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Durable Goods

Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel; Day 4.1 NaBloPoMo

The cell phone providers, cable and internet providers could learn a lesson or two from the Delta Hotel organization; in contrast to the telecoms, Delta Hotels work very diligently at keeping customers rather than just trying to attract new customers. And I like that.

Although when I travel it is typically for work and thus the choice of what hotel I stay at is somewhat outside of my control, the more often I stay at Delta Hotels, the more they seem to value me as customer.

For example, now that I have stayed a number of times in the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel, when I arrive in my room there is a small welcome treat to eat.

Delta Hotel Welcome Treat
Delta Hotel Welcome Treat

 

 

 

 

 

Another nice change at the Richmond, BC location of the Delta Vancouver Airport Inn is the way that they have reconfigured the entrance. In the past there were two sliding doors that opened up very wide, allowing a swoop of cold air to enter the lobby. That has now been changed.

New Entrance Configuration
New Entrance Configuration

A door just to the side of the big sliding doors is now the entrance. The cold air that fills the lobby is still a problem but not nearly to the extent that it previously was.

Another positive change for the Delta Vancouver Airport Inn.

And that weird title? That NaPoBloMo? Soon, soon.

 

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Durable Goods

Neighbour Gets a New Fence and a Visit from Fortis Gas and…

See this pretty new fence? How much do you think it would cost to have a fence like this built?

New Fence and Turf
New Fence and Turf

There was probably not a whole lot of profit for the contractor in this lawn and fence install job. And why is that you ask? Because he forgot to do that “Call Before You Dig” thing.

The result, on Sunday morning, along with the lawn and fence install crew, there were three fire trucks, two ambulances, four police cars and two Fortis Gas trucks.

Yep, they forgot to call before they dug and they ripped up the gas line going into the house.

Just to save you the embarrassment and a potential financial disaster, all you have to do is Call Before You Dig. Have a look at their website, BC One Call for more information or just Call Before You Dig; 1-800-474-6886

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Durable Goods

Front Porch; the Final Steps

I am pretty well exhausted after finishing off the front steps to the house so this will be an abbreviated post.

Stairs sans railings
Stairs sans railings

 

 

Here are the stairs, in place. If you look carefully at them you will see that there is a third stringer in the middle of the stairs. This was a little improvement to the stairs that I decided to add. The third stringer adds strength to the stairs.

 

And then, late this evening, after the kids went to sleep, I put the railings back in place.

Stairs with railings
Stairs with railings

I also made sure that the steps had a second coat of preservative added before the railings were actually put in place.

The railings went on relatively easily. I have to admit that they are not perfect. A quarter of an inch out on a 8′ run makes a pretty big problem. However, I’m pleased with the outcome of the job.

And just for the record, even though I wrote about the Ridgid tools I used on this project, I received absolutely NO incentive from Ridgid to write about or mention the tools. I was impressed with the tools and will write a follow up post about the tools.

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Durable Goods

Front Porch Step Four

Today was a very productive day on the front porch steps replacement project. And even though the scope of the project has expanded we are still (almost) on budget and on schedule.

Once the existing steps were removed it was obvious that the opportunity had presented itself to clean-up and clear-out the area under the stairs. I weeded and tidied the area and  then realized that a more permanent solution would require landscape cloth and bark mulch. Off to the Home Depot (the closest store that sells the supplies I need).

Landscape cloth in place
Landscape cloth in place

 

 

I put the landscape cloth in place to keep future weed situations in check.

 

 

 

Next is the bark mulch. Sadly, I forgot to get a picture of the 10 bags of bark mulch loaded inside my car. It was pretty cool looking.

Bar mulch in place
Bar mulch in place

 

Once I was home with the bark mulch I loaded it onto the cloth and spread it around as evenly as I could.

 

 

 

As you can see in the bark mulch photo, the existing landing is still in place. Moving it was a significant commitment and I needed to be sure I was prepared for the next step.

The new landing
The new landing

I constructed the replacement landing nearby and once my Sweetheart came down to inspect the progress of the project, I had her assist me in moving it into its rightful place.

 

 

 

 

Here it is in place.

Landing in situ
Landing in situ

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once in place, it was time to add the planks for the top.

Deck in place
Deck in place

 

The tool that you see on top of the decking is my new Ridgid cordless drill. Everything on this project has been put in place using screws. I am a late convert to the use of screws for construction. I have always been a hammer and nail type of guy. However, now that I have used screws, I’m converted. No more nails. Except…

 

When I was putting the stair stringers in place I used nails.

Steps
Steps

Sadly, this is the only part of the project I had to take apart. If you click on the photo you can see along the inside edge of the top stair and line. That is a piece of plywood that the top of the stringer attaches to. I left it a little too tall and it just looked odd.

The shitty thing is that while screws are easy to take apart, nails are a nightmare. Even so, late in the day I managed to take the stringers off and cut the strip of plywood down to size.

