Archives 11/5- 11/11 2005-2009

It’s gotten cold here. Barring a 1500 watt space heater, there’s no heat in my shop. I really have to do something about it. I actually starting working on the problem last July but one thing led to another -it was only last week that the insulation installation was repaired after the initial job had been started last February. I’ll bet you know all about it. Chapter and verse. It is so bizarre but I can’t seem to get contractors to take me seriously. In the apparel industry, I laugh ha ha ha ha ha when I don’t get any respect -which doesn’t happen as much anymore but it does when it comes to fix-it stuff that has nothing to do with the trade. I have to have Mr. Fashion-Incubator make calls because nobody returns mine. My calls go like this:

Hi! I’m ready to write a check for $20,000 worth of your products and services. Do you want the job and if so, when can you schedule it? If you can’t do it, who should I talk to?

And nobody gets back to me. Mr F-I can call somebody for a crappy $300 and they’ll return his calls. Isn’t that wild? This is 2010. I once had a guy ask me if my husband said it was okay if I had a custom thing welded. I said I didn’t matter because never mind, I’d rather hire somebody else. Which is how I found the girl-welder who did end up doing it. Cool when that works out. That frame lasted for years.

If you’ve time to read on this lovely autumn day, below are entries from over the past five years with another 2,000 more or so in the archives. Have a great weekend.

November 5, through November 11, 2005
The Apparel Engineering and Needle Trades Handbook
Garment design copyrights & patents
Outdoor sewing sites
Lean manufacturing is resiliency
Designers at craft fairs
Patently arrogant
Patterns in the middle of nowhere

November 5, through November 11, 2006
Chicago vs NY sewing contractor
The cathartic twisted ouroboros torus
Fabric for the birds?
Quality Control for the Apparel Industry

November 5, through November 11, 2007
Back from Houston
Zero fabric waste fashion design
Pattern Puzzle: Mark Liu
Made to measure manufacturing
How to hire a production facilitator
News from you 11/9/07

November 5, through November 11, 2008
Pop Quiz #480
How To Create Brand Names That Stick
New Product Safety Regulations That Affect ALL Manufacturers
How to represent or distribute a line of handbags?
How to enter the U.S. market -from a contractor

November 5, through November 11, 2009
Denim laundry contractor pt.2
Pattern Puzzle: how to fix this bag?
CPSIA updates 11/10/2009
Pattern Puzzle: how to fix this bag? pt.2
Pop Quiz: Denim Quality pt. 2

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  1. Mary Beth says:

    Yeah, I couldn’t do business without my husband’s intervention, either. He didn’t want to have to do the phone work but he was forced into it by most would-be contractors. Gees, at the very furthermost edge of sexism, you’d think they’d respect a brother’s wish to get some help with the workload! And most women control the check book. It is just not logical!

  2. Theresa in Tucson says:

    Kathleen, have you considered a pellet stove for the workshop? We have one in the house to augment the radiant floor heat. Our pellets come from Showlow and are about $7 something for a 40 lb bag. We get a price break from our supplier if we buy a ton but then we have to store it. Here in Tucson a ton lasts us three heating seasons. The stoves are reasonably priced, have automatic lighters and thermostats, and are not that hard to install. I can symphathize will the trouble you are having with contractors. I’ve not had much trouble myself but I’ve usually had a name to drop when making the initial phone call. Like in your business, referrals and who you know can be everything.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Funny you should ask, that’s what I’ve decided to buy. I need two of them. What kills me tho is that the demand for them is so high that they cost at least twice -or more- as much as wood stoves. My hang up now is finding somebody to install them (they’re not returning my calls). I don’t think we can do it, Eric worries about cutting a hole through the metal walls of the building. We can also buy pellets by the ton (@$200 I think). I’ve been told a ton will last a winter but it seemed it should last longer so I’ll take your guidance in mind. We do have a place to store a ton but we’d have to make a couple of trips with the truck -unless they deliver?

  4. Jamie Locklear says:

    Kathleen, When my partner and I bought our new house about two years ago I had to decide how to heat and cool the garage which I converted into my shop. I ended up going with a ductless mini split system because of the cost and ease of instalation. They use them alot up here in Santa Fe because of the old adobe homes. They require only one hole to be drilled through the exterior wall for the wiring and plumbing to be installed. The compressor is outside and the unit is inside on the wall. I got bids locally and ended up buying mine on ebay for $500.00 and paying a heating contractor from Albuquerque $350.00 to install it. Much less than the $3000.00 quotes I had been getting. So far for the last two winters it has worked like a dream for heat and the bonus is that is also has refrigerated air for the summer. On days when its to hot to work with the garage door open I can turn on the airconditioning and sew cool.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Jamie, I think we had been looking at that before (the $20K quote). I have no gas to the building. It would take digging a very long trench, at least 100 yards plus another service meter. We can’t tap in to the existing gas line because the pipe is too small. We would have to get a high pressure system (you likely have that since your house is new) but… all the contractors rolled their eyes… we’d need permits out the wazoo and there’s a good chance the pipes would leak meaning mucho more money. Propane is always an option but the price is so volatile (did you read that NM is considering rolling propane into state utility oversight? All the independent distributors had kittens over it) that it’s not a realistic alternative.

