the entire house and then apply the color. They had half of the Stock Street side completed when I asked if they could paint the back porch, so that I could finally rehang my light and door bell. They got it primed, but returned to the side of the house because the porch was in full sun. I think they sensed I wanted to see my colors on my house, so Joe decided to apply the actual colors and fully complete the side.
The Sherwin Williams Incredible White and Sea Serpent colors look as good on my house as it did on the HGTV 2017 Urban Oasis Giveaway house. Hopefully they’ll finish the back porch next, but if not I don’t care. Joe wants to knock out the other side next, which is fine with me. Three years waiting for this moment and I can’t be more pleased.
Have you ever looked forward to a fishing trip? Days leading up to it you plan and pack your snacks, playlist, and gear. The day arrives and you get up early to find that perfect spot on the water and you cast your first line. After a few hours no bites, but you’re not deterred. You find a new spot and cast again. This time you get caught in debris and loose your hook. Still not deterred you connect a new one and cast again and you catch something. A guppy sized carp that you throw back. You keep fishing. You move again. Now your snacks are running low. It’s hot, you haven’t caught anything worth keeping. The sun is starting to set, mosquitoes are eating you alive, and you get snagged again. This time you cut bait, call it quits and hope for better results the next time. This describes the process of getting my house painted.
Work to paint my house started on June 9. From the beginning I was physically involved with the project and initially I didn’t mind because I like working on my house and the first project I took on would save me money and the painter time; replacing the trim on the 14, 1st floor windows and scraping them myself. After this project I decided to rebuild the rear portico as the ceiling wood was spongee and the outer layers of paint came off with your hand. I love woodwork projects, so this was also fun to tackle. Lyle was exceeding my expectations at that point due to the degree he was scraping and prepping the dormers and side trim. He shared with me that he couldn’t find people that would work on heights, so I took on another project, removing the paint from around my transom window. This work is what led to the ONLY project I added, the paint removal from the porch bead board, which introduced me to the product Peel A-Way.
The removal went so well I decided I wanted to leave the wood natural, but some detailed clean up would be needed. Since this was an add-on project I removed the porch and columns off of the original scope of work. I would handle the detail clean-up of ceiling and did not want to feel rushed/pressed to get it done and not impede Lyle’s progress. This was 20 day mark, so it was clear the three week timeline I was given would never be met.
The first of July hit and Lyle didn’t work for several days of good whether. When he finally returned it was to clean up his scaffolding that had been blown over in the storm from the night before. I asked if he was going to work that day and he shared that he had a contract to paint apartments in Kentucky at the first of each month. Nice to know. When Lyle started putting primer paint on the dormer trim I knew I was in trouble. He had only fully scraped two of the four and the Stock Street side of my house. Other areas he started, but did not complete. This was a clear sign to me that he was going to start taking short cuts to get the job complete. He had left his ladder on the roof near the large dormer, so I finished scraping the side of that with my heat gun. He did finish scraping the fourth, but then turned to applying primer to the dormer siding.
The crown under the soffit of the front of the house can be easily reached with a ladder. The man Lyle brought on day one could have been tackling that instead of the windows. For 40+ days Lyle scraped in earnest dormers 20′ off the ground, in crevices that can barely be seen with the naked eye and yet he’d done next to nothing to the crown and soffit that greets visitors as soon as the walk up to the front door. On day 3, when his guy pressured washed the front of the house he hit that area and in spots went down to the bare wood. At that time Lyle said it would be scraped. When I discovered the rot in the crown of the rear of the house, my concern was that their could be more in the front. I asked again about when that area would be scraped. Lyle scraped more in the same areas that had been pressured washed and told me I should replace all of the front, as for “resell value” the two sides should be the same. I totally disagreed with that, so instead I took a metal pipe and tapped hard every 3-5 inches and determined the wood was sound. When I shared I would not be replacing his response had turned to that area was not part of the proposal. My grandmother said all the time “one monkey don’t stop no show” or “one setback should not impede progress”, so I purchased more of the Peel A-Way product and decided to do it myself.
Peel A-Way is awesome, but you cannot allow the product to dry. It does not come off with scrubbing. I actually purchased a pressure washer specifically to tackle this project. The first of August rolled around and I knew Lyle would disappear again for his Kentucky contract. I was still steamed over the girlfriend smearing caulk on my house, but while cleaning the crown I took about an 8′ fall off my ladder. The soil gave way, the ladder went to the right, I went to the left. Thankfully I landed in my flower bed which is relatively soft soil and butt first (baby got back). I was bruised, sore, and mad at myself for falling. That also became the moment I decided to cut bait. I should not have needed to be on the ladder in the first place. When Lyle arrived the morning of August 3, 54 days after starting, I brought an end to the contract. At that point I did not have another painter lined up, but my gut told me to shut him down in the same resolve it had when it told me to rent a jack hammer and remove the concrete from my shower.