The fix is in
The fix is in

I have to admit that I am quite proud of the end result. They look great and they are as solid as a brick structure.

No matter how much fun and learning today was, tomorrow is the real test of my skills.

This morning I cut the long form stringers and have them ready to place first thing tomorrow morning. This will be an exciting time seeing as it will involve some ladder work. As always, safety will be the most important consideration when doing this work.

Hopefully tomorrow night I will be posting pics of the final project. Stay tuned.

 

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Durable Goods

Front Porch Step Three

Today was my favourite kind of construction day; a day to wildly swing a sledge hammer and wield a mean pry-bar. Today was the de-construction day of the construction project.

Car with Lumber
Car with Lumber

However, let me step back a bit to the time before the de-construction began. When I originally went to Sunbury Cedar I bought two 7′ 4x4s. As it turns out, I need one 9′ 4×4 cut into 26 1/2″ pieces.

So while the pic looks cool, that is actually me returning the 7 footers. The very nice yard crew at Sunbury Cedar, each and everyone who complimented me on my very stylish Gene Simmons Money Bag, were very helpful and actually did the cutting into 26 1/2″ pieces right there for me. This saved me the trouble of trying to cut them myself with my circular saw. Hurrah for the Sunbury Cedar radial arm-saw and operator!

Once I had that little task over and done with I was free to come home and begin my demolition.

Front Steps Demolition
Front Steps Demolition

I kept the landing pad here so that I can use it as a work-bench for the cutting of the stringers.

Also, on that landing you can see the fancy new Ridgid cordless drill thingy I bought. The thing works like a charm!

Tomorrow before it gets too hot I will go out and measure the new stringers and get them cut.

And that is it for now! More tomorrow.

 

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Durable Goods

Front Porch Step Two

Step Two of the front-porch steps rebuild process involved traveling out to Sunbury Cedar on River Road in Delta, BC to get the lumber.

Sunbury Lumber
Sunbury Lumber

There is an interesting observation I have made in this front-porch steps rebuild project so far. Let me back up a minute to explain my observation.

I recently bought a little digital camera as  gift for a friend. I made that purchase at my local London Drugs partly because I wanted to show my support for London Drugs after the Canucks Riot issue and also because I have always been treated very well in the past when making purchases from them.

Some might call what they do at London Drugs the “up-sell”. See, when you buy I camera they ask if you want to buy a memory card for the camera. And a little case for it, extended warranty, batteries, anything else you might need to go along with the new camera. Someone might resent this approach but I truly appreciate it.

See when I go meet my friend and give them the camera I want them to be able to start snapping pictures right away. I don’t want to give them a gift they cannot use until they go to a retailer and buy all the little gadgets needed to make the purchase “right.” I appreciate that.

Funny thing is, when I went to buy the lumber for the front-porch steps while the staff were super friendly and helpful they did not “help” me by offering any of the little extras that I would need. They did not offer me things like fasteners (screws), joist hangers, screw-driver bits, or even the pre-cut stair stringers even though I made it perfectly clear that I was rebuilding a set of stairs.

Of course when I asked about things they were very willing to help me find what I was looking for and to help me load it on the truck. But I thought it was funny that they did not make any effort to suggest the extras that I would inevitably need.

As it turns out, I did need the screws and joist hangers and screwdriver bits so I made a trip to the local Home Depot where the exact same thing happened. I was watching the way that I was approached in the Home Depot and when I bought the new Ridgid cordless drill/screw-driver unit I asked if it came with a bit. Perfect opportunity for the sales guy to remind me that they were having a sale on screw-driver bit packages, but nothing. I searched for the bits.

When I went for the paint/stain/preservative, same thing. They were super nice and provided me with the can of stuff I needed. I had to ask if they had an applicator they recommended. I had to ask if there was a tool for opening the can. All these are opportunities for the retailer to complete the sale and make a happy customer. I don’t want to get home and find that I need to run back to the store to get a paint brush.

Top customer service demands that the guy selling the paint automatically ask if the customer needs a brush.

Please note that I’m not complaining about the service. They were friendly and kind people. I knew what I needed and I bought what I needed. I just see it as an opportunity that these retailers are missing. An opportunity that the staff of London Drugs are not missing.

Tomorrow is step three of the steps project.

 

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Durable Goods

Front Porch; Step One

The first and most important step in any home renovation job is to go a Big Box Retailer and buy as many massive power tools as you can reasonably rationalize.

Ridgid Drill
Ridgid Drill

That was exactly what I did this morning. I went to the local Home Depot and bought myself a cordless drill like device.

Next up will be a visit to the nearest sawmill/lumberyard to acquire some wood.

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Durable Goods

Front Porch Stairs Replacement

I am psychologically and emotionally preparing myself for the job of replacing the stairs that lead to the front-door of our home.

