Journalist, Author & Detroit-Home Renovator

Doors Are *Really* Expensive


This is the rear porch and “addition” that we’ve saved — and which are causing floor plan and budget problems. But it’s going to be gorgeous when it’s all brick and finished porch.

Wow. So it’s been quiet around here for a few weeks.

I promise you that it’s not because things have been quiet for me and Karl. Au contraire, mes amis. Here’s a quick update… and then we’re going to talk doors. That’s right, doors need their own damned entry.

Maddie Dog's view from our new digs.

Maddie Dog’s view from our new digs.

  1. We moved from Ann Arbor to Detroit. Yay!
  2. Karl found us a great place to rent in midtown until September 10. It’s not cheap, but it took our menagerie, gave us a short-term rental and has electricity, which is more than we can say for Matilda!
  3. This place is really a Shangri-La. It has two bedrooms, is clean and spacious. We couldn’t ask for a better temporary crash pad. It’s only drawback? No wi-fi. Yes, you read that correctly. No wi-fi. It befuddles the mind. No Amazon Prime, no gchatting, no nothing. Thankfully, the always-reliable Stacy Cowley came the rescue. She researched all the options surrounding mi-fi devices and reported back with what I needed. This was definitely one of those situations where the only solution was “throw money at the problem.” So for $180 we are now armed with a Virgin mobile no-contract mi-fi device. We are prepared for anything, even zombie apocalypse.
  4. There are pipes in our house! That means that someday, in the near future, there will also be water and electricity and our very own wi-fi.
  5. We move into Matilda on September 10, whether we like it or not. Despite the one-month reprieve, she will still only be campable, not habitable, that that point. But she’s getting closer. We can use the toilet in the basement, but only if we have a bucket of water to flush it. Yet there is no running water. You see the chicken/egg scenario starting here.
  6. The kitchen has been an epic cluster involving much hysteria and tantrums on my part. I wanted to blog about it, but sans interwebz and crazy times at work (that whole, oh, Detroit went bankrupt thing, perhaps you should cover it thing…), it just didn’t happen. Plus, it was emotionally traumatic. The plans called for Kitchen A, which was beautiful. But then we made one little decision — called keep the back porch and additions, which necessitated wholesale changes to the drawings — and everything exploded. Instead of having a kitchen with a nice U shape, we have a galley kitchen because we kept a door and added a new set of stairs directly across from it. Arguh. (Lesson I’m learning: Every decision will impact about 13 other things that you have never considered. Thus you will spend your life playing catch-up, trying to decision your way out of all the ramifications of that first decision.)
  7. The kitchen is going to be great, it really will, but it necessitated a kitchen designer to help us solve the design changes. That was a most-fantastic experience that I would recommend to anyone. It costs nothing — they are trying to sell you cabinets, after all — and they take on all the stressful parts. It was way better than the time Karl and I drove to Ikea to use their kitchen-design software, got overwhelmed and hangry and then yelled at each other — but only after I’d sat in a Poang chair covering my head and rocking like I was autistic.
  8. What finally chose Kraftmaid cabinets with a Melrose door in the Peppercorn finish. We actually really love them. Though, I think Karl just likes them because they look like doors you’d find in old dive bars. Hey, works for me. We’re topping them with butcher block, so that will be a nice contrast.
  9. Pretty picture alert: This is a pretty good representation of them. 
  10.  That leads me to our first major non-contractor purchase for the house. Instead of building an island in the kitchen, we found an antique baker’s table that is almost nine feet long and three feet wide that we’re going to be able to use. It is gorgeous. $1,200 gorgeous, in fact. Eeep! But, just the butcher block counter top was going to be $900 to cover that same space, plus we’d need support structure. So, we decided this was a place to splurge.
  11. The whole bill for the kitchen cabinets and counter tops… $16,000. I’d like to say we about fell out of our chairs, but at this point we’re dealing in numbers that are so huge that almost nothing phases us any more.
  12.  That didn’t include the appliances. We spent another $6,500 on appliances. But, we actually cleaned up for that price thanks to a store-closing sale at Sears and a deal at Lowe’s. Here’s what we got:
  • Kenmore pro double oven (sweet!!)
  • Frigidaire built-in microwave
  • Bosch super-quiet dishwasher
  • Frigidaire five-burner range
  • Samsung refrigerator with french doors and bottom freezer
  • Broad hood
  • Ikea farmhouse sink
  • Green barn pendant lights
Those are pipes! In our ceiling!

Those are pipes! In our ceiling!

Mostly we’ve been doing pretty good about the budget with one major issue: the aforementioned back porch. Karl casually asked our contractor, C, one Saturday afternoon: “So, I see you all out there walking on the porch roof. It looks pretty solid. This might be a dumb question, but could we save it?”

C, in essence, responded, with enough money you can do anything. (Though in reality, he’s super attentive to our budget and thoughtful on how to get things done at good quality and fair prices.) He kicked the tires on that porch and realized that, yes, indeed, it could be saved because it’s built like a tank. It would take a lot of work and materials to undo the years of water damage and weather abuse, but it would be cheaper than ripping it off and building it again in the future. So, we’re on time and materials for this project, and we have no idea what the final bill will be. But, we’re telling ourselves it’s better to get all of this structural stuff done at once, when it can all be tied in together, rather than waiting and doing it later.

So this brings me to doors.

We need them. Lots of them. We need 20, in fact. Remember how I was hating on windows a few weeks ago when I realized we have 37 windows? Yes, well, now I have a new enemy: doors. But, for now, we’re just going to focus on critical path: the exterior doors.

Primarily, we need a new front door because someone beat the $*%! out of ours with a hammer at some point. Sadly, not saveable. Double sadly, it’s also an odd size. Try 42″ x 84″ on for size. They don’t just stock those down at the Home Depot. Plus, I don’t really want an ugly steel door. (Yes, you’re surprised that I’m particular.) So we drove down to Toledo last weekend thinking we’d find doors. No dice. The nice Architectural Warehouse owner (who also has like three boats and spent two years sailing around the world, but that’s another story…) told us we were pretty much out of luck and would need to have them built. He was our fourth stop.

Karl just got the estimate back for a basic Detroit “miracle” door (flat panel with a little bit of dealing; nothing special but unique to the city): $900. Before we add any glass panes.

Shoot me now.

2 Responses to “Doors Are *Really* Expensive”

  1. jeannettesmyth

    started at the beginning and am reading thru, per the NYT story in today’s paper. good call by hubs to save porches, i couldn’t understand why the contractor was so hott to tear them off in the first place. second, everyone in your generation spells what i was taught to spell as “fazes” as “phases”, which to me means something else entirely. am i missing something?

    • haimerlad

      I hope you’ve enjoyed our adventure. We are certainly glad to have done this and be in Detroit.
      The contractor wasn’t hot to tear down the porch for no reason. And, in fact, we did end up having to remove it because of termite infestation. We decided it would be easier — and cheaper — to rebuild it than try to save the rotten wood. But we learned a lot — and still have a long way to go.
      As for fazes versus phases: I just used the wrong word. Continuing evidence as to why editors are so critical!


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