Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

How I got my door problem fixed

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Greg Peck
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On Sept. 5, I posted a blog headlined “How homeownership can be frustrating.” One problem I faced was fixing a French window and door leading to our back deck. The frame was rotting, and the sill had been leaking water into our basement bathroom whenever rain hit the north side of the house.

Well, the repairs are completed, and my experience might be a wake-up call for other homeowners.

I figured having a skilled carpenter order a new window/door unit to replace the old one would be the most logical approach. I guessed it likely would cost at least $1,000. I contacted a contractor recommended by a co-worker, and he came out to look at and measure it. He said he’d get bids on the unit from several lumberyards, then give me an estimate for the total package, including installation.

“What are you guessing it might cost?”

About $2,000 or maybe $2,500, he responded.

Ouch. I swallowed hard and told him to proceed.

A few weeks later, he emailed me the estimated price: $4,200.

Wow. I almost fell off my chair. Heck, you can buy a decent used car for that kind of coin, I thought.

“I guess I’d better rethink this whole project,” I told him.

After I had posted my Sept. 5 blog, Nate Wu of Janesville sent me an email.

“If you have a door problem, call ‘Ken The Door Man’ at Rock County Maintenance. Ken Michaelis knows his stuff about carpentry, but when it comes to doors, he is second to none. He did some work for me on my front porch and replaced a couple of bad windows that another contractor installed. The other contractor didn’t do the job right, and Ken showed me what was wrong and why it failed. … We had given up on the other contractor, and his incompetency was a blessing in disguise. If we hadn’t given up on him, we never would have found Ken.”

I didn’t know Nate, but I kept his email on file. After that expensive bid from the first contractor, I called Ken Michaelis. Ken came over and guessed replacement would run at least $3,500.

“What’s the alternative?” I asked.

Ken explained how he could replace the sections of rotting wood and then encase the entire window and door frame with aluminum in a color that matched the trim on our brick home fairly well. Caulking would seal out water, and the door would get new weather stripping. The estimated cost: $800.

“Let’s do it,” I said enthusiastically.

Ken ran into more rotted wood problems than he anticipated under the door frame, and that drove up the project to $1,000. I worked with a quality home builder as a teenager, so I know a little about carpentry. Ken’s new price was still reasonable, and I was impressed with Ken’s knowledge, talents and desire to do the job right.

Last week, I sent Nate an email, thanking him for the recommendation. Nate responded:

“I am glad (actually warm and fuzzy inside) that things worked out for you with Ken. Pass the word as I did. We have to keep the little guy in business in this most challenging economy.”

Ken told me that he’s a former General Motors employee who started his business while still working at the plant. Now, of course, Rock County Maintenance is his full-time job and he even has employees.

Like Nate, I’d recommend Ken’s services.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

Last updated: 10:05 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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