So here are some lessons I learned in selecting a painting contractor:
Get personal reference. Lyle found me, he was not referred, so I relied on strangers to vouch for him. Even when referred check references. I did. But only 1 of 3 actually called me back. The one supported the quality of his work, but warned me about his poor time management, which Lyle explained away. Ask how big of a crew they have and if they are on payroll with the company. Run if the company only deals with freelancers because you have to trust they work at the same level of quality as the person you selected. Ask about their equipment and how they plan to access high areas. Lyle’s ladders have scraped the coating off areas of my box gutters. They should not have been used to give him access to the dormers. I feel fortunate that more damage was not done. I will not use them in that fashion again. #1 question to ask, especially for a small operation, is how many projects are they working simultaneously. You only want to deal with a small operator that is solely dedicated to your project. Maybe two projects if one is interior, which they could work in the case of inclement weather.
On August 5th Joe Hall of DJK Painting Co. came to look at my house. Joe was referred to me by Mike Tanner, who had installed my master shower and replacement columns. This was the second time Joe had come out. The first time, after explaining I wanted the windows and trim scraped to wood he was not interested in the project. It would be too time intensive. I told him Lyle’s bid and he said, if that guy does all that, for that price, he’s your man. He wasn’t surprised by the turn of events. Mike Tanner was enough of voucher for Joe, but I did check out a house he had painted in Indian Hills. He encouraged me to knock on the door and speak with the owners. I did and they could not say enough great things about Joe and his crew of two. They volunteered all the answers to questions I had before I could ask the questions. That house was 3x the size of mine, all brick, and they had it painted in three weeks and there was no signs they were ever there. Joe also gave me the address of an asbestos siding house he had painted. I didn’t get to speak with anyone, but comparing it to the before picture he had sent to what I saw in person was enough to seal the deal for me. Fortunate for me, his schedule allowed him to start the next day.
After not working on a Friday afternoon or Saturday, days the back side crown was installed, on Sunday, after 5pm, Lyle showed up with his girl friend and starts applying gray primer to the front of my house. The only reason I discovered they were working is I had come outside to see how the first window frame I had hung looked and I saw his van parked on the street. When he didn’t show on Saturday, after texting that he would, I decided to apply Peel A-Way to the crown moulding that wrapped around the front entrance. Based on an exchange I had earlier in the week with Lyle I had no confidence he was going to scrap that area and I felt it needed to be done. He could clearly see that I had applied the product, but instead of alerting me to ask the status they just started painting. When I let him know it needed to be removed that night he finished painting the living room side and said he could tarp it. They then went to the dining room side of house and started caulking the windows. Now early on he told me he likes to caulk after he primes and he had not applied primer to that side.
Before he could start he had to send his girlfriend to Family Dollar to buy rubber gloves, for herself, and rags because they failed to bring them. When they did get started I could hear him instructing her, too much, too little as she applied the caulk. I went inside to put on my coverall and by the time I returned they were caulking the painted side. I stood and watched in agony. She was skipping spots, applying too much in areas and he’d just drag the caulk from those areas to fill in what she missed. I cleared my throat several times hoping he’d catch the hint, he didn’t, so finally I asked him to take the caulk gun out of her hands. He finished up and sent her to get his shop vac so she could vacuum the porch. She couldn’t even turn it on correctly; connecting the hose to the wrong in. By the time they tarped the painted side and got out of my way the Peel A-Way chemical had dried and I lost daylight, leaving me no choice but to apply another coat the next day.
Lyle did show up the next morning and we didn’t have a great conversation as daylight revealed to me the sloppiest caulk job I had ever seen. I sent pictures to my father and even he said “that is one piss poor ass caulk job”.
I really don’t feel I should have had to say it, but I let him know if I wanted an amateur painting my house, I would have done it myself and that his girlfriend was no longer permitted on my property. She’s made several visits since he started on June 9, never introducing herself. I pointed out to him that those smeared lines would show up because the caulk has now filled the grooves of the siding where the paint should fill. He tried to argue it wouldn’t, said he could prove it wouldn’t, but then started finding fault with the caulk work done by Fusion Roofing around the box gutters and Tom around the new trim. At that very moment I knew I was right about the paint. What is even sadder is that with all the caulk applied and smeared they still missed spots. I told him I’d handle caulking the rest of the windows, to which he responded no that was what I was paying him to do.
I decided to test my theory about visibility on a scrap piece of siding. After painting the piece with the same primer he used (I had some from painting the foundation, tinted different color) I applied and wiped caulk to the piece in the same fashion they applied it to my house. After letting it dry I painted over it with the Sea Serpent tinted paint I had from the shed (granted a different brand than will be used on house, but paint is paint). While from a distance you can’t see the outline of the smeared caulk, up close it is very noticeable and I plan to utilize the front porch, so people will be up close. I showed my test to Lyle and he denies it will look that way and questioned my application process and held to it would not look that way once he painted.