Front Porch Stairs
Front Porch Stairs

Although I have never done a job like this before, I’m thinking, how difficult could this be? Really how hard could it be to build a set of stairs?

I was a master at Lego when I was a kid so I figure those skills are pretty transferrable to a job like replacing the front porch stairs.

And the fact of the matter is, I have three days off work next week when I have nothing to do other than watch our twin toddlers and 11 week old puppy.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Toronto Hotel View

You know the check-in people at your hotel do not know what a blogger is when you are assigned a room with this view…

My Gorgeous View
My Gorgeous View

 

 

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Fairmont Empress Gold; the Rooms

Yesterday I wrote a little thing about my lovely experience with the Fairmont Empress Gold Lounge. However, the Lounge experience is only part of the service; guests in the Fairmont Gold also stay in completely renovated and up-dated rooms in the Gold part of the Fairmont Empress.

Fairmont Empress Gold
Fairmont Empress Gold

While I love the heritage feel of the Fairmont Empress, I did not particularly like the small size of the rooms there. In the Fairmont Gold, that has been completely rectified. The rooms are spacious and very well appointed. The king size bed does not dominate the room even though it seems massive once you are in it. The room has plenty of space to work around the bed.

Because I was in Victoria on business I needed a work station as well as a small meeting space. Even though I was in a room, not a suite, my accommodations suited my purposes perfectly.

Fairmont Empress Gold
Fairmont Empress Gold

The desk was large enough for me to have my laptop on as well as my reference and note books. There were enough electrical outlets to charge my laptop and my phone at the desk and another electrical outlet beside the bed for me to charge my camera battery.

The bathroom facilities were perfect. This is where the renovation work is most appreciated. The bathrooms have marble vanity tops and floor. My most obvious complaint about my stay in the Empress last time was the proximity of the toilet to the tub; it was difficult for larger people to have a sit down on the toilet because it was so close to the tub. No more. The toilet sits on its own and is a very comfortable perch for even the largest of guests.

Fairmont Empress Gold
Fairmont Empress Gold

Another thing I noticed was that the toilets are low flow flush; they use 6 litres per flush. In comparison, the toilets in the resort I recently stayed at in water-starved Tofino use 13 litres per flush. The Fairmont Gold showers are also low flow water conserving even though you would never notice. Overall, the improvements to the bathroom facilities in the Fairmont Gold are total home-run.

Of course there are a couple of things about the Fairmont Gold that I found odd. First, there is no dresser to unload my clothes into. Of course there is a lovely big closet to hang my suits and shirts in but nowhere to load my socks and other dainties.

Another quibble I have is that I could never get the lamp beside the bed to turn on. The hotel uses the CFL bulbs and they do not come on immediately so in my sleepy state I would turn the little knob to make the light come on and then inadvertently turn it again to the off position. In honesty, this is more about my ineptness than it is about the Fairmont Gold.

On the plus side, the level of service that comes with the Fairmont Gold is wonderful. All the little perks that make a stay just that little bit more comfortable are in place. On the desk in my room was the coolest little chocolate egg with tiny chocolate beads and dried cranberries inside of it as a welcome gift. Very thoughtful.

Fairmont Empress Gold
Fairmont Empress Gold

There is no waiting in line-ups in the main lobby of the hotel for check-in or out. The people who work in the Fairmont Gold are exceptionally friendly and helpful. Anything I needed they could, and did take care of. The management has put together an exceptional team of people to run this section of the hotel-within a hotel.

When I called for a wake-up call a real human took the call and asked if I wanted tea, coffee or fresh fruit juice brought up to my room for my wake-up call. And when the call in the morning came it was again a real human who started my day by saying good morning in a very cheery but not too enthusiastic manner. A perfect start to my day.

Other little perks were things like the fact that I placed my leather shoes in a wooden tray outside my door and they were returned to my door before 7am with a professional quality polish administered. Seeing as I was in our provincial capital for business meetings it was nice to at least have the look and apparel of a professional.

Perhaps the best perk of all, when I went to check out I did not have to drag my suitcases all around the hotel with me. The concierge arranged for someone to come to my room and take them to my car which was brought around for me.

The single best thing about the Fairmont Gold? People called you by your name. It may sound funny to say this but it made me feel very welcome. For example, when I needed my car brought around for my use nobody asked “What is the number.” The reply was always, “Certainly Mr Robinsmith.” And then they would phone the people who had my car and say, “Would you bring Mr Robinsmith’s car around for him?” It is the personal touches like that that I most appreciated.

Overall impression? The Fairmont Gold is a home-run hit. Although I was in Victoria on business for this stay, I will most definitely be returning to the Fairmont Empress Gold  for a quiet weekend getaway with my Sweetheart. Most definitely. And I do not doubt that they will once again meet or exceed my expectations. A perfect stay!!

Disclosure; this review is based on my personal opinion. I did not receive any form of compensation from the Fairmont Empress or anybody else for writing this review.

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