  6. Theresa in Tucson says:

    Kathleen, a mini-split is a heat pump, no gas required. You might be thinking of a “gas-pack” system. The mini-split consists of a compressor that sits outside, or in some cases is hung on the wall, and one or more cassettes that hang on the wall inside. Each cassette is independent and has its own controls. They operate off of 110, not 220 and as Jamie says are very popular for retrofitting adobes. My lawyer has two cassettes on her 1940’s adobe. I think Mitsubishi makes mini-splits. Have you priced pellet stoves on-line?

  7. Jamie Locklear says:

    Kathleen, As Theresa said the mini split is all electric and if you have an electric panel in the building you should be golden unless it is really old. If the space is small you can use 110. If it is a larger space and you need a unit over 1 ton then you’d need to have 220. I also didnt get a permit or hire an electrician. The guy from the heating and air contractor over in ABQ hooked it all up for me. Also my neice over in ABQ has a heater that is all electric that came with her house but is through the electric company over there. It has lots of large thermal bricks inside of a well insulated case. When the rates are low like in the middle of the night it comes on and charges the bricks inside with heat. It stays hot for like 2 days and then in the day when you need the heat a thermostat kicks on and the blowers push out the heat. That might be worth looking into also with the electric company. I think they give some sort of incentive or tax rebate. Our house is a forced air system that is also electric. Im not familiar with gas or propane. We only use gas for cooking and the fireplace which we never turn on.

  8. David says:

    I’ve lived in New Mexico for almost 10 years now. I was shocked when I moved here at how difficult it is to hire a contractor to show up. If you call five people and schedule quotes, three won’t show up and of the two that do, only one will actually write a quote.
    I also handle the contracting at my work when it’s needed. I work with mostly men and they can’t work with contractors either. I think it takes a special language. I also think the idea that, “A woman has a right to change her mind” conflicts with contracting. Some don’t understand why changing your mind doubles the cost of a job and that puts a contractor in a hard position. I’m not judging all women, but there are those who see it this way.
    The mini-split and the pellet stove are both excellent ideas, although the pellet stove should run much cheaper. Avoid propane. If you’d like a reliable, quality HVAC contractor I’ve had good luck with Bob at “Gas Appliance Service Company (GasCo).” He should be able to do either job.

  9. Kathleen says:

    The heating is for the shop (not the house which is adobe) and it wouldn’t be economical to heat electrically. The shop is a metal building, over 2,000 sqft. I need two stoves to heat the space. The larger bay (unobstructed space) is 1500 sqft. The two offices make up the remainder.

    David: Call it an occupational hazard but I know how people (men too, not just women!) change job specs mid-stream but that’s never been something I do.

    I called GasCo (really nice guy answered) but says they don’t do pellet stoves. I’ve called a couple of places for installation and they say it’s about $1,000 (plus a kit fee) to install each one. I just don’t see how it could cost that much for this location. I’ve got a concrete slab, no conflicts with doors/windows, we have a nearby outlet, don’t have to worry about outside venting (the sheep next door are not going to complain) this is a very simple job! It’s not like it’s a house in a densely populated neighborhood or anything where you have to worry about drilling through concrete block, adobe or siding and worrying about nearby utilities, zoning or setting the neighbor’s house on fire.

  10. David says:

    If someone told me $1000 for this job I’d do it myself. Cutting a hole in the wall isn’t as bad as it seems. Lowe’s has the kits for $200. Take a look at these instructions and see what you think.
    Many times I’ve found the small jobs are the most overpriced. I think partly because I know I can do them myself. If you were in Albuquerque I’d offer to trade the install for some of your consulting while I worked. As it is, I’d say go for it. It’s a simpler job than most of what you do.

  11. Jamie Locklear says:

    I thought of another option that might work for you. Those gas either propane or natural gas unit heaters which hang since the space is open bay. My dad uses them in his garage back in NC as well as his greenhouses. They are made by Reznor,Modine and Dayton. Cost would depend on size and how many units. Just another option. Grainger carries Dayton. Don’t know what instalation would cost, but they need a gas line and electric for the fan as well as a vent to the outside.
    3901 Osuna Rd. NE
    Albuquerque, NM 87109-4431
    Phone: (505) 345-8631
    Fax: (505) 345-9600

  12. Theresa in Tucson says:

    Kathleen, I agree with David. You and Mr F-I already have the skills to tackle this, it’s just a never done before task. Go for it.

  13. Kathleen says:

    David/Theresa: you may be right. I found some other install instructions today and it seems pretty straightforward. I got another quote today for $450 each but he spooked me when he said that installing an outlet was a 2 hour job (@$72 p/h + $30 for parts). Ha ha ha ha ha. I told him I’d do that.

    Jamie: I heart <3 Grainger. So much so that it figured prominently in a divorce (of sorts). It was MY Grainger catalog that I acquired when we were together but he deliberately (!) hid the catalog from me when we split up. I had to go in later when he wasn't there to fish it out of his stash -along with my pipe wrench and the jig saw he conveniently couldn't find either. But anyway, I don't have gas in the building. It involves the aforementioned 100+ yard long trench and either a high pressure line (permits etc, no thanks) or another meter etc etc etc. But, the Modine is a long term consideration. I had those in my El Paso loft and they worked great.

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