Saturday, May 03, 2008

Kitchen remodeling: the good and no-so, Part I

We'll probably do Part II after construction is done.

First, the good: Based on a referral, we worked with a kitchen designer who lives in San Jose. We sent sketches and measurements and photos, and our wish lists, and she produced a very nice design. But she's quite busy (she teaches at a small college and she also has young children) so it took several weeks. She's a private individual and I don't want to put her contact information in a public place like this. Leave a comment or send me email if you want to use her for your kitchen.

Another thumbs-up goes to Quesco for friendly professional staff, terrific service and great prices. I review them on yelp here.

Our contractor is a personal friend -- Art Prindle of Art Prindle Construction. He has done several projects for us
  • bathroom repair/remodel
  • installation of ducting and a forced-air furnace, including redoing a bedroom closet
  • garage conversion including
    • a loft (his design idea -- we love it!)
    • half-bath and laundry room
    • roof reframing
    • roof re-sheathing (whole house)
    • replacing the den's flat roof with a pitched one
  • pocket-door installation (small project)
He's done great stuff for us and we recommend his services without reservation. But we are not unbiased :)

In the dog-house: and bizarre model numbers

For the not-so-good part, it's the website and its brother So here's my whine. You go to Sears and order some appliances -- an oven, a warming drawer, 'fridge, dishwasher, etc. On the receipt you find two or three numbers related to each appliance: a 5-digit model# (e.g., 77542), an 11-digit item number (e.g., 04677542000) and possibly some other number that might be similar to the "item" number.

If you search the website for further information (like dimensions, clearances, etc.) the above numbers might help, but in this case (for the 'fridge), neither of them was good for anything. The website doesn't confess to knowing anything about this model number. (A google search turns up a reference -- and I could see it in google's cache. But no specs or dimensions were available -- just the overview.) And you can just forget about finding a manual using either of those numbers.

No, what you need is the model number, which in this case is 79577542600. Actually it's the "full model number". With this full model number, you can search (not!) and find a link to a manual. Owner's manual (or "use and care manual") though -- no installation manual. To get the manual you have to create an account on -- give them your email address and create a password (just what you needed, right?) and then you can look at the manual on your screen.

I sent them email, which got me an answer that was almost completely off the point. "Look at the model# on the back of your appliance and use that 9-12-digit model# on" or something like this. After some email exchanges, somebody sent me the full model number for the oven.

Meanwhile I also called; I heard this was the supported way to get the full model number. It took a call to the parts number, getting transferred to home delivery (why??) -- where they couldn't match up my order to my phone number (even though I was calling from the same phone# that appears on the invoice), and explaining my situation maybe 3 times on the phone.... The good news is that I did eventually get all the model numbers of interest.

The way this should work is like the Whirlpool website. I ordered a cooktop, a whirlpool GJC3634RP, and if you search for it on you'll get here. If you click on "back to GJC3634R" you'll see this page. Click "Guides + Literature" and you can see manuals.

Or like GE's: if you have a model number in mind, you can google for it and see a "" website. Go there, click on "Product Documentation," and you'll see installation instructions, use/care guide, etc., available for download. Click the appropriate one, and you'll see the installation guide or whatever.
Maytag's website is not as nice as the above. Many of their pages require a macromedia plug-in (Dude, I just want the manual!), and this google search didn't lead me to a manual. This one offered up some sites from, which doesn't seem to resolve any more:
$ host
Host not found: 2(SERVFAIL)
However, it did lead me to which offers a trilingual user guide, but no installation manual...

So if you're going to order appliances for a new kitchen, and you really have to have Sears, then get the sales guy to find the "full model number" for you if you can. If you can't, then you can call Parts, but they might transfer you to Home Delivery. Anyway, explain that you need the full model numbers. You will need to do this more than once, but they'll eventually get you someone who can tell you.

Then go to and feed it the full model number. You should get at least one result; if needed select one, and then look on the right-hand side for the manuals link. This sends you to yet another website ( where you have to have a login (email address, "screen name", password) to download the manual.

And other things being equal (check for frequency-of-repair records, etc.) my suggestion would be: Figure out the model number you're interested in, and see if you can find the installation manual on the web, because your contractor or cabinetmaker will need that information.

More later....

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