Jay arrived to finish installing the crown on the last two dormers and I showed him the area. I was considering buying more tile and replacing all impacted by their caulk work, but he said that when they come across areas like that on houses they are painting they use a 5-in-1 tool to clean out the grooves. I put that to a test with a new tool I ordered from Amazon. It seems to be working, so I’ll do this in the worst areas. Yeah, just what I needed another project I hadn’t planned to do.
I had said if Lyle paints the way he prepped (in the beginning) my house will be gorgeous. Well if he paints the way he caulks my house will be a hot mess! Almost eight weeks in and I’m beyond concerned at this point.
39 days after he first started working Lyle has applied primer to my house. He still has to finish scrapping a rear dormer and crown of the box gutters in the front (thanks to Fusion Roofing I’ll be handling the back), but he actually put PPG Gripper primer on some of the lower windows and moulding from the dormers he had removed.
Here’s my concern, he has no clue as to where the pieces of moulding he took down go. I remember the day he took most of them down, June 17 at approximately 11:14:16 AM (it’s a beautiful thing how digital photos are time and date stamped). Honestly I was shocked by him doing that. It was not requested or expected, which is why I wrote the Exceeding My Expectations, So Far post. I remember asking about knowing where they went and he said he could match the nail holes and he was going to put the back up the next day. Well, over the last few days I’ve watched him remove the nails, that could have been his guide and we’re long past the next day.
The pieces stayed leaned against the house until I moved them the night of July 6th when high winds from a storm knocked his scaffolding system down, which had been up for days and not used. I felt very fortunate that the winds blew them to the left as to the right could have torn my electric line down. It could have broken windows (the new, thicker trim Tom installed is what stopped the one ladder from going any further) and it could have broken the moulding, that is irreplaceable (yes I could by new, but the quality of wood today pales in comparison to what I have now), which is why I finally moved them to the back yard. This picture shows a few still leaning, but majority were on the ground under the fallen scaffolding. Since they weren’t marked or labeled, I just stacked them out of harms way.
After days of them being down I did ask about them again and he pointed out to me he still had three to remove and clean (I offered to clean them so he could keep scraping on the 2nd level, he didn’t take the offer), but that he also planned to prime them and maybe paint them before rehanging. So now we’re at that moment. I will allow the priming, but I will not allow him to paint them before hanging. Rehanging them is not going to be simple and even if he puts each piece in their exact original location there will be obvious gaps and holes created due to being removed that will need to be addressed with caulk or putty before final paint is applied.
I’ve glued four pieces that had severe cracks, but found another piece with a chunk missing. It’s clearly an old crack, but the break off is fresh. I have no idea if he kept the piece. The reason my reinstall of the inside moulding went so well is that I labeled pieces by wall, bundled pieces together by area, and I kept every piece that actually broke off; wrapping it with plastic to the piece it broke off of. It was a year after I moved in before I had every piece back in place and I made multiple post showing what it took to achieve the final results. Pure beauty for a non-professional if I toot my own horn. I had the luxury of working on the ground, not 20′ in the air on a steeply pitched roof, in record hot temperatures.
While he was painting the seven pieces of moulding I asked again about hanging and he said three of the dormers are the same (true, but not really-old house nothing is ever exactly the same) and the pieces for the large dormer he kept together in the back. Hmmm, really. I didn’t sleep well that night, this is worrying me. The next morning while my dogs went out I took a closer look at the pieces he painted and I rearranged them by sets of two; left and right side. I believe six of them clearly are the fronts of the three small dormers, but it is also clear by the shortened length of one of them that they are not interchangeable. The 7th piece didn’t make sense so I walked around the house. That 7th is for the large rear dormer, so much for keeping them together. The two pieces for the sides of that dormer are the only two pieces where there is no doubt as to where they belong. One end is a straight cut as it butts up to the piece he didn’t remove and the two sides are different lengths, so you’ll know which is left and right.
He hasn’t scraped the piece he didn’t remove from the right side, but he started scrapping the piece on the left while it was attached. I’m now perplexed as to why he took them down if he could scrape them in place. The only reason I can surmise is he told me he can’t find people that will work on heights, so by taking them down his worker was able to handle the scrapping on the ground. That would have been a major reason why he should have put them back up as he finished scraping them. Instead of removing most at one time he should have removed from one, given to his worker on the ground to scrape while he scraped the surfaces that remained. God I hope he didn’t get the idea to remove from my decision to remove the trim from the lower windows. Two completely different situations with the biggest difference being I was replacing what I removed. That worker should have worked four days (one per dormer) instead of one. His proficiency in prep (hopefully painting too) is tempered by his lack of efficiency.
Drywall déjà vu is creeping in. I want this paint project to end on a high note, but until those pieces are rehung that is in question.