Gizmo Home Craft

Complete Remodeling, Restoration and Repurposing Services

An Exterior Finish Used On An Interior Wall

It is fun to think outside the box.  When most people think of an interior room they think of interior finishes.  I’m currently completing a bathroom in Aurora.  I thought it would be interesting to use exterior stucco on the bathroom walls.  Naturally, this product is very durable for this application, as it is designed to withstand all sorts of weather conditions.  A humid bathroom does not challenge it.

A base coat is evenly applied to the primed walls.  After it drys a premixed stucco compound is expertly applied to the walls to give them a unique finish.

The walls have gone from ordinary to beautiful with this simple step.

Starting base coat over drywall.

Base coat added.

Exterior stucco added to give an interior room a unique look.


How To Replace A Skylight

A customer had an old skylight above their kitchen island.  It was discolored and non-functional.  They saw me demonstrate a VELUX skylight at a recent home show.  This particular model can open and close at the touch of a remote control button.  It also has a power shade.  It is designed to retrofit into an existing hole and it is solar powered, so no additional wiring is needed.  This particular skylight even has a rain sensor which automatically closes the skylight when it senses the first drops of rain.

The video below shows you how quick it is to replace your existing skylight when that replacement is done by experts.


Correcting A Flooring Mistake

I am in the process of installing an engineered wood floor on concrete.  It is not advised to install traditional flooring over concrete, as the moisture in the concrete tends to warp the floor.  Engineered floors are more resilient to this situation.

I made the incorrect assumption that the waterproof glue used to adhere the wood floor to the concrete would be sufficient to bind the threshold to the rest of the floor.  I was incorrect.

The glue used is incredibly powerful and I needed to figure out a way to remove the old threshold and correct the problem.  I originally considered using a Multimaster saw, but I was concerned that it would damage both the floor and the adjoining bathroom tile.

A router seemed like a safer solution, and it worked wonderfully in this particular application.

The first picture shows how the floor had risen up causing an uneven surface. The rest of the pictures show the photo-story of the repair.

The use of a router in this particular application prevented additional floor damage.  I am very happy with the results.

Next step: sanding and finishing!

The floor had risen above the threshold.

Ready to cut away the old threshold.

Prying out the old threshold.

Old Threshold removed. The glue was so powerful that it took off some of the concrete.

The router bit used to cut the grove.

Spline inserted.

Preparing the waterproof adhesive.

The newly installed threshold.




Old Carpeted Stairs Become New Hardwood Ones

If your home was built with carpeted stairs it is likely that the staircase below the carpeting is cheap, construction grade pine.  Many homeowners prefer the look of hardwood staircases.  With a little retrofitting it is possible to add real hardwood stairs on top of your existing pine ones.  The photos below are from a recent job where I did this.

Phase One: Removing old stair threads.

Phase Two: cutting the nose off the old threads.

Phase Three: Fitting in first new step.

Final Phase: New stairs installed.

Let The Light Shine In

I recently participated in the Darien Home Show.  It was a lot of fun to talk to customers about the products and services that I provide.

A potential new customer named Sandy stopped by my booth and asked me about a VELUX skylight display that I had.  She told me that her 40-year-old house had 6 skylights, some of which had been replaced.

The skylight over her kitchen area was original and the glass was fogged, which detracted from her recent kitchen remodel.  She asked me if it could be replaced. Of course I said, “Yes!”

The skylight that she chose opens and operates using a solar powered system.  This means no additional wiring had to be installed.  Sandy now has a beautiful new skylight that opens with the touch of a remote control button.  The  skylight has a special feature where it will automatically close if it starts to rain.

The replacement took only a half of a day.  Sandy is very happy with the results and so am I.

The old fogged skylight.

Starting the replacement.

A beautiful new VELUX skylight.


I’m Always Learning

I recently was asked to quote the replacement of some skylights.  The customer has 3 Velux skylights over his sunroom that are more than 25 years old.  Older skylights are not designed as well as newer models, and over time they tend to leak.

His skylights were designed to be mounted on a flat surface.  However, they had been mounted over a curb, which is a raised shaft. In addition, they were mounted at an angle, with the opening edge significantly lower than the hinged edge.

I had never seen this particular configuration in my 25 years of construction work.  Solving my customer’s problem required some homework.  A call to my Velux rep was the first step.

I was able to confirm that we could use an existing skylight model if we used the correct Velux flashing.  It is always good to learn, and today I learned a little bit more about Velux skylights.



Customers often think that estimates and plans can be done on the spot.  I could do that if I chose to do a poor job.  However, offering someone a quality plan and an accurate estimate takes additional time and work.

I often start with photos of the site, and a rough diagram that includes measured dimensions.  The next step happens between my ears, as I try to combine attractive design with practical design.

Then it is time for some “homework.”  Using several computers I plot out my design using CAD software.  Then onto other software to create an actual quote.

Some estimates are simple and can be done in a half hour.  More complicated estimates, like a kitchen or bath, can take 4 to 7 hours.  I want to give my customer the best possible outcome.  Good outcomes not only come from good work but also from good planning.


The Home Show

For the last two weekends I have been manning a both at two different home shows. My friend Mike (in the picture) has been keeping me company during lulls in the foot traffic.

Home shows are a great way to meet new customers, and to chat with people who are interested in updating or remodeling their homes.

It is also enjoyable to talk to the other venders, and to learn a little bit about them, and their lives.  I have met several vendors who make their livings by running booths at various shows.  They often only work 2-3 days, and have a 4-5 day “weekend.”  That sounds nice, but I think I prefer my busy workweek.

Although the last two weekends have been interesting, I’ll be very happy to return to my regular customers, and my regular job on Monday morning.

My booth at today’s Home Show in Darien, Illinois.



The Devil Is In the Details

Homeowners will typically update their bathrooms every 20-25 years.  It is a major home investment, and so the project can create some anxiety.

It is important to remember that a little extra investment can yield a much more sophisticated and elegant look. Consider the cost of your new bathroom with the understanding that you will likely keep it for the next 20 years. The right type of tiling and the right selection of tiles can turn a typical bathroom into a beautiful and unique one.

I am in the process of completing a double bathroom remodel in Downers Grove. Part of my remodeling service included helping the owners with their overall design and tile selection.  The owners selected Legno travertine tiles.  These tiles are beautiful and have natural veins that add to their organic look.

The photos show some of the shapes of tiles used,  including pencil and mosaic pieces.  In the hands of Joe, our expert tiler, the varying shapes transform a typical suburban bathroom into an extraordinary one. The devil is in the detail.

Church Work

An exploratory hole.

Exposed beam looks fine.

Water trapped on the church roof.

Hidden beam showing rot.

















At Gizmo Home Craft we do more than remodeling projects.  A church in Glen Ellyn contacted us to make exploratory openings in their main building.  The church building had been constructed in the 1960’s, and the original blueprints were lost.  Their beautiful 52-year-old structure was constructed with large wooden beams that supported a columnless style nave.  

The building had been settling for unknown reasons, and it was also taking in water.  An architectural firm was called in, and they required exploratory openings to evaluate the superstructure of the building.

As you can see, the exposed wooden beams look good.  However, once these beams entered a solid brick structure they appear rotted.  The roof water was able to seep in and become trapped around the beams.

We were happy to provide this service to the church, and we always enjoy new and challenging projects.

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