When I arrive at Debbie’s home away from the Silicon Valley, I tell Melissa, my colleague — and Project Manager in training — that the house we’re about to go inside of already beautiful. In fact, the entire neighborhood is.
We’re at the very southeastern tip of San Jose for this job and the houses here are all modern, so my mind always asks, “What more could a client want with a beautiful home like this?”
“It’s the bathroom,” Sonia, the client, told our admin, Renee. “It’s always the bathroom.”
Mika’s here, as is Melissa. This is about the same team as the Oakland job.
“How was your weekend?” She asks.
“Relaxing,” says Melissa.
“Relaxing? Sounds good,” she turns to me: “Matt? Relaxing?”
“Yeeeeeah…” I say smiling, looking off in the distance.
“Good,” Mika says. “Let go over the plan. We’re gonna change the way we do things here,” she says. “I’m gonna introduce Matt, obviously…” then she points to Melissa. “Melissa…I don’t know what your official job title is. Like, what do you want to be called? What are you comfortable with?”
“CEO,” I tell her with a laugh. “Go for it!”
“I know, right?” Melissa says. “I’m in training. I’m an assistant in training. I’m your Project Manager-in-training right now. I was technically hired as a Project Manager. Project Manager Assistant…I help with projects. That was the description.”
“Then you’re Project Manager-in-training,” Mika replies and says, “I’ll let them know you’ll be the one overseeing this stuff, that you’ll be back. We’ll go over the details of the deal, but I really want you to pay attention, take notes, do what you have to do. The client is nice. Super nice.” Jose drives by and I point this out. Mika says, “That’s our cue, guys. Masks on? Shall we?”
“We shall.” I reply.
And we walk.
“Hey, man,” Jose says, greeting me.
“Jose,” I say, nodding. Suddenly, we hear the sound of Sonia’s dog woofing at us from behind a fence. “Sounds like a big dog. Thing could tear through that fence.”
“Nothing we can’t handle,” says Jose.
Mika knocks and Sonia answers the door, smiling. Pleasantries are exchanged and Mika, true to her word, introduces us like we’re the house band: Matt on piano, Jose on guitar, Melissa on drums, we love you, San Jose. “Jessie’s at the dentist? Won’t be here?”
“He is, indeed, at the dentist!” Sonia says.
“Everything’s ok, I trust?” Mika asks, concerned.
“Couldn’t be better,” says Sonia. “Just a routine cleaning.”
“You guys are just top of things,” Mika says.
“We ARE on top of things!” Sonia says, smiling. “We are on top of everything, including all this right here, what we’re about to do!”
“That’s great!” Mika says. “Let’s go ahead and get upstairs!”
Immediately, Mika’s at work, making moves, telling Jose where to hang the plastic so no dust gets into the master bedroom which is attached to the bathroom we are remodeling for Sonia.
“The vanity, I’m gonna send you the info, and they came in to do measurements…what?” She turns from Jose to Sonia, says, “What was it, last week?”
“Last week.” Sonia confirms, nodding and adding. “It was last Tuesday.”
Mika turns back to Jose and says, “Last week. Last Tuesday…so I’ll send this info but it’s gonna be…” Mika looks down at her notes and says, “…cabinets and countertop…and…” she flips a page and says, “…we just need to fabricate holes for the sinks.” Jose rubs his forehead and begins inspecting the existing countertop while Mika continues: “There are two outlets we have to deal with as well.”
As Mika outlines Sonia’s wish that the shower be as large as possible, and Melissa takes notes, the dog outside continues to bark, even if we’re not out there.
“The dog?” Jose asks Sonia.
“Won’t be a problem.” Sonia tells him. “He’ll get used to you and we’ll keep him out of the way anyhow.”
The plan for the bathroom is, essentially, to start over from scratch. Sonia wants nothing from the old bathroom.
“Everything must go!” she tells me as we speak outside. “We bought the house back in ’98 and we’ve changed the paint and repainted the vanity. There are portions of this house, you look at it and you go, ‘Yeah, it looks nice,’ but the truth is that even though it looks modern, a lot of what’s in there needs to be revamped. The bathroom is the old bathroom, so that’s our focus this time around.”
“I look at your bathroom and I have to smile because the room is already really nice,” I say. “When you go in there, what is in there that you want to change?”
“Well, it’s mainly update and repair so that it looks like we’re in 2021,” she says. “There are some cracked tiles in there that really needed to be replaced, that was the starting point.”
Has Sonia done any remodeling before?
“Oh yeah!” she says, enthusiastically. “The family room has been re-done, all the flooring has been re-done, the stairwell, the kitchen…we’re not really veterans of this sort of thing — like, the bathroom is just being completely knocked out, floors and walls, and everything is going to be re-wired and re-done, so that’s all new to us. It’s scary but we’re also excited.”
(This is Part 1 of Sonia’s story. We will be back with Part 2 once we finish the bathroom. We will have pictures as well as Sonia’s reaction, so stay tuned!)